Archive for the 'Rainey' Category

Dec 19 2014

Hell in a handbasket

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

We “punditry” types rely on words to praise or condemn when dealing with political, economic or related issues. The words and opinions come easier than facts and, too often, we throw the nouns and adjectives out there and walk away with few facts to support the opining.

But statistics – especially those compiled by people with a dedication to neutrality and letting the numbers speak for themselves – have garnered my respect over the years. While I don’t really understand how they do what they do, I’ve learned to appreciate those who work with numbers. Especially when their findings tend to support what many of us have said for a long, long time. These do.

Idaho is going to Hell in a handbasket.

Those are just my words again. But they’re based squarely on the findings of the Idaho Center For Fiscal Policy. A “gang that can shoot straight.”

Rather than go into all the messy numbers, here are just the headlines from the Center’s latest report.

“Idaho collects less in taxes than all but two other states.”

“Support for Idaho’s schools has been steadily decreasing and is unequal across school districts.”

“Idaho’s support for higher education has dropped sharply, leading to big increases in tuition and fees.”

“Idaho has steadily cut revenues since the late 1990’s.”

“Idaho’s low and moderate income residents pay a larger share of their income in taxes than the highest earners”

“Idaho’s per capita income is lower than all but one state – Mississippi.”

Those are their clinical, statistical findings. And they form the factual basis for the words “Idaho: Hell in a handbasket”

To my mind, those six headlines tie together in an endless circle. You can enter the circle at any point and exit randomly. But the pattern of disintegration in Idaho’s economic conditions just goes on and on. Down and down. Continue Reading »

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Dec 12 2014

Shut up and sit down

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rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The Hell raising by most Republicans in Congress over publication of the Senate torture report is as off-base as it is loud. Not unexpected. Certainly true-to-form. And – as has so often been the case with them – dead wrong.

The outcry over the black and white evidence this $40 million report lays bare about the “official” actions the Bush administration conducted – then lied about – is baseless B.S.. Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Meyers, three of Meyers’ predecessors at CIA and the hundreds of Americans who conducted, who knew and who lied, over and over and over. Those should be your targets for condemnation.

The self-serving, political lying continues with hourly, ill-aimed blasts at the media and/or at Dianne Feinstein, Jay Rockefeller and all Senate Democrats on the Intelligence Committee. “Kill the damned messenger!!!”

What these liars, deniers and political justifiers ignore is fact. Had there been no torture – illegal, inhuman torture with this nation’s sponsorship – there would’ve been no report. Nothing to investigate. Nothing!

My strong personal “thank you’s” go out to each member of the Committee who voted to conduct the lengthy investigation, then publish the findings. Had the decision to put these grisly facts on the public record not been made by this week, the new Republican majority in the Senate would’ve buried it – every nationally embarrassing, humiliating, loathsome truth would have disappeared from any outside knowledge. Bet the farm!

In recent years, I’ve found it hard to say anything positive about the public utterances of John McCain – leading Senate militarist – who seems to have gone “round-the-bend” on many subjects. Following his usual urging, we’d be at war about everyplace in the world except maybe Kansas. But, this time, using his terrible life experience as the only member of Congress to undergo protracted torture at the hands of an enemy in wartime, McCain became an eloquent defender of both the public’s right to know and the facts that should be known. Alone in his party’s upper ranks, he stood on the floor of the Senate and soundly condemned those who tortured and those who covered it up. He was right!

Then, there’s the Bush-Cheney axis. The 500+ page executive summary seemed to say the President was not told what the CIA was doing. Maybe. Maybe not. But, you damned well can bet Cheney knew. And approved.

You see, there’s this tidbit – not part of the damning document. In the hours after release this week, CNN unearthed a piece of video from 2007 in which Bush-the-Junior said flat out “This nation does not torture anybody!” Direct quote. Yet the report says Bush was briefed on what the CIA was doing in 2005. Even gives the exact date. And by whom. Eighteen months before his televised press conference denial.

There’s an interesting Northwest side note. Faced with the possibility the report would not be published, Oregon’s Sen. Wyden loudly pledged to use every power available to him to get the document on the record. Then, when the document hit the table, Idaho’s Sen. Risch – himself an experienced attorney – twisted both fact and logic condemning all Senate Democrats – and their firstborns – for publishing. He publically screwed up in his own description of what’s in the report. My experience with him is that Jim’s often got a problem with candor. And truth. Continue Reading »

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Dec 07 2014

A question without answer

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rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

An old debate among journalists – and some who think they are – has begun again. Wherever some of the more serious media types are gathered in more social surroundings these days, the discussion can be heard.

“Must the media present all people or issues to its audience/readers if the media knows the person/issue is wrong or false?” Or words to that effect.

It’s not as goofy – or as arrogant – as it sounds. It’s an issue more common these days with political and philosophical divisions within media sources. It’s also more relevant because of the slide in national politics to the right.

We older media types tried to operate under a rule that, when talking strictly news events or stories, the interviewees words were the news and the media served only as messenger – not to judge or critique or interpret. Simply the conduit – unless you’re talking editorials, byline columns or opinion pieces. Let the subject/facts talk. That’s the news. You report the news.

As our nation has become more politically divided, so has the media. Rather than simply report, major networks have slowly integrated points of view – either by the reporter or anchor or in the way the story is presented.

By any traditional standard, Fox News is the worst offender. CNN does a bit of its own. And for those who constantly remind me that MSNBC is the liberal offset for Fox, remember this: MSNBC has never – never – referred to itself as a “news” organization. Fox does constantly. Even in it’s name.

Here’s an issue that fits the problem perfectly: global warming. By nearly all scientific evidence presented by legitimate research organizations, global warming is a fact. You can argue cause. You can argue effect. You can argue how much. But the basic fact is, global warming exists and its effects are too overwhelming for thinking minds to ignore.

Here’s another fact. The two committees in Congress charged with dealing with this subject – one in the House and one in the Senate – are chaired by two men who’re vocal, absolute denyers of the evidence. All of it. And it’s these two who have the absolute power to refuse to let either committee – and thus the full Congress – do anything in our national interest to deal with our warming world.

So, go back to the question stated before: “Must the media present people or issues to its audience/readers if the media knows the person/issue is wrong or false?” If Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) continues leading the denyers from his powerful pulpit, is the media acting properly by giving his distinctly minority voice a platform to proclaim his distinctly minority and distinctly untrue view? When poll after poll shows some 80% of us believe global warming not only exists but is a serious problem, is the media doing a service – or a disservice – by giving Sen. Inhofe a platform when he’s factually wrong? After all, it’s not the media’s job to go find someone to speak for the majority side of the global warming issue every time a minority denyer pops off just to keep things balanced. Should the media give him a platform?

Another example you see far too often. Say the vote on a particular bill in the U.S. Senate was 97-3. The media will always – always – identify the three but not the 97. Why? Why identify three loser votes when the overwhelming 97 “ayes” won? It’s not practical – in time or space – to name all 97 though they were, after all, the victors. Why name the three losers?

Until Ronald Reagan, broadcast media operated under the “Fairness Doctrine” which required – by law – fairness/access in reporting both sides. He threw that out the window so now Faux Neus – among others – can operate with impunity by selecting only the view it wants to. Other outlets do some of the same at times, but Faux is the habitual offender. Its very foundation is one of lopsided coverage and twisted “fact.” Ain’t it, Rupert? Continue Reading »

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Nov 26 2014

Say it ain’t so, Bill

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

As we age, many situations and things that were “certainties” of yesteryear are the “uncertainties” of our later times. Early black and whites nearly always are seen through much older eyes in muted shades of gray. Rocks of principle and learned things are – in some cases – no longer firm and unyielding – often a bit skittish and harder to nail down.

Thus it is I’m faced with a story of our recent days – a story of possible multiple cases of sexual abuse and forced submission of women – in which I’m having a hard time applying a lifetime of certainties. And I am, in fact, dealing with five decades of empathy for the accused. Not the accusers.

The accused is Dr. William Henry Cosby Jr.. He’s a dozen months younger than me so interest in his career has been a part of my own life 50 years or so. Because his is a type of humor that is a favorite, I’ve followed him from his earliest days in coffeehouses, college campuses and small clubs.

With no sincere apology to media kids who ignorantly label him a “comedian,” he’s not. Nor has he ever been. Cosby is – like Mark Twain or Mort Sahl or Mark Russell or Garrison Keillor – a humorist. He doesn’t tell jokes as comedians do. He’s made a highly successful career of just finding humor in the daily events we all live with. Humor we don’t see.

One of my favorites of this “humor where there is no humor” is a Cosby routine about going to the dentist. “You spend your whole life being told to keep sharp objects out of your mouth,” he says, “And the first thing this guy does is stick a pointy steel spike in there and starts poking things.” Humor where you don’t expect it.

Or, when arguing with a teenage child – definitely no humor there. Right? Except when Cosby says “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” What exasperated parent wouldn’t chuckle? Finding simple humor.

But there’s nothing funny about Cosby’s life and career now. Now, he stands accused of rape and other sexual charges proffered by a growing list of women he’s alleged to have had contact with over the last 30 or so years. Cosby faces what likely will be career-ending accusations that could – if pursued – become criminal charges meaning jail for the rest of his life.

What the hell happened?

Cosby’s name has been linked to similar situations in the past. Once, he even reportedly paid a cash settlement to someone who had claimed sexual mistreatment at his hands. But now, the list of women coming forward to point to him for alleged past crimes grows weekly.

If you look at the totality of his life, Cos has been nothing if not a voice of reason and accomplishment in a world of racial discord. He developed a love of education and learning mid-life and even got a doctorate in elementary education from the University of Massachusetts. Continue Reading »

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Nov 20 2014

London who?

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Here on the central Oregon coast, we seldom make headlines. Most of us like it that way. That’s one of the reasons we live here. Usually peaceful, quiet sort of place – except for tourist season. But, even then, people come and go and life still runs at an acceptably normal pace for most of us.

When we do make the national news, it’s almost always because something bad has happened. Something very abnormal – usually dealing with death and/or destruction. The news kids from Portland and Eugene run over to take notice, shoot some pictures and spread whatever the details may be of our latest anomaly. Like – well – like a mother leading her six-year-old boy by the hand out a quarter mile to the middle of a very high bridge, throwing him 133 feet to his death – then calling the cops. Things like that.

The 3,260 foot long Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport is a major icon on the Oregon coast – one of 11 bridges designed in the 1930’s and ‘40’s by engineer Conde McCullough. All his work has a sort of art deco flavor with large curved arches at the center. Nearly all are on the National Historic Register and, when repairs have been required because of age and wear and tear, the structures have been faithfully kept true to the original designs. We who traverse them regularly don’t give them much thought. Not much, that is, until someone uses one as a murder weapon.

The self-confessed killer is Jillian McCabe. The victim was her autistic son, London. That evening, immediately after throwing London to his death, she called 9-1-1, confessed, then waited on the sidewalk of the center span we locals have traveled over so many times without thinking of it as a possible crime scene. She just waited as cops, EMT’s and onlookers arrived in ever-increasing numbers. In about two hours later, everyone was gone and Jillian McCabe was on a suicide watch in the Lincoln County jail.

Four hours later, some folks walking on a dock at an upscale condominium complex a couple of miles East of the bridge saw the small, broken body floating a few feet out.

About the only other factual details available at this point are these: Jillian’s husband had been recently diagnosed with MS and lost his job – London was autistic and required special expensive care he wouldn’t be able to get – his mother had no special employment skills and her family said she had mental problems for a long time.

So, now you know the facts. Such as they are.

Oh, one more thing. A couple of hundred adults and children – most of whom had heard of London McCabe – descended on Newport to hold a couple of vigils in his memory and to tell local media “we’ll never forget.”

The problem is – they will forget. In a way, they already have. They’ll go home, get involved with their normal lives and an Oregon mother’s murder of her child will soon be just another distant memory. If that.

Jillian McCabe will be arraigned eventually. She’ll be shuttled off to a state institution for mental evaluation – one that should’ve been done years ago when her family watched a person they knew had problems get married and have a child. Jillian will come back and, given the facts and that taxpayer-funded exam, be judged on her proven incompetence, be assigned to a state institution and become just another closed case in the files of the Lincoln County Prosecutor. In a year – maybe two – most of us will forget.

But there are others – many others who should remember. Others who include politicians who fail to adequately fund society’s responsibilities to care for those with mental defect or injury. Like the hundreds of thousands of young people sent off to war with no damned thought about their medical- AND psychiatric – needs after multiple trips to the battlefields. We paid to train ‘em and send ‘em out to kill. But we never thought about ‘em coming home with unseen mental injuries caused by the killing and now so many are killing themselves at home we don’t even report the statistics any more. There are Jillian McCabes in their numbers. Continue Reading »

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Nov 06 2014

What the hell just happened?

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Well, we had an election. Some of us are pleased with the outcome – some of us are renewing passports and searching the I-net for details of New Zealand’s immigration laws.

Speaking strictly of candidates and not political parties, I’ve never seen a slate of more unqualified, unknowing and woefully unskilled winners. Consider. One governor returned to office owned a company found guilty of numerous counts of Medicaid fraud. That may’ve been how he could afford to throw more than $24-million into his race. Two new members of Congress have felony convictions while a third was re-elected while still under indictment on multiple criminal charges yet to be tried.

There’s the new senator who authored – authored – a bill in both the Colorado legislature and the U.S. House to not just outlaw abortion but also essentially criminalize any form of birth control. Then he claimed he didn’t know that would be the result of his labors – then repeatedly denied any connection with either bill though both still carry his name.

Idaho voters elected a Supt. of Public Instruction who lied about her educational achievements, couldn’t remember when she was divorced or remarried, hadn’t voted in a dozen or so elections and said she had no knowledge of the state’s educational budget but would “study it” if she were successful.

Idaho also elected a new Secretary of State whose honesty and integrity have been repeatedly and publically criticized by his own party and who says he wants to enact new voting laws that would discriminate against and/or disenfranchise some of Idaho’s citizens. And Idaho voters re-elected a State Treasurer who ignored Idaho’s investment statutes while losing more than $10-million in the markets and whose practices were soundly criticized in an official audit.

Idaho’s governor was re-elected, too. Not content with just thanking voters, his acceptance speech included a promise to waste even more tax dollars in repeated attempts to override the federal court decision to allow same sex marriages in the state. He’s already failed twice.

The hog castration lady from Iowa will be a U.S. Senator though she showed repeatedly during the campaign she has limited knowledge of both the job and the role of government in general. And after a campaign in which she admitted always having an automatic pistol on her person – not only for personal protection but also for use at that moment when “government rights” interfere with her “rights.”

There’ll be far too many members of Congress with questionable backgrounds for moral or ethical reasons, criminal convictions, limited knowledge of the offices to which they’ve been elected, positions on issues that would discriminate against certain categories of citizens. Far too many conducted campaigns showing little knowledge of American government – which they will now represent.

But – we’ll survive. We always have. That survival, however, will likely come after a couple of years of deadlock, bad decisions, heated political and economic battles and some very real pain being inflicted on too many Americans. Especially minorities and the poor. Those factors are guaranteed. They were assured by those who voted – and those who didn’t.

The outcome seems to say a majority was disappointed with the direction of things and wanted to go in another direction. That’s as it should be in our Republic. However, the inherent problem with our system is that it doesn’t choose the new direction. Just stop going this way and – in the future – go that way. Seems a lot of winners weren’t chosen so much for what they said or promised but because they weren’t the guy in office. Voters said “No, we don’t want you anymore. We want him or her.” Not so much a choice of candidate as a choice of “something else.” Continue Reading »

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Oct 31 2014

Is Halloween really a big deal?

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’ve never been a real fan of Halloween. Might be because, when I was a kid, we lived on a large ranch in Central Washington. Nearest neighbor was a long, long way down the dirt road. Making the rounds to get a really good-sized bag of treats would’ve taken most of a tank of gas in the truck. May have been only $0.20 a gallon then, but that was a lot of money to Dad.

So, Halloween came and went without me. Ranch chores were always – always – the top priority. Guess by the time we’d moved to Oregon and had real neighbors – real close – I was too old to get the Halloween bug.

All these years later, I’m still amazed at some of the statistics connected with Halloween. Such as, according to the Census Bureau, there are about 41 million kids in this country ages five to 14. And there are about 132 million occupied housing units – nearly all potential trick-or-treater stops.

And this. The six top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The value of their annual crop is about $113 million. Talking some big bucks.

So, what about costumes? Well, the Census folks figure there are 1,634 costume rental and formal wear stores in the country. Not sure what the formal wear stores contribute to the occasion, but they’re counted. Not to mention discount and department stores.

And candy. Of course, candy. Glad you asked. Across the nation, there are 1,155 chocolate manufacturing locations. Imagine that. Pennsylvania has 102 all by itself. Can’t forget the folks at Hershey’s. There are 100 more chocolate producers in California. Tip of the hat to Ghiradelli, too.

And the candy corn, mellow pumpkins and other non-chocolate goodies are created in another 409 businesses. Some 55,000 people are employed in the candy-making craft. So I’m told.

Just so you’ll know, there are a few places in the good ol’ U.S. of A. with names befitting Halloween. My favorite is Transylvania County, North Carolina. Just has a nice, spooky ring to it. Then there’s Pumpkin Center, North Carolina and Cape Fear, North Carolina. Seems North Carolina is spooky for more than just crazy Republican politics. And don’t forget Tombstone, Arizona, and Skull Creek, Nebraska. How about Death Valley?

Well, there you are. Some Halloween facts and figures for your history books. If you’ve got youngsters in your household, I wish them good times in their door-to-door scavenging. Up to about age 14. I’m sure it’ll be lots of fun.

As for taxpayers in Idaho this Halloween, it will pass largely unnoticed by anyone over the age of 15. For Idaho taxpaying folk – given the latest string of absolutely wasted tax dollars for outside attorneys to represent them in guaranteed loser political issues in various courts – every day is Halloween. With no end in sight.

For we older folk living in more realistic political surroundings, October 31, has an even scarier meaning this year. General election. Now, you talk about striking fear in the heart!!!

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Oct 26 2014

Ebola hype, Ebola fact

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Donald Trump has been divorced more times than the number of people who’ve died of Ebola in this country.

I hate to do that to you but someone has to put the Ebola story in perspective. That statement alone is clearer than nearly any national media coverage these days. Or, most of the garbage emanating from the mouths of too many politicians. Seldom has this country heard more fear-mongering, baseless information and verbal garbage on any issue.

Just to be perfectly clear: one person has died of Ebola on U.S. soil. Well, Texas, actually, but close to U.S. soil. He died after contracting Ebola overseas and bringing it with him to a hospital that – through something close to medical incompetence – was where he died. One person. One!

National media coverage has been, more often than not, outrageous. Fearful headlines making otherwise respectable major newspapers and broadcasters look like tabloids at the market. Near-factless reporting from outside hospitals that simply repeated the same old minimal information over and over and over. Same crap – different faces.

The most absurd television “coverage” to me was the so-called “patient transfer” that consisted of nighttime chopper shots of an ambulance doing 25 mph with five cop cars ahead and five behind. For nearly an hour. No one had any proof an Ebola “patient” was inside and it really didn’t matter. Could have been two medics playing Gin, for all we know.

And the “news” conferences. Newsless in too many cases. The other night, Rachel Maddow wasted an entire hour showing many “continuing coverage” shots of an empty rostrum in New York where we were supposed to get an update on the latest Ebola patient. A whole hour. Not to be outdone, “Faux Neuws” did the same. That’ll show those damned liberals!

And the talking heads. Far too many have had no more to offer than what they’d read or heard in other media “stories.” Then, there were the two chiefs from NIH and CDC that literally raced from network to network for days to repeat the same comforting messages that things would be alright.

Of course, there were the politicians mouthing off without engaging brains. One in the House repeatedly shouted to all assembled he wanted all flights to this country from affected African countries halted immediately. It was days later he found out there are no flights directly to this country from that part of Africa. None.

And there was Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah’s Third District, loudly disparaging the Obama administration for not having appointed a surgeon general to take charge of these catastrophic events. What escaped him was the President DID make a surgeon general appointment earlier this year. One that spineless senators killed at the behest of the NRA because the nominee wrote, some years ago, gun violence was a public health problem.

There were more. Many, many more examples of politicians and media speaking with no facts, using inflammatory and/or ignorant language, trying to make stories where there were no stories and spreading unfounded information. All of which added to the fears of many viewers and readers simply looking for facts while finding few. It continues today.

With the exception of the NBC News cameraman who contracted Ebola on assignment in Africa while working extensively around Ebola victims, all who’ve been diagnosed in this country were health care workers obviously not trained or properly equipped for treating the disease. The one death was that of a man who came in direct and prolonged contact with an Ebola victim in Africa and then brought his contagion to this country. Even his family members – with whom he lived for a week before presenting symptoms – were not infected.

We live in a society conditioned to believe the worst in nearly everything. We’ve become comfortable with what we know and fearful of learning. Too many have surrounded themselves with like-minded people and like-minded media to the exclusion of facts they don’t agree with or don’t even know exist. Or both. I call it the “Palin Syndrome” – “I know what I know and I don’t need to know any more.” Like a member of Congress blaming an administration for no surgeon general appointee who doesn’t know other members of the same Congress scuttled the named appointment.

Ebola is not going to be a national epidemic. And that’s a fact. Continue Reading »

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Oct 23 2014

We ain’t who we were

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Men. Hang in there! Especially you unmarried ones. The numbers are shifting in your favor. Just wait for it.

There are currently 103 million folks over the age of 18 in this country who aren’t married. That’s 44.1% of all of us.

But, here’s the good news, guys. Of the 103 million singles, 53.6% are women – 46.4% men. Works out to 100 unmarried women for every 87 men. And the gap is widening. Sociologists have several theories. More women pursuing professional careers – many deciding against being mothers – some in same sex relationships which were not so numerous in the 2010 census – some not wanting to be married – some in long-term relationships while remaining single – more women living longer than men.

In fact, we’re told about 56 million households are maintained by unmarried men and women. That’s some 46% of all households.

There are about 17 million Americans over the age of 65 who aren’t married – some 16% of all single folks. A lot more women than men there.

Also, this statistic. In a population of just over 300 million, about 33 million people live alone. And that figure has increased about 10% in the last 40 years.

So, here’s what we have. More people keeping their single status. More keeping it longer – more keeping it permanently. More people creating households of families without being married. More people living longer and not marrying or remarrying. Legal recognition of same sex relationships in more states – married or not. Number of children per household going down. Just some of the social shifts taking place.

Which prompts this question. Is there now – or will there be – a political effect because of all this? Hard to tell. But those who call themselves political “professionals” should keep these stats handy. Because, just as we’re changing racially as a nation, there are many sociological patterns shifting under our feet. These are just a few. Demographers are finding people are living longer. They’re better educated. They’re forming different types of family units. There are more interracial and same sex marriages. All these factors – and a few dozen more – are just as important as that change of racial balance. Continue Reading »

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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

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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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