Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in July 2013

Flip flops not all bad

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

A few days ago, Barb asked me what I wanted for dinner and I said I was hungry for her wonderful goulash.

A couple of hours later, without paying attention that she had started dinner, I called out that meatloaf sounded even better.

Now, nearly everyone knows I had just “stepped in it.” Here she was draining spaghetti, browning hamburger and going through her seasoning checklist. Discussion of anything to eat at that moment was to be centered strictly on the goulash at hand and nothing else.

In this example, I had “flip flopped.” As I thought about her previous question in the ensuing 120 minutes, and as I rolled around the options in my mind, my thinking “matured.” I had new, more thoughtful – flavorful – visions. A change of mind as it were. Hasn’t that happened to you?

This little story about a threat to marital bliss is simple enough. But the process is much the same when some politicians change their mind about an issue. As a result, most are labeled “flip floppers.” It’s a quick, easy condemnation of someone in or seeking public office. At times true; at times not. At times good; at times not.

Take Ronald Reagan for instance. For much of his adult life, he was not only a Democrat but an ardent one, heading a labor union and walking picket lines. Then Barry Goldwater “appeared” to him and he was converted to Republicanism. A flip flop. But no one condemned him for it. Just a matter of adult reasoning. Personal choice.

Take former Oregon Governor Tom McCall. Republican by nature and philosophy, he put on a plaid tux jacket in the early ‘70′s and went to Idaho to campaign for candidate Cecil Andrus, a lifelong Democrat. Only the looney fringe couldn’t see the statesmanship and adult thinking, calling him a ”flip flopper” and a “traitor.” Actually he was demonstrating a level of adult political judgment he might not have shown in his earlier years, judgment that came with advancing age but which escaped the narrow-minded, flat-earth thinkers.

But this is a two-edged sword, this flip flopping. Sometimes, it can … and should … skewer the flopper.

Sen. McCain and his stands on abortion, wars and several other subjects come to mind. On record for years as pro-choice, even at the start of the 2008 campaign. Then he looked at some GOP polling midway through and changed sides. Classic “flip flopping.” Not because of maturity but opportunism. Not good.

Gov. Jindahl of Louisiana, is a flopper. Went on national TV decrying federal stimulus dollars then, seven months later, had a bunch of large, phony checks printed up with his statehouse official address on them. He flew around the state – at Louisiana taxpayer expense – handing out federal stimulus dollars masquerading as Louisiana tax dollars. That flip could cause whiplash.

As in so many other quick and often wrong labeling, there can be more … or sometimes … less truth when it comes to flips and flops. I give the benefit of the doubt most of the time. I like to think someone has added to life’s experiences and has rethought some previously held convictions; that the process of living longer has resulted in a better understanding of a particular issue. (more…)

The 43rd star

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

July 3rd marks the 123rd anniversary of Idaho’s admittance into the union of states we call the United States. A 43rd star went onto America’s flag. Across Idaho this year, though, the focus has been primarily upon the 150th anniversary of the creation of Idaho as a territory within the union.

Nothing wrong with that as long as Idahoans, as they prepare for the 4th of July festivities, also take a moment to reflect on the great state we are privileged to inhabit and to offer thanks as the state’s birthday is duly noted.

Some accuse me of being almost snobbish in the pride I take in being a native born Idahoan. Whenever I re-enter Idaho upon returning from a journey to a neighboring state or a foreign land, to the embarrassment of those with me, I sing loudly and often off-key (I’m told I’m tone deaf), the State song, “Hear We Have Idaho.”

During the recent book promotion tour Randy Stapilus and I took around the Gem state we were the program at the Twin Falls Rotary. Can’t begin to tell you how pleased I was that the Twin Falls Rotary still has as a standard part of its program the singing of the state song.

The following day when we were introduced as guests at the Pocatello Rotary I could not help contrasting the failure of the Pocatello Rotary to sing the state song. It’s a tradition one hopes all service clubs around Idaho will maintain.

Thinking about Idaho’s sesquintennial celebration of territorial status led to memories of Idaho’s wonderful statehood centennial celebration in 1990. Extremely well organized by a commission headed by Wallace businessman Harry F. Magnuson, with Marty Peterson serving as the executive director to oversee the almost flawless implementation of various local celebrations at the county level, Idahoans everywhere radiated pride. (more…)

Idaho’s baseball heritage

peterson MARTIN
PETERSON
 

My wife, Barb, and I were in Lewiston this week for the NAIA World Series. In my mind, even though I live in the land of the Blue Turf, it’s the best sporting event in Idaho. It’s also an annual reminder of the great baseball heritage of the Lewis-Clark valley, as well as the rest of Idaho.

Several years ago, when our current governor was a member of congress, he and I were spending an evening out on the town in Washington, D.C. During the evening we ran into Congressman Mary Bono and had a drink with her and her then boyfriend. He told me that he had lived in Idaho at one time. The, correcting himself, said that he had actually lived across the border in Washington. It turned out that he had played baseball at LCSC and lived in Clarkston.

The University once had a great tradition of baseball, fielding teams from 1890 until 1980.

Some of the greats coming out of that program included Bob Dillinger, who played for the Browns, Athletics, Pirates and White Sox, and Frank Reberger, who played for the Cubs, Padres and Giants. Bill Stoneman, another former Vandal, spent eight years as general manager of the Los Angeles Angels and was the most successful general manager in the team’s history.

Certainly the two best baseball players with Idaho roots were Walter Johnson and Harmon Killebrew. Johnson played for the Weiser Kids in 1906-07 and went on to become one of the first five members elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Killebrew grew up in Payette and also ended up in the Hall of Fame.

A number of well-known players came through Lewiston playing for the Lewis-Clark Broncs. I can remember getting to know Rick Monday when he was renting the basement apartment in a friend’s home in Clarkston.

Probably the best known product of the Broncs was Reggie Jackson. He wrote about his time in Lewiston in his memoir, “Reggie,” and got most of it wrong, apparently mistaking his time in Lewiston for his time in Birmingham, Alabama. But he did have fond memories about spending time at Bojacks. (more…)

Two stories that aren’t

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

There are times when the American media is an invaluable source of information, education and entertainment. But it can also make a major ass of itself. When it does, we get duds like the twin excesses now available to all – regardless of how you get your daily fix.

I’m a harsher critic than most readers/viewers because much of my life has been spent in and around one form of journalism or another. But that was then and this is now. Professional journalistic standards are a whole lot different these days. Lower. Much lower. Where they exist at all.

We’re daily being inundated by two trumped up “stories” that are almost entirely media creations: the Treyvon Martin case and the miscellaneous travels of Edward Snowden. Neither justifies today’s coverage.

First, Martin. Yes, he was a teen – a black teen living in Florida. Yes, he was shot and killed by a guy who saw himself as some sort of neighborhood protector – a guy with a Hispanic surname. So what? How many teens. – how many Black teens – are shot and killed in Chicago every week. Last weekend alone there were 19 Chicago shootings – most of them teens. Two weeks before – 18. In any given month, in just that one city, 40 or more shootings. Name one dead teen. Just one. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

So why does the media put Treyvon Martin at the top of our daily reading and viewing list? Day after day after day? What’s so special about the Martin case? Why does it get the attention it does when children – 4-5-6-8 year-old children are being killed on streets and playgrounds and little ones in baby strollers in Chicago and elsewhere daily? Why Martin?

My own thought is the media outsmarted itself on this one. While a certain amount of coverage in Florida was to be expected, the shooting happened during an otherwise slow national news period. There were the elections. But -for the most part – elections don’t sell papers or snare viewers until very close to voting. So the national media picked up the Martin story because it wasn’t Chicago. Or Newark. Or Detroit. A black kid killed in a mostly white neighborhood in Florida was – different.

But – once picked up – various media found themselves stuck with it. If there were new details – any new details – in a story they’d deemed worthy of such attention for weeks and weeks and they didn’t keep up, the competition would. The number of papers sold and the number of viewers watching are just that important these days. So CNN and Fox – and now MSNBC – are wall-to-wall with day-long coverage of a story blown completely out of proportion. Two of the three cable news channels have all but wiped out other – far more important – news in daytime. And recap all night. This week, for instance, the last live CNN news is 5 pm (PDT). After that, it’s all Zimmerman. And Egypt? Arizona fires? Anything else? Not a word. Zip. (more…)

Voting in the name of

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

The Supreme Court’s ruling last week on voting rights sends a simple and clear message: And now you do what they told ya.

The court basically said that modern states wouldn’t use their power to keep minorities -- including American Indians and Alaska Natives -- from voting. “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 5-to-4 majority.

And now you do what they told ya.

So in North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Montana, and Alaska, and in many other states where access to voting is limited, where polling booths are located far from reservation communities, or where “early voting” hours are made purposely unequal or unfair, well, the court said, in Shelby County (the Alabama county that sued to end the Voting Rights Act) “voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity.”

And now you do what they told ya.

But of course that parity is not found in Indian Country. The last election was a success, however, American Indians and Alaska Natives still have the lowest registration rates of any racial or ethnic group. A study by Demos a couple of years ago pegged that number at 5 to 14 percent lower than the general population. I suspect the numbers are not much better two years later because Indian Country is growing so fast; nearly 200,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives are eligible to vote since the last election.

And now you do what they told ya.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, says the court’s majority is wrong because “the ‘blight of racial discrimination in voting’ continued to ‘infec[t] the electoral process in parts of our country.’ Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra. Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in its place.”

And now you do what they told ya. (more…)