Archive for the 'Rainey' Category

Oct 17 2014

OOPS two

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Ah, Ebola. Seems like only yesterday we imported our first case of this terrible, headline-grabbing disease. Our very first. It’s so fresh in the mind I can still see and hear ol’ Rick Perry and the loud “SWOOSH” made by his running to the national TV cameras.

“We’re proud – (proud, I say) – that a Texas hospital has been chosen to treat the nation’s first Ebola patient,” he said through a big Texas good ol’ boy smile. “Texas is proud – (proud, I say) – of our best-in-the-country hospitals and the tremendous people we have giving such wonderful care.”

He turned from right to left. Then left to right so the cameras could catch that sculpted Texas chin. Then he departed – stage right. Of course.

Since then ol’ Rick’s been on the campaign trail in three states and off to France for . . . . . well, I don’t know what for. You can bet it’s something to do with running for president in 2016. Or at least HE thinks so.

So let’s recap what’s happened in that “state-of-the-art” Texas hospital since the old boy hopped a jet after his phony, office-chasing welcome mat for Ebola was broadcast worldwide.

First, the patient died. But there’s more. Seems the Dallas staff of one of the “best-in-the-country” hospitals sent the patient home with antibiotics when he showed up with all the symptoms of – wait for it – Ebola. The old “take two and call me in the morning” shuffle as I recall my own emergency room visits. Rick, of course, didn’t check out details or the history of how that Ebola patient got Ebola or what the hospital’s nonexisent software bridge between the doctor’s and nurses’s computers had caused before he rushed to center stage. As I said, detail.

Then a nurse there came down with Ebola. Then a second. Same place. Center for Disease Control folks got so mad they wouldn’t let new patients anywhere near Texas – pulling one out to ship to Atlanta and another to Emory Medical Center. Several C-D-C higher-ups even muttered publically something about “incompetence” at the Texas “best-in-America” hospital. Ricky, of course, was in France and didn’t pick up on that. OOPS.

Ebola is a terrible, dreaded disease with a near 70% death factor. Also deadly is the uncontrolled, lemming-like disease of running for president. Once infected, most “patients” seldom survive. In this case, France or no, a second nationally broadcast “OOPS” moment for Perry should be enough for permanent residence in the political graveyard. Oh, he may not realize he’s deceased for awhile. What with all the zombie phobia these days. But I have to think he’s among the “walking dead.” Again.

Perry’s is not the only voice politicizing what is really a terrible international health issue. John McCain and his hand puppet L. Graham blame the administration – read president – for not appointing an Ebola “czar.” McCain – who has previously loudly complained about the existence of “czars” in Washington – not only looks foolish but has omitted one serious fact. He and the puppet helped block the last Surgeon General nominee, keeping the job vacant for many months. They claimed 36-year-old Dr. Vivek Murthy was “much too young” for the job – despite an exemplary scholastic and medical record.

Putting the lie to that claim was the fact that the good doctor had once written of his belief that “gun violence is a public health issue.” Damned right! But the NRA pulled the string tight on some political “privates” and Murthy’s nomination died aborning. The jobs still vacant. Thanks, John.

Ebola must not be a political football. It’s a damned serious theat everywhere. Though it’s odd to note no Ebola cases in Germany, Japan, England, Russia, Canada, South America, Mexico et all. Wonder why.

The plain fact is McCain, Graham, Perry and other Republicans have joined other fear mongers scaring the hell out of millions of Americans. A few Democrats, too. Rather than use the power of their public offices to throw governmental clout and tools into the battle to control the disease, they daily fling outrageous charges of failure and danger in all directions.

Ebola is here. On our soil. It’s going to get worse. It’s not going away anytime soon. National Institutes of Health and CDC leaders need to stop with the soothing platitudes and the “we’re-in-control” falsities and give the public honest facts and evaluations based on medical knowledge rather than ass-covering or political fright. The White House needs to stop with the same tones of overconfidence and bring to bear the most qualified help from any source available in the nation. Or the world, for that matter. Now! Continue Reading »

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Oct 10 2014

Let’s get together

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

We’re still killing people in our homeland prisons. Death penalty it’s called. Makes no difference whether you support such extreme societal retribution or you don’t, it’s always a bit jarring to read morning headlines telling of another overnight execution.

Texas has done it again. That’s nine for the year. While Texas is the “death penalty capital” of the country, about half the 50 states still kill someone from time to time. Happens often enough reporting of the details shouldn’t be unsettling. But it usually is.

Oregon hasn’t killed anyone for awhile. Not because the law doesn’t allow for it. The governor just won’t let it happen on his watch. Not sure what the legal entanglements are for having a law on the books that the chief executive won’t enforce. But, hell, we have sheriffs ignoring black letter law for all sorts of things. And that Nevada BLM freeloader backed down the government with no retribution so far. In fact, a lot of folks – in law enforcement and out – seem to treat laws as “suggestions” rather than requirements for some sort of action. Pickin’ and choosin’ so what’s one more governor, right?

But how ‘bout that death penalty? You for it? Opposed to it? Don’t give a damn either way? I think most folks fall into that last category. Haven’t given the subject a lot of quiet time to think on it and have no hard-and-fast feelings. Many who’re for it have personal experiences related to some horrible crime or know someone who has. And a lot of folks opposed have religious or other personal reasons. Unlike that old sure-to-arouse topic of abortion where people are hard one way or the other, the subject of killing bad guys (and bad women) seems mushy by comparison.

Every time I hear someone sound off on “state’s rights” or “get the government out of my life,” several subjects come to mind. The death penalty is one. How we vote is another. Drivers licenses, too. There are a few others on my list but the point is this: some times having 50 states do things we all do 50 different ways makes more of a mess of our democracy than it should.

Take driver’s licenses. I’ve had to apply for a license in quite a few states over the years. Aside from whether a school zone is 20 or 25mph or a particular states top speed on an Interstate, all the questions have been pretty much the same. Never had a single one about driving in snow which would make those same Wyoming tests valid in Florida.

The point is, some careful standardizing of a few minimal issues could result in a single license. Might develop some sort of short study requirement for unique local laws but that could be handled on the I-net and we could all avoid the dreaded DMV.

Same thing for insuring our vehicles. One set of standards for all. Liability is liability and most other driving issues are nearly all the same no matter where you live.

And voting? Just look at the current 50 state voting situations. Nearly a dozen of ‘em are trying (unconstitutionally I believe) to disenfranchise minority citizens because nutball Republicans want to win more elections. Sorry, my Republican friends, but there ain’t a state with a Democrat majority where the same thing is happening. Not one.

If more states like mine (Oregon at the moment) would go to our nearly foolproof system of voting-by-mail, using a single set of national voting eligibility requirements, we wouldn’t have civil rights lawyers running to the courts to protect the guaranteed rights of hundreds of thousands of minority citizens. In all the years Oregon has conducted hundreds and hundreds of elections – local-state-federal- you can count confirmed cases of voter fraud on less than the fingers on your right hand! And our turnouts for those elections have been notably higher than nearly any other state. Year after year after year.

Back to the death penalty. Is it a “state’s rights” issue? Or a moral issue? Should you be more likely do die for committing a crime just because you live in Texas rather than Idaho or Utah? Does that make death penalties more a “geographic residence” issue than a criminal one?

Take Idaho. Please! (Sorry, Henny.) Idaho has all the requisite laws to kill bad guys but doesn’t do it very much. There’s a guy named Creech who’s killed several folks over the years. Inside prison and out. He first went to Idaho’s version of death row in the 1970’s where he killed again. Still there. And he’ll likely die there. Sentenced to death several times. In Oregon, as long as the current governor continues being our governor, Mr. Creech could get yet another four year guaranteed reprieve after the November elections. Which our current governor will win. See what I mean by “residence” issue? Continue Reading »

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Oct 07 2014

The gutting of government

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The time has come to say it. So here goes. Government employment – especially federal – has, in too many cases, become a haven from the unemployment lines for too damned many people. In addition, holding elective office – especially federal – has become a haven for too damned many idiots who’ve proven they should be unemployed.

Strong stuff? You bet! But sometimes the total incompetency in both classifications is so overpowering you can’t reach any other conclusion. What follows is my small offerings of proof(s).

Take Ebola. Within hours of the arrival in a Texas hospital of the first known case in this country, Gov. Ricky Perry – trying to boost his hopeless run for president – leaped before the cameras to claim “I’m proud Texas has become the location for this emergency. We’re the best equipped state in the nation to deal with this – we’ve the best medical resources and the best know-how to defeat this before it becomes a national disaster.” Oh, Hell yes.

Within 24 hours, we found out the “best medical resources” in Texas had seen the guy and turned him loose with some pills. Seems the nurses with the “best medical resources” had an intake computer program with the right questions but it didn’t “talk” to the one the doctors use.

Then, with four of the man’s relatives imprisoned in a small apartment, the State of Texas ordered them to move and a hazmat team activated to delouse the place. Except. The Texas health department could find no place in the whole damned state to relocate the people. And the hazmat team was stopped from acting because it had only a license to transport and dispose of the garbage but no Texas permit to remove it. A private citizen found a new “home” for the sequestered four and the hazmat folks waited 48 hours before a permit was issued. But the State of Texas? “Best equipped?” Hell yes. And Perry left for a weekend campaigning in Iowa.

CDC and Ebola. CDC top brass has been living on TV with complete assurances our health system “is the best in the world,” “it’s working” and “this will soon be behind us.” Guess they were too busy in front of the cameras to catch the Texas mess. They also weren’t truthful about those congressional jackasses who arbitrarily cut the CDC budget through “sequestration” and, since those carefully-designed-but-very-expensive CDC programs to handle emergencies like Ebola hadn’t been used, they were cut back or eliminated. Don’t need ‘em ‘cause they ain’t been used, according to the Louie Gomer (SHAZAM) – er Gohmert – School of Deep Think. Texas again. Hell yes.

VA health care. Anyone else want to jump in here? The billions we’ve spent have propped up a system rife with duplicitous civil “servants” who’ve been a cancer within. Too few medical professionals – too few programs to take care of the new medical and psychological problems veterans suffer from these days and an indifferent congress cutting budgets with no regard for the human suffering caused by their indifferent and arbitrary actions.

How about the IRS? A couple of offices of people targeting certain political groups (left and right) for special audits. Administrative perversion on that scale can’t survive without a lot of folks knowing what’s going on. Whether they participate or not.

The Pentagon. Hundreds of examples. But one will do nicely. No one in the Pentagon – NO ONE – can tell taxpayers how much equipment the military owns and where it is. Or whether it still exists. No one. The claim is inventory is too big to – wait for it – inventory. Continue Reading »

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Sep 28 2014

Voter assisted suicide

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

When someone commits suicide, two things happen. Someone dies. Those left behind feel shock and grief. Would those same attributes apply if an entire county died by its own hand? We’re about to find out.

Voters in Oregon’s Curry County seem determined to end life on this planet and set sail for an unknown destination in the afterlife. Try as they might, political, civic and moral leaders in-residence seem powerless to stop the self-induced destruction.

Already faced with the most serious local governmental fiscal hole in the state – following defeat of half a dozen bond issues for this and that – voters have said a loud “NO” to the latest measure – a small tax increase dedicated only to keeping doors open at the county jail. Just for keeping the bad guys locked up.

Bad enough. But it gets worse. Curry has been privileged to have the services of Sheriff John Bishop for many years. As good a professional cop as you’ll find. He’s tried and tried to make his case with voters that his lockup is out of compliance with nearly all legal – if not humane – requirements for keeping prisoners. He’s stacked up enough reasons for a better jail so effectively even voters in neighboring counties have been swayed.

He’s pleaded. He’s begged. He nearly single-handedly forced the latest bond issue before voters. All his labors have ended up in the trash. The latest – a rejection of something so basic to public safety it should be automatic. But it wasn’t even close.

Now, he’s leaving the job. The sheriff’s doctors have told him he’s got to get out from under the load of stress he’s carried for so long or he’ll die years before his time. He’s taken a new job in Salem. But that’s not all. His wife – who’s in charge of county corrections – is leaving, too. They’re both worn out. He and his corrections director wife will be gone before the end of the year.

The newly appointed sheriff – a younger veteran of the department – says the latest voter “shot-to-the-head” leaves him with one choice. He can lock up only the “really, really bad guys” and keep jail doors open ‘til January. Or he can keep taking those arrested and those sentenced by the courts and run out of money in a few weeks. Your call.

Curry County has been on this self-destructive path for several years. All the usual government services – including those required by law – have been cut, cut and cut again. Good people – people you’d want running things anywhere – have bailed out. Staffing in all departments – ALL – is less than minimal. Even 9-1-1 calls are screened for seriousness before anyone responds. And sometimes – they don’t. Bad guys – sometimes really bad guys – have been cycled from arrest to jail to court and back to the street for months.

Oregon has a new law allowing a county to declare bankruptcy and turn to the state for a bailout. A lot of voters in Curry seem to be counting on that. Counting, too, on getting out from under the current – and very deep – debt. They’re about to get a very large surprise.

While the state will be forced to step in, that new law also allows those who take over to make some major decisions. What services will be provided. What won’t. What those services will cost. And who’ll pay the bill. In fact, the state can lay on new “taxes” for certain things. Costs likely to be significantly higher than that old jail bond issue that was junked. The new, temporary help from the State of Oregon will come with a price tag. And with the authority to force payment.

Curry has only five “cities” with some 25,000 souls. More than three-quarters of ‘em live in Brookings, Harbor and Gold Beach – a stretch of Highway 101 of about 24 miles. A small county, yes. But it has a large land area and requires all the services of any other county. Given a long Pacific coastline and weather that wreaks havoc on roads and other public facilities, it also has some serious operating costs. Some of the required maintenance hasn’t been done in a long, long time because of the continued bond issue and county budget rejections. There’s a lot of deferred problems that need prompt attention before the entire infrastructure falls apart. Continue Reading »

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Sep 23 2014

The good times rolled

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Summer is over on Oregon’s central coast. No big news for you, maybe. But very big news for those of us beach side. And good news it is. Very good! Stores, restaurants, bars, campgrounds and all the usual places tourists spend their dollars are saying this has been the best – very best – year ever. Not just since the recession. Ever!

Even the real estate market, which went in the tank in 2007, has come back in a big way. Average sales prices in the $270,000 bracket a year ago hit an average of $340,000 in August. The number of sales has been pretty consistent for the last few months at 70 or so in our county. But prices have been going back to pre-recession levels. Best residential buys around now are condos and townhouses. Time shares are also firming up.

But – part of the reason for these record-setting numbers is likely to present a big future downside, we’re told. The weather. The summer months have been absolutely beautiful. But, it seems, too much so. Traditional rainy periods that occasionally drive sunbathing tourists back to the motels temporarily have been few. Less than two inches in August. About the same in July.

Biologists are saying coastal rivers aren’t running high enough for returning salmon to get all the way back to their spawning grounds. The absence of the usual amount of rainfall is also likely to affect lobster and crab futures because shallower waters near the coastline are warmer than usual. Not enough cold inflow from rivers.

So, it may be a “win-some, lose-some” situation. But it really has been just beautiful!

This was our first full summer during “the season.” We’d been warned the influx of all the touristas would have a daily affect on our lives. Lines at the good restaurants. Crowds in the stores. Lots of waiting when shopping. And traffic. Lots and lots of traffic in our little single highway towns. We’d have to learn the “back routes” to get from one end of the community to another.

It wasn’t really so bad. Except for the “left-turners.” Damn, how they screw up traffic. Rather than making three right turns to go around the block and head safely straight ahead to the beach, they just stop and hit the left blinker. And they stay stopped for one or more complete cycles of lights while traffic piles up behind.

In summer months, traffic moves north and south through little towns like ours in an almost unending stream. No problem as long as the movement continues. You deal with it. Except for those damned “lefties.” But when we locals complain, someone downtown who relies on the transitory dollars screams banning turns would cost them their livelihood. Sounds like B.S. to me but they win. Every time.

Speaking of traffic, during the season, it seems the most out-of-state plates we see are on vehicles from Washington, California, British Columbia and Idaho. In that order. All, of course, want to get close to the Pacific. And Oregon is where they chose to do so. Continue Reading »

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Sep 16 2014

ISIS and the talkers

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

One of my secret character flaws is occasionally getting a deep and continuous chuckle out of someone’s political discomfort. Oh, not real people. I mean the hate-mongers and loonies on the far right. Or left.

Such is the case these days noting the very untypical near-silence and even greater-than-usual oral confusion of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity and their fellow travelers. They’re absolutely flummoxed and having a most difficult time trying to attack the President. The source of their confusion seems to be – ISIS. Anything to do with ISIS.

They want to heap scorn, criticism and verbal garbage on those in the White House. As is their usual bent. They want to loudly claim the administration is charging off in the wrong direction. But none of them – not one – has landed a blow. They’re as totally tongue-tied as the rest of us when it comes to trying to figure out what to do with this latest, most murderous turn in our world.

Oh, they blather and posture and exhibit the same kind of flatulence we’ve come to expect. But they’re even further off-target with their specious rambling than usual.

Same on the far left. None of the usual suspects over there has managed much more than a whimper about “homicidal psychopaths.” The videos of beheadings and executions have taken this latest outrage against the civilized world to such extremes that even the most accommodating ultra-liberal can’t muster much more than a “tsk tsk.”

This absence of informed criticism and our so far restrained response to ISIS seems to me three-fold. One – the extreme cruelty and seeming lack of any sort of conscience in these murderers is so stunning and such an affront to an otherwise civilized world that it knocks the mental wind out of us. They commit the sorts of acts we’ve learned of in ancient history classes. It’s the stuff of video games and violent movies. Not real life. We just can’t get our heads around it.

A second reason, I believe, for our failure at the moment to have a national response – other than extreme revulsion – is how to respond. What can you do? What actions can you take? When such a merciless adversary is inviting you onto the battlefield in hopes of killing more of our youth in frenzied battle, do you take the bloody challenge and show up? Or, do you gather your best advisors and try to create a civilized – and more traditional – reaction?

The fact is ISIS presents such an unorthodox and merciless enemy that even the military is somewhat stunned. They aren’t teaching “ISIS-101″ at West Point or Annapolis. Our cadets and midshipmen aren’t learning how to deal with beheadings, mass executions and slaughter of any and all people ISIS hates. Which seems to be all the rest of us. Continue Reading »

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Sep 08 2014

End of the food chain

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Collectively, Barb and I’ve lived in many different environments across our very large country. New York City (9 million folks) to Middleton, Idaho, when it was about 1,200. Always new experiences. But we’ve never lived in a more remote, end-of-the-food-chain location than the Oregon coast.

Lots of people want to live by the sea. Even many who’ve never seen more water in one place than a swimming pool. The idea’s been so romanticized – and commercialized – that many folks spend lots of time poring over computer-enhanced pictures of coastlines, ships, lighthouses and empty oceanscapes. Being an old Oregonian, I’ve fantasized about it for years. So, when the wife decided that’s where we ought to be, I was O.K. with it.

And here we are.

To make my point of being unaware of life’s little things we take for granted, here’s something you might not know. Every President of the United States during my lifetime has made the same personal admission after being in that office a few months. Different words, maybe, but same thought. Long-term politician or newbies in national politics, all of them – all – have admitted they never really knew the full scope of the job. Even Bush-the-elder – with decades of elective and appointive experience – said the day-to-day experience of being President was something he was not totally prepared for.

Well, my friends, so is the awakening to the realities of living on the Oregon coast. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fine. Most of the time. We like it. We’re adjusting. But, like Bush-the-first, the realities are not something we were entirely prepared for.

In the month of May, I wanted a new long-sleeved shirt for some reason. There was one “department” store in our area – the only one within 50 miles. I looked and looked but could find only short-sleeved. When I asked the clerk where the long-sleeved ones were, she said “We only stock them September through April.” I made do. We’ve learned to “make do” a lot.

There’s one store in our town that sells TVs. Just one. I was in the other day and counted six. Not six of one size. Six in ALL sizes.

There are three new car dealers 30 miles from where we live. All in the same town. I recently had the need for someone to apply some striping and decals to our new RV. At all three dealers I was told, “Well, there’s this one guy we use. But he’s going through a messy divorce right now and doesn’t want to be bothered.” The decals are still in the shipping box. And will likely stay there until that one guy gets his life reorganized. Continue Reading »

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Aug 31 2014

Facts not fashion

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Story placement is always a bugaboo for print journalists. Sometimes the rule is the most important story of the day goes at the top. Other times, the editor reaches for one that will “grab” readers because it’s cute or funny or sensational. But my latest experience in lousy headline juxtaposition came the other day with these two. Side by side. Both treated equally.

“HENRY KISSINGER: WORLD ORDER IS CRUMBLING.”

“FASHION EXPERTS REVIEW PRESIDENT’S TAN SUIT”

Now I suppose the value – importance, if you will – found in those two items depends on how you look at world events. Personally, I find stories of cataclysms and threats to our worldly existence a tad more of interest than the color of Mr. Obama’s sartorial selection of the day. Apparently not so for the editors of The Huffington Post and nearly all other national media.

I checked seven national news sites after finding the breathless reviewers comments about that suit. All had similar stories: one had three! Only two mentioned “Doctor K’s” rather mind-numbing remarks.

Henry always has had a flair for being quotable if not just a bit over-the-top. In this instance, it’s hard not to agree with him. Look at a Congress where order has already crumbled into chaos and stupefying inaction. Check out Vladimir Putin’s barefaced international lies denying invasion of another country while his military does just that. At the moment, the civilized world is absolutely flummoxed about the merciless killing machine known as ISIS or ISIL and what to do about the mindless slaughter being perpetrated on thousands and thousands of innocent people.

If these world order-defying items don’t hit home, there’s always the climate change that’s redesigning and eliminating parts of the earth as we stand flatfooted and take no meaningful steps to reverse it. Or, the many longstanding racial injustices leaving young, dead bodies on the streets and thousands of innocent people in jail.

There’s the outright racial hatred of our duly elected President and the piling on of blame for anything and everything never exhibited with any other President in our nation’s history. Add some of the most ignorant and dangerous people elected to public office with no thought of the responsibilities they’ve sworn to undertake. They make a mockery of the very Constitution a lot of ‘em have never read but use repeatedly as a verbal dressing gown.

“Doctor K” was also referring to the widening disparity of economic well-being in this and other countries. Disparity brought about by self-indulgent thieves with billions of dollars at their disposal to buy whatever elected officeholder is necessary at the moment to gather more power and privilege. You can add to that category the sell-outs in public office who feel their own employment – and their own bank accounts – are more important than the honest conduct of the business they were elected to perform. Continue Reading »

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Aug 24 2014

Scars of peaceful demonstrations

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

One of the fastest places in the world to quickly learn new life skills is in the middle of a large street demonstration or riot. Pure fact from someone who’s “been there, done that.” Watching the news out of Ferguson, Missouri, brings it all back.

It’s also recreated that eerie feeling of being lost in the crowd – finding yourself unable to control your own direction of motion – scared – trying to get your bearings. And the smells. Lots and lots of unforgettable smells.

There are really just two kinds of street demonstrations. One is focused, calm, centered, deliberate. Peaceful. Several of those I experienced as a reporter at anti-war gatherings of several hundred thousand in Washington D.C., in the late ‘60’s – early ‘70’s. Except for twice being ridden to the ground by mounted National Park Service cops, those gatherings fit that description.

The other type was brought sharply watching events in Ferguson. Crowded – scared – charging cops – tear gas – arrests – walking wounded – strangers trying to help strangers. I got into several of those, especially around the DuPont Circle area of D.C. As in Ferguson, cops could get aggressive and out-of-hand.

All those years ago, media people in D.C. were issued I.D. badges to be worn on a chain around the neck – about the size of a postcard, orange and black with our pictures in the middle. Supposed to keep us safe and free from arrest as opposed to media experiences in Ferguson – where they also have “credentials.” Except they were actually used by cops to target the media with tear gas canisters and to get you arrested, hauled off to busses and taken to RFK Stadium for processing. At that time – and maybe even now – wearing your name tag simply meant this was your first street riot. We been-there-before guys kept them in our pockets.

One of the best descriptions of feelings in a riot situation with thousands of people, tear gas, cops, police dogs and panic is “alone in a crowd.” From the second it starts, people have a cattle-like urge to run some direction. If you came with a friend, most likely you are quickly separated. You find yourself breathing gas, feeling your skin burn, choking, eyes running and that terrible taste in your mouth before you can cover your face. You are instantly disoriented. One experience like that will NOT be forgotten. Nor the sights and sound. And that smell.

I’m sure many of the unarmed demonstrators in Ferguson would attest to these descriptions. The intervening 44 years or so between my experiences and theirs haven’t brought much change. People – mostly honest folk feeling deeply about a grievance – still take to the streets. The herd-like stampede can still start at any second for any reason. Cops are still armed – though better now and able to wound or kill more people more quickly. No amount of intervening time has made the effects of tear gas any less painful. Continue Reading »

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Aug 21 2014

And it was so

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Live long enough and that old saw “all things old are new again” will have more meaning. The six communities of Idaho’s Ada County may be about to step into a time warp and make the “old new again.” It appears political bubbling and boiling just beneath the surface could soon break out with a decision – likely in court – to return control of county roads to cities. For many of the same reasons the Ada County Highway District (ACHD) was created in the first place 40+ years ago. How’s that for irony?

In the ‘70’s, the hot topic was how those six local governments could save taxpayers so much money on road and highway care if they threw all their various road departments into a central unified “highway district.” After all, six highway departments were just “creating lots of duplication.” Just made all the sense in the world!

And it was so.

But, shortly after creation, you could hear whispers of discontent. “We’ve lost control of our streets.” “Our taxes are subsidizing all the others.” “Another level of government we just don’t need.” “Boise’s going to get more money than us.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

And it was so.

I don’t recall a year from creation of ACHD to now that there hasn’t been bitching about something. Though directors of ACHD are elected from districts more or less representative of all six communities – plus the rural areas – there have always been battles about distribution of dollars, cars versus bikes, mass transit versus more roads, who gets what, where the new roads will go, snow removal, where maintenance should be done and how much. And on and on and on. Long ago, ACHD should have hired Ann Landers or “Dear Abby” to keep peace in its multi-governmental “family.”

Case in point. Boise recently installed some new computerized parking meters around town. If a car left a spot with time remaining on the meters, these electronic bandits would “zero out” so the new occupant couldn’t get a break. After an expensive installation, ACHD said Boise didn’t own the parking spaces, had not applied for “permission” and should take ‘em out. Post haste!

And it was so.

With a whole new round of bitching. Continue Reading »

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Aug 15 2014

What happened to ‘protect and serve’?

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

About 25 years ago, I loudly and publicly complained about one of the many policies our government was engaged in at the time that had roused my ire. As I recall, the words were proper, the thoughts well-organized – as usual, of course – and the anger was not hidden amongst flowery phrases. In typical government reaction, my well-delivered suggestions for immediate change were ignored.

All these years later, my angst regarding the issue has doubled. And doubled again. But government persists. And the bad policy continues to exist – redoubling again a few times itself. The issue: equipping and training community law enforcement to be hometown armies rather than agencies to “ protect and serve” as is written on the doors of so many local police cars.

The black anger in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, these days is exactly what I was talking about two decades ago. These unarmed, frustrated, socially-suppressed and mad people are in those streets of their own neighborhoods – often their own yards – being faced by officers in camouflage combat fatigues, snipers in the open on top of armored trucks, nearly all cops wearing gas masks and carrying many, many automatic weapons. Anyone speaking “protect and serve” speaks pure B.S..

All of this was brought sharply together in my living room a night or two ago when one of the TV networks was using some stock video footage as the faceless voice was talking about much the same issue – inappropriate police dress, tactics and weaponry. What connected it all was one of the scenes shot in a Caldwell, Idaho, neighborhood some months back, showing police in the same type of combat dress and carrying the same types of weaponry. And they were prominently accompanied by an MRAP! An MRAP parked on someone’s subdivision lawn!

An MRAP is a terrifically heavy behemoth, designed to ward off bullets of nearly any size as well as land mines and rocket fire. While these armed monsters of steel have undoubtedly saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, they seem terribly out of place in a community of 25,000 or so near the Snake River in Idaho. Like machines from science fiction movies.

This “uparming” of local law enforcement began under President Bush-the-Elder and has continued under Clinton, Bush-the-Junior and Obama. It started after we “freed” Kuwait from Saddam. All that hardly-used military hardware was just going to be scrapped. Until some in-over-his-head political appointee decided America’s local law enforcement agencies would pay 10-cents-on-the-dollar for it. And pay they have. Continue Reading »

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Aug 10 2014

Punishment is overdue

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The most fundamental structures of our country are being challenged. Put another way – even more basic – America is under attack. No airplanes. No bombs dropped. No anti-aircraft batteries. No tanks or missiles. Not even an invasion of our shoreline. But the attacks are real. Numerous. Sustained. Sometimes orchestrated. And worst of all – from within.

I’ve not just left the most recent mindless histrionics of the John Birch Society. Nor am I a Limbaugh or Beck adherent. And I still believe Michelle Malkin is the most ignorant voice ever to foul national airwaves. But there are things afoot challenging our way of life – deliberate lawbreaking activities of too many citizens and even some we’ve elected to public office. In both political parties – right and left.

Worse than all that – nearly all of these assaults are – so far – going seemingly unchallenged by legal authority. And – at times – some of them are being committed by the legal authorities we rely upon.

Here are some examples:

## The governors of Idaho and eight other states formally told the U.S. Justice Department they wont enforce certain mandatory federal requirements regarding their legal responsibilities for protecting the safety of inmates in their various penitentiaries. Won’t do it.

## More than 100 people with ATV’s invaded archeological sites in Utah where such vehicle use is prohibited by law. They spent much of one day posing for various media by trafficking through the “off limits” areas with their children – and guns – riding along.

## Some 200 sheriffs have told federal authorities they’ll not enforce laws dealing with guns which THEY deem “unconstitutional.” Further, they’ve served notice they’ll stop and/or arrest any federal officer trying to do so.

## Several dozen “citizens” deliberately carried exposed weapons to an anti-gun law demonstration in Washington D.C. where the law expressly forbids such displays.

## A Nevada rancher is in arrears over $1 million to the feds. He not only refuses to honor a contract of longstanding with the government but has also used his unearned notoriety to gather other lawbreakers to break other federal and state laws on his behalf.

## The armed and unlawful assembly at Bunkerville has continued unabated with citizen guns turned on government employees doing their court-ordered duties. They’ve been impeding traffic on federal and state highways for nearly two months and trespassing on the private properties of locals. Several months now. Unimpeded.

A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center sums up these and many more recent examples of in-your-face actions by people hellbent on condemning anything governmental. Called “War on the West” it delves deeply into the Bundy mess.

Center Director Mark Potok cites these and other examples as warnings of things to come if the feds don’t gain an understanding that this is the volatile nature of what’s happening. The Bundy lawbreaking “was not an organic plot. It was a coordinated effort to bring the threat of violence to the federal government.”

SPLC cites many examples of hundreds of militia types, conspiracy theorists and other angry extremists who quickly responded to Bundy’s call for a range war. So far – without consequence.

I’ve heard a number of honestly-offered arguments about why there’s been no ”push back.” I’ve heard ‘em and I reject ‘em. Even the ones contending there would have been gunfire and casualties at Bunkerville. Which likely would’ve been the case. And may yet be. But that’s what can happen when people take up arms against their government. Those doing so need to learn that hard truth when they do it. Not just get a lecture and a ticket. Continue Reading »

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Aug 04 2014

Rant-less

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

If you’re looking for the usual rant about this-that-and-the-other usually found in this space, there’s disappointment ahead. The historic mess we’re in at the moment – politically and congressionally speaking – has about left me rant-less.

Criticism after criticism and well-worded complaint after well-worded complaint by others more intellectually-gifted and less intellectually-challenged have made no mark on the consciousness of our politicians so historically bad at their jobs. The oligarchy we’ve become has left no sense of responsibility to the folks at home. None. As long as some billionaire continues to kick in big bucks to whichever party he wants to buy at the moment, those with their hands out will pay us no mind.

As Mitch McConnell has run rule book circles around the backbone-challenged Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate has become the place where common sense legislation goes to die. Operating as no other political sphere I’m aware of, the minority has held firmly to Reid’s gonads and dragged him and the will of the majority all over hell’s half acre. The wasteland that used to be a respected and fully-functioning part of our democracy is littered with crumpled legislation that never had a chance.

In the House, a gutless Speaker – trying hard to keep his limousines, the taxpayer jet aircraft, secret service details, his huge suite of offices filled with an overabundance of staff, his additional pay and private dining room – that guy has allowed a few dozen cretins to stifle an entire government. Cretins who deny science, deny law, deny common sense and even deny the multiplication tables – these beneath-the-bridge-dwellers have proven their next attempt to repeal something could well be the law of gravity. It’s this bunch of hypocrites that has brought about my political confusion.

I started having trouble with my civics education when these animal crackers drove Republicans in the House to find a lawyer hungry enough to take their meaningless “case” to sue the President! One branch of one branch of our three branch government suing one of the other two. As this lunacy slowly sank into my cortex, I quickly visualized Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and some other feisty founders rising from their graves to ask each other if this was what they intended when they created the three-legged stool of our democracy. Republic, if you will. The balance.

Trying to make sense of that portion of the court filing dealing with the reason for such lunacy, it all came down to this: faced with dead ends at every turn when dealing with Congress, our President took it upon himself to do something without crawling up Capitol Hill only to find a closed door and degrading voices making nasty references to his manhood. And this added curiosity. What he did is what they wanted to do but didn’t because they couldn’t get their own act together! Continue Reading »

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Jul 26 2014

“Why, Daddy, why?”

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

When Dad got tired trying to answer my childish questions of “why” to nearly any new, youthful encounter, his standard response became “You’ll know when you’re older.” Being a trusting kid, I blindly accepted his promise of future knowledge.

Dad’s gone now. And, after my nearly four score years experience, it pains my soul to say it – he was wrong. At least so far as being able to comprehend by knowing the answers to my continued queries of “why.” If his advanced age during my growth years truly gave him understanding of hard-to-understand situations, he was really quite an extraordinary man because my added years haven’t always helped me all that much. On the other hand, maybe some things happening now beyond my ability to grasp are far more complicated and I’m just not up to the task.

Here’s one.

Why would leaders of the National Republican Party – and their elected offspring – formally adopt a position of banishing access to health care for millions of voters and their families? Even want to go to court over it? What sane reason could there be to take away life-changing and even life-saving medical care from adults and kids who now have it – many for the first time in their entire lives? Why would a political party take a position to disenfranchise Americans needing what should be considered one of those “unalienable rights?” “Why, Daddy, why?”

Here’s another. Why will both parties in our national Congress – after endless bloviating about the problem of tens of thousands of children flooding into this country seeking personal refuge and safety – why will those Washington folk go home and not do anything to deal politically or humanely with the situation? Why are they walking away?

Human-being-by-human-being, we have an entirely non-political and extremely human tragedy on our hands. Children from South American countries being used as pawns. Children with absolutely no voice in the matter being pushed and/or dragged into this country with promises of a better life. Or their parents are being threatened with death if they don’t blindly ship their kids off unaccompanied into a trip of thousands of miles filled with all sorts of life-threatening dangers.

And the Congress, from which all resources must come, is going to quit without undertaking a single effort to ease this human tragedy. Why?

And more “whys.”

Why would the governor of Texas call up the Texas National Guard to stand along that border? Why send a guardsman with tank and a rifle to face an eight-year-old child trying to surrender? Why use uniformed – and heavily armed – Texas fathers and mothers to face this flood of young humanity and what are they expected to do? Why uproot members of the Guard – trained in dealing with ecological and natural disasters, equipped to deal with armed foes in other countries but not trained in dealing with the needs of children who don’t understand what’s happening to them and who probably don’t speak English – why send the military and their weapons to deal with kids needing food, shelter and some sense of security? Why? Continue Reading »

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Jul 18 2014

Facts more than balance

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

A small, informal discussion has started in some media circles – the first quiet conversations about a most basic journalistic tenet – balance. Balance in coverage of the news. Balance in representing all sides. Balance to assure fairness. The discussion is long overdue. It’ll call for judgments and – for that reason – there’ll probably never be a satisfactory solution.

There isn’t much left of the days of really responsible journalism – the professional output that was traditionally expected and – for the most part – traditionally produced. Given more than one side to any story, efforts were made to present all. That, of course, was in the days before “gotcha” journalism, reporters mixing opinion with reporting and the need to report otherwise worthless B.S. that fills too many pages and far too much airtime.

The most recent stimulus for this self-examination is climate change. Yep, simple as that. Or, if you will, as complex as that. With the preponderance of scientific evidence that such change is happening all around us and our world is already the poorer for it, some news organizations are asking how much time – how much ink – should be given those who deny both the science and the reality. What is the media responsibility for reporting the scientific facts accepted by the overwhelming majority of experts, then giving time and ink to the distinct minority denying reality? Denying fact?

It’s long been said the media should just report the facts and let those facts speak for themselves. I buy that. But when what’s on the front pages and what’s leading the nightly news contains no factual merit – climate change denials – irresponsible and baseless impeachment ranting – conspiracy claims without proof – phony stunts of one branch of government to sue another – what facts are being reported? Where does news start and “Entertainment Tonight” end?

Take the climate change story, for example. One very significant fact is that the chairman of the House Science Committee is a climate change denier and flat-earther who loudly proclaims his ignorance by telling all who’ll listen the earth is just 6,000 years old and man lived with dinosaurs. Why is that not reported with such a repetitive assault that he and half a dozen other “deniers” on that important panel are removed? This nation and the world needs strong, responsible and effective political leadership to deal with the terrible realities of climate change. But the power to do that is in the hands of idiots – a distinct and irresponsible minority – who’re blocking attempts to deal legitimately with facts that – ignored much longer – could end our world. Why? Continue Reading »

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A truly down-home ad for Oregon Senator Merkley.

 

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Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
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JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

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WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

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