Pics From Here

As I stepped into 2022 I found myself faced with a few challenges, to wit: (a) my dental bridge was failing and no way to replace it for under $5k – with my savings down to $1.5k (b) I was abruptly moved into a shoebox half the size of my apartment, and (c) I wasn’t physically up to moving everything I’d accumulated – banging on 71 years old this year.


(a) Delta Dental had an emergency outreach program which ended up saving the bridge. (b) I lucked into an extra bunch of pain pills when my prescription was filled. And (c) I got it all in and, plus, now have a “porch” where I can sit and admire BSU’s new (nationally recognized) gorgeous art building and watch Capitol Blvd. parade by. So it’s all good. After all.

Tweets from Here

On Bob Dole… Not So Much.

Apparently Mr. Dole has given us a window into just how pervasive dirty money is. Using his political creds he amassed a lobbying portfolio of dirty money Russian (and presumably others) oligarchs. Names include the likes of Mogilevich and Solntsevskaya whose gangs bought SE Asian heroin from the OSS/CIA’s Kaoumintang anti-communist proxies.
“Bob Dole literally worked for Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs, the same ones who attacked our last two elections.”
“He was a handmaiden of dictatorships and crime syndicates.”

Stuff from Here

Rat Fink Club

I recently joined the rat fink Club group and have enjoyed going back to those halcyon days of my youth…and which inspired me to get into my drawing of weird-ohs. Basically, to entertain my classmates and friends. To this day Ed Roth’s toons are a fun doodle. Thanks, Ed, for all you gave to us kids at heart.

Recipes From Here

Boise’s old Torch Cafe (now a strip joint) used to have famous finger steaks. Back in summer of ’68 a pipe moving buddy of mine by the name of Bruce Rankin (brother to Kenny Rankin, a well known recording artist from Caldwell who made good) related to me that the recipe for those finger steaks at the Torch came by way of his Grandma Rankin. Well, I just happened to stumble across a FB posting of it from an employee who worked there back then. Here’s the scrap of paper recipe for you all to share amongst yourselves. Incidentally, the real secret is that the steaks are best if they’re tenderloin meat.. tho that’s rather spendy I’ll admit.

Articles From Here

Re: David Brooks’ op ed

“…it’s that the whole paradigm of the role of government in American life is shifting.”

It’s my understanding that the depression era was caused by the wealthy centers of money not being distributed…to where the reaction was tax indexing, an inheritance tax and a heavier tax on the rich to support, basically, redistribution social programs. Then after seeing Reagan’s “trickle down” bright idea, and then Trump’s insolent tax cut for the rich not seeming to filter down for redistribution–nor resulting in any goosing of capitalism’s “ladder of success” for us little peoples–it kinda follows that we’re grabbing at that pair of dimes that government’s principle role is to manage the economy.  And, since it’s got pretty obvious money left on its own likes to be hoarded instead of spent, I’d say that food stamps and social security disability the past 40yrs isn’t squat in trade for decent wages and it’s time to start cutting some checks…  Yeah, our new governor’s gonna  be inflation and money losing value wants to be spent real fast creating a spiral… but hey, life’s short and it’s just been getting shorter the past 40 odd years.  Guess it’s got to where the only equalizer’s burning the castle down.


Joe Biden Is a Transformational President

We’re seeing a policy realignment without a partisan realignment.

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

This has been one of the most quietly consequential weeks in recent American politics.

The Covid-19 relief law that was just enacted is one of the most important pieces of legislation of our lifetimes. As Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine, the poorest fifth of households will see their income rise by 20 percent; a family of four with one working and one unemployed parent will receive $12,460 in benefits. Child poverty will be cut in half.

The law stretches far beyond Covid-19 relief. There’s a billion for national service programs. Black farmers will receive over $4 billion in what looks like a step toward reparations. There’s a huge expansion of health insurance subsidies. Many of these changes, like the child tax credit, may well become permanent.

As Michael Hendrix of the Manhattan Institute notes, America spent $4.8 trillion in today’s dollars fighting World War II. Over the past year, America has spent over $5.5 trillion fighting the pandemic.

In a polarized era, the legislation is widely popular. Three-quarters of Americans support the law, including 60 percent of Republicans, according to a Morning Consult survey. The Republican members of Congress voted against it, but the G.O.P. shows no interest in turning this into a great partisan battle. As I began to write this on Thursday morning, the Fox News home page had only two stories on the Covid relief bill and dozens on things like the royal family and cancel culture.

Somehow low-key Joe Biden gets yawns when he promotes progressive policies that would generate howls if promoted by a President Sanders or a President Warren.

This moment is like 1981, the dawn of the Reagan Revolution, except in reverse. It’s not just that government is heading in a new direction, it’s that the whole paradigm of the role of government in American life is shifting. Biden is not causing these tectonic plates to shift, but he is riding them.

Reaganism was the right response to the stagflation of the 1970s, but Bidenism is a sensible response to a very different set of economic problems. Let one set of statistics stand in for hundreds: According to a team of researchers led by Raj Chetty, in 1970, 90 percent of 30-year-olds were making more than their parents had at that age. By 2010, only 50 percent were.

There was a premise through American history that if you worked hard you would earn economic security. That’s not as true for millennials and Gen-Z, or many other people across America.

These realities have created a different emotional climate that the pandemic has magnified — a climate of insecurity and precarity. These realities have also produced an intellectual revolution.

It was assumed, even only a decade ago, that the Fed could not just print money with abandon. It was assumed that the government could not rack up huge debt without spurring inflation and crippling debt payment costs. Both of these concerns have been thrown out the window by large numbers of thinkers. We’ve seen years of high debt and loose monetary policy, but inflation has not come.

So the restraints have been cast aside. We are now experiencing monetary and fiscal policies that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. This is like the moment when the G.O.P. abandoned fiscal conservatism for the go-go excitement of supply-side economics — which eventually devolved into mindless tax cuts for the rich.

The role of government is being redefined. There is now an assumption that government should step in to reduce economic insecurity and inequality. Even Republicans like Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney, for example, are cooking up a plan to actively boost wages for American workers.

This is not socialism. This is not the federal government taking control of the commanding heights of the economy. This is not a bunch of programs to restrain corporate power. Americans’ trust in government is still low. This is the Transfer State: government redistributing massive amounts of money by cutting checks to people, and having faith that they spend it in the right ways.

Both parties are adjusting to the new paradigm. With the wind at their backs, Democrats are concluding that Biden’s decision to eschew bipartisanship to pass a relief package is better than Barack Obama’s attempts to attract it. I don’t know if the filibuster will go away, but it certainly looks like it will be watered down.

Poor economic conditions pushed the G.O.P. away from Milton Friedman libertarianism and toward Donald Trump populism. Republicans have learned that in this new era it’s foolish to fight Democrats on redistribution policy, but they can win elections by fighting culture wars. As Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute observes, we may see a policy realignment without a partisan realignment because Republicans have found so many cultural ways to attract votes.

I’m worried about a world in which we spend borrowed money with abandon. The skeptical headline on the final preretirement column of the great Washington Post economics columnist Steven Pearlstein resonated with me: “In Democrats’ progressive paradise, borrowing is free, spending pays for itself and interest rates never rise.”

But income inequality, widespread child poverty and economic precarity are the problems of our time. It’s worth taking a risk to tackle all this. At first Biden seemed like the third chapter of the Clinton/Obama center-left era. But this is something new.

Articles From Here

Calling upon our better angels By: Senator Mitt Romney Editor’s note: This essay appears in the January/February issue of Deseret Magazine . Though it was written prior to the terrible events at the U.S. Capitol, it holds special significance as this week draws to a close.


I didn’t think it would happen here.

The divisiveness, the resentment, the suspicion, the anger that pervades so many countries seemed foreign to the people I had met during my campaigns only a decade or so ago. What impressed me most about my fellow Americans was the optimism, the sense of purpose and the willingness to help one another. The Great Recession had not made us bitter; it seemed to have made us more determined to pull together and cheer each other on.

Something happened to change that — not for everyone, of course, but for what has become a larger and larger portion of us. Following the recession, we looked around to see who was to blame for the misfortune we had experienced. Politicians and the media were quick to point the finger — bankers and Wall Street-types: “They should go to jail.” “Washington had ‘bailed out’ the guilty.”

It was not lost on people vying for our attention that stoking anger enhanced their prospects. The same was known to be true from the beginning of history: appealing to resentment and our more base inclinations could always attract a crowd. The founders took every step they could devise to protect the republic from so-called demagogues; their efforts worked for over 200 years. Several developments have combined to threaten that success.

Institutions that enhance mutual understanding are declining. Americans are less likely to go to church where they interact with people from different races and backgrounds. Social endeavors like the Boy and Girl Scouts are waning. Even face-to-face interaction has become less frequent as we and our children disappear into our cellphones — a trend felt even more acutely because of the ongoing pandemic.

Media, embodied by the likes of Walter Cronkite, once provided information trusted by almost all of us. Newspapers, once admired for their comprehensive and accurate coverage, are closing down. Now our information is curated by apps and crafted by radio and cable networks that appeal to our prejudices. Increasingly, the most successful media personalities rile their target base.

Most disappointing of all, too many political figures have stoked these divisions. Demagogues on the left scapegoat the rich; demagogues on the right scapegoat the immigrant. They each scapegoat the other. Politicians’ language is more vulgar, bullying and offensive. Reagan, Eisenhower and Kennedy would not recognize today’s political discourse.

My reading of history suggests what can heal social sickness. First, a great leader who “calls upon our better angels” can bring us together. Churchill rallied his nation to resist and defeat Nazism. Roosevelt elicited the endurance that overcame despair. Lincoln healed a nation torn apart by war, insisting on “malice toward none and charity for all.” I do not believe one can overstate the impact the leader of a nation can have for good or for bad. I earnestly pray that our president can rise to the challenge.

Who we choose to lead us shapes our society. I believe that it is our national character that made America the greatest nation on earth, that the public personal character of leaders like Washington, Lincoln, Reagan and Truman had more influence on us than even the policies they promoted. Today when I vote, I pay as much attention to the character of the candidate as I do to their policies. If we choose leaders who inflame resentment and division, our nation will be angry and divided. We have a choice to make: Would we rather have our “side” win to punish the “other side” or would we rather have our nation united?

But presidents and politicians are not the only leaders who influence society. Leaders of churches, congregations, classrooms, businesses, charities and homes can influence the character of the nation. When each of us encourages comity, understanding and grace, we heal. When we disparage, bully or treat others with contempt, we deepen the rift that divides us.

I believe that we should watch and read, not just sources we tend to agree with but also sources we disagree with. If Fox is your regular diet, watch NBC, CNN or ABC now and then. Conversely, if MSNBC is your regular, don’t make it exclusive. We need to broaden our reading as well. I note that news organizations like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times make an effort to get the facts and when they make a mistake, they acknowledge it. Social media has no fact-checkers, no editors and often doesn’t even disclose who actually wrote a post.

I pray for the healing of the nation. Literally. I wish there were more faith in God, more reverence for all of his children. A brilliant leader of a respected think tank in Washington has concluded that love is the only sure answer to what ails us. I think he’s right.

Articles From Here

Better to have a few rats than be one



In case anyone missed it, the president of the United States had some choice words to describe Maryland’s 7th congressional district on Saturday morning. Here are the key phrases: “no human being would want to live there,” it is a “very dangerous and filthy place,” “Worst in the USA” and, our personal favorite: It is a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He wasn’t really speaking of the 7th as a whole. He failed to mention Ellicott City, for example, or Baldwin or Monkton or Prettyboy, all of which are contained in the sprawling yet oddly-shaped district that runs from western Howard County to southern Harford County. No, Donald Trump’s wrath was directed at Baltimore and specifically at Rep. Elijah Cummings, the 68-year-old son of a former South Carolina sharecropper who has represented the district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996.

It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream. President Trump bad-mouthed Baltimore in order to make a point that the border camps are “clean, efficient & well run,” which, of course, they are not — unless you are fine with all the overcrowding, squalor, cages and deprivation to be found in what the Department of Homeland Security’s own inspector-general recently called “a ticking time bomb.”

In pointing to the 7th, the president wasn’t hoping his supporters would recognize landmarks like Johns Hopkins Hospital, perhaps the nation’s leading medical center. He wasn’t conjuring images of the U.S. Social Security Administration, where they write the checks that so many retired and disabled Americans depend upon. It wasn’t about the beauty of the Inner Harbor or the proud history of Fort McHenry. And it surely wasn’t about the economic standing of a district where the median income is actually above the national average. No, he was returning to an old standby of attacking an African American lawmaker from a majority black district on the most emotional and bigoted of arguments. It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like “you people” or “welfare queens” or “crime-ridden ghettos” or a suggestion that the congressman “go back” to where he came from.

This is a president who will happily debase himself at the slightest provocation. And given Mr. Cummings’ criticisms of U.S. border policy, the various investigations he has launched as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, his willingness to call Mr. Trump a racist for his recent attacks on the freshmen congresswomen, and the fact that “Fox & Friends” had recently aired a segment critical of the city, slamming Baltimore must have been irresistible in a Pavlovian way. Fox News rang the bell, the president salivated and his thumbs moved across his cell phone into action.
As heartening as it has been to witness public figures rise to Charm City’s defense on Saturday, from native daughter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, we would above all remind Mr. Trump that the 7th District, Baltimore included, is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing. The White House has far more power to affect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.
Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one