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Disgusting voices


What the Hell is wrong with us?

A day doesn’t go by without someone, somewhere, making the national news with a racist act aimed at someone not Caucasian, and therefore, not “a real American.” Makes no difference what ethnic group you’re talking about.

Our own president, with more attention paid to his foul mutterings because of the office he temporarily holds, is the worst. Repeatedly calling immigrants - legal or otherwise - “animals” is his latest dip into the racist cesspool.

The other day, a guy in a New York restaurant told some Spanish-speaking customers to “speak English or get out” and threatened to call ICE if they didn’t. A woman in Ohio called the cops because a Black Realtor was prowling around a vacant house he wanted to buy and rehab. In Utah, a guy got out his rifle and stood on his front porch as a Black couple was shown a house for sale next door.

And on and on and on. Repeated public displays of outright racism. Kids of non-white families harassed and beaten on playgrounds because of their ethnicities. People in public, speaking languages other than English, being told to either “talk American” or leave with accompanying threats to call some arresting agency.

We’re destroying the old “melting pot” metaphor. And we’re doing it in the name of being “American” without regard and respect for the differences that have made us a better nation.

In many ways, the old “melting pot” claim has never seemed entirely correct to describe a nation as varied in different races and cultures as we’ve become. The fact is, from early settlers to now, people of like nationalities and cultures have pretty much kept to their own. We have Black communities, Scandinavian communities, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, etc.. Nothing wrong with that, for most purposes.

But, we’ve further divided ourselves adding exclusively Black or Hispanic or other cultures radio, TV, newspapers and other means of racial and/or ethnic communication. In some ways, we’ve created dual societies for different races and backgrounds while allowing cultural separateness. We may “melt” in the workplace - most of the time - but we’ve also encouraged divisions in the rest of our lives.

We live in an area with a very large Hispanic population. While there’s been a lot of assimilating, they still live on the fringes for the most part. But, the fact is, if they suddenly left, this area would be the poorer for it and the local economies would suffer greatly.

I get angry when I hear someone say immigrants are taking our jobs. I can tell you from personal experience that’s a lie. The value of the work most immigrants do is vastly underrated.

It’s ironic to hear loud demands for continued, unfettered immigration coming from farmers/ranchers everywhere these days. Crops are dying in the fields. Fruit is rotting on trees and vines. Work - necessary work - is not getting done. Seems American workers - “real American” workers - aren’t stepping forward to shoulder that work. The “job stealing” claim has always been a lie.

The largest current societal race issue we face is not coming from the immigrant population. It’s coming from us. It’s coming from seemingly otherwise good people being swept up in this phony “ship-‘em-back-where-they-came-from” B.S. being acted out across our nation. And much of that is being led and urged on by our racist president and those around him.

What’s being tested here is not whether can we accept and assimilate more from other nations. The test is of our national will to welcome and encourage those who've come to participate in a country they still see as a worthy example of freedom and opportunity. And, in some cases, at proven personal risk to their lives getting here.

The test is for those of us who see value in national diversity and acceptance to silence the bigotry and outrageous abuse that seems to have become commonplace.

Silence it - clear up to the White House.

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 21

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 21. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

The governor’s primaries are done, with Brad Little winning on the Republican side and Paulette Jordan on the Democratic. A string of other contests, notable among them races for the first U.S. House seat, lieutenant governor and superintendent of public instruction. Next: A breather, then the launch of general election campaigning.

A year’s worth of campaigning led up to the evening of May 15: Primaries in the Republican and Democratic parties that settled the nomination – and in some cases the tenor – of a number of major office races. The top line was the race for governor, won on the Republican side by the candidate from the inside, Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, and on the Democratic by the candidate from the outside, former state Representative Paulette Jordan.

Representative Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill protects funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which passed the bill through the full House Appropriations Committee this week, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.

Air Combat Command officials announced the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB will test a new wing organizational structure. The experimental structure, initiated by the commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, directs the 366th Fighter Wing to create an organization that will test possible ways to improve squadron readiness, develop unit leaders and encourage innovation. Changes at the wing are expected to start this month.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 2.9 percent in April, continuing an eight-month run at or below 3 percent. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – continued to increase, gaining 1,242 people from March to April for a total of 849,373.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources issued a final notice on May 17 to more than 400 ground water irrigators who have yet to comply with an order requiring installation of approved flow meters on ground water pumps in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer region.

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests visitors should be prepared to encounter personnel working on and near Forest Service roads near the Orogrande community this summer as fuels reduction and restoration projects move forward.

The Board of Ada County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 9 AM to consider Ordinance No. 833 that would amend Ada County code to include a new section for unmanned aircraft. This public hearing will occur during the Open Business Meeting in the Commissioners’ conference room on the 3rd floor of the Ada County Courthouse.

PHOTO Would you release a 30.5-inch rainbow trout if you caught it? David Raisch of Pocatello did, and he's now a state-record holder. Raisch caught his record fish in late March and recently submitted it into Idaho Fish and Game's catch and release records, which allows anglers to claim a state record while letting the fish live. The program started in 2016, and it complements the traditional "certified weight" records that require anglers to weigh the fish on a certified scale, which means the fish is typically killed. Raisch was fly fishing in the Snake River when he landed the record rainbow, which coincidentally is where the previous record of 29.3 inches was caught. (photo/Department of Fish & Game)

A convincing win


Paulette Jordan won a convincing primary victory in her bid to be the next governor of Idaho. She convinced more than 60 percent of Democratic voters that her progressive message would work in November.

“I am so moved by the strength and determination of our Idaho voters today. Their voices were heard loud and clear — our vision for a more prosperous future lies with the progressive values embodied by this campaign,” Jordan said in a telephone call to Indian Country Today. “Our communities have spoken, and now we must unite as never before to move onward together.”

Jordan said she is “honored by the widespread support received from my relatives throughout Indian Country.”

“This is a huge step for us and I’m excited to be on this journey with all of you. This is a great indicator of where we as indigenous progressive leaders in rural states can help lead our communities,” Jordan said.

Already some dismiss Jordan’s chances going forward. The New York Times described the race this way: “In a state that Donald J. Trump won by more than 30 percentage points and has not elected a Democratic governor since 1990, the Republican primary on Tuesday is almost certainly where Mr. Otter’s successor will be chosen.”

When asked how she will convince voters in a state that is overwhelmingly Republican, Jordan laughed, and said, “we’re about to find out.”

Then again Idaho is a state that did once elect Democrats. Former Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus won the governor’s office four times, the last time in 1990.

The formula? “Connectivity,” Jordan said. “It’s about connections to the land and people.”

Jordan also is already bringing new voters into the process, young people. A tweet Tuesday before the vote captured that very idea. “Today I became a #firsttimevoterand my first vote ever went to the one and only @PauletteEJordan,” wrote Taylor Munson.

The turnout in the Democratic Primary was remarkably high. The Idaho Statesman reported in the state’s largest county, Ada, officials scrambled to supply enough ballots. “I am super curious to see what actual turnout was for the Democratic Party, because we were certainly overwhelmed by it today,” Ada Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane told The Statesman.

In addition to Jordan’s messages about her rural values, her outreach to younger voters could also be the key to reversing the Republican hold on Idaho.

Jordan defeated a well-funded candidate, A.J. Balukoff who used his own personal wealth to fund his campaign. She also defeated the Democrats establishment, most of the elected party officials endorsed Balukoff (who had been the party’s nominee four years ago). Balukoff was gracious in his defeat. He said he would work hard to elect Democrats.

So that’s another first. Jordan easily erased a substantial gap in campaign funding.

This is history. Jordan is the first woman to ever win a party’s gubernatorial nomination in Idaho.

She also made history because Kristen Collum is her running mate. It’s the first time two women have run together to lead Idaho.

See previous coverage: Making news, making history, and breaking rules. Idaho’s Paulette Jordan announces an all-female ticket

Then this is going to be an election of firsts and making history. Jordan, Coeur d’Alene, is now the first Native American woman to ever be a major party’s nominee for governor. Get used the phrase “first ever” is going to pop up a lot between now and November.

On Facebook, Seahdom Edmo posted: “I am watching this with my daughter. I said, ‘look she is a Native woman running for Governor, do you want to be Governor?’ She said, ‘no, I want to be President.’ Paulette, you are inspiring all of us!”

Cross posted on Indian Country Today. Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter Follow @TrahantReports

The disaster of identity politics


Watch carefully my friends over the next six months. You can watch the remnants of the Idaho Democratic party commit seppuku - the ritualized form of Japanese hari kari (suicide).

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary by a 60/40 margin Idaho Democrats rejected the clearly most qualified, most experienced candidate, Boise businessman A. J. Balukoff, in favor of a “symbol”, former State Representative Paulette Jordan, of where the far left faction wants to take the national party.

This is putting identity ahead of competence. Much of politics today is all about perceptions and feelings. Ability, competence, character, honesty all lag behind. And because of this issues matter less. What’s especially sad is identity politics move beneath the surface and if brought up one is quick to be tagged with a negative one word nasty like “racist.”

For example, Jordan is a Native American. If one uses that phrase in describing her even though she is fully exploiting that connection when seeking funds from other Indian gaming tribes, the reporter risks being categorized as a racist.

So let’s check the boxes of identity politics in the upcoming race between Jordan and Republican nominee, Lt. Governor Brad Little, the non-issue oriented items that will be at work but may not surface:

Brad Little is a male. Jordan is female.

Little is white. Jordan is “Native American.”

Little is a millionaire rancher/businessman. Jordan raises horses on a ranch.

Little sent his children to an Idaho public school. Jordan is sending her boys to Gonzaga Prep, an exclusive private college preparatory school in Spokane.

Little is married. Jordan is not.

Little is “Goliath” in this contest. Jordan is the “David.” The media loves to find “short hand” ways to capture a political race which is always a “horse race.” The issues tend to fade away.

Unfortunately, somewhere someplace some outside reporter will parachute into Boise or Lewiston and will end up describing the contest as the latest iteration of the old “cowboy vs. the Indians” story and we all know what happened to the Native Americans.

One person I am confident will not fall into the trap of identity politics is Brad Little. He will relentlessly stick to the issues and this time around the superior more qualified candidate will be obvious.

Come the Wednesday after the first Tuesday in November Brad Little will be elected the 33rd governor of the great state. Take it to the bank.

When normally successful business leaders get into politics they all too often leave that business acuity behind, especially when it comes to following that all important term “return on investment.”

Wednesday morning two multi-millionaire Boise businessmen, A.J. Balukoff and Tommy Ahlquist, had to wake up wondering just what possessed them. Both took what can only be described as a sound thrashing.

Balukoff received 26,286 votes and reportedly spent $3.2 million dollars. The return on investment on that is $121.73 per vote. Ahlquist garnered in his third place run 50,735 votes and reportedly spent $4.8 million. The ROI on that is $94.60 per vote. For Idaho these numbers are staggering and unprecedented.

Why it is that successful business leaders think running for high office is just another business challenge is a mystery. Some attribute it to hubris. Others say it is pure ego. Others say they are bored just making money and are looking for a new challenge

The sad thing is though the trend of millionaires running for office is only going to increase. Most state legislatures and Congress itself will consist almost entirely of the super wealthy.

These legislative bodies will hardly be the citizen-legislators our Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote the Constitution.
Welcome to the big time, Idaho.

Yes, your fearless prognosticator was 0 for 4. Shows 40 years in the game still finds me leading with my heart instead of my head.

Divergent patterns


In choosing Brad Little and Paulette Jordan to be the Republican and Democratic - respectively - nominees for Idaho governor, the voting bases of the two parties made decisions quite a few partisan observers didn’t expect, but that are consistent with their roles as long-standing majority and minority parties in the state.

Which is to say: If you’ve got something that’s work for you, you keep doing it; and if what you’ve been trying doesn’t, you change it.

That’s of course not the only factor in why the two parties’ primaries for governor resolved as they did. Jordan had developed a real following, showing more charisma than most Idaho candidates do. Little had the advantage of being an establishment candidate opposed by not one but two serious challengers, which meant they split the opposition vote. (Would Little have won if opposed only by Representative Raul Labrador? Hard to say.) Geographic, religious, business and other elements were in play too.

But as a matter of party dynamics, there’s this to consider.

Idaho Republicans have been spectacularly successful at the polls for the last generation, since the early 90s. They have won the last six gubernatorial elections decisively - not to mention, of course, almost every other office in sight - and their governors have been mostly of a type. They have all come out of, or been closely aligned with, the state Republican organization, and mainstream conservative politics (whatever that meant at the time). Phil Batt, Dirk Kempthorne, Jim Risch (elected as lieutenant governor, but he belongs in the list) and C.L. “Butch” Otter - were all, at least when elected, solid members of the state Republican establishment. As is Brad Little.

The state government didn’t change a lot when it moved from one of these governors to another. Insiders may note personnel changes and the like, but the sensibility at the top of Idaho’s executive branch hasn’t changed much, whether you like it or don’t, in almost a quarter century. Little has linked himself to the record of the Otter Administration, made that connection plain in his campaign, and would seem likely to extend the run. He’s not a clone, of course, as none of them are, but neither would he represent a major break with the recent past. (Unless he surprises us all.)

As a matter of politics, that makes sense for the Republican Party: Stick with what’s working for you.

The Democrats are at the other end of the spectrum. They have been shut out, decisively, of the governor’s office since 1990. Following Larry EchoHawk in 1994, then attorney general, they have not nominated a sitting Democratic office holder for governor and, since Robert Huntley in 1998, not a single candidate with prior Democratic Party political activism or leadership. Jerry Brady (2002 and 2006), Keith Allred (2010), A.J. Balukoff (2014) - all men of similar age with no history of Democratic partisan candidacy or party leadership; their background was in business (with interest in public affairs), and they positioned themselves as centrists, with the aim of appealing broadly. And they all lost.

Bringing us to Jordan’s somewhat surprising rout of Balukoff on Tuesday. Balukoff had the support of almost the whole of the Democratic establishment, and the major element of the party often described as leaning in Jordan’s direction was the Bernie Sanders contingent. On reflection, her supporters may be better described as people frustrated by doing the same thing in yet another race for governor, and wanting to try something new. It may not work, but even if it doesn’t, it may generate more interest and excitement than taking another lap around the familiar track.

That’s what minority parties tend to do when they’re making a serious attempt to rejigger the calculus and shake up politics.

So there’s an argument, however you assess the virtues of the winning (and losing) candidates, that both parties- made rational choices for their nominees - by applying opposing forms of logic.

Eye on the ball


There is no end to the awfulness emanating from the Whitehouse. Even when Trump is right, he manages to make it wrong just by the clumsy, crass manner decisions are being implemented. Consider:

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iranian nuclear deal for no good reason, announcing that he intended to reimpose economic sanctions. The international political problems of this move are monumental. But the economics of Trump’s actions are going to present some fascinating opportunities that no one is paying attention to, yet.

By definition, economic sanctions are two-way streets, meaning there are significant economic costs to both the imposing nation and the nation being punished that are functionally equal. It is one thing to impose economic sanctions on a targeted nation as part of a multinational plan where all the allies agree to join in; the cost of the policing action is shared among all the participating nations. But what of unilateral sanctions that are attempted by the United States alone, when the allies do not join in? Trump has announced that he will impose unilateral sanctions upon any company from any friendly country caught dealing with the Iranians.

Exactly how does Trump expect this move to go over with our allies? Or at home? All of our allies in Europe seem determined to keep the Iran deal alive. They have announced a nine-point economic plan to rescue the pact. Although no details are available yet, stripped of the diplomatic trappings the clear intent here has to be for Europe to provide Iran with a means of working around any U.S. sanctions. As this plot begins to thicken, the possibilities multiply. For anyone with inside knowledge and a willingness to bend the rules or take advantage of circumstances, there is money to be made on both ends of any sanction situation.

Take a look at what is happening in the other half of the world. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a series of economic sanctions against a giant computer electronics manufacturer in China commonly known as ZTE. This outfit has been selling computer equipment to all the countries on the forbidden lists – Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, etc. – for years, and had already paid huge penalties imposed by the world court Then it was revealed that ZTE puts out cell phones with secret devices to capture data that is transmitted to intelligence gathering facilities in China – raising the specter of national security. As a current sanction imposed just by the U.S., ZTE was forbidden to do business with any U.S. resource for a period of seven years.

ZTE immediately began cutting back its operations, which involved cancelling billions of dollars of orders from parts manufacturers in the United States, causing panic and predicted huge losses here. According to the N.Y. Times, it is estimated that 4/5ths of ZTE’s high-tech parts come from U.S. sources. Imposition of the sanctions would result in staggering losses to some U.S. suppliers

So, Trump reversed course and announced that he will step in to help out with ZTE – presumably to lighten the sanctions and thereby save the Chinese company’s bacon. The move was announced as a measure to bring relief to the U.S. suppliers notwithstanding the national security concerns.

Then it was revealed that Trump’s U-turn on ZTE came right on the heels of the announcement of a $500 million investment by China into one of Trump’s golf course and hotel operations in Indonesia. Obviously, the Whitehouse promptly gushed, just a serendipitous coincidence.

Yeah, right. Isn’t it more likely that this fiasco means that unilateral imposition of sanctions on friendly companies in other instances will come with caveats and exceptions and back-doors so that, in the long run, all these deals can turn into one-offs that depend upon pragmatic measurement of the economic turmoil brought upon the related countries, including the U.S?

Since it looks like there might be huge bucks to be made here, why not? U.S. unilateral sanctions can easily be turned into a political morass, with corruption, influence pedaling, pay for play and every other ill that might befall. All anyone has to look at to understand the fortunes that might be at play here are the millions of dollars that Michael Cohen amassed from a handful of gullible companies for absolutely nothing. What are the odds that a substantial part of this money did not find its way into one of Trump’s pockets? Is there anyone about who actually believes that Trump and his minions will resist the opportunities that are going to spring up in the Iran business, once the spinning begins in earnest?

Let us just try to keep our eye on the ball here.

(Primary) election night


Tonight, a short running updated blog on the elections. My intent is to keep at it until we get resolution of the key races ... as long as that's tonight ...

11:24p It's mostly wrapped up now; the closest question mark seems to be the lieutenant governor's race. More comments on various of these contests coming soon ...

9:55p Numbers are still incomplete, of course, but returns now indicating a long string of Idaho Republican legislators, a few in the north and a nch in the east, may be lose their primaries. The numbers currently so indicate for Reps. Heather Scott, Jeff Thompson, Julie VanOrden, Tom Loertscher, Ron Nate.

9:25p Waiting on votes from northern Idaho, maybe especially significant in the Republican governor's race, where Raul Labrador has fallen, for now at least, into third place. The north might energize his numbers a bit.

On the Democratic side, the Jordan lead seems to be holding steady.

9:15p Be it noted that there was a special election in Pennsylvania for a state House seat, and it flipped from Republican to Democratic. Pretty much everything else on the ballot today was of an intra-party nature; this was nearly the only thing to amount to a true party contest.

8:55p Ah, the New York Times has faster data.

The Democratic contest foe governor is quite the spectacular. With 17% of precincts in, Paulette Jordan is way ahead, 58% to A.J. Balukoff's 39%, and has been ahead consistently. Blaine County is a big facotr in this - it's nearly all in - but the biggest chunk of the reported vote so far is in Ada County, a third of which has reported, and which theoretically ought to be Balukoff's base. A long way to go, but this could be a significant upset in the making.

On the Republican side, things have been steadier all evening, with a not-massive but steady lead by Brad Little. Of the 17 counties reporting so far, Raul Labrador is leading just two two (Canyon and Jefferson), while Tommy Ahlquist leads in four - leaving Little ahead in 11 of 17. Many numbers yet to come in, but Little has a good, solid start.

And Republican lieutenant governor is still close, and the 1st House district (with Fulcher way ahead) still is not.

8:51p On the Oregon gubernatorial, Buehler seems to have the nomination locked down. But he's getting less than half of the vote, after spending many months (until quite recently) commonly considered the obvious nominee. There seems to be a significant part of the party's electorate unwilling to embrace him. In truth, he's been bipartisan enough that it's not hard to understand. But he's not likely to attract many votes from the other side of the fence, either, in the fall.

Statewide Idaho vote is coming in a little sluggishly, at least on the state website.

8:45p On a local level, have to say I'm surprised that our city's public safety bond - a small one, to build a new and much-needed police building - looks to be failing, and decisively, about 60-40. It seemed to have lots of support, with more than 150 yard signs posted (this in a town of 2,000 people) and lots of positive reaction, only limited negative. (Disclosure: We did some volunteer work for the campaign.) But goes to show you never can take these local tax measures to granted, not that the advocates did - they ran a sound and energetic campaign. But the subject is going to have to be addressed again.

8:29p Early numbers now in both Idaho and Oregon; nothing decisive yet, though. Maybe.

In the Oregon Republican gubernatorial, Bend legislator Knute Buehler is off to a good start with close to half of the overall vote (in a large field); if that holds for a while longer, he may have the nomination sewn up. So far, he's showing leads in all of the populous western and central counties, and his closest competition, San Carpenter, has leads mainly in the low-population rural eastern counties. The theory that a split opposition leads to a Buehler win seems to be holding up. (On the Democratic side, a lightly opposed incumbent Kate Brown has well over 80% of the vote.)

In Idaho, far fewer votes are counted as yet (49 of 961 precincts). The early numbers give a big lead in the 1st House district to Russ Fulcher, with David Leroy in a distant second, and all others bunched far behind; this is looking like what it long seemed to be, which was a Fulcher-Leroy contest (with the edge to Fulcher). The early numbers also are showing a modest but real lead in the Republican gubernatorial for Brad Little, with Raul Labrador in second place and Tommy Ahlquist in a not too-distant third (the percentages early on were about 40-30-25). Some clue about the meaning of that may come in the Democratic primary, where in the early voting Paulette Jordan was running far ahead - about 2 to 1 - of A.J. Balukoff. The large-field lieutenant governor's race looked to be a tight three-way battle between Marv Hagedorn, Janice McGeachin and Steve Yates, and this one is far from settled.

7:48p Most of the PA and NE races, in truth, are not high-stakes in the larger picture. One or two of the PA House races could matter, in terms of whether a party will be well-enough candidate-armed come the fall. That may be true as well in NE-2. And certainly Pennsylvania could be pivotal in deciding whether the House flips. But the individual races tonight, mostly at least, do not seem very determinative. Oregon and Idaho, at least locally, promise to be more so.

7:31p A good chunk of the Nebraska vote is in, enough to discern one of the hotter primaries of the evening so far. Nebraska 2 is the one realistically competitive congressional district there, and it's looking like a close call between Brad Ashford (very narrowly in the lead) and Kara Eastman. Eastman is the outsider, Ashland the legislative veteran. (The winner will face Republican Don Bacon, the uncontested incumbent.)

7:20p A lot of the Pennsylvania numbers are coming in, though it's a little difficult at this point to work out the meaning of many of them. The catch is partly that some of the numbers - including sometimes-pivotal Bucks County - look a little odds, in terms of totals and amounts. For example, in one Republican contest, " A moment ago, 13% of the vote was reporting statewide in Pennsylvania, and Lou Barletta had just a 53-47 lead on Jim Christiana. Now, with 14% reporting—in other words, a fairly small increase in the total vote—Barletta’s leapt out to a 66-34 advantage." Will keep a watch.

Why not to Gitmo?


Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to file criminal charges against every person illegally crossing the border. In order to carry out the order he is sending 35 prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to the border states.

As part of this crackdown, Sessions says that kids will be separated from their parents and held in different detention facilities. “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.” That is certainly an enlightened, family-friendly policy.

Actually, John Kelly first floated the idea of separating kids from their parents last year when he was Homeland Security Secretary. His thought was that such a punitive measure might discourage others from seeking asylum in the U.S. I suppose another effective means of discouraging people from fleeing violence in their home countries would be to send their kids to the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. That type of punishment would certainly discourage people.

It is hard to fathoms the depths to which our dear country has stooped in the immigration debate. We do need to have secure borders, but we have usually given people seeking asylum a reasonable chance to make their case before lowering the boom on them. Many of the border crossers have suffered great violence at home and would risk death if they were sent back.

Separating young kids from their parents and holding them apart from their parents is beyond the pale. Many of these kids have been traumatized in their homeland and on the arduous journey to our border. They don’t need the added trauma of being incarcerated separate and apart from their parents.

Although Sessions just announced the program on May 7, the Office of Refugee Resettlement reported last month that over 700 children, including 100 under the age of 4, have been separated at the border since last October. There does not appear to be any real policy for reuniting parents with their children.

Adding to the problem is the shortage of immigration judges. It is not like there are dozens of them sitting around with nothing to do. The immigration courts are jammed to the gills, resulting in long waits in detention for both parents and children. Currently, there are about a quarter million asylum cases pending in those courts.

Neither is there a large surplus of federal prosecutors. Those we do have would be much better employed going after drug dealers, terrorists, organized crime figures, white collar swindlers and other serious threats to the country’s health, safety, and economy. Diverting skilled prosecutors from important public business to go after low-level border crossers is a waste of valuable resources. But, then, Sessions is the guy who also wants to use this pool of crime fighters to stuff our prisons with low-risk drug offenders.

We can protect our borders without resorting to cruel measures that demean our country and traumatize innocent kids. America is better than that.

Loud and foul


It’s no secret ours has become an ever increasingly crass society. Entertainment, media, politics and even ordinary conversation.

Evidence is everywhere. Spend time around an elementary school playground, for example, and you’ll pick up words you might not have heard before. Not that kids know much about what they’re saying. They’re just repeating what they’ve heard all around them.

Crude, foul language in political affairs is not new but it’s getting increasingly personal. More and more, we’re seeing direct public, personal and cruel attacks on people and character. Obama and Clinton are prime examples.

Last week’s stories of slander and lies directed at John McCain were disgusting evidence of how low some folks will go. One incident was in the workplace - the other broadcast around the world by our “friends” at Fox.

A Trump White House Special Assistant was the source at a Communications Office staff meeting. She casually dismissed McCain’s comments on an upcoming Senate vote by saying “It doesn’t matter. He’s dying anyway.”

As you read this, that woman still has her job. Why that is someone else is going to have to explain.

Adding more verbal excrement to the pile three days later, Trump Budget Director Mulvaney publically opined, while the remark was indeed tasteless, that’s not what concerned him. His ire was raised because the cruel remark was “leaked.” “Even worse,” he said.

So, I guess, if a murder is committed in the White House, it’s O.K. as long as no one talks to the media about it. DAMN!

The other outrageous and completely factless claim regarding McCain on Fox was from a retired general. Talking about torture in wartime, McCain’s name came up because of his years in a North Vietnamese prison and the extreme physical abuse he endured.

The general - who will remain nameless here - said “torture works” and pointed to what he called “Songbird John” and accused McCain of betraying his country while being tortured. A claim repeatedly proven untrue!

This “embarrassment-to-all-uniforms” has popped off with many crackpot statements and wild false claims in the past. He’s never been a POW. Why was he being used as an “expert?” Yet another “Fox Fool” with clay feet up to his knees and one of a series of “experts” used by that network that have subsequently been exposed as frauds.

McCain is in hospice care at his home about 15 miles from where I’m writing this. One requisite for such care is a diagnosis of less than six months to live. That medical opinion was made some months ago. Yet, McCain is keeping in contact with associates and issues on Capitol Hill. It’s gotta be tough.

The McCain examples of character assassination and baseless lies are only the most recent aimed at a public figure. We hear, read and watch more every day. To our national shame. Remember Trump wildly mimicking a crippled reporter? Or, referring to McCain, saying he was no hero because he was captured? Or his giving people he doesn’t like grotesque nicknames - “Crooked Hillary” or “Lying Comey?”

I can’t lay blame entirely on our dangerous and unskilled president. But, I will say, he’s given his outright approval to such crude, foul and profane public behavior by his own conduct. He has set the example for millions of crass people who’ve joined his cacophony of slander, lies and outrageous language. Racist and anti-Semitic acts are being readily accepted by millions as “the way things are.”

Well, they aren’t!

Our nation - and much of the world - is in a huge state of flux. In nearly every way. What’s past is past and we’ll never see life as it was just a few years ago. But, what we will see and experience is entirely up to us. What we do today - what we accept today - who we’ve become today - will be our future.

As long as John McCain has breath, he’ll be interested and involved in where this country’s headed. We all could use a lot more of that to set before those kids on the playground.

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 14

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 14. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

And it’s (almost) all over but the voting, for the primary election at least After more than a year on the campai9gn trial, Raul Labrador, Brad Little and Tommy Ahlquist are about to find out which two of them will have a fairly free calendar the next few months. Contenders in a string of other competitive primaries will learn the same on Tuesday night.

Idaho’s gubernatorial candidates combined to raise more than $6.6 million during the reporting period that ended Tuesday.

Ryan Nelson, an attorney from Idaho Falls, was on May 9 nominated to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. When confirmed, Nelson will take the seat of Judge N. Randy Smith, who announced he will take senior status later this year.

The U.S. Forest Service projects that the upcoming wildfire season will be another historic year of destruction across several western states. Thanks to bipartisan legislation, the U.S. Forest Service is well-positioned to lay the groundwork to stabilize its wildfire fighting efforts beginning this year and well into the future.

State regulators have determined that differences in the electricity usage and load characteristics of Idaho Power customers with on-site generation and customers with standard electric service warrant the separation of the two groups. As a result, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission ordered the closure of the company’s current net-metering classification and the creation of two new classes for customers with on-site generation, Residential and Small General Service.

Albertsons, Inc., a national retail grocery chain, violated federal law when a class of Hispanic employees in San Diego were subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment through the implementation of a no-Spanish policy, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed last week.

More than 830 acres of forested state lands affected by wildfire or wind blow-down events were treated this spring to prevent infestations of bark beetles.

Self-advocates and mothers with children gathered at the offices of Idaho’s members of Congress urging Idaho representatives to protect and preserve existing Medicaid. Deliveries began at Senator Crapo’s office and made additional stops at Senator Risch and Congressman Simpson’s offices. Advocates have been carefully watching the Congressional agenda after multiple attempts to cut or add new burdensome regulations to Medicaid over the last year.

PHOTO More than 830 acres of forested state lands affected by wildfire or wind blow-down events were treated this spring to prevent infestations of bark beetles. Idaho Department of Lands and U.S. Forest Service employees stapled 11,475 “bubble capsules” filled with a pheromone produced by Douglas-fir beetles to trees affected by the Clearwater Complex Fire near Kamiah and the Tepee Springs Fire near Riggins in 2015. Several infested stands near Rexburg in eastern Idaho also were treated. (photo/Department of Lands)