The Talking Points Memo site has an excellent rundown of the prospects in the Democratic contests next week in the many Super Tuesday states, which include (alone in the Northwest) Idaho.
TPM’s take: “Idaho — Unknown: There has been no major polling here, but Obama should probably run well in Boise, the closest thing this deep-red state has to a Democratic stronghold. Total Delegates: 18″
Based on our observation and what we’ve heard around Idaho, the outcome is clearer than unknown. Barack Obama is likely to win the Democratic caucuses in Idaho very strongly. (The most recent indicators: Endorsement from all the Democratic candidates for the 1st district House, and from former Governor Cecil Andrus.)
Things are moving around these days in the Idaho capitol mall, not limited to the shifting resulting from the Statehouse renovation. A bill just passed without opposition in the Idaho Senate touches on one of those: Moving the state law library.
The bill itself (Senate Bill 1271) is innocuous; the statement of purpose “provides that the State Law Library will continue to be in Boise, but removes the requirement that it be located in either the State Capitol or the Supreme Court building. This will allow greater flexibility and efficiency in the use of the Supreme Court building and open up additional options for housing the State Law Library.”
The library has for decades been located in state Supreme Court building, has been ever since that building was built. The plan now apparently is to move the state Court of Appeals into the first-floor space where the law library has been. That court has been renting nearby private space for years; the shift makes sense.
But where will the law library go? That’s a little unclear. There’s some talk that, for a while anyway, it may be packed up and stored (an odd prospect). There are options. One we heard suggests moving it to the old Ada County courthouse after the state legislature moves back to the renovated Statehouse; a nice thought.
Is the state law library needed? It is. It provides a core base of legal information and resources not just for attorneys but for others as well (we’ve gotten plenty of use out of it, and other public law libraries in the region, for years). In passing this new bill on the library (the House presumably will soon pass it as well), the Idaho Legislature has a kind of moral obligation to track its progress, wherever in Boise it may go.
Of the recent dropouts from the presidential race, the one with the largest contingent of “name” support would be John Edwards, the Democratic former North Carolina senator.
Before wrapping up his role in the presidential – which entails the highly pertinent question of where his backers go now – we should point out that Edwards had a support base worth the pondering. Not so much in Idaho, to be sure, and significant but not especially high-profile in Washington. But in Oregon, the list is significant.
Both major Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate, House Speaker Jeff Merkley and Portland activist Steve Novick, were Edwards backers. Others include state Senator Margaret Carter, D-Portland; Portland attorney Robert Stoll; Peter Bragdon, a major Democratic political figure now with Columbia Sportswear; developer Homer Williams; Beth Bernard of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association; Jesse Cornett, vice chair of the state Democrats; and Kari Chisholm of Mandate Media. Among others.
The push and pull, Clinton and Obama, must already be underway.
Imagine a candidate for office, maybe one seeking a newspaper’s endorsement, saying something like this: “No, I’m not going to tell you what I really think about that hot-button topic. I’m a politician. So I’m going to craft a stance that artfully straddles the issue to avoid offending anyone, while carefully dodging any disclosure of my real thinking. That bit of truthiness is good enough to pass, right?”
And of course it wouldn’t be: Reality is what’s important to journalists, not just image, right?
Well, tell that to Seattle Times news management, which is (not that this is unusual among American newspapers) discouraging news employees, especially those having anything to do with political coverage, from any political activity which might go public and indicate – gasp! – what personal opinions they might have.
The Times’ political editor, David Postman, writes that Executive Editor David Boardman has posted a memo which begins: “Our profession demands impartiality as well as the appearance of impartiality.” And goes on, “Staff members should avoid active involvement in any partisan causes that compromise the reader’s trust in the newspaper’s ability to report and edit fairly.”
Let’s rewrite that unkindly: “We all know you guys have opinions, at least we hope so, since if you didn’t that would indicate you’re not informed or smart enough to be here. The reading public is obviously aware of that too. We just don’t want to level with the public; we’d rather pretend that you’ve all somehow managed to deaden the opinion-making parts of your brains.”
Seems as if someone in the Northwest should make notice of this. So here we are (with a hat tip to the reader who pointed it out). Anyone watching the State of the Union speech last night might, if especially sharp-eyed, have noticed that while most of the high-ranking United States officials were there, a member of the cabinet was not, that being Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, formerly governor and senator from Idaho.
An Associated Press report explains: “By long-standing tradition, a member of the president’s Cabinet misses the speech to Congress as a precaution against the entire administration’s being wiped out and to maintain the presidential line of succession. Last year, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did not attend. It was the Veterans Affairs secretary the year before.”
One way to look at it is what might have happened if there had been a catastrophic attack. Another is by reflecting on the last two absentees; our reader ponders, “and we know what happened to them . . .”
A blog is, of course, only as useful as it is used, and contributed to. But these legislator views could be good reading as the sessions roll on. We’re not entirely convinced, though, of the case by Representative Brandon Durst, D-Boise (whose blog we noted last year), who after running an analogy to Martin Luther concludes blogging is “the new horizon in which the truth, from the perspective of the author is only a few keystrokes a way. In short, blogging is the political reformation.”
The real estate market has been taken its long-predicted (here, among other places) hit, and foreclosures are rising fast. You see the headlines all over; but how do various areas compare?
A national firm, RealtyTrac (which is in the business of sales of foreclosed and distressed property), has answers including a national by-county map visible here. The areas where foreclosure rates are lowest are some of the more rural and least growth-prone around the Northwest, notably much of eastern Oregon and central Idaho
Remarkably, the three Northwest states are bunched together among the nation’s 50: Idaho ranks 20th, Washington 21st, Oregon 22nd.
Could be, though, that the trend line may push them apart. The one-year increase rates in foreclosures were quite different: Oregon 12.2% higher, Washington 27.9%, and Idaho 140.5% (though there is a note that rate might be somewhat inflated because of measurement changes).
And why not? Illinois Senator Barack Obama already is heavily favored for Idaho’s February 5 Democratic caucuses, but a simple, short stop in the state could produce a wipeout win. The time and money investment for a short stop would be minimal; the PR and delegate gain could readily justify it.
Another thing. There ought to be a generally accepted standard that during the course of a campaign year, anyone who becomes a major party nominee for president ought to visit, even if briefly, all 50 states, not just the swings. Consider this a suggestion: Both party nominees should be pressured to do it. Among Republicans, Mitt Romney has (are there others? can’t recall) and this week Obama among the Democrats. Figure that they’re two who, in this regard, will be pre-qualified.
Some of the most useful online Northwest blogging has been David Postman’s, in his reports from the road in eastern Washington, starting on January 23 and still ongoing. Not that he isn’t welcome back to Olympia, but here’s a reader who hopes he stays out there for a while.
We spent a fair amount of time on the road in eastern Washington (and Oregon) last year, and while there were limits to the political insights to be pulled up – almost all of these areas are deeply red, differing mostly by subtle shades – the attitudes and underturf of what makes them so is surprisingly varied. And Postman’s interviews and reviews seem to be getting, helpfully, at that.
You’ve heard – well, if you’re reading this, you probably heard – about the video operator in mid-2006, a Democratic operative, who followed Virginia Senator George Allen around at public events, captured whatever he said or did. Allen one day made the mistake of talking about him and using the word “Macaca” in describing him, touching off a cascading series of blowups that eventually helped cost him a seat in the Senate.
That video operator was a “tracker” – that’s the job title now – and trackers these days are employed or put up with by most candidates for major office. Around here, we watched one watching 2006 Republican Senate candidate Mike McGavick, who occasionally referred to him on his travels around the state (but never made anything resembling a “Macaca” mistake). Trackers are busy again this year, on both sides in Oregon’s Senate race, and they’re becoming the subject of some contention.
Probably some kind of an informal but standard code of behavior is needed for this sort of thing. And probably it needs to start with acknowledgment of who the tracker is, and what he or she is doing there. It probably should continue with a strong press on candidates to allow the other side in, as, for example, McGavick did. (The results of the tracking didn’t seem, in his case, to do his candidacy any harm.)
The new round in Oregon started with a Eugene Register-Guard report about a Republican tracker who made his way into events held by Senate Democratic candidate Jeff Merkley. The tracker, Tim Lussier, apparently wrote the campaign to say that he was “a local activist and a big fan of Jeff. I’d love to find out when I can see him speak.” So they let him in.
We weren’t among the leading fans of Oregon Senate candidate Steve Novick‘s first video spot; it drew attention to his physical differences from other candidates without suggesting why that could amount to a compelling argument for him.
The Portland Democrat’s second, web-only, ad is a little different, and we’ll give it a thumbs up (as it were). Subtle it may not be, but it slips up on you quietly and neatly, with humor and without beating you over the head. And yes, Novick actually is agreeable dining company even if you don’t need a bottle opened.
Doesn’t feel like endorsement season, but if you’re going to have your say about presidential candidates, this would be the time. And the Seattle Timesdid, in part, today:
“The Seattle Times endorses Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president. He has the grasp, temperament and skills to right our standing in the world. He has broad insight and specific ideas to assuage our own hardworking citizens’ fears of an economy turning sour.”
The Republican endorsement is next Sunday. These have to do with the caucuses on February 9 and primary on February 19. (Yeah, yeah, we’ll discuss later.)
Meantime: Will there be a counterpart editorial in the Idaho Statesman, since Idaho Democrats caucus on February 5?
This morning, back at home and blogging by the fireplace, thoughts return to that scene from last night, out of Dante – not the Inferno but the Icebox – and whatever may have happened to all those people . . .
What follows isn’t political, as such. It certainly is a matter of public affairs, and a reflect on how often people in positions of responsibility lose sight of the point of their work.
Friday was not a good day for travel across the width of the state of Oregon. Saturday looked better, and it wasn’t awful in its easternmost reaches, at least in early to midday; snow fell but the roads remained easily passable. On our journey, accompanied by a rescue dog headed from Nampa to Portland, trouble began with the ice rain, which started clunking down just past Arlington and was becoming inescapable by gasup at The Dalles.
Ahead, it apparently was much worse, at least account to Shell station gossip (which is usually pretty sound on such matters). US 84 had been shut down through much of the Gorge, from Cascade Locks to Troutdale on the east edge of Portland, because ice rain had led to a series of wrecks there. An alternative was to cross the Columbia and head west on Washington Highway 14; in fact, traffic between the Cascade Locks and Portland areas was being formally diverted there.
About 400 passengers at the Boise Airport about noon Friday had to go through screening a second time after a California man seeking a shoe shine entered the secure area through the exit corridor, Transportation Safety Administration officials said.
TSA officials said the man, since identified as 38-year-old Jesse Flores, of Victorville, Calif., could not immediately be located in the terminal after he bypassed security. The breech caused the Boise Airport to be closed for about one hour and 20 minutes as Boise Police and the TSA investigated.
NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and how they're dealing with the day of the Internet. New Editions helps you make sense of where your newspaper is headed. New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95. See the NEW EDITIONS page.
This is the story of the Idaho State Police over the last 75 years. It's been a journey ranging from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho. See the WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story. See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping. See the Medimont Reflections page
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Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95
At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95
The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.