To quote Charlie Rich, “I woke up this morning and realized what I had done.”
Hoping that “my world is not slipping away from me,” I talked to Fred and Kathy, who said I had it all wrong. I was counting words and not listening to what they said. And as Maureen pointed out, Kristen Welker did not have the mic kill button. That was manned by the Debate Commission in a control booth where they must have been conducting a sleep experiment.
Here’s how the morning after crew would arrange the coming votes:
“That was my first exposure to politics, but in a way it wasn’t even politics. An election is a sports event, and I think I really saw it as a ball game then.”
Jerry Rubin, quoted in J. Anthony Lukas’ article in Esquire Nov. 1, 1969: “The Making of a Yippie.”
NBC’s Kristen Welker didn’t do much to shut up Dr. Quack tRump in the third and final debate before election day on Nov. 3. Did she have a mic kill button? Did she ever use it? I thought she let tRump ramble on and always gave him the last word on every exchange.
While I don’t think you win debates by saying the most words, there are those who do. And they saw tRump winning the debate. He might have told one lie after another, but there wasn’t anyone there to say they were lies. Except Biden, and he didn’t do that enough.
So Stable Genius rattles off a bunch of numbers, repeats his favorite insults and makes sure he overrides the moderator to put the finishing touches on the end of his rant. Or so I say. The most-words-win person would say he overpowered his opponent and the moderator with words that flowed from his mouth and never gave them a chance.
I moved all the “maybe” votes to tRump, gave Missouri over to the red pile and put South Carolina in that stack as well. I may have moved S.C. earlier. Next I’ll move to Canada.
Handicapping the 2020 presidential election based on states and their electoral voters could be like betting on a horse race where the starting gates open and there’s no one there. Or, at least not the runners you had expected. With that kind of a race, the stewards would probably take things into their hands and decide the race themselves. For the presidential race, that could end up looking like this:
That would piss off some of the bettors in the stands – wait, there’s no one in the stands thanks to coronavirus. But to those of us peeking through the fences, it looks as though those wearing the black silks would give the race to a dark horse, like they did in 2000.
Or, Biden might win by a landslide, tRump could slink out the back door of the White House and the winner might think about changing some numbers – like nine on the Supreme Court and 50 states in the United States.
I have become used to nine on the court and the nice even number of 50 states and would hate to see them changed. But it could go a long ways to upsetting the “minority-rules” tactics of Moscow Mitch von Hindenburg McConnell. Right now the Grand Old Peckers represent 153 million of the United States population in the Senate while the “minority” represents 168 million. With Amy Coney Barrett’s ascension to the Supreme Court next week, three of the justices will have been nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by three million votes. W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but did not nominate his justices (Roberts and Alito) until after John Kerry was Swiftboated in 2004 and Bush won by more than three million votes.
So should Biden pack the court? Put two more chairs on the left side of the bench? Nope, and I don’t see any reason of him to say whether he will or won’t before the election. Run his own campaign and not let the opposition call the shots.
My plan would be for Biden to name his potential Supreme Court replacements before Nov. 3. First on the list: Anita Hill. Biden owes her one. Clarence Thomas and Bret Kavanaugh would flee, and Biden could send in his next sub: Merrick Garland.
When 82-year-old Stephen Breyer retires, Biden would have to supply his own list of replacements, because I have exhausted mine.
So then the handicapping for Kamala Harris in 2024 would look like this:
About 50 states. I like 50. But if you can make Hawaii, a set of islands 2,500 miles from the West Coast, a state, why not Puerto Rico, only 1,800 miles from Florida? And the 700,000 people living in Washington, D.C., ought to get the same representation of the almost 600,000 living in Wyoming. Puerto Rico and D.C. going Democratic? That would be a problem for Mitchie and his gang. So sad.
October 17, 2020 update: Responding to comments on California going to tRump:
“Not gonna happen!! Biden all the way!”
Moving California back to Steady Joe.
Also this comment:
“Please get your mind right on Arizona. Demographics push it big and blue. I take a $2 punt on it…”
Moving Arizona to Biden, which would give him 279 electoral votes, enough to win even if tRump got all my “maybe” votes:
What if tRump won California? I got an email from someone in that state giving his reasons for why he is voting for tRump. He’s convinced and can’t be dissuaded. Are there enough like him to give California’s 55 electoral votes to the Republicans? This despite it being Kamala Harris’ home state?
Best thing in handicapping is to take all pieces of information into consideration. To not do so would be like thinking you know all about Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania without visiting them. That could turn out badly.
I can never understand why pundits say “he can’t win without” California, Florida, Texas or some other individual state as if all other states are going to line up as expected. That seems as crazy to me as what I am doing here.
However, Steady Joe can’t win without California. If all states did as I have predicted – Ha! – tRump would be over the top with 290 electoral votes, 20 past the 270 needed to win. Even if Biden got all the states I have left under “Maybe,” he would lose 290 to 249.
While living in Oxford, England, in 2015 to attend the Rugby World Cup, we did more than attend rugby games. We also took advantage of cultural events in that university city. Museums, art exhibits, musical events and lectures, including the best Kathy and I have heard on Shakespeare. The question that came up then was: “Why don’t we do this at home?”
University dons and students don’t go around in black academic robes as in Oxford, but Seattle is no intellectual desert. But it seems we’re “too busy” to find our way to those events that would exercise our minds here at home. We have season theater tickets, attend an opera here and there, once in a while a symphony and visit museums when friends and family come to visit.
Well, that’s changing. Spurred by the memory of all we did in Oxford, we have loaded up on season tickets to plays, lectures, photo exhibits and book readings. By spring, we may start wearing black robes.
That means, as it did four years ago, the rugby reporter may get interrupted by off-field activities; scrums, rucks and mauls interspersed with things like:
“Stories of Human Migrations,” an hour-long talk given by David Fenner from the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the UW and held at the University House in Issaquah, WA, the talk was one of many lectures and classes for those of us over 50. Kathy and I are well qualified.
Fenner’s talk made me realize that Trump is trying to change the human species. (Ed. notes: Fenner never mentioned Trump. I’m to blame for the spin here. Fenner supplied facts, and if they are wrong in this piece, it is because of my faulty note taking and should not reflect on Fenner, an excellent lecturer.)
Trump is going against the tide of humanity, which started migrating some 150,000 to 200,000 years ago from the Great Rift Valley in Africa – and it has never stopped no matter how many walls, borders and prejudices it ran up against. About 50,000 years ago, homo sapiens reached Northern Europe, where they found another species, the Neanderthal, which they interbred with (Did Fenner say that’s what accounts for rugby players?). About 12,000 to 15,000 years ago humans reached the Americas. Not until 1,500 years ago did they get to New Zealand, the last of the Rift Valley migration.
But it didn’t stop there. The Jewish Diaspora spread the Hebrew people across Africa, Asia and Europe, and the height of the Arab Wars took conquering Muslims from Spain to India in the years from 660 to 750 A.D. Four hundred years ago, slavery emptied 12.5 million souls from Africa and sent them to the Americas with two million of them dying along the way. Of eight million people in Ireland in the 1840s, two million of them left during the Potato Famine. One million of the six million who stayed behind died.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 moved those who first got to what would become the United States farther West and further along the newcomers’ genocidal path.
Others came to the United States on their own, attracted by self-governing and democracy spelled out in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. And they were welcomed:
“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent & respectable Stranger, but the oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights & previleges, if by decency & propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” — George Washington in letter to Joshua Holmes, 2 December 1783.
With the world’s population now at seven billion, one billion of them are migrants – 250 million trying to move from one country to another and 750 million “internal” migrants moving to better circumstances within their nations.
It’s what the human species does; moving to where the grass is greener. The International Conference on Global Trends predicts an increase in human migration over the next 25 years, no matter what Trump says or does. Some will pick up on their own, like the 250 million (three-fourths of the population of the U.S.) on the road in China, once considered “economic” migrants but now also “climate” migrants as desertification affects parts of that nation.
Others will be forced. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that in 2018, there were 70.8 million forcibly displaced, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan. Closer to home, those coming north from Central America are being “kept in a pressure cooker” by U.S. actions that will only make the situation there get worse with more people fleeing unstable governments, gang violence and poverty. I take that to mean: Increasing aid there, helping those nations keep their people. Trump’s idea is to keep asylum seekers there among those who have threatened them with harm. One more incentive to start north and take your chances at the U.S. border.
The International Organization on Migration holds that migration is inevitable and desirable – if well-governed. That is not the case in the United States, and getting an immigration policy that goes beyond the wall seems impossible with who’s in the White House and this Congress. Right now, Fenner says, we are a long way from that George Washington quote.
We’re all refugees from the Rift Valley, and we have “moving” stories to tell about how we got here. That’s the story of the human species, and we should be telling them to remind ourselves that we are a nation of immigrants and that our species probably won’t change before Trump is gone.
Our guide in Quito identified this puppeteer as someone who had fled the bad conditions in Venezuela. He might have been a street vendor there until no one had money to give him. What if he played outside the White House all day long?
The United States should pay more attention to Central and South America – and not just as the source of people in caravans headed for the southern border. We need to pay attention in a way that will provide them a safe home in their own countries.
Stopping aid to Central American countries is no way to do that. The Greedy Old Peckers controlling our nation ought to take a good hard look at giving more aid to those countries or the few thousands in a caravan headed north will be a tiny village compared to what is on the move in South America.
I picked up a La Hora, a daily newspaper in Quito, for my weekly Spanish reading as we headed toward the Galapagos Islands. As one article said, the newspaper was “venezolanizaron,” completely taken over by talk about Venezuela and the millions of people fleeing the bad conditions there.
One article reported on how France had affirmed its support for investigating in international court “crimes committed in Venezuela,” saying they threatened the development of South American countries and areas outside the region because of “en particular el deterioro de la situacion economica que oblige a cientos de miles de cuidadanos venezolanos a exiliarse y buscar refugio” (in particular the deterioration of the economic situation that obliged hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan citizens to go into exile and seek refuge).
France joined Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Canada (what happened to the United States and Mexico?)
What if the caravan started in Venezuela and headed this way? Wait, the Darien Gap might stop them.
An opinion in the paper noted that the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, had addressed the General Assembly of the United Nation the day before, speaking for 40 minutes before an almost empty hall and “no dijo nada” (said nothing). He talked of “la migracion” but mostly denied it, as he always does. Blamed it on the United States and other South American presidents and got support where it could be expected – Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
No need for humanitarian aid. Said the exodus of 2.3 million from his country was a “fabrication,” apparently the Spanish word for “fake news.”
He left the hall without answering uncomfortable questions from the press, including this one the editorial asked: “Why is his country’s economy on the edge of collapse, why is it that his nation with the largest oil reserves can’t provide food and medicine and pushes millions into exile?”
Another editorial ticked off the conditions of life in Venezuela: Basic services scare, health services “castrados,” insecurity equal to a state of war, corruption and crime institutionalized and public resources converted to the booty of pirates.
Maduro is a dictator, no doubt, with nothing to control his power, with judicial or financial means coopted. No free elections. The ability to confront his power abolished and guarantees of humanity and life annulled.
Yet the man responsible for all this can stand before the world stage and give an “outdated” talk on sovereignty, socialism, the equality of people, democracy, anti-imperialism and his state officials listen and applaud.
How can this happen? the editorial asks. And how can the diplomatic corps make space for him without degrading itself.
That’s a long way of saying that things could get a lot worse for the United States, if aid is cut to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Trying to keep out desperate people with a wall or anything else goes against the history of humankind. We’re a migratory beast that flees from places where we can’t survive. One way or another, the caravan will arrive someday.
Which should not be taken as an argument for open borders. What we should do is something that will make Central America and Mexico better places to live. That doesn’t mean making them into states, as a Seattle Times printer once suggested to me (we tried that in 1855 to no avail). But cutting off aid right now is going in the wrong direction. More trade, work permits here to fill open jobs, help to eliminate gangs. Something that keeps the caravan of a few thousands from turning into millions.
“Mostly people there just want to be left alone,” said Jason, who is married to my niece and has lived in Utah most of his life. “The lure of increased tourism won’t entice them to be favorable to the monument. They don’t want more people, more traffic – even if it means more business and more money for their community.”
Being left alone could mean being left to practice the Mormon religion as it used to be, which would include polygamy – or maybe just to run all-terrain vehicles through the pinon and juniper trees.
It’s also true, Jason pointed out, that Utah has a long history of conflict with the federal government, which once sent troops to invade the territory.
Steve, who was manning the tourist-information booth when I stopped in Blanding, Utah, added to that observation.
“Utah was one of the first in the West to apply for statehood, but the last of those to be admitted to the Union,” he said. “Utah probably had more population than California, which got in way before Utah.”
Land was taken from the Utah territory and added to other states being admitted while Utah waited.
The federal government also demanded legal changes before Utah could come in, namely the outlawing of polygamy by the Mormon church.
“And I can say that because I’m one of them,” Steve said without clarifying just exactly what he was one of.
Steve said he thought Bears Ears should remain a monument but be reduced in size.
“Locals think it a huge federal overreach – it’s bigger than Delaware!”
He said most of it was protected already, either in National Forest, by the Bureau of Land Management or as one-mile squares of state ownership. On a map, he circled what area he thought should have been given additional protection.
Later he drew around even smaller areas that he thought would have been enough. He also pointed to the three chunks of land that encompass the Bears Ears National Monument.
“They left out the uranium area there, which separated a piece of the monument off to the west. And the northern part of the monument could just have easily been protected by expanding Canyonlands National Park, which is already as big as 12 states.”
Steve said he thinks the Congress should restrict the amount of acreage a president could put into a monument.
Efforts to restrict the federal government is nothing new in this part of the world. An obituary that ran at the top of page one of the April 13-19, 2017, edition of the Moab Sun News made that clear:
“In Utah and other Western states, (Ray Tibbetts) was known as a leading figure of the Sagebrush Rebellion, a movement that sought state control over public lands and land management decisions in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”
Tibbetts, who died April 4, 2017, at age 84, was a local businessman and Grand County commissioner. Rudy Herndon wrote in the obituary that Tibbetts testified before congressional committees, opposing what he saw as federal encroachment on the sovereign rights of state and local governments to manage roads and public lands within their jurisdiction.
(But in what seems a contradiction to his general philosophy, Tibbetts helped identify places he thought should be included in Canyonlands when it was created in 1964.)
Ron Steele, a former Grand County commissioner quoted in the obituary, said Tibbetts remained active in land-use issues after his retirement – and that included giving a federal official this advice on Bears Ears: If you really want to protect the land, don’t advertise it as wilderness.
There’s an echo of that sentiment in “The Lost World of the Old Ones” by David Roberts. He explored the Bears Ears area in 1993 and stumbled on two magnificent Ancestral Puebloan ruins now known as Moon House and the Citadel.
Roberts says he bears some responsibility for bringing these gems to the attention of hundreds of people today, and he bemoans the abuse some of the visitors wreak upon the fragile buildings, crawling through crumbling openings, sitting on deteriorating surfaces.
But Roberts points out that very few secrets, even in the wilds, are safe in the age of the Internet. Google a site, find a trail to it. Unless the BLM limits the number of permits issued to the site, as the agency does for Moon House now (20 a day).
Are there wilderness areas that would have been more wild if never designated as such? We’ll never know.
Are there unadvertised wild areas that remain truly wild and mostly unvisited? If so, let me know. I’d like to visit and I can keep a secret.
Given that we do live in an age where wild can’t be kept secret, these areas need all the protection we can give them.
Steve said the Bears Ears area had little potential for oil and gas, that it was mostly used for grazing cattle. If Bears Ears should end up in Utah’s control, the state would be more likely to sell it, Steve mentioned in passing,
That’s the real danger: That the land passes from federal protection to state control to private ownership that might like to test the notion that there is little potential for oil, gas and mineral development.
Would an old pile of mud bricks and clay mortar stand in the way of a Koch brothers’ oil field? Would they welcome the public to enjoy the desert and explore the past?
The sales of George Orwell’s novel “1984” are skyrocketing since Trumpf came to power, and I’m loving it. It’s one of my favorite books. He’s one of my favorite authors, and I have sentenced every college student I have taught to hours of reading his “Politics and the English Language.”
While under the lash of my wife to clear the crap out of our house before we end up on the “Hoarders” TV show, I came across this clip of something I put together back in the real 1984. That was when I claimed that “more editors had jumped on this story idea that rats on Winston Smith’s face,” which was actually an alternative fact. The threat of having a caged rat gnaw through his face was the torture that broke Smith. So no rat jumped on Smith’s face or used it as a means of escape from the cage strapped to Smith’s face.
Why torture Smith? As the article pictured here says: “There was only one motive, illustrated by a statement by Smith’s torturer: ‘Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.'”
Smith and his lover Julia both worked for the Ministry of Truth, which was in charge of lies. They got in trouble when they tried to join a group fighting against the principles of Big Brother:
War is Peace — “It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous, war has ceased to exist.”
Freedom is Slavery — “. . .men in the mass were frail, cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves.”
Ignorance is Strength — “The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”
Related to that last one is this: “Stupidity is as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.” Which may sound like double speak to you but that’s probably because you are not adept at “Doublethink . . .the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
Or maybe you have not yet become fluent in Newspeak, the official language, the purpose of which was to make unorthodox thought impossible. The attention to language may have been the most important aspect of the book for Orwell given what he says in his politics and language essay: “Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Thanks for reading my pure wind. I try to keep politics to a minimum here and you can be thankful that I have not yet read “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, or “The Plot against America” by Phillip Roth, two other books whose increased sales Trumpf will undoubtedly take credit for (“They’re YUGE!”).
Don’t be scared away. Spring is coming and I will be on the road soon. Back to writing about America’s Great Outdoors. About the Bear Ears area recently made a national monument by President Obama. About some of the 3.3 million acres of public lands the Republicans are maneuvering to sell off. About some National Parks and Scenic Rivers checking to make sure they are still a part of the legacy this generation of Americans will leave to the next.
P.S. What happens to Smith and Julia? At the end of the novel, the 40-year-old Smith has lost all his teeth (he was only missing five at the start), his hair and his love for Julia. They had made the ultimate betrayal, against each other (“Do it to Julia, not to me,” Smith yells about the rat eyeing Smith’s eyeball as an exit.) Now they love only Big Brother, which is all part of the plan: “. . . in the future there will be no wives and no friends,” says Smith’s torturer. “Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated . . . There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party.”
In my last post, a thinly disguised recounting of 2016 adventures, I missed an important one: the Labor Day visit to Ape Cave on the southern slope of the Mount St. Helens volcano in Southwestern Washington state.
Four of us took the 1.5 mile hike through the lava tube while Kathy walked along the surface trail and met the cave explorers at the upper exit, a tight climb up a ladder to the outside.
We might have had the cave more to ourselves on a week day, but I still have friends who insist on having jobs. So we joined dozens of people who had driven up to the cave parking lot, maybe rented a lantern (we brought our own recommended three sources of light) and took either the short route that led to the “Meatball” or the longer route that we took.
It’s a popular spot, easily accessible to the public and an inexpensive way for a family to have an outdoor experience (parking is $5). Which is what I expect from the wonderful lands that have been set aside for the public to enjoy — and what I fear is most threatened by a Trump administration. Donald does not impress me as a man who relishes campfire smoke, sleeping on the ground and pooping in places where you should bury your scat (and your TP, too).
Given the names that are being floated for replacing Sally Jewell at the Department of Interior, it’s surprising that Ammon Bundy‘s name isn’t on the list. The best of the group might be Jan Brewer, former governor of Arizona, who called Hillary Clinton a “lyin’ killer,” one of the more subdued pieces of hyperbole from the GOP side in the recent presidential election.
Trump’s list of Interior Secretary candidates is filled with names of people itching to get their hands on public lands for the benefits of themselves and their ilk:
Harold G. Hamm, Chief executive of Continental Resources, an oil and gas company;
Forrest Lucas, president of Lucas Oil Products, which manufactures automotive lubricants, additives and greases;
Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor.
There is already a movement afoot to give away federal lands, and I can’t see that these Interior Department choices will do anything but further that misguided effort.
Focusing on this one issue extremely important to me may seem selfish, but I look at it as voting my interests, which is what they say Trump supporters were doing: they also insist on having jobs, don’t want to be left behind in the slow economic recovery, don’t want to be regarded as the “fly-over” and forgotten part of our nation. Having driven 6,000 miles back and forth across the United States within the past six weeks, I can understand what it must feel like to live in a hollowed-out town where even the last-thing-to go town coffee shop sits empty among similar storefronts on Main Street (this, in the Starbucks-free Zone, made for some shaky mornings).
And Hillary Clinton? There was much to criticize, and the Orange Man never missed a chance to do so. She also made her own mistakes (Call him deplorable? True that. His supporters? How rude). J. Edgar Comey didn’t help.
Even with all of that, I’m having a hard time getting my head around a man who made it up as he went along, spouted whatever he thought would play to the crowd in front of him and insulted so many Americans. I also believe he has no intention of fulfilling the promises he made to his supporters (build a wall, repeal Obamacare, deport 11 million people, ban Muslims from immigrating here), which I guess I should consider a good thing since I disagree with all of it.
But the whole mess tempts me to go live in a cave for the next four years, but there might not be room.
Life is a journey. We are on yet another one as we zigzag our way across the USA this summer. The plan is to reach Cumberland Gap National Park in the Applachian Mountains before turning around and heading back to the Spokane area. We are traveling in our trusty 26 foot, 2006 Artic Fox travel trailer pulled by a 2010 GMC Sierra truck. Mom, Margaret, is with John and me. Why should she stay home and read the blog when she can be part of the journey? I’ll try to keep it current with travel updates and photos for you to enjoy…or ponder…or laugh at...as the miles roll past us. Cherish the journey!