House of Bears


With all the unpleasant news that consistently invades our world, every so often a story emerges that is so fun and interesting that it momentarily shuts out all the ugliness.

I came across one of these stories (with photos) this morning and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Polar Bears move into abandoned Artic weather station

At the end of the article, the author made the following statement. Do you agree?

I think that sooner or later all human-made things on Earth will cease to exist – buildings, cars and computers will all meet their end. But life is eternal.

P.S. Before you answer, be sure to read why he says this.

Image by calluna628 from Pixabay

A Must Read!

The following is a Guest Editorial that was recently published in our local newspaper. I found myself agreeing with this writer again and again … and I tend to think many of my readers will do the same.

For your reading pleasure …

“A pox on all their houses!”
“Toss the Bums out!”
I have heard this refrain for as long as I can remember. And I am old.

It is an understandable sentiment. People believe that they voted for someone who was going to represent them, drain the swamp, listen to the voices of the citizenry, bring change. But little if any of that happened. Now election time is coming again and the new crop of candidates is making all those promises again, and again we hear a chorus of “Toss the bums out!”

There are some bums in the mix, to be sure. A few names jump immediately to mind. But it is likely that the problem isn’t just bums. The problem is a system that rewards bumlike behavior and punishes honesty.

To run for office, national office in particular, one must be a full-time candidate for months ahead of the election. No one who works for a living can do that, so the candidates of late are all rather fabulously rich. Joe Biden was the least wealthy of all major presidential candidates in 2020 and he is a multi-millionaire. That means that we rarely elect people who have lived our lives. They are unlikely to have ever made a list of past due dates for bills so they could, hopefully, pay them just in time to avoid late fees. They just don’t get it. Pretty much none of them.

And the cost of elections and the length of campaigns just keeps growing. That is not only because it takes time to get a name out there. It is also because of the obscene cost of running a campaign. The result of that cost is the need to spend a lot of time fundraising. That, in turn, means that candidates are wooing big donors, i.e. those special interests we love to hate. Unions, the gun lobby, big pharma, big oil, not to mention the necessary wad of cash from one of the major parties. Time spent with those mega donors means that your donation of $5, $100 or $1,000 has no influence attached.

It also means that if elected, we will all doubt if decisions by the new office holder to support or oppose something come out of conviction or out of financial self interest. All this is, of course, made worse by perfectly legal dark money. (Thank you, Citizens United.) We too often have no idea from where millions of dollars in donations originate, so we don’t even know to whom a candidate may be beholding.

Now, let’s say a candidate survives all this and is elected to national office. They will be a part of a  Constitutional system created nearly 250 years ago in a series of compromises. Those compromises were probably necessary at the time if this nation was going to survive at all, but many of them now only serve to give a minority of voters outsize influence on elected officials. The electoral college, created to appease slave states; the Senate, created to appease rural states; the House, created to appease urban states; the filibuster, just a senate rule, not a law, all serve a system in which the majority of American citizens cannot, regardless of whom they elect, get the change they desire. Even in presidential elections, the popular vote has failed to select a winner five times in our history! A minority of officials representing a minority of voters can prevent any change from taking place.

So, the bum you elected may try to do the things they promised, but they will too often be stopped by a system that is very hard to change unless those elected through it, and whose continued power depends on maintaining it, want that change to occur. That bum-encouraging system will be changed only if We the People make enough noise about it. In the meantime, noticing the efforts to do the right thing by those we elect is important, whether it succeeds or not. Blaming a single person for failing to succeed against a 250 year old system supported by the wealth and interests of those in power and with an inside influence track is shortsighted and unfair. Be careful which bums you vote to throw out. Some may be on the side of the angels.

The newspaper provided the following credit for the article:

[Name withheld]  is a retired Joseph Lane Middle School teacher. Currently living in Portland, she and her husband raised their three children in Roseburg.

I Needed This …


Confession time.

Regrettably, I must admit I’ve been swayed by the several negative news items surrounding many (and often, most) of President Biden’s actions and decisions over the past year. So much so that I’ve expressed my disappointment in him “out loud.”

Then I read Heather’s most recent newsletter.

As she so carefully and thoroughly went down the list of his accomplishments throughout 2021, I was a bit ashamed that I had allowed myself to be so influenced by the media and their seemingly incessant desire to focus on the negative.

I am not saying that Biden has been a perfect leader.

There are definitely areas where I think he could have handled things better. As an example, I personally feel he (or perhaps the news media?) put far too much focus on trying to rein in the virus. Naturally we all want it to “just go away,” but it is not a country or a personality that can be fought and overcome. Rather, it is a pernicious and invisible enemy that tends to defy all manner of attack.

And to that point, there’s really only so much we can do …

In any case, this was just one of the reasons why I needed to read what Heather outlined in her newsletter about President Biden. I needed to be reminded of his several accomplishments, rather than allowing myself to be so influenced by the (seemingly innate) negativism of the media.

As well as the ongoing criticism by various Republicans!

I trust you will gain as much benefit as I did from Heather’s excellent synopsis of President Biden’s first year in office.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How Old Is Too Old?


When Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1981, he was 69 years and 349 days old. At that point in time, he was the oldest person to ever be elected as POTUS. Although many considered him too old to hold the office, some years later Trump came along and at age 70 (and 220 days), he was chosen to become the U.S. President.

Then in 2021, the record was surpassed when Joe Biden was voted in as POTUS at 78 years of age.

In this article, the author (who believes we need a constitutional age limit for president) writes:

It’s obvious that we are living longer and are generally healthier as we age than previous generations. But it’s also true that the vast majority of us slow down, both mentally and physically, as we head into our eighth decade.

Even former President Jimmy Carter weighed in on the topic when, in 2019, he commented: “I hope there’s an age limit…If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger, I don’t believe I could undertake the duties I experienced when I was president.” 

Yet both Trump (who will be 78) and Biden (who will be 82) have both considered running for the office again in 2024.

Of note, there are several members of Congress who are also serving at advanced ages:

  • Diane Feinstein, age 87
  • Chuck Grassley, age 87
  • Don Young, age 87
  • Nancy Pelosi, age 80
  • Bernie Sanders, age 78
  • Mitch McConnell, age 78

While the U.S. constitution does specify a minimum age for elected members of Congress and the President, it (rather unfortunately) does not address a maximum.

Interestingly, according to various polls, more than half (58%) of Americans say that there should be a maximum age limit — with most suggesting 80 years of age. However, to my knowledge, there has been no legislative action or discussion on the matter.

(Hmmm. Considering the above list, I wonder why …?)

While it is true that chronological age can be deceiving (nearly everyone knows individuals who are far more vigorous than their advanced age might suggest), mental and physical capabilities DO diminish as we progress in life. And while there may be some truth to the sayings that “age is a state of mind” and “you are only as old as you think you are” — can we put our trust in such adages when it comes to running a country the size of the United States? Especially if an event arose that required a “snap decision” that could affect millions of people?

I tend to think not.

(It is my sincere wish that the roster of 2024 presidential candidates will include candidates that can walk straight and think clearly. 🙂)