Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Rainey”

It feels different

rainey

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m only wishing. Maybe it’s the higher level of compassion coming from people who’re at last expressing why they hurt so badly. Maybe ‘cause I’m wanting it to end right now, though I know it won’t. But, it just feels different.

We’ve had school massacres before. Too damned many of ‘em. Too many riddled bodies. Too much fibre and muscle and blood splattered all over school desks and walls where the only legitimate task at hand was supposed to be learning - not surviving. Too many futures ripped to shreds by a psychopath with no grasp on reality.

But the Florida shooting. The Florida tragedy. The flat-out Florida killing. There seems - at least to me - something different in the sorrow-filled aftermath. Almost a sense that “enough is finally enough!” That enough is, at last, too damned much!

Maybe it’s a sense of national disgust with a lot of things we’re facing at the moment. Maybe it’s the border-to-border feelings of revulsion felt by thinking Americans who love this nation, love their families, love their children and do so without waving around an assault rifle.

Media - commercial and “social” - are filled with something akin to rage. Editorial cartoons, in papers large and small, are attacking targets with a deliberate viciousness usually reserved for wartime or other national, world-changing events. With the lone, embarrassing exception of Fox News, we’re seeing and hearing from Americans truly in mourning. Searing descriptions of what those kids saw, felt and feared while classmates died next to them.

Even some of the loyalists of our cowering, self-serving, lying “commander-in-chief,” are expressing almost rational thought as they seem to realize that something "may be" different this time. That some sort of coda has been reached. Finally!

And the “thoughts-and-prayers” B.S.. Those who pipe up with those words are seen as playing “Whack-A-Mole” with their own head. Attempting to get off the hook by throwing out “thoughts and prayers” isn’t working anymore and those words are oft responded to by a foul epithet and a promise to “see you at the ballot box.”

But, the frosting on the cake is the thundering silence of the N-R-A. Not a word. Not a peep. Politicians who’ve drunk the kool-aid of hundreds of millions from that out-of-control cancer on the body politic are cowering even as the dollars fill their rotting pockets.

Still, most of all, it’s the kids. The Parkland kids who’re not only allowing themselves to be interviewed in the tragic aftermath but who’re seeking out national media for a platform from which they can express their outrage. Promising to aggressively take whatever actions they can to stop the killing.

While I doubt they can do much by themselves, they can - and I pray they will - be a continuing, outspoken catalyst for others who can be effective. Who can vote and who WILL vote to eliminate political N-R-A junkies. If the rest of us will pay attention, get up off our asses, stop complaining and DO SOMETHING, those kids can make an historic difference.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the ghastly, bullet-filled time warp we seem to be in will continue. Maybe all this will die in a few weeks. Maybe we’ll forget. Again.

But, this time, to me, it just feels different.
 

A shrinking mea culpa

rainey

Several days ago, I re-posted a news story on Facebook. It had been on the CNN website that day and appeared genuine. It outraged me so much I re-posted without checking. My bad.

Within minutes, some sharp-eyed Facebook friends started commenting they hadn’t seen it anywhere else and a few questioned its authenticity. Suddenly, so did I. Going back to the CNN page, the story I had copied was nowhere to be found. I checked every nook and cranny but it wasn’t there.

Since the story had a Nevada dateline, I looked up the state’s two largest newspaper web pages. Nothing. Not a word.

At this point, I was both professionally and personally embarrassed. So, after waiting 24 hours to do more research - and to think of a properly worded mea culpa - I checked the Nevada papers again. And there it was! Whew!

So, I re-posted one of the more detailed stories with a “soft” mea culpa and invited skeptical friends to check it out. After all, they had a right to be skeptical since I had not done my homework.

So, what’s the point?

Just this. Simply because something appears on a legitimate website like CNN, check a couple more sources before sharing. Each week, I visit some 15-20 sites - Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Der Spiegel, London Times, The Guardian, Tokyo Times, CBS, NBC, etc. The idea is to be exposed to many issues and to check other views of all sorts of stories.

But, I think I got “had” on CNN. CNN, too. Which is a wake-up call for all my other online reading. I checked with the Atlanta powers-that-be and they couldn’t find my “story,” either. It could have been a Russian “bot.” My source didn’t use that word but did say the company’s site has been experiencing “some difficulties recently.”

So, the lesson learned is this: check, re-check, cross-check and, if necessary, check again. Corroborate. If it seems interesting enough to pass on, be sure you’re on solid ground.

Oh, by the way, the story that caused the outrage? It was accurate. Republicans in the Nevada legislature have been behind a recall campaign against two Democrat state senators. GOP sponsored. GOP run. GOP paid for. And the charge against the two “miscreants?” Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Boiled down to its essentials, Republicans are trying to take control of the Nevada Senate by shifting numbers. The two targets here have committed no crimes. Have not shirked their responsibilities. Have not engaged in “moral turpitude.” They’re not guilty of anything!

The reason this Nevada story is so important is a favorable court ruling could be a precedent for all other states. Republicans could just dream up a “recall” and try to unseat Democrats. Any Democrats. Anywhere. Or vice versa.

I’ve seen nothing to support what my gut tells me which is this: dig deep enough and you’re likely to find the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and/or the Koch brothers who have large holdings in Nevada and other states. This just smells like a test run at the courts to gain leverage Republicans couldn’t get at the ballot box.

I sincerely hope the Nevada court system slams the door on this shabby Republican B.S.. The GOP has enough other shameful efforts going trying to thwart voters.

Pennsylvania is a good example. State Supreme Court threw out the Republican gerrymandering of districts. Deemed it illegal. So, the GOP went to the U.S. Supreme Court which kicked it back to the state. Now, Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to recall Democrat appointees on their own state supreme court for no other reason than the GOP wants to underhandedly take over legislative majorities. And the court!

These are important stories that more Americans should be watching closely and be greatly concerned about. These underhanded, totally flagrant and despicable Republican challenges are a flat-out challenge to the Constitution of the nation and those of every state.

So, here I am. Feeling guilty about passing along a single news report that might have been false - but wasn’t - while Republicans in at least two states are trying to overturn entire elections. And subvert several constitutions.

Suddenly, my mea culpa doesn’t feel so large after all.
 

There’s NO nuke button

rainey

I’ve been mentally wrestling with something for, oh, a year or more. Something I’ve not seen the national media explain ‘cause they probably don’t know. You won’t hear it from the Oval Office, either, ‘cause he certainly doesn’t know.

So, looks like it’s coming down to Ridenbaugh Press: a burden we didn’t ask for but have been given nonetheless. Here it is. As straightforward as it can be said.

There’s NO DAMNED NUCLEAR BUTTON. On Trump’s desk or in the entire White House! No! None! Zero! Zip! Nada! Never has been! PERIOD! His little fingers can’t push it ‘cause there’s nothing there to push! He cannot - repeat - CANNOT unilaterally order up a nuclear conflagration.

I spent a few cold war years about three-feet from where the button would have been if there had been a button to push if a nuclear button needed to be - pushed. And it wasn’t there, either! Never was! The damned thing has never existed!

So, without a “button,” what’s a guy “push” when we need to launch all the things in our far-flung nuclear arsenal? Well, therein lies a tale that needs some background.

Ever notice when a President travels away from the White House there’s always - ALWAYS - a field grade officer lurking nearby, carrying what looks like the president’s personal luggage? Always there. Always carrying. He’s one of a small cadre, holding the topmost security clearances, who have no other job but carrying that “luggage” for the Commander-In Chief.

The “luggage” is euphemistically called “the Football.” The best description of it I’ve ever seen - and of what’s inside - is an old Washington Post piece. To wit:

“The Football is a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase carried in a black leather "jacket" weighing about 45 pounds. A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle.

“There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing retaliatory options; a book listing classified site locations; a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Alert System; a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes.

“The Black Book is about 9 by 12 inches and has 75 loose-leaf pages printed in black and red. The book with classified site locations is about the same size as the Black Book and contains information on sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency.” End quote.

If someone in the Pentagon War Room sends a signal to the “Football,” it will be opened and the President will be in immediate contact. He’ll be given a very short update on what’s happening and will quickly be given options for military response - if any - previously developed and updated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What happens from that point is highly classified. But we do know the approximate steps. The President can choose any option. Or decline. But, if the option to launch is made, he must read a long series of coded numbers aloud to the War Room listener - most likely the Secretary of Defense. The numbers and sequences must be verified by responder and he must read aloud his own code series.

Others in strategic military locations around the world should be listening by this time, having been alerted after the initial presidential call. Once a decision is made, more codes in more sequences will be sent to field commanders to which they have to immediately respond with confirmation codes. If all checks are positive, those military commanders will issue the direct orders to the force. All forces with nukes must acknowledge and transmit their own codes.

Not the President. No “nuclear button.”

And there’s this. It’s within the purview of the Secretary, the Joint Chiefs and - theoretically - a force commander to refuse to obey if they believe the “go-to-war” order is illegal. So, just because the order is given, there’s no basis to believe it will be blindly followed.

The President can’t unilaterally send our military to war. There are too many checks and cross-checks. As there should be. And there’s NO DAMNED BUTTON!

Anyone got an email address for CNN and the rest?
 

Shut the hell up

rainey

A dyed-in-the-wool, real Republican has taken the words right out of my mouth. In doing so, he’s given my old heart a last gasp of hope there may be some life left in the old GOP corpse: that it may rise again.

We’ll get to him in a minute. First, some background. And a warning. If you’re a straight-up Evangelical believer who thinks our nation is being led to Hell by the guy in the White House, you reject his foul mouth, chronic lying, his total absence of qualifications to hold that office AND you accept the rest of us are entitled to our differing beliefs, please - PLEASE - don’t take offense at what you’re about to read. While I deeply and honestly mean the words, they are not directed at you. They ARE directed at some of your totally dangerous brethren.

Let’s start with Franklin Graham who must, by now, be an embarrassment to well-grounded Christian believers everywhere. His recent rhetoric about our president is anything but Christian.

Case in point: On CNN last week, Graham said Trump “is a changed man.” Meaning for the better, I’d guess. He said Trump’s affair with a porn star was “11,12,13,14 years ago,” Trump is “a businessman, not a politician...talks a certain way to get his point across” and while “he has offended people, God put him in the White House for a reason.”

“I believe Donald Trump is a good man,” Graham said. “I think God put him there.” End quote.

Given the depth of public knowledge about Trump and his activities the past year, this so-called “Christian leader” can’t possibly be representing thinking Christians, much less the entire Evangelical branch. A mass of evidence puts the lie to his words.

Then, there’s Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. The Council’s website says it “..champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue and the wellspring of society...families are formed only by ties of blood, marriage or adoption” and “marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

So, here’s Perkins on Trump on CNN. “Evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan - a do-over...a second chance.” Perkins said Trump had built a “relationship with Evangelicals” (with) “his constitutional conservative policies including appointing judges who oppose abortion (which) garners the support.”

Perkins is happy Trump will appoint judges with a fixed point of view rather than an open mind. Put another way, he wants judges appointed who will betray their oaths of office to support his closed mind.

While we’re all entitled to our opinions on this-that-and-the-other, we are seeing more and more cases of someone’s - or some group’s - social or moral beliefs framing issues. Perkins and Graham are exhibits A and B. That entitlement of expression extends to all Christians, non-Christians, unbelievers and, yes, “Evangelicals,” too. Our Constitution says so.

But, these two “leaders” want to eviscerate the Constitution, create a legal system with only their beliefs and dictate to all of society what their distinct minority supposedly adheres to.

Now, back to the Republican who has fostered some small hope in my heart that the old GOP may - like Lazarus - rise from the dead.

That one guy - former GOP Chairman Michael Steele - responded to the Perkins garbage this way on MSNBC. “I have a very simple admonition at this point,” he said. “Just shut the Hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it!”

Further, he said, “After telling me how to live my life, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up!”

Michael, sez I, you took the words right out of my mouth!”
 

Whither thou, Democrat?

rainey

Has anyone seen a national Democrat who’d make an excellent president? Does anyone know of such - someone harboring the thought who’s ready to file petitions and start raising millions for the race? Anyone? Anywhere?

No? Well, how about someone who would be a likely candidate for vice president? Have you seen one of them? Someone out in the hustings on the rubber chicken dinner circuit? Someone helping raise funds for a local or state or national Democrat candidate for something and earning I-O-U’s?

No? Well, what HAVE you seen? Elizabeth? Bernie? Joe? Kamala? Oprah? OPRAH? Are you kidding me???

You do know, of course, it takes three-four years of advance work, raising money, setting up state-by-state connections, creating a technology network, getting local committees of workers up and running, shmoozing big donors, You know that, don’t you, Mr. And Mrs. Democrat?

So, let’s ask again. Which Democrats are out there doing those things? Who’s got those petitions ready to file? Who’s ready to “hit-the-ground-running?” Walking? Crawling? Breathing?

The uniform answer to such queries seems to be “No one.” Since Tom Perez became National Democrat Chairman, what passes for national candidate recruitment has apparently been taking place underground in deep secrecy. I can’t come up with a single serious name being floated or even whispered. OPRAH? Are you kidding?

Hillary has said - more or less - she won’t run for office again. Good. Bernie won’t make such a statement and is letting backers ramp up the chant. Bad. Elizabeth and Kamala don’t have the chops. Joe’s age, three years hence, disqualifies him. No potential 2020 candidates there.

It’s not like the Dems don’t have some fine, highly qualified folk. Check the U.S. Senate: Mark Warner (VA), Patti Murray (WA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Amy Klobuchar (MI,) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). If you liked Joe Biden, you’d love Whitehouse. He was Biden’s top staffer for years and is just as familiar with foreign heads-of-state and diplomacy as Joe.

Over in the House, Joaquin Castro (Tx). Smart, experienced, able to gain election majorities - even in Texas. Or Chris Van Hollen (MD), Jackie Speir or Eric Swalwell of California or Adam Schiff (Ca) from the House Intelligence Committee. Several state houses could produce some good names as well.

Nationally, Dems have always had three serious problems. First, they normally have no “bench team” - a cadre of skilled/experienced people to get out on the playing field, ready-to-go as first-class candidates. Second, they’re not good at letting the last, lost election go to turn their focus on the next race. Internecine battles continue. Hillary and Bernie backers big time.

And, third, when they do get a good one in office, they tend to sit on their butts instead of grooming a good second team - ready to get in the game when the time comes. The Bill Clinton years come to mind.

Nationally, Democrats have some top-notch talent. They do! But, no one is currently carrying on a national dialogue, floating names or even openly promoting the necessary candidate search. It’s likely there’s a lot of commotion below the surface. But the clock’s ticking. The threshold for launching a national campaign is bearing down. Time to get going on some of the all-important name recognition. And work.

About the only national Dem chatter I hear is the continued bitching between Hillary and Bernie supporters. That’s got to STOP! Again, Hillary ain’t running and Bernie shouldn’t. Knock off the arguing and get behind someone else. Anyone else. Put that useless chatter and wasted energy into a candidate that would appreciate the added help. When you can find one.

This far out from November, 2020, it’s hard to know where Trump - or Pence - will be. Impeached. Sitting in a cell. Beaten in a nasty GOP national primary. Ready to run again. But, Democrats can be warned of one thing. In or out of office, Trump will be a larger-than-life figure in that election. His dwindling base will make it so. Faux Neus and Breitbart will make it so. Trump will make it so.

Somebody’s got to jerk the national Dems off their butts and out onto the playing field. The need for all-out, flat-out action has never been more necessary. Or, they can just continue to grumble and watch Trump and his minions tear our government to pieces.

C’mon. Make some noise!
 

What the hell happened?

rainey

I suppose anyone who uses the freedom of the press to opine about this and that - and about anything and anyone - comes to a moment when what’s truly angering the writer has to come out. I’m there.

When others notice changes in your speech, personality and other mannerisms - when your spouse does - when you do - there needs to be a period of introspection to sort things out. Again, I’m there.

Something that might be trivial or even unnoticed by someone else has lit my fuse. Again. And it’s forced me to wonder aloud - very aloud - “What the Hell has happened to my country?”

I said what brings this anger is very small. Here it is. You judge.

It’s well known our Arizona Congressman Trent Franks had to quit midterm because of sexual proclivities that didn't include his wife. Another wanted congressional poster on the wall of sexual assaults. He’s gone.

So, now we have an impending local district Republican primary. Two candidates have announced and put up large - and expensive - banners on every prominent corner they can find.

Across the top of the political pornography for one political huckster there’s large blue lettering: "WAS WITH TRUMP EARLY - WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP N0W." Damn!

But, it’s the other guy’s printed obscenity that makes my gut wretch. His is inscribed across the top in large letters: "ENDORSED BY TRENT FRANKS & JOE ARPAIO."

That’s our choice. A Republican primary and those are what we must chose between. One, who ignorantly publicizes his love and affection for the most ignorant, racist, reckless and ill-informed resident of the White House in our history. And the other proudly flouting the political embrace of a disgraced member of Congress, forced out of Congress on morals charges and another guy who’s a twice convicted felon!

What the Hell do we do? Not vote? Vote for someone dumb enough and stupid enough to tell us he idolizes the worst, most contemptible president we’ve ever had? Or, the other guy, flaunting his support of that disgraced politician and a former sheriff convicted once for civil rights violations and a second time for ignoring our American court system?

Adding to the irony - and my angst - that former sheriff is running for the U.S. Senate. As a Republican, you betcha!

And there’s more. Today’s web pages of several major news outlets. On one, Trump and his “shithole” outburst figure into seven - SEVEN - front page links. On another site, five. “Stories” involving the public, disgusting utterances of our chief executive. And several other “stories” of his lies and journalistic attempts to get to the truth.

Another “story” - CNN, NBC, CBS, etc. - of his blatant lies about our new American embassy in London and his refusing an invitation to participate in it’s opening because “Obama did it.” Untrue. But there he is. Again. And again and again and again. What do we have to do to get rid of this guy before he blows up the country?

While this cretin holds the national media’s attention, his Cabinet of millionaires is gutting our government from the top down. Neutering our State Department. Revoking policies, laws and even treaties put in place for the protection and enhancement of this country by previous presidents and congresses. Environment, education, worker safety, food/public health programs for millions of Americans, opening pristine, protected places to drilling, fracking and excavation. What the Hell has happened to my country?

Longing for a better time’s not the answer. Though I do. Trying to shut it out won’t work. But I try. Ignoring all the chaos and corrupting influences and going about my life might help. But I can’t. Any more than you. These bastards came to power because too many people cast ballots in ignorance or wanted national change but didn’t want the same “change” and were sold a bill of goods. Money drowned out informed, patriotic expression. Lies and damn lies passed off as truth to good people buying political snake oil.

Our nation - our society - got here through slow rot. As long as house payments and the bank loans on pickups and RVs were being made, too many of us tuned out and left the work of staying informed and involved to others. Unedited “social” media, Internet-connected loners and foreign political interference all contributed. So did acceptance of a coarser society that made it possible for a president to befoul important meetings with language grossly unfit for such.

What the Hell has happened to my country? Do you find yourself asking that? How do you feel about passing all this on to your children and their children? We think of our own earlier lives with loving memories but will your heirs have their own?

Nearly all developed nations in our world progress, offer today’s living enhancements to their citizens, exhibit national safeguards against unwanted influences while maintaining a standard of living to be proud of. They’re proactive and nurturing - accepting change while valuing traditional norms that have existed for centuries.

Can we say the same? Can we say - with a full heart - we’re proud of what we’ve become as one of the leading nation’s in the world? Is the country now stronger, more productive, happier and a place we want to give to our offspring? I can’t say “Yes.”

What the Hell has happened to OUR country?
 

A deep state?

rainey

One of the moral issues all of us face from time to time is this: is it right to support a concept or action we may know is wrong or is without factual basis or do we reject it for those same reasons?

Here’s one I’m wrestling with at the moment. Members of the Trump family - and a few other conspiratorial minds - are screaming there’s a “deep state” cabal working against our president. On the one hand, that’s highly doubtful. On the other, I hope so, because, left unchecked, the man is just plain dangerous to our survival!

Let’s set a common definition for that term “deep state.” The words are most often used by conspiratorial types to describe a “deep rooted civil service - or other behind-the-scenes group - at work to undermine elected officials.” Including presidents.

The latest White House denizen to publically use the term is Trump’s second son who lumped Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres (?) together as “forces for evil.” Said it on Twitter. Just like Dad. Bannon and Faux Neus like it, too. And use it often.

It’s really too easy to poke sticks at anyone in the Trump family or others who think of him as our “political savior.” But, there is a serious bent to this as well. Which brings about my ambivalence.

Several weeks ago, I used this space to highlight a couple of Air Force generals publically stating they would not necessarily follow a presidential order to unleash the force and nuclear weapons. The qualifier used was the question of a “legal versus illegal” order. I’ve since discovered there are as many legal definitions of those words as there are generals. Or staff attorneys. Whom we don’t have time to consult when there are incoming warheads.

But more evidence is piling up - as in some ‘50's-‘60's movies about renegade generals - that the military and other agencies are going their own ways on things. Rogue, if you will.

Case-in-point: in November, Trump said “no transgender people in the military.” The Pentagon, however, now says, as of January 1, transgender enlistees are welcome.

Case-in-point: Trump made a big public issue of claiming our embassy in Tel Aviv will be moved to Jerusalem. But State Department professionals - not Trump-appointee Tillerson - are saying there are “no plans in the foreseeable future” for such action.

Case-in-point: Trump continues to berate and insult North Korea’s leader while State Department professionals - not Trump-appointee Tillerson - continue back-channel discussions with counterparts in both North Korea, South Korea, China and Japan.

Case-in-point: Trump pulls U.S. out of climate accords so individual states are now signing up directly with foreign governments.

Case-in-point: Trump’s own staff attorney did not tell him he had the authority to fire an F.B.I. director because his own staff attorney figured that’s just what Trump would do.

Case(s)-in-point: Trump continues demanding a stop to immigration - even legal immigration - but nine courts have overruled him.

Upper level civil service professionals have often walked different paths from political appointees. That’s not new. What IS different is it’s being done more openly - more “in-your-face” - than previously. Especially in military, State and DOJ issues.

Trump has repeatedly proven he cannot cooperate with - nor countenance - people who are experts in their fields holding any different view from his. He refuses to recognize his job is not to call every shot but to oversee departments of government while recognizing it’s the professionals who really know what ’s going on. And how to do it. They may - and should - bend to changing political guidance. But we’re starting to see open defiance in some quarters.

Which brings us back to “deep state.” Is institutional resistance to Trump and his authority real? And, if so, who’s in charge? Which decisions will be carried out and which ignored? Is someone - or many someone(s) - working deep underground to subvert the power of the Presidency or just Trump? And, if so, who? And, to what end?

For the first time in my life, I go to bed at night wondering (a) if I’ll wake up and (b) if I do, to what? I have no use for Trump. He scares me. I want him gone. Preferably today.

But, he IS the President. He DOES have certain constitutional powers at his disposal. He DOES have the legal right to exercise them. And, what scares me more than him, is the idea that others may actually be working to thwart the lawful exercise of that authority.

We live in a technological (read nuclear) environment requiring immediate decisions that can result in life-ending consequences. The evidence seems to indicate a “going-my-own-way” attitude in some portions of our government. Despite Trump, that’s not the way to run a country.
 

The nose count

rainey

Stories using statistics are usually quickly forgotten. But, once in awhile, one comes along that makes you stop and give it some thought. This is one of those.

On the first day of 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau is projecting there are 326,971,407 of us in this country. And, that in the last 12 months, we’ve gained 2,314,238 new noses to count. If you go back to the last official census in 2010, that figure means we’ve grown by 18,225,587 folks in just eight years. That’s a lot of folks!

The next official, door-to-door people counting is still a year or so away but the Bureau has developed some handy-dandy formulas to usually come pretty close in its projections. So, let’s look at a few more.

In 2018, the Bureau nose-counters figure, just in America, we’ll see one birth every eight seconds and one death every 10 seconds. Add to that a net international migration of one person every 29 seconds. So, the combination of births and net migration minus deaths will increase our total count of one new person in our world every 18 seconds in 2018.

Then, there’s the question of how may of us there are in the whole world today. Glad you asked.

Today’s estimate is 7,444,443,881. That’s up from 2010 by about 78,521,290 or an increase of 1.07 percent. Worldwide, the Bureau forecasts 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths every second. I’m not sure where the official point of “overpopulation” begins, but when births are four times the death rate, we’re gonna hit it one of these years.

The Census Bureau has a web page that simulates “real-time”
growth of populations in this country and worldwide that’s worth checking into.

To me, these numbers are interesting but a bit beyond real comprehension when you’re talking about 7-billion. I still get nervous when there are more than six people on my bus.
 

Factless Fox

rainey

For several years, I’ve used this space - and others - to condemn Fox News. Or, more appropriately - FAUX NEUS. Real, fact-based reporting has not been a part of the networks claim-to-fame since Rupert bought it.

But, now the boys and girls exhibiting their talent-less efforts on the screen - radio, too - have gone so far over the fairness and unbiased reporting line that not even Diogenes could find an honest soul among them. The network is now just a far right mouthpiece. “The truth is not in them,” as my Grandma Lou used to say.

The disparate collection of pretty faces and handsome readers has surrendered completely to the dark side. The whole operation has become nothing more than a swamp of misinformation, distortion and downright lying on behalf of anything or anyone with a far-right bent. It’s now nothing more than GOP-TV. Not to mention, of course, being the sexual abuse capitol of broadcast journalism.

The network’s current torrent of journalistic B.S. aimed at Special Council Mueller is exhibit “A.” The similarities of speech between Faux Neus voices and GOP members of Congress are like echoes in the Swiss Alps. You’d swear there was a co-authored news release of baseless charges and unfounded bilge-water handed out from Murdoch, McConnell and Ryan each day at sunrise.

Mueller has been given a thankless legal task. Find the connections - if any - between the Trump campaign and Russia. The “if any” clause is probably inoperable now because, between what we know of what Mueller’s team has already uncovered and some outstanding reporting from major legitimate news agencies at home and abroad, proof of those connection(s) is overwhelming.

The reason Mueller’s task is “thankless” is because, no matter the outcome of his research and the publishing of the end document of findings, people will be unhappy from coast to coast.

If he ties Trump and Putin together, the Trumpeteers will screech like banshees that the whole investigation was a “plot of the left, the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton” from the getgo. If Mueller’s report clears Trump and his minions of any punishable criminal activity, the rest of the audience will say it’s a “whitewash” and he didn’t dig deep enough to find the truth.

If you research Mueller’s background, you’ll find he probably doesn’t give a damn how anyone else views his labors and those of his talented crew. He’s about as “straight arrow” as they come, has a lengthy public background of being a first-class prosecutor and was given the job by a Department of Justice Republican appointee. He faithfully served administrations of both national political parties for years without a hint of favoritism or scandal.

But, to hear the faux outrage at Faux Neus tell it, Mueller has far exceeded his original charge, has used illegal means to gather emails and other evidence, has overcharged we taxpayers for what he’s been doing, is somehow a servant of the Clinton’s and had something to do - even they aren’t sure what - with Benghazi.

Journalism is a valued, legitimate profession. The names I honor most - Bradlee, Broder, Cronkite, Jennings, Graham, Murrow, Pyle, Trout, Reasoner - all spent their lives trying to report fact, doing their best to do so independently and fairly and left a legacy of work that likely won’t be equaled.

Media today is not the media of times past. Reporting today is not the reporting and editing that used to be. But, there still exists - in most cases - a desire to “get it first, get it right.” Because there are so many sources from which we now get our information - many unedited and unchecked - there are far more opportunities to fall short. There are way too many political mercenaries in the business that shouldn’t be but most others keep trying.

All of which makes Faux Neus an outlier. (Maybe that should read “outliar.”) From Murdoch on down, the blatant prostitution in writing, editing and reporting borders on the criminal. The obscene pandering to the far-right, the mouthing of “stories” based on collected garbage, the vilification of those with other points of view, the broadcast demonizing of responsible thought, factless facts repeated ad nauseam, the devotion to bias and rumor-mongering - all have made Fox a pariah to responsible, fact-based journalism.

What had been, in the past, irritatingly bad at Fox has now become outright disrespect for truth with no effort made to report without adulteration.

We can be thankful many viewers are tired of being lied to and the formerly high ratings Fox enjoyed are now sliding down the charts.

What’s needed to balance the scales of honest journalism is not a new, left-leaning media reporting outlet. The same balance point can be reached by the single elimination of Fox News.
 

Not so fast, Dems

rainey

Democrats - especially those in traditionally red states like Idaho and Utah - continue to bask in the glow of one of theirs being elected to the U.S. Senate in blood red Alabama last week.. “If it can happen there,” the chant goes, “It can happen here.”

Not so fast, my frenzied friends. Not so fast.

While it was heartening to see that red blood turn a bit blue, there were some very important mitigating circumstances to consider. Circumstances that don’t exist in most states - especially in our far western neighborhoods.

For example, Black voters - who normally mark their Alabama ballots for a Dem - make up nearly half of the electorate in that state. The largely white legislature, in that heavily Republican state, has historically thrown roadblocks in minority pathways to the polls. Winner Doug Jones continually reminded Black audiences of that fact and it can realistically be assumed some of those voters, who made the narrow but winning difference, came from those determined to overcome such hurdles. A little show of strength, so to speak. Not the case - in large numbers - in our Northwest.

Then, there were the women. Yes, we have women in our neighborhood. But, many Republican women in Alabama had a major motivation - not traditionally found in other red states - to side with Democrats. And that was the well-publicized gross sexual history of their party nominee. Whatever they felt about his purely political unfitness for office, many women might likely have been overcome by anger about his immorality and lifelong abusive perversions regarding women - especially teens. Another mitigating factor for the Jones victory other states can’t truly replicate

Then, there was the Republican candidate himself. While a lot of unfit folk make it into elective office on a regular basis, never in my life have I seen one more deserving of outright repudiation and public condemnation. If you were to build a “candidate” from scratch, about the only despicable trait you could add to match Moore would be that of a serial killer. The guy has a previous lifetime history of rejection of most values the rest of us hold.

Twice fired from the Alabama Supreme Court for violating federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Moore made a mockery of his elected responsibilities. Openly flouting constitutional authority - while claiming his own nutcase supremacy in public office - should have kept him off any ballot for any public job. As much credence as you might give Jones’ efforts for the win, the lions’ share of blame for the loss must go to Moore. A well-demonstrated and uniquely gross personal history like Moore’s is not normally found in many elections.

Then, there’s this. The margin of victory was about 20,000 in an election in which 1,325,536 votes were cast. Add in the coincidently 20,000 known write-in votes plus a large number of traditional Alabama voters who stayed home rather than cast their usually GOP ballots for Moore and the outcome could have gone the other way. That means about one-in-two folks walking down a typical Alabama street voted for the loser. Or just didn’t vote.

Democrats in deep red states like Idaho and Utah have a right to be cheered by the Alabama outcome. Break open the bubbly and toast a brighter day. BUT, as you cheer this recent breakthrough, keep a good grasp on reality. The political winds in Alabama combined to create a very unusual storm.

While you may rejoice in the outcome and see an opportunity to slip past your traditionally conservative GOP opponent(s), none of you will face a candidate as repulsive as Roy Moore. It’s doubtful Steve Bannon or Donald Trump will visit your little red state with their political bile to motivate Republicans to cross over and back a Democrat. None of you have a large enough minority population to achieve what Black voters did in Alabama. Make a difference? Yes. Swing an election? No.

Nor are you likely to get major economic and organizational support from the DNC such as Jones did. Not unless you can construct a scenario like Moore who fomented a Republican voter rejection of their own candidate.

By all accounts, Dems are going into the 2018 campaign in better shape than their counterparts. At least for the moment. But, they can’t sit back and expect any different outcomes than they’ve previously seen.

Doug Jones worked his ass off for more than a year. Come up with a candidate who’ll work as hard. He attracted a top-level campaign team of professionals who cost more than Dems have typically been willing to spend on such talent. They’ll have to raise sums of money previously thought to be impossible. They’re going to need more volunteers than ever and those volunteers are going to have to work harder and longer than in the past.

But, most important - MOST important - you’re going to have to find your own “Roy Moores” for your Republican friends to walk away from.

The future of Democrats in deep red states is not entirely in your own hands. You better get started.