Writings and observations

Dirk Kempthorne

Dirk Kempthorne

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 . . .”

ADDENDUM Someone else, it turns out, did make note of this – the New West Boise blog. Duly noted.

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Idaho

Raul Labrador

Raul Labrador

Somebody needs to start keeping track of all the blogs being started by state legislators around the Northwest. Maybe we’ll do it.

Just noticed a promising new one today by Idaho Representative Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, a House freshman, hosted by the Idaho Statesman. It joins one started not many days ago by Democratic Senator David Langhorst.

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.”

But it does indicate some ambition . . .

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Idaho

foreclosure map

foreclosure map/RealtyTrac

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).

See also a Seattle Times piece on this, noting the state’s high increase was in Pierce County.

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