It’s a Desert Out There – Organ Mountains

I recently was visiting in Las Cruces and had the opportunity to briefly visit Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDP). This is one of several Obama-era national monuments targeted for reduction,  downsizing or other degradation by the Trump Administration. New Mexico, a “Blue” state, has two newer monuments targeted for degradation, the other being Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument near Taos. I’ve written about that monument here:  https://malpaisweb.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/its-all-holy-land-rio-grande-del-norte/

 

To hear the Trump administration rhetoric, one would think that President Obama ran around willy-nilly creating National Monuments. In fact, a lot of study went into the designation. The economic study for this monument is available at: http://nmgreenchamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Organ-Mountains-Desert-Peaks-FINAL-REPORT-8-16.pdf .

The OMDP is in four separate parcels with each one preserving one or several important geologic or cultural features.  I was able to visit just one and the pictures posted here are from that single parcel, located east of Las Cruces. This is the “Needles” section and includes the Organ Mountains iconic mountain peaks. On the east side there are broad vistas sweeping all the way to White Sands National Monument, some fifty miles away. I wasn’t able to visit the Sierras de Las Uvas or the Protillo Mountains complex. I hope to be able to do so on another visit.

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The public comment period for input into the administrations decision…for or against the monument ended in July. Supporters need to express their opinions to state and federal elected officials to fight against the proposed downsizing and/or degradation of the targeted national monuments.

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A Fork in the Road

Schoolmate shot in the head by another — playing with a rifle…

That was my first encounter with gun deaths as a kid. Absolutely preventable. There would be more — friends or relatives of friends. We are at a fork in the road. Fifty-eight deaths at a concert. We have been here before but we always take the wrong path forward. That path only leads us to another ugly fork in the road and we always take the wrong path forward — deeper into the abyss of gun violence — fork after fork after fork. We don’t have the guts to take the right path because the wrong one is the familiar way…we don’t know what we will find on the right path and there are forces at work that keep us from going that way. We seem to be running in circles but it is a straight path downward.

Coworker’s son accidentally shot and killed by his father in a hunting accident.

That was my second encounter with gun deaths…some years later. Very sad, devastating indeed, and truly an accident. About one-third of Americans own firearms. About half of that number own only one or two guns. Many are hunters who are careful people when handling their firearms. Accidents happen but not all that often. Many are also sport shooters who are drawn to competitions or enjoy target shooting as a hobby. They are also very careful and usually shoot in a safe and controlled environment. I am technically a gun owner because I own a black-powder flintlock pistol that I once used in target shooting almost thirty-five years ago. It hasn’t been fired in over thirty years but I keep it in a safe place. Hunters and sport shooters are not the problem — but could be part of the solution to the gun problem in America.

Staff member’s young brother shot and killed by a confused and fearful security guard.

My next encounter with a gun death was absolutely preventable. He was a young black kid, a pre-teen, playing where he shouldn’t but was viewed as a threat by a startled security guard. The boy was with friends and they were doing what kids do. Somehow there was confusion in the dark and the security guard had a gun and used it. Guns are everywhere and fear is a great motivator to use them even when there is no real danger. About 3% of Americans own half the guns in this country. That’s somewhere around 180+ million guns. The average among that group is seventeen guns but some own many more. So many more that the average for all gun owners is somewhere around eight per owner. Some of those gun owners are legitimate collectors. Some might be legitimate gun vendors. Some, maybe more than some, are compelled by fear or some misguided notion of paranoia. I had a neighbor who pulled a gun on a fellow driver in a road rage incident. He was usually a calm person and not excitable but something happened that made him think he needed a gun. Then something happened that made him think he needed to use the gun. No one was hurt in the incident but a short time later it turned out he had a brain tumor. There is a lot of fear pushing people to own guns, mostly hand guns, and most of it is unwarranted.

A close friend and colleague gunned down by a white supremacist when he answered the front door.

My fourth encounter with a gun violence death was not that long ago. A good friend and colleague  was killed — they call it “assassinated” because he was a government official — by a white supremacy nut job who apparently acted on orders from an Aryan Brotherhood cell. The case is still open though the shooter was killed in a car chase. Someone put him up to it. There are crackpots and gun-crazy people and criminals and mental cases who should never have access to a gun. Kids should never have unsupervised access to a gun. The more guns we have the more they are circulated and end up where they don’t belong. About a half-million guns are stolen in this country every year, from private gun owners or from gun shops. Last December two guys stole a large Ford truck and drove it through the wall of a local gun shop and stole “several” guns…the number was not reported. They got away with the guns and have never been apprehended. About 1,600 guns are stolen in America each day. As gun advocates like the NRA pressure state legislatures to roll back gun possession and control laws the theft rate in those states increases. The guns fall into a black-market pipeline that funnels them into cities with stricter controls. A gun is stolen every minute in America.

A former coworker’s husband, a law enforcement officer, shot himself in the head on a quiet day on a quiet street for no apparent reason — a suicide.

A person bent on committing suicide will often find a way to accomplish it unless there is some intervention. Having a gun handy will speed things up — no intervention possible. It often destroys more than one life.  I live and grew up in a middle class community. I had the benefits of being educated and gainfully employed non-stop for 36 years. I mostly lived in “white” neighborhoods where one would not expect a great deal of gun violence. I know more people who died from firearms than I know who died from traffic accidents. I’m sure my experience with gun deaths is almost nothing compared to the experience of someone living in a ghetto or barrio or a gang controlled neighborhood.

Double homicide — jilted guy shoots and kills his girlfriend and her husband as they come out their door to go to work…an ambush killing.

This happened two doors away from my daughter’s house in a small town in rural Missouri. Gun violence is not just a city thing. The guy got away and was finally caught several hundred miles away. He had a gun and thought it was OK to kill people and figured he could get away. If he didn’t have the gun he wouldn’t have been waiting in the dark to squeeze off a couple rounds into his “problem” people. He wouldn’t have considered that to be a solution to his problem. There are about 310,000,000 guns in America with more added every day. We need more guns like we need a hole in the head.

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The Foolish Farmer and His Dog: An Allegory

dog-chickenOne day, not so very long ago, a farmer said to himself “I need to get a new dog. My old dog is ready to retire and I can no longer count on him to do the work of keeping my barnyard safe and well ordered.” So the farmer thought about what kind of dog he wanted but was having a hard time deciding. He went to the dog store but there wasn’t a big selection. In some ways that made the choice easier but in some ways it made the choice more difficult. One dog chased its tail all day so the farmer said “No — that would be a pointless choice for what I need.” Another dog seemed lost and confused. “No siree, I need a dog that is direct and strong minded”. The last two dogs were both alpha dogs and wanted to fight day and night. The dog man laid out the pros and cons of each of the two alpha dogs’ attributes. He really wanted to make a sale so he said good things about the dogs.

The farmer had bought dogs before so he considered what the man had to say but asked a lot of questions. Both dogs had some experience and the farmer decided that he would take one of these last two dogs.

One dog was golden colored, almost like a smallish Golden Retriever, but was somewhat troublesome. The dog man had to admit to some flaws in the dog’s character and, in fact admitted that the dog in question had killed chickens and sucked eggs some years earlier. Sometimes this alpha dog was a bad influence on other dogs or ran with a pack of bad dogs. The Golden dog was also very territorial and possessive, the man said, and would, on occasion, snap at other dogs or pick fights. But the dog man said all that was a long time ago and he was sure that the dog had reformed its behavior.

The other dog, looking more like a herding dog, had its own faults, too. He said it always tried to herd animals in the barnyard and was something of a nuisance in that regard. He said the Herder, being an alpha, was sometimes second-guessing its owner’s decisions and sometimes even made bad choices. The man generally said good things about the dog but the farmer noted that there was just a little hesitation at times. Of the two dogs, the Herder seemed to be somewhat secretive and maybe a little passive. The farmer asked more questions but the man said the Herder was a good dog and had no serious behavior problems that would cause problems but that it was a little stand-offish at times.

The farmer, being a long term dog owner, knew that some dogs were good and some were bad. Not all dogs were cut out for working on a farm and it was often hard to tell which was which. He pondered his choice carefully because both dogs were flawed but he really needed one quickly. He was put off a little by the man’s perceived hesitancy with the Herder and the farmer thought it was a little hard to read and something of a loner. It was quiet and well behaved but maybe that was just an act. On the other hand, the Golden dog was more social in some ways and, if it was possessive and territorial, it might be protective of the barnyard. Sure, it had a problem with attracting other bad dogs or maybe influencing good dogs to turn bad, but the farmer was not too concerned about that. Besides, the man said the Golden dog’s problems were in the past and it was now reformed.

After a while, the farmer decided to go home with the Golden dog. The dog was very happy and explored its new surroundings, especially the barnyard, and met the other animals there. The farmer was happy and sent his old retired dog to go live with his Uncle Joe. The farmer noticed a couple other strange dogs hanging around the farm…sometimes in the shadows and sometimes just over the fence.

One day the farmer went out into the barnyard and found a dead chicken. The farmer thought that maybe one of those lurking dogs had killed the chicken and he encouraged the Golden dog to be more vigilant and protective.

The Golden dog pranced and paraded around the barnyard and the farmer thought it was good that it had assumed possession of the barnyard and surroundings. The other dogs seemed to be less noticeable after a few days. But by and by the farmer found more dead chickens…first one and then another and then a third — four in all. The farmer was also finding fewer eggs and one day he saw that there were many broken egg shells in back of one of the empty stalls.

The farmer took the egg shells and the dead chickens and confronted the Golden dog. The dog was parading around the barnyard as usual when the farmer came and it snarled and snapped at the farmer. The Golden dog grabbed one of the dead chickens and stood over it, daring the farmer to take it back.

The farmer was nonplussed — taken aback that his dog would behave in such a way. Surely, he confessed to himself, it was his own dog that was killing chickens and sucking eggs. The dog man had told the farmer about the Golden dog’s one-time flaw but the farmer had dismissed it.

The farmer penned up the dog and scolded it. He kept it on a leash and walked it around the barnyard. When the Golden dog encountered a chicken the farmer yanked on the leash and yelled “No!!” and they continued with the walk. After several days of this the farmer thought that the problem had passed and released the Golden dog. The dog was somewhat sullen at first but in a while it was prancing and parading around the barnyard just like before.

The farmer thought that everything was fine but after a short while he noticed he was getting fewer eggs. He searched the barn but did not find any broken eggshells. Then the farmer noticed that some of his chickens were missing. The farmer looked at the Golden dog but the dog was innocently lying on the porch without a care in the world.

After a few days of this, the farmer began to smell something odd and decided to investigate. He looked everywhere but couldn’t pinpoint the source. The Golden dog watched from the porch as the farmer searched high and low. Finally, the farmer approached the porch and the Golden dog seemed to take notice. The farmer glanced at the dog and the porch and noticed a feather sticking out from the space under the porch. The Golden dog took an aggressive stance. The farmer saw that the Golden dog was back to its old tricks and had been killing chickens and sucking eggs all along but was hiding the evidence under the porch. The farmer marveled at how this could be as he took the dog and tied it to a tree far from the house and the barnyard. The Golden dog could no longer be trusted anywhere near the barnyard and was of no use to the farmer. The farmer recalled all the things that the dog man had said about the Golden dog’s problems and behaviors…things that the farmer had foolishly chosen to ignore.

The next day the farmer tried to return the Golden dog to the man at the dog store but the man would not take him back as the Golden dog had been nothing but trouble. Also the Herder dog — the better of the two — was gone and was busy on a different kind of farm in New York. The foolish farmer was sad that he was stuck with a useless dog so the dog man said “Take the worthless Golden dog to the junkyard and give it away to the junkman”…and that’s what the farmer did.

What have we learned?

geowashingtonFor better or for worse, the election is over. I think it is time for reflection, but not an autopsy. There has never been an election like this one. Our republic has been tested. We came through the storm and now must assess the damage. We all have reason to be dissatisfied with the process even if not the result. We have a President-Elect without a mandate, probably the worst kind of election outcome. The majority of votes were cast against him, if not in favor of another candidate. People claiming this is some sort of water-shed or revolution will be disappointed. If there was ever any real intention to “drain the swamp” we would have seen massive turnover in Congress.

In the end, this is what years of indoctrination via talk radio and conspiracy theories and self-defined victim status produces…they reached a tipping point. They become too stupid to know how stupid they are and that is a very paranoid place to be. It’s not just being uninformed, it’s being intentionally misinformed and willingly misled. We have seen that in other countries and it never ends well. In the face of this stupidity, it is our duty to preserve our republic and support our true values as a nation and our constitution.

There is an incredible level of ignorance about how our country and our government works. When I was in school, we could not graduate without completing two classes in civics. One was related to the state constitution and how state government worked. If the student didn’t pass the state constitution test they could not advance to high school. In high school there was a civics class that covered the US constitution and another mandatory test required for graduation. That requirement no longer exists. The Founding Fathers created a remarkable document in the US Constitution and it amazes me that most people, including the President-Elect, have little or no knowledge of its contents. Powers and duties of the three branches of government are specifically defined. Political parties are not covered in the original constitution because they did not exist. They developed more like private clubs than an arm of the government and they can make their own rules and do pretty much what they want. Every four years we have people who are astounded that there is an Electoral College made up of state Electors who choose the President and that these Electors are not bound to vote as their state voted.

The media voices are trying to explain the election outcome as if there are deep festering wounds in America that have been ignored for too long. Somehow it is America’s short-sightedness that is to blame. Many of those festering wounds are self-inflicted by hate groups. When you talk to the Trump supporters they all claim to be victims…it seems very chic to claim to have been victimized by one group or another. If there is no one group to blame for the victimization than it all must be Obama’s fault. These are fake, self-defined victims – they have been told repeatedly that they are being preyed upon by Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, welfare recipients, and illegal aliens…anyone who is different. They are being told this by people who are actually preying on them: the Rush Limbaugh types, the TV evangelist millionaires, the NRA, and Fox News. At the end of your sobering conversation, the poor, victimized Trump fans will climb into their Lexus or wannabe Humvee and drive away.

In this campaign there were, for the first time in recent history, foreign efforts to influence the election presumably in an attempt to discredit our republic and the democratic process. Those foreign efforts failed. One major strength of our system happens to be the orderly transfer of government as a result of an election. This will happen in January and by then much of the smoke will have cleared and we will have a better understanding of how things will go. Another strength is our election cycle — a President serves for four year terms. We have Congressional elections in two years so those with voter’s remorse or those who are opposed to the way things are going have an opportunity to change the members and direction of Congress. We have a Constitution that clearly lays out rights, duties and limits on power.

The current reaction to the election outcome is extreme on both sides and it could probably not be otherwise given the rhetoric and partisan rancor over the past year and a half. Over half of the electorate opposes the new President-Elect. He faces fraud and racketeering court cases before he is even sworn in.  I would not be surprised if he is hounded out of office by resignation before the end of his term or is impeached – our constitution provides for that. At any rate, he will likely face fierce opposition at every turn if he manages to stay in office for four years.

As we reflect on the process of selecting a President, I think it is important to consider at least one change. Our presidential election process is much too long. It is much too costly. It is much too divisive. The lengthy campaign tends to accentuate our differences and allows special interests and clever manipulators to sacrifice our civility and drive wedges into the natural fault lines that run through our society. We are not a homogeneous nation, nor were we ever meant to be. We are a nation of differences — race, ethnicity, religion, education, politics and gender to name a few major examples. Fault lines turn into fractures if there is enough pressure and our election process, lasting well over a year and a half, is causing too much damage. What can a voter learn in a year that they can’t learn in eight weeks if they are seriously following a campaign? In this day of lightning-fast communication and almost non-existent privacy the public knows within minutes what a candidate says or does. There are people making money – getting rich – over the course of our drawn out election cycle and there are states vying to be the earliest primary or caucus state. Why would it be relevant to be conducting a primary or caucus in February? This year there were six states with primary or caucus dates in February so campaigning started months before. If state caucus dates were in July and there were four regional primary dates in August and party conventions in early September, the entire actual final campaign could take about eight weeks. There would be months less of name calling, lies, charges and counter charges. Would the quality of candidates improve? I think it would because the process we have is not an incentive to run for office.

Another issue that we need to address is the Electoral College. This is the second time in five elections where the majority of votes were cast for the losing candidate. We harp on the concept that every vote counts and then the Electoral College shows that is a lie. I formerly supported the concept of the Electoral College as sort of a safety net for the process. After two apparent failures in recent history and an apparent expressed willingness by some electors to be “faithless”, voting for a different candidate, we need to get rid of it. That will take a vote of Congress and a constitutional amendment. It has been tried before and comes up short but not in recent times. An attempt to abolish it in 1934 failed to pass by two votes in the Senate in order to pass out of Congress and on to state ratification. I am not optimistic about abolishment – it will take a long time – but I think it is time to try.

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The Pornography of Donald Trump

          Try as he will, he can’t stop looking. There is something forbidden yet strangely appealing about it. It goes against almost everything he learned at an early age. It is counter to what she once thought of herself. It is like the curious lure of pornography and the Trump supporter can’t look away. Donald Trump has a strange and pornographic lure. It is not so much the outward message as it is the inner thrill of hearing, or thinking that one hears, something that appeals to the darkest emotions. Trump grants permission to go to that place and live there. Trump, of course will deny it but continues unabated.
          Then there is the “us against them” lure…a hook that catches the Trump supporter like a fish being snagged in the sea. Then, once caught, they are reeled in with an appealing line of whoppers. The falsehoods first appeal like a forbidden dessert and then eventually become the bread and butter of a distorted belief system.
          Trump becomes the thing that granted and sustains the release of the darkness, fear and hatred that skulked hidden like a cinder in the human heart. Not to worry…Trump will make it all better. It is almost like a mantra. Maybe, for some, it’s more like a painkiller or release of endorphins to accept Donald Trump as their personal guardian and guide through the perceived world of unfairness and danger that surrounds them. They are enchanted by the message…that which once was, is no more and Trump will make it right. Never mind the lack of detail or precision on what exactly was lost or what exactly Trump will do to make things better. It is a cultish allegiance to a self-made prophet. David Koresh and Jim Jones worked a similar magic in religion but Trump stays in the realm of politics and social behavior. We have seen other facets of this same dazzling gem at other times and in other parts of the world and it never turns out well.
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Reposted from Facebook

The Children’s Crusade

99/075 (6809.17A) Cowherd image. 2200dpi 100% from 35mm negative.Back in 1968 I remember standing in line and cheering and stomping my feet at large rallies for Eugene McCarthy.   All things considered, 1968 was a horrible year but the McCarthy campaign was inspiring and energized a lot of young voters and made them work for a candidate. McCarthy was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War and his campaign was dismissed as “The Children’s Crusade” by some political pundits. After McCarthy gained 42 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary it was clear that LBJ was weakened. Robert F. Kennedy, who was expecting McCarthy to be soundly beaten in New Hampshire, entered the presidential race on March 16th and immediately drew some support away from McCarthy. It was hard to compete with a Kennedy in the 1960s.  LBJ announced that he would not run for reelection by the end of March. Hubert Humphrey, Johnson’s Vice President entered the race shortly afterward. McCarthy continued  his campaign and had strong support among college students and younger voters and won six primaries.  RFK was more popular in general and especially with minorities — he was pulling in votes and winning big primaries. Meanwhile,  Humphrey worked in non-primary states and gained convention delegates without ever winning a primary.

The California primary in June was hard fought. McCarthy’s strength was in college towns and campuses and he focused his attention there. Kennedy visited ghettos and Latino  neighborhoods where he was strongest. Robert F. Kennedy ended up winning  by only four percentage points — but was assassinated just minutes after giving a victory speech in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  At that point the campaign was in chaos. Hubert Humphry already had a lead in delegates by working through state Democratic machines and power blocs and he gained the Democratic nomination at the convention. McCarthy was a distant second.

In the end, at the Chicago convention, the anti-war demonstrations and the “police riot” sucked the air out of whatever little idealism was left among the younger supporters. The 26th amendment lowering the voting age to 18 wasn’t passed until 1971 so many of us, me included, could not even vote in 1968. Richard Nixon won the election and became President.  It is still a little painful just remembering that year.

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In later years there were few other candidates that had a strong appeal and level of support from younger voters…who could now vote at age 18.  In 1972 McCarthy campaigned again but was up against other popular competitors including Jerry Brown, Edmund Muskie and Shirley Chisholm. George McGovern won the nomination and lost miserably to Richard Nixon — this was the Watergate election.  In 1976 it was Jimmy Carter who won…with the help of younger voters…against Gerald Ford.  In 1980 Ronald Reagan won against Carter but there was another candidate, John Anderson, who gained some youthful popularity and was gaining votes in Republican primaries as a moderate alternative to Reagan. Anderson received 5.7 million votes in the November election as a third-party candidate.

After Carter, and the Reagan years that followed, there hasn’t been all that much for younger voters to get excited about as a group. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama attracted a wider level of support and no one on the Republican side seemed to have much of a youth appeal.

Bernie Sanders now has the spotlight among younger voters. I like him and his ideas… but…I’ve been there before.  Sanders supporters are running into a brick wall and threatening to make a scene at the convention. Hillary Clinton is equally popular, has more delegates and has support among the DNC power groups. Our system is un-Constitutional — meaning thee is little guidance or direction coming from the US Constitution or addressing the parties or the nomination process. Good or bad, the parties make their own rules. As it is, Presidential politics is not child’s play….although this year, especially on the GOP side,  it seems like a bad day in the schoolyard.

Beware the Ides of March

There are a number of presidential primary elections today as Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio vote. This has been dubbed Super Duper Tuesday because there are a lot of delegates up for grabs. I don’t purposely get into politics much on this blog but it happens — and, as was recently pointed out, this Trump candidacy is becoming a moral issue and less of a political issue.

I, of course, will be voting Democratic in the November election as I can’t stomach any of the current Republican candidates. I will be OK with either Bernie or Hillary. Democrats are known by their first names. Republicans are known by their last names…for some reason. I like Bernie but I’m leaning toward Hillary.

It seems like Trump could put the whole thing to rest today on the Republican side if he wins Florida, Rubio’s home state. Kasich is the former Governor of Ohio so maybe he can win there. Cruz has been trying to win Missouri, for some reason. That is my old home state and it is full of bible thumpers and gun toting rednecks so it might be easy to pick up. Cruz has a state campaign operative who has been publicly blamed as the cause of a leading gubernatorial  candidate’s suicide. It’s just plain ugly.  Illinois Republicans are sort of like orphans in search of a family so they might run to Trump.  I suspect North Carolina is Trump country.  We will know tonight.

On the Democrat side the struggle is interesting but not too surprising. Hillary has a lot of deep support and Bernie is the outsider with a vocal following. I think Illinois might be interesting to watch.

The ascendancy of Donald Trump is a puzzlement as he doesn’t possess the usual GOP traits to be a presidential contender. He has no elected or governmental experience and no military credentials.  Even Sarah Palin, the low-water mark for recent GOP candidates, had more in her favor in that regard.  His business experience is a mixed bag of wheeling and dealing. He has had business failures and has outsourced companies abroad. He inherited his wealth and if he had just invested it passively he would be richer today than he is. That would seem to make his touted business acumen very questionable. His knowledge of constitutional restraints and requirements is lacking. He is very poorly informed on many foreign and domestic issues that he should be aware of. Lack of knowledge and being poorly informed seems to be strengths in the eyes of his avid supporters…who are equally clueless. He enjoys demeaning people who are different, condones a level of violence against his opponents and advocates identifying and tracking Muslim citizens through a special government data base. That’s the moral equivalent of a yellow star used by the Nazis to identify Jews..

I worry about the Republicans. Informed observers and political pundits are speaking of Trump’s rise in the face of clear opposition by GOP establishment and the old core of party supporters as the likely death of the Republican party as we know it.  If that is the case, and I hope it isn’t, they have it coming and deserve this meltdown.

It always comes as a surprise to Republicans that they are the minority party in this country. When they discover this they open their ranks to any and all kinds of fringe extremists, bible thumpers and charlatans hoping to attract more fringe voters. That’s the only way to remain a national party. Do this long enough and you get Cruz and Carson and Huckabee and Palin and a half dozen others. The core is diluted and drowned out by the fringe. The tea partiers saw the GOP as ripe for the  picking and the ensuing struggle weakened the party further. By the time Trump launched his hostile takeover the leadership was too fractured and weak to field an effective counter attack. It will be a miracle if they can get their act together to save the party.

GOP defenders say that the party is in control of the House and Senate and therefore the party alive and well. Not if you take a good look at the GOP members of Congress and their lack of legislative success or even the semblance of governing. They actually haven’t tried. There is little real party discipline and their only common goal is to obstruct all things Obama…shutting down the government if need be. If obstruction is your only tool you are not governing.

Trump is bad for the party but he and his supporters don’t really care and it appears that this is almost a third-party campaign in a fake Republican cloth coat. Cruz is equally dangerous to the party because of his aggressive and unpredictable behavior, tea-party affiliation and his odd-ball religious fervor. It seems that Trump lies or deflects the truth sometimes because he doesn’t know any better. Cruz knows better but chooses to lie. He was the GOP darling when he was happy being a tool to attack Obama but now he is eating his own and is a monster of their own creation.

Sure, the Dems have their own set of problems but they pale by comparison and are usually individual moral or judgment issues. Voters can get past John Edwards, Bill and Hillary but not the maniacal fringe craziness in the current GOP. The wing-nuts on the right concoct all sorts of goofy claims because it appeals to them…and no one else.   The Republican debates were an amazing spectacle before a national TV audience demonstrating how far the GOP has gone off the rails.  It’s sad and dangerous in the long run.

Professor Robert Reich, who formerly served in the Ford, Carter and Clinton administrations, recently wrote an article on the impending demise of the Republican Party. (Robert Reich: The GOP died in 2016 – Salon.com) He points out the obvious…that the party is decaying into a group of “warring tribes” who are feeding on the carcass of the old GOP. His second point that I wish he would have expanded on a little is that this is actually bad for the country.

Really…what comes next? The fight over the GOP party platform this summer will be more interesting and may be more important than choosing the nominee. Whatever solidifies as a platform will define the future course of whatever the party carcass morphs into. There will be some sore losers…where will they go?. I’m a Democrat, mostly, but we, as a nation, need a viable and rational counter weight to the Democrats that understands governance and compromise. The foolishness of obstruction and the fractured confrontational approach we have seen for the last decade or more isn’t working.