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Posts published in “Day: September 29, 2016”

Leroy’s Lincoln

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A few weeks ago former Idaho Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor David Leroy turned 69. He has stayed in good shape (Obviously exercises daily)and except for his all white, perfectly coifed hair one might think he was in his late 40’s or early 50’s.

With apologies to Irish poet Dylan Thomas, Leroy is not quietly going into the good night, nor with apologies to General Douglas MacArthur, is he like an old soldier fading away.

Still bursting with energy, a ready smile, a sense of humor and plain smarts tell one why he came so close to winning Idaho’s governorship in 1986.

Early in his political career Leroy idolized former governor and U.S. Senator Len B. Jordan, a principled but reasonable conservative. The Leroys even named their first child, a daughter, after Jordan. In addition, he gave an eloquent and heartfelt eulogy at Grace Jordan’s funeral services.

Somewhere along his political path Leroy became more and more enthralled with the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. He stumbled, metaphorically speaking, across the factoid that Lincoln had signed the legislation creating the Idaho territory in 1863. The more he read the more enthralled he became. It truly can be said that he is a self-educated genuine Lincoln scholar.

He has traveled the state talking about Lincoln and his impact on Idaho. He easily won a grant from Idaho’s Humanities Council to support some of the expenses for these lectures. The grant, however, does not cover all his expenses so he donates his time as well as his treasure to the cause.

During these past years he and his wife accumulated a decent collection of Lincoln memorabilia which they have donated to the Idaho Historical Library and a wing of the Idaho archives contains a fine display of much of their donation.
In early September Leroy announced the formation of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, a non-profit that will be dedicated to public education, opinion research and presentations taking educated guesses on where Lincoln might be on divisive political issues of our time. Early next year he intends to announce the formation of an advisory board and to begin fund-raising.

With the announcement, Leroy sent out several pages of quotes from Lincoln on issues still under debate today such as amending the Constitution and holding a constitutional convention.

Oddly, though Leroy had no quote touching on one of the major issues still dividing Idahoans today and that is the grants of every other section of public land to the routes railroad companies constructed across the west. The grants were incredibly generous incentives to the timber firms that emerged from these railroad firms---companies such as Weyerhauser, Potlatch and Plum Creek can trace their lineage to these grants which in places like Idaho’s upper Lochsa and the upper St. Joe have become management nightmares.

This has led to often controversial land swaps in which the public land agencies such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management try to work out equitable in value land swaps and block up holdings for more efficient management.

Leroy does mention Lincoln’s equally important signing of the Homestead Act that especially in southern Idaho spurred economic growth as settlers received 160 acres of land to farm.

Leroy’s selection of quotes does make it clear that Lincoln had no problem with selling public lands to private interests and he clearly believed in public/private partnerships.

Oddly enough, this stance by Lincoln would put him at odds with the Republican nominee for president today, one Donald Trump. When asked about the selling of public lands to states or private interests at a September 22nd fund-raising event in Boise, Trump’s son, Donald Junior, raised more than a few conservative eyebrows by saying: that he and his father have “broken away from conservative dogma a little bit” on public lands. “We want to make sure that public lands stay public,” he said. “I’m a big outdoorsman, I’m a big hunter, when I lived out here that’s what I hunted on, public land, and I want to make sure that the next generation has that ability to do that.” He said if federal lands were transferred to state control, they could be sold off when a state has a budget shortfall, “and then all of a sudden, you never have access to those lands ever again.”

At least Trump has one issue correctly sized up. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Trump 41: Positions in rotation

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Many of the same people who so liked George W. Bush for taking a rock-hard, steady position during his administration, also plan to vote for Donald Trump.

It beggars belief.

Scarcely any stance or position, on anything, has remained steadfast through the Trump presidential campaign. Many politicians change positions over the years. Hillary Clinton has changed several. Politicians sometimes do it for principled reasons - new information, or a serious reconsideration of a point of view. Sometimes it happens for political advantage, or to stay in tune with changes in a group.

But until Donald Trump, probably no politician in history, ever, has taken so many stands so unreliably - not even in the ballpark close.

Not long ago NBC News compiled a list of Trump's varying stands on major issues. It is a very, very long list. The major point to be drawn from it is that anyone who thinks they know where Trump stands on anything, is wrong.

If Trump is foremost identified with any one issue, that probably would be immigration; he is known mostly for taking what's perceived as a "hard line" on it. See what straight line you can draw through this (if you'd like references on any of these, I refer you to the original NBC article):

1. Trump opened his campaign with a pledge to build a wall on the United States' southern border, and quickly deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

2. Weeks later, in July 2015, he said he still wanted deportations but planned to retrieve "good" ones: "They have to be in here legally".

3. His next statement, in late summer, called for the wall and deportation, and two new elements: triple the corps of immigration officers, and end the birthright citizenship guaranteed in the constitution.

4. In November, he said he'd undertake the mass deportation apparently not with the existing immigration agency but with a "deportation force".

5. In February this year, during the primaries, Trump sounded as if he was reversing course on the deportations. NBC noted "that in off-the-record talks with The New York Times, Trump admitted this was just bluster and a starting point for negotiations, saying he might not deport the undocumented immigrants as he's promised. Trump has refused calls to release the transcript, despite furious requests from his rival candidates.:

6. Next, in June this year, he returned to a call for deporting undocumented immigrants, but would label it something other than "mass deportations."

7. In August - last month - Trump's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway said the whole deportation idea is up in the air, and the plan for a deportation force is "TBD" - to be determined.

(Note: Take a deep breath. We're barely a third of the way through the changes in position on immigration. Actually, on just one aspect of immigration . . .)

8. On August 22, President Barack Obama announced a policy of expelling as a top priority undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. Asked about this, Trump said, "I'm gonna do the same". He didn't address what he'd do about other immigrants.

9. One day later, Trump announced that he was amenable to "softening" his policy on immigration, though he didn't say how.

10. The day after that, still in late August, Trump (as NBC noted) "outlined an immigration plan that sounded an awful lot like the kind of path to legalization championed by Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio — the very people Trump excoriated for weak immigration plans while he campaigned on a promise of mass deportations." Speaking on a Fox TV program, he said, "No citizenship. Let me go a step further — they'll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them," Trump said.

11. Three days after that, on August 27, Trump said, "On day one, I am going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country. We are going to get rid of the criminals, and it will happen within one hour" of his swearing-in.

12. All of this have resulted in considerable confusion, Trump's surrogates appeared on television the next day (Sunday) to say that Trump hadn't changed his immigration policies at all. Their statements, however, conflicted with each other.

13. Conway next said that the idea of a deportation force was not - or was no longer? - under consideration.

14. Over the next few days, a flat statement was repeated that there had been no changes in the immigration plan.

15. On August 30, Donald Trump, Jr., possibly trying to clarify, said that all undocumented immigrants were to be deported: "That's been the same, correct. But again, you have to start with baby steps. You have to let ICE do their job, you have to eliminate sanctuary cities, you have to get rid of the criminals certainly first and foremost, you have to secure the border. These are common sense things."

16. On September 1, just after an afternoon stopover in Mexico City, Trump spoke at Phoenix said reiterated his hardest-line stances, including creating a deportation force and demanding Mexico "pay for the wall."

17. Later that evening, Trump was asked whether his policy really was "softening," and he said, "Look, we do it in a very humane way, and we're going to see with the people that are in the country. Obviously I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out, I want to get the drug dealers out. We've got a lot of people in this country that you can't have, and those people we'll get out. And then we're going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized ... I think you're going to see there's really quite a bit of softening."

18. On September 6 he said he might be agreeable to a "path to citizenship."

This doesn't include the at least four difference positions on dealing with Dreamers - the undocumented people who grew up in the United States, many in college or beginning adult lives.

NBC also notes nearly endless policy changes (if you can call them that) on subjects ranging from the minimum wage to ISIS to taxes, guns, nuclear weapons on much more.

What would a Trump presidency seek to do? Are you for or against his stand? Who can say for sure? Certainly Donald Trump cannot. - rs