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Posts published in October 2013

Transition: excerpt 4

transition

July 2011

Before long, I found myself overcome with nervousness.

I called to follow up about the temporary position at Oregon Capitol News, and was told I would find out about it by the end of the day. Much to my relief, I heard back later that I did, indeed, get that job. This meant we would have some money coming in and I would have something to do for a couple of weeks.

A few days later, I headed off to Salem to have lunch with Wally. I decided to bring Maddie, and thought it would be nice to show her around the state capitol. We walked with Wally to a nearby café. He was happy with how the session had gone, but said it was getting harder and harder to leave his family every weekend to come back to Salem.

A couple of days later, I got together with Justin and Ian. Justin had apparently found a drummer, named Chad, for us to play with. I took Annaka’s van over to Justin’s place to load up his bass stack. We then made our way over to Chad’s house.

Because I had parked on the other side of the very busy 60th Street, we had to dart across it with our instruments and equipment. Luckily, Justin’s stack had wheels, so he could just roll it through traffic. We headed up to the attic, where Chad’s drum set was located. He said he liked our songs, and seemed like a cool guy who understood where we were coming from.

Chad had a microphone and a guitar amp we could attempt to use for PA, but we couldn’t quite get it to work. That was all right, though, because the lyrics for most of the songs weren’t fully figured out yet. I started to suggest to Ian that we go over the lyrics during our usual chess/coffee/anger management sessions. But it dawned on me that I would actually be working the next few weeks, for the first time in over eight months.

Our jam session was very productive, and all indications were that Evil Homers had a complete lineup. We scheduled a follow-up for the Fourth of July, which fell on a Monday.

After dropping Justin and Ian off, I headed home to pack for our trip to Grants Pass. We woke up early the next morning and hit the road.
Along the way to Grants Pass, we passed by Golden, the old, abandoned mining town where Annaka and I had gotten married nearly four years prior.

A historic reenactment was taking place back then, complete with people renewing their wedding vows. Annaka and I had just gotten our marriage certificate and rings a couple of days before that, and were able to get married in a spontaneous ceremony held inside a church.

Wally was already at the Powderhorn by the time we arrived. I called Simon at the courthouse and urged him to come and meet us. Simon ordered a slice of strawberry pie, which inspired me to do the same. The biggest perk of working at the Powderhorn was that I would often end up with whatever slices of pies they couldn’t sell during the day. (more…)

High noon

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

There’s a gun fight on the road ahead forming between predominantly “common sense conservative” Republicans and the zealots further to the right loosely lumped under the Tea Party label.

The stakes are high, for it is a battle for the soul of the Grand Old Party, and if the Tea Party elements prevail, the Republican Party will begin the slow fade into oblivion.

If the recent shut-down of the federal government and the showdown over raising the debt ceiling did nothing else it should have demonstrated to the public in graphic detail that the Tea Party Republicans and weak-kneed “fellow travelers” (Like Idaho’s two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch) are willing to place partisan positioning and interest ahead of the national interest. None of these folks subscribe to the historic notion of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Their votes and conduct only serve to hasten the day when Idaho’s GOP morphs into a new ultra-conservative party made up of only true believers who adhere to radical notions like returning the election of U.S. Senators to the state legislature, returning to the gold standard, abandoning the United Nations, defaulting on paying bills due and owing for already incurred expenses, punishing illegal immigrants already here, and the list goes on.

Already having seized control of several key counties, such as Bonneville, these fanatics are blind to the fact that they are narrowing their party’s base, a sure prescription for eventual consignment to the ash heap of history. In Idaho, not satisfied with a closed primary system, they are pushing for a closed caucus system, virtually guaranteeing that only the pure zealots can carry the party label into a general election. (more…)

Today’s GOP: Ford/Boehner not Reagan/Rubio?

mansfield DENNIS
MANSFIELD
 

I haven't blogged yet on the political weakness of the entire GOP, observed recently by all.

Today I decided to do so.

A little needed background before I make my point:

For years I've been both a businessman and a political consultant.

In business I've owned a small mortgage company, a mid-sized soil erosion control company & a local city-wide firm that helped house ex-addicts. I've been a business coach for almost a decade and I recently became an author, published by Simon and Schuster and Endurance Press.

As a political consultant I lobbied for the Realtors, was the founding executive director of the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Palm Springs, CA and for a decade I founded and ran the Idaho Family forum - a pro-family public policy think-tank that educated and lobbied under IRS code 501 (c) 3 sub chapter (h), working in association with Focus on the Family and the Family Research council.

My experience also involved helping men and women run for office in the California's Assembly, US Congress and US Senate along with Idaho's House and Senate. A partial list of the GOP campaigns I've served/supported includes:

Howard Jarvis/Paul Gann/Proposition 13 ('78 cycle)
Ronald Reagan's PAC, Citizens for the Republic - ('78 cycle)
David Dreier for US Congress ('78 cycle)
Reagan/Bush ('80 cycle in CA)
John Paul Stark for US Congress ('80, '82 and '84 cycles)
Fund-raising for Steve Symms for US Senate, Idaho ('84 cycle)
Robert Henley for CA Assembly ('84 cycle) & US Congress ('86 cycle)
Reagan/Bush('84 cycle in CA)
Roger Madsen for ID State Senate ('92 cycle)
Dave Baumann for ID House ('92 cycle)
Bill Sali for ID House ('92, '94 cycle)
Helen Chenoweth for US Congress ('94 Primary cycle)
Dole/Kemp ('96 cycle)
Gary Bauer for President (2000 Primary cycle)
Bill Sali for US Congress ('06 Cycle)
Raul Labrador for US Congress ('10 Primary cycle)

I hope my credentials speak for themselves.

Not a person among this list would be considered moderate or liberal.

I'm proud of those past credentials - of my business background and my political involvement - and yet I'm cautious of what I'm now seeing in the philosophical break-down within the GOP over this recent budget stalemate. Something deep down is wrong...

I think the Republican Party is lost in the woods - state by state and nationally.

The compass that directed them in the past has lost its true north: the founding document of our Republic, the US Constitution.

In 1980 the GOP used that compass and crafted its national party platform as a reflection of that truth.

Americans came forward because they longed to be involved. Citizens within the republic who had never been involved, became involved. Conservative evangelical christians, economic conservatives, constitutionalists, moms and dads...and then, in recent years, Tea Party members.

The tent was big, the issues were focused.

Not now. The compass still works, it's just been set aside, it seems... (more…)

Republican, heal thyself

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Anyone who’s undergone cancer or similar surgery knows such treatment is often dangerous, could be life-threatening and done only when absolutely necessary. But removing pieces of the body is often the only way to save it. The time has come for honest Republicans to put their party under the knife.

What this nation has just been through can most accurately be described as completely unnecessary – a terrible body blow to our already weakened economy – the most politically divisive challenge to our freedoms we’ve seen in some 170 years – a weakening of our standing in the world community – and done so at a cost of human suffering for millions of Americans. For nothing! For absolutely nothing.

Our current national political mess has not been caused by Republicans per-se or Democrats per-se. We’ve long survived the blessings and curses of a two-party system without the economic and human damage inflicted in the last two years. As a nation, we’ve survived many political calamities. What we’ve NOT experienced since the Civil War is the organized efforts of some 150 members of Congress determined to destroy a government they can’t control. Simply because they can’t control it. No matter the cost. But that’s what we have today.

As the midnight hour approached which would put our nation in world economic default and contine the paralysis of a half-closed government, no one – NO ONE with any understanding of the situation – could have done anything but vote to end both calamities. But 18 members of the Senate said “NO” and 144 more in the House joined their chorus. These are some of the parts of the GOP body politic that need to be surgically removed.

I realize some of those folk were highly educated. I understand some actually call themselves “students of government.” I personally know some who had successful careers before they were elected. I’m also very aware of the phrase “educated fools.” In my book, all 162 who voted “no” are in that category.

Seldom have we seen such unified outpouring of advice, warnings and even threats from the American public – and most especially from corporate, academic and intellectual leaders – as we have in the last three weeks. From the top-most levels of all those has come the single message – stop the madness before this country suffers economic and human damages from which we may not recover. When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO and labor unions of all stripes sound identical alarms with identical messages, the range of interests between those two extremes covers just about all the institutional and civic voices of the majority of this country. For those 162 “Republicans,” the warnings went ignorantly unheeded.

National media talking heads can’t seem to figure out how we got into this mess – where the idiots and destructive voices in our Congress came from. Well, we’ve respectfully offered what we believe to be the reason in this space on several occasions. Here it is again. Respectfully. (more…)

Deja vu

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

It was a late summer-like day in early September of 1974. Governor Andrus and I were in a chartered twin engine plane flying from Preston to McCall via Boise because we also had to drop off the United Press International reporter who had covered our event in the far southeast corner of the state.

Shortly after mid-day we found ourselves flying at 10,000 feet over Twin Falls looking down on an assembled throng of thousands gathering to watch Evil Knievel attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon.

In November, Andrus’ name was on the ballot and by September a good chunk of our time was spent on the campaign trail. In fact it was “personal” politics that had taken us to Preston for a 10 a.m. meeting at the Franklin County Fairgrounds with 800 ranchers and farmers.

Andrus had had his fill of the local state senator, Reed Budge, an arch-conservative who opposed anything Andrus sought from the Legislature.

A cattle rancher, Budge was a proud member of “sirloin row,” where the state senators who represented rural interests, sat.

In reviewing pre-filed bills, Andrus had come across one drafted by Budge that he thought was inimical to the best interests of that county. In a rare move for the politically savvy governor, Andrus decided to go into Budge’s district, lay this out for the voters, and urge Budge’s defeat.

Thus it was that we flew into the nearest airport and drove to the Fairgrounds. Hundreds of people had gathered for what everyone expected to be a real showdown. Andrus was calling Budge out, as the saying goes. He had his facts down cold, made it clear what Budge was attempting and urged the crowd to vote for Budge’s opponent.

Senator Budge stood in the back of the room, arms folded with a slight smile on his face. Invited several times to say something, he simply shook his head. Budge knew something Andrus knew but had forgotten - many political issues are so complicated and confusing that people often decide on the basis of “who do they trust.”

These were Budge’s voters, heavily Republican and Mormon. Budge knew he didn’t have to say a word. The governor was a “gentile” from north Idaho, a “Big City” boy and a Democrat. Ninety minutes later we were back on the plane and headed to Boise. Andrus hadn’t made a dent in Budge’s armor.

Being a still wet-behind-the ears press secretary, I thought I would make the smart suggestion that we divert to the Twin Falls airport, put down, call Chris LaRocco, our then Twin Falls County campaign coordinator, to meet us with some brochures and go work that gathering crowd.

After all, it was a large crowd. In that way I thought we would salvage something from the day.

To my surprise, Andrus nixed the suggestion as quickly as I made it. He made several points some may find still relevant.

Paraphrasing, he said if he were to be there his mere appearance would be perceived as an endorsement and he did not want anyone thinking that because he did not endorse the stunt. “It’s going to cost the state’s taxpayers money for which there will be no reimbursement for items like overtime for State Police support for local law enforcement.”

Secondly, Andrus doubted the local units of government, the city and county of Twin Falls, blinded by the thought that the stunt would help generate more tourism, had begun to charge the sponsors enough in permit fees to recover their costs. “It will be a lost leader in the end,” he said.

Third, Andrus said he did not believe in lending the office of governor as a prop for a publicity stunt, especially one that could end in disaster.

“The state shouldn’t consider giving him a permit for the landing site on the north side of the canyon. They should be considering a permit for the bottom of the canyon ‘cuz that’s where he’s going to land. Nope, I hope we’re several hundred miles away by the time he makes the attempt,” he concluded.

I thought about what Andrus had said then as I read the recent news that Idaho, this time around has already garnered a million dollars for the State Endowment Fund from the winning bidder for the next attempt.

Something tells me that were Andrus still governor he would still be several hundred miles away. Shortly after Andrus was first elected he had signs put up on state highways saying “Idaho Is Too Great to Litter.”

I think he rightly sees this kind of stunt as a cheap thrill attracting those hoping to see the latest entry for a “Darwin Award.” It “litters” Idaho’s grandeur and greatness.

Impact of the fiscal yahoos

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

The Fiscal Yahoo Caucus of the United States Congress is ready to reach into your family wallet and grab cash. Need to buy or refinance a house? Ca-ching. Owe anything on credit cards, perhaps a revolving business loan, or need student loans? Ca-ching. Ca-ching. Ca-ching.

This nonsense -- a refusal to raise the federal debt limit without all sorts of conditions -- matters to everyone because we as Americans borrow money at extraordinary low rates. We borrow a lot of money, actually, so even a small increase in interest rates could really hurt.

The General Accountability Office says: “Spending on net interest as a percentage of federal spending has fluctuated over time, peaking in the late 1940s and in the mid 1990s. In the past, interest payments contributed to deficits and helped fuel a rising debt burden. Rising debt, in turn, raised interest costs in the budget, and the federal government increased debt held by the public to finance these interest payments. This has been called the ‘vicious cycle.’ Today’s relatively lower interest rates have lessened the pressure debt service places on the budget, despite the recent increase in the debt held by the public.”

We have a good deal. Interest payments as a percentage of the total economy were at 14.6 percent in 1948; today that number is only 6.4 percent.

So what if interest payments were that high again? The wheels of government come off.

Remember that government debt is financed in public markets. That debt is sold at auction, so someone has to be a “buyer” of bonds. “Consequently, the amount that the federal government spends for interest on its debt is directly tied to those interest rates,” the GAO said. “Under CBO's January 2012 baseline budget projections, debt held by the public would be 62 percent of GDP in 2022 and spending on net interest would rise from $227 billion in 2011 to $624 billion (or 2.5 percent of GDP) in 2022. CBO has assessed how changes in interest rates can affect federal spending. CBO notes that if interest rates are 1 percent higher than the rates assumed in CBO’s baseline budget projections, the government’s higher interest costs would add nearly $1 trillion to the cumulative budget deficit over the 10-year period.” (more…)

This ‘story’ never happened

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Note to all media – especially Idaho: Evel Knievel did NOT jump the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls. Evel Knievel got less than 150 feet out from the South rim and dived into the Snake River Canyon. Evel Knievel likely NEVER INTENDED to jump over the Snake River Canyon. Got that?

Sepember 8, 1974. It was my first full week as a private pilot. I flew to Twin Falls to bring film of the “jump” back to a Boise TV station. So I was at the site when the fizzing, phony rockets lashed to an aluminum clad motorcycle scooted up the ramp and out – very briefly – into space.

Robert Craig Knievel was on the downhill side of his stunt career at that point. He’d been in various jails a number of times. Finally, one judge told him to go to jail again or join the army. He actually got the name “Evel” from a jailer in Montana who couldn’t spell. He tried – and failed at – a number of career choices including being the owner of a small time hockey team. At some point, he got interested in motocross and rode on the circuit for several years. Another dead end.

He got together some other starving cycle circuit riders in 1966 and had the idea of doing “daredevil” stunts including the jumps he was famous for. Many of the longer ones were in Las Vegas. Pretty good money for a while. But Evel had expensive tastes. At the end, he said he spent about two million more than he made in his lifetime and died broke.

The Idaho jump was the idea a friend of his after Kneivel had been turned down for a permit to jump the Grand Canyon. Twin Falls Commissioners granted the license and he built his “takeoff” ramp on the South side. Publicity went into overdrive. ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” got into a tizzy to get it all on “live” national television. Local Idaho stations didn’t have the satellite gadgetry they do today. So those wanting to show the Knievel “Snake River Canyon jump” on their own air had to have a film crew onsite. That’s how I got involved.

Nobody really stopped to look into the engineering and/or aeronautics of such a feat. Ol’ Evel just strapped a couple of noisy, smoky little rockets to the aluminum-enclosed “Buck Rogers” cycle inside. That was really it.

As “earth shaking” promotions of that sort often are, it completely lacked any sense of reality. But, Evel waved profusely to the crowd – and cameras – cranked up the “space cycle,” the phony rockets spewed a lot of smoke with some flashy sparks and made a whooshing sound. All the cameras rolled. Kneivel rode straight up the ramp, made a very small arc and disappeared. He went no further than 100 feet or so – nearly straight out. From the South side of the canyon, we couldn’t see where he went.

The parachute popped open as planned. The cycle tipped nose down and ol’ Evel floated down inside while the little “rocket ship” bounced off a few rocks. The crowd got excited. The camera guys pushed and shoved to get to the edge of the canyon. Lots of screaming by the crowd. But that was it. (more…)

Simpson’s moment

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

Here soon: The likelihood of a career-defining moment of truth for Representative Mike Simpson. What he does, or doesn't do, in coming days on the federal shutdown and prospective default will be the key to reading his many years of service in public office.

This goes singularly to Simpson because of the shutdown dynamics. If the periodic and regular votes, for the “continuing resolution” (on the budget) and the debt ceiling increase had been done in the usual fashion of obscure housekeeping, they would have been “clean” - with no special conditions for passage attached – and supported by both parties. The president and the Senate (with a supermajority including significant members of both parties) support that. The Republican majority in the House has determined to add conditions before approving either measure. The shutdown results of no agreement on the “CR” are significant and growing; failure to raise the debt ceiling, in which the United States would welsh on debts it already has incurred, would be damaging and could be catastrophic.

Idaho's senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, have opposed the measures, but in the Senate they are part of too small a group to impose their will; bluntly, their opposition hasn't mattered. And you could say that Representative Raul Labrador's opposition has been baked in, as an early-on Tea Party-backed House member.

Simpson is a more subtle story. Last week the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call quoted Simpson: “I’d vote for a clean CR, because I don’t think this is a strategy that works. I think the strategy that works is on the debt ceiling.” That led to Simpson's placement on a list of House Republicans who would vote for such a “clean” CR if it got to the House floor – and maybe to those who would vote for forcibly pulling it to the floor, which could be done if 17 Republicans plus all House Democrats voted in favor.

Simpson quickly replied that he had no such plans: “I am going to continue to support the position of our Republican Caucus in the ongoing shutdown dispute. Having said that, similar to Senator Rand Paul, I could support a very short-term clean CR, perhaps one or two weeks, while we continue to negotiate on a longer-term bill that addresses priorities we believe are important.” (more…)

Transition: excerpt 3

transition

This is an excerpt from the Ridenbaugh Press book Transition, by W. Scott Jorgensen. More will be appearing over the weeks to come. The book is available now from Ridenbaugh Press.

April 2011

One day, I drove to the local branch of the employment department. Parking spots were rare, and the lot was completely packed. One eventually became available as someone else left.

The national unemployment rate was 9 percent that month. Oregon was at 9.6 percent and Portland was at 9.3 percent.
I entered my resume into the department’s computer system. After browsing the various job listings for a while, I decided to head home for lunch.

As I left, “Lost Cause” started playing on my iPod yet again.

Why did this keep happening?

I had plans one afternoon to jam with Justin, as he had just bought a bass guitar and amp cabinet. Since I didn’t have a job or any prospects, it was the least I could do to get out of the house.

Justin and I were going to be joined by another old friend, Jon. He and I had reconnected via Facebook, and it turned out he lived a few blocks from Justin.

The last time I saw Jon, I had just started working at the radio station and gotten married. We played a round of disc golf one day, but had since fallen out of touch.

Oddly enough, he and Justin had run into each other while recycling at a neighborhood store in Portland. They had lost each other’s contact information, so this would be a reunion of sorts for them as well.

Back when Justin and I were both in a band called Drunken Public, we were somewhat of a songwriting team. He would come up with decent riffs, but would be unable to remember them. I would then take those riffs and use them as the basis for songs.

Justin hadn’t played a whole lot since then. This was actually the first time he had owned a bass since pawning his equipment in early 2002. I was curious to see if Justin could recall any of our old material, so I started playing a few of those songs.

One of them, “A Woman in Washington,” had been among my favorites. It was written as a response to Congressman Gary Condit’s 2001 sex scandal involving his missing intern Chandra Levy. The song took potshots at him, Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

Condit’s story had dominated the news in those seemingly innocent days before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Almost approximately 24 hours before the attacks, Condit’s political career was being discussed on a Fox News program, as they were debating whether or not he should resign. Meanwhile, on the other end of the country, I, Justin and some of our other friends were having a late night in my Talent residence. We had made it a point to try to finish a box of Franzia wine that another friend had left in my fridge at a previous party. (more…)