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Posts published in “Rainey”

Congressional thrashing

For all useful purposes, the national Republican Party has been “done in.” At least temporarily.

With the firing of former exec Ronna McDaniel - Mitt Romney’s niece - and the pending appointment of DJT’s daughter-in-law as her replacement, the “Grand Old Party” has become a “rump” business of the Trump family.

No longer the need for senior execs getting jobs from various Republican sources.  No longer the need for constituent “appointments” by rich and prominent players.  No longer a place for senior Republicans in Congress to “pay off” supporters needing temporary employment.

No, Sir!  The place is now a “family enterprise” of the Trump dynasty.

Given how Judge Engeron dropped the hammer on Donald last week, ol’ DJT himself may need to file an employment application.

Also troubling for the GOP is the bickering and back-biting going on in various state Republican central committees.  Trumpers versus the non-Trumpers.  Loyalists versus - uh - er - “them.”  In’s versus out’s.

Were the spirits of Bob Dole, Jim McClure or the sainted Ronnie Reagan to visit the Party current headquarters in the dead of night, they wouldn’t recognize the place.  Or, the employment roster.

The Party has been “at war” with itself for more than a generation.  With outbreaks occurring all across the country, let’s just say the national Republican Party is “fluid” at the moment.

Maybe worst of all, the current wannabee-leader has just received a sound thrashing by Judge Arthur Edgeron who saw fit to hit him with a $350-million hammer.  And he ended - for at least three years - the Trump family’s to do business in New York State.  They’re all “persona non-grata.”

It’s likely anyone trying to reorganize Republicans at the moment would have better luck herding cats.

Indeed, in several recent elections to fill open seats in Congress, Democrats have been quite successful in improving their lot.  Last week’s seat flip in New York’s Third made the Party almost dead even with Republicans in the U.S. House.  Thus, Speaker Johnson is going to have a lot more headaches between now and January.

The basic trouble with all this GOP mishmash is the People’s business is not being conducted.  The very basic reason for having a Congress in the first place is to “take care of business.”

How long the Republican Party will stumble around aimlessly, like a weekend drunk, is anyone’s guess.  But, the longer it takes for the more serious members of leadership to “steady the ship,” the more damage will be done.

Anyone looking to Speaker Johnson to get things on the right track is ignoring the fact that Johnson is one of the problems.  He’s in way over his head and unlikely to be the steadying hand needed at the helm.  Johnson is the wrong guy at the wrong time.

Trump may be headed for the hoosegow.  Oh, there’ll be many appeals.  But, he’s going to be less of a factor over time.

One can only hope our current President is using the back-channel to stay in touch with Dems and responsible GOP’ers.  And, that those same members respect knowledgeable advice & counsel given from someone with more than 50 years of Congressional experience.


I forget

Sometimes the “news of the day” hits closer to home than you’d like.

So it is with stories in the daily media about Joseph Robinette Biden, Junior.  President Joseph Robinette Biden, Junior.  Stories about his age (81) and whether he’s “losing it.”

We are seeing such stories in every medium.  Most often, personal anecdotes of those who have access to the President by reason of their work as reporters or members of his staff.

But, no matter the source of the moment, the issue is his age.  And, more pointedly, questions about his fitness to serve in the highest elective office we have.  His mental fitness.

Before we go any further, you should know my age is 87.  Yep.  Six years older than the President.  So, I have some first-hand knowledge and a very personal perspective.  I’ve been where he is and am further “down the path.”

The biggest personal “knock” on the man is he is “forgetful.”  Big damned deal!  I forget things, too.  And, I did at 30, 40,50, and so on.  We all “forget” things, regardless of age.

But, when Biden does it, he’s often being questioned by reporters.  At a time when he’s under pressure.  At a time when cameras are rolling and subjects change with each question.

I’ve been in that White House briefing room.  Many times.  When the broadcast lighting is on  - when the room temperature rises to the 80's and beyond - when there are 40 or 50 people in a room designed for half those numbers.  It ain’t the comfort of your living room.

But, I digress.

This week, I met with a local neurologist.  I’d been medically referred to him because of some headaches and other issues.  We talked a bit about forgetfulness.

His response?

“We forget things when we’re 20-years old - 30, 40, 50.  Ninety.  Yes, it’s more of a factor in our later years.  But, it’s an ordinary part of our lives and, unless you develop other symptoms, you’re O.K..”

My personal experience with aging and memory issues is mine alone.  Just as the same factors are yours and yours alone.

At the moment, despite being 87, I’m O.K..  Oh, I forget things from time to time.  Usually a specific word I need when writing or speaking.  Or, someone’s name.  We all share those experiences.

But, so far, I haven’t left my car keys in the refrigerator.  And, I haven’t had to call home for directions.

Forgetfulness at 30 is, for most folks, different than the same issue at 70 or 80.  As you age, you tend to react to things more slowly.  You tend to need just a bit more time to recall specifics like names or information of a particular nature.  That’s normal, I’m told.

There’s really no need to be concerned about the President’s moments of forgetfulness.  Unless he can’t remember where his office is, he’s O.K. for his age.  If needed, he’s surrounded by staff - people completely aware of all the issues he has to contend with.   He has a very competent - and younger - Vice President.

However, I think there is a legitimate question to be asked about his decision to run for re-election.  At the end of four more years, he’ll be 85.  Even if his health holds out - both physically and mentally - that’s getting to a point where those factors will be pushing the limits.

We are at a time when there needs to be a shift to a younger group of political leaders.  Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and others in top offices are in their 70's and 80's.

There’s no danger of a lack of continuity.  There are many in the current Congress who could fill the various roles.  Many who could bring new talents and new ideas to leadership.

I’d name a few but I can’t think of their names right now.


Dangers of loss

Something's been happening to us the last 40-years or so.  A rather sad change for we who are trying improve the world around us.

If you belong to a branch of organized religion - participate in a civic organization - give of your time for a community project - encourage others to do the same - congratulations!  Keep up the good work.

Because, what we're seeing now is more and more people being unwilling to do the same.  Unwilling to give "time-talent-treasure" for the better good.  To share in support of community.

Everywhere you look these days, churches, schools, community organizations and others are seeking volunteers.  Ads in the paper.  Pleas in a worship bulletin.  Emails and other communications from schools.  "Volunteers needed."

And, in large part, the need is going unmet.  People with jobs.  People with kids.  People with other demands on their time.  People feeling they're too busy.  Just not enough time.

All too often, those "excuses" are pure B.S..  Our parents spent more of their time trying to make a living than we do these days.  Many often had two jobs.  Our parents didn't have I-Phones, computers and other aids to get their work done.

They had more demands on their time and still managed to volunteer at church - at schools - at service organizations - at endless community events.  They had more demands on their lives yet they still managed to pitch in when necessary.  When asked.  When they saw a need.

As you consider those examples, think also of the current loss of many civic clubs, diminished congregations at mainline churches, granges, lodges, local business groups like chambers of commerce.  Disappearing.  Many just - gone.

Those were the "fiber" of our communities that brought people together, tackled civic needs, kept the lines of communications open and kept people busy and healthy.  Now, many of them are no more.

Social media has had a lot to do with that.  Very much so.

Rather than dress up a bit for church, we can now "zoom" the service from home - watching the service in our 'jammies.'  Rather than go to a lodge or regularly attend service club meetings, we can text some of the people we used to see face-to-face.  Rather than pitching in to undertake the completion of a community need, we can write a check.  Pay someone to do what we used to do ourselves.  As volunteers.  I know.  I've done it.

Dr. Anthony Fauci was recently on the "telly" talking about how these changes - and a few others - have made loneliness the number one national illness.  People being separated from each other.  People being alone.

Suicides rates are up.  Divorces, too.  The ills of lost "community" reaching ever higher numbers.

We are poorer - much poorer - for the passing of these fraternal, civic and religious attachments.  We're losing touch with one another.

Many of us have noted the decline.  With more than four-score years of life, I've seen the success of many of these community organizations in the past.  Been a part of them.  Realized the benefits of "pressing the flesh."  Of participation.  Of volunteering.

Now, we elders are seeing the reductions in membership - of regular face-to-face interplay with others - of fewer offering 'time, talent and treasure' for the common good.  We're often experiencing pangs of loneliness - of separation.  Exactly what Dr. Fauci talked about.

Maybe younger generations - the Z-er's, X-er's, millennial's and whatever comes next - maybe conditions of the lives they'll lead will offer a sort of community involvement in a new and different direction.


They'll have to!  Because, if we lose more contact with one another - if we live lives of individuality rather than community - if we lose the common bond - the common connection - the very nature of a nation and its future will be at stake.


The crap shoot

One of the best teachings during my long-ago childhood was "count the day lost you don't learn something new."

We live in the heart of Oregon wine country. North, South, East and West. We are surrounded by row upon row upon row of vines. And, tasting rooms. It's a wine lover's paradise. Pinot Noir is the single largest product flowing from the neatly kept fields. It's the life "blood" of our community.

But, not all is "peace and quiet" in our lush valley. Several large legal cases have been filed in multiple counties, charging smoke from wildfires a few years ago ruined both grapes and the wine made from them. Smoke. See? You learned something new.

The villain, if there is one, is Pacific Corp. Apparently, several years ago, some power lines touched during high winds and set off large fires. Other utilities turned off power transmission during those storms. Pacific Corp. did not. So, there are multiple lawsuits.

It's the vintners alleging fires tainted crops and the resulting wine was ruined by smoke. They claim at least a year's worth of lost production and sales. And, they're looking at Pacific Corp to "make them well." Pay for the "damages" as it were. We'll see.

When I was a kid, we lived on a very large apple ranch in the Wenatchee Valley of Washington State. We had wildfires. We had floods. We had record freezes. In the '40's, we had several years of back-to-back freezes.

But, whatever the disaster - and there were some - nobody looked to the government or any other entity to "make 'em well." That's just the way things were. You either replanted and carried on or you went to work for your neighbor.

Basically, if you were a fruit rancher, it was a crap shoot. You did the best to care for your trees - apple, cherry, cots or peach - and you took your chances.

For me, that was more than 75 years ago. I remember, back then, we had a stretch of back-to-back late freezes that wiped out everything. But, the crap shoot continues to this day.

As you drive around our upper Willamette Valley, everything looks just like it's supposed to. Long lines of vines, neatly spaced, carefully trimmed and well-tended.

But, each day, there could be a wildfire, or some other "act of nature" and growers would be back to "square one." Oh, there are a few owners who are "well-heeled" and have big pockets. They could "take the hit" and start over. But, there aren't many.

That's the way it is. We consumers shop at the store, we buy the fruit of the wines and we don't give it a second thought. We don't because, whatever we're shopping for, it's always there.

We don't think about freezes or long stretches of bad weather or smoke from wildfires. Everything's just "always there."

It'll be interesting to see the current legal effort works out. Crap shoot. We'll keep you posted.


The boomer factor

Aside from current political wars tearing this country apart, other forces are at work changing our entire society.  They're seldom talked about but they're very, very real.

I'm about to make some generalizations.  You may find fault with those comments if they pertain to you.  That's O.K.. And, if they do, I'd appreciate some feedback.  But, for the moment, let's deal with these - generally.

Across our nation, we're seeing a rapidly declining rate of participation in traditional practices - mainstream religion, service clubs, social organizations, volunteerism in traditional activities and more.  All are losing members/workers and not seeing the usual influx of new people to carry on the tradition of free labor.

Granges have all but disappeared.  Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Eagles, Masonic bodies, Knights of Columbus and other civic and/or fraternal groups have declining memberships and, in some cases, have forfeited their charters.  Had some not taken in women a few years ago, many would likely be gone by now.  Many small Chambers of Commerce have expanded boundaries to include nearby communities to keep membership up.  Some small chambers are just about gone.

Barb and I live in a small community of about 35,000.  Much of what might otherwise be done by paid city employees is done by volunteers i.e. parks and rec duties, swimming and golf operations, security, beautification, etc..  All groups - and I do mean ALL - are losing volunteers and not seeing enough new ones.

Here's one of those generalizations - though where we live, we're seeing plenty of specific evidence.

Boomers - born in the mid-forties through about 1964.  They're retiring now.  But their unique societal habits and lifestyles are drastically changing life.  Here and everywhere.

Many Boomers, generally, tend not to join existing groups.  They often go their own exclusive way about things.  They sometimes start their own clubs rather than joining existing ones.  They're the first retirement generation for which computers are basic to their way of life.  They seem to prefer electronic social connections over face-to-face groups i.e. service clubs, mainstream churches, etc.

Now, I'm not finding fault with that.  It is what it is.  But, to think life is going on "as usual" is to ignore this large societal shift going on under our feet.  And to ignore even larger changes ahead.

If you don't think huge change is out there, I invite you to check those three teens in that fast food joint as they text each other at the table rather than talk face-to-face.  They're the advance party for generations to come that will be largely unable to interact in business, political, societal or any other direct form of interpersonal communication.

"Rainey," you say.  "You're all wet!"

Maybe.  But, we're steadily moving in our communities from volunteerism - which is disappearing - to hiring people to do the same tasks.   Dues/fees have to be raised and that may price some elderly, who retired here and elsewhere many years ago, out of their homes.

Leadership recruitment pools are shrinking in size.  In a community in which we used to live, there was a large managing board election a year ago for an organization that runs a $20 million annual budget. Three seats open.  Election advertised for months.  Three folks volunteered in a community of nearly 35-thousand.  Thirty-five-thousand!  No election.   Just appointments.

As our aging demographics change, there's less participation - less involvement - less volunteering.  But, the fastest growing group here - and elsewhere - is the Boomers.  Example: they've organized several exclusive duplicate clubs - limited to Boomers - taking members away from other groups who're starting to feel the loss.

And, when you reach an age of about 70, you find yourself not always being included in Boomer activities or on mailing lists.

These aren't isolated instances for just this community.  Sociologists are finding growing evidence of these Boomer trends all over the place.  Changes are subtle - very subtle.  But, they're becoming more apparent and more important to the fabric of our society.

We'll talk about this again.


Silence the children

QUESTION: Recalling the last couple of sessions of Congress, when was the last time Republicans brought forth a single piece of positive legislation? Any legislation? In either house? When?

Anyone? Any enlightened thoughts? "Positive legislation?"

We'll wait.

The answer is - for the last two sessions at least - none! Republicans - especially in the U.S. House of Representatives - have become the party of - none.

They're angry at Democrats, voters, the White House and each other. They own the slim majority but have done nothing with it. They've garnered the Speakership but have no majority Party cohesiveness.

So, that House Speaker can't control his own minions because he sold his soul to the far, far right to get the gavel he holds. A dangerous nutcase group of about 40 GOP'ers owns him. Forty out of 222 Republican members.

Consequently, nothing is being done because of intra-Party fighting. Speaker Johnson is being manhandled and roughed up - by the splinter bunch of crazies - to introduce impeachment articles against President Biden. He seems not to want to do it. But, the crazies hold his "I-O-U" for his rise to Republican power. He's beholden right down to his expensive leather loafers.

Johnson is smarter and more experienced than those 40 crazies. He knows impeachment is impossible. He knows there aren't the votes for impeachment. And, he knows Biden has done nothing to sustain a bill of impeachment. Nothing!

Johnson's caught in a sort of "Catch-22." If he moves impeachment legislation against Biden, the bill(s) will fail for lack of votes. BUT, if he doesn't toe-the-line for the crazies, they've promised to introduce impeachment bills against him!

Johnson's 'deal with the Devil(s)' has come back to haunt him. How will he get himself out of this mess?

Then, there are those other House GOP'ers. The one's that are the numerical "majority" of the Majority. He has to face them, too. With a caucus already fractured over almost everything, his hold on the Speakership may not be strong enough to stay in the chair.

The losers in all of this - the real losers - are you and me. With so many things needing to be worked on - very real climate change, an out-of-control budget, re-examining federal spending priorities, etc. - nothing is being done. We haven't had an actual, original budget for years so we're operating on "continuing resolutions." You wouldn't run a business like that.

There is so much work to be done. Work that's not getting done.

Progress being stymied by a small, ignorant and belligerent bunch has to be overcome and silenced. If that can't be done - if there is no push-back by reasoned and intelligent voices - our national government will be in danger of collapse.

There must be - has to be - adults in the room who can effectively silence the 'children.'

They need to speak up.




If you can read that, you probably swear as much as I do and you know just what I meant instead of using the actual words. Those are not good, respectable words, actually.

I find myself using more "foul" words lately - more than in previous times. Our mass and (un) social communications are full of the foul and getting - er, well - fouler.

As a journalist/broadcaster for several decades, I usually know the right words - the respectable words - to use. I was raised in a home where "not a discouraging word" was used or heard. In short, I know better.

But, as a casual Facebook user, I'm amazed - and often disgusted - by the continual use of such printed words in postings. Both in memes and individually written texts.

Sometimes, the gutter words - F***, S***, pi***d and more - seem to be in nearly every post. They're used - and reposted - by people I know who don't all use such words in everyday activities. For others, they're probably repulsed by those who use them. But, we all know what they are.

They've become verbal crutches for many who think their use makes them sound more angry or more "adult" or "authoritarian." In the stands at sporting events, heard at an adjoining table in a restaurant or just used in otherwise normal, day-to-day talk or postings between acquaintances.

As a society, we've either become more accepting of their use or we've learned to ignore them. They add nothing to any communication so if you block them out, you won't have missed anything.

For most of us, the shock value - if there ever was such a thing - has worn off. Maybe that's why they creep into our speech without a second thought. I read more of them in a week online than I remember hearing in a year, living on a military mountaintop above the Arctic Circle with 50 other guys 60 years ago.

It wasn't so long ago the American public was shocked - shocked, I tell you - when Clark Gable said to Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" Now, you hear a lot worse than that on your TV any night of the week. You can even watch "constipated" actors sitting on toilets or bears in the woods wiping their butts with the latest tissue. The goal posts for shock value have been moved way, way down the field.

The overall courseness in our nation is an ever-present and growing societal reality. You don't like it. I don't like it. But, it's hard to escape. Politicians are using the "bad words" in speeches. (See Trump rallies.) Older folks, raised in more restrictive times, now post or re-post online words I would have gotten a soapy mouthwash for at home. A lot of young people - who certainly know better - pepper conversations and texts with 'em. They're everywhere.

We've gotten way past "damn" or "hell" or other such old expletives. The new, casual, more common use of profanity has worked its way into our usual, casual everyday language. Most of us try to ignore it. Most of us don't regularly use them. But it's ever-present. And we're getting inured to it.



The Jenny

Sometimes, two widely disparate items in your life combine to offer a jarring dissonance.

Example.  For months, we've been reading, hearing, watching Israel's military in action in the Mideast.  Action filled with inhumanity and violence in a seemingly no-win situation.  Just destruction and death.  For Jews, it's been that way for centuries.

In fact, especially since Israel claimed it's homeland in 1947, that nation has been continually engaged in some sort of violent activity, trying to find a secure and safe place among nations.

The rest of the world has become accustomed to this continuing violence involving Israel.  Jews have historically been faced with it from biblical times.  Since the days of Moses leading his people into the wilderness.

I confess.  For many years I've associated Israel and Jews with anger and violence.  Just a natural connection given the constant barrage of news of the many struggles of that nation.

But, the other day, I was brought up short by "news" of something Hebrew-connected I found on the old I-net.  Another side of Jewishness.

It was a news release announcing the opening of enrollment for a special educational opportunity.  The Jennifer Barnum Luria Early Childhood Learning Center in Portland, Oregon.

The announcement read: "With the opening of The Jennie, fulltime reform Jewish early childhood education returns to our historic campus.  With child-led programming for children aged six weeks to pre-kindergarten, "The Jennie" empowers children from the youngest ages to ask questions, explore their curiosities and be advocates for their learning desires.

"We strive for beauty and peace through respect for art, kindness and Kehillah - the Hebrew word for community.  This collaboration allows children to feel nurtured and (to) engage with their inner curiosity and inspiration to learn, providing a lifelong love of learning to grow."

I had just read a lengthy story of the continuing inhumanity in Gaza.  Then the item on the opening of "The Jennie."

Two sides of contemporary Jewish life.  Lavish, gentle words about teaching "beauty" and "peace" and "respect" and "community" for little children while adults of the same faith clash with their enemies in violent confrontations.

I had to stop to reread the announcement of "The Jennie."

So, we're proudly teaching the meanings of humanity, love and respect for our fellow man to little children, while at the same time their elders are fighting and dying in a war half-a-world away.

The awful disparity of the two stories - adult Jews at war while their children are learning of love and peace - the two divergent thoughts seemed impossible to hold in one's mind at the same time.

What went wrong?  When did the teachings of peace and love fade, to be replaced by violence and hatred?  Why aren't we able to live the ways we were taught?  When did we lose sight of the human values we learned in childhood?

I pray children enrolled at "The Jennie" can retain the teachings of peace, love and community better than their elders.  All of us who were taught the same things but who've seemingly turned our backs on those teachings.  We've forgotten just how important that early education really was.

I truly hope there are more "Jennies" out there.  I hope they're reaching out to other small children.  I pray they're teaching about peace - about community - about love - to little, open minds who need to hear about those things.

It would do well for all of us to spend some time learning at "The Jennie."


Missed communication

Many, many years ago, the only uncle I ever had told me to get into mass communication when I grew up.  He said this was the "coming field" for young people.

His words came as a surprise.  I may have been 10 at the time.  Many years went by.  I can't put a finger on when it "happened" but, involved I've been.  Still am for that matter.

My career path involved mainly broadcasting.  Both radio and TV.  Some 60 years.  With a bit of newspaper(ing) on the side.  And, I've loved every damned minute!

But, something is happening in mass media - all over the country - something terribly disappointing for a practicing journalist.  Something that saddens those of us who've been fortunate enough to have had careers in the field.  Saddens me as a citizen.

Newspapers in communities - large and small - are either ending their press runs or are being bought out and closed.  Some are going to the I-Net.  Some  just allowed to die.  Local news is being lost in many places.  At best - in a few cases - local "reporting" has been cut way back or transferred to the I-Net.

To those who get news from national publications or radio/TV, you may feel you're still being informed.  And, for some people, that's O.K..  Headlines, brief broadcast stories.  Good enough for some.

But, for local news enthusiasts, something real - something very important - is missing.

Stories that used to come out of city hall or the county commission.  Police activities involving crime in your small town.  Local weather reporting.  Local advertising.  Stories about local planning and zoning issues that may affect your property.  Your home.  Politics.  Business. Births and deaths.  Local.

The loss of a local paper may seem just a passing event that doesn't affect you.  Doesn't seem important.  But, it does.  And, it is.

"What's causing this," you ask.  "Why should I be concerned?"  "So what?"

Has your city/town ever been faced with an important local political decision?  Do you know your (local) county commission just raised property taxes?  Have you heard a significant (local) retailer is going out of business?  Do you know about a BIG sale at your (local) car dealer's?  Have you ever missed an important (local) event?  Local sports?

We live in a town of about 35,000.  No local TV.  One small radio station.  One newspaper.  A family-owned newspaper having to deal with major market radio/TV, I-Net, social media and the rest.  Trying their damndest to stay in business.

The owner is cutting back on a print edition to once-a-week.  Local news and advertising moving to an I-Net edition. Trying to keep the doors open, trying not to lay off staff, doing whatever he can to keep from joining so many small newspapers whose mastheads have disappeared.

The major market and national television you may enjoy is not going to report on what's happening in your city hall or county offices.  It won't check in daily with law enforcement.  Local law enforcement.  Won't be carrying a lot of the local advertising you now have.  The national newspaper won't be reporting on events in your town.

That uncle of mine was right about mass communications being the "wave of the future."  Surprisingly right.  Seventy years ago.

But, we can't let "mass communications" replace local communications.   We need - we must have - local information, the on-your-street information so important for our daily lives.  The loss of a local newspaper - in many towns - means the loss of connections needed to stay viable and thriving.

There are times in our lives when being bigger isn't better.  When "one-size-fits-all" threatens the fiber of community.

Your local newspaper is that damned important!