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Posts published in September 2015

Dare to be . . . ?

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(An Open Letter to Senator Mike Crapo)

Dear Senator Crapo—Thanks but no thanks. I’m returning the fund-raising solicitation I received from your campaign today empty first because you already have $4.2 million in cash on hand and probably will not even have an opponent (which has been your good fortune before).

The hysterical tone that you need $95,000 more by the next FEC report deadline is truly implausible if not downright misleading. You are the safest bet for re-election in the nation, and you know it.

Fiscally conservative Idaho “business Democrats,” like myself, have supported you in the past where we knew you to be the better representative. Also, a few of us admire your intelligence and recognize your potential, even if you don’t.

Candidly, when you first entered the Senate I had high hopes you would be a different kind of a Republican, that you would on occasion stand up against your caucus, that you would exercise independence, that you would dare to be different, that you would be a true compassionate conservative, to borrow George W. Bush’s phrase.

When you served with distinction on the Simpson/Bowels Fiscal Reform Commission you were starting to meet expectations. You stood up against Grover Norquist, the GOP guru who tries to extract a “no new taxes pledge” from all Republicans because you recognized the long-term solution to our incredible debt was a systematic approach that required both a reduction in spending and some new revenue enhancements. That was your finest hour.

What has happened to that Mike Crapo? The one I see running for re-election today is running to the hard right, mouthing the mindless bromides of the Tea Party. Friends of yours tell me that you wanted to pre-empt any primary attack from the right. Really? Mike Crapo is running to the hard right because he’s afraid of someone acting even more heartless than Donald Trump who wants to ship all 11 million illegal but largely tax-paying contributing immigrants out of the country?

And when did you start idolizing that heartless¸wealthy colleague of yours, Senator Jim Risch, who demonstrates time and again he cares for little but himself and maintaining the growing gap between the super rich and the middle class?

That sure was a great deal he struck switching property tax relief for his large corporate contributors for more sales tax and then had the gall to tell folks it would not cut into state support for education - but it did.

Nor did he bother to disclose his personal though modest benefit from this legislation he pushed during his seven months as governor.

So imagine my disappointment when I hear you bragging that you and Risch vote the same 99% of the time? You’re honestly proud of that? Really? If voting with Jim Risch is an example of what your letter calls good old-fashioned common sense, God help us all.

Of course your letter contains the usual list of issues you’ll work on which polls tell you are popular with the electorate, but all are couched in broad generalities. You say you’ll work to repeal ObamaCare. With all due respect Senator, ObamaCare is here to stay. You know its provisions banning denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and capping expenditures are well on their way to becoming entitlements.

Senator, for the life of me, I really don’t understand why you don’t exercise more independence and display more courage. Be the salmon that swims against the strongest part of the current. You’re a good senator doing an adequte job but you could do so much more than just touting about holding town meetings in every town in Idaho.

I’m sure you are familiar with the parable of the talents in the New Testament. Do you honestly believe you are employing all your talents for the greater good of the citizens? Or are you indeed becoming more like Senator Rish, gliding along in what is the easiest job in the world when you hold one of the safest seats?

Many people have told me that you greatly admired, and rightly so, your older brother, Terry, who was taken so prematurely just as he was beginning a political career in which most veteran observers at the time thought would lead to true greatness. I had the privilege of covering one sesssion of the Idaho Legislature in which he truly stood out. I too thought he was destined to be someone who truly would make a difference.

I believe you and he are cut from the same cloth, that you can still fulfill a higher, better destiny. You’re a good man and a good senator, but dare to be great, Mike. Dare to be great.

First take/The pope

This is the day Pope Francis takes Washington by storm - a good deal of it, at least. He will be a difficult figure for some people to come to terms with, because his views split so much through this country's ideology. He stands up for the poor, for dealing with (and acknowledging) climate change and business practices that have human costs. But parts of his viewpoint encompass more traditional and conservative church positions as well.

Here is what he had to say at the White House (delivered personally, in English):

I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation's political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America's most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our "common home", we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about "a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change" (Laudato Si', 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that "the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home" (Laudato Si', 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

“Off your ass”

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I know many people in many occupations - the vast majority of whom I admire. But, once in awhile, someone comes along who is so absolutely unsuited in a chosen career, you just have to just say “DAMN!” The continued under performance of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is the most worthy example of that epithet as anyone I know.

John Boehner is not just bad at his job. He’s set a new low bar for achieving badness. And crudeness And divisiveness. And spinelessness. And arrogance. And crassness. Actually, his bar is now flat on the floor.

Boehner’s televised “Democrats-ought-to-get-off-their-ass” outburst some weeks ago, betrays what little is left of 240+ years of decorum in the operations of our Congress. You can go back to the “You Lie!” shout from that idiot South Carolina Republican during the President’s “State of the Union” speech a couple years ago. That cretin was not punished or censured for his arrogance and obvious violation of House rules. After that, others of his ilk started spewing more vitriol and verbal garbage into the House record. Spend some time reading that daily log and you’ll find a lot of crap you’ve not heard before. For mental health reasons, I don’t recommend it.

Boehner’s words might be something you’d expect to hear as he talked to other Republicans in his suite of offices. Or the Ohio bar he grew up in. Probably worse. But not on national television and not in your living room.

If those words are meant to express some sort of personal disgust with who he sees as his “foes” in Washington, he ought to seek out those other members of what passes for Congressional leadership these days and say what he feels directly. Facing a scrum of reporters with microphones and cameras is the coward’s way of throwing around verbal abuse without having to look the abused in the eyes, then listen to someone his equal - or better - respond with a few well-chosen and pointed words of their own.

Boehner is no fool. You don’t amass a survival record such as his by being outwitted and outmaneuvered by your adversaries. But, since his caucus was first contaminated with the crazies from the old Tea Party crowd, he’s acted like one - more often that not playing their game rather than his own. If he once thought giving the governmentally-ignorant back-benchers a small voice in the direction of the House was going to appease them, he certainly knows by now appeasement is not part of their square worlds. Yet he’s still being operated like a hand puppet by that vocal minority of minorities.

Boehner’s words and attitude are just part of what’s wrong with too much of our politics these days. People in government with little to no understanding of how that government works or even fulfilling their own job descriptions. Civically illiterate. Just listen to ‘em talk. Painful as that is. Idaho’s Raul Labrador comes to mind for some reason.

Look at all the GOP rabbits running for president. Twisting, turning, denying past positions on issues, pandering, lying. None of them - not one - can utter a statement of personal belief without following up with a whimpering disclaimer if they think you disagree with ‘em. All of ‘em are trying to find some “safe spot” in the midst of the political winds so they can slip under the radar of real public questioning.

Democrats have little to brag about. The whole pack is standing around waiting for the Clinton coronation at convention. Biden, Sanders, Webb, O’Malley not going anywhere. Quick now. Come up with another realistic Democrat. Quick. The next tier for any sort of candidate is so far removed from consideration they’ll be lucky to even get credentials to the convention.

Really, is this the best this nation can do? Are the names out there - regardless of party - names of people you want in the Oval Office? Are they capable of negotiating with leaders of other nations? Are they thoughtful, strategic-thinking heavyweights? Do they have positions on issues important to you that are morally and intellectually honest? Is any one of them someone you’d go to for help or you’d want to confide in?

So far, I haven’t found one. And we damn-well need one. Now!

From that unpunished cretin who hollared “You lie” with no consequences to the “Democrats-ought-to-get-off-their-ass” crassness of Boehner, we’re witnessing the kinds of small-minded politicians who are feverishly dividing a nation. They represent the worst political cancer of perpetuating themselves in office rather than being the cure of honest public service.

There’s a reason why the Koch’s and other billionaires have turned their attentions to the 50 statehouses. They’ve succeeded in poisoning the waters in Congress with people who’ve crippled it. Now, they’re attempting to “breed” the next generation of office seekers in state politics where most in Congress come from. With the full bought-and-paid-for participation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), their work to build an oligarchy they can control is doing real damage to our entire nation.

It’s not just the Democrat targets of Boehner’s disgraceful remark who need to “get off their ass.” It’s the rest of us. Off our asses and into the polling places where we can deliver some electoral justice. Surely we can do better.

First take/WAgov

Considering that the last run for governor in Washington was fairly close, and Democratic incumbent Jay Inlee's favorables fall short of inspiring awe, Republicans have had a hard time finding a top-rank candidate to run against him next year. There's been talk that Dave Reichert, the Republican representative from the swingy 8th district, might do it, and Reichert has indicated some interest; but then Reichert often has been mentioned for various high offices, and always seems to pull back. The only Republican actually in the race is Bill Bryant, a Port of Seattle commissioner - and about as well known statewide as that might lead you to expect. Notwithstanding, he has gotten endorsed within the last week by two of the top Republican figures in the state, former three-term Governor Dan Evans and former Senator Slade Gorton. You might reasonably read their endorsements as a signal, that Republicans are unlikely to get a higher-profile person to run for governor next year. That would be unusual, because Republicans in Washington - unlike Oregon - have in recent years generally been able to find prominent and highly-skilled and experienced Republicans to run for governor (Rob McKenna, Dino Rossi). Could they be going the way of Oregon Republicans? - rs

Here we go again

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Once again Congress is finding it impossible to pass spending bills — and time is running out. The federal government appropriates money and runs its programs from October 1st through the end of September. The House and the Senate are supposed to enact appropriations and then pass on that legislation to the president for his signature.

That is how it is supposed to work.

But the entire process is chaotic. Think of Congress this way. There are really three-parties in the House and in the Senate; Republicans (the party in charge), Democrats and Tea Party supporters. It’s this third group who are holding up the budget by saying “no.” Congress could get out of this by letting Republicans work with Democrats on moderate spending bills — something that does happen in state Legislatures from time to time. And that might be the smartest route ahead. (It would likely mean the political career of Speaker John Boehner would be over. But it’s not a bad legacy to step out by doing the right thing.)

There are several issues dividing Congress ranging from the amount of debt the country has (think of a credit card limit) to how much money flows from government checks to Planned Parenthood.

That last item is the big one. Some conservative members of Congress say they will not support any budget that includes Planned Parenthood after a series of videos that purported to show the selling of baby parts.

But Planned Parenthood does many other things — such as distribution of birth control pills — and federal money already cannot be used for abortion. So it’s unlikely the president will agree to any budget that doesn’t continue funding women’s health programs and that includes Planned Parenthood. What’s more the whole controversy has been one-sided, there a case to be made that Planned Parenthood’s actions save lives. The issue is far more about abortion politics than it is about fetal tissue.

Back to the shutdown. Pretty much everyone in Washington says they do not want a government shutdown. But there is really no incentive to get beyond those words. Budget expert Stan Collender recently wrote in Politico magazine that there is a seventy-five percent chance of a shutdown. “First and foremost, there is not enough time to reach a deal. Not only have none of the fiscal 2016 appropriations yet been signed into law, none have even passed both the House and Senate. With less than two calendar weeks (and far fewer days of potential legislative work) to go, the only way to keep the government from shutting down will be for Congress and the president to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government for a short time while a larger deal is negotiated,” he wrote. But then there is that Planned Parenthood debate — and staunch opposition to even a short-term spending bill.

Not only that but a temporary spending bill could cause additional problems. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says a Continuing Resolution would lock in spending cuts demanded by the sequestration law. “The only real fix is for policymakers to agree to provide relief from the sequestration cuts now scheduled for 2016, offsetting the cuts with alternate deficit reduction measures, as they did on a bipartisan basis in 2013, and then to enact regular appropriations legislation for 2016 (even if combined into one or more omnibus packages). As long as the current sequestration limits remain in place, no amount of re-arranging the pieces within an inadequate total will allow for necessary funding levels to reflect new priorities, new conditions, or rising costs,” the Center said.

We know that closing down government, even briefly, is rough.Two years ago the government closed from October 1 through October 16, 2013. Some 800,000 employees were furloughed and another 1.3 million had to work without pay.

Across Indian Country a government shutdown not only impacts federal employees, but it means tribes have less money and have to lay off employees as well. Two years ago, Indian Country Today Media Network reported that Montana’s Crow Tribe had to lay off some 300 people as well as closing essential reservation programs. Even some health clinics (which are supposed to be protected) had to close temporarily.

Native American organizations have been pushing for an idea to fund health, and perhaps tribal schools, a year in advance. That would be smart. Then when Congress cannot do its job, at least Indian Country won’t have to suffer needlessly. But Congress didn’t get around to that idea either.

One thing for sure: Government shutdowns cost a lot of money. The last tab was about $24 billion.

So here we go again with another waste of time and money.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

First take/gas

Now that summer is over, it's time for gas prices to drop, a little. In Oregon last week, gas prices fell by 11 cents in the space of one week (which was in the same direction but a good deal faster than across most of the country). Still, the prices have gone back down to the point that about a quarter of gas stations nationally have returned to sub-$2 gas. What might account for that? Some reports indicated it might have to do with interest rates, though that seems iffy. Speculation here: Follow the speculation. - rs

Polls in conflict?

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You may have noticed about a week ago reports about two polls of presidential preferences among Idaho Republicans, in separate stories. If you put them together in one story, you can see the results of the two appear to conflict.

But there’s a straight line through them that says something about who supports who.

First, Dan Brown & Associates, from Utah, released a poll of 508 Idaho adults. Among Republicans, businessman Donald Trump took 28% of the vote for the lead. Physician Ben Carson came in second with 15%. Former front-runner Jeb Bush was down in single digits at eight percent; others were in single digits. This was fairly reflective of most of the recent national polls of Republicans (or what you could see in their placement in last week’s presidential debate).

A few days later Republican organizations in Bannock and Jefferson counties tried their own local straw polls, and the results there were a little different. Both counties placed Carson in a strong first place, with about 30% of the vote in each county. In Bannock, Trump was second at 22%, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio came in third at 20%. In Jefferson, Trump was far down the list, as second place went to Senator Ted Cruz (15%), and Senator Rand Paul followed him.

These are distinctly different results, even accounting for the more local polling from the counties. What should we make of these differences?

Here’s some speculation (and if someone from Bannock or Jefferson counties has an alternative explanation, send me a note).

The Brown poll, which was scientifically conducted, probably covered a broad range of Idahoans (other parts of the poll included results among Democratic contenders), and in such a poll party leaders, foot soldiers and activists would account for only a minute portion of the total. It was a “general population” poll.

The straw polls would have been informal, with no specific attempt, as in scientific polls, to account for various percentage portions of the population: The votes they get usually come from whoever happens by. That doesn’t mean these polls are garbage. Years ago as a reporter at the Idaho State Journal I worked with straw polls the newspaper ran at local grocery stores, and when it came to local voting a few days before elections they tended to be surprisingly accurate.

But local people active in the county Republican parties easily could have been over-represented in these two new straw polls.

And that leads to this suggestion:

Among the less-organized, out-in-the-fields Republicans (or Republican-inclined voters) around the state, Trump is highly popular.

Among the more organized Republicans, he may be much less so, with candidates like Carson, Cruz and Rubio finding more appeal. Based on the polls, Bush seems for now to be losing steam in Idaho as he has been nationally.

At least, that looks like a reasonable view from September 2015. Now we can wait a few months and see what it looks like around the holidays.

First take/towns

Ranked lists often pull me in, even when I know better, as here in this list of Idaho's most redneck towns - after all, "redneck" isn't even defined anywhere inn this case. Even if it doesn't have a formal or statistical basis, at least describe your term and what you mean by it. Here are the 10 "most redneck" in order: Salmon, Burley, St. Maries, Ponderay, Jerome, Kamiah, Homedale, Victor, Challis and Weiser. Apart from being in a roughly similar popular span, these places don't really have a lot in common. Some of them are generally remote from urban areas (Salmon, Challis, Kamiah, St. Maries) but others are not far from larger population centers (Ponderay, Jerome, Homedale). Some have a feeling of being under-developed without a lot of new growth or activity, but that sure doesn't fit Ponderday or Victor (just look at the pictures). I know lists like this are mostly just for fun, but come on: If you're going to take the trouble to do something like this, at least define your terms. - rs

First take/insurance

From a report by the Census Bureau:

Between 2013 and 2014, the majority of metropolitan areas saw an increase in the percentage of people covered by health insurance, according to statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the nation’s most comprehensive information source on American households. The 2014 American Community Survey provides statistics on over 40 social, economic and housing topics for U.S. communities with populations of 65,000 or more.

Between 2013 and 2014, all 50 states and the District of Columbia saw an increase in the percentage of people covered by health insurance.

“American Community Survey statistics inform us of how communities evolve and change, allowing us to see the effects of everything from natural disasters to new laws and policies,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “Each new year of statistics provides fresh information for the public to use and compare with the year before, helping to tell America’s story and that of communities from Boston to Honolulu and everywhere in between.”

The percentage of people with private health insurance increased in 18 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas between 2013 and 2014. The Miami metro area, which had one of the lowest rates of private health insurance, had one of the largest percentage point increases from 50.5 percent in 2013 to 54.7 percent in 2014. On the other hand, the Boston metro area, which had one of the highest rates, saw a 1.1 percentage point decrease from 76.7 percent in 2013 to 75.6 percent.

Between 2013 and 2014, 22 of the 25 largest metro areas saw an increase in the percentage of people covered by public health insurance. The largest change was in the Portland, Ore., metro area with a 5.6 percentage point increase from 27.1 percent in 2013 to 32.7 percent in 2014.

Below are highlights of the local-level health insurance, income and poverty statistics that complement the national-level statistics released Wednesday from the Current Population Survey. For more information on the topics included in the American Community Survey, ranging from educational attainment to computer use to commuting, please visit census.gov. (photo/Robert Kauffman)

How the IPO went major

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Yesterday IVN.US one of the most popular news sources for the independent voter movement, published an essay about the origins, emergence, and future of the Independent Party of Oregon.

While the IPO was founded on the more modest goal of assuring that any non affiliated candidate would have access to the Oregon ballot, it turned out that voters of all ideologies started joining the party to achieve much greater goals.

One thing that undoubtedly accelerated the IPO’s growth was that it’s formation coincided with the growing unhappiness with the two major parties. Specifically how they conducted elections, and especially the role that money plays in our elections and within the two major parties internal machinations. However this large influx of members with broadly represented political persuasions caused a bit of a dilemma for the leaders of the IPO who were at heart more progressive and democratic than not. From the essay:

The rapid growth of the party was not fueled by massive voter registration efforts, but merely by the presence of the Independent Party being an option on the ballot and the voter registration card. Democrats and Republicans claim voter confusion, but the reality is that voters *want* an Independent Party option. 11 percent of Oregonians identify as Independent Party members, even though only 5 percent of voters are currently registered with the party.

For the people who formed the party, this created an ethical dilemma: Could a relatively small number of officers claim to speak for a much larger number of people unless they asked members what they actually thought about candidates and issues? The answer is “no,” obviously. So the party opted for democracy.

Yet, the decision to find consensus among party members paid off. Maybe not for all of the leaderships progressive ideals, but certainly for the disaffected voters in Oregon who hungered for reasonably moderate candidates who were interested in the peoples business and not the Democratic versus Republican ideological battles . Because even though party members came from all parts of the political spectrum, it seemed there were policies that most people – regardless of ideology- supported. And that was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

The Agenda has been set and the Party is poised to become a broader movement supporting Independent candidates that are now emerging to challenge the current large donor dominated politics in Oregon.

First take/Debate

That was one long debate. I hadn't bothered to check in advance how long Wednesday's Republican presidential debate would run, figuring on the usual hour to 90 minutes. Instead it ran three hours, and close to a real three hours - there were relatively few commercial breaks. It was a little exhausting to watch, and the candidates - standing in place for three hours, always on call - must have been highly stressed. I'm guessing we won't see another anytime soon that runs as long. And for all that, the subject matter was surprisingly limited; in hindsight, it mostly seemed to come down to Iran, abortion, Russia and personal attacks.

It was nicely set up, however, to allow for some free flow and a considerable amount of interaction, and - in spite of the fact that a lot of it had to do with personal attacks - that was a good move away from the traditional glorified press conference approach. The candidates seemed to be (based on the called-out candidate names) boxed in to short answers; considering the long debate time, they should have been given more time to answer. But the interaction overall was welcome.

Candidate impressions? Carly Fiorina had a couple of very strong video moments. Her brief rebuttal to Donald Trump's "face" comment was the sharpest moment of the evening. Trump probably didn't hurt himself with his base, though he probably didn't make additional gains either, and overall he seemed a little diminished. If someone was looking for a candidate willing to substantively stand out from the crowd, Rand Paul gave them that, though whether that helped with the Republican electorate is unclear. Chris Christie seems to have undergone a careful media makeover, and had better delivery. Jeb Bush seemed not to have made needed progress, and lost his slap-match with Trump.

On to the next debate - oh, wait, that's the Democrats. - rs

Ridin’ with Biden

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Too many of the too few publicly professing Democrats in Idaho are taking perverse pleasure in the consternation that the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump is causing the regular Republican party across the nation.

Like these Republican regulars, they do not believe Trump has a chance in hell of being the Republican nominee---he’s too much of a loose cannon, has no guiding philosophy and no principles; he’s a narcissistic ego-maniac who will eventually be reigned in, circumscribed and neutered. So goes the conventional wisdom

In the meantime these partisans take pleasure in every unorthodox thing Trump says, recognizing that it will make things difficult for whoever wins the nomination. If, as some secretly hope, Trump ends up mounting a third party independent challenge (Though he has pledged not to do so)¸ conventional wisdom is this will ensure a Democratic victory regardless of who the nominee will be.

To use a Biblical image, this is the classic case of one party seeing the speck of wood in the other’s eye not recognizing the log in their own. The ground truth is that in Idaho and in the nation the Democratic Party is in as much disarray as the Republicans.

In Idaho, a handful of relative active Democrats just went through a more than appears to the eye divisive election of a new State Chairman, former State Senator Bert Marley, from Bannock county.

Marley’s main opposition came from Dean Ferguson, the party’s communications director, who decided to seek the chairmanship but wanted to continue to receive the salary he receives and do the job he still held. Both posts are consideered full-time, but the chairmanship is unpaid.

Not surprisingly a number members of the State Party’s executive committee questioned whether one person could do both well. The vacancy in the chairmanship was created by the resignation of Larry Kenck, a retired Teamster organizer from Post Falls who by all accounts was performing the duties competently and well. He resigned because he appeared to have contracted a life-threatening health challenge (Fortunately he appears to have met the challenge and is on the mend). During the transistion period, state vice-chair Jeanne Buell, from Worley acted as interim chair.

Ms. Buell is a no-nonsense, smart, tough and well informed individual who has devoted hours of time and personal resources to the party. She is well-respected in all quarters, tells it like it is and has little time for fools. She issued an order that party staff was to stay out of choosing sides in the contest.

Imagine her surprise then when a top staffer sent around an e-mail endorsing Mr. Ferguson. That Marley hasn’t backed Ms. Buell up and fired the contrarian has virtually ensured she will resign when the party has its fall gathering on October 2 in Lewiston.

This state disarray is even worse at the national level where Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of California presides over a national committee that by all accounts is full of people who literally detest her. Some of this relates to her limiting the number of debates and threatening punishment to any Democrat that participates in an unsanctioned debate. She is arrogant, imperious and arbitrary.

Reportedly, President Obama ignores her and will have nothing to do with her. He figures she is the problem for whoever gets the Democratic nomination.

What is beginning to dawn on Democrats across the nation is that the nominee will not be Hillary Clinton. In the words of long-time political observer Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, Ms. Clinton has bombed as a candidate on the campaign trail. Not only has she mishandled badly the e-mail server issue, she and her advisors badly under estimated the challenge posed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

National Democratic leaders believe Sanders is unelectable because of his socialistic views just as Republican leaders believe Trump is unelectable.

There’s only one direction national Democrats can turn—and that’s to Vice President Joe Biden who is just biding his time waiting for the inevitable implosion of Hillary’s candidacy. Some observers believe Biden’s son, Beau, extracted a promise from his Dad as he lay dying that the Vice President would run.

While in Pittsburg over Labor Day Biden reportedly met with a top Labor leader who said he had $60 million ready to work on Biden’s behalf.

If you saw Biden working the Labor Day parade route in Pittsburg there’s no doubt in your mind that Joe is running and there are lots of Democrats prayng that he does. I, for one, will be “ridin’ with Biden.”

Hopefully he can bring order out of the party chaos just around the corner---at least nationally. Idaho may still be beyond salvaging.