London who?

Author: admin

Here on the central Oregon coast, we seldom make headlines. Most of us like it that way. That’s one of the reasons we live here. Usually peaceful, quiet sort of place – except for tourist season. But, even then, people come and go and life still runs at an acceptably normal pace for most of us.

When we do make the national news, it’s almost always because something bad has happened. Something very abnormal – usually dealing with death and/or destruction. The news kids from Portland and Eugene run over to take notice, shoot some pictures and spread whatever the details may be of our latest anomaly. Like – well – like a mother leading her six-year-old boy by the hand out a quarter mile to the middle of a very high bridge, throwing him 133 feet to his death – then calling the cops. Things like that.

The 3,260 foot long Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport is a major icon on the Oregon coast – one of 11 bridges designed in the 1930’s and ‘40’s by engineer Conde McCullough. All his work has a sort of art deco flavor with large curved arches at the center. Nearly all are on the National Historic Register and, when repairs have been required because of age and wear and tear, the structures have been faithfully kept true to the original designs. We who traverse them regularly don’t give them much thought. Not much, that is, until someone uses one as a murder weapon.

The self-confessed killer is Jillian McCabe. The victim was her autistic son, London. That evening, immediately after throwing London to his death, she called 9-1-1, confessed, then waited on the sidewalk of the center span we locals have traveled over so many times without thinking of it as a possible crime scene. She just waited as cops, EMT’s and onlookers arrived in ever-increasing numbers. In about two hours later, everyone was gone and Jillian McCabe was on a suicide watch in the Lincoln County jail.

Four hours later, some folks walking on a dock at an upscale condominium complex a couple of miles East of the bridge saw the small, broken body floating a few feet out.

About the only other factual details available at this point are these: Jillian’s husband had been recently diagnosed with MS and lost his job – London was autistic and required special expensive care he wouldn’t be able to get – his mother had no special employment skills and her family said she had mental problems for a long time.

So, now you know the facts. Such as they are.

Oh, one more thing. A couple of hundred adults and children – most of whom had heard of London McCabe – descended on Newport to hold a couple of vigils in his memory and to tell local media “we’ll never forget.”

The problem is, they will forget. In a way, they already have. They’ll go home, get involved with their normal lives and an Oregon mother’s murder of her child will soon be just another distant memory. If that.

Jillian McCabe will be arraigned eventually. She’ll be shuttled off to a state institution for mental evaluation – one that should’ve been done years ago when her family watched a person they knew had problems get married and have a child. Jillian will come back and, given the facts and that taxpayer-funded exam, be judged on her proven incompetence, be assigned to a state institution and become just another closed case in the files of the Lincoln County Prosecutor. In a year – maybe two – most of us will forget.

But there are others – many others who should remember. Others who include politicians who fail to adequately fund society’s responsibilities to care for those with mental defect or injury. Like the hundreds of thousands of young people sent off to war with no damned thought about their medical- AND psychiatric – needs after multiple trips to the battlefields. We paid to train ‘em and send ‘em out to kill. But we never thought about ‘em coming home with unseen mental injuries caused by the killing and now so many are killing themselves at home we don’t even report the statistics any more. There are Jillian McCabes in their numbers.

How about the millions of mentally disaffected now roaming our streets? We call them “homeless” as if they were out there as the result of financial problems instead of the basic need for mental and physical health care that should be afforded all who live in this country. What of our responsibility for them? Are there more Jillian McCabes we drive past on our streets?

When loving, caring people want to adopt a child in this county, we’ve put so damned many hoops and bear traps in our systems that many give up. But nearly anyone with diminished mental capacity can have kids by the litter – some of whom are guaranteed to require the kind of expensive care London McCabe couldn’t have. What about our responsibilities to them? To the unborn? What about the treatment and habilitation they need?

Mental illness treatment – whether inherited or conditioned by war or other mind-bending experiences – has never – never – had full support of society. We’ve banished millions to institutions. We’ve closed institutions when politicians needed to show the folks at home they could “reduce the size of government” or avoid a tax increase. The vastly overly esteemed Ronald Reagan did that in the ‘80’s – shuttering thousands of mental health facilities – saying churches and others “could pick up the slack. Oh, Hell yes!!! Can your church substitute for a mental health clinic?

We’ve underfunded and understaffed our public education system’s ability do deal with kids with mental problems because such care “ain’t readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic.” How many Jillian or London McCabes have flunked out or wound up in jails – or killed someone – because we couldn’t “see” their injuries – couldn’t “see” their hurt and their lifesaving needs?

Jillian McCabe will likely spend the rest of her life in one taxpayer-supported jail or hospital or other institution. If she lives to 80 or so, we’ll pay a million-dollars or more to see to her needs. What would it have cost society to guarantee she had the care she needed BEFORE had kids – BEFORE she led her son out on that Newport bridge to his death? How many thousands of dollars up front would have saved millions at the other end? And maybe London McCabe’s life? Just in this one case?

Yeah, there are folks now who believe they “won’t forget.” There are many who say they’ll never figure out how a mother could kill her own child. The little memorial sites will continue to collect stuffed animals and loving notes and candles in memory of London until a county employee eventually sweeps them all into a trash bag for the garbage heap. There won’t be anymore.

Remembering is one thing. Working for – and bringing about – change in how we treat mental illnesses is a whole different and much more difficult deal than just not forgetting some kid somewhere. There are a lot of Jillian and London McCabes in this world. And so far, we haven’t done a helluva lot for them.

If you think national government has been unresponsive to our national needs for the last several years, get used to it. ‘Cause you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! Unresponsiveness is about to hit a new, record low.

“Whoa, there Rainey,” you say. “Yeah, that was pretty much a Republican sweep of Congress. And things have moved to the right of center quite a bit. I’ll give you that. But a ‘new low’ in conducting the affairs of the nation? C’mon, now. It’s not that bad.”

“It is,” sez I. And here’s the big reason why. The Cruz ‘missile.”

Yes, Sir. Theodore Cruz – late of Canada by way of Texas. See, Teddy has already loudly voiced his opposition to Mitch McConnell being named majority leader. (Note how the vote to do so was by voice only?) Yes, Sir. And he’s not going to stop running across the Capitol building to work his crazy mischief in the House of Representatives ‘cause now he’s got new help over there. Yes, Sir. And Ol’ Teddy says he’s going to hold up just about anything that comes to the Senate that doesn’t meet his “high standards” for American freedom and democracy! We’re talking legislation, appointments, debt ceiling, budgets – anything that runs counter to his “thinking.” Anything! And, under the rules, he can do that.

Though I’ve never cared much for Mitch – along, it seems, with just about everyone with whom he’s ever come in contact – I’ll give him this. He’s among the best in the politics of the Senate, winning many a battle with deep knowledge of not just the rules of the place but also reading people and knowing how to move them like so many chess pieces. You don’t survive in leadership as long as he has without such tools.

But Mitch is about to face something that’s going to test his legendary skills. To say nothing of his Kentucky patience. Cruz and a rump Republican caucus of crazies. ‘Cause “the Missile” has been talking to some of the old – and all the new – kindred spirits about his plans. And some of that talk has leaked, as it always does in Washington.

For all its high-flown reputation as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Senate no longer represents the true meaning of those words. In the face of the new confrontational style politics – and the “you’re-with-me-or-against-me” philosophy that’s become so commonplace – senatorial decorum on the floor or in committee has become as theatrical as the World Wrestling Federation. Fits and spats – name calling – back stabbing – undercutting one another just for spite.

There’s no more perfect breeding laboratory for the kind of divisive, in-your-face politics that typifies Ted Cruz. You add to him (current or incoming members of his political void) Mike Lee, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Dan Sullivan, Tim Scott. Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, and likely Ron Johnson among others, and you’ve got a little rump caucus that can tie knots in the best laid legislative procedural plans. Each of them -without reason or question – can deep-six nominations for the cabinet or courts, keep any bill off the floor with a single anonymous whisper or stop movement of any critical legislation such as debt ceilings.

Now, consider McConnell and the Republicans have a majority of half-a -dozen seats or so, and if Cruz – alone or in concert with five or six naysayers – decides to hold up the proceedings, who’s to stop him? What sorts of demands can Cruz and his loony cadre make to get what they want in exchange for supporting ol’ Mitch each day? Or, does Mitch violate the Hastert rule by going to the Democrats to keep things moving? Is McConnell going to have to operate with a coalition of loyal Republicans and a few willing Democrats to conduct the Senate’s business?

One thing we know about Cruz. His brutish style is “my-way-or-the-highway” in all he does. He believes he – and he alone – has the clearest vision of things political and that only he sees the “correct” path. No one yet – no one – has been able to shut him down or keep him out of the limelight. Even John Boehner hasn’t been able to stop ol’ Teddy from trotting across the rotunda to stir things up in the House where he has no standing, doesn’t belong and has clearly undercut Boehner’s leadership. He’s already been “advising” a rump caucus there. Now, the 2014 election outcome has given him a few more malcontent voices.

Throw in the media, too. Though Cruz is a political heavyweight only to himself, the media will put him on more Sunday talk shows than current record holder Johnny McCain. Faux Neus will put a bureau in Cruze’s Senate office so his latest attack philosophy can immediately be broadcast as “Breaking Cruz News.”

We’re going to be seeing more of Cruz on your hi-definition than the linguistically dysfunctional Wolf Blitzer. Bet on it!

Well, we had an election. Some of us are pleased with the outcome – some of us are renewing passports and searching the I-net for details of New Zealand’s immigration laws.

Speaking strictly of candidates and not political parties, I’ve never seen a slate of more unqualified, unknowing and woefully unskilled winners. Consider. One governor returned to office owned a company found guilty of numerous counts of Medicaid fraud. That may’ve been how he could afford to throw more than $24-million into his race. Two new members of Congress have felony convictions while a third was re-elected while still under indictment on multiple criminal charges yet to be tried.

There’s the new senator who authored – authored – a bill in both the Colorado legislature and the U.S. House to not just outlaw abortion but also essentially criminalize any form of birth control. Then he claimed he didn’t know that would be the result of his labors – then repeatedly denied any connection with either bill though both still carry his name.

Idaho voters elected a Supt. of Public Instruction who lied about her educational achievements, couldn’t remember when she was divorced or remarried, hadn’t voted in a dozen or so elections and said she had no knowledge of the state’s educational budget but would “study it” if she were successful.

Idaho also elected a new Secretary of State whose honesty and integrity have been repeatedly and publically criticized by his own party and who says he wants to enact new voting laws that would discriminate against and/or disenfranchise some of Idaho’s citizens. And Idaho voters re-elected a State Treasurer who ignored Idaho’s investment statutes while losing more than $10-million in the markets and whose practices were soundly criticized in an official audit.

Idaho’s governor was re-elected, too. Not content with just thanking voters, his acceptance speech included a promise to waste even more tax dollars in repeated attempts to override the federal court decision to allow same sex marriages in the state. He’s already failed twice.

The hog castration lady from Iowa will be a U.S. Senator though she showed repeatedly during the campaign she has limited knowledge of both the job and the role of government in general. And after a campaign in which she admitted always having an automatic pistol on her person – not only for personal protection but also for use at that moment when “government rights” interfere with her “rights.”

There’ll be far too many members of Congress with questionable backgrounds for moral or ethical reasons, criminal convictions, limited knowledge of the offices to which they’ve been elected, positions on issues that would discriminate against certain categories of citizens. Far too many conducted campaigns showing little knowledge of American government – which they will now represent.

But – we’ll survive. We always have. That survival, however, will likely come after a couple of years of deadlock, bad decisions, heated political and economic battles and some very real pain being inflicted on too many Americans. Especially minorities and the poor. Those factors are guaranteed. They were assured by those who voted – and those who didn’t.

The outcome seems to say a majority was disappointed with the direction of things and wanted to go in another direction. That’s as it should be in our Republic. However, the inherent problem with our system is that it doesn’t choose the new direction. Just stop going this way and – in the future – go that way. Seems a lot of winners weren’t chosen so much for what they said or promised but because they weren’t the guy in office. Voters said “No, we don’t want you anymore. We want him or her.” Not so much a choice of candidate as a choice of “something else.”

Aside from the skewed balance of Congress, the other factor that’ll likely make all this happen is President Obama’s seeming lack of skill at brass-knuckle politics. Where Bill Clinton made progress “wheeling and dealing” with a Republican Congress, Obama’s background is as a negotiator – a conciliator. He has shown neither ability nor willingness to do the “horse-trading” it takes to accomplish anything when faced with such resistance.

It’s gonna be a rough couple of years. Maybe more. Despite Democrats believing Hillary Clinton is almost unbeatable in 2016, this week’s results show we out here in the boondocks have our own ideas. We may not have the political “knowledge” of the talking heads nor their “inside-the-beltway” understanding of the political process.

But we have marker pens and voting machines we’ve learned how to use. We’ve proven we’ve got some ideas that might not square with the “experts.” We’ve shown even the pollster guru’s don’t know us as well as they claim. We’ve got some things we want done.

It’s up to Republicans now. We gave ‘em the keys to government and told ‘em we want to “get on with it.” If they get the message and satisfactory progress is made in the next 24 months, great. If it’s acceptable change, that’s great, too. But if they run Congress the way they have the last four years, we’ve shown we can take those keys away and give ‘em to the donkeys. The ball’s in their court. And we can “take ‘em out.”

I’ve never been a real fan of Halloween. Might be because, when I was a kid, we lived on a large ranch in Central Washington. Nearest neighbor was a long, long way down the dirt road. Making the rounds to get a really good-sized bag of treats would’ve taken most of a tank of gas in the truck. May have been only $0.20 a gallon then, but that was a lot of money to Dad.

So, Halloween came and went without me. Ranch chores were always – always – the top priority. Guess by the time we’d moved to Oregon and had real neighbors – real close – I was too old to get the Halloween bug.

All these years later, I’m still amazed at some of the statistics connected with Halloween. Such as, according to the Census Bureau, there are about 41 million kids in this country ages five to 14. And there are about 132 million occupied housing units – nearly all potential trick-or-treater stops.

And this. The six top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The value of their annual crop is about $113 million. Talking some big bucks.

So, what about costumes? Well, the Census folks figure there are 1,634 costume rental and formal wear stores in the country. Not sure what the formal wear stores contribute to the occasion, but they’re counted. Not to mention discount and department stores.

And candy. Of course, candy. Glad you asked. Across the nation, there are 1,155 chocolate manufacturing locations. Imagine that. Pennsylvania has 102 all by itself. Can’t forget the folks at Hershey’s. There are 100 more chocolate producers in California. Tip of the hat to Ghiradelli, too.

And the candy corn, mellow pumpkins and other non-chocolate goodies are created in another 409 businesses. Some 55,000 people are employed in the candy-making craft. So I’m told.

Just so you’ll know, there are a few places in the good ol’ U.S. of A. with names befitting Halloween. My favorite is Transylvania County, North Carolina. Just has a nice, spooky ring to it. Then there’s Pumpkin Center, North Carolina and Cape Fear, North Carolina. Seems North Carolina is spooky for more than just crazy Republican politics. And don’t forget Tombstone, Arizona, and Skull Creek, Nebraska. How about Death Valley?

Well, there you are. Some Halloween facts and figures for your history books. If you’ve got youngsters in your household, I wish them good times in their door-to-door scavenging. Up to about age 14. I’m sure it’ll be lots of fun.

As for taxpayers in Idaho this Halloween, it will pass largely unnoticed by anyone over the age of 15. For Idaho taxpaying folk – given the latest string of absolutely wasted tax dollars for outside attorneys to represent them in guaranteed loser political issues in various courts – every day is Halloween. With no end in sight.

For we older folk living in more realistic political surroundings, October 31, has an even scarier meaning this year. General election. Now, you talk about striking fear in the heart!!!

Donald Trump has been divorced more times than the number of people who’ve died of Ebola in this country.

I hate to do that to you but someone has to put the Ebola story in perspective. That statement alone is clearer than nearly any national media coverage these days. Or, most of the garbage emanating from the mouths of too many politicians. Seldom has this country heard more fear-mongering, baseless information and verbal garbage on any issue.

Just to be perfectly clear: one person has died of Ebola on U.S. soil. Well, Texas, actually, but close to U.S. soil. He died after contracting Ebola overseas and bringing it with him to a hospital that – through something close to medical incompetence – was where he died. One person. One!

National media coverage has been, more often than not, outrageous. Fearful headlines making otherwise respectable major newspapers and broadcasters look like tabloids at the market. Near-factless reporting from outside hospitals that simply repeated the same old minimal information over and over and over. Same crap – different faces.

The most absurd television “coverage” to me was the so-called “patient transfer” that consisted of nighttime chopper shots of an ambulance doing 25 mph with five cop cars ahead and five behind. For nearly an hour. No one had any proof an Ebola “patient” was inside and it really didn’t matter. Could have been two medics playing Gin, for all we know.

And the “news” conferences. Newsless in too many cases. The other night, Rachel Maddow wasted an entire hour showing many “continuing coverage” shots of an empty rostrum in New York where we were supposed to get an update on the latest Ebola patient. A whole hour. Not to be outdone, “Faux Neuws” did the same. That’ll show those damned liberals!

And the talking heads. Far too many have had no more to offer than what they’d read or heard in other media “stories.” Then, there were the two chiefs from NIH and CDC that literally raced from network to network for days to repeat the same comforting messages that things would be alright.

Of course, there were the politicians mouthing off without engaging brains. One in the House repeatedly shouted to all assembled he wanted all flights to this country from affected African countries halted immediately. It was days later he found out there are no flights directly to this country from that part of Africa. None.

And there was Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah’s Third District, loudly disparaging the Obama administration for not having appointed a surgeon general to take charge of these catastrophic events. What escaped him was the President DID make a surgeon general appointment earlier this year. One that spineless senators killed at the behest of the NRA because the nominee wrote, some years ago, gun violence was a public health problem.

There were more. Many, many more examples of politicians and media speaking with no facts, using inflammatory and/or ignorant language, trying to make stories where there were no stories and spreading unfounded information. All of which added to the fears of many viewers and readers simply looking for facts while finding few. It continues today.

With the exception of the NBC News cameraman who contracted Ebola on assignment in Africa while working extensively around Ebola victims, all who’ve been diagnosed in this country were health care workers obviously not trained or properly equipped for treating the disease. The one death was that of a man who came in direct and prolonged contact with an Ebola victim in Africa and then brought his contagion to this country. Even his family members – with whom he lived for a week before presenting symptoms – were not infected.

We live in a society conditioned to believe the worst in nearly everything. We’ve become comfortable with what we know and fearful of learning. Too many have surrounded themselves with like-minded people and like-minded media to the exclusion of facts they don’t agree with or don’t even know exist. Or both. I call it the “Palin Syndrome” – “I know what I know and I don’t need to know any more.” Like a member of Congress blaming an administration for no surgeon general appointee who doesn’t know other members of the same Congress scuttled the named appointment.

Ebola is not going to be a national epidemic. And that’s a fact.

People often say “Oh, I don’t believe the media – or politicians – anymore.” Much of our media – and too many of our politicians – can be faulted for cheap, surface and often questionable coverage or comments on events. The Ebola hype we’re living with these days is proof.

Not all reporting has been questionable, of course. But too many people see only the one perspective of the one media that most often agrees with their thinking. Same with their politicians. If the source is contaminated, Ebola isn’t our only national disease.

With apologies to the former Mrs. Trumps.

We ain’t who we were

Author: admin

Men. Hang in there! Especially you unmarried ones. The numbers are shifting in your favor. Just wait for it.

There are currently 103 million folks over the age of 18 in this country who aren’t married. That’s 44.1% of all of us.

But, here’s the good news, guys. Of the 103 million singles, 53.6% are women – 46.4% men. Works out to 100 unmarried women for every 87 men. And the gap is widening. Sociologists have several theories. More women pursuing professional careers – many deciding against being mothers – some in same sex relationships which were not so numerous in the 2010 census – some not wanting to be married – some in long-term relationships while remaining single – more women living longer than men.

In fact, we’re told about 56 million households are maintained by unmarried men and women. That’s some 46% of all households.

There are about 17 million Americans over the age of 65 who aren’t married – some 16% of all single folks. A lot more women than men there.

Also, this statistic. In a population of just over 300 million, about 33 million people live alone. And that figure has increased about 10% in the last 40 years.

So, here’s what we have. More people keeping their single status. More keeping it longer – more keeping it permanently. More people creating households of families without being married. More people living longer and not marrying or remarrying. Legal recognition of same sex relationships in more states – married or not. Number of children per household going down. Just some of the social shifts taking place.

Which prompts this question. Is there now – or will there be – a political effect because of all this? Hard to tell. But those who call themselves political “professionals” should keep these stats handy. Because, just as we’re changing racially as a nation, there are many sociological patterns shifting under our feet. These are just a few. Demographers are finding people are living longer. They’re better educated. They’re forming different types of family units. There are more interracial and same sex marriages. All these factors – and a few dozen more – are just as important as that change of racial balance.

Now, add one more ingredient. An angry – very angry – voting population made up of these ever-changing groups. In the 2012 elections, many pollsters, many politicians and too many media sources badly missed determining – in advance – the mood of people at the ballot box. Too much statistical research was done to support a political point of view rather than pure analytics. A lot of politicians and their supporters accepted only their own sampling, weighted – in many cases – to confirm what they wanted to hear. In the end, their circuitous, closed process let them down – hard.

There were many elections over many years that simply built upon the rather static sociological patterns existing in the nation after World War II – patterns we now know no longer exist. In just the last dozen years, so much has changed in how we live, what we think and what we’ll accept as a society.

The 2014 elections are going to be very, very important for many reasons. Not just for the outcomes. But also for what the postmortems tell us about who we are now, how we live now and what we think as a nation. Now. Today. Researchers are already poised at computers – ready to sift through the mountains of information yet to be collected.

It could be – from a “getting-to-know-you” point of view – the 2014 elections may be the most important off-year balloting in our lifetimes.

You shouldn’t miss it.

OOPS two

Author: admin

Ah, Ebola. Seems like only yesterday we imported our first case of this terrible, headline-grabbing disease. Our very first. It’s so fresh in the mind I can still see and hear ol’ Rick Perry and the loud “SWOOSH” made by his running to the national TV cameras.

“We’re proud – (proud, I say) – that a Texas hospital has been chosen to treat the nation’s first Ebola patient,” he said through a big Texas good ol’ boy smile. “Texas is proud – (proud, I say) – of our best-in-the-country hospitals and the tremendous people we have giving such wonderful care.”

He turned from right to left. Then left to right so the cameras could catch that sculpted Texas chin. Then he departed – stage right. Of course.

Since then ol’ Rick’s been on the campaign trail in three states and off to France for . . . . . well, I don’t know what for. You can bet it’s something to do with running for president in 2016. Or at least HE thinks so.

So let’s recap what’s happened in that “state-of-the-art” Texas hospital since the old boy hopped a jet after his phony, office-chasing welcome mat for Ebola was broadcast worldwide.

First, the patient died. But there’s more. Seems the Dallas staff of one of the “best-in-the-country” hospitals sent the patient home with antibiotics when he showed up with all the symptoms of – wait for it – Ebola. The old “take two and call me in the morning” shuffle as I recall my own emergency room visits. Rick, of course, didn’t check out details or the history of how that Ebola patient got Ebola or what the hospital’s nonexisent software bridge between the doctor’s and nurses’s computers had caused before he rushed to center stage. As I said, detail.

Then a nurse there came down with Ebola. Then a second. Same place. Center for Disease Control folks got so mad they wouldn’t let new patients anywhere near Texas – pulling one out to ship to Atlanta and another to Emory Medical Center. Several C-D-C higher-ups even muttered publically something about “incompetence” at the Texas “best-in-America” hospital. Ricky, of course, was in France and didn’t pick up on that. OOPS.

Ebola is a terrible, dreaded disease with a near 70% death factor. Also deadly is the uncontrolled, lemming-like disease of running for president. Once infected, most “patients” seldom survive. In this case, France or no, a second nationally broadcast “OOPS” moment for Perry should be enough for permanent residence in the political graveyard. Oh, he may not realize he’s deceased for awhile. What with all the zombie phobia these days. But I have to think he’s among the “walking dead.” Again.

Perry’s is not the only voice politicizing what is really a terrible international health issue. John McCain and his hand puppet L. Graham blame the administration – read president – for not appointing an Ebola “czar.” McCain – who has previously loudly complained about the existence of “czars” in Washington – not only looks foolish but has omitted one serious fact. He and the puppet helped block the last Surgeon General nominee, keeping the job vacant for many months. They claimed 36-year-old Dr. Vivek Murthy was “much too young” for the job – despite an exemplary scholastic and medical record.

Putting the lie to that claim was the fact that the good doctor had once written of his belief that “gun violence is a public health issue.” Damned right! But the NRA pulled the string tight on some political “privates” and Murthy’s nomination died aborning. The jobs still vacant. Thanks, John.

Ebola must not be a political football. It’s a damned serious theat everywhere. Though it’s odd to note no Ebola cases in Germany, Japan, England, Russia, Canada, South America, Mexico et all. Wonder why.

The plain fact is McCain, Graham, Perry and other Republicans have joined other fear mongers scaring the hell out of millions of Americans. A few Democrats, too. Rather than use the power of their public offices to throw governmental clout and tools into the battle to control the disease, they daily fling outrageous charges of failure and danger in all directions.

Ebola is here. On our soil. It’s going to get worse. It’s not going away anytime soon. National Institutes of Health and CDC leaders need to stop with the soothing platitudes and the “we’re-in-control” falsities and give the public honest facts and evaluations based on medical knowledge rather than ass-covering or political fright. The White House needs to stop with the same tones of overconfidence and bring to bear the most qualified help from any source available in the nation. Or the world, for that matter. Now!

And the media? Ah, yes, the media. We have three Ebola patients, folks. Three. There will be more. We don’t need phony “Breaking News” banners and ridiculous helicopter shots of hospital complexes and overblown patient transfer motorcades. Again, find facts – gain knowledge – and report both. Accurately. Factually. End the sensationalism and report.

We are a mobile society. Ebola is not going to stop that. We cannot seal our borders, shutter our air terminals and hide from the rest of the world. We need information. Real, well-researched and well documented information to become as informed as possible.

Political hacks and grandstanders like Perry, McCain and their cohorts are a disease we’ll never conquer. We stand a better chance with Ebola.

Let’s get together

Author: admin

We’re still killing people in our homeland prisons. Death penalty it’s called. Makes no difference whether you support such extreme societal retribution or you don’t, it’s always a bit jarring to read morning headlines telling of another overnight execution.

Texas has done it again. That’s nine for the year. While Texas is the “death penalty capital” of the country, about half the 50 states still kill someone from time to time. Happens often enough reporting of the details shouldn’t be unsettling. But it usually is.

Oregon hasn’t killed anyone for awhile. Not because the law doesn’t allow for it. The governor just won’t let it happen on his watch. Not sure what the legal entanglements are for having a law on the books that the chief executive won’t enforce. But, hell, we have sheriffs ignoring black letter law for all sorts of things. And that Nevada BLM freeloader backed down the government with no retribution so far. In fact, a lot of folks – in law enforcement and out – seem to treat laws as “suggestions” rather than requirements for some sort of action. Pickin’ and choosin’ so what’s one more governor, right?

But how ‘bout that death penalty? You for it? Opposed to it? Don’t give a damn either way? I think most folks fall into that last category. Haven’t given the subject a lot of quiet time to think on it and have no hard-and-fast feelings. Many who’re for it have personal experiences related to some horrible crime or know someone who has. And a lot of folks opposed have religious or other personal reasons. Unlike that old sure-to-arouse topic of abortion where people are hard one way or the other, the subject of killing bad guys (and bad women) seems mushy by comparison.

Every time I hear someone sound off on “state’s rights” or “get the government out of my life,” several subjects come to mind. The death penalty is one. How we vote is another. Drivers licenses, too. There are a few others on my list but the point is this: sometimes having 50 states do things we all do 50 different ways makes more of a mess of our democracy than it should.

Take driver’s licenses. I’ve had to apply for a license in quite a few states over the years. Aside from whether a school zone is 20 or 25mph or a particular states top speed on an Interstate, all the questions have been pretty much the same. Never had a single one about driving in snow which would make those same Wyoming tests valid in Florida.

The point is, some careful standardizing of a few minimal issues could result in a single license. Might develop some sort of short study requirement for unique local laws but that could be handled on the I-net and we could all avoid the dreaded DMV.

Same thing for insuring our vehicles. One set of standards for all. Liability is liability and most other driving issues are nearly all the same no matter where you live.

And voting? Just look at the current 50 state voting situations. Nearly a dozen of ‘em are trying (unconstitutionally I believe) to disenfranchise minority citizens because nutball Republicans want to win more elections. Sorry, my Republican friends, but there ain’t a state with a Democrat majority where the same thing is happening. Not one.

If more states like mine (Oregon at the moment) would go to our nearly foolproof system of voting-by-mail, using a single set of national voting eligibility requirements, we wouldn’t have civil rights lawyers running to the courts to protect the guaranteed rights of hundreds of thousands of minority citizens. In all the years Oregon has conducted hundreds and hundreds of elections – local-state-federal- you can count confirmed cases of voter fraud on less than the fingers on your right hand! And our turnouts for those elections have been notably higher than nearly any other state. Year after year after year.

Back to the death penalty. Is it a “state’s rights” issue? Or a moral issue? Should you be more likely do die for committing a crime just because you live in Texas rather than Idaho or Utah? Does that make death penalties more a “geographic residence” issue than a criminal one?

Take Idaho. Please! (Sorry, Henny.) Idaho has all the requisite laws to kill bad guys but doesn’t do it very much. There’s a guy named Creech who’s killed several folks over the years. Inside prison and out. He first went to Idaho’s version of death row in the 1970’s where he killed again. Still there. And he’ll likely die there. Sentenced to death several times. In Oregon, as long as the current governor continues being our governor, Mr. Creech could get yet another four year guaranteed reprieve after the November elections. Which our current governor will win. See what I mean by “residence” issue?

Point is, there are many subjects that could be handled by a single set of federal laws rather than a hodgepodge of 50 local ones. There are precedents: taxes, social security, national draft, passports/visas, food, environmental and health standards etc.. If local tweaking is needed, so be it. But the basics of a lot of things could be – and should be – standardized.

Doing things that make sense – doing them as a country – “one nation under God” – used to be the way we lived. But we’ve fractured our politics- and society in general – in so many ways. Doing what we do with uniform standards that make sense has succumbed to uninformed anti-government rhetoric that has created fissures in our society that separate us. From common sense. From each other.

The time has come to say it. So here goes. Government employment – especially federal – has, in too many cases, become a haven from the unemployment lines for too damned many people. In addition, holding elective office – especially federal – has become a haven for too damned many idiots who’ve proven they should be unemployed.

Strong stuff? You bet! But sometimes the total incompetency in both classifications is so overpowering you can’t reach any other conclusion. What follows is my small offerings of proof(s).

Take Ebola. Within hours of the arrival in a Texas hospital of the first known case in this country, Gov. Ricky Perry – trying to boost his hopeless run for president – leaped before the cameras to claim “I’m proud Texas has become the location for this emergency. We’re the best equipped state in the nation to deal with this – we’ve the best medical resources and the best know-how to defeat this before it becomes a national disaster.” Oh, Hell yes.

Within 24 hours, we found out the “best medical resources” in Texas had seen the guy and turned him loose with some pills. Seems the nurses with the “best medical resources” had an intake computer program with the right questions but it didn’t “talk” to the one the doctors use.

Then, with four of the man’s relatives imprisoned in a small apartment, the State of Texas ordered them to move and a hazmat team activated to delouse the place. Except. The Texas health department could find no place in the whole damned state to relocate the people. And the hazmat team was stopped from acting because it had only a license to transport and dispose of the garbage but no Texas permit to remove it. A private citizen found a new “home” for the sequestered four and the hazmat folks waited 48 hours before a permit was issued. But the State of Texas? “Best equipped?” Hell yes. And Perry left for a weekend campaigning in Iowa.

CDC and Ebola. CDC top brass has been living on TV with complete assurances our health system “is the best in the world,” “it’s working” and “this will soon be behind us.” Guess they were too busy in front of the cameras to catch the Texas mess. They also weren’t truthful about those congressional jackasses who arbitrarily cut the CDC budget through “sequestration” and, since those carefully-designed-but-very-expensive CDC programs to handle emergencies like Ebola hadn’t been used, they were cut back or eliminated. Don’t need ‘em ‘cause they ain’t been used, according to the Louie Gomer (SHAZAM) – er Gohmert – School of Deep Think. Texas again. Hell yes.

VA health care. Anyone else want to jump in here? The billions we’ve spent have propped up a system rife with duplicitous civil “servants” who’ve been a cancer within. Too few medical professionals – too few programs to take care of the new medical and psychological problems veterans suffer from these days and an indifferent congress cutting budgets with no regard for the human suffering caused by their indifferent and arbitrary actions.

How about the IRS? A couple of offices of people targeting certain political groups (left and right) for special audits. Administrative perversion on that scale can’t survive without a lot of folks knowing what’s going on. Whether they participate or not.

The Pentagon. Hundreds of examples. But one will do nicely. No one in the Pentagon – NO ONE – can tell taxpayers how much equipment the military owns and where it is. Or whether it still exists. No one. The claim is inventory is too big to – wait for it – inventory.

How about the CIA? Read the other day CIA wasn’t aware of ISSA’s strength or size before things hit the fan in Iraq. “We underestimated,” said the Director. Oh Hell yes. We got the same crap when Bush-the-Junior was lying us into Iraq in the first place. Then Syria came along and another “surprise” at CIA. How about those riots in Egypt? And murders at Benghazi? Terrorist sponsorship was “news to the CIA!

Then the CIA “underestimated” the Russia-Ukraine mess. “Didn’t see that coming,” was the response. Aside from listening to our phone calls and reading our emails, what the Hell does the CIA do? Why is that spy agency alone in not knowing what’s happening?

There’s a lot more. And it’s not confined to the above miscreants. I’ve called local, county and state offices over the last few years looking for help in their areas of responsibility. I can’t count the times the response was “we don’t do that any more because of budget cuts” or “we’re too short-staffed to do all the things we used to do.” Then what’re the people left doing if they’re not doing the jobs that were the reason for their employment in those offices?

This whole loony and totally crazy illogical crap of cut, cut, cut in all areas of government is gutting what’s left. Citizens needing help with basic necessities are hitting brick walls trying to find someone to do what’s needed. People are hungry. People are homeless. People are dying. Families are being broken up. We taxpayers footing the bill are, in far too many instances, not getting what we’re paying for. If this country has ever truly had “taxation without representation” it’s happening now. The gutless political hypocrisy of “sequestration” – created by too many in congress who don’t know how government works and who’re operating in some sort of ignorant vacuum of a phony political theology – is eating necessary government functions.

What’s needed – and we’ve needed it for a very long time – is a total reappraisal of what government is – what it should be – what it must do to maintain the “common good” – what is required of it for the peace and security of the nation – all these things and more. Efforts to deal with our 21st century challenges are being crippled and our leadership in so many of the world’s activities is being undermined.

Until that reappraisal and the massive, intellectual and political work is done by newer and better qualified Americans, too much of our government will continue to be a haven for the otherwise unemployed. That should not be taken as condemnation of those in government who are honestly trying to do their jobs. But it damned well should be taken as a flat out condemnation of the intellectual idiocy and complete ignorance of a political system too full of both.

Voter assisted suicide

Author: admin

When someone commits suicide, two things happen. Someone dies. Those left behind feel shock and grief. Would those same attributes apply if an entire county died by its own hand? We’re about to find out.

Voters in Oregon’s Curry County seem determined to end life on this planet and set sail for an unknown destination in the afterlife. Try as they might, political, civic and moral leaders in-residence seem powerless to stop the self-induced destruction.

Already faced with the most serious local governmental fiscal hole in the state – following defeat of half a dozen bond issues for this and that – voters have said a loud “NO” to the latest measure – a small tax increase dedicated only to keeping doors open at the county jail. Just for keeping the bad guys locked up.

Bad enough. But it gets worse. Curry has been privileged to have the services of Sheriff John Bishop for many years. As good a professional cop as you’ll find. He’s tried and tried to make his case with voters that his lockup is out of compliance with nearly all legal – if not humane – requirements for keeping prisoners. He’s stacked up enough reasons for a better jail so effectively even voters in neighboring counties have been swayed.

He’s pleaded. He’s begged. He nearly single-handedly forced the latest bond issue before voters. All his labors have ended up in the trash. The latest – a rejection of something so basic to public safety it should be automatic. But it wasn’t even close.

Now, he’s leaving the job. The sheriff’s doctors have told him he’s got to get out from under the load of stress he’s carried for so long or he’ll die years before his time. He’s taken a new job in Salem. But that’s not all. His wife – who’s in charge of county corrections – is leaving, too. They’re both worn out. He and his corrections director wife will be gone before the end of the year.

The newly appointed sheriff – a younger veteran of the department – says the latest voter “shot-to-the-head” leaves him with one choice. He can lock up only the “really, really bad guys” and keep jail doors open ‘til January. Or he can keep taking those arrested and those sentenced by the courts and run out of money in a few weeks. Your call.

Curry County has been on this self-destructive path for several years. All the usual government services – including those required by law – have been cut, cut and cut again. Good people – people you’d want running things anywhere – have bailed out. Staffing in all departments – ALL – is less than minimal. Even 9-1-1 calls are screened for seriousness before anyone responds. And sometimes – they don’t. Bad guys – sometimes really bad guys – have been cycled from arrest to jail to court and back to the street for months.

Oregon has a new law allowing a county to declare bankruptcy and turn to the state for a bailout. A lot of voters in Curry seem to be counting on that. Counting, too, on getting out from under the current – and very deep – debt. They’re about to get a very large surprise.

While the state will be forced to step in, that new law also allows those who take over to make some major decisions. What services will be provided. What won’t. What those services will cost. And who’ll pay the bill. In fact, the state can lay on new “taxes” for certain things. Costs likely to be significantly higher than that old jail bond issue that was junked. The new, temporary help from the State of Oregon will come with a price tag. And with the authority to force payment.

Curry has only five “cities” with some 25,000 souls. More than three-quarters of ‘em live in Brookings, Harbor and Gold Beach – a stretch of Highway 101 of about 24 miles. A small county, yes. But it has a large land area and requires all the services of any other county. Given a long Pacific coastline and weather that wreaks havoc on roads and other public facilities, it also has some serious operating costs. Some of the required maintenance hasn’t been done in a long, long time because of the continued bond issue and county budget rejections. There’s a lot of deferred problems that need prompt attention before the entire infrastructure falls apart.

Curry County’s been “dying-by-a-thousand-cuts.” We lived there. We left. We found an attitude of false self-sufficiency among many people there. Curry may have the largest percentage of over-60 voters in the state. Maybe even over 70. Lots of retired folk. Lots of former government workers. Lots of former military. Fixed income folks.

But there’s something else. The largest population base is the unincorporated community of Harbor across the Chetco River from Brookings. Folks in Harbor have repeatedly refused to incorporate – preferring to leech the “free” services and shopping of the City of Brookings rather than carry their own costs. It’s been ever thus.

That may have to change if the county goes under. State of Oregon administrators charged with reviving the victim may have something to say about this longtime financial abuse of citizenship. Infrastructure costs disproportionally levied on some residents more than others may need to be readjusted some way. Freeloading may have to be ended.

If politics is your bent, watching developments in Curry County, Oregon, may be worth your while for a few months. Several other counties are in precarious financial conditions, too. But Curry seems closer to the edge of the cliff than any of them. Whether Curry jumps or is pushed off that cliff is the question. It got into this suicidal position at the hands of voters. This last “no” vote may have been the killer.