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Posts published in July 2015

Real terrorist, bad judge

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There a few changes in military recruiting stations since I signed up in one many, many years ago. Most now are staffed by members of each branch of the military rather than just one recruiter who could sign you up for any service. Today, they’re often located in strip malls rather than office buildings as they used to be. Slick promotional DVDs of colorful military action have replaced the old, dog-eared pamphlets.

My recruiter back then was an old “tanker.” I wanted the Air Force but that old sarge was pure Army from his shorts out. He wore a back brace, had “locked” knees and gnarled hands that gripped two canes. He’d served in North Africa under Patton where temperatures in those steel coffins topped 120 degrees daytime and dropped to the 40's at night. Repeated exposure to cold and condensation caused crippling arthritis. He was overweight and deformed but he recruited with the best of ‘em.

These days, recruiters all look like they posed for “best-of-the-best” posters with tailored uniforms, all leather shined to a high gloss, smartly pressed pants, permanent-pleat shirts and regulation haircuts kept that way by nearly daily trips to the barber.

This description of latter-day recruiters probably fit all the personnel in that Tennessee recruiting station the day they were murdered. The day a deranged soul, with a semi-automatic, butchered five unarmed men. But “deranged” doesn’t stop there.

Flipping through Faux Neus a few days ago, I happened across “Judge Jeannie.” Her right wing rant was the recruiting office murders and how “Obama is to blame.” Not President Obama. Just “Obama is to blame.” And, from somewhere in the demented Faux audience, the network has dug up a Black police chief as much a racist as any white I’ve ever seen.

Let’s take a minute to discuss “Judge Jeannie.” Jeannie Pirro was 12 years a county court judge in Westchester County, NY. During that time, lobbyist husband, Albert, was convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy involving over $1 million. Jeannie was investigated by the feds for illegally taping her husband’s phones, trying to catch him committing adultery and other things. American “family values” at their best.

Jeannie made runs for lieutenant governor and U.S. senator with “significant contributions” from her ex’s friends while he remained in the slammer. But she couldn’t raise enough money or political support from the public and withdrew both times. Rejection. Then Faux Neus. With her non-journalistic background and political failures - a natural.

Back to the present. Jeannie’s charge was that “Obama” had prohibited recruiters from being armed. Not true. Except to her. If “Obama had not stopped recruiters from having guns they could’ve defended themselves and wouldn’t be dead.” The chief agreed! Repeatedly. Another “Obama failing.” said he. I flipped off - before I flipped out.

I’d bet the farm no president of these United States ever knew - or had given much though to - whether recruiters had guns in recruiting stations. I’d wager the same that no president - including the current one - ever ordered recruiters be armed or not armed. Like so many other Faux Neus charges about “Obama’s failures,” no thought has been given to cabinet secretaries, department heads, the IRS, Joint Chiefs of Staff or anyone else in government supervisory roles. Just “Obama.”

Successful recruiters have two main tools. First, they must look, talk and act like the best each branch of service has to offer. Many are combat vets with a lot of “salad dressing” on their chests. They’re smart, well-trained to “read” people, conversational, use proven sales tactics to make a case for new recruits to see “the best the military offers.” It’s a sales job. “Products” are patriotism, travel, education, lifetime careers, advancement and all the things young people look for and ask about.

Most recruiting offices are in malls or strip malls. Years of testing found access important for recruitment. The Tennessee office was next to an Italian restaurant. You can’t stash recruiters away someplace “safe” and you can’t arm them for defensive postures any more than you’d buy a car from a guy in a bulletproof glass cage. They are not in the offices to “return fire” when some nut - deranged local or terrorist - takes a shot.

Recruiting offices will continue to be targets for attack. They represent the American military - “the Great Satan” - and are not equipped repel armed cowards hitting “soft” targets. Like schools in Afghanistan or weddings in Iraq. There is no bulletproof way to change that. Not if recruiters are to be effective in their work. Before international terrorism made their offices hazardous duty.

The military will figure this out and do what it has to. No, I’m more worried about the “Judge Jeannie’s” of this world who keep up the lies and false propaganda to stir up people who fall for her B.S.. Far too many do. To me, she’s more the “enemy within.” Millions accept what she says without question - without checking - without confirmation of any kind - because she’s that “nice looking lady.” “And she’s a judge.”

No, my friends. She’s just another Faux Neus hack with clay feet up to her chin. She’s had her turn with both sides of the law. You want a friend? Go talk to a recruiter. They’re far more honest.

As for the civilian nuts showing up to “protect” the military, go home before you hurt someone and get sued down to your red-white-and-blue shorts.

First take

We've never seen Pluto like this. In fact, we've only just barely seen it until very recently, didn't know about it at all until within the last century. Now, with imagery from a satellite that only just shot past it, we have detail way beyond what we had before. And we can manipulate the date to generate more, as NASA officials noted this weekend: "New Horizons scientists use enhanced color images to detect differences in the composition and texture of Pluto’s surface. When close-up images are combined with color data from the Ralph instrument, it paints a new and surprising portrait of the dwarf planet. The “heart of the heart,” Sputnik Planum, is suggestive of a source region of ices. The two bluish-white “lobes” that extend to the southwest and northeast of the “heart” may represent exotic ices being transported away from Sputnik Planum." Imagination-provoking stuff.

Fish and the heat wave

From this week's Idaho Weekly Briefing: An Idaho Fish & Game report on how this summer's heat may be affecting fish and fishing rules.

Warm water temperatures came earlier than usual to many of Idaho’s fishing waters, but it’s unlikely to lead to fishing closures or restrictions similar to those that neighboring states have implemented.

“In many streams, what we’re seeing this year with water temperatures happens every year, we’re just seeing it sooner than normal,” said Jim Fredericks, chief of the Department of Fish and Game’s fisheries bureau.

A heat wave in late June and early July spiked water temperatures, but many waters have since cooled to normal summer temperatures. That doesn’t mean fish haven’t been stressed, particularly trout and other coldwater species, but conditions are not likely to affect fish populations now or in the near future based on current water conditions.

Warm water is a common occurrence during summer, and several factors come into play when it happens. Summer migrations into headwaters, cold tributaries or around underwater springs are a normal part of life for trout in many Idaho rivers. In lakes and reservoirs fish move to deeper, cooler water. Many rivers, or portions of them, have dams that allow water temperatures and flows to be adjusted.

The feeding activity of the fish also helps minimize the problem. Fish that can’t find cooler water typically become lethargic and decrease or stop eating, which means slow fishing and a corresponding drop in fishing pressure.
While closures in neighboring states won’t affect Idaho, Oregon and Washington have implemented restrictions on the Snake River where it shares a border with Idaho.

Joe DuPont, Fish and Game’s Clearwater Region fisheries manager, said fishing pressure for sturgeon, and catch rates in the Snake River from Idaho anglers, are likely to be low.

“I’m confident the sturgeon in the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River are not going to be impacted by anglers due to temperatures,” DuPont said. “Catch rates drop so much that very few get caught. You can’t stress them out if you can’t catch them.”

The department is monitoring the Snake River, and he noted that during spring, two dead sturgeon were reported by multiple callers to the department.

“When a sturgeon dies, we get repeated calls,” Dupont said. “If large numbers were dying, we would know about it.”

Fish and Game officials have the authority to implement emergency fishing closures in extreme cases, although they aren’t expected.

That’s not to say anglers won’t see some noticeable effects from warmer. Anglers and others may see localized fish die offs, a few of which have already occurred. Anglers may also notice the effects of stress on individual fish, such as parasites, lesions and other physical signs.

Anglers can also reduce stress on fish by not fishing during the warmest parts of the day, and if they plan to release the fish, land them quickly and carefully release them. If anglers see fish go belly up after being released, they may voluntarily stop fishing until the water cools. Early mornings are typically when the water temperatures are coolest during the day.

The window when temperatures are above a comfortable level for fish are typically short-lived, and most fish can withstand the temporary stress. As water cools, typically in late summer when days get shorter and night temperatures drop, fish resume their normal routines and anglers will likely see catch rates improve. (photo/Nan Palmero)

First take

The Lewiston Tribune reports this morning about the Manning Crevice Bridge, in some ways the major remnant of the biggest highway project never finished in Idaho history. To get to the bridge, you travel east from Riggins (which is on Highway 95) about 14 miles; what you encounter is an 80-year-old bridge across the Salmon River badly in need of repair if it's to be continued in use. The bridge is the easternmost main development in what was intended to be a road running east along the Salmon River all the way to North Fork, just a few highway miles north of the city of Salmon - creating a highway link between the two parts of Idaho, west and east. It's a fascinating thought, and would likely have become a wonderful drive, had it been built. It might also have discouraged wilderness area designations in that in-between area. And there is this to consider: We don't necessarily need roads between everywhere. Not many people, only a few, really would have had much need of the Riggins-Salmon road. As a connector between Salmon (which isn't a large population center to start with), it would not have been an improvement on the current main route between the two, which runs through Idaho City, Stanley and Challis - the two routes would have taken about the same amount of time. It would have only a little quicker than the current route from Salmon to Lewiston over route 12, and no benefit at all headed to up Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. The story today used to phrase "road to nowhere," which isn't right; but "road to why" might be applicable. - rs

Donald Trump’s Idaho?

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Is Idaho Donald Trump’s kind of place?

We now have a pretty clear idea of who all the major contenders for president will be in 2016: At this point all or nearly all have announced. (The New York Times declared the field unofficially closed after the announcement last week of Ohio Governor John Kasich.)

So who’s the Republican now most likely to pick up support in the Gem State?

The last couple of nomination contests weren’t good normal case studies, because Mitt Romney had unusually strongly connections to the Idaho area, between his ties to Utah and his Mormon religion, which he has in common with about a third of Idahoans, the bulk of that third being Republican.

Romney aside, the hearts of many Idaho Republicans seem traditionally to go toward insurgent and anti-establishment contenders, and candidates who match up with the Idaho self-image.

The biggest share of those Idaho Republicans who didn’t back Romney in the nomination fight in 2012 went for Ron Paul, whose candidacy was an irritant to much of the establishment. In 2000, there wasn’t really an insurgent candidate. George W. Bush got much of the state’s support and was the big favorite nationally from early on, but there was a significant base for Alan Keyes as well. In 1996, Pat Buchanan was the closest thing around to an insurgent anti-establishing candidate, but he never organized substantially in Idaho, and never picked up a lot of national traction.

When Ronald Reagan, still probably as popular in Idaho as he ever was, got his start, he was an insurgent candidate, running from a long-shot mode in 1968 and as a serious but definitely outsider challenger to a sitting president in 1976. And Reagan won that 1976 Idaho primary hugely, with 74.3% of the vote, his best vote anywhere in the country that year. A lot of the affection for him in Idaho built from that time, from his role not as a front runner or incumbent but as a challenger to powers that be.

Also liked: Challenger to powers that be who are dismissed by them. People like Helen Chenoweth and Sarah Palin picked up a lot of traction in Idaho in no small part for that reason. Their backers might call it being unafraid to speak the truth, their critics might call it speaking foolishness, but in Idaho you’ll find enough voters in the first camp to form a significant base.

Does Donald Trump fit into that mold? Or does someone else do so better?

Reagan had been a governor, but many of the people who like Trump say that much of what they like about him is that he’s an outsider, so presumably someone who hasn’t been a governor or a senator might have some particular appeal. They also like the idea that he “can’t be bought,” that he’s independently wealthy enough that he could do as he chooses. These concepts would have some resonance in the Idaho Republican electorate. Across that very large Republican field of candidates, only three, Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have not been either a governor or a senator. And Carson and Fiorina are not top-rank contenders, at least at present.

And this time there aren’t any Republican candidates who touch the self-identity chords in Idaho the way Reagan, George W. Bush or Mitt Romney did.

Might Idaho be Trump territory? Could be, if The Donald lasts in his campaigning hothouse long enough to get to next year’s Idaho primary.

First take

Could the Pope actually have a major effect on the presidential - and maybe congressional - races in 2016? Well, some effect at least. Pope Francis' tour in the United States has been scheduled, and so has a September 24 address to a joint session of Congress. It will be the first time a pope has ever done that, and it will come at a time when the vice president, two-thirds of the Supreme Court and the House speaker, among many others, are Catholic. it also comes at a time when the current Pope has been delivering messages of particular import to American politics. - rs

WA initiative progress

From a report by the Washington Secretary of State's office.

Paul Allen’s Initiative 1401, requiring a state crackdown on trafficking of endangered species/parts, has qualified for a spot on the statewide Washington ballot this fall, Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced late Wednesday.

State Elections Division crews completed scrutiny of voter signatures on a random sampling of I-1401 petitions and showed that sponsors submitted more than enough names to qualify for a state vote.

To earn a ballot spot takes 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters – 8 percent of the last votes cast for governor. Sponsors turned in over 347,000 signatures and about 10,000 were randomly chosen by computer algorithm for a full check.

The check showed an error rate of about 14 percent, compared with the average rate of 18 percent in recent decades.

The check showed that 9,101 signatures in the sample were accepted, 1,321 were rejected because the signer wasn’t a registered voter, 120 rejected because the signature didn’t match the one on file. Only one duplicate was found, an unusually low number.

The text is here.

Our website for signature-checks is here.

Election Director Lori Augino said the signature-checkers now turn their energies to Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366. The measure is an attempt to pressure the Legislature into placing a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot to require a two-thirds vote in both houses to boost taxes in Olympia.

Eyman and the campaign also turned in a large pad, with signatures over 339,000 total, so I-1366 is widely expected to make the ballot also. No other referenda or constitutional amendments will appear on the fall ballot.

Wyman applauded the continuing citizen interest in “direct democracy” via the ballot box.

“About 700,000 people from all over the state with various political views took part in gaining ballot access for the two 2015 initiatives,” she noted. “Ballot measures always seem to generate voter turnout and this year, with no statewide or congressional races, this is an important factor in generating interest.”

First take

The U.S. House legislation banning state requirements to label genetically modified foods must be watched closely in Jackson County, Oregon - where exactly just a requirement passed a couple of years ago by voter initiative. Oregon narrowly rejected such a requirement statewide last year, but a new effort easily could be tried again in 2016 - and, if structured right, could match requirements in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine. The House legislation now goes to the Senate, where little groundwork has been laid and chances of quick passage seems less than even. If it doesn't pass, look at this as providing more impetus for states to continue running out their own requirements.