"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.
NW Reading

An item in the Seattle Slog notes the serious reversals Hewlett Packard Company has endured in the last year. Not small reversals, either. There was the approaching $8.8 billion in charges, much of that inuring to HP, for its associated British software company Autonomy. And the close to $11 billion in writedowns just in the last quarter for the EDS services division.

The piece by Goldy goes to note the impact on the top executives behind these moves and others: “Former HP CEO Leo Apotheker, who initiated the acquisition, earned $30.4 million last year. Current CEO Meg Whitman, who closed the deal, and who approved the deal as a board member, earned $16.5 million last year for just a few months work. Chairman of the board Ray Lane, who hired and quickly fired Apotheker, and who has presided over a string of disastrous acquisitions, earned $10.6 million last year in exchange for his shrewd business insight.”

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Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

The latest lunacy from the far right is a top-of-the-voice demand to be allowed to secede from the good ol’ U.S. of A. or, in the alternative, renounce citizenship. Anyone that wants out that badly not only has my blessing but a foot firmly planted on their ass to get ‘em started.

It’s just a wild guess, but few of them likely have checked laws of the country they want out of to see how it’s done. Or if the rest of the state can go with ‘em. Or if either can be done. Being a helpful soul, I’ve done their research for them. And they ain’t gonna like it.

First, no individual or state can “secede” from this country. They can’t just pick up their marbles – or oil wells – and go anywhere else. We have some loudmouths in our Oregon neighborhood who take to the stump or the bar- or right wing radio – every so often, demanding several Oregon and California counties dump the country and form the Sovereign State of Jefferson. Much as I’d like to see them secede – er – succeed, they won’t. The occasional full-throated exercise is probably more the beer talking than any profound, thoroughly-researched, heartfelt desire to pack up and go.

Once a state joins a Union, it comes under the protection of that Union. If a state wants to secede, that state will be considered a “rebel” of the Union – as in the Civil War – and the federal government must do all in its power to preserve the “embodied collective status.” The Union. Should the rebellious state keep trying, it does so facing “severe economic results and law enforcement issues.” In short, whether we want ‘em or not, we’re stuck with ‘em. And they with us.

Personally, I’d love to see Texas malcontents prevail. Few states get more federal money – military, space, farm subsidies, etc. – as does Texas. If the feds shut the spigot, the state would soon look like an El Paso parking lot. From border to uninhabitable border. Also, Louisiana gets $1.45 for every buck paid in taxes – Alabama $1.71. They’d lose those.

There is an oft-quoted claim Texas is different – that when it joined the Union, there was a special contract clause to let them opt out if ever desired. Not true, McGee. The clause had to do with a possible future decision to re-divide the state. That may be why ol’ Gov. Perry – while throwing around the “secession” B.S. a year or two ago for his own political ends – has now cooled his jets and said it won’t happen.

As for renouncing U.S. citizenship, that’s a bit tricky as well. Also, as I read it, damned final. First, you must appear personally before a government official and sign an oath of renunciation at that time. You can’t just send a note to the ol’ State Department and tell ‘em “I’m quit.”

And you can’t get your Social Security, Medicare or military retirement checks sent elsewhere. Medicaid, either. Nope! Contrary to the nut crowd, renunciation of U.S. citizenship is complete – final – all the way out! There are some interesting cases in which someone petitioned to leave but wanted to take a benefit or two with ‘em. In one case I checked, the Department of State found the individual didn’t fully understand what he wanted to do and wouldn’t approve the application.

Oh, didn’t I tell you? You have to do the stack of official paperwork before you appear in person. And if you haven’t got more justification than being pissed at an election outcome or living under an African-American President, chances are you’re stuck here. Yeah, that’s how it works.

Also, if you quit us, you become “stateless.” That means no protection from ANY government and – without a passport – you can’t go anywhere. So, if you go to a foreign country, you may be deported without the proper documentation – passport or visa – from your “home” country. Which, of course, you wouldn’t have.

Here’s even more bad news. Cutting the tie doesn’t relieve you of U.S. tax obligations or other civil commitments. You can’t avoid prosecution for crimes committed before leaving. Also child support or alimony or other court-approved responsibilities are still in effect – with or without a country.

For those who still want to kiss the rest of us off, here’s a final item to consider. Renunciation is irrevocable except in very rare instances as determined by Immigration and Naturalization. Very rare. And the act can’t be set aside without a successful administrative or judicial appeal. You can’t just get mad, leave, then expect a “welcome home” when you get over your hissy-fit. Or sober up. Whichever comes first.

Following previous national elections, we probably had a couple hundred thousand malcontents. For me, it was Richard Nixon – the second time. Is racism an element? Bet on it. Southern Poverty Law Center says secession talk has attracted the “predictable rogues gallery of racists and neo-Nazis.” Given no similar sizeable effort to secede under Reagan, Clinton or when the Bushes were re-elected, there does seem to be some “white fury” here.

Fear of “creeping socialism” which too many on the far right can’t define – while cashing their Social Security checks? Sure. Just plain malcontents, drunks and phony bitchers? Yep, them, too.

But, now, they’re linked electronically. Passing around fictitious documents some guy in Cleveland devised in his basement. Sending out racist and hate screeds to the like-minded. Where they used to dwell under large rocks or in dark closets alone, they now have a party line of I-Net technology, making them more visible and forcing us to hear their illogical – and sometimes violent – outbursts. They’re fed daily diets of hate on the radio, have their own television network, their own demented publications and can exist in a world separate and apart from fact. And tolerance.

For doubters of all this, I submit exhibit “A” – the 2012 national election. When candidates for president and vice president can’t figure out why all the information they got for months from “their own sources” didn’t square with the reality of what happened, the only answer is they were operating in an insular environment with no checks and balances from other, unbiased input. Insulation in political campaigns – especially in the final days – is common. Which is why a wise campaign will look outside its usual communications links to stay balanced with real world facts. Not a common occurrence on the right.

Well, there you have it. Whatever your petty complaints about this country, most of you are stuck with us. And, unfortunately, we with you. It’s not that a lot of us who see the world with “live-and-let-live” outlooks wouldn’t like to assist you to the nearest port and wave bye-bye. We’re constrained by the laws that were well-designed to keep us together. Laws most of us accept. Laws of a homeland you say you want no more of.

Wish it were different. We’d be better off without you, too.

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The format change at Portland’s KPOJ-AM eliminating liberal talk radio in that city is not an aberration. This out today:

On January 2nd, CBS (which used to be known as Viacom before it spun off several of its business units as a separate company called Viacom) plans to convert KFNQ, formerly KPTK, to the sports radio format, along with many other stations around the country. The apparent objective is to create a stronger network of sports radio stations so that CBS can better compete for national sports programming contracts.
Seattle, of course, already has plenty of stations offering sports talk. These include KRKO (broadcasting as Fox Sports Radio 1380), KIRO (broadcasting as 710 ESPN Seattle) and KJR (broadcasting as Sports Radio 950).
But CBS executives don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, AM 1090′s current format isn’t making enough money – so they’re going to completely trash it, just like Clear Channel did with AM 620 in Portland.

This site has been in favor, for many years, of a return to the Fairness Doctrine. Reiterating the call for it …

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The last week, we’ve asked readers whether incumbent Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney or challenger Scott Bedke (the assistant majority leader) would emerge as winner when the session holds its organizational meeting next month.

Results: 87.5% say Bedke, and the rest said someone else. No one predicted Denney.

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Mark Mendiola
Eastern Idaho

With about 6,100 jobless Idahoans facing a cutoff in their extended weekly unemployment payments by the end of December and plunging over their own fiscal cliffs, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, says Congress and the Obama administration have only a few weeks left to resolve the nation’s ominous federal budget crisis before taxes spiral up and deep spending cuts are imposed.

Conducting a November 14 iTownHall conference call from his Washington office that reportedly was tuned into by thousands of Idahoans, Crapo said, “We truly are facing difficult and historic times in our country.”

Noting the nation recently went through extremely intense presidential and congressional elections that only succeeded in maintaining the status quo – President Barack Obama remaining in the White House, Republicans controlling the U.S. House and Democrats dominating the U.S. Senate – Idaho’s senior senator said the government has been split and unable to bridge partisan differences.

Meanwhile, Americans “face very, very serious and immediate problems,” including a $16 trillion national debt swelling by $1 trillion a year, and the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid entitlement systems “rapidly facing insolvency.”

Crapo said: “The economy is beginning to reel because of our debt load. If we don’t take prompt action soon, the world markets will soon lose confidence in the ability of the United States of America to pay its debt. We literally face the threat of losing the American dream.”

He explained the so-called “fiscal cliff” technically is different from the debt crisis but related. The cliff over which the federal government is scheduled to go over on Jan. 1, 2013 involves $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts “done in a way that is very inartful with the potential of causing great damage to the military and the economy,” Crapo said.

The Idaho Republican said he supports protecting the $1.2 trillion level of the cuts, but reforming them so they are not so draconian. On the flip side of the spending cuts is a steep spike in a wide gamut of taxes reduced eight to 10 years ago, commonly known as “the Bush era tax cuts,” enacted when George W. Bush was president.

“Every American is facing increasing taxes,” Crapo said. “Most all Americans will see tax increases, even those who don’t pay income taxes.”

Key components of the fiscal cliff include:

· The disappearance of a 2 percent temporary cut in federal payroll taxes.
· The expiration of extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.
· The ending of Bush era tax cuts impacting married couples, families with children, inheritances, investments and income.
· A sharp cut in reimbursements for doctors participating in Medicare.
· Imposition of an alternative minimum tax on 26 million households, raising their taxes by an average of $3,700.
· Effecting new taxes on family investment income exceeding $250,000 to help pay for Obama’s health care law.
· A variety of smaller tax cuts for both businesses and individuals known as “extenders,” including tax credits for research and development and sales tax deductions in states without income taxes.
· A $55 billion or 9 percent cut in defense spending.
· A $55 billion in cuts to domestic programs, including a 2 percent cut to Medicare providers.

Crapo said a recent study shows the fiscal cliff could mean a $3,000 tax increase for average families in Idaho. More than 7,000 workers have left the state’s labor force since May. An estimated 1,100 left the job market in October, the fifth straight month of Idaho labor force declines.

Referring to the looming fiscal cliff, Crapo said: “Congress cannot allow this to happen. World markets would immediately react negatively.” He added the U.S. credit rating could be downgraded and the U.S. economy could implode.

Crapo continues to work with the so-called Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators organized to help tackle the nation’s deficit crisis, which he said has the support of 40 senators.

“One way or the other, it’s my hope we start seeing responsible government and responsible solutions supported,” Crapo said. “People in America are clamoring for the gridlock in Washington to stop. Frankly, we don’t have time.”

President Obama’s insistence that tax rates be raised on those earning $250,000 or more annually would hit small businesses especially hard, Crapo said, urging that the U.S. tax code be reformed. Raising taxes on the upper two brackets would not come close to generating the revenue needed to close the nation’s deficit gap, he said.

“The crisis is because spending is too high not because taxes are too low,” Crapo said.

A Pocatello woman whose husband works for Meadow Gold said the company has decided it will be less expensive to pay a fine for not carrying health care than providing coverage for employees. She said her family was in panic mode upon learning the news.

Crapo predicted Obamacare ultimately will force millions of Americans to get health care coverage from the federal government because private companies will discard their own policies. Health care costs could more than double, some analysts have said.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates if the Bush era tax cuts are allowed to expire and taxes spring back up, that could raise up to $5 trillion in revenue over 10 years. About $800 billion could be raised from the top two tax brackets, Crapo said, but that’s the optimistic assessment.

“That kind of tax increase would be squarely hitting everyone in America,” he said, adding some pessimistically think it would raise only $2 trillion on the low end if unemployment were to vault and economic growth shrink by 3 percent. “I wish I could give absolute assurance the gridlock will be resolved and we won’t go over the cliff. … The worst option of everything is to do nothing and accept the status quo.”

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Idaho Mendiola

Oregon is home to a good deal of talk about the reorganizing of its liquor marketplace, prospectively moving away – as Washington state has – from the liquor store system, and possibly removing such elements as the three-tier sales system (producer, wholesaler, retailer) that without doubt adds inefficiency and cost to the system, and to the product.

Not as a final word but as a factor in thinking about this, take a look at this Washington Monthly article, which suggests – more clearly than I’ve seen elsewhere – the pluses to throwing inefficiency and extra cost into the system.

A sample: “And so, for eighty years, the kind of vertical integration seen in pre-Prohibition America has not existed in the U.S. But now, that’s beginning to change. The careful balance that has governed liquor laws in the U.S. since the repeal of Prohibition is under assault in ways few Americans are remotely aware of. Over the last few years, two giant companies—Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, which together control 80 percent of beer sales in the United States—have been working, along with giant retailers, led by Costco, to undermine the existing system in the name of efficiency and low prices. If they succeed, America’s alcohol market will begin to look a lot more like England’s: a vertically integrated pipeline for cheap drink, flooding the gutters of our own Gin Lane.”

As the region moves, apparently, in the direction of a marijuana marketplace, some of the ideas here might come into play there as well. – Randy Stapilus

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For all that nothing has changed in the numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the Idaho congressional and legislative delegations, the state’s battleground picture may have shifted a little.

Not a lot. But in some notable places.

Of the 105 seats, 21 were unopposed (one of those a Democrat, Michelle Stennett of Ketchum), and 58 more were decided in true landslides of 60 percent or more of the vote, so 79 of the 105 seats were generally not competitive at all. If we scale back a little further and look at races won only by realistically close margins – under 55 percent – then just 14 races, out of the 105, remain.

When you look at where in the state they were, the geography of the races makes sense.

Two of those close races were in the new District 5, which meshes Democratic-leaning Latah and Republican-leaning Benewah counties. Democrats won two of the three races there, but the closest legislative contest in Idaho this year resulted in the Republican win of Cindy Agidius (helped by strong connections in Moscow) by 123 votes over Democrat Paulette Jordan. The third-closest was the win of Democratic incumbent Senator Dan Schmidt over the man he beat more easily two years ago, Republican Gresham Bouma. This will be a hotly-contested district in 2014.

The second most competitive race was in District 26, the big Magic Valley district where the largest population base is in Democratic Blaine County. In House A, there was just enough Republican support in Gooding County to deliver a win for Republican Steve Miller. This may be a more competitive district now than it has been. Races in Lewiston and Pocatello ran close too, reinforcing that these are truly competitive areas, not the Democratic-leaning cities of yore.

Another district represented twice in this group may augur more for the future. Democrats made a strong bid for the seats in District 15, which is on the west side of Boise and historically has been solidly Republican, though electing relatively moderate Republicans. Did redistricting create a district more open to Democrats than the area had been in the past?

The top line in 15 is that Republicans Fred Martin won the Senate seat (52.1%) and Mark Patterson won the House B seat (53.1%). But these contrasted sharply with Republican wins in the old, differently mapped District 15, where Republicans often won landslides and in the last decade never got closer than the 53.2% (in 2002). Precinct results show the two Democrats there, Betty Richardson and Steve Berch (respectively), won a batch of precincts in the middle of the district that could form a clear base for Democrats in future races. District 15 has emerged as a true battleground.

In 2010, the foremost battleground in Idaho was District 18. on the southeast side of Boise: Republican Mitch Toryanski won the Senate seat there by just 103 votes over Democrat Branden Durst, and in House A the Republican Julie Ellsworth beat Janie Ward-Engelking by just nine votes. It was hard-fought this time too, but not quite as close – and running in the other direction. Democrats Durst won with a margin of 1,496 votes, and Ward-Engelking by more than that, 2,259 votes. The trend line suggests 18 may be following the rest of Boise in a Democratic direction.

These are of course changes at the edges. As a while, the Gem State is as Republican as it ever was.

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Idaho Idaho column

NW Reading

From the transcript of a November 12 reporter session with Idaho Superintendent of Pubblic Instruction Tom Luna, whose 2011 school legislation was defeated at the polls on November 6.

Q: It’s been six days now. What is your assessment of the next step? What reforms might you look at with the Legislature?

I think it’s important that education reform doesn’t stop. We just had a 22-month discussion about education in Idaho at a level of detail that we’ve never had before, and I think that that, if anything, has been very productive. People around the water cooler and the dinner table have had conversations about education reform, so I think the last thing that anyone wants to see is an end to education reform in Idaho. I think it’s critical that we work together and identify parts of the reform legislation that have support from all legislative stakeholders—ones that are easy to move forward in this next legislative session. What those are I don’t know just yet. I think you heard during the campaign that there were parts of these laws that were agreeable to both sides, but there were also parts that were disagreeable obviously to the “Vote No” campaign and to the electorate. Again, I think that we have to take advantage of the conversation we have had over the last two years in Idaho. We need to continue that conversation, and we need to make sure that conversation leads to meaningful reform in our schools.

Q: The “Vote No” campaign has said that it is willing to reach out and open a dialogue with you and other members of your administration. Has that happened?

Yes, I’ve had a number of meetings with stakeholders. Unfortunately, Penni Cyr and Robin Nettinga, the leaders of the IEA, have been gone. They get back tonight; I leave tomorrow morning. So we’re going to have a phone conversation. But there have been other conversations already with stakeholders in person and over the phone with the IEA. We will sit down and meet with them. We did before, and we will continue to do that going forward. It’s important that we do that in a collaborative way, and we will.

Q: Superintendent, do you have any regrets about this entire process and how you’ve handled it?

Well, those are two questions. Let me address the second part of your question. There are some things I wish I had done differently. Particularly, I regret that I used the phrase “union thuggery.” Just some background: there was a 48-hour period of time where some incidences happened. My vehicle was vandalized. I was interrupted during a live TV interview by someone who was unhappy, and if someone hadn’t gotten in the middle of that, I don’t know how that would have played out. And then a gentleman who identified himself as a teacher showed up at my mom’s house, who was a recent widow, to give her a piece of his mind. I think I referred to that as “union thuggery” or “union tactics.” I wish I wouldn’t have used that phrase because obviously it was used over and over and over. I can’t imagine a son not being concerned about his mom in that kind of a circumstance, but that’s one time when I wish I had been maybe a little bit more measured in how I responded to that incident.
I’ll give you some background, so I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities to play Monday-morning quarterback, but hindsight is 20/20. In hindsight, we can all think of things that we would have done differently.

When we ran these pieces of legislation, I never anticipated that we would end up in a referendum type of situation. When you look at these bills, each is very complex. So, it’s easy to identify one or two things in a very complex piece of legislation and focus on that and run a campaign based on one or two things that you are not happy with in a particular piece of legislation.

Q: Are you saying that you wish the bills themselves had been simpler.

Well, again, you’re asking me to play Monday-morning quarterback. I try to avoid that because I am looking forward.

Q: When you say that opponents focused on one or two things, are you suggesting that because of the campaign that was run, voters didn’t necessarily understand…?

No, the same people who voted down these laws elected me to this position twice. So, I can’t criticize them for turning down these laws and then congratulate them for making the right choice when they elected me. I have full confidence in Idahoans educating themselves and then making a decision based on the information that they’ve gathered. So, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that if we knew this was going to a referendum, then maybe rather than three bills there should have been a couple dozen bills, and we should have treated each of these things separately so they could have been weighed on their own merits. And maybe that’s the process going forward. I don’t know because those conversations are still happening.

With a referendum, it’s easy to target just one or two parts of each law. I think the way it was described to me was that each of these three laws was like a separate movie in a trilogy. Each movie had six different scenes, and each scene had four different parts. So it was just very complex.

Q: When the HP contract was announced, several of us asked what would happen to the contract. At the time, your comment was, “Well, the train has already left the station.” Did this really take you by surprise—the voter rejection of the propositions?

No, not on Proposition 3. I am just being brutally honest with you. We knew going into Election Day that Proposition 3 was going to be very difficult to carry. And then, of course, all three of them were handily beaten. But, when it came to Proposition 3, I assume that our struggle was that we were able to implement Propositions 1 and 2 but not Proposition 3. Districts were able to negotiate for two years under the collective bargaining components of Proposition 1. We had pay-for-performance that had operated in our schools for a year under Proposition 2, and eight out of ten teachers will be receiving a bonus this year as a result of that. Proposition 3 was something where implementation really was to begin next year. I really believe that if our schools had received the laptops, and that people saw the benefit of that, it would have changed people’s impression of Proposition 3. I think that the fact that we were not able to implement it made it a heavier lift.

To the question of whether we should have waited to make the HP announcement, I don’t agree with that. I know there were some people who even thought, once we had an agreement, that we should wait. But, I think that voters deserved to have all of that information as soon as we knew it so they could vote with all the information we had having been made available in a very transparent way. I can’t imagine knowing that we had that contract agreement in place, letting people vote, and then days afterwards saying, “Oh, by the way, we reached an agreement with HP two weeks before the election and didn’t bother to tell you.” We wanted to be very transparent and let voters know what the contract was and who the contract was with and the details of it.

Q: There was a perception that the timing of the announcement was meant to leverage the outcome of the vote in favor of the propositions.

Well, how’d that work out (laughs)? We could have sat on that information, but that’s not the right thing to do when you are dealing with taxpayer money. So, we put the information out there and tried to answer questions that came up. I understand that some people thought this was some way to gain leverage, but again, that wasn’t our intent, and it clearly wouldn’t have worked had it been our intent.

Q: I think we all know that the Students Come First laws, however affectionately or otherwise, were labeled the “Luna Laws.” With all due respect, you don’t introduce legislation into the legislature. You don’t vote on anything in the legislature. You don’t sign anything into law. I think more realistically they were as much the “Otter Laws” as they were anything. With that said, looking forward, have you communicated with the Governor? Where is Governor Otter in terms of looking forward in education?

Well, “Otter Laws” doesn’t flow as well (laughs). I’ve had a number of conversations with the Governor, and we both agree that we need to take advantage of this opportunity that has presented itself—this conversation that has been had about education reform. I never ran into one person who said they were voting “no” because they didn’t think we should reform our schools. They had specific issues with certain parts of the law. I ran into a lot of people who were splitting their votes. I ran into a lot of people who said, “I like this about Proposition 1, but I struggle with this part.” So, I didn’t hear from anyone who said, “Let’s go back to the system we had before.” We’ll get everybody around the table, have conversations to identify the things that we all agree on that were in the different propositions, move forward together with legislation that would restore those parts of the bill, and then work together to find common ground on areas where we do not agree.

Q: Do you anticipate the Governor being involved in that process?

Yes, I do. I think the Governor will continue to play a lead role. If you look at other states that have gone through this process, it’s similar to what we are going through in Idaho. There are steps forward. There are bumps in the road. There are times when you have to have a process check and a reality check. But every one of those states has had a governor, whether it’s Tim Pawlenty or Jeb Bush, who continued to provide the leadership and really the expectation that we have to do these things and then used that pulpit to encourage the citizens and the legislature to respond.

Q: Indiana just unelected their Superintendent last week. Are there lessons to be learned from that for Idaho?

Well, I am good friends with Tony Bennett. I am good friends with a number of education leaders across the state. What happened in Idaho really happened all across the country, where education reform was defeated on many different fronts, or, at least, stalled on many different fronts. And what happened in Indiana is just another example. It happened in South Dakota. I don’t believe it means “stop.” I think what it means is that there are forces in play that you have to recognize and you have to engage with in order to get the water to the end of the row.

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Idaho Reading

Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

MANDATE: noun (1) an official order or authorization. (2) the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to party or candidate that wins an election.

That word “mandate” has been popping up in the media since the re-election of President Obama. For a few days, I thought it was not accurate. Most people usually use it only when someone wins by a significant margin. Which Obama did not. But I – like them – was wrong. Except that I DID believe a mandate was given – not just this usual one so often misunderstood.

It would seem some of the ill-thought-through, conservative feedback I got from some readers – the ones telling me “there was no mandate” – was wrong, too. Note that nothing in the old dictionary says a mandate is anything more than just “an authority … regarded as given by the electorate to party or candidate that wins an election.” Doesn’t say “overwhelming” or “lop-sided” or anything else. Just “wins.”

So, seems there was a “mandate” after all. While I’ve not used that word to describe last week’s Obama victory – yet – I do so now. Maybe two or three of ‘em. Not just using the dictionary definition as evidence but because of other votes. For instance, the ones that totaled 332. The old electoral college. The place where 270 wins the pot. That’s the one real political pros keep their eyes on.
To knowledgeable folks, that 332 Obama win is more important than the raw vote total of about 120 million for both candidates and an Obama final victory margin of about three million. A “mandate” the dictionary says. And more.

Pros know the electoral vote is more important when it comes to counting. That’s because they look to see WHERE those votes came from. In Obama’s case, the majority came from large states with large populations and – more important to the pols – large elected political delegations. You can rack up half a dozen small states – Idaho, Montana, Utah, Kansas and North and South Dakota for example – and not equal one Florida or one Ohio or one California. Romney got more states than Obama. And lost.

So, in the political business, Obama got a mandate in the electoral college, too. When you throw in a net Senate pickup of three seats and half a dozen or so in the House, professional nose counters see a tide beginning to turn with a large off-year election only two years hence. Got to get out front.

Now comes a new national poll with even more bad news for Speaker Boehner and that caucus he can’t control. ‘Cause it adds more pressure to that small, well-defined tidal movement now turning against them. When voters were asked – days after the election -who’d be to blame if Congress and the President can’t solve the debt ceiling and sequestration issues, 53% said House Republicans – 29% the President – about 10% to both.

If you’re sitting in one of those House GOP seats – or one in that third of the Senate – all up for election in two years, you don’t want to be seen by more than half the electorate as continuing gridlock or being obstructionist. Those poll results – just that outcome – really amount to “mandate” number three. The answer for who’d be held to blame – “Republicans.” Period.

Republican talking heads, wingnuts and foil-hatters have begun the circular firing squad over their nationwide swat down at the polls. The closed ideological loop of Faux News, Limbaugh, Beck, the oft-disgraced Morris, O’Reilly, Rove and others of their ilk – with their skewed political polling – provided all the phony B.S. and other-worldly political disinformation the rapt audience of single-minded followers could swallow. And swallow they did. Even Romney and Ryan gobbled it up. Ryan said after the election, “Our internal polls sure showed much different information than the outcome.”

Well, duh? When everyone involved is in a deliberate “disinformation” circle, what other outcome would you expect?
Then there was Romney’s completely ridiculous “Obama gave them gifts” craziness. Another ignorant shot at Latinos and black Americans – the same ones Republicans want to attract. Wonder how he squares that with Obama wins in Iowa, Maine and New Hampshire – hardly large minority areas. Seems to me his 47% became 52% and kicked his ass. Nothing more than that, Sir.

The national Republican Party will not be much different before the next election. Oh, a few in Congress may stop their suicidal, ideological idiocy.

They’ve read the winds and will become “shape shifters.” Some always survive that way. But the dedicated T-P types won’t budge even though a few of their number bit the dust this time and several came awfully close to being unemployed. Their desire for purity is not unlike the British Redcoats of Revolutionary War times who lined up and walked across open fields into the guns of the American army. To what end?

Already Sen. Paul is talking of running for president in 2016. The intellectually-vacant Rep. Gohmert of Texas this week nominated Newt Gingrich – who resigned from the House in disgrace many years ago – for new Speaker of the House. Of course, GOP members were voting a full week AFTER our 2012 election was over. Our own neighborhood idiot who’s been twice rejected in Oregon’s Fourth District has promised to be back in two years. More will show up.

And they’ll continue to come back like Capistrano swallows because the people who support them have control of the national – and in some cases local – party nominating process. Otherwise intelligent rank and file Republicans may not want the madness to continue. But they don’t run the party. Until they take it back, they’ll be just as victimized as the rest of us. And that won’t happen anytime soon because the crazies control the machinery to do so.

The fastest growing political group – based on 2012 registrations and identified voters where required – is “Independent.” Because we under that banner can’t vote in most nominating primary elections – and because the GOP is on a kamikaze mission to the far right – you may see a national group try to formalize “Independent” and use that as a base to go for that third party we often talk of. Given exit polling and those other statistics cited, it looks like that’s one direction things could go. ‘Course they’d probably have to change the name.

All that is speculation, of course. But this much we do know. The President got a mandate – maybe two – maybe three. He has more control of events now than a month ago – congressional Republicans less. He’s not able to run for a third term. So, if he’s to build a legacy, as presidents are wont to do, he’s in a fine position to build a good one.

For those who want to dispute all this, just keep watching your Faux News. Fiction that goes your way is much easier to accept than facts that don’t.

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The question is going to be asked this year: Are Washington and Oregon one-party states? Actually, it’s already being asked; a David Brewster piece in Crosscut already asks it (and wrestles with but doesn’t totally pin it).

Let’s define some terms.

A one-party state is where one party is in near-total dominance, and the other is reduced to virtual non-competitive status. Look at Idaho, where statewide Republican candidates nearly always win in landslides or near-landslides, and where the legislature is upwards of 80% Republican. That’s a one-party Republican state.

Not so far from that is California, at least after last week’s election. There, Democrats dominate among the statewides and will hold two-thirds of the state’s legislative seats. Such gaudy margins may or may not hold, but that has the look – for now anyway – of a one-party Democratic state.

Washington and Oregon are something else.

Democrats do have a definite advantage in them; these states are closer to blue than to red.

They have all the partisan statewide offices in Oregon, and all but one in Washington. They have both U.S. Senate seats. They have control (after this year’s election) of both legislative chambers in each state.

But we can’t really use the same kind of overwhelming language to describe them.

In Oregon, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber just barely won in 2010. Republicans do have a U.S. House seat (one of five). The Democratic majority in the Senate amounts to a seat seat above tie, and in the House, which just emerged from a tie, Democrats have a fragile four-seat advantage, which could melt away again as swiftly as it returned this year.

In Washington, Republicans hold four of the 10 U.S. House seats, a point often forgotten after the loss of three open-seat races this time (two of those in districts where the Democratic voter edge is strong anyway). And while they remain a legislative majority, the margins are close enough to put Democratic control in regular jeopardy – and may be in the next session amid semi-revolt from a couple of the caucus members.

Put Washington and Oregon in a different cetegory – Democratic-leaning, but not one-party.

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Northwest Oregon Washington

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Several readers have indicated they believe there should be an explanation of why the six indices the column forwarded as ones to track before the final vote that would give one a good idea whether there would be a new president missed the mark.

All seem to have a perverse desire to see this humble scribe masticating on crow.

#1. The 80/40 rule which said if Obama took 80% or more of the minority vote then Romney had to take an almost impossible 60% of the total white vote. Preliminary final tallies show that neither hit the mark. Obama took 75% of the minority vote (including an impressive 72% of the Hispanic vote), and Romney came close to topping the 59% plus of the total white vote that Reagan garnered but did not go over the magic 60% mark. What was really deceiving to the public was the impression the media created of a massive turnout by showing long lines waiting to vote at places where there were not as many balloting places as before for budgetary reasons, or, as in Florida, where early voting time was cut in half. Actual turnout totals will not top either the 2008 or the 2004 elections.

#2. Watch how undecided independent women break. Initially they appeared to start breaking towards Romney after the first debate, but the predilection of stupid, white male GOP Senate candidates to start talking about rape and abortion soon brought many of them back to their concern as with other women about access to abortion and protection of contraceptive rights. When the smoke cleared Obama had a 12 percent advantage among women voters more than erasing Romney’s 7 % advantage with men voters.

#3. As goes Ohio – this said no Republican has ever won the presidency without taking Ohio and it still holds true. Polls appeared to show Romney gaining steadily on the President in Ohio but what the polls could not measure was the superior ground game Obama had in Ohio with far local store front offices in key neighborhoods and a far more sophisticated involvement plan for all its numerous volunteers. Romney’s team simply did not believe that Obama could recreate the 2008 coalition nor match the intensity. Not only were they wrong on that they had no idea how much more sophisticated the ground operation Messina and Axelrod had in place was over theirs. When the smoke cleared not only had Obama won Ohio, he took every other one of the key swing states.

#4. The 5% lie factor. If it was ever there it disappeared in the appearance of the Romney surge right after the first debate. The evidence though appears to suggest that it was never there, that today’s polling techniques are so sophisticated it can detect and minimize those that may lie by weighing answers to other key issue questions. How one analyzes the data and how the data is collected remain key matters that do determine how good the material can be in terms of guiding critical campaign decisions. Today’s candidates need to ask pretty tough questions about sampling including whether there’s a certain percentage of random calls to cell phones and whether there’s an internet component.

In the final analysis most of the major polls were amazingly accurate and this led to some darn good prognostications by folks like the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato as well as the Washington Post’s 538 blog site which always presented a good analysis based on composite numbers from ten leading polls.

#5. Whoever wins the money game, usually wins. Well both campaigns spent over a billion dollars each with Romney winning the money race barely and narrowly losing the total ballot race.

#6. The debates. The column was dead on correct on this one. Romney came with his game face on to the first debate and the President was obviously not prepared. Turn the sound off and it was even more clear who was winning. Romney then held his own in the next two also. If Romney had won almost all political pundits and historians would have ascribed it to the first debate.

There are many factors that constitute winning or losing an election. Some are controllable, such as how prepared one is to debate, and some are uncontrollable, such as the Benghazi event. It will always be an inexplicable mystery as to why the President was so lackluster in that first debate. He virtually created the opening for Romney to attempt to drive his Nash Rambler through.

In the end, the President won and he can thank three people: #1 former President Bill Clinton; #2 Chief campaign strategist David Axelrod; and #3 Vice president Joe Biden. He owes these three one heck ‘uv a lot.

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Washington now has – and I take this from a couple of online sources – the highest-ranking women in the U.S. Senate and House majorities.

That has been the case for a while now in the Senate, where Senator Pattty Murray has been majority conference secretary, 4th-ranking in the caucus, since 2007.

Today, 5th District Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers also became 4th-ranking in leadership, in the House majority caucus (as chair of the House Republican Conference).

Washington hasn’t quite yet returned to the heavy impactful days of the 70s and 80s, but it seems to be getting there. – Randy Stapilus

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