Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Donald Trump has been divorced more times than the number of people who’ve died of Ebola in this country.

I hate to do that to you but someone has to put the Ebola story in perspective. That statement alone is clearer than nearly any national media coverage these days. Or, most of the garbage emanating from the mouths of too many politicians. Seldom has this country heard more fear-mongering, baseless information and verbal garbage on any issue.

Just to be perfectly clear: one person has died of Ebola on U.S. soil. Well, Texas, actually, but close to U.S. soil. He died after contracting Ebola overseas and bringing it with him to a hospital that – through something close to medical incompetence – was where he died. One person. One!

National media coverage has been, more often than not, outrageous. Fearful headlines making otherwise respectable major newspapers and broadcasters look like tabloids at the market. Near-factless reporting from outside hospitals that simply repeated the same old minimal information over and over and over. Same crap – different faces.

The most absurd television “coverage” to me was the so-called “patient transfer” that consisted of nighttime chopper shots of an ambulance doing 25 mph with five cop cars ahead and five behind. For nearly an hour. No one had any proof an Ebola “patient” was inside and it really didn’t matter. Could have been two medics playing Gin, for all we know.

And the “news” conferences. Newsless in too many cases. The other night, Rachel Maddow wasted an entire hour showing many “continuing coverage” shots of an empty rostrum in New York where we were supposed to get an update on the latest Ebola patient. A whole hour. Not to be outdone, “Faux Neuws” did the same. That’ll show those damned liberals!

And the talking heads. Far too many have had no more to offer than what they’d read or heard in other media “stories.” Then, there were the two chiefs from NIH and CDC that literally raced from network to network for days to repeat the same comforting messages that things would be alright.

Of course, there were the politicians mouthing off without engaging brains. One in the House repeatedly shouted to all assembled he wanted all flights to this country from affected African countries halted immediately. It was days later he found out there are no flights directly to this country from that part of Africa. None.

And there was Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah’s Third District, loudly disparaging the Obama administration for not having appointed a surgeon general to take charge of these catastrophic events. What escaped him was the President DID make a surgeon general appointment earlier this year. One that spineless senators killed at the behest of the NRA because the nominee wrote, some years ago, gun violence was a public health problem.

There were more. Many, many more examples of politicians and media speaking with no facts, using inflammatory and/or ignorant language, trying to make stories where there were no stories and spreading unfounded information. All of which added to the fears of many viewers and readers simply looking for facts while finding few. It continues today.

With the exception of the NBC News cameraman who contracted Ebola on assignment in Africa while working extensively around Ebola victims, all who’ve been diagnosed in this country were health care workers obviously not trained or properly equipped for treating the disease. The one death was that of a man who came in direct and prolonged contact with an Ebola victim in Africa and then brought his contagion to this country. Even his family members – with whom he lived for a week before presenting symptoms – were not infected.

We live in a society conditioned to believe the worst in nearly everything. We’ve become comfortable with what we know and fearful of learning. Too many have surrounded themselves with like-minded people and like-minded media to the exclusion of facts they don’t agree with or don’t even know exist. Or both. I call it the “Palin Syndrome” – “I know what I know and I don’t need to know any more.” Like a member of Congress blaming an administration for no surgeon general appointee who doesn’t know other members of the same Congress scuttled the named appointment.

Ebola is not going to be a national epidemic. And that’s a fact.

People often say “Oh, I don’t believe the media – or politicians – anymore.” Much of our media – and too many of our politicians – can be faulted for cheap, surface and often questionable coverage or comments on events. The Ebola hype we’re living with these days is proof.

Not all reporting has been questionable, of course. But too many people see only the one perspective of the one media that most often agrees with their thinking. Same with their politicians. If the source is contaminated, Ebola isn’t our only national disease.

With apologies to the former Mrs. Trumps.

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Rainey

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

The tragedy of this latest school shooting, Friday morning at the Marysville-Pilchuk school, is as they all have been, a sad and appalling loss of human lives, and especially of human lives with so much potential ahead.

And yet one different kind of lesson seems to come out of this new shooting, and it is this: Don’t lump them all together and imagine that all, together, stand explained.

We’ve had enough school shootings that a standard profile has developed. An outsider kid, a trenchcoat-wrapped loner with few friends at school and a fascination with guns and other weaponry, coupled with a super-heroic (or anti-heroic) complex, roars into the school like a would-be Terminator and opens fire with his automatic (or semi-automatic) weapon on whoever happens to be around, killing and wounding as many as possible. The mass murder is the point; the identity of the victims doesn’t matter.

Little of that explains this case. The student here, according to numerous reports (including those from families of the victims), was Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman football player, voted class “prince,” sometimes a class comic, and popular with both other students and adults. He was pegged by adults as a prospective community leader.

His weapon was not an automatic or even a rifle, but apparently a small handgun. He did not fire randomly, and he did not fire at anyone in authority. Walking into the school cafeteria, he took aim at specific people, people he knew – the two boys he shot were cousins of his – ad his motive may have been very specifically personal – one of the girls shot had apparently angered him for declining to go on a date.
None of this lessens the tragedy or the loss, or the shock in the community.

But there is this: It seems a little closer than some of the other shootings to being at least somehow explicable, a little less random.

And maybe too there’s this: Let’s not assume that all these shootings are all the same. They are all distinctive and consequently none have been entiurely predictable.
Maybe that’s just a little more true in this case.

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Washington Washington column

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing job of a coroner/death investigator (Boise Statesman)
An overview of Idaho’s mental health system (Boise Statesman)
Lead poisoning at gun ranges, from Seattle Times (Boise Statesman)
Inside the problems of Odyssey Charter School (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Reviewing the Simpson-Stallings race (IF Post Register)
Wine returning to the Lewiston area (Lewiston Tribune)
Voters guide for Canyon County (Nampa Press Tribune)
Superintendent of Public Instruction race roars on (Nampa Press Tribune)
Big fossil found near American Falls (Pocatello Journal)
Talking to ministers on gay marriage (TF Times News)
Governor candidates talk about education (TF Times News)

Some parents opt out of Common Core (Eugene Register Guard)
Kaiser plans expanded health at Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
What to do on fire-damaged forest acreage? (KF Herald & News)
Parties battle it out for legislative control (KF Herald & News)
A look at big-campaign finances (Medford Tribune)
More reviews of weed killer spraying (Portland Oregonian)
Another look comparing Merkley and Wehby (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon the center of the GMO label battle (Salem Statesman Journal)
The genealogical society looks for home (Salem Statesman Journal)

Reviewing the Marysville shooting (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald)
Cowlitz homeless population may be dropping (Longview News)
Local impact of classroom size ballot issue (Longview News)
Assessing impact of Marysville on gun initiatives (Seattle Times, Longview News)
Looking at effects of gun initiatives (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Drawing out the numbers on crime’s impact (Vancouver Columbian)
What about tax free tobacco on reservations? (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take