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Posts published in “Rainey”

Civic assisted suicide

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

A few miles from our little burg-in-the-Oregon-woods, we’re witnessing an act of economic, civic and politically assisted suicide being committed by residents of Curry County. It’s a deliberate failure to shoulder local fiscal responsibility unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Especially considering Curry has one of the very lowest property tax rates in the state.

Curry County borders California on the South and the Pacific Ocean on the West. It’s a bit isolated. About 25,000 people live there – give or take one more retiree. Over 50% of monthly deposits in financial institutions in the area come from government benefits or retirement plans – many from out-of-state. Gives you an idea of the age and status of the population.

Of the dozen or so Oregon counties hurting right now because of the reduction – and pending elimination – of a federal subsidy paid in lieu of taxes on local federal timber lands, Curry is in the worst shape. The county has three towns – Brookings-Harbor, Gold Beach and Port Orford. City and county budget cuts made over the last couple of years already have gotten into muscle and bone. Unemployment, homelessness and crime are all above normal. Even for there.

Sheriff John Bishop is working with nearly no resources. He’s already on half-staff, not covering the county several hours each day, reduced patrols and living with a jail that’s mediaeval. People are being arrested – some more than once – arraigned and turned loose. Bishop is a hardworking professional dealing with the worst county civic support in Oregon.

This month, Curry commissioners put a special property tax question on the ballot with all future proceeds – all – going to law enforcement. If passed, city homeowners faced a property tax increase of $1.97 per thousand evaluation – county residents $1.84 per thousand. The hope was to raise $5.4 million for the jail, Sheriff’s Office, juvenile department and the district attorney. Absolutely no question about need. None.

On election day, just under 50% of the 13,501 registered voters took time to do their duty. Final count: 44% yes – 56% no. Killed big time. One of the commissioners was absolutely giddy. “I think the failure is an opportunity – huge opportunity to sit with citizens and see what we can do. It’s all good!”

To understand how goofy those remarks are, you should know an 18-member committee of local, very experienced citizens – selected by the county commission – spent nearly a year with expert outside consulting, going over every dime in recent budgets. With a great deal more talent than is represented on the current commission, that group came up with more than a dozen, well-researched ideas to deal with the situation. Answers.

The report was shelved and ignored. There’s some evidence some of the appointers may not have even read it. (more…)

A letter to Fox

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

My Fox Friends:

Because I know you operate with limited “fact” checking folk – relying instead on GOP in-house “research” and the Heritage Foundation for that – I’d like to pass along some old fashioned, shoe leather research Ben Cesca of Huffington Post recently did. All from the public record. Because of the nature of his findings – pre-Benghazi – I’m certain none of you were allowed to read it. Forbidden, actually. So, here goes.

Jan. 22, 2002: Calcutta, India – Harakat-ul-Jihad as-Islami attack U.S. Consulate – five employees killed.

Jun. 14, 2002: Karachi, Pakistan – al Qaeda suicide bomber hits U.S. Consulate – 12 employees killed - 51 injured.

Oct. 12, 2002: Denpasar, Inbdonesia – Diplomatic offices bombed.

Feb. 28, 2003: Islamabad, Palistan – Gunmen fire on Embassy - two killed.

May 12, 2003: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: al Qaeda stormed U.S. diplomatic compound – 36 killed including nine Americans.

Jul. 30, 2004: Tashkent, Uzbekistan: U.S. Embassy bombed – two dead.

Dec. 6, 2004: Jeddah Saudi Arabia – al Qaeda stormed U.S. Consulate – nine dead.

Mar. 2, 2006: Karachi, Pakistan – For the third time in four years, U.S. Consulate bombed – four dead including Ambassador David Foy.

Sep. 12, 2006: Damascus, Syria: Gunmen storm U.S. Embassy killing four.

Jan. 12, 2007: Athens, Greece – Rocket attack on U.S. Embassy. Bad shots.

Mar. 18, 2008: Sana’a, Yemen – Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire mortar at U.S. Embassy. Missed. Hit school next door killing two.

Jul. 9, 2008: Istanbul, Turkey – Terrorists attack U.S. Embassy killing six employees.

Sep. 17, 2008: Sana’a, Yemen – Terrorists with car bombs and RPGs kill 16 including an American student. Second attack there in seven months.

That’s 13 American embassy and consulate attacks during the two-term tenure of G-W-B. Two terms during which you were just not as worked up as you are today. (more…)

From explanation to exploitation

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Nearly all our lives, we adults take great pains setting ourselves apart from each other – our individualism, if you will. Whether in appearance, style of dress, cars we drive or books we read, we spend our lives expressing our differences rather than our shared sameness. Then a commonality sneaks up on us – the shared experience of all – because we were once six or seven years old. Each of us. All of us.

That one genealogical thread of age may be the largest single reason why the Newtown massacre struck our consciousness so deeply. Months after a school meant for learning became a chamber of mass murder, we’re not letting this one fade from memory as quickly as we have so many others. All of us have been six or seven. We’e all been in classrooms.

A few miles up the road from my own little burg-in-the-Oregon-woods, we had our own indiscriminate killings in a shopping mall a few months ago. ut I’ve days and weeks in that time without thinking about Clackamas Mall. Not so Newtown, Connecticut. Despite other distractions of daily living, the Newtown horror still intrudes from time to time.

Several years of my life were spent as a hospice volunteer, ministering to the dying one-on-one. Death – impending death – certain death. You learn not only how to provide comfort to the “client” – you learn to deal with death after death after death of people you come to know as friends. Even if for only a brief time. You learn how to do that. Or you fail.

But most of my life has been spent in journalism – passing along the daily events of our lives. You used to learn how to do that in much the same clinical way – observing but not getting personally involved. Not anymore.

Maybe it’s the collision of experiences in those two backgrounds that makes my disgust with so much of the media so overwhelming in these months following the Newtown killing. Most of my anger is caused by the so-called broadcast “professionals.”

All of us experience a period of grief following the death of someone close. It permeates our entire being. Some survivors or onlookers handle it better than others. But it’s always there. When the death is that of someone we don’t know or aren’t particularly close to, there may be feelings of sadness but usually not disabling grief. But what happened in Newtown – though involving complete strangers for most of us – what happened in Newton has – in many ways – shown up in a sort of national grief. (more…)

Badge beats gun

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The question of “a gun or a badge” for security in school classrooms seems to have been answered this week with the very successful testing of a WiFi-based system in a Nampa, Idaho, high school. (See “A gun or a badge” column below)

The equipment – made by EKAHAU – replaces badges most teachers already wear around their necks daily. But this one is sensitive to applied pressure in several spots. When touched, it silently calls for help, puts the school on “lockdown” and notifies local police dispatch – all in seconds. And I mean “seconds.” On Monday’s test in Nampa, it did all that in less than four!

A randomly selected teacher decided when to send a signal. Could have been any classroom on campus. All similar badges in the building flashed, a computerized map lit up and the school resource officer took off. From start to his arrival – less than 20 seconds!

In Sandy Hook Elementary, the gunman killed 26 people in just over five minutes. Using the Nampa cop’s response time of about 20 seconds – with gun drawn – you might have had some fatalities. Certainly not 26. What if this system saved 15 kids – or just one? Saved three teachers- or just one? Or you could have had 30 scared kids run screaming in all directions while a scared teacher tied to find a gun in a locked drawer to have a gunfight with a crazy person filling the classroom with bullets while waiting for a resource officer who might have been unaware of the danger.

The answer for me – from personal experience – is very simple. Several years ago, my teacher wife was attacked in a classroom by a teen almost her size. But stronger. A male teacher heard the racket and eventually responded. But what if she had been wearing one of these Ekahau badges? Would she have had the scrapes and bruises? Or been seriously injured?

A donor put up the $20,000 necessary for the system in Nampa. While $20,000 is a large sum, it allowed this state-of-the-art coverage in an entire high school.

We can’t expect all schools in all districts to have such citizen support. But the system works. It works so well districts across the country should begin budgeting school-by-school starting now. Make it a 10 year plan Or 20. Have some community fund raisers. Contact foundations, service clubs, corporations. Have bake sales and carwashes if necessary. Set a goal of one of these badge systems for the school your kids or grandkid go to and get started!

Or, as our friends at the NRA have decided, we can put a gun on the hip of every school teacher in every classroom and let ‘em shoot it out with the bad guys. Over and around the heads of ourloved ones. Our choice.

A gun or a badge

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Armed police in every school. Every teacher packing a gun. The NRA’s outrageous ideas for school safety. Just how outrageous will be even more evident if a little test going on at a high school this week in li’l ol’ Nampa, Idaho, works as everyone thinks it will.

Imagine each teacher replacing the badge most now wear around their necks with a similar one that tracks their immediate locations, calls the police and puts a threatened school on “lockdown.” Within four seconds. Automatically. That’s what they’re trying out in Nampa this week.

EKAHAU is the outfit that makes these things. Along with a lot of other hi-tech gizmos used in hospitals and mental institutions that work off a common WiFi system.. One version is a little device that looks like a badge but you hang this one in the refrigerated cabinet where blood or certain drugs are stored. If the temperature varies outside desired degrees, it flashes a warning at the nurse’s station.

Or, a violent mental patient attacks an employee. Touch one of the tag “hot spots” and security – even off-campus local police – know instantly help is needed. All kinds of uses.

Put one on a teacher, for example. In an emergency, a “hot spot” touch will summon help if that teacher is attacked. Or, pull the badge and lanyard apart quickly and the school immediately goes on “lockdown” and the nearest police emergency dispatch is notified. Immediately. Silently.

Obviously something this good is not cheap. The cost for all the badges and peripheral gadgets in the Nampa case is a little more than $20,000. But a local donor has put up the money for the tryout.

Now, which would you rather have? A teacher carrying a gun trying to shoot it out with an armed assailant while also trying to protect 30 screaming and terrified, running kids. Or, a teacher with a small badge giving an immediate silent warning to the entire school and local law enforcement? Go ahead. You decide. I’ll wait.

So, is the NRA idea to make sharpshooters out of teachers outrageous? It certainly is in my book. A “good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun?” Or an alert teacher who can communicate with the entire school staff and local police just by touching a piece of plastic hung around her neck.

We’ll keep an eye on the Nampa experiment and let you know. I wish ‘em well. Seems like a damned fine idea. And please don’t tell Wayne LaP. This is a bit outside-the-box for him.

Minimum standards

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The election of South Carolina’s Mark Sanford to Congress raises some questions at our house. But his victory answers only one of them: there IS no moral minimum to be elected to Congress.

Statistically, Republican Candidate “X” would be the odds-on favorite in Sanford’s district, as if ”X” lived in Idaho or Utah. So Republican Sanford had the situation pretty well locked up just by seeing his breath on a mirror. From a party preference point of view, no surprise.

But, as I said, we had some questions. For starters, Sanford is an admitted adulterer and liar. Not just one foolish, drunken time. Or one foolish, drunken lie. But over a period of a couple of years. He lied to his wife – his own staff – his Republican Party – voters – media – everyone. No mere cover-up. Lied. Repeatedly.

His Republican peers in South Carolina government found him guilty of misuse of public funds for financing his first-class affinity for repeated amorous flights to Argentina for his long-term, intercontinental trysts on the taxpayer dime. His wife divorced him and even had to get a restraining order because he kept hanging around her backdoor. His former backdoor. And he violated that court order – more than once – by showing up again and going through that backdoor.

Now, in the little Oregon town where I grew up, any guy like that in elective office would’ve been lucky to have escaped a lynching and would’ve been bounced out of office by some irate voters. Oh, he might have been the center of attention at one of the logger bars for awhile. But, even there, he would have eventually slid into well-earned oblivion.

But – sizeable baggage and all – not in the First Congressional District in South Carolina. Not the heavily Republican-dominated First District.

Which brings up another question. As an Independent, I’m often derided by Republican friends for not having an “official” set of beliefs – political, philosophical and/or moral. Not true, but they keep saying it. In other words, as someone who moves back and forth with my vote, I’m accused of being susceptible to the “changing popular tide” and not following “Party precepts.” Not “standing for something permanent and good for the country.” No “moral code.” You know the B.S. (more…)

National shame

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Wayne LaPierre is a driven guy. Finishes what he starts. No quitter. He’s single-handedly determined to become the most hated S-O-B in America. With one more NRA national convention under his belt – or maybe one more appearance before a congressional committee – he’ll likely achieve the dream. Trump – the distant second – isn’t even close.

It’s no secret Wayne doesn’t speak for responsible gun owners. Hasn’t for years. His overblown salary is paid for by firearms and ammunition companies – not dues from responsible member shooters. His job is to be the lightening rod keeping public attention and anger off the industry while killing any legitimate effort to craft responsible gun legislation by anyone. Takes a special kind of guy – one willing to subvert personal morality and conscience to the demands of people who don’t give a damn about the rest of us. Or him, either, when he finally leaves the job.

Following daily insights into the gross affairs of last week’s NRA convention, I was struck – make that grossed out – by two items. Not that there weren’t several dozen others to turn responsible stomachs.

First item: the exhibit booth of Zombie Industries which – hang on to your lunch now – sold life-sized targets that bleed when shot. Yep, give it a good “kill” shot and the damned things gush red “blood.” If that’s not gross enough, one on display for conference attendees to try their aim on was – I hate to use the words – a dead ringer for President Obama. I’ve seen the picture in all it’s gory glory and you ain’t gonna see it here.

In a fit of uncharacteristic “conscience,” someone from the NRA asked the Zombie folks to take it down. But only after the media had taken pictures and many folks had literally taken their “best shots.” When the operator of the grizzly exhibit was told the bleeding target looked like Obama, he said “Let’s just say I gave my Republican father one for Christmas.”

Second item: LaPierre’s annual speech and the lies therein. All of it could easily be classified as morally disgusting. But he really hit the lowest note when he got to the Boston Marathon tragedy. While the event itself was gruesome enough to stay with us the rest of our lives, Ol’ Wayne had to take it down further.

“How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago” he asked? “Imagine living in a large metropolitan area where lawful firearms ownership is heavily regulated and discouraged. Imagine waking up to a phone call from the police at 3 a.m. warning a terrorist event is occurring outside and ordering you to stay in your home.” A lie, of course.

Shouts from the crowd of “disgusting” and “outrageous” responded to his crazy premise that some citizen militia was prevented from forming and taking to the streets in the name of justice. Authorities did NOT tell people to stay off the streets. And many did not.

Well, let’s take his crazy premise into reality. Every law enforcement group – every emergency outfit within 100 miles of Boston – was somehow involved in the aftermath of the killer explosions. Media was running rampant with facts, speculation and hearsay. Authorities were asking people to “stay in place.” Not “ordering” but “asking.” (more…)

Ain’t gonna happen

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

When asked if there’s a likelihood Republicans can take the White House in 2016 – or even 2020 – I have two answers. “No” and “I hope not.” Most often, that starts a verbal tennis match – sometimes resulting in my parentage being questioned.

I’ve voted for a lot of Republicans over the years and have absolutely no animosity toward the brand. None. Historically, many fine folk among the elephants – many who’ve served the nation well. But today’s GOP variety pack is less political “health food” and far too many salty “nuts.” Until the recipe is re-mixed to provide a more balanced philosophical diet, they’d be unhealthful and should be avoided in the nation’s – and our – best interests.

The evidence of unfitness to serve is everywhere. But let’s just focus on these stories of Republican political activities in just one 24-hour national news cycle. For the record keepers reading, that would be April 30 – May 1, 2013. You can fact-check anything herein.

Huffington Post Headline: “GOP Census Bill Would Eliminate America’s Economic Indicators.” They’ve introduced a bill to bar the U.S. Census Bureau from conducting nearly all surveys except the decennial population count. That would end government’s ability to provide reliable estimates of employment (or unemployment) and nearly every other Census Bureau tabulation at every level of government, most national businesses, statistical professionals, immigration, economy, academics.. It’d cripple health care, manufacturing, education, law enforcement and nearly everything else..

Washington Post Headline: “Lamar Smith: Science Peer Review Process Would Improve Political Oversight.” The GOP Chairman of the House Science Committee introduced a bill to require political oversight of ALL scientific work done by the National Science Foundation. Every conclusion of every scientific study by the Foundation would have to be reviewed AND APPROVED by politicians before being published. Legitimate scientists would be barred from contradicting any outcome of the political oversight.

Salon.Com Headline: “Republicans Embrace Conspiracy That DHS Is Buying Up Ammo.” Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Lucas introduced bills to stop Department of Homeland Security from “buying up the nation’s supply of ammunition as a way to take over the market and institute gun control.” They have Republican co-signers. Only Republican co-signers.

Huffington Post Headline: “Arizona Silver & Gold Bill Passes State Senate.” Claiming a “lack of confidence in the international monetary system,” the Arizona Senate approved a House-passed measure to make gold and silver legal currency in the state. It should be noted Idaho and Utah Republicans have tried this for many a year. It never goes anywhere but they keep trying. But in Arizona, it got very close to being law. Should the GOP ever be in a national position to pull this off, the resulting calamity around the world can’t be overstated.

Huffington Post Headline: “Pat Toomey: Background Checks Died Because GOP Didn’t Want To Help Obama.” Sen. Toomey (R-PA) tells the world fellow Republicans told him they voted against background checks to weed out unfit purchasers of guns because they “didn’t want to be seen helping the President.” When faced with a simple, greatly watered-down bill to take one small step to help assure national safety – and possibly avoid more mass executions by madmen – nearly all Republicans and four Democrats just couldn’t put national priorities above their own self-interest. (more…)

He shouldn’t have to do it

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

A lot of people – especially media types – have been hyper-excited in recent days about the announcement by a professional athlete that he’s a gay man. In fact, national reaction got so heady even the President of the United States called to wish him well. Here – in our little burg-in-the-Oregon-woods – the best emotion I could come up with was one of “so what?”

Jason Collins and all play-for-pay athletes are usually judged by the statistical record created during their years in any sport. As they should be. In Collins’ case, the best that can be said is he’s a good, workmanlike guy who holds up his corner on a basketball court as he’s hired to do. Certainly not a star in the manner of a Michael Jordan or Larry Bird. Just a guy who does his job.

At the age of 34, Collins is close to the end of a moderately successful career. In fact, a lot of sports fanatics believe, had he not made his sexual orientation announcement, he’d probably not have been back next year. But now that he’s done so, predictions are media/public pressure on NBA Commissioner Stern will probably result in one or more teams offering him another year or two of playing. For the wrong reasons.

After Collins’ announcement of his homosexuality, I really didn’t have a reaction – just a sense of blah – and “Well, O.K.” I wasn’t sure why until I read a comment from the aged Dr. Ruth Westheimer saying she was “sad.” That I could relate to.

Psychosexual therapist Dr. Ruth has been around for many, many years. At just under five feet tall – with the demeanor and huge smile of a marvelous Jewish grandmother to the nation – she’s been a fixture on late night TV shows for decades and published several books dealing with nearly every possible topic related to sex and our sexuality. I only point out her size, heritage and grandmotherly appearance because those attributes have given her a lot of freedom to say things sexually explicit other professionals would never have gotten away with. Starting in the late 1950′s with Jack Paar, Dr. Ruth has charmed the nation. (more…)

In New Jersey

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Despite “explosive” stories being covered in national media these days, one that might be defined as such has been overlooked. As a public service, we’d like to bring you up-to-date on a news item that may soon “go off.”

In one state, a governor has adjusted his list of official priorities for legislative action and submitted an amended version. The update is apparently based on recent events in our society. Here’s the revised set of initiatives he’s asking for. In law.

** Background checks for ALL gun purchases. ALL.

** Parental consent – IN WRITING – for minors wanting to buy violent video games.

** A TOTAL BAN on purchases of the .50-caliber Barrett rifle.

** Legislation to make it easier for doctors and courts to commit “potentially dangerous” people to mental health treatment – EVEN AGAINST THEIR WILL.

The state is New Jersey. The governor is Chris Christie. A Republican. He’s running for re-election in 2014.

Just thought you’d like to know.