Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The growing coarseness in our society seems an unstoppable trend many folks just take for granted. Especially those with teens in the house. Most of us don’t like it but we seem powerless to stop it. We ignore it when we can; deal quietly with it when we can’t. Comes now a new, even lower level of character assassination vulgarity that should offend nearly everyone.

It comes from one of the least contributory and most obnoxious members of the U.S. Senate and his contempt for a former member of that body – a former member that conducted the office with far more dignity and many more contributions than his own. The over-rated and under-performing offender is Rand Paul. The target of his warrant less B.S. is Hillary Clinton.

Paul has spent his limited time in Congress accomplishing absolutely nothing. A check of recorded business of the Senate shows Paul’s name connected to zero legislative sponsorship of any substance while contributing to numerous instances of unseemly behavior and self-promotion. Neither his home state of Kentucy nor the nation at-large have benefitted from his presence along the Potomac. His time in office has not been much longer than it takes to find the Senate men’s room but he’s already off on what will likely be a dead end run for the presidency.

From his place near the bottom of the national political totem pole, Paul has already embarrassed himself in a number of ways. But nothing he’s done or said previously comes close to his effort to somehow tie former Sen. Clinton to the Monica Lewinsky scandal of her husband.

NBC’s David Gregory showed his own professionally ignorant coarseness when he asked Paul on nationwide television if the Lewinsky scandal was fair game in a presidential political contest.

Rather than point out the obvious disconnectedness of the query, Paul launched off into his “reasons” why that 20-year-old episode involving two other people was “relevant” to today’s political environment.

“Fair game,“ was the sum of his addled response.

No, Mr. Paul. It’s not “fair game.” Any more than the years of insane statements, impossible politics, early racist writings, public rants and other dubious activities of your father are “fair game” in someone’s campaign against you. In both situations, the principal players were others beside you and Sen. Clinton.

Did you rush to either defend or castigate ol’ Pater for publishing his yellow, baseless trash on his own congressional letterhead? Or did you just ignore what he was doing and saying? Or – even worse – did you agree and keep quiet?

When your father was running scam after money-making scam and calling them “presidential campaigns,” did you publically distance yourself from his felonious activities or did you just learn the old man’s tricks and file them away for your own future use? Your father bilked hundreds of thousands of people out of millions of dollars for many years in what any rational person knew were impossible presidential campaigns. He followed up with more money-making slight-of-hand with paid newsletters, poorly executed videos and amateurish, fact-challenged books pitching the same old crap. Are three decades of fleecing sorry souls with his medicine show tactics relevant for your opponent to use in the 2016 presidential campaign?

No. And neither is the Lewinsky episode for you or anyone else.

From the alleged diary of a dead former Clinton friend, it’s been widely reported Sen. Clinton – then First Lady Hillary Clinton – used the words “loony narcissist” to describe Ms. Lewinsky. So what? What’s it to you. Or anyone else? My own more limited experience with the woes of marital infidelity tell me that’s a pretty calm reaction. If, indeed, that WAS her reaction. What’s it to you?

Frankly, as I recall, a good portion of this country – especially women – found her response underwhelming, restrained and the decision to keep her marriage active very courageous things to do. While she and Mr. Clinton may have had one or more private set-to’s over Ms. Lewinsky, her public persona and demeanor were quite acceptable to a lot of us.

In fact, aside from the obvious “snowball’s chance in hell” of you waging a successful presidential campaign with all your own baggage – and that of dear ol’ Dad – you may have hit a nerve with a lot of us who felt that Mrs. Clinton has shown a great deal of class and grace with a very tough personal situation many of us can identify with. And many tough, difficult moments while in public life in her elective and appointed service.

The fact is, Rand, there should be no place in any campaign involving Mrs. Clinton for talk of her husband’s transgressions. Unless, of course, you want to explain some of the money-grubbing, racist transgressions of Pops..

Aw, go ahead. Give it a try.

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Rainey

mendiola MARK
MENDIOLA

 
Reports

Several Idahoans who phoned into Idaho U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo’s tele-town hall meeting Wednesday night, Feb. 12, expressed concerns that President Barack Obama is abusing executive orders, creating a constitutional crisis that might require impeachment proceedings to be brought against the nation’s chief executive.

They said they fear Obama is directly violating the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers between the government’s executive, legislative and judicial branches by arbitrarily circumventing Congress and ignoring or even contradicting enacted laws with his executive orders.

During the hour-long town hall session, Crapo’s constituents also asked about missing Idaho POW Bowe Bergdahl, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” the Keystone XL Pipeline, the U.S. Farm Bill, the minimum wage, environmental protection, broadening the tax base and reforming the tax code.

Crapo said at this point a majority of members in the U.S. House and Senate have not concluded that impeachment of the president would be a proper step.

The U.S. Constitution allows for presidents, vice presidents, federal judges and civil officers to be removed from office via impeachment if they have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” including criminal actions or serious misuse or abuse of office.

In American history, the U.S. House of Representatives initiated impeachment proceedings against only two U.S. presidents — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. The Senate acquitted Johnson by one vote and dismissed charges against Clinton.

Crapo said he is increasingly hearing the impeachment issue raised “as the president steps outside the law and whether that amounts to high crimes and misdemeanors.” While Congress now is unlikely to impeach Obama, the Idaho Republican said he will not say that will not happen.

Crapo was among 45 Senate Republicans to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court saying it was illegal for Obama to make “recess appointments” of three members to the National Labor Relations Board and Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) when the Senate was still in pro forma session and without its advice and consent.

Crapo said Obama was literally in violation of the Constitution by taking that action. “I don’t think he accidentally did this.”

Three federal appeals courts have ruled those appointments were improper. The Supreme Court heard the landmark case in mid-January. Its decision is expected in late June.

Last November, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled the trigger on the so-called “nuclear option,” making a controversial, historic Senate rule change that eliminates filibusters blocking presidential nominees and allows a simple majority vote, rather than 60 votes, to confirm nominees, limiting the power of minority Republicans.

“I think America should be furious at this,” Crapo said, noting one of the disputed nominees was confirmed in the Senate after the rule change was made, referring to Cordray whom he said was illegally appointed. “I think Americans should be outraged at that.”

Crapo emphasized that Americans need to be much more aware of privacy as a major issue, criticizing indiscriminate spying by the government against law-abiding citizens and collecting data on every phone call made by every American.

While much has been reported about the National Security Agency’s spying activities and the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative political and religious groups, Crapo said the new CFPB created under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is collecting credit card, banking transaction, mortgage lending, student loan and Social Security information, including some 90 different factors about each American.

Crapo, ranking Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, noted he has called for the General Accounting Office to audit the CFPB and has repeatedly spoken against its broad authority over financial institutions.

The bureau is funded by the Federal Reserve, not congressional appropriations. Crapo and other Republicans said it should be led by a bipartisan board, not a single director.

The collapse of the housing system, perhaps the most significant sector of the U.S. economy, has been a major contributor to the nation’s economic decline the past five or six years, Crapo said, calling for major reforms.

Advocating that they be restructured and ultimately eliminated, he noted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, companies which received a $187 billion federal bailout and went into receivership, now manage virtually all mortgages.

Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, criticized Obama for delaying the Obamacare employer mandate again until 2015 — after November’s mid-term congressional elections. He said the latest delay creates more chaos for Americans, business owners and the U.S. economy.

If the White House continues unilateral delays, it should delay the entire law, especially the individual mandate, Crapo said, agreeing with a caller that it should be repealed in its entirety.

The disastrous rollout of Obamacare, spiraling federal deficits and exploding oppressive regulations underscore that elections have consequences, Crapo said, adding he senses a momentum is building nationwide to reverse the burgeoning growth of government, taxes and spending. November’s congressional elections will be crucial in countering that, he said.

Endorsing the need for a Balanced Budget Amendment, Crapo criticized the House and Senate for extending and increasing the nation’s debt ceiling without any needed fiscal reforms or conditions, calling it very discouraging and frustrating. He and fellow Republican Sen. Jim Risch voted against doing so.

“We recognize if we continue to simply go down the path of adding to debt without solving our fiscal problems, we lose our position globally,” Crapo said, criticizing Democrats for not recognizing the threat the nation’s crushing mountain of debt poses and believing they can spend themselves into prosperity.

“The Congressional Budget Office reaffirms, not withstanding claims by some economists, our country still faces a serious debt crisis. That should be a sober reminder to all Americans of the enormous task ahead of us to get this under control.”

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Mendiola

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Newly appointed Montana Senator John Walsh ought to build his campaign to be elected to finish the term of new U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus around the issues a famous namesake (Though not related), Montana Senator Thomas J. Walsh championed for the 20 years he held the seat (1913-1933).

John Walsh, a former Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard, is a true political novice. His prior political experience is slightly more than a year of service as Montana’s Lieutenant Governor. He ran and won in 2012 as the ticket mate for then Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock’s successful bid for the governorship.

Walsh worked well with Governor Bullock, and when the long-serving and never defeated Senator Max Baucus announced he was retiring, Walsh, with Bullock’s blessing, began campaigning for the Democratic nomination. Even if the popular and charismatic former Governor, Brian Schweitzer, had re-entered the Senate race he dropped out of before Baucus had announced his plans, Walsh indicated he was staying in the race.

Once another popular former Montana governor, Marc Racicot, made it clear he would not be a candidate for the Republican nomination, most pundits conceded the Senate seat to Schweitzer until the Billings Gazette ran a major feature article highlighting some questionable dealings by Schweitzer.

With Racicot and Schweitzer both taking a pass, Republicans, both in Montana and nationally, saw their hopes start to rise as they contemplated freshman Republican Congressman Steve Daines’ elevation to the Senate. With more name recognition and strong support from the Republican Senatorial Campaign committee who see this as a key “turn over” state in their desire to seize control of the Senate, Daines is favored.

Governor Bullock, though, by naming Walsh to the seat gives the Democrat a bit of an extra edge by making him the incumbent, and Walsh’s prospects should not be dismissed. For one, he not only has Bullock solidly behind him, he also has the likeable former teacher/farmer Senator Jon Tester working hard for his election.

Senator Walsh could do a lot worse than model his campaign around the issues that his famous namesake, Senator Thomas J. Walsh, so skillfully utilized to stay in office for 20 years.

The first Montana Senator Walsh was an Irish-Catholic native of Wisconsin who started out as a teacher but soon switched to law and graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s Law School. He migrated to Helena in 1890 where he set up a practice specializing in copper litigation and accidental injuries.

Politics drew him into a congressional race in 1906 which he lost but then was named a U.S. Senator by the Montana Legislature in 1913. With a sharp legal mind he quickly made a name for himself on the Senate Judiciary committee. He became a stalwart supporter of President Woodrow Wilson and was the Western Field Campaign manager for Wilson’s Re-Election campaign in 1916, which Wilson narrowly won over Justice Charles Evans Hughes.

Walsh supported America’s entry into World War I, strongly supported Women’s suffrage (With Jeanette Rankin as Montana’s member of Congress from 1916 to 1918, one should not be surprised) and also supported the implementation of the graduated income tax.

He also backed the idea of a League of Nations though he greatly disappointed President Wilson by supporting a key amendment that weakened the concept. Walsh’s real claim to fame was his lead role on the Judiciary Committee in shedding light on the Teapot Dome scandal, which exposed Cabinet level corruption in the administration of Warren G. Harding.

Known for his probity and fairness, Walsh chaired both the 1924 and the 1932 Democratic Conventions. An ally of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, the president-elect nominated Walsh to be his Attorney General. Walsh, however, died of a heart attack on a train headed for D.C. for the Roosevelt inauguration, following a five-day honeymoon trip to Cuba.

Some progressive issues today’s Senator Walsh might follow in the spirit of his namesake would include support for equal pay for women, for a woman’s right to choose, for immigration reform to assure Montana farmers there will be a legal work force they can rely on, tax reform that puts more burden on the super-rich and provides relief for the stressed middle class, and stronger federal support for all levels of education to help Montana students compete in a very competitive world market.

Senator Walsh, take a page from your namesake, and you too may serve 20 years.

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Carlson

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Mexican consul speaks to Idaho Senate (Boise Statesman)
Canyon real state market tightens (Nampa Press Tribune)
House advances bill for 10-year-old hunters (Pocatello Journal)
Decision ahead on Pocatello mosque (Pocatello Journal)
Filer dog-shooting copy gains backing (TF Times News)
Times News sues school board on records TF Times News)

Legislation on local pot store regulation (KF Herald & News)
Top Klamath fire chief named (KF Herald & News)
Walden wants Cover Oregon audiit (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Pendleton East Oregonian, Ashland Tidings)
Post-storm, power still out for many (Eugene Register Guard)
Possible southern Oregon flooding (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher strike, still (Medford Tribune)
Massive truancy at Vernonia (Portland Oregonian)
Some bills live, some die (Portland Oregonian)
Legislature may adjust Metro growth lines (Portland Oregonian)

Hastings won’t run again (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Legislature considers transport package (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
Longview backs off zoning for pot (Longview News)
Cowlitz teens telling all on Twitter (Longview News)
Hurricane Ridge skiing may start (Port Angeles News)
Most Forks dogs adopted out (Port Angeles News)
SeaTac businesses moving to $15 wages (Seattle Times)
Gas tax may be raised (Spokane Spokesman)
New local app may help on heart attacks (Spokane Spokesman)
Snow levels still low (Yakima Herald Republic)
Local judge moves to appellate court (Yakima Herald Republic)

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