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Posts published in “Rainey”

The 6th

rainey

O.K. We’ve had our January 6th remembrance. CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC et al drenched us with overkill in fine, journalistic abandon. We were forced to relive nearly the whole 525,600 seconds between the original attack and the first annual observance all over again.

So, what now?

Well, for starters, our deeply valued U.S. Capitol structure and grounds have been “hardened.” That’s a military term for reinforcing doors, windows and all access points. Erecting yet more barriers to public entry. More surveillance cameras. More guards.
D.C. area law enforcement and the National Guard are receiving new training in crowd control. Much of it hand-to-hand practice.

Great. The horse is gone, the barn door is new with a big, strong lock.

In other words, when those vile people return for a second attack, everything is in ship-shape order and they won’t get far.

That’s all well and good if you think they’ll be back. I don’t.

Trump’s coalition army of rag-tags, thugs and paramilitary folk have made their point. The point Donald was trying to make. A “surprise” assault on our democratic process with a sidebar of trying to overturn the 2020 election results which were not to his liking. Point made.

No, the next “assault,” I believe, is likely going to be at the state level or in several states simultaneously. Or, even at county or municipal locales. But, there will be a “next time.”

The several thousand who responded to Trump’s dog whistle have gone back into their local nests. You’re not seeing any public displays or incidents of flag waving. No parades. But, (un)social media is full of their activity. Sites nearly all of us know nothing about are very, very busy, according to “techies” who live on the old I-Net.

Proud Boys with their tattoos, the make-believe, but well-armed militias with their hangers-ons, the disassociated, violent street thugs are “talking” to each other constantly.

But, they’re doing so while the FBI, CIA, NSA and hundreds of other law enforcement “techies” listen in. They’ve “got their ears on” and they’re taking notes. While we can most certainly expect more violence in our national future, it likely won’t come as such a surprise. And, the targets will most certainly be forewarned and better prepared.

While all of that is going on, we’re seeing the first signs of another frontal attack. The far-right is making an assault on the ballot box. Here in the desert, we’ve got at least four in the race for governor and another dozen or so signed up to run as Republicans in contests for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. That last race is so very important because the occupant of that coveted office is responsible for state elections.

Other states - Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho and dozens more - have their own dangerous candidates who - if elected - will change our political landscape for the foreseeable future. And, that landscape will endanger the basic structure of our Republic and could end democracy as we know it.

No, another law-breaking assault on the nation’s Capitol isn’t as likely as the scenario described here. What Trump wants now amounts to a tin-hat, semi-dictatorship. He wants control. Whether as President or some other title known only to him, he wants to be “in charge.” And the 2021 action was his first shot.

The most dangerous things Trump did was (1) show his rabid followers they can go to Washington D.C. and make a ruckus and (2) they have “support” at home in almost every state. They’re no longer isolated. They’ve got strength. How much strength is yet to be determined. So, too, it’s likely even their dangerous leaders don’t know just how much strength they actually have and how to use it.

But, there are former military folks among the “ranks” with knowledge of how to organize, how to communicate, how to operate against chosen targets. They have weapons experience and mission planning knowledge. If they’re in leadership roles in any way, we - and they - will see how much strength is there.

We don’t know when. We don’t know where. But, we’ll hear from them again. Bet the farm.
 

Searching for permanence

rainey

Living ‘midst 90-thousand seniors - give or take a gray-haired head or two - you hear a lot of stories and share a lot of memories. That’s what we do. We remember.

Shorn of youth, involuntarily slowed of pace, removed from all that was “normal” wherever you were, you’re now here. New surroundings. New streets to learn. New names. New faces. Basically, transplanted into a lifestyle so very different than what you formerly knew.

If you listen carefully, you’ll recognize a sense of “commonality” in the experiences or relationships, though, no matter where you came from. You realize the water in the creek in Iowa was just as cold as the one you used to wade in in Oregon. The Oak trees you climbed in Idaho were just as tall and as strong as the ones in Indiana.

Different names. Different faces. But, the outpouring of shared memories makes it clear: we are not much different - one from the other.

One of the life experiences we’ve all lost is a sense of permanence. That feeling that what was there yesterday will be the same today. And tomorrow.

The banker in town who went to the same church your family did and who was behind the desk when you needed a loan for something. Always there. Always the same. Now, the person behind that desk is here today and gone tomorrow. If you want to access your account for a few dollars, stick a piece of plastic into a machine in a brick wall. Outside. In the elements. A loan? Some committee hundreds of miles away will see if you’re “credit worthy.”

Grocery shopping? Now, you call the store, read ‘em your list, wait an hour or two, then drive down and they’ll load the car. You don’t even get out. Cold. Impersonal. But, that’s how it’s done.

You used to know the guy you’d buy a car from. Same guy. Same smile. Now, that dealership is one of 200 owned by some investor group that shuffles faces at the showroom based on performance and meeting “corporate goals.”

The doctor you used to go to would get to know you - get to know your family and took the time to ask “What’s new with you?” Now, appointments limited to 15-minutes because that’s what meets Medicare requirements for reimbursement, rotating faces from one appointment to the next. Sometimes a doctor; more often an assistant. Family “medicine” today. Stay on schedule.

The lack of permanence in our senior years - loss of the familiar - ever-changing business and personal relationships - the fragility of those relationships - the steadily increasing speed of change - the loss of deep, interpersonal ties.

Bought a new car last week. A hybrid. Got more screens and multi-function buttons than I’ll ever remember. Radio - from a satellite 17,000 miles in space - has to be turned on with a special screen about four steps deep. I used to have a car with a radio you turned on and five familiar push buttons. No more.

New Year’s Eve. Used to be somewhere with a crowd downing highballs and dancing a bit. Now, I look down the street and see no cars at any house. Most dark. And, most neighbors - and us - in bed by nine.

The permanence of traditional things is all but gone. Dead as yesterday’s black and white television. Life now is a fast-paced, ever-changing, steady drumbeat of trying to keep up. Language. New ways to travel. Fashion. Music - if you can call it that. iPads. Computers. iPhones. Electric cars. Driver-less trucks and robot pizza delivery vehicles. Degrees online. Amazon, Costco and Walmart at your fingertips while putting familiar, local stores out-of-business.

And COVID. This strain. That strain. A new strain coming. Professionals talk of COVID - in one strain or another - being with us from now on. Like the seasonal flu. COVID, in its many forms, threatens what routines we have left.

What will that do to “permanence?” How will that alter our lives? Our relationships? How we live? How will our children and grandchildren learn? Where will they’ll learn? What year will your grandchildren be the age you are now.

Politics. Don’t get me started. The relationships we used to have with our “public servants.” Relationships they used to have among themselves. Real, honest and caring people. People who tried their best to solve problems, To see a need and solve it. No tribalism. No tit-for-tat.

Our military. Must we now worry about a coup? An attempted takeover of our government? It’s not far-fetched. Civilian and military leadership has been “war gaming” the idea - especially since January 6th. Certainly not the permanence we’ve been accustomed to. That we’ve lived with and depended on since 1776.

The word “permanence” itself is in danger of disappearing as our lives are being swept along in this river of constant change. Just as we get familiar with some new variant in our lives, another, more demanding version is introduced. Try keeping up with the words your kids use. New ones created by lifestyle or technology or just “picked up” from a new movie or music video or game on their iPhone.

We used to be able to keep our feet under us. We walked many of the same paths our mothers and fathers walked. And their parents before them. We shared a commonality of slow - but constant - change in our lives that was predictable and usually steady.

There’s no use longing for that type of lifestyle. It’s gone. It’s not coming back. If you hear someone these days talking about things “getting back to normal” or things “being the way they used to be,” stop listening. They’re living in a dream world and not dealing with reality.

Our well-educated seers who used to write and lecture about the “new world” and fed our fascination about the future aren’t as visible these days. Many of their former tomes didn’t come to pass. COVID - among a host of other things - hit us like a speeding truck. Scientific and other “tomorrow anomalies” came at us from new directions. The speed - the energy - the unaccounted for - all got mixed up with a little virus - a little bug - that has swept us in unseen directions and with unseen consequences.

You want permanence? Sorry, my friend, we’re fresh out. And, a new “supply” isn’t expected.

(photo)
 

A nation of the angered

rainey

I’m awfully glad to see 2021 coming to a close. No. Make that damned glad.

You and I - and everyone else in this nation - have been under so much pressure from just about any identifiable source. Pressures. Changes. Closings. Loss of services. Access denied. Safety lost. Stores and businesses disappearing. Movements restricted or cancelled. Our ways of life disrupted, distorted, diminished.

I’m just plain, damned tired! The world that has become is not to my liking. Nor is it to millions of other people.

Let’s deal with a couple of real-time examples.

I have no more patience or sympathy for anyone - of any age - of any sex - of any race - of any color - who is still unvaccinated. Except for medical reasons. None! No way! No how! Nada!

Health experts worldwide are now warning of even darker COVID-19 times ahead. Delta variant. Omicron variant. And unnamed variants yet to come. They’re talking of a “viral blizzard;” of even more deadly times in our futures. Some - including Dr. Fauchi - are talking about Covid and its family of killers becoming permanent fixtures in our lives. Quite likely, with us forever!.

Those who’ve consistently chosen to ignore the advice of experts, who’ve been pleaded with and cajoled by just about every medical practitioner known to God, those who can but won’t - those people - deserve no more sympathy, no more accommodation of any kind. They are willfully and ignorantly playing Russian Roulette with their own lives. An ever-present danger to your life. And mine. And any poor bastard with whom they come in contact.

Enough is just damned enough! Because of them, Covid will likely be with us from now on. Because of them, our families will continue to be exposed as we lead our daily lives. Because of them, masks will become permanent fixtures. Because of them, our normal movements of life will be restricted. Many services denied. Schools and even churches forced to change their services. Medical facilities will continue to be filled with the afflicted. And the dying. And we’ll pay. And pay. And pay.

No, Sir. A year into this damned Covid business, the time has come to cut ties with people who refuse to live up to the responsibilities we all have to each other. To avoid - to shun. This minority of cretins has no societal right to threaten the majority.

And another thing.

At last count by CNN, there were at least 23 open and ongoing investigations of D. J. Trump. Twenty-three! Some have been open and active for several years. And none of those still open - not one - has resulted in charges - criminal or civil.

We’ve put up with this lying miscreant for more than five-years.
We’ve seen large portions of our government decimated under his hand. We’ve watched him acting like some kind of dictator and listened to his lies. The lies. By the hundreds. The hundreds! The running count by The Washington Post is in the thousands.

Some two-dozen women have filed charges of sexual exploitation or actual damages caused by Trump. Going back years. His former “fixer” - Michael Cohen - is suing the guy for having him re-arrested and held in solitary confinement because of Cohen’s book about Trump. Blatant retaliation! Our former “president” has filed dozens and dozens of frivolous legal cases and lost nearly everyone.

Trump’s been gone for nearly a year. Yet - largely due to exhaustive media coverage - he inserts himself into our lives every day. He’s living “the good life” and will likely avoid jail time by filing appeal after appeal after appeal until he’s passed from this world.

Somebody. Somewhere. Pull the trigger. Tax evasion. Fraud. Ignoring the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. Sexual abuse. Attempting to overthrow a national election. Fomenting an attack on the nation’s Capitol and endangering the lives of elected officials and police.

Somebody. Somewhere. He’s been out of office nearly a year. Surely some state or federal prosecutor has “the goods.”

Lastly, our Congress. Or, what’s left of it. The needs of this nation have been put “on hold” while the bickering, stone-walling, personal attacks and outright lies have taken center stage. Good legislation, necessary legislation has been buried and defeated by a political party that’s gone to the dogs.

Republicans have become an actual impediment to having an effective Congress. Fealty to Trump - gutting a formerly effective national political party - damaging the Constitutional balance of power by daily self-service and ignoring responsibility - this is what the “legislative” branch has become.

Yes, Virginia, I’m angry. Angry and tired of the same old B.S.. Given just these examples, it is any wonder?
 

Identity crisis

rainey

Who’s a God-loving, down-to-earth-responsible, thinking conservative Republican and how many of you are out there?

The answer to that query is one - maybe two - elections away. I can think of no other way to find a realistic answer. And, we need to know that answer to figure out where we go from here.

It appears there’s more than one Republican Party.

The easiest to identify are the Trumpers within the GOP. They just put it right out there! Shirts, hats, flags. No masks. Yep, we don’t need an election to figure out that bunch.

It’s the rest of the folks - the silent ones - that keep a low profile, don’t talk much about their political leanings and don’t get dressed up like a bunch of junior high kids. Those are the ones we need to find. And count. Because they, more than the Trumpers, will determine what becomes of the Grand Old Party in the long run. We need to know who they are and in what numbers.

It’s no overstatement - to our shame - to call our current Congress broken, rife with childish in-fighting and dangerously ineffective. (There are other adjectives but this is a family publication.)

We know who most of the most “insane” incumbents are because of the media’s continued over-the-top coverage of Boebert, Taylor-Greene, Gaetz et al. They, and their childlike - but dangerous - rhetoric are breathlessly relayed to the rest of us daily. Whether we care or not.

But, if you’re not a political wonk, don’t follow the “inside-baseball” political columnists and don’t live in the Washington D.C. metro area, most folks don’t know who the other wingnuts are. And there’s a bunch of ‘em. About two-thirds of the Texas delegation qualify.

They clog up hearings with ridiculous speeches and rants. They abuse witnesses who must sit quietly while the know-nothings carry on. Many, literally, have no idea what their job descriptions are. And none - NONE - could pass a high school exam on the Constitution.

You don’t know these names because their nutcase carrying-ons are expected, they do so daily, and they don’t have any material things to say on nearly any topic.

Exhibit “A,” at the moment, is the dustup between Ted Cruz and Dr. Anthony Fauci. Cruz has called Fauci “unqualified” and “totally uninformed” about COVID-19 and its dangers. Fauci, (a physician-epidemiologist by training) to his credit, has sat silently in several hearings as Cruz ran off at the mouth. But, it appears some Senators and others may have encouraged Fauci to speak up. And, to his credit, he recently has. But, humiliation and embarrassment are still palpable.

At numerous hearings and other official actions of the Congress, there are always the know-nothings, loud and ignorant present and very anxious to show off their unfamiliarity with facts or knowledge of the subject at hand.

These uninformed and unknowing folks have been largely responsible for the current Capitol Hill mess. Oh, there are other, “wiser” people in leadership of both Houses who’ve exhibited their tendency to gum up the works i.e. McConnell and McCarthy. They, too, have to be replaced.

These examples are why we need to know who the responsible ones are in the Republican Party. We need to figure out their numbers and where they need help in reorganizing and getting rid of the garbage.

Maybe Dems have to cross over into some Republican primaries in many states to help “weed-out” the bad guys. And the bad women. Maybe a few well-placed Dem dollars will help. Maybe Dems - some, anyway - will need to keep their GOP registration for the general election if their own candidates are “safe.”

I don’t have the answer. Nobody does. That’s why the 2022 primary election is so damned important. Maybe we’ll know a little more about the size of the knowledgeable and concerned Republicans by their vote and what the rest of us can do to help. Democrats. Independents. Whatever help is needed to wrest back control of the Republican Party. We need a functioning two-party system. Gotta have it!

We’ve got some dangerous incumbents in Arizona. Gosar. Biggs. Lesko. They’ve got qualified primary opponents that definitely need some Dems to show support in 2022. We’re workin’ on it.

Maybe your state does, too. Maybe Dems and Indy’s in your backyard need to take a close look at the competency of your folks in Congress . Can’t hurt. And, you’ll be a better-informed voter.

God, I hope so. We need a lot more of ‘em!
 

Let’s just wait a minute

rainey

At the risk of being burned at the stake on Boise State University’s blue football turf, I’d like say a few not unkind words about Prof. Scott Yenor who, himself, is pretty short on kind words.

Yenor holds views of women that might have been acceptable in 1946 - post WWII. “Barefoot and pregnant,” would seem to cover it.

For those of you not familiar with Idaho happenings, lots of folks in the potato state are having “hissy fits” about a speech the good professor made in Florida some weeks ago. A speech in which he said women should be discouraged from becoming engineers or doctors or anything else of an advanced educational nature or career. Men? O.K. Women? Stay in the kitchen.

Well, clothing on a lot of otherwise liberal-leaning folks has been shredded, a pillory is being considered and demands have been made that someone in the BSU hierarchy remove Dr. Yenor from the payroll. Some students are even skipping classes to take to the streets to protest Yenor and demand he be ousted.

Well, let’s just call a “timeout” and do some rethinking.

First, on the “Rate My Professor” website at BSU, students ratings go from “Best professor I’ve ever had” to “Don’t take his courses - he’s scattered and makes disparaging remarks about students.”

I’ve always thought of college as a place to be exposed to new ideas, new people - many of whom were very different from people I’d known before. I believe colleges call the process “critical thinking.” I also believe too many of them these days are forgetting that process.

And that’s where Dr. Yenor comes in. I find his thoughts repulsive, denigrating, contemptible, etc., etc., etc.

BUT, I also find his thoughts challenging and useful. His out-of-touch teachings should be looked at through the lens of “critical thinking.” It’s just fine if more people take umbrage with Yenor’s positing. But, it seems to me, again, using “critical thinking,” the ground he’s staked out - angering as it is - demands students adopt the use of “critical thinking.”

Challenge him with fact - preferably face-to-face. Process his words. Chew ‘em up. Spit ‘em out. Get off the streets and the campus quad and “get after it” with logic. With research. With reason. With passion. Don’t accept Yenor’s despicable reasoning. Throw it back in his face. Stand your ground. Use some of that “critical thinking.”

Seems to me that, rather than oversized umbrage, shrill talk, shallow efforts to get rid of Yenor, outraged students - and off-campus criticism - Yenor is offering a chance to learn - to organize - to challenge.

I’ve interviewed George Wallace, George Lincoln Rockwell, Richard Nixon and a few others for whom I hold nothing but anger and vitriol. Those three, in their prime, were liars, racists, anti-Semites and as despicable a bunch as you could devise. Each died in disgrace. Each died pretty much alone. Their deceits and warped thoughts went with them.

Hateful as they were, they could not stand up to critical thinking. In interview after interview, if the inquisitor had examined their words and actions, applied the principles of critical thinking, the results of that work showed in a more knowledgeable result. I’m thinking, expressly, of David Frost’s face-to-face with Nixon. Classic use of critical thinking to process Nixon’s deepest thoughts.

I’ve given a few lectures in some very fine classrooms and theaters at some very fine universities. Normally the subject matter dealt with the great old institution of journalism and related issues. I can’t recall a lot of what I said but I distinctly remember angering a few professors and staff who were making a good living ill-equipping a lot of media wanna-be’s who were eager for media “stardom.” There was a distinct absence of critical thinking in the classroom.

Prof. Yenor offers sexism, misogyny, contemptible ideas and words. He is at one end of a continuum of thought. There is another end to that continuum that offers reason, truth and acceptable thought.

Critical thinking can be a most useful tool to guide a young mind. Examples of its application in everyday life are all too rare. Prof. Yenor to the contrary.
 

Dole remembered

rainey

Bob Dole died this week. Another “elderly” elephant in the GOP herd who’s gone but will not be forgotten by a lot of us.

I interviewed him a few times in Washington D.C. about 1970. He was a difficult interview for a young reporter from Idaho. Dole, of course, was world famous. And I was filled with false self-assurance and too young to be nervous.

The difficulty with Dole was, as the camera rolled, he would give me a thoughtful answer, pause about three seconds, then hit me with a zinger about somebody he knew in public life or had met at a cocktail party. The camera crew and I cracked up, laughing repeatedly as he did so. Dole could be a very funny man. He waited those three seconds because he knew that would give us enough time to edit out his zingers. And our laughter.

Dole was a pro in every sense of the word. He had straight answers no matter the interview. He always “cut-to-the-meat” of things with truth, a bit of wit and a gravelly voice.

Barry Goldwater was another such person. Wham! Bam! The answers came quickly and left some reporters - including me - struggling to come up with a follow-up question. The action was that quick.

The period between 1969 and 1972 was one of the best in my life. So long ago. A kid from Idaho, loaded with a background for a good local reporter’s job in Idaho, which amounted to nearly nothing anywhere else. But, there I was, diving into national politics and dealing with people I’d heard about only on national television.

I had quit my Idaho TV job “cold turkey,” drove to D.C. in two very long days and started a search for a reporting job which required a whole lot more education and experience than I had. And I got very, very lucky.

All-news radio. The first station in the country to try it. And it worked! But, 24-hours of news meant a large staff and a lot of work. Filling those hours with news stories and features was a tough job.

But, as I said, I lucked out and landed a “vacation relief” position filling staff shifts and assignments for others taking time off. When summer ended, a couple of guys had found other jobs which created some openings. So, with three months of work - and a lot of luck - the “kid from Idaho”got a full time job.

And, there they were. Dole, Goldwater, Humphrey, Dirksen, Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, Daniel Inouye, Kissinger, a Kennedy or two, Robert McNamara, Sam Nunn, Lowell Weicker and dozens of others. And, of course, Nixon.

Though there were a couple of Congressional investigations of Nixon going on, it was pre-Watergate time. Access to news-makers was easier to get than now, both at work and informally. Many of the famous of the time were a lot different when not “on stage.” Bourbon and branch-water, scotch and cold martinis often showed a different side. Many of the Massachusetts Avenue embassies were open for after-work cocktails for ambassadors and staffs, politicians and even the media. Even the Soviets.

But, the several times I was fortunate to be around Bob Dole, I count as most memorable in that time of many memorable people and events. In person, he came across as someone you’d like to get to know better. The terrible wounds of war he survived - more than three years in rehab - seem to have made him realize how fragile life was and he was determined to make the most of it.

Bob Dole was a man to reckon with. And, if he entered your life - no matter how infrequently or momentarily - he was someone to be remembered. A very good man.

Please pardon an old desert rat’s carrying on about his own life in the process.
 

“Lights, camera…….”

rainey

Well, we finally got some justice. The Ahmaud Arbery verdict was right on! Whatever sentencing is handed down will be justice served.

Lots of support in the country for that jury’s decisions. Many in this nation watched everything unfold in that little courtroom. They and the jury were forced to hear the outrageous racism spewed by the defense. Just plain racism on display for all to see and hear.

But, back to the verdict. In fact, back to the charging of all three of the guilty. Had it not been for someone leaking a video of the murder in the alley, there would have been no trial. Nothing. Nada.

The prosecutor, at the time, had decided no charges were warranted in the killing. This was just three fine citizens catching and killing a suspected neighborhood burglar. Case closed.

That determiner of “justice” was a lady named Jacqueline Lee Johnson. She has since been removed from office and is now facing criminal charges of her own. In every sense of the word “justice,” she deserves whatever fate is determined in another courtroom.

The fine and huge point in this drama is that, if someone had not made public that short, but painful video, there would have been no arrests - no charges - no action! Ms. Johnson would still be the attorney for that district. The three men would not have had their lives disrupted. There would have been no trial. And Ahmaud Arbery would have been just another Black man murdered in an alley by three “good citizens.”

The difference between this and so many other Black killings in this country was simply the digital capture of a murder in progress. A video. Incontrovertible evidence of the crime. The same in the police murder of George Floyd. A camera at the scene capturing a crime in progress.

If I were a Black man, I’d have every reason to ask society “If a cop kills me by kneeling on my neck or if vigilantes gun me down in my neighborhood, will there have to be a video of it to get me justice?”

How many Black men have been killed in this country without charges being brought - without someone arrested and convicted - because there was no video of their deaths? Have we become so inured to the deaths of fellow humans that we must have pictures - video of their demise - to make a criminal case?

Left to the “thinking” of one former federal attorney, the answer is “yes.”

We citizens - and especially Black men - expect more of our justice system. We expect the full and complete “services” available to assure a thorough examination of the facts and - if warranted - action in accordance with the law. That’s our expectation. That’s our right!

Some years ago, someone had the bright idea of putting cameras on cops for just the reason for the Arbery case. Video. Digital pictures of what the cops were doing, what they were seeing.

Great! Except now, we’re hearing “left it in the squad car,” “battery was out because I forgot to charge it,”“I forgot to wear it” or some other lame excuse. You almost have to have a videographer “ride-along” to make a case.

There’s absolutely no reason why the Arbery case got to a courtroom other than the pictures. The video someone “leaked.” What if there were no “leak?” What if the video never surfaced? Would there have been any justice at all for an innocent man’s death? The answer - if Ms. Johnson’s decision was not challenged - would be “No.”

Criminal cases initiated by pictures. Justice by digital photography.

Helluva world.

(Note: This article previously said the prosecutor involved was federal; it has been corrected to note that she was a state district attorney.)
 

Destroying democracy

rainey

If those two words are a jolt to you, consider this. If Trump and/or his minions gain national office in the next two elections, those two words are likely to be the eventual outcome.

Never - in my long years - has the future of our Republic been so threatened. You have to look no further than our present Congress to see the antics of those already there.

Boebert, Taylor-Greene, Hawley and their ilk have made the trek to
Mara-Lago to kiss the ring, drink the kool-aid and promise fidelity to the Trump deity.

Across the country, there’s an all-out attack on municipal, county and state elections to get more far-right “patriots” into positions of power to, in some cases, change the outcomes of various races. Cancel the votes cast by the people if the voter outcomes are not to their liking.

Here, in Arizona, we’ve got announced Trumper candidacies up and down the ballot. Several Mara-Lago “faithful” have joined the fray - running for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State.

In recent elections, this state has gone from “red” to “purple” and seems to be shifting further toward “blue.” Our two U.S. Senators are Democrats. Well, Sinema, sort of.

Idaho has the Trumper Lieutenant Governor trying to unseat the “big guy” in 2022. Already kissed the Trump ring and has hard-copies of the Florida endorsement to pass around.

Speaking of Idaho, the legislature - more specifically the House - has gone off-the-rails, acting like the Idaho Constitution doesn’t apply to Republicans. At least their “brand” of such. Gem State taxpayers are footing a lot of unnecessary per diem and legal bills because of the unwarranted effort to get around the states Constitution.

Many a-year ago, then-Idaho Governor Bob Smylie told me “Every few elections, you’re got to open the closet and sweep everything out - regardless of party. One-party control over a long period can produce a real stench if the people stay too long.” Idaho’s Legislature seems to be living proof

Here in the desert, we had to put up with a Trump-backed, expensive “fraudit” of our last election. Now, other states are copying the failed effort as if “election fraud” is/was a sudden contagion at the polls. It wasn’t. And, likely won’t be if competent candidates prevail.

These aforementioned nutcases - and their actions - are all the proof needed to see where this country is headed if they get control of more elected offices. Imagine Marjorie Taylor-Green as your new governor. Hey, she got to the House of Representatives, thanks to Democrats leaving her an uncontested general election. Governor? Could be. Or, Paul Gosar or Sarah Huckabee-Sanders?

There are a lot of these conspiracy-believing souls out there. They’re being fed daily - hourly - B.S. by their right-wing media. Faux Neus has made possible One America News and other copycats. Radio. TV. Murdock-run newspapers. Nutball rallies. Constant voices drowning out the real world.

Which creates this problem. How can you introduce reality to people who are surrounding themselves with fantasies they believe are real? How do you break the cycles of repeated lies from a mass media that’s constantly feeding them? They’ve effectively sealed themselves off from the rest of us.

Until now, folks on the fringe have pretty-well been left alone to wallow in their little worlds. And, like mold, they’re grown - unchecked and unblocked. Now, with a toe-hold in various levels of government, they’re getting bolder and looking for more.

Unfortunately, that’s what the next two national elections are about. They’ve become so very important. The all-out, right-wing assault on the rest of us is going to manifest itself on the ballot. Oregon. Arizona. Idaho. Virtually every state has the same problem.

The Trump-backed militants are becoming a force to be reckoned with. They’ve got money. They’ve got their own media. They’ve got a larger degree of power. They’re going to show up. Whether as voters or as candidates, they’ll be there on election day. More than ever, an informed electorate is needed to overcome the assault from the far-right.

Without that informed electorate, we could be seeing our democracy destroyed. These next two elections are really that important!

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Real news lost

rainey

Most of us have little “tics” that infuriate when we see or hear them. I’ve got one. I’ll spell it out. It’s only five words.

“.....ACCORDING TO A NEWS RELEASE.”

If you’re a daily reader of newspapers or viewer of TV in Idaho, Oregon or damned near any other place, those five words are prominently displayed in many stories. Way too many.

“......According to a news release” Just what do those five words mean? Why are they so prominent and used so often? Let’s chat about that.

Those words mean someone emailed - or otherwise informed - the media what they want you to know about this or that. Which may or may not be the whole story. The words pop up most often when used in place of a reporter being assigned to what the story is about.

A glaring example. A few days ago, the Arizona Republic - Arizona’s largest newspaper - had a “story” about a border patrol officer who “died in the line of duty, according to a news release” That was it. The last sentence: “The Border Patrol provided no further information about the officer’s passing.”

WHAT? “Provided no further information?” Where the hell are the reporters? How the guy died is the guts of the story. If he hadn’t died “in the line of duty,” there’d be no story. What killed him? How he died IS the story!

Reporters used to physically check in daily at the local cop shop, meetings at city hall, fire departments, county buildings. They got to know county commissioners, mayors, secretaries (often the most reliable news source) - even janitors. They developed stories. Stories that gave readers/viewers more insight and information about the goings-on. And, sometimes, reporters found out facts that often led to a better story. Or even a “scoop!” I did it for years.

Newspapers, radio and TV seldom do that now. They’ve been victimized, replaced or largely downsized by availability of the Internet and (un)social media. “Stories” that took time to develop now blare out, often without the real `meat` of the “information.” Too often without all the facts. Like the dead Arizona officer.

Newspapers and broadcast operations have “slimmed down.” They’ve even got “reporters” who work from home! Using the phone and the I-net. Too often, they don’t ‘on site’ to get the story. That’s why you see “.....according to a news release.” Sometimes, not even rewritten.

Most radio/tv operations and newspapers aren’t owned by local folks anymore. They’ve become “pawns” in the news business. Too often, they’re owned by large corporations that don’t give a damn about local news and how important it really is. Accountants - read “bean counters” - do spreadsheets on profit and loss. There are, after all, investors who want a good rate of return.

Some guy, sitting on his butt in Florida, doesn’t give a damn that a United Airlines jet may have ‘crashed near Caldwell, Idaho, killing 254.’ A crash causing slimmed down local news outlets to work staff overtime, sending “feeds” to national news bureaus, doing real on-scene reporting. Temporarily “blowing” budgets. The Florida guy’s only interest is “bottom line.” Return on investment. Nothing else.

So, you too often get “.....according to a news release.” Faster, cheaper, easier - and less expensive - than being staffed to go out and get the rest of the story.

The loss of “beat reporters” means, for instance, when city/county budgets are set, your taxes are spent - and maybe raised - and you don’t know the details. That loss also means things happen in courthouses, city halls, ‘cop shops,’ fire halls and businesses along Main Street that you never hear about. Real news.

The irony here is we live at a time in which we’re inundated with information. More than ever before. So much so that we have to search for what we want/need to know. But, with the cutback or elimination of most local news staffs, who find and report real local news, we’re less informed about what’s going on - less informed about what’s happening right around us.

You can thank Ronnie Reagan for much of this. During his presidential term, he appointed a new batch of people to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC appointees promptly changed previous ownership restrictions on broadcasters and other media. You could subsequently buy as many radio/TV stations as you could afford. One corporate outfit eventually owned 12-hundred radio stations. Corporate. Investors. Absentee ownership.

The requirement that stations operate “in the public interest” was whittled down to meaning dropping a lot of local - or basically any - news. Staff cuts in the thousands hit newsrooms. Many stations now have no news at all.

Awash in information. Too often deprived of real information - local news reporting in our communities. We’re told, in too many instances, only what someone or some agency of government wants us to know.

“.....according to a news release.”

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