Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT


If you think national government has been unresponsive to our national needs for the last several years, get used to it. ‘Cause you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! Unresponsiveness is about to hit a new, record low.

“Whoa, there Rainey,” you say. “Yeah, that was pretty much a Republican sweep of Congress. And things have moved to the right of center quite a bit. I’ll give you that. But a ‘new low’ in conducting the affairs of the nation? C’mon, now. It’s not that bad.”

“It is,” sez I. And here’s the big reason why. The Cruz ‘missile.”

Yes, Sir. Theodore Cruz – late of Canada by way of Texas. See, Teddy has already loudly voiced his opposition to Mitch McConnell being named majority leader. (Note how the vote to do so was by voice only?) Yes, Sir. And he’s not going to stop running across the Capitol building to work his crazy mischief in the House of Representatives ‘cause now he’s got new help over there. Yes, Sir. And Ol’ Teddy says he’s going to hold up just about anything that comes to the Senate that doesn’t meet his “high standards” for American freedom and democracy! We’re talking legislation, appointments, debt ceiling, budgets – anything that runs counter to his “thinking.” Anything! And, under the rules, he can do that.

Though I’ve never cared much for Mitch – along, it seems, with just about everyone with whom he’s ever come in contact – I’ll give him this. He’s among the best in the politics of the Senate, winning many a battle with deep knowledge of not just the rules of the place but also reading people and knowing how to move them like so many chess pieces. You don’t survive in leadership as long as he has without such tools.

But Mitch is about to face something that’s going to test his legendary skills. To say nothing of his Kentucky patience. Cruz and a rump Republican caucus of crazies. ‘Cause “the Missile” has been talking to some of the old – and all the new – kindred spirits about his plans. And some of that talk has leaked, as it always does in Washington.

For all its high-flown reputation as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Senate no longer represents the true meaning of those words. In the face of the new confrontational style politics – and the “you’re-with-me-or-against-me” philosophy that’s become so commonplace – senatorial decorum on the floor or in committee has become as theatrical as the World Wrestling Federation. Fits and spats – name calling – back stabbing – undercutting one another just for spite.

There’s no more perfect breeding laboratory for the kind of divisive, in-your-face politics that typifies Ted Cruz. You add to him (current or incoming members of his political void) Mike Lee, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Dan Sullivan, Tim Scott. Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, and likely Ron Johnson among others, and you’ve got a little rump caucus that can tie knots in the best laid legislative procedural plans. Each of them -without reason or question – can deep-six nominations for the cabinet or courts, keep any bill off the floor with a single anonymous whisper or stop movement of any critical legislation such as debt ceilings.

Now, consider McConnell and the Republicans have a majority of half-a -dozen seats or so, and if Cruz – alone or in concert with five or six naysayers – decides to hold up the proceedings, who’s to stop him? What sorts of demands can Cruz and his loony cadre make to get what they want in exchange for supporting ol’ Mitch each day? Or, does Mitch violate the Hastert rule by going to the Democrats to keep things moving? Is McConnell going to have to operate with a coalition of loyal Republicans and a few willing Democrats to conduct the Senate’s business?

One thing we know about Cruz. His brutish style is “my-way-or-the-highway” in all he does. He believes he – and he alone – has the clearest vision of things political and that only he sees the “correct” path. No one yet – no one – has been able to shut him down or keep him out of the limelight. Even John Boehner hasn’t been able to stop ol’ Teddy from trotting across the rotunda to stir things up in the House where he has no standing, doesn’t belong and has clearly undercut Boehner’s leadership. He’s already been “advising” a rump caucus there. Now, the 2014 election outcome has given him a few more malcontent voices.

Throw in the media, too. Though Cruz is a political heavyweight only to himself, the media will put him on more Sunday talk shows than current record holder Johnny McCain. Faux Neus will put a bureau in Cruze’s Senate office so his latest attack philosophy can immediately be broadcast as “Breaking Cruz News.”

We’re going to be seeing more of Cruz on your hi-definition than the linguistically dysfunctional Wolf Blitzer. Bet on it!

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First Take


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)

Southern Idaho hit by snow storm (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Reviewing next round on Idaho health exchange (Boise Statesman)
BSU student debt averaging nearly $28k (Boise Statesman)
IF council holds off on dog ordinance change (IF Post Register)
BLM approves predator derby near Salmon (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Asotin aquatic center management in turmoil (Lewiston Tribune)
Asbestos work done at Moscow High School (Moscow News)
New teacher certification rules okd by state board (Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Moscow News)
What next for school broadband? (Moscow News)
Deal will retire as state insurance director (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU gets ok for $6.3 million in one-time spending (Pocatello Journal)

Eugene apartment building proposed (Eugene Register Guard)
Oregon may see another tax kicker net year (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water bills clear Senate committee (Medford Tribune, KF Herald & News)
Commander at Kingsley Field will retire (KF Herald & News)
Medford fire marshal urges sprinklers in all new homes (Medford Tribune)
Snow storm hits much of Oregon (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Pendleton airport may lease land for solar farm (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Library district may sue city of Irrigon (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Portland didn’t see big predicted storm (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon’s job picture sees general improvement (Salem Statesman Journal)

New taxi rules for Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Poulsbo considers expanding its budget (Bremerton Sun)
Washington health exchange opens soon (Everett Herald)
Hunters blast at $150 Weyerhaeuser permit (Longview News)
Legislature will be under close split control (Longview News)
Thurston First Bank opens (Olympian)
Griffey declared win over Haigh in 35 (Olympian)
Clallam gets its first retail pot shop (Port Angeles News)
Amazon, Hachette end their battle (Seattle Times)
Schools don’t have enough substitute teachers (Seattle Times)
Hotel developer will build 2 in Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
Murray moves to minority position (Vancouver Columbian)
Yakima sees mix of air quality (Yakima Herald Republic)
Pot auction, first in WA, planned at Prosser (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take