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Posts published in “Rainey”

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.

What is terrorism?

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

One of the thorny issues in our world these days is trying to define the words “terrorism” and “terrorist.” Our federal government hasn’t done that successfully, either. One department has a definition – two others have their own “unique” meanings. Since we appear headed to court soon, we need to have some clarity on these words.

While no one in our little Oregon burg-in-the-woods would try to affect thinking at those rarified, higher bureaucratic levels, we would like offer a definition of terrorist no one along the Potomac seems to have considered.

How about someone – or anyone – who violates a minimum of more than three dozen federal/state laws while running a fertilizer plant near the center of a small Texas town? How about an ownership that deliberately stored on site 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate at the plant in violation of operating and licensing agreements? How about owners who knew – HAD to know – the last OSHA inspection was in 1985 but never – never – contacted OSHA or Dept. Of Homeland Security when their inventories increased as required by federal law?

How about three federal agencies that failed to inspect a West, Texas, plant under their purview – the lead office for more than three decades? How about two state agencies that virtually ignored what was going on at the plant for years and years? How about local elected officials who watched the fertilizer operation grow and grow for 60 years without considering more than just the economic benefits of larger payrolls?

How about the anonymous (aren’t they always?) federal bureaucrats who decided such companies – dealing in amounts of explosives to guarantee catastrophe in event of a major accident – would be tasked with “self-reporting” when increasing on-site storage capacities or letting regulators know of leaks, accidents or other anomalies? Or the federal cabinet officers up the chain who signed off on such stupidity?

This nation did everything but stand on its head for 10 days when a couple of guys set off two bombs that killed three people. But the Texas blast killed five times as many and decimated a small town. For several days, we found details on page 12. Or buried – if not ignored – in the TV news.

Now, let’s talk about the word “terrorism” from this perspective. How about applying that word to the constant political B.S. we hear about needing to reduce regulations on business? “Political B.S.” because repeated surveys have shown politicians do the most complaining – not the guy along Main Street. Repeated surveys have shown, more often than not, business people see regulation as leveling the playing field – as assuring the competition across town is playing by the same rules. Those that do complain to the politicos are far over-represented in the resulting specious, campaign-solicitation dialogue. (more…)

Justice for all

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The Boston bombing-identifying-chase-capture portion of our latest national horror is over. With our global informational reach to instantly deliver sights and sounds of such a tragedy, nearly all of us were swept along as it played out. Over those five days. Even back here in our little burg-in-the-Oregon-woods. Emotion and information overload.

Now come two steps certain to follow such events: the slow gathering of facts; the lemming-like rush of some politicians to make damned fools of themselves in pursuit of self-service. Chalk Lindsey Graham up as the first little animal over the cliff.

Some background on the junior Senator from South Carolina. Law degree in hand, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1982. Stayed right there in South Carolina, he did. But on his bio sheet, he calls himself a “Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran.” Fact is, he never left South Carolina. Just happened to be in the service and living at home during those campaigns. Like most of the rest of us. In the Senate, his best public statements have been made as he moves his lips – channeling John McCain.

Without waiting for more of the aforementioned facts to be discovered, and within only a few hours of capture of the surviving suspect, Graham simply dumped the American court system and our Constitution by demanding the young fella be labeled an “enemy combatant” and tried militarily.

In previous Senate committee hearings, Graham has notoriously said Americans accused of terror-related crimes should be denied due process and when they say “I want a lawyer, you say ‘Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer’.” It’s in the record.

Two other facts Graham turned his back on. First, suspect Dzhokhr Tsarnaev is a naturalized American citizen. He has the rights you and I do. Second, there’s never been a court decision about whether the Constitution permits the government to hold American citizens arrested on American soil as “enemy combatants.” That issue, itself, is a whole different can of legal worms. Unless you’re Lindsey Graham. But you have to remember. He’s up for re-election in 2014.

Of course, McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Chuck Grassley, Saxby Chambliss and Peter King – among others – jumped right off the same lemming-killing verbal cliff. All within hours of capture and with no more facts than we got in our collective living rooms. Babbling about “no Miranda right,” “need to know about future attacks,” “no right for Tsarnaev to remain silent” and other uninformed political garbage. (more…)

Time for a Senate coup

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The pros will tell you there are many “reasons” for the cowardly political end of that most minimal gun legislation in the Senate this week. They’re right. As far as they go. But none I’ve seen go far enough. So, let’s take the next step. Four words. Harry Reid – Senate Democrats.

Red state/blue state – the NRA – re-election fears – guaranteed defeat in the House of anything the Senate had the guts to pass – the most common “reasons” offered in the bars on Capital Hill. Excuses all. If you wanted to paint a verbal picture, those are the word “colors” I’d use, too. But the “artist” behind that portrait would be – Harry Reid.

Reid has repeatedly failed to lead. It’s Majority Leader Reid that sets the agenda and the ultimate legislative agenda of the U.S. Senate. Short of a very rare open majority vote to force a particular bill from committee, Reid controls nearly everything else. Support him, you live. Cross him, you might as well go home. He’s not the first with such power. He won’t be the last.

So saying, Senate Democrats – all of ‘em – should have forced their leader to use his sizeable parliamentary power to end the filibuster in the first days of the new Congress in January. They did not. He did not. Rather, Reid said he had a “handshake agreement” with Minority Leader McConnell that Republicans would be “responsible” in their use of the legislative poison pill. Well, here we are three months later and we know what McConnell’s word was worth.

Whenever someone talks about ending the filibuster, there’s always one response: “But if we do that while we’re in the majority, we won’t have it for protection when we’re in the minority someday.” While true, it’s also pure B.S. Majorities and minorities are what national elections are for. Neither party – neither – should have continuously assured status in either. It’s gotta be earned. Legislatively.

Since President Obama was elected in 2008 – from day one – McConnell and his minions repeatedly said they’d do nothing to help Obama succeed. In anything. Indeed, McConnell couldn’t have been more plain spoken. “Our goal (the GOP) is to make him a one-term President.” So which McConnell do we believe? The “one term President” guy or the other one who shook hands? One’s a liar.

Still, the 2008 and the 2012 elections not only put Obama in office and renewed his contract, they also gave Democrats the Senate majority. We – you and me – we decided the matter. It was our vote – our instruction – to give Democrats majority status to do what we expected a majority party to do – what all of ‘em said they’d do.

That’s how you get to be a Senate majority. We do it! You and me. That’s how you get to be a Senate minority. We do it! And we did it. Our instructions were not to turn a majority party into a minority, then use parliamentary maneuvers to undercut the new majority. The one we created. The one we wanted. Our votes – yours and mine – have been negated by an irresponsible minority from day one. Because Reid would not lead. (more…)

Contradictions

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

If pressed for the most apt definition of the word “contradiction,” there’s no better one in our times than the Republican far right. What passes for philosophy with too many denizens of that political swamp is espousing one set of ideals while working feverishly against them – wrapping oneself in the law and our founding documents while deliberately attacking both.

For many years, the clearest example of these philosophical cheap shots have been ceaseless attacks on women and the extremely personal topic of abortion. While decrying the intrusion of all forms of government in our private lives, these same voices have demanded an agency of government be represented in gynecological examining rooms where only physicians and their patients belong. To be in the home as a family struggles with intimate – and completely private – decisions. The total contrariness of that position is a hallmark of the far right.

Likewise, voting rights. The assurance of the individual franchise – guaranteed since our beginnings – has become another example of complete contradiction with a sizeable portion of the Republican right. More than a dozen states under GOP political control have tried to legislatively abridge voting access for all but themselves. Some have done so with new laws sure to be challenged. Several bills have even been introduced in Congress to do the same. While loudly proclaiming the polling privilege as “the cornerstone of our liberties,” some of the same voices have been attempting to exclude Americans who don’t “think” as they do. Or have a different skin color.

Now comes religion – the newest outright challenge to a most basic right granted to all of us in the Bill of Rights. The prohibition can’t be clearer:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

In North Carolina – where Republicans control the legislature – one of their number dropped a bill in the House basket to “establish Christianity as the state religion.” While a number of Republicans signed on as co-sponsors, the Speaker of the House stopped formal introduction. This time.

So, were these GOPers just a few nuts? Will we see similar attempts elsewhere? Is there a constituency for this abortive – and patently illegal – challenge to our Bill of Rights? One answer may surprise you. A new national HuffingtonPost/YouGov poll found 34% sampled favored establishing Christianity as the official state religion where they lived. Among those who called themselves Republican, the total was 55%. More than half! In another finding, 46% of Republicans supported officially changing our federal Constitution to allow it. (more…)

Wherefore art thou, Mr. Chief Justice

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

As the U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with issues of our sexual differences and their standing in our society, I’m less worried about the ultimate decisions than I am about the connection of the Chief Justice to reality.

There can be little argument DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) became a law because of prejudice and bigotry. It was largely born of a narrow belief held by a religious minority which has previously sponsored similar “moral” legislation. Enactment of the California law known as “Prop 8″ came from the same despoiled garden of fear and hatred – and $28 million from the LDS Church. But remarks made by Chief Justice Roberts from the bench during arguments on the two issues seemed to reflect his mental world is one in which no law is created from any soiled motivations.

During general questioning of the DOMA case, Roberts seemed to reject the proposition that Congress could be motivated to create a law – any law – out of discrimination or animus. In fact, during discussion, he and some other Justices appeared ignorant of the roots of DOMA – until Justice Kagan read this part of the law aloud to Solicitor General Verrilli during her questioning.

“Civil laws that permit only heterosexual marriage reflect and honor a collective moral judgment about human sexuality. This judgment entails both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.”

There were gasps in the room,. Then, from the Congressional Record dealing with the committee creation of DOMA, Kagan again quoted:

“…the Committee briefly discusses four of the governmental interests advanced by this legislation: (1) defending and nurturing the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage; (2) defending traditional notions of morality.”

BOOM! Then silence in the court. After brief subsequent give-and-take between Kagan and Verrilli, Roberts simply said “Thank you” and matters moved on while other Justices wrote lengthy notes to themselves – apparently about what they’d just heard. But not Roberts.

Editor’s Note: Why did so many Justices seem surprised by what Kagan read? Had their law clerks not read all the briefs and summarized for the Court? Didn’t the Justices at least read the law before hearing arguments? Why the hurried note-taking?

Roberts’ personal and judicial history are spotless. There is no doubt of his moral and professional character. But – there is ample evidence of his seeming real world ignorance that less-than-honorable intentions can create bad law. In one case – PICS vs. Seattle School District No. 1 – he wrote “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” He basically dismissed the need for judicial action in the face of demonstrated outright discrimination. His side lost. (more…)

The armed ‘defense’

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

In a public display best called “neanderthal,” and “outrageous,” the NRA has stepped all over its own feet in the worst case of self-inflicted public relations injuries I’ve ever witnessed. It chose the wrong place to debut its latest “independent” gun safety B.S. and it did so with two dozen armed “body guards” for protection. From there, it went straight downhill.

The chosen site was the National Press Club in Washington D.C. I used to be a member and can assure you it’s one of the safest – and also most boring – places in D.C. For nearly 100 years, presidents, kings, prime ministers, celebrities and wannabee celebrities have used its podium to make statements profound and ridiculous. The NRA set a new low for ridiculous.
The occasion was to announce an “independent” committee’s findings and recommendations the NRA would “adopt” on gun safety. The committee was far from independent and the “findings” could have been published before its first meeting.

Chaired by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) the NRA tried to use his credibility as its own. In other words, the NRA bought and paid for that “credibility.” Hutchinson admits he was “hired” but won’t reveal his price. He picked his own “committee” which also was bought and paid for by the NRA. Again, Hutchinson won’t talk dollars. But there was nothing “independent” or “citizen volunteer” about it. No one connected to schools of any sort.

While the back-story of this NRA-front group was bad enough, the worst was how the NRA chose to publish the “findings.” Used to coming in the front door of the Press Club unfettered, reporters and crews were stopped by armed guards who conducted body and equipment searches. NRA guards. Some in private security uniforms; some not. But nearly two dozen of them and all “packing.” Reporters who would not submit were barred.
During Hutchinson’s presentation, he was flanked by armed guards. Others mixed with about 60 reporters and crews – shoulder and hip holsters bulging. When Hutchinson was finished, they circled him like the Secret Service and the proceedings were over. No more questions. No follow–ups. Hutchinson was hustled out. To “safety.”

To anyone reading this who feels this is just a case of the media getting its nose out of joint, go back and read it again. And again. And again. Until the weight of this demonstration of the perverse use of power sinks in. (more…)