Writings and observations

Bits & pieces

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Some disparate thoughts for one to ponder as he or she goes about their daily routine.

Item #1. Idaho’s brand. For many years now if one were asked what came to mind when they heard the word “Idaho,” inevitably it would prompt association with potatoes. The phrase “Famous Potatoes” is even on the license plate. The Idaho Potato Commission has spent millions on clever advertising that underscore how superior our potatoes are to those pretenders in Maine or central Washington.

Ads in recent years are some of the best ever with the spud farmer and his dog driving a vintage Studebaker pick-up truck all over the country trying to locate, and just missing the traveling “Giant Idaho Spud” truck. Such well produced with clever dialogue ads make any citizen proud to be an Idahoan.

That’s the good side of the brand. Unfortunately, there is a bad side that has taken years to change despite the efforts of many folks in north Idaho to correct the image. It is the by-product of the late neo-Nazi, Richard Butler, establishing his “church” and compound in Hayden. This purveyor of hate, espouser of racism, and a fear-mongering anti-Semite, almost overnight furthered a misperception of Idaho as a state full of bigots.

A little over 11 years ago my wife and I along with our son and youngest daughter were on a delightful three week trip driving all over Scotland. We’d been in the Orkney Islands and just had gotten off the ferry at Thurso. It being Sunday I picked up the Daily Scotsman and like many Sunday papers it carried a Sunday magazine the cover of which stunned me: The Neo-Nazis of north Idaho marching down the main street of Coeur d’Alene. Butler had earlier been evicted, and the church and compound burned to the ground.

Yet years later this is still often the second association many have when they hear the word Idaho. I mention this because one of the fall outs of the Bundy and Hammond ranching families seizure of the Visitor Center at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns in eastern Oregon is going to be another black eye for several western states, like Idaho, Nevada¸Utah and Wyoming¸where the federal government owns on behalf of all Amercians most of the land.

These scofflaws give the vast majority of hard-working, tax-paying ranching families a bad name and further the “wild west” image many in the east still view as the truth about the mountain west.

Item #2. Ads on the 100th Anniversary of one of Uncle Sam’s most popular organizations, the National Park Service. Americans love their parks, whether its Yellowstone, the Olympics, Yosemite, Acadia, the Everglades, or one of the Urban National Parks like Golden Gate.

Normally, I might question spending taxpayer money on such self-congratulatory ads. This is an exception though. Also, I looked a little deeper and discovered that the actual day the service was created was on August 25th, 1916. That day in 2016 just happens to be the 85th birthday of the Interior secretary who played the lead role in doubling the size of the lands managed by the National Park Service through the passage of the Alaskan Lands legislation in 1980 – Governor Cecil D. Andrus.

I suspect the coincidence will not escape the notice of current Interior Secretary Sally Jewell or NPS Director Jon Jarvis and that an appropriate part will be carved out of the program in Yellowstone Park on that day for Idaho’s former four-term governor.

Item #3. The Republican National Convention. It will be held in July in Cleveland. When the smoke clears, sanity will have returned and the nominee will be Ohio Governor John Kasich who many observers believe is the best of the GOP field and the one who will give presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the toughest race. There is one simple indisputable fact: no Republican has ever won the presidency without taking Ohio.

Item #4. The luck of the Seahawks. That phrase may replace the more classic “luck of the Irish” someday. Unbelievable that they got by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday because the normally reliable Viking field goal kicker who had already made three longer field goals during the game, would miss a 27 yard chip shot in the last seconds.

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