Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I don’t know anyone who “hates” cops. No one. Oh, I’m sure there are some criminals, psycho’s and maybe a few ex-spouses who harbor some bad feelings. But “cop hating” by the general public? I don’t know ‘em.

So this begs the question: Why is so much of today’s media chock full of ‘stories’ of police hatred? Where’s it coming from?

Seems to me there are two sources – or maybe “suspects.” First, many in the New York City and national media – including the usual hate voices – who’ve either become very sloppy in their “reporting” or have deliberately perverted what the original street protests were about.

In some media, the words have become a sort of shorthand when reporting interactions between officers and citizens – especially citizens in large groups like a protest march. Scan the headlines of major newspapers. Read the “crawl” lines below TV talking heads. The words “cops” and “hate” appear a lot. Listen to Beck, Coulter and the other professional political perverts dropping them into their verbal garbage.

Months ago, when all this street marching started, it had nothing to do with “cops.” It was an expression of outrage at a local Missouri system of justice that seemed blind to justice – a grand jury had been force fed deliberately misleading information by a prosecutor with his own agenda. A small town tragedy became a national disgrace when local authorities reacted badly and confronted legal demonstrators with a display of military force. The original message of distrust of a system turned to outrage at the city’s terrible judgement and irresponsible actions. But not cop hatred.

As the number of demonstrations increased across the country, the basic message was still the same: distrust of a system that didn’t provide equal treatment for all. Distrust of the system. Not cop hatred. Yes, there were agitators who took advantage of the situation to loot and steal. But the overwhelming numbers of demonstrators were orderly and, for the most part, responsive to local authorities. No cop hatred.

The second suspect? If I had to pick a moment in time when the “cop hatred” words entered the larger, national picture it would be about the moment a police union boss – running for his own re-election – charged the New York City Mayor with attacks on the city force. Charges even the police commissioner refuted.

While NYC politics have always been rough-and-tumble, this voice was unnecessarily shrill, incredibly ill-timed and stupid. As his caustic words tumbled out of HDTV’s across the country, those not accustomed to New York political “discourse” heard something new. Cops, we were told, were “pushing back” on a city official who had “betrayed” them. He hadn’t. But the latent anger of a few, who’re always there, was suddenly taken as the voice of the “majority” of the city’s 35,000 officers. It wasn’t. But it seemed so. And since then, too many NYC cops have been acting like spoiled children.

From that point – and reinforced many, many times since nationally – we’ve heard the words “cops” and “hatred” joined. The original – and seemingly justified – reasons for people in the streets disappeared from the story. Then, with the coincidental assassination of two NYC officers by a deranged loner, the “us-versus-them” embers blew up to become a full-scale distortion. A couple of other disconnected cop killings across the country got thrown into the mix, talk show haters grabbed hold, headlines turned to cop killings and the original messages which began in Ferguson, MO, all but disappeared.

The brutal fact is police officers have been getting killed in-the-line-of-duty since biblical times. It’s a risk that goes with the job. But so is this: most officers have served a full career to retirement without ever having fired their sidearm in anger. Good men. Good women. When faced with danger, they used their heads instead of their weapons. Not always possible but more often than not, it was. And it worked.

Nobody is well-served with all this “cop hatred” B.S.. It’s divisive, cruel, untrue and avoids the real issues of why people are in the streets. The NYC police union loudmouth getting too much attention is trying to feather his own re-election nest and is using a minority of badge-wearing miscreants to prop up his personal goal. Interesting that leaders of the other four NYC police unions are either keeping their silence or using much less inflammatory rhetoric.

Police professionals are not “citizen haters.” The vast majority of citizens are not “cop haters.” So why is something that doesn’t exist getting so much attention? And so many headlines?

We need to return national attention to the real criminal justice problems that brought people to the streets. We need to silence – or at least ignore – voices using division and hatred to draw us away from that original purpose. The national task at hand is not to listen to voices of hate trying to drum up ratings or advertising dollars. Or, trying to stay employed at any cost.

The honest national interest here is the singular pursuit of justice. For all. Yes, even for the haters.

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Rainey

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Oregon

There’s a call among Democrats – some Democrats at least – to go bold in the 2015 legislative session. Part of the argument comes to this: Democrats in Oregon advanced even under the worst national conditions (or, in the case of Governor John Kitzhaber the worst thinkable PR conditions), which suggests they should be solid for 2016.

Or, as Kari Chisholm suggested on Blue Oregon, “In 2016, we can expect Democrats to expand those majorities even further. After all, it will be a presidential year, and Oregon Democrats almost always gain legislative seats in presidential years.”

Further expansion in 2016 is a debatable proposition: There don’t seem to be a lot of legislative seats left that are held by Republicans where Democrats ought to have an edge. Still, Democrats have little reason for great worry, as matters sit, looking ahead to 2016 in the legislative arena.

So what might be done in the coming session? Chisholm, and some commenters, have a string of ideas, from increasing the minimum wage (now second highest in the nation), doing something on gun safety (maybe with an eye to developments in Washington state), moving ahead on GMO labeling (there’d be a big legislative fight), add more funding for schools and infrastructure, dealing with immigration, work on insurance and health care (adding more provisions intended to protect consumers), and reform tax policy (a phrase that could face in any number of different directions).

Being activist isn’t necessarily the same as using political capital. Some of these subjects won’t necessarily yield much controversy, or put Democrats serious on the spot. One of their tasks between here and the session’s start in another month, inevitably, will involving sorting the one groups of initiatives from the other.

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Oregon Oregon 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)

Series on legislative committee chairs (Boise Statesman, IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Candidates for Boise school board opening on issues (Boise Stateman)
Challis gets a moderate earthquake, no damage (Boise Statesman)
Canyon County looks at the coming of drones (Nampa Press Tribune)
Karcher Mall deals with empty spaces (Nampa Press Tribune)
Increase in dogs left out in cold (Pocatello Journal)
Considering legislative agenda ahead (TF Times News)

Electric car charging network little used (Eugene Register Guard)
Reopening of Harriman Springs resort underway (KF Herald and News)
Looking at changes for recharging reservoirs (Medford Tribune)
Central eastside industrial area faces change (Portland Oregonian)
Prisons move to electronic medical records (Salem Statesman Journal)
Legislators predicting kicker, school debating (Salem Statesman Journal)

Profiling new Kitsap auditor (Bremerton Sun)
New Paine Field director profiled (Everett Herald)
Long-time Kelso Presbyterian, Methodist churches merge (Longview News)
Former Dupont police chief says city broke contract (Olympian)
Department of Natural Resources plans wildfire mitigation (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Legal battle over Dungeness Valley water rule (Port Angeles News)
Politicians scramble over Bertha’s troubles (Seattle Times)
Looking at limited progress in Haiti (Seattle Times)
What’s replacing Sandwater Creek in Sandpoint (Spokane Spokesman)
Marijuana marketplace begins to normalize (Vancouver Columbian)
Bridge span worries ahead (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take