Writings and observations

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Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

With presidential debates behind us and just a few days until half of the eligible voters cast their ballots on November 6th, let’s check the indices outlined in a mid-September column for tracking who may win.

1) The 80/40 rule which basically says if President Obama receives over 80% of the total minority vote, Governor Romney has to receive an almost impossible to obtain 60% of the total white vote. It appears the President is hanging right there at the 80% number but some of that is considered “soft” and could still switch. Meantime Governor Romney has started to surge among the white vote primarily
due to a significant swing in the female vote (an 18 point turn around) and also is closing in on the 60% number. Toss-up.

2) Independent women are starting to move gravitating towards Romney due in part to the challenger’s strong performance in the first debate and to his staying on the economic message which is his strength. Advantage: Romney.

3) As goes Ohio so will go the challenger’s hopes. The President still leads in the crucial state, but momentum is with Romney as he is closing the gap and is within the margin of error in most polls. However, Romney may have surged ahead in several other crucial toss-up states including Florida, Colorado and Nevada. In close races the one with momentum at the end usually prevails. Advantage:
Romney.

4) The 5% lie factor. Clearly this one benefits Governor Romney and one suspects part of his closing surge is in fact from those who are now giving an honest answer to pollsters rather than what they perceive to be the politically correct answer. Advantage: Romney.

5) The money race. President Obama had a record breaking August, collecting $181 million but the Romney campaign collected $171 million according to press accounts so Romney still leads the money race.

6) The debates. Romney overwhelming won the first debate in the public’s view and held his own, thus coming across as a worthy equal not to be mention capable president, in the subsequent debates. Advantage: Romney.

With a few days to go, if these indices are correct, for only the second time in the last 50 years a Republican will have wrested the presidency away from an incumbent Democrat. The prior occurrence was Ronald Reagan’s defeat of Jimmy Carter.

Of course Democrats returned the favor twice also, with Jimmy Carter defeating the un-elected Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton defeating George H.W. Bush.

If the President loses, here are six reasons why, all of which this writer concurs with. I owe the six to my former Gallatin partner and Andrus colleague, Marc Johnson, who outlined these six in his Johnson Post blog of October 12th.

Johnson prefaces the six saying they present a “damning indictment of a guy who at a basic level doesn’t get—or like—politics,” and a guy who “just lacks the Bill Clinton-like skill to relate the art of governing to the drama of campaigning.”

1) The President displayed “an astonishing failure at a basic level of political communications” to convey the importance of his historic health reform legislation. Johnson judged the president guilty of thinking that the rightness of his policy obviated the need to explain it clearly and concisely to America’s
voters.

2) The President granted way too much control of his legislative agenda in the first two years to then Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

3) The President failed to focus laser-like on the economy in the wake of the 2008 election.

4) The President failed to back up his own Fiscal Reform Commission’s recommendations to address the spiraling debt crisis with a combination of spending cuts, modest revenue enhancements and needed entitlement reforms. Johnson points out that if the president had held close the recommendations from the commission headed by Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson they would have given him bi-partisan political and policy cover during the entire campaign season.

5) The President never really explained why the country came close to a second Great Depression nor held anyone accountable for the near catastrophe.

6) The President “has no convincing story to tell about his years in office and little to say about what a second term would look like.”

The question is why? Author Michael Lewis (Blindside, Moneyball) may have it right. … He draws an analogy to the way Obama approaches his basketball game to the way he approaches his job: he plays to win, but is cautious, likes to see frequent passes until the right shot opens up, and seldom shoots the ball himself unless it is a high percentage make shot. Woe to those who gun and don’t work as a team.

At a time when the nation is looking for leadership it wants to believe can help lead the country back to economic prosperity it appears the voters just may be about to send the President back to the bench.

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Pocatellan Robert Kimber, center, shares a laugh with ISU President Arthur Vailas, left, and ISU Foundation President Arlo Luke at the Stephens Performing Arts Center in Pocatello. (photo/Mark Mendiola)

 

mendiola
Mark Mendiola
Eastern Idaho

Emphasizing that higher education helps drive economic development, Idaho State University President Arthur Vailas said during his recent “State of the University” presentation that the state’s colleges and universities still need substantial financial support from the Legislature to cope with increasingly tight budgets.

“Appropriations continue to decline,” Vailas told business, government and education leaders at the ISU Stephens Performing Arts Center. “The state always should have a role and continued responsibility in support of education.”

ISU’s health profession departments treat 40,000 patients a year, but Idaho still does not have a medical school, he lamented, pointing out that the state’s rural communities are the most underserved in the United States in regards to health care.

Tuition and fees totaling $71.76 million in Fiscal 2012 were the largest revenue source for ISU, edging out state appropriations that totaled $70.59 million. Grants and contracts amounting to $55.6 million were the third largest slice of the Pocatello university’s budget pie. ISU has submitted $164.3 million in grant proposals for Fiscal 2012 compared to $108.3 million submitted the previous year to help fill funding needs.

“The competitiveness of getting outside support is more and more challenging,” Vailas said, noting federal stimulus funding has disappeared and budget earmarks are gone. “Expenditures have grown as well.”

ISU’s full-time equivalent fall 2012 enrollment was up 2.1 percent this year at 11,251 students, but total unduplicated student head count was up 3.4 percent at 19,284 students and undergraduate head count was up 4.5 percent at 14,205 students.

Total non-resident students increased 4 percent, but total international students increased 29 percent. Jesse Kiboko, immigration advisor with ISU’s international programs office, said ISU’s 700 international students – representing 58 countries or about 3 percent of ISU’s total enrollment – spent about $1 million to enroll at ISU. Their numbers are expected to double to 1,400 by 2014, Kiboko said.

ISU’s total degrees and certificates awarded in Fiscal 2012 were up 6 percent, with 33 percent of the degrees awarded in Health Professions, and 18 percent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Forty-nine percent of the degrees were bachelor degrees; 21 percent, master degrees; 15 percent, associate degrees; 8 percent, technical certificates, and 7 percent, doctorates.

ISU’s in-state and out-of-state tuition totaled $5,416 and $17,032, respectively, lower than what is charged at Montana State University, North Dakota State University and Northern Arizona University, Vailas said.

“Everybody has participated in trying to keep tuition at affordable rates,” he said, describing the process as painful as various departments share the burden of fiscal responsibility. “When the economy is doing well or not, tuition goes up.”

Noting that the United States has fallen behind in maintaining its infrastructure nationwide, Vailas estimated ISU has deferred $400 million in maintenance to reduce costs. “ISU increases have been a lot less over time while other universities are going in the reverse direction. … We are one of the few universities reducing the debt.”

Citing examples of ISU faculty securing major funding for specialized projects, Vailas noted the U.S. Department of Energy granted Dr. Eric Burgett $2 million to develop advanced radiation detectors and measure fuel inside nuclear reactors, and the U.S. Geological Survey gave Dr. Nancy Glenn of ISU’s Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory $546,723 to assess fuel volumes in fire-threatened areas and landscape management after fires.

The Alsam Foundation also granted $500,000 for an ISU College of Pharmacy laboratory and research in Meridian. The Idaho Museum of Natural History has received $1.5 million in new research grants and $200,000 in new donations.

ISU’s excellence in accelerator technology, biomedical science and engineering, energy and environmental research, health care and energy systems technology has garnered national and international attention.

The number of ISU students taking online courses surged from 5,291 in Fiscal 2011 to 6,436 in Fiscal 2012, and credit hours generated by online courses went from 28,468 to 36,461 during that same period. Online students went from 12 percent to about 25 percent of ISU’s enrollment in a year, Vailas noted.

“ISU led the charge in a different kind of change – dual enrollment,” he added. “We are the leading research institution in the state in the early college experience.”

High school students engaged in dual enrollment with ISU rose from 1,434 in Fiscal 2011 to 1,699 the following year, accruing 10,543 credit hours, up from 8,644 the previous year.

“The university continues to make a significant impact not only in the state, but also globally,” Vailas said. “We were hit with a great economic downturn, but ISU continued to prosper in even the most difficult times.”

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