Writings and observations

carlson CHRIS


In his wonderfully entertaining memoir, Joe Miller tells an incredible story about Bethine Church, the widow of Idaho’s four-term Democratic U.S. Senator Frank Church.

Miller was for 40 years a top lobbyist in Washington, D.C., but early in his career he was paid a then princely sum of $25,000 a year by the United Steelworkers of America to organize and run campaigns for the U.S. Senate. In his first outing, 1956, one of his winning “horses” was a young, political neophyte, Boise attorney Frank Church.

What Miller did not know but came to know, was the Senate and Idaho were getting two for the price of one. Had Miller known that he might not have crossed Bethine the first time he met her.

In his book Miller tells about flying to Boise shortly after Church had won a narrow victory in the August 6th primary over former U.S. Senator Glen Taylor, the singing cowboy. He recounts meeting in U.S. District Judge Chase Clark’s home. Judge Clark was Bethine’s father, Frank’s father-in-law, a former governor of Idaho and as Miller puts it “a shrewd old hand in Idaho politics.”

Also present was the Democratic national committeeman, Harry Wall, a movie theater owner from Lewiston; the state party chairman, George Greenfield; attorney Carl Burke, Church’s boyhood chum who managed all of the campaigns; and, Bethine.

Miller admits he was not happy to have the candidate’s wife sitting in the strategy session. His fear was self-fulfilling. In presenting the media strategy Miller emphasized the then somewhat unusual marketing of a candidate through large billboards across the state. Miller recalls Bethine firmly saying, “Democrats do not use billboards in Idaho,” adding “they are absolutely out.”

Miller shot back he had not come from Seattle at his expense to take part in amateur night. The battle lines were drawn and it was about to get nasty, but Judge Clark salvaged the evening by suggesting to Bethine that her mother needed her help in the kitchen. Glaring at Miller, Bethine obeyed her father’s suggestion and departed.

As Miller put it, “the billboards stayed in the budget, and Bethine stayed in the kitchen.” Not for long, my friend. Not for long.

Hailing from the most prominent Democratic family in Idaho, Bethine had politics in her blood. It was part of her DNA. Many a Democrat across the state could recall meetings, J-J banquets or fund-raisers where Bethine would lead Senator Church into the room, greeting everyone by their first name.

“Frank, you remember John Collins from Malad,” she would say, and the Senator would greet John like a long-lost brother. “Well of course I do. John, how are you?” Odds were he did not recall, but John never knew the difference. Anyone who was around the two knew who the best campaigner was, and the better politician.

Thus, she ably filled the role of chief counselor to Church, and doubled his reach as she developed a network of friends, colleagues, and other politically active women across Idaho and in Washington, D.C. It is virtually impossible to think of one without thinking of the other. They were and are absolutely inseparable.

Newly married to the future senator after he came back from World War II service in China (where he won a Bronze Star), she refused to let him succumb to a deadly cancer, literally willing him to live. Having received a new lease on life gave both of them a marvelous perspective on what really matters in this world.

Nineteen years after the senator’s death in 1984 she published a memoir of their years together entitled A Lifelong Affair: My Passion for People and Politics. No truer words have been written.

On February 17th she turns 90 and will deservedly bask in the love and joy of her many friends, all grateful for the time and talents Idaho’s third senator devoted to the people of this great state. Happy birthday, Bethine.

Chris Carlson is a writer at Medimont, Idaho.

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IDAHO INSURANCE EXCHANGE BREAKTHROUGH? It has the feel of a fig leaf, but it could generate the Idaho House votes that the health insurance exchange proposal backed by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter wouldn’t get and might need. It is a “trailer bill” (meant to be an addendum) to the exchange bill working its way through the Senate, backed by a coalition of Republican freshman led by Representative Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene. It seems to include some additional oversight, including legislative participation on the panel governing the exchange. It doesn’t sound as it it will change much, but it may provide enough rationale to draw more votes on the closely-split issue. (This also has the potential to turn Malek into a pivotal figure in the House.)

GUNS, GUNS, GUNS The Washington House Judiciary Committee is considering – and preparing to act on – a bunch of gun-related measures, including background check and safety measures, and some aimed at juveniles. One coming up today: “House Bill 1096 aims to punish juveniles for carrying guns before they have the chance to use them in a serious crime, said Democratic Rep. Christopher Hurst of Enumclaw, who is sponsoring the bill. Right now, juveniles can carry guns and receive no jail time the first four times they are caught …”

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/#storylink=cpy

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First Take

trahant MARK


Let’s jump right to the big questions: Did President Barack Obama’s State of the Union do anything to resolve the deep differences in philosophy and policy on Capitol Hill? Was there any common ground? Did he lay the groundwork to find enough votes to stop the sequester, or better, to find a real budget solution?

I don’t think so. What’s more: I don’t think there is agreement on the nature of the problem, let alone any of the solutions.

As far as speeches go, it was a good one. The president pitched his case for where the country should go in terms of both philosophy and policy. My favorite line was this one: “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”

This line should be inspirational: “A growing economy … must be the North Star that guides our efforts.” Yet it represents the deep divisions in U.S. politics because a growing economy cannot occur in an era of austerity.

A great example of this divide surfaced when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gave the Republican response. “Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012,” Rubio said. “But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade.”

But if you dig into the numbers, there is no evidence for that kind of statement. Economists for the Bipartisan Policy Center say the sequester will cost over a million jobs in 2013 and 2104. The total economy will likely drop from north of 4 percent GDP — the number Rubio used — to under 2 percent.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says it will be worse. He says a sequester will send the country into a new recession.

But even the nature of the sequester is a dividing line. The president put it this way: “In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, and energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as the sequester, are a really bad idea.”

But for Rubio and many of his Republican colleagues the sequester is only about one thing, the military, calling them the “president’s devastating cuts to our military.”

So where does Indian Country fit into this narrative?

In Congress there is much talk of “pain” ahead. We are three weeks away from the sequester and about a month away from the expiration of the budget, last year’s Continuing Resolution. Indian Country will be the first to feel that pain with lost jobs or insufficient health care dollars.

Last weekend on ABC’s This Week, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said that he thought the sequester was inevitable. The best hope was that it would then be resolved three weeks later when Congress will have to cobble some sort of budget together (or the government will shut down). Another Oklahoma Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, said Wednesday morning that the pain of sequester will change minds.

And to make it more complicated there are no longer two parties in this dance. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul gave the Tea Party response. He said the sequester doesn’t go far enough. “Not only should the sequester stand; many pundits say the sequester really needs to be at least $4 trillion to avoid another downgrade of America’s credit rating.”

That is the Republican strategy at this point: Go ahead and begin the sequester. Then when all hell breaks loose, negotiate.

Democrats are pushing two plans. Democrats in the House are pressing ahead with a plan of targeted budget cuts, equal to the sequester. But that plan is unlikely to even get a vote. A similar Senate effort will be released the last week of February. If that bill can get through the Senate, then, perhaps, it can be used as a template for a deal with the House. But getting a bill through the Senate will not be easy. There’s a reason there has not been a budget resolution from that body; the votes were not there.

The president said: “Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”

This is the key challenge. The country has to grow, it cannot just pretend that austerity is a solution. That means investing in programs that matter: Head start, schools, higher education, job training, programs that will deliver jobs in the future. The country must also deliver on the promises already made whether it’s the health care promised in treaties or Medicare for seniors.

A growing economy must be the North Star that guides these efforts. The country cannot afford to shrink.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He lives in Fort Hall, Idaho, and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. A new Facebook page has been set up at:

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POLICE DISCIPLINE Seattle and Portland both have an issue, apparently, with making discipline of police officers stick. In Seattle, the police chief is complaining that the city attorney isn’t moving on complaints against an officer. In Portland, a second case of an attempt by the chief to discipline an officer ran into the brick wall of an arbitrator. (The second of those, the Oregonian said, involved “an officer who smoked marijuana off-duty, gave one of his prescription pills to a fellow officer and then drove drunk while under investigation.”) The system as is seems to allow little possibility for discipline of those officers who should experience (a situation that doubtless aggravates too most of the better-behaving officers). The day will come when stronger measures will emerge from the public, if this keeps up.

BRIDGE TOLLING Counterpart stories too on bridge tolling. In Seattle, a citizen movement based on Mercer Island against tolling on I-90 (it would hit many residents there directly); they now have a website up. And opposition seems to be growing rather than fading on the Columbia River Crossing I-5 bridge at Portland-Vancouver. Suggestion: Sunset the tolls when the bridge renovation is paid for.

HURLOCK DEFEAT A Dan Popkey blog post on the Senate floor defeat 19-16 of Joan Hurlock notes something of a rural-urban divide in the vote. (Hurlock was gigged as insufficiently enthusiastic as hunting, which may or may not be true, and may or may not be the reason for the defeat for appointer Governor Otter.) The post notes a gutsy acknowledgement from Senator Patti Anne Lodge of Nampa: “She’s given up hunting, and likes to see deer, quail, pheasants, ducks and geese roaming her land on Sunnyslope near the Snake River. She added a reminder for what she called the “great white hunters”: many citizens see critters as more than just meat.” She is correct, and that number, in increasingly suburban Idaho, is growing.

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First Take

brad little
Dave Smith, a certified public accountant, right, converses with Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little following a City Club of Idaho Falls luncheon. (photo/Mark Mendiola)


mendiola MARK


Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little says the crushing federal debt that has burgeoned from $4 trillion in 2000 to $16 trillion in 2013 and existing future obligations most concern him when considering challenges for Idaho’s economy and how the Legislature will tackle them.

“Today we’ve got new challenges. As always, you’ve got the international economy and what kind of curves that’s going to throw America and Idaho,” Little said, commending the downward trend in Idaho’s unemployment rate. “But we’ve still got … way too high an unemployment rate, but even more critical an underemployment rate.”

Unfunded future liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare have gone from $20 trillion to $80 trillion as the U.S. population ages, Little said. Average retirees have paid $110,000 into Medicare, but will take out $350,000 at a rate of 10,000 retirees a day, he noted.

“So, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that that’s unsustainable,” he recently told the City Club of Idaho Falls. “Unfortunately, the president and Congress … have kicked the proverbial can down the road. … The problem with that can is it’s getting a lot bigger and a lot harder to kick in the fact that they haven’t addressed it.”

Little said Idaho’s congressional delegation has been in the forefront of addressing the deficit crisis, but the task is not easy. If Congress tomorrow were to eliminate every federal employee, it would not cut the annual operating deficit by half. “That’s the magnitude of just the cash deficit that’s out there. So, there are going to be hard decisions that are going to need to be made on the federal level.”

That’s important to Idaho because 30 percent to 40 percent of the money appropriated by the Legislature comes from the federal government. A large percentage of the money used by Idaho cities, counties and highway districts also comes from the same source.

“So, when Congress inevitably does the right thing, we know there’s going to be consequences.”

With the exception of oil-rich states like North Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma, Idaho has led the nation in recovering from the last recession, the lieutenant governor said.

It did so by prudently setting aside rainy day funds, not raising taxes, cutting spending by 20 percent and adhering to a structurally balanced budget, which essentially means one-time money is not spent on ongoing programs, Little said.

“I can tell you even though 40-some states require balanced budgets, there’s very few of them with the exception of those energy states that are in the same position we are.”

What’s even more critical is budget issues cannot be resolved in Idaho or the nation if the economy does not grow. “So that’s a delicate balance that has to take place on both the national level and the state level.”

Retaining existing businesses, recruiting new ones and diversifying the economy are crucial for resilience, he said. “The status quo as far as business is not going to be adequate for us to grow to where we’ve got that shock absorber when those waves of whatever it’s going to be come to us from the federal government. We don’t know and frankly they don’t know, but I think all learned souls back there will tell you it’s inevitable.”

Maintaining the state’s infrastructure always comes down to education, Little said, applauding Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature for the wisdom and innovation to create the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls, which leverages Idaho’s universities with the Idaho National Laboratory’s assets and affiliated businesses.

“Taxes need to be fair, simple, predictable and competitive,” Little said, adding that Idaho’s tax system is envied by other states despite its warts. “We are competing against the other states.”

Renowned economist Meredith Whitney, who accurately predicted the 2008 banking meltdown due to the nation’s housing implosion, now forecasts the next macroeconomic impact to hit the United States will be the exodus of companies and work forces from states like California and Illinois, where energy expenses, housing costs and taxes are extremely high, hurting job creation.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m pretty bullish on where we are in Idaho,” Little said. “But our mantra in Idaho can’t be that we’re just not California. We have to talk about the strengths that we have.”

The word is getting out about Idaho’s strengths, including its people and culture, Little said:

· The Kauffman Foundation recently ranked Idaho first as a place to start and operate a new business.
· CNBC ranked Idaho fifth for work force quality and availability.
· The Council on State Taxation ranked Idaho as one of the top five states for fair, efficient, customer-focused tax administration. “Our taxes when you add them all up are some of the lowest when you add up all the taxes from all sources of all the states,” Little said.
· The Fraser Report ranked Idaho one of the most favorable from a regulatory standpoint.
· The Commonwealth Fund said Idaho offers the most affordable single family health insurance premiums and the second lowest for small businesses.
· Fitch Ratings ranked Idaho as one of the top five states for fiscal solvency.

After considering two other states, Chobani Yogurt decided to spend $450 million and create 400 jobs to establish the world’s largest yogurt plant near Twin Falls, taking only 326 days to construct the million-square-foot plant that houses 20 acres under roof.

“It’s state-of-the-art, most modern food processing plant that has been built in the world,” Little said.

Chobani executives selected Idaho because speed matters, and they liked the seamless working relations between state, county and city governments. The state’s efficient permitting process, ability to train an available work force and infrastructure are why they decided on Idaho.

“Like the last 150 years, hard work, wise decisions and entrepreneurialism have advanced Idaho through the tough times. We will successfully navigate the challenges ahead of us,” Little said, alluding to Idaho’s sesquicentennial.

The lieutenant governor said there is no question Idaho’s personal property tax is an unfair tax. It raises $142 million in annual revenue for cities and counties. There’s “a little better than odds on chance” the personal property tax will be repealed this legislative session, he said, mentioning when Idaho enacted a state sales tax in 1965, its inventory tax was eliminated.

Unlike other corporate members of the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry, Monsanto has opposed repealing the business personal property tax because of its adverse impact on Caribou County, where it employs hundreds who mine phosphate and process it into elemental phosphorus. That county could suffer a 45 percent cut in revenue if the personal property tax is repealed, he said.

On the other hand, Phoenix-based ON Semiconductor, which operates a semiconductor plant in Pocatello, has strongly backed the business personal property tax’s repeal.

StateImpact Idaho, a collaborative effort between Boise State Public Radio and NPR, shows that if the business personal property tax were repealed Monsanto would save nearly $490,000 and ON would save nearly $698,000 in annual taxes, based on Idaho Tax Commission figures.

“There’s still some question about the three-part test about what’s real property and what’s personal property,” Little said. “I’m not a big fan of saying we’re just going to let everybody off and leave one group hanging out there to pay it from a fairness standpoint.”

On the other hand, some businesses are competing against businesses in other states where everything they have is designated real property while theirs is taxable personal property. “There’s a fairness issue there that needs to be addressed also,” Little said.

The Emmett rancher said he and Gov. Butch Otter like local option taxes, but “the devil’s in the details.” They must be regional and broad-based to work effectively and be fair, he said.

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rainey BARRETT


Got an email from a friend the other day – a friend who tries my patience on a regular basis with right wing B.S. from the Internet. He doesn’t originate it. He just “passes it on” like millions of other folk. Most of the time, I hit “delete” and go on about my business.

But this one got through. And I can still feel anger clear to the bottom of my old feet.

This latest spurious screed was meant to instantly alarm all who received it that “Obama appoints two devout Muslims to Homeland Security posts.” One of the reactions this specious piece of crap was supposed to stir up was “My God, we’ve got Muslims in key government places.” The other – as so many of them have been the last several years – was to perpetuate “I-hate-Obama-no-matter-what-he-does-because-he’s-not-really-our-president-and-just-look-at-what-he’s-done-now!”

Funny, those are not the reactions such garbage creates in me. Or, most others I know. No, we feel revulsion. Disappointment. Shame. Anger. Emotions you feel when someone of otherwise obvious intelligence does something really stupid and really hateful without thinking.

The gist of this phony alarmist missive was that two men of Muslim heritage and faith had been appointed to key jobs in the Department of Homeland Security. Kareem Shora – born in Damascus, Syria, and Exec. Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – is now a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. The other fella, Arif Alikhan, son of Pakistani immigrants and a seven year federal prosecutor in California – then Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Homeland Security since 2006 – is now Asst. Secretary for Policy Development for Janet Napolitano.

At this point, I could take several paragraphs to describe educational and professional accomplishments of both men. Suffice to say, they’re two excellent examples of citizenship, educational and personal achievement who’ve made outstanding contributions to the old U.S. of A. in many ways.

The email from my friend charged – among other things – “Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions? Was it not men of the “Devout Muslim Faith” that flew planes into U.S. buildings not too long ago? What the heck is this president thinking?”

Well, for openers, I’d guess the president was “thinking” nothing about these appointments made by a cabinet secretary with the power to do so. I honestly doubt the thousands of appointments made by cabinet secretaries cross his desk. And, if he did “think” about it, he probably told the Homeland Security Secretary “good job.”

No, the real purpose of this email was to inflame. It was meant to criticize a president – of mixed race – that the originator of this crap hates and can’t accept as a twice duly-elected head of this country. It was meant to ridicule, anger and divide. It’s been passed on millions of times. By people of little to no real intelligence.

Thousands of people – if not millions – are trying to create – then perpetuate – an anti-Muslim fever in our land. They want the rest of us to join them in their mental cesspool of racism, fear and ignorance. As we did in 1942. 1942? Yes, 1942. That was the year Idaho’s Senator Borah and others whipped the then-ignorant, racist, supremacist fury against Americans of Japanese ancestry. They pounded the drums of “true Americanism” and told us these innocents – most of whom were born in this country – were “seditionists who would attack us in our homes on orders from Japan.” They would “murder us in our beds.”

So, we rounded them all up – especially in the West – and herded them into “internment camps.” Prisons, actually, with barbed wire and armed guards to make sure they stayed there so Emperor Hirohito couldn’t order them to kill us. It brought the greatest shame to this country in the last 250 years. Racist. Ignorant. Crowd-lust appealing to our lowest instincts.

I lived through that Japanese-American tragedy. I had little friends literally carried kicking and screaming out of my grade school classroom by armed men. I can still see the sight and hear the screams. It was terrifying. It was racist to the core. It was national ignorance. It was a national disgrace. And it was WRONG!

Now, several generations later, the voices of hate are being heard again. We’re being told to fear all things Muslim – to not trust them – to disperse them – to separate them from the rest of us “Amuricuns.” Spelling deliberate.

That email this week from my friend was “exhibit A.” It was meant to undermine the president while attempting to create fear and loathing for an entire group of Americans. Other Americans. The intent was not hidden. Nor were the racial messages. Fear. Suspicion. Distrust. Anger. Hate.

We cannot – we MUST not – go back to that time of national disgrace because of a few idiots trying to stampede the rest of us. We need to hit the “delete” button more often. I know I will.

Oh, one more thing. Those two Muslim-Americans named in that “urgent” and hateful email? The ones now in positions of authority at Homeland Security? The official appointments that pose a great danger to us all? Mr. Shora was appointed June 5, 2009, and Mr. Alikhan’s was effective April, 2009. Four years ago! That’s how long that garbage has been on the I-net!

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From an opinion piece submitted here last week; the source is a security firm.

In the wake of the recent tragedies in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary, gun control has resurfaced in the public eye as a controversial issue.

Should everyone have the right to bear arms, as mandated by the second amendment?

Or should the government step in and regulate the sale of firearms?

When it comes to self-defense, many states have extensive laws that allow a person to use deadly force for self-defense. The law, sometimes referred to as the “Castle Doctrine,” stipulates that deadly force is legitimized if a person reasonably feels they are in grave danger, in their home or anywhere else they feel they have the right to be.

There is also another element to self-defense law that involves the “duty to retreat.” In jurisdictions where this component exists, the defense must prove that a criminal defendant took reasonable steps to avoid conflict before ultimately using force. Essentially, it requires that a person is only permitted to use deadly force in self-defense only when retreat is not possible, or when retreat poses an imminent danger to the victim.

Regardless, it’s imperative that you are familiar with the laws in your particular state if you own a firearm for self-defense purposes. Several states have a “stand-your-ground” law, which means there is no duty to retreat, regardless of where the attack occurs. Meanwhile, a number of other states legislate that there is no duty to retreat only if the attack occurs in the victim’s home. Furthermore, a few states may rely on case law instead of specific legislation to determine the validity of a self-defense claim.

Currently, Idaho relies on case law to interpret justifiable homicide. The state doesn’t have a stand-your-ground statute or duty-to-retreat statute, but allows a person to use justifiable homicide as a defense. Idaho’s case law, under State v. McGreevey, decrees that “One may stand one’s ground and defend … oneself … by the use of all force and means which would appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge.”

On the other hand, Oregon state law dictates that use of force is justified in multiple scenarios, and no duty to retreat is specified.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there are plenty of other ways to protect your home than just with a firearm. Oftentimes, a quality home security system is enough to deter burglars and other would-be intruders. Today, you can purchase a highly effective wireless system for a very modest price. For example, if you take a look at www.HomeSecuritySystems.com, you’ll see that an ADT Monitored Home Security System costs you around $9 bucks per week – a price most families can afford.

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trahant MARK


Tuesday night President Barack Obama will lay out his case that Congress ought to reverse the $1.2 trillion worth budget cuts that are beginning March 1.

The White House message is that there should be a debate about the long-term deficit, but that Congress should “permanently turn off the sequester.”
That package should have balance and include spending cuts and revenues. As Dan Pfeiffer, a senior advisor to the president, wrote: “And over the long-term, we need to find a solution that does this in a balanced way. The president has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion. And he’s willing to do more. And we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. Even as we look for ways to reduce deficits over the long term, our core mission is to grow the economy in a way that strengthens the middle class and everyone willing to work hard to get into it.”

Grow the economy. Those three words should be the heart of the debate because the economic evidence is that the sequester will do just the opposite. (The Congressional Budget Office calls this a “subdued” economy. And, according to The Washington Post, the administration has started preparing to reduce the number of federal employees. “The memo also told agencies to “identify the most appropriate means to reduce civilian workforce costs,” including with hiring freezes, by releasing temporary employees and through early retirement or voluntary separation incentives. In other words: Think hard about how to get rid of people,” The Post said.)

Friday the White House released new details about the stark nature of those cuts, including deep cuts to food safety, mental health, head start, teaching jobs, workplace safety, in other words, across virtually all platforms of the federal government. The total tab: $85 billion, half from defense and half from domestic programs.

“Tribes would lose almost $130 million in funding from the Department of the Interior,” the White House said. Native American program “reductions would be necessary in many areas including human services, law enforcement, schools, economic development and natural resources.”

The White House said “Indian Health Service and Tribal hospitals and clinics would be forced to provide 3,000 fewer inpatient admissions and 804,000 fewer outpatient visits, undermining needed health care in tribal communities.”

That last line means fewer dollars for Contract Health Services, money that’s spent on outside doctors, labs, hospitals, dentists, transportation and other essential health services for American Indian and Alaska Native patients. As a study by the National Congress of American Indians reported, there is already a decrease in real dollars for this Contract Health. “For example, from 2003 to 2008, CHS inpatient admissions declined by 4.0% from 14,847 to 14,205. At the same time, billed costs per admission increased 64.0% from $16,345 to $26,873. Similarly, from 2003 to 2008, CHS denials increased 88.0% from 19,121 to 35,953. During the same period, the cost of unfunded denials increased 296% from $43,924,761 to $130,113,907. In 2008 and 2009, only half of Contract Health Emergency Fund cases could be funded, and over 1000 cases went unfunded each year.” And these numbers are before sequestration.

In addition to the direct hit that Native American programs will take there will also be significant impact to general programs. The White House says 600,000 women will be dropped from the Women, Infants and Children program. “At least 1,600 State and local jobs could be lost as a result,” the White House said. I would add an undetermined number of tribal jobs to that total.

And, at the very moment that Republicans in Congress are saying that the Justice Department, not tribes, should prosecute more domestic violence crimes, the budget for that would be cut dramatically, by some 1,000 fewer criminal cases this year.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today that the sequester is a “blunt instrument, but it’s the only one in hand.” Cole and other House Republicans are willing to negotiate where the cuts will occur, but not on the amount of cuts nor on adding any revenue to the mix.

And so the stage is set for Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He lives in Fort Hall, Idaho, and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. A new Facebook page has been set up at:

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idaho RANDY
The Idaho

In 2001 I contracted with the Lewiston Tribune, then inconveniently between political reporters, to cover that year’s Idaho legislative session. I handled some aspects of it, though, differently from the years before when I’d covered for other daily papers. I worked out of my home, for example.

And declined to join the Capitol Correspondents Association. I had been a member of it for more than a dozen years up through 1990, and my decision not to apply surprised a few people. But I had reasons.

This is inside baseballish stuff (my non-membership was never mentioned to Tribune readers, for example, and no one saw any need to) but the latest blasts involving the CCA and writers for the Idaho Reporter web site, carry implications worth sharing outside the Statehouse echo chamber.

The correspondents association, one of many similar organizations at statehouses around the country, is an odd beast. Its members are journalists who cover the legislature. A group aimed at letting people meet and associate is not a matter for controversy (Idaho lobbyists, by the way, have one too) But the CCA also has an official standing with the legislature, it negotiates, for example, where and when on chamber floors, and some other office space, journalists – not the public, and not lobbyists – can go.

All this had more significance once than it does now. I started covering the legislature using manual typewriters, and had to have needed a dedicated land line phone at a desk in the Statehouse. Now, the excellent and extremely productive Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell (for years head of the CCA) jogs with her wireless computing devices from meeting to meeting, filing stories from events as they happen. The Statehouse has a good wireless system. That clunky comm of yore is irrelevant.

Even in 2001, I found no practical disadvantage functioning as a member of the public rather than a CCA member, and I see less difficulty with it now.

The Idaho Reporter battle, ongoing at least four sessions, involves the web site operated as an arm of the libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation, which among other things lobbies; IFF leader Wayne Hoffman has been lobbying against the proposed state health insurance exchange, for example. The lobbying and ideological push of the IFF suggest that the Reporter site and its writers are not journalists in the same sense as conventional newspaper, wire and broadcast reporters. At the same time, those writers, like CCA members, do develop frequent and regular news reports about the legislature which are disseminated to the public. An Idaho Statesman column last week suggested one of the writers went “beyond the pale” in tweeting criticism of a legislator. CCA reporters, I can tell you, have over the decades from time to time breached the pale about as far. (As a CCA member I once devoted a newspaper column to the “worst legislator of the session.”) And Reporter writers been wearing badges that mimic the CCA-issued variety, which seems dishonest. They have been denied CCA membership.

Rather than battle over the CCA membership, I’d ask whether the CCA is really needed anymore. In 2001, I had a specific philosophical argument against joining it: That reporters should always see themselves as outsiders looking in, not the other way around. I know I felt more comfortable reporting on the legislature that way rather than as a legislature-linked, and reliant, accreditee. I’d feel about the same today as a reader, too.

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Idaho Idaho column

mansfield DENNIS

Welcoming the first of occasional columns by Dennis Mansfield, a veteran of Idaho Republican politics. His book “Beautiful Nate” will be published next month.

America’s future is found in its children, the saying goes. We must center our lives on them. All children must be allowed to succeed. And if we truly love our children, such individualized formula will work, the saying continues. Each of us feels this to one degree or another. As parents, Americans have ensured the success of their progeny via a highly controlled environment and well executed plans.

What if we’re all wrong?

In my own case, as evangelicals my wife and I raised our oldest son, Nate, in an atmosphere of faith-based formulae. Cocooning is too strong a phrase, but not by much. And it didn’t work. In time, he became a drug addict; arrested several times, placed in jail and ultimately he went to prison. His drug of choice was oxycodone and other prescription opiates, until they ran out and then heroin became the suitable substitute.

The result for a family, steeped in formulaic fear-based living, is often that we’re surprised and shocked by the teen that emerges.

It should all work, right?

But again, what if we’re wrong? Apollo 13’s famed comment that “failure is not an option” may in fact be incorrect. Learning from failure changes all of our lives. Why would we exclude our own children from that truth?

When something jars us from our formula and the unthinkable happens – our child gets high, she crashes a car, he physically hurts people, they rob a store, he escalates his drug of choice, becoming an addict.

Or as in the case of my son Nate, he dies from his involvement in drugs.

The child-centeredness of a fear-based parenting model can create the exact opposite of what we wanted, of what we planned for. My reliance on formulae was convenient, but invalid. Rather than the joyful smile of our little 4th grader at the table we began to stare into the surly, self-focused, uncaring and arrogant face of our young adult.

You too? And at twenty, or thirty-something, many adult-sized children still demanding the keys to the family’s car.

What in the world happened?

Somewhere in the mix we overlooked the keys to our child’s heart – by attempting to apply all the right and proper positioning for our son to succeed, we never gave room for the opportunity to fail.

It seems on a larger scale, as a nation we’ve embraced this premise as public policy. So much so that during each election cycle we’ve been forced to listen to a hackneyed series of thread-bare expressions used by politicians from both parties. Yet something in the expression DOES resonate long after voter tallies are put away. It appears to be a self-evident fact: our kids are precious and need to be protected now so that they can live productive lives and be model citizens in the future.

Kids need to be loved unconditionally, to be loved as their own person, to be loved so they too could love others. And they need to be told that the world does not revolve around them. They need to be allowed to fail and start over – repeatedly, if need be. No helicopter parents, no training-wheels of life. Hard times and no fear of failure-to-launch. By allowing them to fail, we teach our children the beautiful reality of failure – and how we can successfully help others through our own experiences of overcoming bad times.

John Lennon wrote in his haunting sonnet to his son, Beautiful Boy, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Today’s the best day to let life happen to your young children, your teens or to your adult children.

Allow them to fail.

You may not have tomorrow to do so.

I learned to no longer be busy making other plans.

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