rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

You. Fox News viewer. You who no longer get your “news” anywhere else. You folks who call yourselves true Republican “conservatives.” Listen up. Listen carefully. This is just for you.
IT’S NOT YOUR NEWS ANYMORE! Faux News is no longer reporting the “news” for true Republican “conservatives.” None. Zip. Nada.

This is not my message. It’s actually from Frank Rich of New York Magazine – a man made of much sterner stuff than I. Frank Rich – a most respected journalist for many a year – did something few of us with little patience for the phony faux-journalistic outpourings of Rupert Murdoch’s little Republican talking points factory could ever do.

Frank Rich immersed himself in seven days of nothing but right wing media – written and broadcast. He read and listened to everything he could find to the exclusion of normally accepted newspapers and broadcasters. Even the I-Net. From responsible conservatives like George Will and David Brooks to the flatulent Rush and others further out there who believe “true conservatives” use only tinfoil as a head cover. He spent an entire week buried in a range media output from solid information to fearful paranoia.

And you know what he learned? The one overriding insight he gained from such mental depravity? Listen up, Fox believer.

Frank Rich learned Faux News is not broadcasting “true conservative stories,” not dealing with “true conservative facts” and seems to be ignoring the real issues of concern to real conservatives.
Rich found denizens of the conservative forest are talking to others in the trees about massive federal debt and how to reduce it – their desires for real immigration reform – putting some Wall Street types in jail for nearly sinking our national economy – beefing up the military – gaining control of state governments – and other issues seldom found on Fox in any detail.

Most of all, the folks out there aren’t talking much about Mitt Romney. Rich found sizeable evidence “true conservatives” have written off Romney and are looking for more information about this year’s congressional and state races. They’ve conceded the next four years to Obama and want to find someone better than Romney to get behind in 2016. They want that search to start – today.
If your digestive system will handle it, settle down in front of your TV for a couple of hours with Fox. A good sour mash whiskey helps. Listen to the verbal chaff from the talking hand puppets. Make a list of what they’re chatting about, who they’re talking about and how many times you hear the name “ Romney.”

Then compare your list to what Rich says folks are really talking about in the REAL conservative world.. What you’ll find – as Rich did – is very little of the former and a lot of the latter.

Especially a lot of Romney/Ryan on Fox. You won’t find much detail about what real conservatives are saying, subjects local Republican cental committees are dealing with or conservative efforts to find a new presidential candidate. Now. Today.

Several national surveys by respected institutions have shown Fox viewers are poorly informed about real issues, are getting faulty information to reinforce the skewed views of the far right, have little accurate information about foreign affairs, and tend to believe “facts” that aren’t true. Now, it seems, even those real world subjects the true conservatives are talking about are being avoided by their trusted voice.

Rich and others have discovered the secret of Fox News. The real reason for its existence. To be a megaphone for the views of Rupert Murdoch. That’s really all it is. And, as we’ve learned about the operation of Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper empire, the lengths to which he will allow his people to go to pursue his personal outlook on life. Even if they have to break the law or manufacture “facts.”
As a near-lifetime member of the media, I’ve long hammered Fox for a lot of things – for what I believe are good and professional reasons. But I’ve missed something. Something Frank Rich discovered by sealing himself off from the real world for seven days and existing on a diet of right wing propaganda while avoiding the Kool-aid.

Fox is not only untrue to honest facts in its skewed presentations, it’s also untrue to the audience that has long believed it to be the banner carrier of their political outlook. Its own base. And now, Frank Rich has discovered it’s lying – even to them! It’s serving only the guy who signs the paychecks.

Well, there you have it, my Fox friends. That’s the way it is. Your favored media bastion of all things conservative is no more real than Disneyland.

How about it? Want to grab a glass, an ice cube or two and spilt the rest of that bottle of sour mash?

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Rainey

carlson
NW Reading

How smoky is it in eastern Washington? Very, the Department of Ecology said today in this statement.

Smoke is filling up the low-lying areas of Eastern Washington with weather patterns keeping a lid on most of the region with no relief in sight, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.

“Unfortunately, areas around Wenatchee remain in the worst shape,” said Sean Hopkins, Ecology air quality specialist in Yakima. “At the same time, other areas are experiencing unhealthy air anywhere smoke lingers from the hundreds of wildfires that are burning.”

Specifically, Ecology and Forest Service air-quality monitors in Chelan County are reading in the hazardous and unhealthy ranges. Poorer conditions are trending in the Quincy area and conditions could worsen around Spokane, Pullman and Clarkston.

Monitor measurements in Ellensburg are in the unhealthy range, but is trending better than earlier hazardous readings. Cle Elum readings by the Forest Service are moderate, showing some improvement.

All residents in the Wenatchee area should stay indoors and curtail their physical activities both indoors and out. Doors and windows should remain closed. In the remainder of the Yakima and Columbia basins common sense precautions should be taken by everyone, but sensitive groups — such as children, the elderly and heart patients — are particularly vulnerable.

The biggest health threat comes from the fine particles in smoke. These can cause burning eyes, runny nose, bronchitis and other illnesses. Smoky air also can aggravate pre-existing heart and lung diseases, and even lead to death.

Follow air quality online at the Washington Department of Ecology wildfire/smoke Web page: Go to Ecology’s home page at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/ and click on “Wildfire smoke updates” on the right side under “Spotlight.”

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Reading Washington

carlson
NW Reading

From a statement by the Oregon Center for Public Policy released today.

Poverty in Oregon increased yet again last year, and poverty levels are particularly alarming among children and communities of color. It’s time for Governor Kitzhaber and state lawmakers to develop a plan to reduce poverty.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the share of Oregonians living in poverty increased to 17.5 percent in 2011 — up from 15.8 percent in 2010 and 12.9 percent in 2007, prior to the start of the recession.

Child poverty increased as well. Last year 23.6 percent of children in Oregon (almost 1 in 4) lived in poverty. This was up from 21.6 percent in 2010 and 16.9 percent in 2007.

Poverty levels are worse for communities of color compared to non-Hispanic whites. In 2011, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites in Oregon was 14.8 percent (1 in 7). By contrast, the poverty rate was 19.2 percent (1 in 5) for Asians, almost 1 in 3 for African Americans (29.7 percent), Native Americans (29.8 percent) and Latinos (29.8 percent), and more than 1 in 3 (36.2 percent) for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

The rise in poverty has a direct and immediate cost to Oregon. Last year about 662,000 Oregonians were living in poverty — 66,000 more than the year before. The increase in the total number of people in poverty adds to the demand for public services.

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Oregon Reading

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Since the first “Lion of Idaho,” William E. Borah, was an elected United States senator (1907-1940), a case can be made that any aspirant to the title “Lioness of Idaho” also has to have been elected to public office.

If so, the clear winner is the first woman to serve Idaho in the Congress, five term congresswoman Gracie Pfost (pronounced “post”) who represented the First District from 1953 to 1963. The mere fact she could win and then hold the office through four re-elections in and of itself during the 1950’s, when very few women were being elected to anything, speaks volumes for her talent and tenacity.

She accomplished the feat in the face of tough opposition as well. Because of her relentless support for a public owned and operated single high dam in Hells Canyon, the media referred to her as “Hell’s Belle.” She believed strongly in public power, which put her at immediate odds with two powerful Idaho interests, the Idaho Power Company and Spokane’s Washington Water Power.

Both firms supported three smaller dams in Hells Canyon to be owned by Idaho Power. The ensuing acrimonious debate lasted a decade. She ended up being outmaneuvered and lost a key vote in the Interior and Insular affairs subcommittee in the late 50’s. Thus today one sees Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams on the Snake, but fortunately no High Mountain Sheep dam.

In 1962, hoping the Senate would be a better venue, Gracie gave up her safe House seat to run for the Senate seat vacated by the death of Henry Dworshak. She lost a close race (51% to 49%) to former Governor Len B. Jordan, a supporter of private power and its three smaller dams approach.

Legendary Washington, D.C., Democratic operator Robert Strauss once famously said “every politician wants you to think they were born in a log cabin they built themselves. . .” In the case of Gracie, however, it was almost true.

Biographical sketches all note she was born in a log cabin in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas in 1906. The family moved to Idaho in 1911 where she attended school until 16, quitting to take a job at Carnation Milk in Nampa. There she met and married her supervisor, Jack Pfost, who became her life-long political partner.

In 1929, she graduated from Link’s School of Business in Boise which led to temporary work in the Canyon County Clerk’s office that soon turned into a permanent job. From there she jumped into local county politics and for the next decade served as Canyon County clerk, auditor and recorder. In 1941 she was elected Canyon County treasurer and served another decade.

During the 40’s and 50’s she owned a successful real estate business as she steadily got more involved in state and national politics. In 1950 the 1st District’s congressional seat opened up with Democrat Comp White, Sr., from Clark Fork, deciding to retire. White had held the seat since 1932, but lost it in 1946, then gained it back in 1948. Gracie won the Democratic nomination but lost the general election by 783 votes to 72-year-old Republican Dr. John Wood.

With the help of Eleanor Roosevelt who criticized Wood in her popular national column for his efforts to derail the United Nations, Gracie won a rematch in 1952 by 591 votes (out of 109,000) despite the landslide election of Dwight D. Eisenhower to the presidency. She and Jack never looked back.

At various times she was described as tough, tenacious, calculating, a spitfire, but she was a hard worker who did her homework. From 1955 to 1961 she chaired the important Public Lands subcommittee of Interior and Insular Affairs.

A relentless campaigner, in her 1954 campaign she challenged her Republican opponent to a log-rolling contest at a county fair. She lost the log roll but won the election by 9,000 votes. Her constituent service was legendary with every high school graduate receiving a personal congratulatory note and every new parent receiving a book on child care.

In a historic 1956 battle for the first time two women squared off for a congressional seat as major party nominees, and she defeated Republican Louise Shadduck, herself a legendary aide to several Republican governors, by ten percentage points.

Other legislative interests included support for Alaskan statehood and for U.S. Postal Service employees, a federal school construction bill, and legislation to prop up a sagging agricultural commodities market.

Despite Jack’s sudden death in 1961 she went ahead with the Senate race. After losing, President Kennedy appointed her to a post in the Federal Housing Administration. Unbeknownst to many, she suffered from Hodgkin’s disease and died prematurely at age 59 on August 11, 1965 at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins. She is buried in Meridian.

University of Idaho Dean Katherine Aiken is working on her biography which will undoubtedly cement the case for Gracie Pfost to be designated “the lioness of Idaho.”

Chris Carlson is an Idaho writer and former press secretary for Cecil Andrus. He lives in Medimont.

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Carlson Idaho

smoke

Pulling together the weather report this afternoon for the Weekly Digests I was struck by how the weather in so many places around the Northwest is dominated by smoke from wildfires.

Not west of the Cascades – it did not figure in any of those weather reports.

But in the National Weather Service reports (which I use), the weather reports for the Boise, Idaho Falls and Pocatello areas were dominated by their image you see on this post, signalling heavy smoke. Likewise Yakima, Bend the Ketchum/Sun Valley area, and Lewiston. Idaho seems much the hardest hit overall, with eastern Washington seeing some severe spots.

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Idaho Northwest Washington

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

I’ve recently been told by good authority my life’s work has failed. Come up short. Things I’d striven for and achieved for family and loved ones are apparently overvalued in my own mind. Wanting nothing more than to be a bill-paying, flag-loving, family-values, church-going member of America’s highly valued middle class, I’m told now I’m not middle class. In reality, my loved ones and I are below the poverty line and are part of the nation’s growing needy.

Damn, where have I failed? How could I have been so foolish as to believe I’d achieved modest successes that have given me what appear now to have been false senses of accomplishment and worth? How could I have lived so long with the feelings I’d met my responsibilities and even exceeded some when, actually, I’d never risen even to that vaunted American middle class?

I’ve been drenched with the cold water of reality. My eyes should have been opened to all this before. I could have wound up buried on the downside of the flowers in potter’s field and not known. We’re all much better for this new, more accurate view of our real place on the economic food chain..
It came unexpectedly. It came at the hands of George Stephanopoulos – that finder of all things factual – that national distributor of reality in American life – that funny little former Clinton staffer on ABC Television. Him.

He was talking to – yea, grilling in his own Greek way – that paragon of America’s economic success to whom truth, vision and infinite perspective have been given – Mitt Romney. Mitt – the entire Republican Party’s official nominee for the office of President of the United States no less.

They were earnestly discussing a subject close to my heart all these decades. And this was to be the defining moment. The moment when all of life’s work would be substantiated by someone really successful. A voice to validate from his lofty economic perch the hard work of all of us who’ve spent a lifetime in the trenches – to give a realistic sense of middle class accomplishment for those of us who’ve been striving just to have a garage of our own – much less one with an two-car elevator.

Breathlessly, I listened as Mitt said “No one can say my (tax) plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people because principle number one is to keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.”

“HOORAY,” I shouted! “HOORAY for Mitt. He understands America’s middle class. He’ll take the necessary steps to protect us. In his heart, he knows feelings of lifetime accomplishment and wants to protect me. Me!”

But George wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. He wanted the truth!

“Is $100,000 middle-income?”

There was calm. Absolute calm. Then, with an air of someone who’s been enormously successful and a tone of voice just hinting at the warmth of a banker’s heart, Mitt replied “No, middle-income is $200,000 to $250,000.”

That did it! My heart sank. A sense of misplaced accomplishment drained from my elderly body. I had just found out I was not middle class at all. That, in reality, after a life of striving and sacrifice, I was below the poverty line. Oh, what have I done? Where did I go wrong?

Suddenly, it all came crashing back. Just as Mitt had said. I had NOT asked my parents for college money. I had NOT thought of General Motors and other corporations as “people.” My wife did NOT have “a couple of Cadillac’s” like other wives. We did NOT have four homes. I did NOT put my money in foreign banks. At least I don’t think so.

And now – now – just when I was serenely comfortable in the $50,000 to $100,000 middle class I’d always worked for, it was an illusion. All of it. The home. The two cars in our cement-floored garage. The motor home (only a Class C) in the driveway. Our little trips to the Oregon coast to enjoy the company of friends – all of whom I’d thought were solid middle class. Just like us. Our little church help with the community food drives and other outreach programs. Doing the Lord’s work.
None of us – not one – had really achieved the dream of American middle class. None of it was real!

All these years – all of them – I’d believed our government statistical experts – the ones in the Bureau of the Census – that said the real middle class income was $50,000-$56,000 – or about 76% of our nation’s economic pie. The same “experts” who claimed those making $200,000 to $250,000 were only about four-point-six percent of that same pie. The real middle class.
I had believed a lie. All of it. A lie.

And now – just now – he’s saying the Medicare and the Social Security I paid for all those 50-plus years have made me dependent on big government and I’ve become just another drain on real – rich – Americans. That – in my senior years – I’ve become another blood sucker on the body politic.

If there’s anyone out there qualified to decide our future tax systems – who will pay more and who will pay less – if there’s anyone out there who respects the work ethic and support for all who occasionally need the rest of us to lift them up – I’m certain it’s Mitt.. He cares for the middle class. He cares deeply for the middle class.

He just has no idea what the Hell – or who the Hell – we are!

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Rainey

carlson
NW Reading

From a report out today from the Washington Employment Security Department.

Washington’s construction industry led all sectors in employment gains in August, with a seasonally adjusted estimate of 1,900 jobs, contributing to a net gain of 3,900 construction jobs since August 2011.
These and other job estimates are detailed in the latest report from the state’s Employment Security Department. The preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 8.6 percent.

For the second year in a row, the employment estimates for the leisure-and-hospitality industry and the wholesale-trade industry showed unusually large losses for August. They contributed to an estimated net loss of 1,100 nonfarm jobs across the state.

“Based on the raw data, jobs in these sectors didn’t change significantly,” said Joe Elling, chief labor economist for the state’s Employment Security Department. “The reported losses show up when the seasonal adjustments are applied.”

Economists seasonally adjust monthly job numbers and the unemployment rate to remove or discount normal seasonal variations, such as holiday hiring. If an industry adds more jobs or doesn’t eliminate as many jobs as expected based on past history, it shows up as a seasonally adjusted gain. Similarly, when jobs are cut deeper than expected in a given month, or if normal hiring doesn’t occur, that shows up as a job loss.
“It can take up to two or three years to determine when deviations from the seasonal norms are temporary or longer term,” said Elling.

In addition to construction, the industries with the most seasonally adjusted job gains in August were manufacturing, up 1,500 jobs; financial activities, up 1,200; education and health services, up 500; and government, with an estimated net gain of 300.

On the loss side, wholesale trade dropped an estimated 2,600 jobs; leisure and hospitality lost 2,300; retail trade shed 1,600 jobs; and professional and business services lost 200.

Within the government sector, federal employment in Washington grew by 1,800 jobs, state agencies lost an estimated 900 jobs, public higher education declined by 100 jobs, K-12 schools added 500, and local government lost 1,400.

In August, an estimated 301,700 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 129,676 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

Also in August, 3,429 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 108,669 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

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Reading Washington

It’s not exactly obscure since the Oregonian made a picture from it today’s page one centerpiece, but you really should check out the paper’s new photo essay on the Columbia River.

Those of us who have often traveled across much of its distance (especially, in my case, the Portland/Tri-cities stretch) will not in recognition at a number of the shots and place them easily – the startling tree farm near Boardman, for example. But there’s a lot more, and many of the shots taken from mid-river will give you a perspective you’ve never seen before.

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From a release today by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

About 128,000 Oregon workers are due for a raise, following today’s announcement that Oregon’s hourly minimum wage will go up 15 cents in 2013.

“A rise in the minimum wage is good news for workers and Oregon’s economy,” said Jason Gettel, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy. “It helps the lowest-paid workers make ends meet, and helps the Oregon economy when the workers spend those extra dollars in local businesses.”

Oregon’s minimum wage will rise from $8.80 to $8.95 on January 1 of next year, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced today. The adjustment, mandated by a ballot measure approved by voters in 2002, reflects the increase in the cost of living as defined by the August Consumer Price Index (CPI), which increased 1.7 percent from a year ago.

OCPP calculated that the increase means an additional $312 a year for a family with one full-time minimum wage worker.

According to OCPP, about 128,000 Oregon jobs — about 1 out of every 13 jobs in the state — will pay more due to the minimum wage increase set to take effect next year. That estimate comes from Oregon Employment Department analysis of Unemployment Insurance wage records showing the number of jobs paying less than $8.95 in the first quarter of 2012, the most recent data available.

The 128,000 estimate is probably low because jobs paying just above the minimum wage may also have wage increases, as employers adjust their overall pay structures to reflect the new minimum wage, Gettel said.

Unfortunately, Oregon’s minimum wage falls short of preventing poverty among some working families, Gettel said. At $8.95 an hour, an Oregon full-time minimum wage worker will earn $18,616 next year — an amount below the 2012 federal poverty guideline for a family of three ($19,090). These families could fall further behind in early in 2013, when the federal government will likely raise the poverty guideline to account for inflation.

Still, Oregon minimum-wage workers come out ahead of workers in all but one other state. Oregon’s current minimum wage trails only that of Washington state, currently set at $9.04. Because Oregon’s northern neighbor also annually pegs its minimum wage to inflation, Gettel expects Washington to announce a minimum wage increase later this year.

Oregon is one of 18 states plus the District of Columbia with a minimum wage above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which is not scheduled to increase.

Next year, when the 15-cent Oregon minimum wage increase takes effect, full-time minimum wage workers in Oregon will earn $3,536 more per year than that their counterparts in those states where the federal minimum wage sets the floor.

Oregon enacted the nation’s first effective state minimum wage and hour law in 1913 through the work of Caroline Gleason, who later became Sister Miriam Theresa.

“Oregon was and continues to be a model for the nation when it comes to the minimum wage,” said Gettel. “Oregonians were smart to raise the minimum wage and keep it from being eroded by inflation.”

The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan, non-profit institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.

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Oregon Reading

From a Washington state auditor’s release about an audit of Seattle Public Schools.

The Washington State Auditor concluded an investigation into Seattle Public Schools construction program small contracts from 2006 to 2009 and found a lack of employee oversight, operation outside normal accountability channels, failure of internal controls, and lack of an adequate means for employees to raise their concerns.

The District asked the State Auditor last fall to conduct an investigation after the King County Prosecutor’s office advised the District of additional potential illegal activity by a former employee. District adopted corrective measures to address the issues in this new report, so no new procedures or corrective measures will need to be adopted as a result of this review

“The School District asked the State Auditor’s Office for this investigation, and we respect the findings,” said Sherry Carr, School Board Director of Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee. “In the past 18 months, the School Board has worked hard to strengthen internal controls and oversight. Through governance measures and partnerships, we are raising the bar with respect to ethical behavior at the District and are creating strong checks and balances for accounting.

In the summer of 2010, SPS asked the Washington State Auditor to investigate issues surrounding the Regional Small Business Development Program. The District paid for that investigation, which resulted in audit findings released in the State Auditor’s Office Special Investigation Report on Feb. 23, 2011. The School Board also asked for an independent investigation, and that report by Patricia Eakes was released on Feb. 25, 2011.

The original investigation was primarily focused on the Regional Small Business Development Program itself and the recruiters and trainers and did not examine the small construction contracts prior to 2009. Once it became apparent that there may have been issues with the construction contracts, the District asked for a second investigation. This second investigation focused on small works construction contracts – those contracts that do not exceed $200,000 – issued from 2006 to 2009.

The Regional Small Business Development Program was eliminated in Spring 2010. All of the management leaders to whom former employee Silas Potter reported are no longer employed by Seattle Public Schools.

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rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

From poorly-informed presidential candidates to bar flies an hour before “last call,” voices are heaping ill-deserved criticism on the Obama folks for the fires and murders in the Middle East. A lot of ignorance is showing.
Shortly after Eve and Adam lost their lease on the Garden for lying, son number one killed son number two and the Middle East has been carrying on the murderous tradition since that time. If it’s not one of them killing the other, it’s one of them killing somebody living somewhere else. Or killing the damned fools from outside who think they can bring “lasting peace” to countries that have never known it.

And for those who think some terribly produced, short hate film made in California directed at Muslims is at the bottom of the current binge, tain’t so, McGee. In nearly every instance of violence there is ample evidence this is terrorist-sponsored. What may have started as legitimate outrage – in the eyes of a very few Muslims over deliberate mocking of their religion – has been quickly turned into nationalist outrage sponsored by those who’ve been sitting in the bushes just waiting for the right fuse to light.

Little groups of haters of this-that-and-all-other-things Western long ago learned how to manipulate large crowds with just a few well-placed voices. They can take an argument between two used camel dealers and turn it into a building-burning horde in 10 minutes. It’s masterful crowd control in the wrong hands. It also goes back centuries.

Evidence of this is plentiful. Black flags of the hate groups hoisted or waived conspicuously in protests across North African countries. Local Taliban or other anti-western groups identified prominently in crowds and taking credit on the I-Net while urging more people into the streets. Some of the participants – in more countries than Libya – showing up with grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Some religiously pissed Muslim locals showing off for the cameras? I don’t think so.

The previous administration got us into two “wars of choice” in the Middle East. The current folks are trying to get us out and have already pulled the plug on one of them. But neither president – and none before them – could have cured the anti-American fever. It’s just the latest outbreak of the continuing sickness that is directed at all things not Western. And a few things that are Muslim but not the kind that’s “pure” enough.

In true cold war style, the Romney/Ryan people want this country to respond in 1970′s fashion with a show of “patriotic” determination and military force. Go in there – kick some ass – show them “you don’t pull on Superman’s cape” – take charge – exact suitable punishments. It’s as though these people have been sleeping for 40 years and just woke up. “Keep doin’ what you’re doin’,” is their cry!

There’s no easy answer to the current mess. There’s never been an easy answers to all the previous messes. Anyone who steps up to the microphone with the words “I have the solution” should be ignored. The violent forces at play in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other hot spots can’t be controlled from outside. By this country or any other. If we’ve learned nothing else from our tragic experiences in Iran and Afghanistan, we should understand a country’s government and national direction must be determined by the people who live there. As long as all that doesn’t slop over onto the world stage and threaten our real interests. Which isn’t often.

American businesses and other western interests who set up shop in these places do so at their own risk. Neither our government nor any other can assure the safety of their investments. We can’t be expected to go in there and pull their bacon, their employees and other interests out of the fire as has been suggested on the campaign trail.

In some ways, this nation shares the blame for deaths incurred so far and for the anti-American feelings felt – with some legitimacy – by folks in that region. We have continually inserted ourselves – openly or clandestinely – in the affairs of one country after another. And we’ve been wrong much of the time. If, for example, someone from Florida came into Oregon – telling us we need to get rid of some of our government and live as Floridians do – most of us would try to throw them out and have a much more hostile view of all things Florida.

What this country does in the next few days, weeks or even years to respond to violence against us in Muslim states is a huge problem. Diplomacy must be – must be – the first option. Throwing our national weight around with some cold war era rhetoric or show of force must be – must be – the last. The very last.

We can’t afford to listen to warmongers and leftover Bush neo-cons. Oops, repeated myself there. Or political candidates looking for quick points in a damned election. We’re not just facing some bad publicity for a crudely made, anti-Muslim movie. Terrorists have used this as a fuse to light the dynamite of anti-Americanism.

A lot is riding on what we do in the next few days and weeks. We could use a lot less rhetoric and more prayer.

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carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

As the contest for the Presidency begins here is a list of “keys to the outcome”:

1) The 80/40 rule. This refers to the President’s standing among minority voters. As long as he maintains above 80 percent of the minority vote (which he is doing), Mitt Romney has to garner over 60 percent of the total white vote. Ronald Reagan came close in his re-election campaign, but not even the Gipper beat the 60 percent mark. On the other hand, it will be difficult for the President to maintain above 80 percent of the minority vote.

2) Where are independent women going? The independent female vote is especially critical for both candidates. Republicans are betting economic concerns will drive their vote. Democrats bet the social issue of access to abortions, especially in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother, will drive this vote. It is noteworthy that Romney, once the nomination was secured, tilted back to his historic position of sanctioning abortion in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

Hard core, pure pro-life conservatives will swallow their displeasure and still support Romney given the President’s incredibly liberal stance on this issue.

Both party’s made a good pitch for women through strong presentations first from Ann Romney and then from Michelle Obama. Polling results gave the nod to the First Lady for doing the better job of humanizing their spouse—-but both did well by their man. The question is who will women identify most with? The betting is with Michelle, not Ann.

In the end, if undecided women vote from an unemotional viewpoint, then economic concerns will prevail and Romney is the beneficiary. If, on the other hand, it is a more emotional vote, concerns about equity and access to abortion will carry the day.

3) As goes Ohio. . . . . . No Republican in modern times has won the presidency without taking Ohio. Of all the toss-up states this is the one Romney absolutely needs to win to garner the minimum 272 Electoral College ballots needed. In July, 2004, in an unmatched display of hubris, George W. Bush’s chief political advisor, Karl Rove, laid out in excruciating detail in the Sunday New York Times Magazine just how he planned to take Ohio.

It was braggadocio, pure and simple. He was engaging in pure political taunting. But he was correct, even knowing how he planned to win; Democrats could not alter the outcome. Romney’s people have undoubtedly mastered every last detail of the Rove plan, so keep an eye on Ohio.

4) The 5 percent Lie Factor. All the polls say it is a dead heat—each has around 48 percent. Don’t believe it. Romney is ahead if one factors in the 5 percent Lie factor. The phrase derives from the 1982 California gubernatorial race in which popular African-American and former Los Angeles Police chief and then LA mayor, Tom Bradley, was running for governor against little known state senator George “Duke” Deukmejian.

Bradley led every poll throughout the campaign including the final weekend polls, which predicted a win by a 4 percent margin. The Duke’s spinmeisters told pundits they were going to win by 2 percent because they had figured out 5 percent of those saying they supported Bradley were flat out lying to pollsters. They gave what they thought was the politically correct answer rather than how they really felt.

How they figured this out they did not say, but it was born out in the final vote.

We like to believe race does not matter, but it does. Until proven otherwise, the 5 percent lie factor when a major race is between a minority and a white is a good rule of thumb. So, subtract 5 percent from President Obama’s 48 percent and add it to Romney’s 48 percent and you have Romney safely ahead, 53 percent to 43 percent. And if I’m Obama, I campaign like I’m behind, because he is.

5) The money race. This will be the easiest to follow. In over 90 percent of federal races including the presidency, he or she who raises the most bucks, wins. Right now, Romney is ahead.

6) The debates. There are three and if Romney comes out even (which he will) he wins. Romney is a superb debater (see James Fallows article, September’s Atlantic) and is lowering expectations well. The key to debates, though, is not what they say. On the contrary, turn off the sound and see how they carry themselves. Experts say 85 percent of a person’s views about a debate relate to the non-verbal signals. Thus, this one is a toss-up.

Follow these six indices. You’ll have a good idea who will win.

CHRIS CARLSON is a former journalist who served as press secretary to Gov. Cecil Andrus. He lives at Medimont.

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Carlson