The blame is ours

Author: Barrett Rainey

Our so-called “social media” has been filled in recent days with the totally embarrassing remarks of an Idaho Republican legislative troll during a public hearing the other day. And the state’s reputation took yet another prominent hit in the national media as it so often has in recent times.

This time the troll was Rep. Vito Barbieri of the crazy North Idaho Barbieri’s. Guy’s been elected three times because voters in his district all seem to come from the same shallow end of the gene pool and see nothing wrong. He’s a California transplant who says he’s a lawyer though he’s never taken the Idaho Bar exam. He eats his own shoe leather – regularly and publically – by inserting his foot in his mouth before engaging his brain.

This time, his question of a doctor testifying before an Idaho House committee – a woman doctor yet and in a very public hearing – was whether it would be possible to peek inside a woman’s vagina by putting a small camera down her throat. Now, if for some reason you haven’t heard this, I’m definitely not making this up. I swear!

The cherry on top of this dipstick? He’s a board member of a North Idaho pregnancy crisis group. How’d you like to have him answer the phone when your scared teenage daughter – or any daughter – was reaching out for help?

“Just swallow a little camera, Dear, and see if it’s all O.K. down there.”

Now, I grant the nation’s political bodies aren’t full of PhD’s. And not everyone who chooses to run for public office has the skills deemed necessary to tie both shoes. So, some political vacancies extant are filled in by … well, let’s just say the “intellectually under-served.” Like a Barbieri.

Yes, he’s caught his share of embarrassing shots for the last week or so. Yet again. He’s even tried to say the question was “rhetorical.” Rhetorical? To which one could legitimately respond, “What the Hell’s the difference?”

While it’s easy to make fun of this cretin, there’s a really serious side to this Idaho political mistake. Because, the fact is, he’s no mistake. Elected three times by his neighbors who know him for the empty suit he is, he really does represent a constituency. So did Michelle Bachman. So does Darrell Issa and Steve King and Louis Gohmert and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and all those other riders on the clown bus. While the rest of us might think these and other self-serving members of that “intellectually under-served” class have no place making decisions for us on issues beyond their understanding, the fact remains they represent people who think they do.

As a nation, both left and right, most of us are bemoaning the ongoing display of childishness in Washington – John Boehner and Mitch McConnell at one end of the playground – the President at the other – a lot of juvenile-acting delinquents in the middle. Regardless of differing political leanings, nearly all of us are tired of the stalemate, the name-calling, the intransigence of the situation.

The state of our national politics is now causing legitimate concern on the part of leaders of other countries who wonder if we’re no longer able to govern ourselves. They’re nervous about us keeping our word on important world matters. And, given the already divisive and guttural level of discourse in the 2016 campaign for the presidency, they’re concerned about what our relations will be with them in the future.

Yep, it’s bad. In fact, we’re a crippled republic. We’ve put the levers of government in the hands of too many unqualified to operate them. Many have no idea what a republic really is – couldn’t really define democracy if they put down their worn Bible’s and took up a dictionary. Failing to understand the real role of government – or their elected role in running that institution – they’ve tried to replace knowledge with dogma – action with inaction – representation of all with representation of a few.

When I see the full-throated ignorance of a Cruz or a Gohmert or a Lee, I see a Barbieri. When I hear members of one house of Congress excoriate (by individual name) the other (or the president) in debate, I hear a Barbieri. When decorum, discipline and protocol are ignored by members or congressional “leadership” on the national stage, I think of the Barbieri’s we’ve sent to Boise – to Salem – to Olympia – to Washington D.C..

The ability of these people to embarrass us – to shame us by their inappropriate behavior – to fail us by their political misconduct – to betray our votes by resorting to flawed religious zealotry rather than common sense – these things too many ill-informed voters have allowed. We did it either by replacing expectations of competence with narrow-mindedness in our choices – or by not educating ourselves so we can make smarter, more well-informed candidate selection the priority of the voting franchise.

We’re the ones who’ve given the Vito Barbieri’s of this world the stage on which to stand – the spotlight in which to bask – and the seat at the head table from which they can embarrass and humiliate with their ignorance. We’re the sponsors that put him where he is. And where they are.

Better informed voters making better informed selections can put better informed people in positions of political leadership. And return the Barbieri’s of this world to the silence of ignominy they have proven they deserve.

Affairs of State

Author: admin

“Kiss today goodbye; the sweetness and the sorrow. Wish me luck – the same to you. But I can’t regret what I did for love. What I did for love.”

Those words – written by Edward Kleban for the play “Chorus Line” – could probably serve as an epitaph for John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s former governor.

While there are several investigations being conducted into his activities covering the last year or so of his tenure, it’s doubtful anything of any criminal seriousness will come of them. Dumb? Yes. Criminal? Don’t think so. When it all shakes out, the bottom line will probably look something like lyricist Kleban’s words above.

A lot of folk are looking under the gubernatorial bed for conspiracy, double-dealing, illegal acts and other political flotsam. We live in that kind of society these days. If there’s something not quite right afoot, “there must be more serious criminality buried around here somewhere.” Again, doubtful.

Kitz seems to be a victim of what a lot of politicians crash into when they’ve been on the stage for a long time. Feelings of invulnerability creep in. A bit too much of ego, too. Thirty or so years of legislative and front office life can bring on those characteristics for someone who’s lost touch with the rest of us.

Trained as a physician specializing in trauma care, there’s no doubt the man is smart and talented. Not many of us can do that. Add those 30 or so years of political life in senior positions in the legislature and governorship without a major stumble and you’ve got quite a life’s record of achievement. Damned good!

Still, the guy’s human. Like John Kennedy. Franklin Roosevelt. Dwight Eisenhower. George Washington and his drinking buddy Tommy Jefferson. And a couple other occupants of the White House – one of whom stashed his mistress and bastard son in North Idaho 90 or so years back. All bright, successful men with lengthy records of achievement and accomplishment. Except that last one. All of whom fell prey to slipping into someone else’s bedroom. Or, successfully luring someone into theirs. Power and sex are fine separately. When taken together, they most often don’t work out well for all concerned.

Our former governor’s Achilles heel turned out to be one Cylvia Hayes, a woman of some beauty, smarts and – it seems from her public history – some very expert wiles that got to a number of men. What she did – and how she did it – we’ll leave to those investigations. But there’s no arguing she and her effect on the governor combined to form the catalyst that brought an end to his public life.

Love or lust, we’ll never know. But we can be reasonably confident Kitzhaber’s personality changed from a sort of loner to a more effusive and outgoing character after the two got together. He was not a detail guy for most of his career – preferring to use the “big picture” approach to his political work, then getting involved when others had perfected the details. But, after Ms. Hayes entered stage left, his public persona was more cordial with those around him and with his various constituencies. He blossomed, as it were.

You have to wonder, if we were back in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, would there have been a different end to this story? Eisenhower’s infidelities in England weren’t fully revealed until after his death. For nearly all his presidency, few Americans knew Roosevelt spent his days in a wheelchair – much less had a mistress. Even public confirmation of John Kennedy’s numerous peccadillo’s wasn’t widespread in the early ‘60’s.

But, now, we live in an era of voyeurism and character assassination with a public thirst for all the lurid details. Some politicians – for reasons I simply can’t explain – survive mixing politics and illicit sex. South Carolina’s Mark Sanford – he of the phony Appalachian Trail hike – certainly has. David Vitter – a self-admitted adulterer – still sits in the U.S. Senate. They’re among the most recent lurid exceptions to the public’s expectation of proper decorum and decency in our politicians.

Our former governor certainly doesn’t appear to have conducted himself in the same low life way as Vitter and Sanford. But he’s chosen to fall on his sword, take his public punishment – and embarrassment – retreating to private life. And that’s fine.

It’ll be interesting to see if Ms. Hayes become Ms. Kitzhaber in coming months. Somehow, I doubt it. With the exception of gaming our immigration laws with a sham marriage a few years ago, Cylvia has been notably unattached. In a legal sense, that is,

My wishes are for his success in whatever John Kitzhaber decides to do – whether it’s going back to medicine or tackling new career challenges. He’s not the first elected executive to be tempted into public humiliation over matters of the heart. Often happens in journalism, too.

So I’m told.

Living with the sword

Author: admin

We Nor’westerners are often prone to complacency when looking at tornados, hurricanes, tropical storms and other climate disasters in our old continental U.S.. Our response is usually something like “Tsk tsk. Isn’t that too bad?” Because we live on the continent’s last few feet of real estate, we acknowledge the news without having really deep feelings for local trauma of the moment in other regions.

Our own Northwest neighborhood doesn’t host many such events. Oh, we have windstorms and occasional flooding. Once in awhile, forest fires come uncomfortably close. Really though, most of us here remain unaffected in any direct way.

BUT – geologic history tells us Yellowstone Park used to be about 500 miles west of where it is now – west of downtown Boise in Southwest Idaho. Mt. St. Helens has blown its top and killed some folk in our lifetimes. Rainier, Hood, Baker, Shasta and a few other so far peaceful mountains in our region give off occasional rumbles. Just to keep us on our toes. No, nothing major in the neighborhood. Recently. Yet.

Still, we denizens of Oregon’s coastline are almost always of two minds when the morning alarm goes off. Today’s just another day – or – today may be our last day. It sort of depends on whether you’re a risk taker. After all, that Cascadia Subduction Zone and the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate are our constant neighbors. The tsunami starters.

This geologic “Sword of Damocles” exists not over our heads but off the shoreline. The plate and zone are about 40-80 miles out and affect – or could violently affect – an area from Vancouver Island to San Francisco.

It’s been a long, long time since there’s been a major “shaker” hereabouts. Most quake-watchers count January 27, 1700, as the last “big one.” It is thought to have been larger than the one that swamped Fukishima in 2011. Better than 9.0 on a Richter Scale – had there been a Richter Scale in 1700.

Next largest was more recent – March 27, 1964. Worst of it was in Alaska but four kids were killed in Newport, here on our Central Oregon coast, with houses and infrastructure destroyed down to Crescent City, CA.

There’s been serious exploration on the Oregon coast, some up the Sixes River about where Curry and Coos County meet up. Harvey Kelsey, and Eileen Hemphill-Haley of Humbolt State found evidence of 11 large, tsunami-producing earthquakes off our coastline during the last 6,000 years.
Their work also showed each of the11was accompanied by a tsunami that spread beach sand more than two miles inland. Even way uphill! Lots of sand. Imagine the strength of the ocean push that could do that.

Then there’s this. Last of the big 11 was about 1700. Scientists think there’s an overall average reoccurrence interval of between 300-5,500 years. Given the last big shaker was in 1700 and we’re now at 2015, we’re about 300 years out. So, those who calculate such things figure we’ve got a 10-20% chance of a big one in the next 50-100 years. Plus or minus a year or two.

Now, 10-20% chance of being drowned on any given day might seem statistically pretty unlikely where you sit. But, suppose you sat here! Right next to we folk who daily watch the usually peaceful blue Pacific. If it were your home – your family – YOU – would you be comfortable? Only a 10-20% chance of being wiped out today. Nuthin’ to worry about. Right?

But we’re not done yet. Suddenly, the Cascadia fault has gone silent! No noise. No movement. Nothing. And scientists are concerned. For four years, they’ve been dropping special seismometers to the ocean floor and getting zero readings. Nothing. They fear the Cascadia plates are locked.

Dr. Doug Toomey, U of O seismologist, says this is not good. With no occasional relief in small shakers, pressure could be building up that can’t escape. Yet. Building up for a real monster! Says Toomey, “If completely locked, it’s increasingly storing energy that has to be released eventually.” Nobody knows how much strain there is now or how much there has to be before whatever happens – happens. Toomey and other scientists are talking 9.0 and tsunami. But when? And where? They don’t know!

Says Toomey, “I’m very concerned.” EDIT NOTE: Me, too.

Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone here is on tranquilizers. There’s been no run on Valium for months now. Like repainting your house every couple of years, keeping a closet full of rain gear, remembering your galoshes when leaving for church or washing all the sea crud off your new car every day or so, living with one eye on the ocean skyline looking for that “big one” – all part of everyday life. Keeps you on your toes.

Still, it takes awhile to get used to that question each morning. “Is this the day?”

Naw. Not today.

The vaccine pander

Author: admin

If you believe unvaccinated children should be allowed in public schools, you’d better stop reading right here and go back to your regular Faux Neus viewing ‘cause you’re not going to like what follows one damned bit.

Let me put it as simply as I can. Your unvaccinated child/grandchild has no God-given right to infect my vaccinated grandchildren. None. If your kid/grandkid doesn’t have a completed shot record in hand the first day of school, he/she should not be allowed on the bus. Period.

To see politicians running for any office teeter this way and that on such an important issue health should be a national embarrassment. The popular – but throughly unconscionable – practice of pandering to any given voter block by office seekers using mush-mouth answers on nearly any subject certainly is. On this one, is could also be deadly.

Watching Chris Christie wallow in the verbal swamp on this subject is embarrassing, though hardly out-of-character, for a guy who’s the only one who doesn’t realize his political career is nearly over. But Rand Paul is the one that disappoints most. First, because he’s a doctor. Second, because his response has been the nutcase echo of Michelle Bachman with this “I’ve heard of…” or “”someone told me…” B.S.. The man is a physician-by-training. He knows better. If he truly doesn’t, his medical career is just one bad diagnosis from landing him in malpractice court.

I’m old enough to remember measles epidemics. When I was in elementary school in East Wenatchee, two kids in my school died of measles. There were deaths in other schools, too. The vaccines at that time were weaker and usually given separately as opposed to the combination practice now. Even so, wise parents who’d seen measles epidemics in their lifetimes made sure their kids had the best protection – measles, mumps, diphtheria, etc..

Now, vaccines are much more effective. Medical and pharmaceutical professionals have better tools and more knowledge. We can protect nearly everyone from these once terrible diseases.

The right wing crazies continuing to peddle the fully discredited “research” of more than 30 years ago are putting their own families at risk if they practice what they’re trying to get the rest of us to believe. And if they ARE practicing by not vaccinating their offspring, then those kids should not be allowed to endanger the rest of us and ours.

Getting a shot of measles vaccine doesn’t mean a child can’t come down with the disease. Few shots are 100 percent. But, getting one can greatly decreases a youthful vulnerability caused by an as-yet undeveloped and untested disease-resistant human body.

Patrick Moynihan’s oft-quoted maxim “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts” is most apt in this current political dustup. If those who persist in peddling long-refuted, phony, right wing propaganda would adhere to the Senator’s dictum, there would be no “debate.”

If the right to your opinion truly ends where my nose begins – and it does – then your right to raise an unvaccinated child should end before stepping on public school property. And it does!

And one more thing. What does it say about our nation’s presidential campaign of 2016 that a childhood disease has captured the spotlight while truly urgent world affairs slide off the radar? Have the lack of common sense and an abundance of intellectually-vacuous political pandering become so pervasive in our national dialogue?

Are there vaccinations for those?

With the exception of Idaho, when Northwest states make the national news, it’s most often because something of national import has happened in our Northwest backyard that everyone else should know about. Something legitimately of news value or of extraordinary human interest. Again, most often, with the exception of Idaho.

When Idaho makes the national media, you can just about always bet the farm it’s because of someone – or something – outrageous, doing something counter to accepted behavior or being an embarrassment to themselves or the country-at-large. This week, it’s been too many of the Idaho public testifying ridiculously before a legislative committee that appeared to be ready to “deep six” the bill even before the hearings.

At issue are four words: “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The legislation would add those words to Idaho’s Human Rights Act which already prohibits discrimination for many other reasons i.e. religion, race, etc.. That’s it. Straight forward as that. No hype. No confusion. No B.S..

The problem is – and this is where the embarrassment comes in – the two days of testimony about those four words have drawn some of the craziest, off-the-wall, bigoted, ignorant, irrelevant, belligerent, nonsensical, dumbest and – in too many cases – fact-less voices ever to step before a microphone.

It isn’t that people who oppose the legislation should not be heard or given a chance to make their points to a legitimate panel of lawmakers. Far from it. Step up. Order your facts. Put your written remarks on the podium. Adjust the mike for your comfort. Speak your mind. Have at it. That’s what a hearing is for.

But that’s not what’s happened. I refuse to – and I won’t – repeat all the strange, baseless, hypocritical, phony moralizing, self-defeating, contradictory and demeaning arguments offered. No, Sir! Won’t do it.

But if you watched or listened to most of the two days of the hearing, you could sum up the pro and con arguments in two ways. Generally, those supporting adding the words to the Act talked of love, equality, sharing, respect, civil rights and fairness. Those against – and again, this is from listening to what was said – talked of hidden, powerful homosexual agendas, continuing and protecting the right to reject food, shelter or business from people not entirely like themselves. They talked of anti-gay printers being forced to print flyers for gay customers or gay bakers putting poison in cakes of anti-gay Idahoans.

Other voices opposing came from other states, claiming to represent “American family-supporting organizations” with messages of members claiming to be “God fearing” and “God loving.” But their testimony spoke of “homosexual treacheries” and “predators searching out innocent children” and other traditional boogeymen to be feared if each Idahoans is given legal protection to share in rights afforded all other Idahoans.

Now, I’m one who loves irony. And here it comes. Several legislators up on the dias were Mormon. Proud, practicing Mormons. Some of whom have previously talked of allowing discrimination approved by their Church to drive their person and legislative views.

But during Tuesday’s hearing – same hour exactly – several Mormon officials at the very top of the Church’s hierarchy, held a press conference in Salt Lake City to announce Church support for gays, homosexuals and people of other races. They called it a “balanced approach” when dealing with such things as housing and employment regardless of race and gender.

“We must all learn to live with others who don’t share the same belief’s and values,” was the message. And they condemned “centuries of discrimination” in all forms.

To me, that’s I-R-O-N-Y in all capital letters!

Now, that’s not to say the Mormon Church is free of all discriminatory beliefs and practices in its own history. No, Sir. Even participants in the SLC presentation talked of retaining some of the old ways and said the Church wanted to continue discriminating in employment and other areas.

But, the important thing is, the LDS Church has apparently taken several pretty large steps to come into line with life today in which gay marriage is legal in 34 states – more coming – and more major corporations and federal/state governments are removing policy barriers of all types.

If you were one of those Mormon legislators up on that dias, did you just hear Moroni’s trumpet sound? Is that bill before you as cut-and-dried and doomed to the round file as it was just the day before? Whatdya think?

It may be too late to save Idaho from yet another well-publicized – and well-earned – round of public embarrassment in the national media. But it’s not too late to rethink what just the day before was a foregone conclusion.

Ah, irony.

Congressional unwisdom

Author: admin

It’s always seemed to me, people who attempt to do their own taxes should first try to take out their own appendix. If they’re successful doing the latter, they should have no trouble doing the former. This year, the tax side of that self-challenge may be even riskier for honest filers.

Self-tax doers normally have a backup at the IRS – the ubiquitous phone call for help with questions. There’ll be some new issues this year because of some tax law changes in 2014 and the matter of how to deal with subsidies – if qualified – and other issues dealing with Obamacare that will likely raise some need for assistance. Lotsa luck!

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is the bearer of some really bad news. For instance, of the millions of people who annually call for filing help, less than half will get through to someone at the agency this tax season. Less than half! Of those that DO get to a live person on the other end, many will spend as long as an hour on hold. Those who want to try emails or some other electronic avenue for assistance will have no better luck. Forget it.

Remember that old term “sequester? Or “sequestration” which always reminds me of “castration” because the result is about the same. Well, your friends in your old do-nothing Congress have approved an IRS budget for 2015 which is the lowest since 2008! Yep. The outfit has to make do with less money than seven years ago.

And therein are those telephone waits and the emails going into a bottomless electronic pit and the six-out-of-ten callers who’ll never get someone on the phone. Oh, and a hiring freeze meaning the loss of some 4,000 more full-time employees by July. Since 2010, the IRS has lost about 17,000 employees while the tax load has increased and increased again.

Then, there’s the matter of audits. Yes, Virginia, there’ll be fewer audits for many of the same reasons. And while you may says that’s “good news” ‘cause you aren’t likely to have someone sniffing around your tax returns and checking your math, it also means more tax cheats and non-filers will get away with tax larceny. Since 2010, the Commissioner estimates the agency has not been able to collect about $6 billion owed because the enforcement division has 5,000 fewer employees than in 2008. He’s estimating you can add another $2 billion to that loss for 2015.

Now, a billion here and a billion there can really add up – especially during your old sequestration. But if you take more sheriff’s deputies off the trail, there’ll be more stagecoach holdups. ‘Twas always thus. And thus it still is.
And you just know the non-filers and tax cheaters know all this news, too.

If you’re expecting a refund, your wait will be longer. Especially if you’re a paper filer. Those using the old computer machine will see their refunds held up but only by a few days.

For years, Idaho’s excuse for a legislature did the same thing. “Get that damned old tax commission out of our business,” cried the folks at home. So the cretins came to Boise for years with avowed intent to cut, cut, cut the Commission budget. And they did, did, did. Then one legislative day, someone got them to understand basic math: fewer auditors to look for dollars meant fewer dollars for them to spend. On frivolous unconstitutional lawsuits and failed challenges to the federal government and the like.

So, the legislature relented just a bit by increasing the Commission’s staff of auditors by half a dozen or so. And voila!!! A year or two later, the old Commission was auditing more and improving the amount of taxes collected. It really worked! More hands doing the digging meant more tax dollars in the bucket.

Now, Idaho’s two U.S. Senators – Crapo and Risch – who were members of that old Idaho Legislature when the “more-auditors-means-more-income” lesson was learned, seem to have forgotten all that. They’ve become hardy supporters of “castra…” er, I mean “sequestration” with the I-R-S one of their favorite targets.

Remember, IRS Commissioner Koskinen is projecting a tax income loss – because of staff cuts – of about $8 billion. Imagine adding that “found money” to the nation’s education budget. Or, as our current Congress thinks, $8 billion more for Afghanistan bombs and missiles.

And the cherry on top for the IRS? Koskinen says, if it’s necessary keep his budget balanced, it may be necessary to close the agency for several days later this year. After tax season. Just lock the doors.

In the wise words of my favorite Russian comic: “What a contry!”

Yes, Spell Check. “Contry.”

We lost the war

Author: admin

The war of terror is over. The terrorists won.

Before reaching for your friendly keyboard to throw electronic “rocks” my way, consider the evidence. As a matter of fact, consider a lot of evidence. The latest: three guys massacred 16 people in France. Though they met their own violent end(s) hours later, there are now 10,000 French army troops walking the streets of that country with 10,000 automatic weapons at the ready. Three dead guys – 10,000 armed troops. Plus God knows how many local cops, security types and various private guns-for-hire.

One guy – just one – puts some explosive powder on his shoe in an aircraft and tries to light it afire. From that day forward, hundreds of millions of us have had to walk barefoot in airport lobbies. One guy – millions barefoot.

Another guy – just one – had what appeared to be an explosive in his shorts while being an airlines traveler. From that day forward, hundreds of millions of us have had to endure full body scans and/or body scans with hand wands. One guy – millions of us being body scanned.

I could fill a few dozen more paragraphs but you get the idea. When dealing with terrorists, they almost always win by definition because, from the moment of the violence, everyone else reacts. Or over-reacts. Someone breaks into your house – you buy a burglar alarm. Or a gun. Or both. You buy new and heavier locks. More of ‘em. Somebody bashes your parked car. You fix it and park it somewhere else. You react – doing things you otherwise wouldn’t have done. Your thinking changes.

First the violence – the terror, if you will. Then the response.

Many moons ago, I landed in Washington D.C. – unemployed. Thanks to the late Sen. Len Jordan, I was hired as a uniformed Capitol police officer. Now days, Capitol officers are professionals – as well-trained as the D.C. cops. Patronage employees are now limited to copiers and staple machines.

I used to wander the halls of the Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings, first as a tourist and later as a reporter. You don’t do that today. Scanners, badges, armed police, body searches and more. All over the place. There are large cement planters everywhere on the Hill to block someone trying to ram a vehicle into a building. Acres of blacktop and more of just grass – cordoned off to keep open spaces on the Hill – open. Sharpshooters on the roofs of many federal buildings around the Capitol. Same with the White House and other locations.

Terrorists. Just a handful over the last 40-50 years. But billions spent in that same time reacting. Just in Washington D.C..

Checked your local court house or city hall carefully lately? Looked really close at those new cement planter boxes out front? The little security cameras in the trees or jutting out from the eaves? How about the new “No Parking” areas or the removal of parking spaces that used to be so handy? Noticed an armed officer or two in public buildings – or schools – in our little towns? How about all that new military hardware for local cops?

Terrorists. Winning. While we react.

Been listing to all the TV “talking heads” claiming to be terrorism “experts” lately? A lot of ‘em couldn’t find a terrorist in a barbershop. But there they are. “Experts.” A guy named Jeremy Schaill really nailed all the media the other day on CNN. Even CNN. Scahill has credentials in the terrorism business second-to-none. Authored several books. Has personally jumped back and forth across the front lines in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and other “hot spots” for years. He’s dealt with many terrorists face-to-face. Knows his business. And knows the phonies.

His take on these “experts?” “CNN, MSNBC and Fox are engaging in the terrorism network industrial complex having people on as paid analysts who’re largely frauds who’ve made a lot of money portraying themselves as terror ‘experts’ but have no actual on-the-ground experience.”

Even there, the terrorists have won. A few of them have scared the Hell out of hundreds and hundreds of millions of us around the world. And created a new cottage industry of frauds. The media reacts. We react.

We now live in a world where terrorists and their deadly acts are becoming part of our daily lives. New York City, Washington, D.C., Pocatello, Idaho, Colfax, Washington and Madras, Oregon, are the front lines. A local water supply – a key bridge across the Columbia River – a little courthouse in Curry County – a National Guard armory in Wenatchee. Your street. My street. Every street. Now a front line for terror. The war is no longer “over there.” It’s “right here.”

We have not yet begun to see the changes – the dramatic, life-altering changes – coming in our lives. So far, we’ve been reactive to terror and those who practice it. By definition and by specific acts, that’s how it’s always been. That will change. It must. What we don’t know is how.
And how much. Or what. Or when.

As I said, so far, they’re winning.

Ever Met a Muslim?

Author: admin

Hate mail on the ol’ I-net keeps hitting new highs. Or lows. For several years, the target was Pres. Obama, his wife, kids and any non-white person supporting the President. Told a number of my friends to knock it off. Lost several.

Now the target I see most is Muslims. Any Muslim. Since the Paris terrorism, there’s been a sharp increase. Hardly a day goes I don’t get a couple hate mails. Some are supposed to be “joles” but many are filled with lengthy quotes from speeches or writings of some “noted authority” here or abroad on the dangers of the Muslim way of life. Checking the background of some writers, I found several hated somebody else before they got around to Muslims. Hate and racism du jour, I guess.

Just speculation on my part but I doubt many who circulate this mental garbage have ever met a Muslim much less had one as a friend. They’re a distinct minority in our Northwestern back yard. Had it not been for the military and living in Washington, D.C. as a reporter for a few years, I probably would’ve lived my entire life Muslim-less.

But I ‘ve gotten to know a few. And, while not being an authority on all things Muslim, I can say my experiences were interesting, mind-broadening and I found not a whole lot of difference from anyone else with a strong religious base in their history. Orthodox Jews are a good example. Some practice faithfully; some don’t. Baptists, Catholics and we Presbyterian/Methodists, too. Sometimes.

“But what about their supposed violence against all things not Muslim?” you ask. “And Sharria law and ‘death to the infidels’?’” Yes, there is that. Sometimes. “Course we non-Muslims had our crusades and some witch burnings. But we don’t talk much about those.

As a Presby/Methodist hybrid, I’ve attended a lot of Bible study classes trying to stay protestantly multilingual. One of the things that’s struck me repeatedly was how much violence and death there is in our own religious teachings. Lots of it. Moses, for example, wiping out whole villages and thousands of families from elderly to children during the trek from Egypt to the Promised Land. Wholesale slaughter! Before leaving Egypt, there was all that Passover killing. And all the murders of babies after Christ’s birth. Crucifixions, stoning, stabbing, poisonings, etc.

Then there were the instructions from God and/or his spokesmen on earth to kill certain people, punish family members, exact deadly vengeance on misdoers, run people out of town, confiscate property and on and on and on. Not to mention famines, plagues, drought and drowning everybody. Or those stake burnings.

Yep, Christianity is pretty blood-thirsty. Kind of like that Sharria law thing. Except nobody in our town has sacrificed a virgin or stoned a prostitute or cut the hands off a thief for… damn … I can’t remember when. But it’s been a long, long time.

I suppose if I lived in a Muslim country and ignorantly hated the Christians -as some ignorant “christians” hate Muslims – I could come up with hundreds of examples of biblical “teachings” to fill up some hate e-mails for friends. Lord knows, the Bible is a treasure trove of murder and retribution for enemies of God. There are some doozies!

In case my point isn’t clear here, it’s this: if we insist on developing our thinking and feelings based on someone else’s selective information – if we go around talking about or warning about some stranger’s murderous intent using some other nut’s phobia’s and hate-mongering as our sources of information – we’re going to show a lot of ignorance that really doesn’t become you. Or me. Are there bad guys? Yep. Muslim? Maybe. Maybe not. Do they live next door? Not likely.

More than anything else, that’s the basis for most hate e-mails I’ve seen lately. Ignorance. Fear. Wanting to believe the worst. A susceptibility to the voices of hate that relentlessly fill our national airwaves and in-boxes. A need to feel superior to someone else by making them villains. Used to be Blacks. Then Hispanics. Now it’s Muslims. Or all of the above.

But being a Muslim and practicing the tenets of your faith doesn’t automatically make you a bad guy. No matter how hard ignorant individuals and ignorant countries try to make it so. Universally banning certain styles of clothing does more to inflame than build a bridge to understanding. Burnings copies of the Koran – or threatening to – won’t improve cultural relationships. Burning Mosques says more about the mental vacuum of the match-holders.

I’m treating the forwarded anti-Muslim e-mails exactly as I did the ones about our President. Heavy use of the “delete” key. I’m just one. But, if you do it too, maybe we can make a dent.

Wiping out a hateful electronic lie and striking a small blow for world peace. Now that’s a good day’s work.

I don’t know anyone who “hates” cops. No one. Oh, I’m sure there are some criminals, psycho’s and maybe a few ex-spouses who harbor some bad feelings. But “cop hating” by the general public? I don’t know ‘em.

So this begs the question: Why is so much of today’s media chock full of ‘stories’ of police hatred? Where’s it coming from?

Seems to me there are two sources – or maybe “suspects.” First, many in the New York City and national media – including the usual hate voices – who’ve either become very sloppy in their “reporting” or have deliberately perverted what the original street protests were about.

In some media, the words have become a sort of shorthand when reporting interactions between officers and citizens – especially citizens in large groups like a protest march. Scan the headlines of major newspapers. Read the “crawl” lines below TV talking heads. The words “cops” and “hate” appear a lot. Listen to Beck, Coulter and the other professional political perverts dropping them into their verbal garbage.

Months ago, when all this street marching started, it had nothing to do with “cops.” It was an expression of outrage at a local Missouri system of justice that seemed blind to justice – a grand jury had been force fed deliberately misleading information by a prosecutor with his own agenda. A small town tragedy became a national disgrace when local authorities reacted badly and confronted legal demonstrators with a display of military force. The original message of distrust of a system turned to outrage at the city’s terrible judgement and irresponsible actions. But not cop hatred.

As the number of demonstrations increased across the country, the basic message was still the same: distrust of a system that didn’t provide equal treatment for all. Distrust of the system. Not cop hatred. Yes, there were agitators who took advantage of the situation to loot and steal. But the overwhelming numbers of demonstrators were orderly and, for the most part, responsive to local authorities. No cop hatred.

The second suspect? If I had to pick a moment in time when the “cop hatred” words entered the larger, national picture it would be about the moment a police union boss – running for his own re-election – charged the New York City Mayor with attacks on the city force. Charges even the police commissioner refuted.

While NYC politics have always been rough-and-tumble, this voice was unnecessarily shrill, incredibly ill-timed and stupid. As his caustic words tumbled out of HDTV’s across the country, those not accustomed to New York political “discourse” heard something new. Cops, we were told, were “pushing back” on a city official who had “betrayed” them. He hadn’t. But the latent anger of a few, who’re always there, was suddenly taken as the voice of the “majority” of the city’s 35,000 officers. It wasn’t. But it seemed so. And since then, too many NYC cops have been acting like spoiled children.

From that point – and reinforced many, many times since nationally – we’ve heard the words “cops” and “hatred” joined. The original – and seemingly justified – reasons for people in the streets disappeared from the story. Then, with the coincidental assassination of two NYC officers by a deranged loner, the “us-versus-them” embers blew up to become a full-scale distortion. A couple of other disconnected cop killings across the country got thrown into the mix, talk show haters grabbed hold, headlines turned to cop killings and the original messages which began in Ferguson, MO, all but disappeared.

The brutal fact is police officers have been getting killed in-the-line-of-duty since biblical times. It’s a risk that goes with the job. But so is this: most officers have served a full career to retirement without ever having fired their sidearm in anger. Good men. Good women. When faced with danger, they used their heads instead of their weapons. Not always possible but more often than not, it was. And it worked.

Nobody is well-served with all this “cop hatred” B.S.. It’s divisive, cruel, untrue and avoids the real issues of why people are in the streets. The NYC police union loudmouth getting too much attention is trying to feather his own re-election nest and is using a minority of badge-wearing miscreants to prop up his personal goal. Interesting that leaders of the other four NYC police unions are either keeping their silence or using much less inflammatory rhetoric.

Police professionals are not “citizen haters.” The vast majority of citizens are not “cop haters.” So why is something that doesn’t exist getting so much attention? And so many headlines?

We need to return national attention to the real criminal justice problems that brought people to the streets. We need to silence – or at least ignore – voices using division and hatred to draw us away from that original purpose. The national task at hand is not to listen to voices of hate trying to drum up ratings or advertising dollars. Or, trying to stay employed at any cost.

The honest national interest here is the singular pursuit of justice. For all. Yes, even for the haters.

A distraction of lies

Author: admin

Rudy Giuliani. When a “practicing” Catholic mayor of New York City, he moved his wife out of the official mayor’s residence so he could move his girlfriend in. Rudy Giuliani. Once a Democrat who couldn’t get elected to anything; now a Republican. Rudy Giuliani. Who, since his term of office expired in 2002, has consistently been rejected in runs for various offices and political appointments by his own “adopted” political party. Rudy Giuliani. A man with nothing of essence to say who won’t shut up!

His most recent worthless “contribution” to public discourse is as outrageous and irresponsible as it is flat wrong. His attempt to blame President Obama and hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators in our nation’s streets for promoting distrust and hatred of our civic police forces is contemptible. His pouring of verbal gasoline on deep societal divisions demanding long denied justice for millions of Americans belies his years as an effective federal prosecutor and further amplify that he’s a crank busybody with nothing to say worth public attention,

This ignorant empty suit is not alone in his effrontery to Americans legitimately in the streets to express their anger and frustration. New York Rep. Peter King demanded apologies from the President on down for fomenting police hatred and mistrust. Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Coulter and other usual suspects from the hate crowd piled on with equally as insulting and contemptuous vitriol.

A deranged, lifelong lawbreaker assassinated his girlfriend and two NYC officers before killing himself. Case open. Case closed. No responsible office holder and no justice-seeking crowd in the street in any American city contributed, sponsored or urged the killings. That the killer tried to justify his actions before they occurred by using social media to trumpet the names of Michael Brown and other blacks recently killed by police only confirms his estrangement from reality and the rest of us.

Giuliani, King and the shooter aside, this country has a long-simmering racial divide deeper and further across than the Grand Canyon. The only fact worse than its existence is the refusal of all of us to take it seriously enough to honestly examine and end it. All of us. If any good can come of the spate of recent killings of unarmed black men and children it would be to keep the subject of racial discrimination on the front burner and to deal with it in all of its many ugly facets until we get it behind us.

That won’t happen. Much as it’s needed to make this nation whole, that won’t happen. Giuliani, King, a New York City mad man and millions of unnamed Americans who believe such despicable trash won’t let it. At every turn, where progress can be realized, they’ll pop up and pop off for national media consumption. They’ll continue the outrageousness and lies that attract national recording and repetition – a minority refusing to affirm legitimate efforts by a majority who will work for justice. A justice we promise “for all” in our national Pledge of Allegiance.

Not since anti-war marches of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s have so many Americans taken to the streets in a national show of frustration, anger, demanding equal treatment under the law. This is not a cop-versus-citizen or cop-versus-politician outpouring any more than those earlier marches were meant to blame the military for following orders of a civilian hierarchy.

There were those who tried to make it so. A loud crazy minority then – as there is now – attempting to twist legitimate national outrage and pain into some sort of anti-American movement. Then it was the marchers “hated the military.” Now it’s marchers “hate cops.” Not true then. Not true now.

Lest we forget, recent injustices carried out against those dead black men and children don’t stop with officers and their guns. There’s a judicial system that needs re-examining. There’s a prosecutorial climate requiring a thorough review by the highest authorities. The errors of omission and co-mission run the gamut of the law enforcement world. From supreme court to traffic court. From city prosecutors to attorneys general. From national law enforcement to the local “cop shop.”

And one more thing. In each of those environs are good people – excellent, well-intentioned, honest and caring officers, prosecutors and judges. If there is to be real change in our relationships with each other – regardless of race or any other factor – those on the inside can be the most effective agents by confronting and disciplining their own ranks. Nothing would make a more meaningful statement of real progress than to have those sharing the police and peacekeeping load thinning out the racists, bigots and miscreants of all sorts that exist within their own peer groups.

The Giulianis, Kings and assorted deranged assassins on the street have always been with us. They’ll always be here to stand as the most vivid examples of arrogance, distrust, blatant hypocrisy, ignorance and cowardice. They’ll be here trying to redirect the honest energies of more learned voices who want justice and fairness.

If we’re to affect real national racial and economic change – achieve honest discourse – reach a point where justice is achieved – it’ll be because we who seek those ends are willing to work and, if necessary, sacrifice to achieve them. Along the way to those goals, we must not be distracted by the siren lies of the Rudy Giulianis and the Peter Kings. Their mindless drivel is fit only as grist for the sewer.