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Posts published in “Rainey”

How’d he get so far, to be so wrong?

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

I’ve recently been told by good authority my life’s work has failed. Come up short. Things I’d striven for and achieved for family and loved ones are apparently overvalued in my own mind. Wanting nothing more than to be a bill-paying, flag-loving, family-values, church-going member of America’s highly valued middle class, I’m told now I’m not middle class. In reality, my loved ones and I are below the poverty line and are part of the nation’s growing needy.

Damn, where have I failed? How could I have been so foolish as to believe I’d achieved modest successes that have given me what appear now to have been false senses of accomplishment and worth? How could I have lived so long with the feelings I’d met my responsibilities and even exceeded some when, actually, I’d never risen even to that vaunted American middle class?

I’ve been drenched with the cold water of reality. My eyes should have been opened to all this before. I could have wound up buried on the downside of the flowers in potter’s field and not known. We’re all much better for this new, more accurate view of our real place on the economic food chain..
It came unexpectedly. It came at the hands of George Stephanopoulos – that finder of all things factual – that national distributor of reality in American life – that funny little former Clinton staffer on ABC Television. Him.

He was talking to – yea, grilling in his own Greek way – that paragon of America’s economic success to whom truth, vision and infinite perspective have been given – Mitt Romney. Mitt – the entire Republican Party’s official nominee for the office of President of the United States no less.

They were earnestly discussing a subject close to my heart all these decades. And this was to be the defining moment. The moment when all of life’s work would be substantiated by someone really successful. A voice to validate from his lofty economic perch the hard work of all of us who’ve spent a lifetime in the trenches – to give a realistic sense of middle class accomplishment for those of us who’ve been striving just to have a garage of our own – much less one with an two-car elevator.

Breathlessly, I listened as Mitt said “No one can say my (tax) plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people because principle number one is to keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.”

“HOORAY,” I shouted! “HOORAY for Mitt. He understands America’s middle class. He’ll take the necessary steps to protect us. In his heart, he knows feelings of lifetime accomplishment and wants to protect me. Me!”

But George wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. He wanted the truth!

“Is $100,000 middle-income?”

There was calm. Absolute calm. Then, with an air of someone who’s been enormously successful and a tone of voice just hinting at the warmth of a banker’s heart, Mitt replied “No, middle-income is $200,000 to $250,000.”

That did it! My heart sank. A sense of misplaced accomplishment drained from my elderly body. I had just found out I was not middle class at all. That, in reality, after a life of striving and sacrifice, I was below the poverty line. Oh, what have I done? Where did I go wrong?

Suddenly, it all came crashing back. Just as Mitt had said. I had NOT asked my parents for college money. I had NOT thought of General Motors and other corporations as “people.” My wife did NOT have “a couple of Cadillac’s” like other wives. We did NOT have four homes. I did NOT put my money in foreign banks. At least I don’t think so. (more…)

Rainey: Diplomacy saves lies, ignorance kills

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

From poorly-informed presidential candidates to bar flies an hour before “last call,” voices are heaping ill-deserved criticism on the Obama folks for the fires and murders in the Middle East. A lot of ignorance is showing.
Shortly after Eve and Adam lost their lease on the Garden for lying, son number one killed son number two and the Middle East has been carrying on the murderous tradition since that time. If it’s not one of them killing the other, it’s one of them killing somebody living somewhere else. Or killing the damned fools from outside who think they can bring “lasting peace” to countries that have never known it.

And for those who think some terribly produced, short hate film made in California directed at Muslims is at the bottom of the current binge, tain’t so, McGee. In nearly every instance of violence there is ample evidence this is terrorist-sponsored. What may have started as legitimate outrage – in the eyes of a very few Muslims over deliberate mocking of their religion – has been quickly turned into nationalist outrage sponsored by those who’ve been sitting in the bushes just waiting for the right fuse to light.

Little groups of haters of this-that-and-all-other-things Western long ago learned how to manipulate large crowds with just a few well-placed voices. They can take an argument between two used camel dealers and turn it into a building-burning horde in 10 minutes. It’s masterful crowd control in the wrong hands. It also goes back centuries.

Evidence of this is plentiful. Black flags of the hate groups hoisted or waived conspicuously in protests across North African countries. Local Taliban or other anti-western groups identified prominently in crowds and taking credit on the I-Net while urging more people into the streets. Some of the participants – in more countries than Libya – showing up with grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Some religiously pissed Muslim locals showing off for the cameras? I don’t think so.

The previous administration got us into two “wars of choice” in the Middle East. The current folks are trying to get us out and have already pulled the plug on one of them. But neither president – and none before them – could have cured the anti-American fever. It’s just the latest outbreak of the continuing sickness that is directed at all things not Western. And a few things that are Muslim but not the kind that’s “pure” enough. (more…)

Shouldn’t be as important as it is

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Many citizens of this country – in my mind far too many – have little to no
idea how it operates, don’t understand how the institutions of government function or relate, don’t apply daily news stories to their own lives, find politics boring/distasteful and go about their own business thinking someone else will handle it. Until something goes wrong or adversely affects them. Then they holler.

While that sounds a bit arrogant, I don’t mean it to be. Evidence supporting that thesis is all around us. Even in Congress. Maybe especially in Congress. Just a few days ago, I was involved in another example of this too-large civic vacuum on my Facebook page. Someone is linked to that page; someone I don’t know but it appears we have a mutual friend or two. I don’t like that feature because that immediately makes your “friends” my “friends” and, in life, that’s not always the case.

But back to the Facebook evidence. This person seemed honestly motivated to start a discussion by asking if Mitt Romney should produce more tax returns than the one he already has and the one he’s promised to. I thought the answer was pretty obvious – he must – but the several dozen answers that came in over the next few hours showed how little some people really know about the important issues implicit in that question.

For the record, most of the respondents clearly had some good education judging by spelling, sentence structure and coherent thought. They seemed interested in saying their “piece” and – whether you agreed/disagreed with their position – did so with some apparent conviction. Problem was, some of those convictions just didn’t square with knowledge of the subject. (more…)

Rainey: For us, the election’s over

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Sitting here in the shady Southwest Oregon forest, something has recently been pushing its way into my consciousness that seemed implausible at first – if not downright impossible. It’s this: for Oregon, the Northwest and about 40 of the 50 states – the presidential election of 2012 is over. Finished. Kaput.

Many factors point to that conclusion. Presidential candidate polling in our multi-state neighborhood is one indicator. The numbers haven’t changed much in recent months. Not since Romney became the Republican nominee-apparent. Things move a point or two depending on who had a good week – or a bad one. But overall, pretty static.

Another factor has been all those fancy computer projections showing where the races will be won or lost nationally. Oregon and its neighbors have been put into the “red” group or the “blue” group, meaning statistical sampling has shown each state is in the column where polling and past voter trends have put us and the “experts” don’t expect enough of us to change our minds between now and November to be reassigned. I hate that! Though it’s often pretty accurate.

Then there’s the fact the whole shebang will be decided in about eight states where none of us live. And where it’s still up for grabs. That makes us supporting players. We’re irrelevant. So, again, the election is really over for us. Nobody will care when our fat lady sings.

Fourth, seems to me last week’s U.S. Supreme Court upholding the new federal health care law sort of put a cap on it. For those who think that law is a good thing, they’ll line up behind B. Obama ‘cause they don’t want to take a chance of anyone screwing with it. For those opposed, they’ll likely go with M. Romney who has promised to repeal it. He can’t. But that’s what he’s promising.

Finally – and most distressing personally – most Republicans and Democrats seem “locked in” regardless of the real issues beyond health care or, like a lot of Independents, they’re mad at one or the other of the major candidates and seem destined to vote against one by voting for the other. Useless and a poor way to run a democracy. But I’m picking up a lot of that.
Now, you may disagree with all this. After all, that’s your right under the Ridenbaugh Press Reader Contract Agreement. Says it clearly, right there in digital black and white. But, before exercising that option, let’s take this theory of mine one step further. (more…)

Rainey: Should they be driving?

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

I’m not anti-Republican. I’m not. I swear. I have friends who are… well, you know. But – from precinct to national level – more and more stories dealing with Republicans are filled with examples of ignorance of politics in general and the workings of all levels of government specifically. They’ve elected some goofballs to Congress who’ve proven THEY don’t know how it operates, either State groups continue to advocate party positions with no forethought of reality. All in all, what’s left of Grand Old Party leadership, in many states, is some old John Birch types with official titles they worked so many years to get.

The near-rabid GOP stalwarts in Idaho have provided the latest evidence of such ignorance, meeting in Twin Falls this month in state convention. As they do each session, they created a party “purity” platform with the usual impossible planks of going back to the gold standard, taking away the vote for U.S. Senators from fellow citizens, etc. But they topped themselves this year. They really did. Here’s just one example.

Idaho Republicans continually express contempt for all things federal. So, last week, convention delegates renewed their bid to blow up the federal Department of Education. Get rid of it. Officially. “Get out of Idaho; let us teach our own kids our own way and leave us the Hell alone.” Or words to that effect.

“So, what’s wrong with that?” you ask. “Several other state Republican parties feel the same way and, even though it probably can’t be done, what’s the big deal in Idaho being on that list?”
Well, here are some facts. Distasteful as it may be to make the point here, they’re federal facts from that damnable bunch of federal ‘liberals’ in the Bureau of the Census. (Public Education Finances: 2010) They may be feds but I still trust ‘em. (more…)

Rainey: Remembering Swisher

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Perry Swisher died the other day at the age of 88. Older Idaho media and political types have been publically reminiscing about that otherwise obscure event for the last few days. Since I knew him for more than 40 of his years, guess I’ll join the chorus.

To most of you, the name Perry Swisher won’t mean anything. But, to some of us who knew him, he’s been a constant – or a constant irritant – in all our lives. For better or worse. Read on and you’ll know why.
Swish was the most curious son-of-a-bitch I ever knew! Bar none! This description of the man purloined from the Lewiston Tribune by Ridenbaugh Proprietor Randy Stapilus tells you why I say that. “As a journalist, legislator, gardener, guru, crusader, advisor to the mighty and the molested, critic, bard, counselor wondrous, administrator, confessor, orator, pundit laureate and consummate pain in the posterior…” Well, you get the idea.

If something – anything – caught his attention that he was unfamiliar with, the next time you saw him, he’d know more about it than you. It might be a radical new scientific theory or a new species of bug in his garden or anything in between. People with that kind of personality trait are rare. You can’t teach it. You got it or you ain’t. He had it in abundance.

It’s hard to say if the man was your friend. Or you were his. It was a word he almost never used and he didn’t act like one much of the time. In the traditional sense. Drunk or sober, he’d jump all over you during one encounter, then support your point at the next. He had no patience with people he thought were fools and – when alone defending some arcane “fact” – he thought most around him fit that description on occasion. (more…)

Rainey: The pain’s only starting

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

From time to time, I’ve used this space to describe the unique nature of the several counties of Southwest Oregon. Politically, socially, economically – they don’t resemble any other section of the state. Now, because of some of our “differences,” folks here are starting to feel a lot of hurt. In several ways, that hurt is – and will be – self-inflicted. It’s already begun.

First, some background. Geographically, we’re isolated. Only Interstate 5 and Highway 101 on the coast run north and south through several counties. Some communities have no direct east/west access. Several are large but most land is owned by one level of government or another. Most communities are small. Timber cutting/processing is big. But – because of limited access to those government trees and given today’s sluggish economy worldwide – unemployment is high and the standard of living for many is pretty low. The economic importance of commercial fishing is not near what it used to be and likely won’t ever be again.

Population in several counties is older than typical. Several regional Vet’s Administration hospitals account for a lot of that. Retirement, too. Not much here to keep lots of young folks. So, with many older people on fixed incomes – and without the usual liberalism balance of youth – politics hereabouts is very conservative. From right-of-center to edge-of-earth. Seceding from Oregon is not uncommon talk in our neighborhood.

A lot or our county commissions, city councils, boards and the like often have people who’ve served 10-20-30 years or more. Because of that – and the fact our county-city populations are mostly small, the folks that serve and folks that elect often have close relationships. Which – in some ways – has added to our problems.

Example: a multi-county electric cooperative nearby had a member who had been on the board more than 40 years. The co-op board prided itself on almost never raising electric rates, regardless of increases in costs of power it bought. It just didn’t pay all the bills each month. The situation got so out-of-hand the federal agency that loaned the millions for all the system improvements over the years demanded a new repayment plan. Now! Or the Bonneville plug gets pulled! Rate increases – sizeable rate increases – hit the mailboxes and restructuring of the board of directors soon followed.

Another problem. Several counties have been receiving sizeable federal checks annually for years. The millions are supposed to support schools and other services because (a) the feds own so much land here and (b) the feds don’t pay taxes. So “in lieu” monies were paid under a special program – a program that’s now going away. Most everyone knew it would.

So – in the midst of our national economic troubles – these counties have been hit double. The hurting has begun. But only begun. (more…)

Try this one the Atlanta Braves or KC Chiefs

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

From time to time, seems to me the “correctness police” take things a step too far. A State of Oregon busybody group is the latest “correctness” over-reacher.” Specifically our Board of Education which has decided that – henceforth- our public schools may no longer have mascots, nicknames or logos that are Native American in nature.

The official “thinking” behind banishing all things Indian connected to Oregon schools is that somehow they’re “racist,” “shameful,” “dehumanizing.” Apparently some in the American Indian community feel that way. Equally apparent, some don’t. Also apparent, some don’t give a damn.

I’ve never attended an Oregon school with an athletic team or image that contributed to this official human “shame.” We were the Bend High Lava Bears and, frankly, we didn’t much care if a few bears in Central Oregon or elsewhere were bent out of shape about it. The notoriously bad play of our football team in my senior year would have created enough shame even if we were St. Catherine’s of the Cascades. Bummer.

But here in the “burg-in-the-woods” where I now live, the local high school must surrender to this “correctness” which means removal of all things Indian from buildings, uniforms, letterheads, football end zones, basketball courts and cheerleader outfits. All must be done because the Board of Education “correctness police” are watching. And if all “dehumanizing” accouterments aren’t gone in 60 months, state funding will be withheld!

Imagine, for a moment, your state legislature took a dislike to the name of your town for some “correctness” reason, and told your city council to rename your village posthaste or there would be no more state dollars come 2017. “BLACKMAIL,” the cry would go up. “FISCAL BLACKMAIL!” Schools, however, are expected to roll over and get their collective tummies scratched.

What makes it even more ridiculous is this. In the community of Oakridge, school athletic teams are called “Warriors.” And they’ll continue to be called “Warriors” because the “correctness police” have drawn a fine hypocritical line between that label and any other thing “Indian.” (more…)

Whither the Tea Party

Where heads the Tea Party, as this new election year kicks into gear?

Ridenbaugh blogger Barrett Rainey has some thoughts on that after seeing some activists in action at his town of Roseburg.

His conclusion: "(Dis)organized into many small groups, the T-P’ers don’t have the “fire in the belly” they did 24 months back. And a lot of other folk, who either shared some of their anger or weren’t paying much attention, are taking more notice of what’s been happening. Or, as in the case of congress, what’s not been happening. And why. And who. Or whom."