Archive for the 'Rainey' Category

May 30 2014

Voting on secession. Again.

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Here they come again! This time it’s California. Again. But, over the horizon, we could be talking about several counties in Oregon. Again.

The secessionist birds are flying once more in California’s Tehama and Del Norte Counties where they’ll be voting Tuesday – officially, of course – to have county commissioners – they’re called “supervisors” South of our border – push harder to pry certain counties loose to create the State of Jefferson. Butte County folks will deal with the same issue on the 12th. Glenn, Modoc, Siskyou and Yuba have already voted to go – stage right. Far right. And out.

Given how long malcontents in Oregon’s Josephine, Jackson, Douglas and Curry counties have been trying to bring the issue of secession to a vote, this new effort may “juice” them up to try yet again. Wouldn’t be surprised.

At the root of these useless expenditures of time and money is, of course, frustration. Some of it real. Some not so much. A guy named Aaron Funk in Del Norte, makes the “frustration case” for leaving California.

“We have 11 counties up here that share one state senator while Los Angeles has 20 and San Francisco 10 more,” he says. “Essentially, we have no representation whatsoever.”

There is some tiny, frustrated logic to that. Except for laws requiring equal representation based on nose-counting. One basic point adding to Mr. Funks angst is the real isolation of Northern California from the rest of the folks. The seven counties that have voted to leave – and the others who likely will next week – have a combined geographic area twice the size of New Hampshire but only about 467,000 souls residing. Mt. Shasta and all the redwoods are there along with some of the state’s poorest citizens. Racially, the population is nearly all white.

But Washington and Oregon residents living east of the Cascades could make almost the same case for almost the same reasons. Far from the seats of power, less political representation, lower economic scales and heavily white. So far, they haven’t. Officially.

Siskyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong already wants to pull out. She’s one of the Tea Party secessionists and says there are “too many nanny laws” coming out of Sacramento. Continue Reading »

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May 22 2014

Shut the hell up

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Primary election season is over. For now. Control of your television viewing has been returned to you. For now. Campaign signs blooming like unwanted weeds along all your routes of travel have been removed. For now. Other, more newsworthy events are being reported. For now.

So – looking back at the onslaught on our senses for all these months – what has been wrought for all the millions of dollars spent? With rare exception – not much. Not much at all. Do we feel pride for what we’ve just been through in exercising our democratic rights at the polls? Not much. Not much at all.

Given the obscene amounts of money spent, all the noise-making, all the charges and countercharges made, all the lies told about opposing candidates, all the time consumed making frivolous charges while allowing important issues to go without comment – what have we gained? All together now – “not much.”

Matter of fact, damned few of us cared enough to vote. In Idaho, about one-in-five registered voters made the trip. Even in Oregon – where you’re sent a ballot, given two weeks to think about your choices and return the form for free – less than half did so.

Pundits are now pawing through the crumpled ballots looking for trends – trying to find clues to what we’ll face at November’s general election – digging in the various Secretary of State’s computer files for statistical evidence of messages the minority of the electorate may have been sending. They won’t find much.

Since so many stayed away from the polls, there’s little meaningful “treasure” in the remnants of primary day. Except maybe this. Those of us who cared enough to show up seemed to be saying “Let’s just stay where we are – let’s not make any serious moves left or right.” Like all of us, I backed some winners and I some losers. That’s just politics. That’s just politics the way it’s supposed to be. Win some. Lose some.

There were a few messages sent. Idaho’s governor took a kick in the shins from many in his former constituency while hanging on to his office key. At least for now. An Idaho legislative candidate who wasn’t running said he wouldn’t serve if elected. He was. He likely will. Oregon Republicans opted to support a senatorial candidate who appears to have serious emotional and relationship issues. Several Northwest legislators found abrupt ends to long careers with voters finally saying “Enough already.”

Yes, there are some interesting stories to be had if reporters want to spend the time digging around. But with far less than half the voters showing up to have their say, will there be enough readers or watchers who give a damn to make their efforts rewarding? Continue Reading »

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May 11 2014

A loss of confidence

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

For decades, the far right has warned the rest of us that government – from local to federal and back again- was “not our friend” and, in fact, was something to be suspicious of – if not downright feared. Now that so much of our government is in the hands of creatures of the far right, I’m forced to agree. Government – and many of its institutions – can no longer be counted on to be there for us when we need it and, in fact, much of it has become something to be feared.

Additionally, too many of us WASP’s have tut-tutted as rights of non-WASP’s have been blown this way and that in the political winds. “Too bad,” we’d say quietly. “Someone ought to do something. But that’s not my problem.”

Well, Virginia, it’s become our problem. In spades!

From legislature to congress, hardly an American alive today has not been legislated against in recent months. Pick a subject: taxes, voting rights, medical care, immigration, adequate education funding, curbing violence, personal safety, a hideous expansion of gun “rights,” rejection of highly credentialed people to judgeships, eliminating access to vital health care for millions of women, hampering reproductive rights, rejection of access to necessary medical care and other promised benefits for returning military personnel, union busting, denigration of police, fire, teachers and other government workers, illegal declarations of “wars-of-choice,” slashing food stamps and other necessary social safety programs, unwillingness to pursue criminal charges for those financial types who nearly bankrupted the country. There are more. Add your own.

Fact is, there doesn’t appear to be anyone in what used to be the American middle class – which has historically been our national pride and joy – who hasn’t been adversely affected by some level of government. Or more than one! If you feel differently – if you feel untouched in those areas – if you think you’re unaffected by denial of rights of citizenship or have not had any of your liberties infringed – you’re either in the one-percent or living in a dream world. Or wrong!

Consider a personal experience. My father was an Oregon Republican of the first order. Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Dole. Dirksen and others in the pantheon of prominent GOP politicians of the ‘40′s, ‘50′s and ‘60′s were men he respected, whose careers he followed and for whom he voted. Repeatedly. Small town Oregon, rock-ribbed, God fearing Republican guy, my father. Over many years, we discussed politics. Often. Those men and those values formed the foundation of his love of country and his respect for those who led it.

Then Richard Nixon.

I’d been away for some years – several in Washington D.C. in broadcast journalism. While we regularly kept in touch, Dad and I hadn’t our face-to-face, political fireside chats on the patio in Bend recently. Nixon was forced out of the presidency about that time. Shortly after, I came home on vacation, looking forward to more political bantering with him. Continue Reading »

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May 02 2014

Racism fix is personal

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The recent massive coverage of occurrences of racism in the news may have been justified, for the most part, by several well-documented events. Racism, after all, has been adjudged by our society to be a bad thing – something shameful and disgusting. Something to be eradicated wherever and whenever it appears. The problem is – racism will only disappear in a perfect world. And this ain’t it.

As long as one person’s skin color is different from another’s – as long as one person’s heritage is different from another’s – as long as languages and backgrounds and ancestries can be judged different one from the other, there will always be a degree of racism. A sense – spoken or not – that we’re not all the same. An ever-present mental classification system noting difference.

To me, the issue is really more how we individually handle those differences. How we learn – how we adjust – how we accept. And how we reduce them to values less important than how we think of them today. Eradicate? Not likely. Understanding and acceptance? More likely.

I find many similarities to the issue of gay marriage and our recent national “get-over-it” attitude. In just a few short years, it’s become – on the one hand – more widely accepted – and on the other – less of a societal division. We entertained a lesbian couple at dinner in our home a few nights ago. The subject never came up. We never gave it a thought. And we have two new friends. May not have happened a few years back. But with understanding and acceptance – and a first-hand experience to challenge us – it’s not a dividing or defining issue around here.

As a culture, we may never abolish racism or language or individual actions that bring color and other racial differences to mind. But – like gay marriage – the issue may just become less a conscious one and less divisive as we come face-to-face with it more often as individuals. What we seem unable to do as a society, we may be more successful at individually.

Should the Bundys and the Sterlings of the world not suffer personal vilification and disgust for racist speech and thought? No. They deserve our outrage and our condemnation. But neither man will be changed by the experience. Both have long-standing histories. Shameful histories. Racism will always be alive and accepted in their lives. Unless – like Saul on the road to Damascus – they experience some sort of heavenly conversion, they’ll live out their lives unchanged. They’ll continue their racist ways.

The best we can hope for is that others – witnessing these two men embarrass themselves and become targets of condemnation – will learn from their tragic examples. That others who harbor such thoughts will have their own moments of personal – if not public – recognition that racial division is wrong. That others will be intimately involved in personal situations in which they come face-to-face with their own prejudices and learn such differences are inconsequential. One-on-one.

Abolish racism? Not likely. Personally experience, understand and accept? More likely. Become less divisive? Could be. And, in the end, that can change a nation. Or a world.

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Apr 25 2014

Suicide at Bunkerville

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Cliven Bundy is dead. A suicide by his own hand….er…mouth. The hero of the far right – and Faux “News” – belched up a string of lies and racist B.S., drowning in a sea of disclaimers by former Republican supporters.

I swore I wasn’t going to revisit the Bunkerville mess again until something definitive happened. But suicides are hard to overlook. And this one in particular – so much of a “surprise” to right-wing politicians and Hannity – begs some last attention. There needs to be some separation of facts from all that B.S. – some definition of what “was” and “wasn’t.”

Let’s deal with the “wasn’t” first. The story wasn’t “ a Constitutional confrontation.” Wasn’t “First Amendment.” Or “Second Amendment.” Cliven Bundy wasn’t and isn’t a hero. For the purposes of this mess, he’s not a “patriot.” Neither are the whackos who’ve congealed around Bundy and proclaimed him a “freedom fighter.” He’s not a “freedom fighter.” Bundy’s family did not settle his ranch in the late 1800′s. The BLM wasn’t singling Bundy out for some kind of special “persecution.” The story wasn’t about who controls the cattle at any given moment.

Now, what “was.” Bundy WAS – and IS – a deadbeat. Bundy WAS – and IS – a liar. Bundy’s family didn’t buy the ranch land until 1948 as proven by a recorded deed. Bundy IS in arrears to the federal government more than $1 million and has ignored legitimate payment demands required under his deal with the feds for more than 20 years. Bundy WAS – and is – in receipt of valid court documents – apparently served several times – ordering his cattle off the BLM land and requiring him to pay off his massive debt. The fact is, neither has been done. Bundy has a long history of being a local trouble-maker and has had numerous run-ins with county, state and federal authorities over the years.

The real issues here are cut and dried. Proper, clear and repeated court orders have been issued. And ignored. Bundy did stop paying two decades ago. When the BLM moved to take the livestock, it did so with well-supported authority. Facts show Bundy was spoiling for a fight for years and used this excuse to crank up his crackpot, verbal effluent to garner support from others who are similarly constitutionally illiterate. He has deliberately attracted several hundred well-armed folk to his side who are as deluded, as ignorant of history and as mentally vacuous as himself. They’ve been pumped full of phony right wing B.S. at the hands of the Limbaughs, Becks, Hannity’s, Coulters and others using wing-nuts to make millions. Bundy has absolutely no legal ground to stand on to have a face-off with the feds. If he did, he’d have gone to court many years ago.

But the feds DO bear some fault for this powder keg – most by the bureaucrats who didn’t step in two decades back when Bundy first stopped making payment on a duly executed grazing contract. A contract similar to thousands of others with ranchers and cattle operators – executed in good faith in dozens of states by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.

Now the feds are in a corner. On one hand, they’ve let Bundy “cow” them while he’s gotten rich by not honoring his legal obligations. On the other, if Bundy is not prosecuted, other lessees in other areas may stop making the payments due on their contracts. That can’t be allowed to happen. For many good and legal reasons. Continue Reading »

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Apr 20 2014

Uncertainty chills our economy

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The number one thing keeping our national economy – and thus all lesser economies – from growing as quickly as conditions would otherwise dictate – is the monumentally constipated and completely ineffective U.S. Congress. And you can take that to the bank.

Geoff Colvin, Fortune senior editor-at-large, has been talking to CEOs and economists. While hearing the usual bitching about regulations and taxes, the dialogue this time has been far overshadowed by one thing: uncertainty. In terms easily understood by economic dolts like me, the issue could be framed this way: “What the Hell’s going to happen tomorrow?”

Regulations and taxes have always been topics of discussion when people making large business decisions gather over their martinis. It used to be, no matter what changes and challenges there were in those two areas, business adjusted and life went on.

BUT – uncertainty has become the largest impediment to business – large and small. For example, the new healthcare law – regardless of what you think about it – is law. Republicans have vowed to repeal it. They can’t. But, as they keep trying, if you’ve got 50 to 100,000 employees in your business, how do you adjust your future planning? For what? Taken another step, if Republicans ever posed a serious legal challenge to the ACA, how long would Democrats tie the whole thing up in court? And to what outcome?

Then, there’s the “fiscal cliff.” With no congressional action to the contrary, there are those huge mandatory cuts in federal spending. Sequestration. Crippling cuts and possible tax increases to offset some of them. Despite how you feel personally about all that, remember the current crop of ideologues, naysayers and the ignorant will still control what Congress does – or doesn’t do. Wanna bet your farm on the outcome? Neither does General Motors. Or your neighborhood grocer.

Then, there’s the Federal Reserve. Its governing body holds the outlook that things economic are “more uncertain than they has been in the last 20 years” so no major actions have been taken. You get any sense of corporate direction out of that?

Life has always been a crap shoot. That’s just life. So, is all this something new? Yep, it is. Normally, as the government moved, changes it fostered affecting marketplace conditions could be anticipated and planned for. You knew what was coming and could adjust. Not now. Polarization in Congress has badly crippled oversight of federal agencies and their regulation-writing and enforcement. Congressional action that was supposed to happen last week – last month – or next month – has ceased. No new-from-the-ground-up federal budget for several decades is likely to be matched by no new-from-the-ground-up federal budgets for the next several years. Contracts expected by the private sector are still sitting on some bureaucrat’s desk. New programs languish in the congressional swamp because there are still no decisions on old ones.

And on and on and on and on. Continue Reading »

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Apr 14 2014

Ready, aim . . .

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The situation with the Bundy family out in the flatlands some 80 miles from Las Vegas is akin to a truck load of dynamite with a very, very short fuse – parked next to a wildfire. Even an accidental spark could get a lot of people killed. So the federal government has blinked – backing away from executing a very valid court order and made the pathologic freeloader a hero in the eyes of his government-hating friends.

At first glance, this is about a professional deadbeat who owes us taxpayers more than a million dollars in grazing fees – running his cattle on BLM lands for decades and ignoring the bills. Rather than back down, the BLM should have served the court order, confiscated his herd, sold ‘em at market and arrested the bastard for inciting sedition. Seems simple enough.

Like so many of their push-it-to-the-limit kind, Cliven Bundy and his family have taken the totally irresponsible position their ancestors were there before the BLM – their water rights predate federal ownership of the land – they’re not obligated to pay the bills the feds have been sending for more than two decades. And they haven’t! Not exactly living up to the promises made signing that federal grazing contract many years ago. Makes one wonder what changed their minds. And when.

Now, the Bundys claim they’ve tried to makes some payment on their water and grazing bills recently but nobody will take the money. And they’re right. The State of Nevada and the federal government will not accept payment. They can’t. That’s because the recent court order allowing the BLM to confiscate the cattle also freezes the whole Bundy situation. And their assets. The Bundys are in massive default.

But all that fades now because the Bundys have taken the position they’re the “aggrieved” party in this situation – that the feds are exceeding their authority – that the government is out to make an example of them – they’re victims of government excess – that they’re “patriots” who will hold out until the end. About 98.7% B.S.

The feds do appear to have some blame here. The BLM should’ve stepped in years ago with direct legal action to put an end to Bundy’s use of federal grazing lands for free. While I haven’t read the contract, I’d bet the farm there’s a section dealing with default – what it is – when it is deemed to have taken place – remedies for forcing contract compliance. And penalties. I’ve never signed a major contract without such language. And Bundy has been in default, according to the courts and government, for more than 20 years.

To let the Bundys run up a million dollar grazing tab for that long without collection action is, to my mind, completely irresponsible on the feds part. Get two months behind on your house payment and you can expect a guy from the bank at your front door. So – to some extent – this situation could have been nipped in the bud years ago.

But – as I said – because of the dangerous situation the Bundys have created by word and deed – trying to make themselves out the martyrs here – we’ve got an armed encampment of federal officers “cheek-by-jowl” with several hundred armed faux “freedom fighters” from half a dozen states who’ve come to the Bundy homestead to stand against anything governmental.

There’s a dangerous element in this country using the I-net and other media to whip itself into a frenzy of camouflage-wearing, government-hating, heavily-armed anger. Without knowing any firsthand details of Ruby Ridge or Waco, they blame the feds for those and any and all perceived attacks on their “personal freedoms” – most especially the Second Amendment to the Constitution – a document most of them have likely never read. They’re as unstable as a gallon of nitro on a bumpy road. Reasoning and logic are out of the question. They talk violence as if it were the only satisfactory response to their trumped up hatred. How many will actually stick around if shots are fired is anyone’s guess. But shooting is what they say they’ll do.

The back ridges and valleys of our Pacific Northwest also harbor a lot of very unstable people. Some hiding from something or someone. Some mentally over-the-edge from wars or simply lack of professional treatment. Others who call themselves “survivalists” and are convinced the world is soon to meet some cataclysmic end and believing they alone will be spared. Some are flat-out criminals growing marijuana or engaging in other illegal activities. And some have built heavily fortified compounds in which they’ve gathered family and vow to kill anyone who comes snooping about. Continue Reading »

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Apr 08 2014

Keep the change

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’m at an age when I’m slow to accept change. If something has worked well most of my life, it should continue unabated. The comfort zone should not be disturbed. Even as I remember that old saw “change is the only constant,” when it happens it’s still unsettling.

Two recent discoveries are causing my current discomfort. One is that more and more new cars are being sold without spare tires. Now that may be acceptable to those who live in large urban areas where service stations, tire repair shops and tow trucks are readily available. For those of us used to driving several hundred miles at a stretch through empty Western landscapes, the idea is most certainly unacceptable. Most of Oregon’s Harney and Lake Counties fit that empty description. Idaho’s Owyhee, too.

Car companies claim putting a spare tire in each new model costs about $30. Now if you have an annual production run of 200,000, that fifth wheel and tire will cost about $6 million. I once had a flat in Harney County, so far from civilization, that I would have personally paid the $6 million. But, apparently, CEO bonuses are being threatened so we are being asked to sacrifice. Again.

Car makers argue new generations of tires are made of better rubber, are stronger and less apt to have problems. There are also the new “run flat” tires on some of the more expensive models that will normally get you to the next service station. If that service station fixes flats – which many don’t. And is less than 50 miles away. Which many aren’t.

Their weakest argument is that taking out the weight of a tire and wheel makes the vehicle lighter so, therefore, you get better mileage. They make that claim but the savings are so small they don’t try to put a number on it. I could make the same argument that removing all seats but the drivers would probably increase mileage as well but, again, statistically insignificant when compared with convenience.

The second upheaval in my life recently came with the news that fewer K-12 schools, colleges and universities are publishing the traditional yearbook. Again, cost is the reason given. As one principal said, “We’re firing teachers so, when it comes to teachers versus yearbooks, yearbooks are going to lose.” At least that makes more sense than the effect of no spare tire on gas mileage. Continue Reading »

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Apr 02 2014

Off the cliff, again

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Rather than put the important part of this blog at the top of the column, I’m going to tell you a story. Please bear with me. The point of the matter will become very, VERY obvious.

The Missus and I recently decided to refinance our home. Several reasons to do so, not the least of which was a reduction in our interest rate by more than two-percent. Most financial advisors will say that’s reason enough. Having bought and sold many homes, we figured things would be pretty familiar. Wrong!

With our excellent credit standing and lack of significant debt, we really had little trouble qualifying. It was what we had to go through to get to the closing stage.

You’ve never seen such a pile of forms! We probably accounted for at least an entire tree from an old growth forest. My count is 63 signatures by each of us. Then, of course, all those forms had to be copied so we had a stack, the broker had a stack and the lender had a stack. Better make that two trees because – in the end – the title company had a stack.

Many – far too many – of the documents had no other reason than to cover someone’s backside. Even the loan broker could not offer a coherent reason for a number of ‘em. But the one that stands out in my mind is the one that certified who I am. The Missus had one, too.

It read something like this: “I, Barrett Rainey, certify that I am Barrett Rainey.” Then I signed it “Barrett Rainey.” Of course, that form had to be notarized. Which was done by someone who wasn’t even in the office! They were in another state! But, had these forms been left out of the tree-killing exercise, our loan wouldn’t have been approved. Made no difference what our credit was or what our assets may have been or our income. We had to self-certify that we are who we say we are. Some gibberish about “the Patriot Act” as I recall. My brain still has not made the connection. Sometimes it’s best to just get through the obstacle course alive without much knowledge about the process. Like sausage-making.

Then – wait for it – all of this paperwork – all of it – was sent to us electronically. Again. All of it. Multiple times! Because the broker who started it had to furnish it. The bank carrying the loan had to furnish it. The closing agency had to furnish it. And each had to be notified – in writing – that we had been furnished it. All of it! Can’t you just hear those saws working in the forest?

But there’s more. The whole tragic point of our experience was yet to come. Everything was signed, sealed and delivered. And the hurdles, inconsistencies and lunacy of those weeks will be just so many memories.

Except for this. Here’s what we learned when it was all over. All those signed and notarized documents have been sent off to another mortgage company somewhere else. They’re being copied – again. Then they’ll be bundled with similar new loans and sold through another money market to investment companies. There, they’ll be sorted out, re-bundled and – wait for it – sold into the world markets. Can you say “derivatives?”

This is one of the major calamities that nearly collapsed our financial markets several years ago! We’ve been here before! We’ve read the book AND seen the movie! And it’s happening again!!! Add to that the news from London that a young banker lost more than $2 billion in six weeks by doing what? Doing WHAT? Selling derivatives!!!!! Likely our home loan! Continue Reading »

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Mar 28 2014

Nuts and nullification

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

A professional friend of long-standing over in Idaho got himself in an embarrassing position the other day. The guy spent more than 40 years covering state politics for an international news service and, thus, could be expected to know more about that state’s irrational political activities and how they operate than the average citizen. He does. But he still got tripped up publically and, in so doing, presented a text book example why Idaho – and so many other states – have fallen victim to the right-wing crazies.

A moderate Republican friend of his – an oxymoron in Idaho – was facing a real nutcase in his primary. So, our mutual retired media friend filed for the primary race, too. His idea? He’d go right up to just before the election – then pull out – attempting to split the nutcase vote, thus assuring his moderate friend a victory. He’d be a “Trojan horse” – tilting the voting percentages. Except he got found out and had to withdraw.

You couldn’t find a more textbook example of how the foil hats have taken over so many political offices nationally. Divide and conquer. Statistically across the country, the nuts are a statistical minority. But they hold a disproportionate number of legislative and congressional seats because they learned long ago to “divide and conquer.”

The about-to-be-gone Michelle Bachman is a good example. Did you know her maiden name was Amble? Kinda fits, doesn’t it? Well, she’s never faced a primary election with a single opponent so she’s never had to get at least half the vote. The Minnesota GOP always made sure she had a weak second or third party in the race. Divide and conquer. All she needed was 25-30-percent or so. A minority win. My friend was trying to do the same for his friend. But – despite long experience – he screwed up.

Our political system is filled with this crap. My friend knew he wasn’t a real candidate. But voters didn’t. Idahoans honestly drawn to him and his faux campaign were being hustled. He was perverting our system though he probably felt justified. But innocent voters were being screwed.

Idaho’s legislature, for example, has a lot of these minority “winners” in the ranks. Most with a far right tilt. Like the current bunch who overwhelmingly passed a bill this year – now a law – to “void” any new federal gun laws. Further, they believe they can now cancel all previous federal gun laws in upcoming sessions. Same for some federal lands issues and federal health care laws, too. They can’t do any of that. So Idahoans will keep paying millions of tax dollars in what is now a long line of more utterly useless and lost court cases.

Fact is, Idaho put a new law on the books this year that’s so far out in right field the legislature decided to appropriate an extra $1-million up front just for the court battle legislators were sure would come. Prescient? No. Learned from history? Maybe. Just deciding to pay up front this time rather than paying later as has so often been the case.

North Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas, Utah, Arkansas and Florida are among some other locales going the same phony “nullification” route. “We don’t like your damned federal laws and we ain’t gonna follow ‘em.” Some of the local ignorance deals with obviously illegal new voter limitations, efforts to avoid requirements of the Affordable Care Act, resistance to gun laws that haven’t even been written and other nonsense. Continue Reading »

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Mar 23 2014

Gridlock explained quickly

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Not all columns herein need to be lengthy to make a point. To prove ‘tis so, just consider this brief set of facts from the National Journal’s vote ratings of members of Congress.

“For the third consecutive year, no Republican Senate member had a more liberal voting record that ANY Democrat. No Democratic Senator had a more conservative score than the most liberal Republican.

“In the (435 member) House, just 10 Democrats had a more conservative score than the most liberal Republican. Just five Republicans were more liberal than the most conservative Democrat.”

Put another way, there are nearly no ideological crossovers anymore. Democrats are “liberal” – Republicans are “conservative.”

For three decades – the Journal started this annual survey in 1982 – it was the norm to find a handful of ideological crossovers in the Senate. Even more in the larger House. Now, the norm is “purity.”

No more middle ground in which to seek compromise. No middle ground in which to exchange positions. No more middle ground. Period!

With those findings, you’re going to have a breakthrough? You’re going to find reasoned solutions to our immense national problems? You’re going to find political leadership?

That’s it. Short and sweet.

Gridlock explained in 60 seconds.

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Mar 20 2014

Government investment works

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

In a sort of bipartisan piling on, critics of federal support for auto makers or of that proposed oil pipeline from Canada or lost tax dollars in failed alternative energy company Solyndra have captured a lot of attention. Filled with political expediency, what all the critical voices have failed to articulate is any sort of long term view or alternatives dealing with each subject. And there are many.

Before dealing with them, here’s a basic fact: government – and government alone – is often the best (if not only) entity that can make major investments in very large undertakings. Despite our love of “independence” and those who cling to our lost system of “free” enterprise – which hasn’t existed for 150 years – sometimes government has to go first, pay the heavy bills for development and then step aside for private capital to take over at some point.

There are many examples but the best I can think of is our space program. If President Kennedy had not led us into it in 1961, we would likely be speaking Russian. No private company – no group of private companies – could raise the billions and billions of dollars to do what government did. As a nation – and as individuals – we are massively richer for that undertaking. And it’s almost impossible to count the ways we benefitted from computers to cell phones to – well – thousands of things.

And where are we now? Private companies are using that taxpayer-bought engineering, incalculable experience, hundreds of thousands of patents and thousands of highly-trained taxpayers to open space travel to all. We’ve got hundreds of private satellites and even private space shuttles flying around.

For those who say government had no business putting billions into the auto companies – that we should have let them sink – Road Apples! Anyone with any economic smarts knows it had to be done to avoid even more massive unemployment, disaster for thousands of small businesses and a financial mess that would have been incredibly costly.

And look what happened. GM has closed its most profitable year in history – reopened several plants – ramped up production – and has built more and better vehicles than ever. It’s paid back most of the taxpayer loan while GM stock many Americans own has gotten even more valuable. Chrysler basically avoided corporate death – threw out many bad models while developing new lines – reopened closed plants – rehired thousands – and has paid off the loan. And both companies are using new, cutting-edge technology to build the best cars in both their histories. A lot of that new technology the government pioneered in other programs.

No private companies were ready to do what government did. No investors or venture capitalists were willing to ride to the rescue. The results will be taught in business schools for decades to show how government and an entire industry can build huge successes in the face of certain disaster. Continue Reading »

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Mar 13 2014

Senator sock puppet

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Damned near impossible to turn on your old HDTV these days without seeing the master political ventriloquist and his sock puppet – McCain and Graham. Often, McCain is out of the picture so you don’t see his lips move. But ol’ Lindsey has his mouth flapping aplenty, mimicking the words of a former national hero that – as Dangerfield used to say – “can’t get no respect.” Especially in Arizona.

Public Policy Polling – one of the most reputable question-asking outfits on the planet – queried about a thousand Arizonans in recent days. Bottom line: McCain has a 55% disapproval rating around the homestead. PPP says he’s now “the least popular senator in the country.” Take that, Ted Cruz! Quite a come-down from years back when the Navy war hero – and former North Vietnamese POW – came down the gangplank and decided to turn his military celebrity into a career in public office. But that’s where he is today.

Perhaps it’s ironic that sock puppet Graham is also a guy with some military experience. Of course, his is more paperwork and less suffering. Depending on how you feel about lawyers. Graham has a combination of active and reserve USAF and even had G. Bush the younger prominently pin on his eagles sometime ago. But – there IS that one part of his resume that always gives readers pause.

Graham apparently believes he spent some of his military time in “confinement,” too. As a USAF attorney. In his resume, he points proudly to his “service in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.” He does so as some who served at the same time point out Graham never left South Carolina during those campaigns. When challenged, Graham said he never meant to mislead – he was just “in uniform” during those years. Meaning if you and I were in the military in Oregon at the same time, we’d be entitled to wear the same ribbons even if we, too, didn’t go. How do you suppose those that went and ducked the IED’s feel about that?

With the advent of the Obama presidency, McCain became one of the most vocal in the Republican pantheon with repeated – and often nutty – criticism of anything Obama. Like a stopped clock that can be right twice a day, McCain sometimes latched onto something legitimate. Unfortunately, like that broken timepiece, he was wrong a lot of the time, too.

McCain is a master junketeer. Wherever an internal political struggle turns to violence, there he is. He’s slept in a lot of beds on former Soviet real estate and lent his loud support to nearly all. “We are all Georgians,” he pledged to citizens of that breakaway nation when Russians were pounding on the Georgian door. He will, I’m certain, show up in Crimea in a few days – promising “We’re all Crimeans.” Continue Reading »

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Mar 02 2014

Government-less

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

“NO WORK EXPECTED
FROM CONGRESS
REMAINDER OF 2014″

That“Washington Post” headline of a week or two ago struck me on two counts: it was some experienced observer’s recognition we have a totally ineffective branch of federal government – as I’ve speculated for some time; it was not unexpected news.

Both the conclusion and the fact it was not unexpected combine to make a powerful statement that this nation – for all intents political – is blind, lost and leaderless in one-third of the constitutional government we’ve been taught to respect. In reality, the U.S. Congress has become an employer of last resort for too many folks incapable of doing – or even understanding – their jobs.

That headline was further reinforced last week when the U.S. Senate was unable to pass a bill to put $21 billion on the table to provide additional education benefits, an unemployment extension and badly needed improved medical care for veterans of our most recent unnecessary wars. Democrats put up the legislation – Republican killed it. They did so despite the fact it was Republican presidents who got us into those wars-of-choice.

Can you come up with a single, acceptable reason why the people who got us – and those veterans – into extended, unwinnable wars in the first place won’t honor the other side of the accompanying commitment to provide the best possible support for those we sent onto the battlefield? I can’t!

Veterans aren’t the only Americans being screwed by their own elected government. You can add millions more who’ve lost food stamps to help with basic family needs – long-term unemployed who’ve been unable to end the downward economic spiral many got caught in through no actions of their own – elderly who’ve lost housing and even food program assistance they need to survive – school lunch programs on which millions of kids rely for at least one good meal a day – local government infrastructure assistance for highway construction, updating sewer and water systems, law enforcement, environmental programs and more.

All of these things – and many other necessary if not outright life-saving government programs – have been decimated by members of a congress so wrapped up trying to stay publicly employed that the needs of their own constituents have been ignored. Continue Reading »

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Feb 26 2014

Rich bitchin’

Published by under Rainey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

When someone has an asset or significant advantage in life, it may’ve come from hard work, inheritance, luck or just serendipitous circumstance. Most of us don’t give such a situation much thought and go on our way.

But when someone so advantaged – regardless of how that advantage was acquired – brags about it or expects the rest of us to construct a special pedestal from which the wealthy can gaze lord-like over the rest of us, I get pissed. Such is my state at the moment.

We poor plebeians are suffering a torrent of billionaire bitching as some of them suddenly come out from the secured grounds of their compounds to complain we don’t appreciate them sufficiently. We’re being told they don’t deserve our scorn – that we’re treating them the way Nazis treated Jews – we “have-nots” should stop complaining about the “have’s” and spend more time admiring their success – voting should be based on “one-dollar-one-vote” – people who pay no taxes shouldn’t be allowed to vote – yadda, yadda, yadda.

Much of the arrogant blathering has been so ridiculous as to make me wonder how in hell they were smart enough to make a pile of bucks. Maybe Daddy left it to ‘em.

One of the craziest voices is that of Bud Konheim, CEO of a luxury fashion brand. I’m not going to give the bastard a dollop of publicity so if you want to know which one, look it up.

He says 99% of Americans should stop complaining and realize how lucky they are. He says our “poverty level is wealth in 99% of the rest of the world. Exact quote: “The guy’s making, oh my God, $35,000 a year. Why don’t we try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name. China. Anyplace. The (in America) guy is wealthy.”

If you’re trying to make sense out of that blather, don’t bother.

Konheim’s disconnect from reality interested – and revolted – Yale School of Management prof Jeffrey Sonnenfeld who said such “thinking” shrieks of “insensitivity and grandiosity.” “It makes you wonder about other decisions he’s making,” Sonnenfeld said.

Then there’s billionaire Tom Perkins who believes the mass of us poor folk are making “progressive war on the 1% as did the Nazis on anti-Semitism.” Perkins also has proposed giving each of us as many votes in elections as we have dollars in the bank. He, of course, would get a billion ballots or two. Damn! The last 15 years of her life, my mother – with only Social Security and family care for income – paid not a dollar in taxes. But she never missed an election in her life. Doubt her citizenship record could be matched by ol’ Perk. Continue Reading »

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Oregon State Highway film from 1966. A few changes since then.

 

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
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JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

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THE OREGON POLITICAL
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THE IDAHO POLITICAL
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IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
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WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
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The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
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Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

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