Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

A professional friend of long-standing over in Idaho got himself in an embarrassing position the other day. The guy spent more than 40 years covering state politics for an international news service and, thus, could be expected to know more about that state’s irrational political activities and how they operate than the average citizen. He does. But he still got tripped up publically and, in so doing, presented a text book example why Idaho – and so many other states – have fallen victim to the right-wing crazies.

A moderate Republican friend of his – an oxymoron in Idaho – was facing a real nutcase in his primary. So, our mutual retired media friend filed for the primary race, too. His idea? He’d go right up to just before the election – then pull out – attempting to split the nutcase vote, thus assuring his moderate friend a victory. He’d be a “Trojan horse” – tilting the voting percentages. Except he got found out and had to withdraw.

You couldn’t find a more textbook example of how the foil hats have taken over so many political offices nationally. Divide and conquer. Statistically across the country, the nuts are a statistical minority. But they hold a disproportionate number of legislative and congressional seats because they learned long ago to “divide and conquer.”

The about-to-be-gone Michelle Bachman is a good example. Did you know her maiden name was Amble? Kinda fits, doesn’t it? Well, she’s never faced a primary election with a single opponent so she’s never had to get at least half the vote. The Minnesota GOP always made sure she had a weak second or third party in the race. Divide and conquer. All she needed was 25-30-percent or so. A minority win. My friend was trying to do the same for his friend. But – despite long experience – he screwed up.

Our political system is filled with this crap. My friend knew he wasn’t a real candidate. But voters didn’t. Idahoans honestly drawn to him and his faux campaign were being hustled. He was perverting our system though he probably felt justified. But innocent voters were being screwed.

Idaho’s legislature, for example, has a lot of these minority “winners” in the ranks. Most with a far right tilt. Like the current bunch who overwhelmingly passed a bill this year – now a law – to “void” any new federal gun laws. Further, they believe they can now cancel all previous federal gun laws in upcoming sessions. Same for some federal lands issues and federal health care laws, too. They can’t do any of that. So Idahoans will keep paying millions of tax dollars in what is now a long line of more utterly useless and lost court cases.

Fact is, Idaho put a new law on the books this year that’s so far out in right field the legislature decided to appropriate an extra $1-million up front just for the court battle legislators were sure would come. Prescient? No. Learned from history? Maybe. Just deciding to pay up front this time rather than paying later as has so often been the case.

North Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas, Utah, Arkansas and Florida are among some other locales going the same phony “nullification” route. “We don’t like your damned federal laws and we ain’t gonna follow ‘em.” Some of the local ignorance deals with obviously illegal new voter limitations, efforts to avoid requirements of the Affordable Care Act, resistance to gun laws that haven’t even been written and other nonsense.

What I’d like to see is these pick-and-choose politicians say “We don’t want none of your damned highway money – and you can keep your funding of local water and sewer systems. And, while you’re at it, we ain’t takin’ none of those federal education dollars, either.” But they won’t. Deciding which laws to follow and which to ignore is one thing. Not taking the money is something else. Crazy, yes. Just not stupid.

The plain fact is the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause allows federal trumping of state statutes and has been uniformly upheld for more than 200 years. You might be able to legally smoke a “joint” in Washington State these days. But if the feds want to bust you, they will, regardless of what Washington voters have decided. Same with gun law “bans.”

Idaho is many millions of dollars poorer for this sort of legislative suicide in the courts. Dollars that could’ve made significant improvements in public education, health care and other quality-of-life issues for taxpayers. And many more of those valuable tax bucks will go down the judicial rat hole as the elective “bait and switch” allowing Idaho’s minority cretins to win at the polls goes unchallenged.

Of course, anyone who wants to seriously take on folks in the Idaho Legislature must remember this year they made it legal for any member to carry a concealed weapon at anytime and anywhere- whether they know one end of the damned thing from the other or not.- drunk or sober – 24/7. That’s what you get when the nuts with the aluminum wrap hats manipulate the voters. I think my unarmed friend forgot that.

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Rainey

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Earlier this week, I did something that I never thought I would do: Ask Sen. Jim Risch for more than $2 billion to fund two federal programs – without choking on my words.

Normally, that would be a tough sell because Risch is one of the leading deficit hawks on Capitol Hill. I was halfway expecting him to lecture me about bulging deficits and how run-away government spending is driving this nation to the brink of disaster.

That was not the case. I was in the nation’s capital as a guest of the American Diabetes Association’s lobbying day on Capitol Hill and I soon found out that he’s a member of the Senate Diabetes Caucus – which is a home run in my view. The senator was engaging, friendly and supportive of the cause.

He listened to the complications I have experienced from the disease, including an amputated toe, blindness and loss of my career, heart bypass surgery and – most recently – kidney disease. Risch has heard those kinds of stories and worse; at least I’m alive to talk about my problems. It is projected that by 2050, one in three people living in the United States will have diabetes. He is well aware of the threat diabetes poses to the nation’s overall health and is equally aware of what Congress can do to prevent this train wreck.

“The National Institute of Health does amazing things,” Risch said at one point. He’s on board with the NIH’s goal of finding a cure for diabetes, and $2 billion is a small price tag for that effort. He also is receptive to the proposals for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($137 million) and the National Diabetes Prevention Program ($20 million). The millions spent on those worthwhile programs will save billions of dollars in the long run.

Risch clearly gets it on this issue. As one who has struggled with diabetes for the last 14 years, I am thankful that he’s in the U.S. Senate and appreciate there is such a thing as a Senate Diabetes Caucus. That sends a nice signal to the 25 million people in the United States who have this awful disease and the nearly 80 million who have pre-diabetes.

But he isn’t the only friend on Capitol Hill, or even in the Idaho delegation. Senator Mike Crapo also is a member of the diabetes caucus. I didn’t meet with him, but I was greeted by a legislative assistant, Kellie McConnell, who knew the issues and facts before I could present them. For instance, she’s aware that funding for a Special Diabetes Program will run out on Sept. 30 unless Congress takes action.

Her knowledge about the issues tells me that diabetes is high on Crapo’s priority list.
On the House side, Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador are not part of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, but they are well aware of the issues.
“Like you, diabetes issues are personal to Congressman Simpson, as he has experienced it with a close family member,” said Nathan Greene, a legislative assistant with the office. “It is an issue that he continues to look to engage in whenever possible.”

Labrador has spoken with me several times about diabetes, and how the numbers are of epidemic proportions among Hispanics. His legislative assistant, Bekah DeMordant, was taken aback by the thought of one in three people having diabetes by 2050. I won’t be part of that world, but she most likely will unless a cure is found.

Ultimately, we cannot count on Congress to wave a magic wand and make this problem go away. The best way to keep type 2 diabetes from spreading like wildfire is for people to take responsibility for their personal choices and their children’s.

But as I learned from my one-day lobbying experience, Congress can support the dynamic research efforts that will lead to a cure and promote prevention. From my standpoint, it’s good to know that Washington is aware and listening.

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Malloy

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)

Idaho trade with Russia on hold (Boise Statesman)
Army Corps targets birds that target fish (Lewiston Tribune)
Stillaguamish mudslide follow (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow)
UI gets ready for campus guns (Moscow News)
New law dean at UI (Moscow News)
Latah’s good with wheeled trash cans (Moscow News)
Canyon fair gets offer from Ford Idaho (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho adds mental data to gun database (Nampa Press Tribune)
Resotration at Clark Fork area may begin (Sandpoint Bee)
Wolf control board bill signed (TF Times News, Sandpoint Bee)
Smith declines Idaho Falls debate (TF Times News)

Legislative Cover Oregon meetings secret (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Stillaguamish mudslide followup (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Regiater Guard, Corvallis Gazette Times, Pendleton East Oregonian, Ashland Tidings)
Benton ranks best in state health (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Nanotech firm buys into Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
KF schools plan bond campaign (KF Herald & News)
Polk County halves sheriff patrols (Salem Statesman Journal)

Stillaguamish mudslide followup (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
More Hanford land may be open to public (Kennewick Herald)
Small landside destroying homes near Longview (Longview News)
Sequim museum may close (Port Angeles News)
Microsoft releases Office for Apple iPad (Seattle Times)
Boeing will cut jobs, but whose? (Seattle Times)
Health system changes collection company (Tacoma News Tribune)

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First Take