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Posts published in September 2016

Trump 63: Higher, lower levels of protection

trump

Donald Trump is running as the (would-be) president who will protect all of the rest of us. At least taken to reasonable levels, that's a fair thing for a candidate to proclaim as a goal.

In Trump's case, however, his history proclaims that he will put protection of himself above protection of the rest of us, should there be a conflict. Or even if there isn't.

There's plenty in Trump's business practices to show much greater concern, and higher levels of care, in protecting himself (and his business, and his money) compared to other people. A measure of self-protection is, of course, no horrible thing, as long as the cost is not too high. In Trump's case, it has too often meant throwing other people overboard.

It shows up in his campaign as well.

The New Yorker has reported that "He has denied that climate change is real, calling it pseudoscience and advancing a conspiracy theory that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.” But he has also filed a permit request to build a sea wall around one of his golf courses, in Ireland, in order to protect the property from global warming and its consequences. Which Trump is running for President?"

Same guy. - rs

Just rewards for good works

mckee

If the drumbeat was only from Trump, I would put it into perspective and recognize it for an extension of his mantra that anything Hillary Clinton does or says is wrong, immoral, illegal, unethical and treasonous; all part of an underground left wing conspiracy to destroy the way of life enjoyed by the Conservatives among us – or at least that part of it guaranteed by the Second Amendment. One may have to keep correcting the outrageous lies are spewing forth, but so long as the facts are kept in line, the wacky conclusions can ordinarily usually be ignored and allowed to wither and die without undue attention. But this one has a disheartening twist.

In this case, Trump is bellowing, without a shred of hard evidence, that the connection between the Clintons and their foundation is corrupt and criminal, and an exploitation of the personal relationships involved. Trump and his minions maintain, without evidence, that it has grown into an example of the unethical and immoral practice of “quid pro quo” – the illegal payment to an individual or his campaign in exchange for the deliverance of a governmental benefit – except that the formula doesn’t make any sense when one of the parties is giving benefits away not seeking government deliverance, and no one is deriving any personal profit or personal gain from anything. Nobody has been able to even fashion a grammatically correct sentence that puts forth any hard facts that actually connects anything said or done by anybody involved with the Clinton Foundation that is illegal or immoral, or anything that is even remotely clandestine, or sketchy, or of questionable ethics or morality. Nothing. Nada.

The Clinton Foundation has raised and distributed billions of dollars worldwide, enjoys unparalleled friendly relations with governments and persons of wealth throughout the world; enjoys an extraordinary and close relationship with a huge cadre of donors and volunteers throughout the world; has received nothing but the highest of ratings from independent rating services for its organization and transparency; and has received nothing but praise for its works. Former President George H.W. Bush has frequently partnered with former President Clinton in Clinton Foundation program activities.

It is truly a remarkable organization that was conceived and brought into prominence largely through the energy and devotion to the cause of one man -- Bill Clinton. It is unlike any other charitable foundation in the world. Neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton have taken a dime in income from the foundation, either for their personal use or for any of Hillary’s political campaigns.

The only thing offered by Trump and his surrogates is a collection of opinions based upon totem-pole hearsay and unfounded inferences drawn from some meeting calendars and a handful of emails recently released by the State Department. The worst admission in any of the emails may be the line in one written by Huma Abedin to a staffer at the Clinton Foundation, in reply to a request to Huma to arrange a meeting for an influential donor, where Huma’s response was, “I’ll ask.” Or perhaps, it was the email from the same staffer seeking help in finding a position with State for an employee leaving the foundation. The reply was that the person was known to those at State and that they would keep an eye on personnel developments, because the individual was “on our radar.” It is reported that no meeting with the influential donor ever occurred, although I do not see that it would have made any difference if it had happened. It is not reported whether the friend of everybody got the job.

Two reporters from the Associate Press wrote an expose claiming that fully half of all non-State department related meetings by Secretary Clinton involved donors of the Clinton Foundation – except that the entire premise of the story was promptly and completely debunked. The real fact is that most of the extraordinarily wealthy individuals on the Foundation’s list are already well known throughout the halls of power, and do not need to rely upon any particular portal controlled by the Clintons to gain access to anywhere. Networking is the lifeblood of society, not just politics, as is fully well known, and the communication among staffers found in the emails are merely indications of the normal level networking that exists everywhere.

Many, if not most of the Foundation programs already involve matters and issues that are also of official interest to the State Department. A natural assumption, born out by the explanation of many of Clinton’s meetings, is that any individual interested in supporting Foundation activities is probably also be interested in official State Department programs in the same area. Certainly in some of these areas it was the State Department that was seeking assistance in gaining access to resources back in the home of the contact, and not the other way around.

The point is that nothing raised by anybody so far is even remotely improper. Conversations of exactly this nature occur constantly throughout Washington and the seats of power throughout the world, and include every office of Congress and the entirety of the agencies and departments of the United States.

Despite all of this, the amazing result is that no one is coming to the Secretary’s or the Foundation’s assistance here. Even though the Clintons have acknowledged that if Hillary is elected steps would be taken to isolate the Foundation from any connection with the Oval Office, this is not satisfying many elements of the left. Although there is no legal reason to take action, no ethical breach has been demonstrated and no wrongs are likely to be committed, just because it is the Clintons, the media has determined that the “optics” are wrong. Many from the left are demanding the ties be severed at once, or that the foundation be dismantled. Dismantled!

Even if a cozy relationship did exist, and even if Bill and Chelsea ran the Foundation while Hillary ran the country, and even if they compared notes every night, so long as the Foundation continued to actually produce the good results throughout the world that have been produced up to now, why would this be any cause for alarm?

Hillary has enough on her plate fending off the atrocious slurs from Trump and the far right without any unnecessary sniping from her own backyard just because somebody thinks the “optics” are wrong.

The whole thing is a baseless kerfuffle and nothing needs to be done, now or later.

Trump 64: An unmoored perspective

trump

Imagine a small boat, tethered to a dock. It also alongside other boats, similarly tethered, and all of them are linked in some common relationship.

Now image that small boat untethered, loosened, wandering around the ocean with not even a shoreline visible, with no frame of reference at all but . . . itself.

Now picture Donald Trump, candidate for the ultimate connected people - the single job that most directly affects other people - saying this:

“It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

He said those words on a long-forgotten video, from a 1997 interview with radio jock Howard Stern, that resurfaced earlier this year on the web site Buzzfeed.

The first thing that might occur to many people is that no real great or brave soldier would ever speak of himself in that way. It is true that Trump wasn't specifically saying he was "a great and very brave soldier," merely comparing himself to one. But the facts on both ends of the comparison specifically bear reiteration.

Trump spent time in a military academy and graduated from it in the spring of 1964. Though he participated there without comment in military-type activities, when he enrolled in selective service (the draft) in June of that year, just as America's military was starting to gear up in Vietnam, he took and education deferment, to attend Fordham College. That was the first of four education deferments, and when that ran out after his graduation in 1968, he received a 1-Y medical deferment (over bone spurs in his heels).

He appears not to have been eager to make his way to Vietnam. Possibly the idea of being captured by the Viet Cong held little appeal, since he said of contemporaneous POW John McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

So - that's the reality of Trump, the military and Vietnam. What was it he was referring to when comparing himself to "a great and very brave soldier"?

That, in his conversation with shock jock Stern, was about his years in the 70s when he was engaging in lots of sexual activity: “I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era . . . I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

As a moral actor in American society, Donald Trump is completely unmoored. How else to explain this? - rs

Colin and me

rainey

When the first Colin Kaepernick caper happened a couple weeks ago, it didn’t really hit my radar screen. Just another jock with a $114 million contract trying to get some attention. But, when he did the same thing a second time - and I’d learned more about his thinking - it registered. ‘Cause, in some ways, he speaks for me.

I’m not going to carry any water for the guy. He’s a big fella. He can take care of himself, though he’s been pounded on heavily by a bunch of disagreeable types who put mouths in gear before engaging brains. With ignorant racial name-calling, anonymous demands he leave the country and a few death threats from Bubbas even Freud wouldn’t understand, he’s clearly gotten the public attention he sought. Though, from the mostly off-the-point reactions, not a lot of people have received his intended message.

Kaepernick presents himself to society as a black man, though he’s really mixed race as is Barack Obama - a white mother and black father while his adopted parents are both white. Like our President, he’s chosen to present himself to the world as a black man. Largely, I suspect, because of the color of his skin though there may be other reasons as well.

Kaepernick wants to call attention to a number of things: unarmed and often innocent black people being killed by police; failure, he sees, to punish the shooters; societal prejudices, mistreatment of some returning military personnel - especially blacks. He picked the national anthem to make his stand because he sees - especially in the third verse - references to slavery and because it was written by a man who owned slaves.

Kaepernick says he’s doing what he’s doing because he has the platform and public notoriety that most people don’t. He plans to keep ignoring the custom of standing for the anthem until he sees what he terms “improvements.”

Maybe I tend to give Colin a bit of space because, in some ways, I have some similar feelings. I, too, see some significant faults within our society/government and hypocrisy in some of our national rituals. Not having the “platform” of a star athlete, I’ve conducted my own personal “protest” by not fully engaging in some common practices we too often take for granted.

For example, for many years I belonged to a fine national service organization which opened every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. I can’t tell you why, but one day, I was reciting along with everyone else until it came to the last line. My throat tightened and I couldn’t say the words - “with liberty and justice for all.” Nothing came out.

I hardly noticed. But, when it happened the next week, something inside said “you need to do some thinking about this.” I did. It simply boiled down to my own sincerely held belief that this nation has not provided “liberty and justice for all” and saying the words wouldn’t make it so. It seemed false and amounted to mouthing words that didn’t mean anything.

A second such experience came in church sometime later as we sang “American the Beautiful.” The words “...Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears.” and the phrase ...“brotherhood from sea to shining sea.” Again, for the first time, the words wouldn’t come. Our cities long ago lost their “alabaster” qualities. “Brotherhood?” And our polluted oceans haven’t been “shining” for many decades. Suddenly, the words had no meaning. For me.

Now, I’m not advocating anyone stop singing the National Anthem or refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Not at all. I am saying give the words some thought. Write them down and look at each one. Those words and the others. Think about their meanings. Apply those meanings to the reality in which we live. Do you still find them relevant? Can our country still be defined by their use? Was it ever?

Nearly all organized religions in our Western world are losing adherents. Most leaving say they don’t need a building or hymn singing to define religious experience. Many say they’re opting for a more internal, personal approach to fulfill their spiritual needs. They complain organized religion is too often just rote memory or - to them - platitudes that aren’t being followed with action. They see little meaning to rituals, printed prayers or worshiping with others in a congregation. They express a need for more direct connectedness with their God. One-on-one.

In some ways, these folk are not far removed from the real meanings behind what Colin Kaepernick is doing. He’s opting to turn his back on the crowd at a strategic, very noticeable moment to say “to me, things aren’t working.” He’s turning from the expected ritual - i.e. standing at an appropriate time - to say “We aren’t the shining country we once were because too many people are not being treated justly. Our cities are not ‘alabaster’ but too often crime-ridden slums where a lot of Americans are born without the possibility of living life as full-fledged citizens. There is no ‘liberty and justice’ for all.”

We’ve fought many a war to defend Kaepernick’s right to do what he’s doing. And for the copy cats who’re now appearing. It may be hard to accept, but it’s one of our most basic rights. The First Amendment.

Our society and our reality are going through some massive and lasting changes. We’re never going back. Maybe we’ve reached a time when we need to carefully scrutinize what we’re doing, note what’s still relevant, dismiss what isn’t and change what needs changing. If that’s not Kaepernick’s message, I guess it’s just mine.

Trump 65: Liar, liar

trump

Sometimes, lying can be a good thing. It can smooth social interactions. It can help with diplomacy. It is not always a terrible thing.

And, famously, it happens in politics; nearly all (or should we make that "all"?) major and successful politicians have at the least told the occasional white lie, and many have gone beyond that. Our greatest presidents have dissembled, to some degree or another – mostly not as usual, common practice, but effective political activity does sometimes rely on something other than brutal honesty from time to time. George Washington, for all that innocent talk about the cherry tree, was also a spymaster, a pretty good one too, and adept in the arts of deception.

Dissembling on occasion for a greater good is one thing. Lying as a matter of ordinary, standard practice is something else, and here statistics about Donald Trump jump out.

On the Q&A website Quora the question arose of why Trump is so often described as a liar. One answer cited Politifact, the "independent Pulitzer Prize wining website that evaluates the truthfulness of political statements. Look at how they rate the statements of Donald Trump. Over 70% of the time Trump’s statements are Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. If you include Half True it jumps to 86% of the time. Even if you (incorrectly) believe that Politifact is somehow biased, it is hard to conclude that Mr. Trump is not a habitual liar." Trump rates in a whole different environment from the other presidential candidates of both parties this year.

And that is the point. Another Quora writer noted this: "There was a great profile of Trump a while back by a tabloid reporter who was assigned to follow him. The guy said that he expected covering Trump to be pretty easy, but it turned out to be hard because no matter what story he was writing, most of what Trump told him wouldn’t turn out to be true. Trump lied about who he was dating, about the status of business deals, about anything at all."

In that article, reporter Susan Mulcahy recalled, "It should be simple to write about publicity hounds, and often it is, because they’ll do anything to earn the attention they crave. Trump had a different way of doing things. He wanted attention, but he could not control his pathological lying. Which made him, as story subjects go, a lot of work. Every statement he uttered required more than the usual amount of fact-checking. If Trump said, “Good morning,” you could be pretty sure it was five o’clock in the afternoon."

Say what you will about lying politicians: This is not normal.

PoliticsUSA reported in one headline, "Donald Told No Less Than 21 Fact Checked Proven Lies During His Acceptance Speech."

Around the end of march DailyWire compiled a list of 101 lies he had told.

That list, of course, was woefully incomplete even at the time and wildly out of date now, which must be why the New Yorker has started a new and unusual online series specifically on the lies of Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, does not so much struggle with the truth as strangle it altogether. He lies to avoid. He lies to inflame. He lies to promote and to preen. Sometimes he seems to lie just for the hell of it. He traffics in conspiracy theories that he cannot possibly believe and in grotesque promises that he cannot possibly fulfill. When found out, he changes the subject—or lies larger," writer David Remnick said.

He seems not even to live in the same world the rest of us do. - rs

Trump 66: Stereotyped

trump

When Donald Trump announced for president last June, his first major controversial statement - minutes into his candidacy - was this:

"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

This is how bigoted stereotypes - take it back to Archie Bunker - work, even when the bigotry is meant to suggest something positive (say, Jews being skillful handlers of money). How it works is this: The immediate and powerful association is made between the group (Mexican, in this case) and the quality they supposedly and in general are said to embody (criminals, rapists). This is followed quickly by the get-me-off-the-hook qualifier ("And some, I assume, are good people.")

That last bit, and other offhand comments by Trump about how wonderful the Mexican people are, should fool no one, as it apparently doesn't. In the same speech in which he referred in passing to what a great country Mexico is, he spoke for minutes on end about the people who had crossed the border illegally and killed American citizens. That is the image his listeners are left with: It is where Trump focused his attention, and it is where the power and emotion of the speech was directed.

Some bigotry - some of Archie Bunker's, for instance - may have been ignorant but wasn't necessarily malevolent. Trump's is darkly malevolent. His language is too sharply pointed not to be intended to hurt his target and rile his supporters. Bigotry and stereotyping is a problem generally, but this is where it reaches into some of its darkest backwaters. - rs

In the absence of perfection

stapiluslogo1

A few years back, when Idaho legislators debated whether to establish a state insurance exchange program under the Affordable Care Act, I criticized most of them for an obsession, not with the health of uninsured Idahoans, but with the perceived evils of the federal government.

Today, the exchange in Idaho is established, popular, heavily used and without doubt saving lives and improving health. Debate has nonetheless continued over what to do about the 78,000 Idahoans who earn too little to qualify for participation in the exchange and get payment help for health care – if at all – through a state and local government catastrophic health program, which pays hospitals for some emergency care no one else will compensate. The answer adopted by 31 states, and proposed by many in Idaho, is to allow expansion of Medicaid to cover the 78,000.

After four years of that debate, some progress: At least now, they’re talking to a significant degree about health care. Progress should be noted where it happens.

But don’t consider the progress, even after four years with a good, working example right in front of them, too spectacular.

The most recent discussion of Medicaid expansion came in an interim legislative committee on August 29. The pro side included savings of many millions of dollars (now paid out in expensive emergency medical care costs) to state and local governments, clear help for the health of many Idahoans and overwhelmingly positive public comments to legislative and others panels over four years. And on the other side?

Senator Steve Thayn said he doubts federal rules on food stamps or Medicaid encourages people to become productive. “If we’re really, truly looking at an Idaho solution, we need to look at what we can do with Idaho money, Idaho rules, and what we can do to change the cost of medical care.”

What is that exactly – we’d all love to know – and if there are such options why has no one found them in the last four years?

Representative Judy Boyle of Midvale: “I think we’ve heard of some other [non-Medicaid] options. … I think we can come up with a really good solution that fits Idaho.”

What sort of options? There’s a non-profit from Seattle that arranges for free care for some low-income people. And a lone (apparently) Idaho Falls physician who takes no insurance payments, just charges very low rates and keeps his overhead down. Interesting instances both, but if you ask why they’re not more widespread – nothing in the Affordable Care Act or other law is stopping them – you’ve halfway answered your question. Or just ask your local hospital or physician why they’re not doing it this way. Their responses would run much longer than this column, but probably point out the many costs, services and risks left addressed by operating essentially as a pure charity.

Limiting costs is a great thing to do, would be smart to bear in mind, and must be part of where health care planning goes in the years to come, but it won’t be easy. Finding ways to do it everywhere in the health care system would be useful work for lawmakers and others for years to come.

In the meantime, 78,000 Idahoans are stuck in a holding pattern of being without health care coverage except the most expensive kind (in crisis condition in hospital emergency rooms) which when paid for at all is paid by local taxpayers or by hospitals who pass on the costs to everyone else. It is a nonsensical system, both in terms of finance and health. The most positive spin for not improving it seems to be that some people insist on finding perfectly satisfying answers, in opposition to merely fostering public health and saving lives.

Trump 67: Salute! Salute!

trump

I really shouldn't keep interrupting the planned roster of 100 reasons Donald Trump has disqualified himself from the presidency, but the daily news keeps screaming out for inclusion.

Speaking at a veterans event Thursday at Cincinnatti, he said, “We will stop apologizing for America, and we will start celebrating America. We will be united by our common cultures, values, and principles, becoming one American nation, one country under the one constitution, saluting one American flag—always saluting.”

And Donald Trump, and the White House, and the power of the federal government, presumably will make all of this happen.

It doesn't take a tremendous leap of the imagination to see it . . . (as conceptualized at Daily Kos) . . .

The reason I've called you in both in today, Mr. and Mrs. Turner, is that little Billy is getting a B in Patriotism this semester and I think it's something we need to look at. In his last homework assignment I asked him to come up with six reasons he loves America, and he was only able to come up with five. His P.E. teacher reports that his saluting is sub-par; the form is acceptable, but we're looking for a more snappy execution in the elbow and at the wrist. These would by themselves be only a matter of general concern, but I'm told that at lunch earlier this week he was saying some somewhat unsavory things about America's generous resettlement of native populations.

Now we've noticed that these sorts of things generally tend to start at home, and so I have to ask—is your household fostering a nurturing patriotic environment? I presume Billy has a flag in his room—have you noticed any drop-off in form, during his bedtime salutes? Are his television habits being monitored? National Geographic is fine, it’s a Fox production now, but I hope you've been getting the notes we've been sending home about the Cooking Channel.

I'm sure I don't need to remind you both that we here at Eric Trump Middle School take patriotism very seriously, and while a B effort in most classes would count as a fine grade, the president himself has directed that students with a semester grade of B+ or lower in Patriotism be referred to patriotism camp. There is still time for Billy to get his grade up, but it's going to require some work. He’ll be needing to come in for extracurricular patriotism activities after school. This week we'll be egging the house of ... let's see, Gerald Stutch, whose family was recently deported for mentioning segregation. I believe Billy and Gerald knew each other, if our files are right. We're all just one big happy family here!

So will Billy be able to attend? Oh, good, I was certain we could make this work.

Oh yes, this is a disqualifier all by itself. - rs

Redoubt redux

carlson

The anniversary passed largely unnoticed last week, but it is part of the context which one must weigh in order to understand the “Redoubt Movement” taking place in north Idaho today as well as isolated and sparsely settled parts of Montana and Wyoming.

Inspired by a manifesto written (2011) and posted on his website (survivalblog.com) by survivalist author James Wesley, Rawls, the document urged folks worried about the next financial crash or Armageddon to move to the sparsely settled areas of the upper mountain west.

Rawls pointed out that these areas would be good places to live by those who felt oppressed by exploding government regulations and a federal government over reaching in people’s lives. He noted places like north Idaho had a justifiable reputation for being libertarian and a terrain that could more easily be defended. Thus, he urged folks to relocate where their numbers might be few but their unity could disproportionally influence their political milieu.

With Rawls emphasizing little interference in their private life and the access to nearby U.S. Forest Service lands for hunting, fishing, berry-picking and a real estate agent aggressively marketing all this, Rawls supporters claim thousands of folks have migrated here.

Local officials in Bonner and Boundary counties dispute those claims, but the truth is no one really knows. What is known is the “redoubters” are participating in local politics. State Reps. Heather Scott and Sage Dixon, with “redoubter” support, have captured two of the three legislative district one seats. They have failed, however, to knock off Senator Shawn Keough, current co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Critics see similarities between the “Redoubt” movement and the old posse comitatus in its emphasis on the sacred status of the Constitution and the supremacy of a county sheriff as the top law enforcement officer. Rawls has been careful to avoid anything close to appearing to be a racist. To the contrary, all are welcomed, he says, who share a desire for less government.

The contextual aspect mentioned earlier with regard to an anniversary still lingers in the minds of many Idahoans. August 21st was the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the siege at Ruby Ridge in which federal agents were responsible for killing Randy Weaver’s wife, Vicki, and one of their children. Anyone who reads former Spokesman-Review reporter Jess Walters’ excellent book on the siege comes away convinced that the federal government engaged in pure entrapment.

A brilliant Wyoming defense attorney, “Gunning for Justice”
Gerry Spence, proceeded to tear apart the government’s case and a Boise jury acquitted Randy Weaver of all charges after 19 days of deliberation.

The message many took away from Ruby Ridge is that the federal government can literally kill with impunity. However, if the time comes, Rawls’ message to redoubters is also one of possible murder, though he would call it self-defense. What they preach is, be ready to shoot to kill all the panic-driven folks who will pore out of cities in search of sustenance.

Seeing Idaho as a haven for anti-government, take the law into your own hands types is not the image Idaho wants to convey. It can have a real downer impact on a local economy, especially if some national organization serves notice of a boycott. Losses could be in the millions.

The legitimate concern that Idaho’s elected officials should be sounding alarm bells about is the tendency of national media to want to characterize the Redoubt movement as the reincarnation of the Richard Butler/Neo-nazis plague that afflicted Idaho’s image world-wide for years.

Jame Wesley, Rawls and the redoubters are certainly hard right libertarian conservatives who can intimidate simply by showing up at meetings wearing their pistols whether there is an open-carry law or not. There is no evidence, however, that they espouse the hate-filled, white supremacist racist views of Butler. National and even international media are already monitoring and watching perhaps hoping they are.

The August 6th Economist magazine had a long and some would say sympathetic article extolling the desire for less government regulations and more individual freedom. The author errors though in repeating the belief that thousands have already moved here. He also seemed to think people can still homestead in the west. In addition, two months ago the Washington Post sent one of its Pulitzer prize-winning reporters, Kevin Sullivan, to northern Idaho to explore the possible story. (Editor’s note: Sullivan’s article appeared in the August 28th issue of the Post, two days after this column was written and distributed.)

An obvious question is what’s the difference between the Butler era and the Rawls era? The answer is that though it took some time to get it together, local leaders in Coeur d’Alene did unite with the state’s political leadership to denounce the racist, hate filled language of the neo-Nazi’s.

Governors Andrus, Batt and Kempthorne all worked with local leaders like Tony Stewart, Father Bill Wassmuth and Marshall Mend to denounce Butler and company. In other words there was real political leadership both at the local and state level.

One has yet to hear a peep from Governor Otter, or Senators Risch and Crapo, or Congressman Raul Labrador, speaking out that even the “redoubt movement,” possibly a more benign posse comitatus group, is not reflective of Idaho, its citizens and its collective values.

Trump 68: The Muslim database

trump

After several weeks of confusion over the presumed signature policy initiative of Donald Trump's presidential campaign - immigration - it's worth recalling that, for all the forthrightness his followers like to attribute to him, he has been remarkably unclear about many other things.

Consider, for example, the instances of the infamous Muslim database.

Part of the confusion came about after Trump cautioned, in effect, that he didn't mean what many people thought he meant. The whole Muslim database question became - and this redounded, likely, to Trump's benefit - too convoluted for many people to want to revisit, for fear of getting it wrong. (This whole subject of being confusing and unclear is, by the way, yet another ample disqualifier from the presidency, where clarity is of real importance.)

One organization that did take a serious look at it, and come up with some conclusions, is Politifact, which last November took a serious look at what was and wasn't said.

Speaking after last fall's terrorist attack in France, a reporter from Yahoo asked Trump, "do you think there is some kind of state of emergency here, and do we need warrantless searches of Muslims?"

The reply, no model of clarity, was: "We’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago."

Seeking some specificity, the reporter asked, "Do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of database, or note their religion on their ID?"

Trump's response to that clarified nothing: "We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully."

A day later, with unanswered questions still in the air, an MSNBC reporter asked, "Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?"

Trump said in reply, "There should be a lot of systems. Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems."

Beyond database? What was he talking about? Maybe he himself didn't know, because he tried moving on the subject of the Mexican wall, when a reporter interrupted: "But that’s something your White House would like to implement."

"I would certainly implement that. Absolutely." Absolutely a database, a wall, something beyond a database, or something else?

Most candidates would by now have sensed that whatever they intended or wanted to say was going south, mired in confusion. But when Trump was immediately afterward asked how the database would be researched and created, Trump replied, "It would just be good management."

Did Trump understand the question, or didn't he care?

Later in the same day, when a reporter asked him to contrast the idea of a registry of Muslims with the Nazi registry of Jews, Trump replied, "You tell me." If he didn't support the idea of a registry, he seemed to be willfully allowing it to grow and to identify with it. Then still later that same day, he tweeted - accurately - that a reporter not he had brought up the idea of a registry database.

Soon after, as controversy grew, he turned up on Fox News and appeared to dismiss the idea of a registry database, sort of. He said that he wanted a watch list, surveillance (or who or what he didn't say) and a database of Syrian refugees.

The next day, he added even more confusion (if that was possible) at an Alabama rally, where he said, "So the database - I said yeah, that’s alright fine. But they also said the wall, and I said the wall, and I was referring to the wall, but database is okay, and watch list is okay, and surveillance is okay."

After parsing through all that and more, what Politifact finally came up with was, "No, he would not rule out a database on all Muslims. But for now, he wants a database for refugees."

That seems like a reasonable end point to all the analysis.

But what would be the end point in a Trump Administration? None of us really have any way of knowing. - rs