Category Archives: Politics


The unspeakable problem on the tip of everyone’s tongue –
what everyone is thinking but no one is saying.

There is an elephant in the room. It is ever-present in any discussion about the homeless crisis in cities across the country, but nobody want to talk about it except in politically correct terms.

So just what is the elephant in the room. It is the face of homelessnessthe tents and tent cities that are seemingly everywhere – everywhere except the wealthiest neighborhoods in any city, well-off communities and the enterprise zones that can afford to keep them out of sight.

The recent pandemic has served to bring the full force of homelessness into view. Many of the churches and other do-gooders that served food to the homeless around the city, have shut down. The campers have moved en masse to the only locations that still provide food service. In San Francisco, CA it is The Tenderloin. In Portland, OR it is Old Town.  Chaos and lawlessness rule. Garbage is everywhere.  Drug dealing is endemic. Local residents are fearful of walking their neighborhood day or night afraid of being attacked.

Let’s address the elephant in the room.

When the public asks its government to do something about the homeless situation in their community, what they are really saying is, “Please get rid of all those tents.” It’s not that they don’t have empathy for a lot of the homeless, they just don’t want it shoved in their faces.

They are afraid of the homeless. Poverty is associated with crime. That is a fact, and most people feel the homeless are the source of much of the petty crime in their neighborhoods. They may be right, and we may never know because petty criminals are rarely abducted and almost never prosecuted. In addition, drug dealing is pandemic among the homeless which only exacerbates the homeless condition. Tents are the face of poverty and crime.

The tents are a blight on any neighborhood. Walk through almost any tent camp and you’ll see needles, garbage, defecation and deplorable living conditions. The inhabitants of these tents are a diverse group, from people employed that can’t afford the rent in their city, to drug addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill who are both unemployable and unhouseable in their present state, and everybody in between. Homelessness is not a one-size-fits-all condition. Tents are the face of ugliness and revulsion.

Tent camps on city sidewalks is a reminder that the law works for some but not for others. It is an affront to tax payers that feel their rights have been violated by allowing the lawless behavior and depriving them of free and unobstructed access to an amenity that they pay for. Tents are the face of a broken and unaccountable government.

Who are the tent campers?

Just who are the campers? They are a diverse group whose only commonalities are that they are homeless and they all have a will to survive. I reject the use of the term “vulnerable population.” In fact, some are but many are not. Their reasons for being homeless are as varied as the group itself.

Campers easily discover food and shelter. Social services that provide these amenities are in abundance. The knowledgeable camper knows where to get breakfast, lunch and supper. Starvation is not an issue. Tents are passed out just as freely. They have grown into status symbols among the campers. Some are easily ported in a backpack. Others are mega structures designed for long-term stays.

Tent cities have become commonplace. The demographics of these communities are not unlike the housed population. Self-segregation is typical. The tribal instinct is not lost among campers. Blacks want to be with blacks, Hispanics with Hispanics, LGBTQ’s with other LGBTQ’s, families with families, women with other women, animal lovers with animal lovers, etc.

Although homelessness isn’t a crime (unless, of course, if you’re pitching a tent on the sidewalk), why is it that the larger the camps the higher the crime rate. Burglaries, assaults, vandalism all increase as the number of campers increase.

Is it fair to paint all campers with the same brush? Of course, it isn’t. As the old saying goes, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” For this reason alone, it is necessary to find an immediate solution to the campers on our sidewalks.

What can be done about the campers in Portland?

First of all, there is a law against tent camping:

14A.50.050 Erecting Permanent or Temporary Structures on Public Property or Public Rights of Way.

A.  It shall be unlawful to erect, install, place, leave, or set up any type of permanent or temporary fixture or structure of any material(s) in or upon non-park public property or public right-of -way without a permit or other authorization from the City.

B. In addition to other remedies provided by law, such an obstruction is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. The City Engineer, City Traffic Engineer, or Chief of Police may summarily abate any such obstruction, or the obstruction may be abated as prescribed in Chapter 29.60 of this Code.

C.   The provisions of this Section do not apply to merchandise in the course of lawful receipt or delivery, unless that merchandise remains upon the public right of way for a period longer than 2 hours, whereupon the provisions of this Section apply.

D.   The provisions of this Section do not apply to depositing material in public right-of-way for less than 2 hours, unless the material is deposited with the intent to interfere with free passage or to block or attempt to block or interfere with any persons(s) using the right-of-way.

This does not mean that someone cannot cuddle up in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk and take a long nap. Sitting or lying on the sidewalk is still permitted. Placing a tent or cardboard structure over the sleeping bag is not.

What doesn’t work.

Portland’s solution to campers have been the sweeps – posting 24 to 48-hour notice to campers that their tents and possessions will be removed if they do not vacate the premises. This has resulted in nothing more than a revolving door. Within days after a sweep, sites are usually replete with campers again. It is not a solution. It is an appeasement to the housed community.

The housed community, however, wants a more permanent solution that addresses the many problems with camping and campers. While building affordable and supportive housing to solve the problem is admirable, the exorbitant cost of housing ($300,000-400,000 per unit) will only provide a roof over someone’s head for a small fraction of the estimated 15,000 homeless in the Portland area. In the meantime, more and more people are becoming homeless. Housing is a very long-term solution, but it does nothing to address the problem today.

Realizing that a tent is a shelter and much preferred by most homeless over mass, impersonal indoor shelters (unless it’s a hotel room), providing space for campers to put up their tents and keep their possessions without fear of being swept, is a short-term yet humane solution to this growing problem. It is also an infinitely less expensive solution in so many ways that it cannot be ignored any longer.

Many neighborhoods are finally realizing that homelessness and campers are growing and not going away anytime soon. They are now willing to be part of the solution rather than just complaining about it.  They look to three successful self-governed camps – Dignity Village, Right 2 Dream 2 and Kenton Women’s Village.

Portland’s Old Town is the epicenter of homelessness and it spreads throughout the city like a plague. Clean up Old Town by spreading campers and services throughout the city, and the crisis becomes much more manageable.

What will work.

The City of Portland should set up and manage sanctioned campgrounds throughout the city. It is also time that other cities, the Counties and the State do the same thing. Between cities, counties and the State, along with the private sector and non-property tax paying entities, there is enough vacant land available to provide campsites for every camper.

By containing campers, it would then be possible to provide sanitation facilities instead of allowing them to defecate and urinate on the sidewalks. Portable showers and laundry facilities could be rotated between campgrounds. Food could be brought to the campers. After all, Meals on Wheels delivers 4500 meals a day to seniors, so there is no excuse. Social services could mobilize. Even though they don’t like the idea and fight against it, mobilization should be made a criteria for continued funding. Campgrounds could be segregated or not.

Any lame excuse to say this can’t be done, no longer has an audience. Recently three COVID-19 camps were made ready in a matter of weeks with all the facilities aforementioned. It was a priority. The same priority should be applied to campers in general. Taxpayers are losing patience with the response to the homeless crisis because they see the situation getting worse, not better.

For less than the cost of a single affordable housing unit, the City can say that they have control of the homeless crisis and can work its way towards the long-term solution of a home for everyone.

Whose right is it anyway?

Since the death of George Floyd, our country’s cities have been besieged by protesters both peaceful and violent. Thousands of peaceful protesters have walked arm in arm on city streets, highways and bridges to bring attention to their cause – Black Lives Matter. They are not quiet and should not be. Social injustice is pervasive in America no matter how many laws have been passed to eradicate it. It is the single most blatant failure of the great American experiment.

Hundreds of violent protesters who burn, loot, vandalize and otherwise create chaos are the bad apple that spoils the bunch and police are loath to stop it. After all, police brutality is what started this chain of events. Violent protesters are using the shield of legitimate protesters to wield their brand of destruction and there isn’t a black face among them. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are criminals getting away with breaking the law. They cower behind what every American thinks is the bulwark of our democracy – the United States Constitution.

First Amendment rights under the Constitution have been given such broad definitions that many rights we hold dear are in jeopardy. Our right to public safety is at risk because the police are afraid to use force against these mobs. Violent protesters are using their free speech right which now seems to include throwing Molotov cocktails at police, breaking down fences designed to protect property, vandalizing property, tossing bricks, stones and other lethal projectiles just to antagonize as a means to who knows what end. We used to call this kind of activity riots. Today it is violent protests protected under the banner of free speech.  I doubt that our founding fathers ever intended free speech to go this far.

The right to life is in jeopardy when free speech consisting of untruths, insults, fake news and worse can result in someone’s ruined reputation or worse. The right to liberty is in jeopardy when federal storm troopers invade our streets on the premise of protecting public property and arbitrarily detain anyone that dares question their actions. Our right to the pursuit of happiness is in jeopardy when Republicans allow our democracy to devolve executive order by executive order into a white supremacist autocracy. Even our right to free speech is in jeopardy when it is given absurdly to an entity, a corporation that can only speak with money. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Money talks.”

As the current administration continues to chip away little by little at the Constitution, either legally or illegally, we run the risk of losing our democracy and the rights which we, as American citizens, enjoy today. Abetted by a Justice Department that seeks to give more and more power to an illegitimate president – a president that was elected not of the people, by the people and for the people, but by an outmoded process that ignores the premise of majority rule — our rights may no longer be our rights much longer.

Democracy is not a thing to be taken for granted. How quickly we forget lessons from the past. Despots so easily undermine democracies when the people become complacent and turn a blind eye to obvious wrongs, to administrations/regimes that fail to be accountable to their constituencies and to the gross societal inequities such power produces over time. Rights given can just as easily be taken away.  Our single most important inalienable right is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Russia Is Responsible For Trump’s Win

putin helped trump win electionNo matter how many people say that Russia’s email hacks did not influence the outcome of our election, it simply isn’t true. Those hacks and subsequent weaponization of them is the only reason we are confronted with the scariest president-elect in our history. I would even go so far as to say that Donald Trump conspired with Vladimir Putin to throw the election his way. Trump’s ego is too big not to have wanted to win, and now he is indebted to Putin.

It’s doubtful the polls had it wrong on election day. I believe that Hillary Clinton was leading in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota which ultimately gave Trump the electoral votes to win the election. Instead, Russia calculated the fragile mood of voters in those states and allowed the Trump political machine to target them with last minute fake news  and vitriolic rhetoric attacks on Hillary Clinton thereby triggering a change of vote by only a few thousand disgruntled, ignorant and uninformed voters to cast their vote for what promises to be the most detrimental administration ever to occupy the office of president.

And who is sitting in the wings licking his chops over this injustice to the American people? None other than Vladimir Putin. Not only will he have a pro-Russian president at his disposal but a cabinet full of pro-Russian hacks who clearly have more to gain by an alliance with Russia than not.

Rex Tillerson, recent ex-CEO of ExxonMobil and Secretary of State appointee, is a case in point. With a $500 billion Exxon oil deal sitting on the back burner due to U.S. sanctions, a pro-Russian government and Tillerson himself would no doubt have those sanctions lifted allowing the deal to move forward benefiting who exactly –certainly not the United States but definitely ExxonMobil and by association Rex Tillerson.

Yet another scary prospect concerns NATO. A pompous Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of our long-term European alliance while Putin sits with tanks and troops on the borders of previous Soviet satellite countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania waiting for the moment he can attack with impunity and bring back under Russian control.

Putin needs the United States, but we don’t need him or Russia. The Russian economy is virtually non-existent. Military production is the only thing keeping it afloat. All Putin needs is an excuse to use his military might, and America’s withdrawal or even its reduced support of NATO would offer Putin just that. Let us not forget the Crimea incident. Do you think a pro-Russian government with a disdain of NATO would retaliate?

Russia simply has too much to lose not to have a pro-Russian American government. Putin is much smarter than Donald Trump. He is a devious, calculating, sociopath who will go to any length no matter how dangerous to get what he wants.  He is a far greater threat than Trump can even think of being unless you consider Trump’s threat to his own country. Trump’s danger is his complete ignorance of world affairs other than for his own personal “brand.” He, too, is a sociopath in a less evil way.

So it made sense for Putin to influence the election. Hillary Clinton would not have furthered his agenda. There was much planning and calculation that went into his covert operation to get Donal Trump elected president. If the CIA, FBI and NSA dig deep enough, I’m confident they will find it and discover too late that Russia is responsible for Trump’s win.

Donald Trump – A Sad Commentary on American Politics

anti donald trumpNearly one week after the cataclysmic upset of Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump in the national election, my stomach is still churning. I can’t look at photos of her without breaking into tears. I feel the earth shaking under my feet and the sky feels like it’s tumbling down. Oh Carol King would you have been a better candidate?

I know it’s fruitless to waste time worrying about what is to befall our country and ourselves. It is what it is. Nothing is going to change — unless, of course, the electors of the Electoral College decide to cast their ballots for Hillary on December 19th. I can only pray for a miracle, but I won’t be holding my breath. In the meantime, I just hope I’m not developing an ulcer.

We did not need Donald Trump as President at such a fragile time in our history. It seems the entire world is being upended beginning with the Brexit vote as a major protectionist movement and followed by the current upheaval on the French political scene. With Germany taking in over 1 million refugees, is Angela Merkel’s chancellery in jeopardy? Trump’s chuminess with Vladimir Putin has emboldened Russia to send a flotilla of warships to the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. I doubt this would have happened if Hillary had been our President-elect.

And this is just the beginning. We now have a self-proclaimed racist, Stephen Bannon,  as Trump’s chief strategist sanctioning bigotry, hatred and dangerously widening the racial  and social divide.  Black Lives Matter may well become the calling card for more than just blacks as all but white, Christian conservatives are fair game for attack. Could we be on the verge of civil war? It will be interesting to see if gun sales begin to increase dramatically in the next number of months.

I sincerely hope my fears are unfounded, but six nights of demonstrations across the country don’t give me a lot of hope. I can fully understand the disappointment of all those middle-class Americans that voted for Trump. Their voices have been drowned out for too long. Good-paying jobs have disappeared. Their quality of life has diminished. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. Our unemployment rate may be at a record low level, but a great many of those that are employed are, in fact, under employed.  It is not their fault that they have been left in the dust of a changing world. Government has done little to alleviate their woes rolling merrily along with the tides of change.

Sadly, government didn’t even hear or recognize their plight, and I am as guilty as government. Ensconced in my own little world with very little rocking my boat, I go from day to day disturbed most by a serious homeless problem in Portland, OR and surrounds and not realizing that many more millions of people are also hurting. Out of sight, out of earshot, out of mind.

Yet, I take issue with those 50 or so million people that voted for Donald Trump. Government did not take their jobs away. Many of the high-paying middle-class jobs have been in decline for decades. Jobs did not go overseas. Production went overseas because companies had to find a way to manufacture their products cheaper than they could do at home so the Americans could afford to buy them. Many items that we take for granted today would be unaffordable if they were still manufactured in the U.S.A. If migrant workers from south of the border weren’t being used to build houses, home ownership would be unattainable for a majority of households.

Many if not all of the jobs that no longer exist are never coming back, but other jobs have grown to take their place. The problem is a lack of training for the new economy. It is government and industry to see that training is provided. This is where government fell down, and the tidal wave of votes for a man that should never have gotten past the Republican primaries now sits at the doorstep of the most powerful position in the world.

Do I trust him? Absolutely not. I see doom and gloom and so do millions of others. I hope we are wrong and that we can survive four years of a Trump presidency. Actually, I hope we can survive the first 100 days.

And the winner is…………

trumpWho would have guessed almost one year ago that, above all odds, Donald Trump would come out on top of the heap of Republican presidential hopefuls.  I can’t say I was surprised. If you stayed on top of the news (and I don’t mean campaign news, but news in general), it wasn’t difficult to correlate Trump’s rhetoric with many of the national headlines. As bombastic as he was, he spoke to a largely disenfranchised middle and lower middle class –  those that have lost jobs to technology, failed to save for retirement, failed to see that the world was changing faster than they were, and blamed their demise on anybody but themselves.

Illegal immigrants got much of the blame. It’s unfortunate that it’s the same 20% of illegals that spoil it for the rest, because it’s just about that many that are criminals and drug dealers. The other 80% are simply trying to achieve a better life fleeing abject poverty, war and persecution.  They do not live off of government handouts. They work harder than most Americans can even imagine. Without them, there are many things that would quickly become unaffordable like housing. If builders had to pay union carpenters to frame homes at roughly $36/hr. instead of the $15-17/hr. they pay an illegal immigrant worker,  only the well-off could buy a home.

Why do you think so many things are made in foreign countries, not just China? It’s so Americans can afford to buy them. Many things that take manual labor to construct – shoes, clothing, electronics, and much of which you have in your home – is just too expensive to be “made in America.” And it won’t be until technology figures out how to automate those kinds of jobs that apparel manufacturing and the like will return to our shores.

And let’s not overlook retirement savings. For years, people have been told they should save for retirement. For those that worked for an organization that offered a good pension plan, you probably fared much better than those that didn’t. Of course, if you weren’t blessed with a company pension plan, you may have had a 401K plan available to you, and IRA’s have been around for many years now. And, of course, there’s the old bank savings account. But somehow a larger and larger TV set was more important, or that SUV with its $400/mo. payment was a necessity. Self-gratification was always more important than saving for a rainy day.

Trump speaks to his minions from perhaps the lowest level we have ever seen in a presidential candidate. He has captured the minds of those that have a very hard time thinking for themselves.  If he told them what to eat for dinner tonight, no doubt they would oblige him.

Not I. Eight years ago, I wanted Hillary to win the nomination. This year I will get my with, and I can’t wait to have the first woman president, something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. But then I never thought I’d see a black president either. Glory be!!