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Posts published in November 2016

Angry at the jets


High performance fighter jets may sound like a whisper compared to the roar of angry citizens on the Boise Bench. Boise Airport manager Rebecca Hupp faced an angry crowd Wednesday evening as she attempted to present the latest “master plan” for the airport.

About 150 citizens packed the meeting room, expecting to have a talk about noisy fighter jets. Instead, they were shown Power Point slides more effective than Ambien sleep aid. She discussed planned meetings, outreach, studies, neighborhood meetings, and committees full of “users,” but no common homeowner-types like the entire audience.

The vast majority of the audience came to the meeting to protest any plans to base F-35, F-15 or other excessively noisy fighter jets at Gowen Field. A spokesman had told one citizen that airport officials had “no control” over the Air Force. Hupp herself avoided comment when it was noted the mayor and council have gone on record supporting the F-35.

huppManager Hupp clearly lost control of the meeting after telling the audience there was a lot of “disinformation out there” regarding condemnation of residential property. Their issue was only the basing of fighter jets, not the number of passengers carried or claimed figures about economic impact.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, all people want is a commitment from the politicos to join forces to prevent noisy fighter jets. Folks we talked to love the Air Guard, they want freedom, peace, motherhood, apple pie, and a flying mission. They DON’T want the noisy fighter planes racing around above the most densely populated area between Salt Lake and Seattle. These aircraft belong at Mountain Home.

When people complained about recent noisy F-18 fighters, Hupp said they had no control over transient military aircraft. She could easily have defused the situation by offering to speak with the military about noise abatement protocol. The Air Guard had already promised to alert visiting pilots about being quieter when flying into Boise.

Creating a master plan, noise study, and all the rest aimed at expansion and accommodation of fighter jets is diametrically opposite the mood of the people. That type of arrogance allowed Donald Trump to became president-elect…the entrenched elite failed to listen!

Idaho gov 2018 is underway


By all the traditional political metrics Lt. Governor Brad Little should be the prohibitive favorite to be Idaho’s next governor. For years he has traveled Idaho showing up at county fairs, board of education meetings, and always at Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s side during the governor’s numerous “Capitol for a Day” sessions.

As governor when Otter is out of state he has been the “real” governor well over a year. Reportedly, he has already accumulated $250,000 for what could be a $4 million dollar campaign just to obtain the Republican nomination.

He meets people well, is thoughtful, intelligent, personable and a solid conservative befitting the successful rancher he is. He is not an ideologue and therein may be his challenge.

Idaho’s Republican Party is veering to the “Tea Party” extreme right which expects rigid adherence to a party platform that contains items such as repeal of the 17thamendment which created the popular vote for U.S. senators, who originally were elected by state legislatures. To Little’s credit he does not agree with every item in that agenda.

In the mind of others that has created an opening to challenge him and some dare to accuse him of being a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Former Meridian State Senator Russ Fulcher, who came close to upsetting Governor Otter in the 2014 GOP primary, quickly stepped into the breach, wasting no time in announcing his candidacy shortly after Little made his declaration.

If Fulcher hoped to pre-empt the Tea Party support and keep First District Congressman Raul Labrador in the nation’s capital, he failed. Numerous reports are circulating through Republican circles with some prominent behind-the-scenes players flat stating Labrador will declare for governor one day after he takes the oath of office sometime in the first week of January, 2017, as a member of the new Congress.

Further confirmation of the congressman’s intentions come from reports that former Idaho Lt. Governor and Attorney General David Leroy is forming an exploratory committee to gauge support for a bid to replace Labrador in Congress in 2018. The Lewiston native is one of the most astute political animals around. It is unfathomable to think he would let word start to spread unless he was sure the seat will be open.

Other possible aspirants to succeed Labrador include Third District State Senator Bob Nonini from Coeur d’Alene; Fourth District State Representative Luke Malek, from Coeur d’Alene; and, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmeyer. A dark horse possibility would be Sandy Patano, the former State chief of staff for Senator Larry Craig.

Little recognizes that Labrador could be a serious roadblock to his gubernatorial ambitions. That alone may be the answer to why Little chose to split with Governor Otter on passage of HJR 5, which some major members of Idaho business wanted badly. It should have been entitled the “Expand the influence of Lobbyists Act.” Little kow-towed to the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI) in part because he did not want to create an opening for Labrador.

While there are mixed views about Labrador there is no one in Idaho’s political cognoscenti who does not recognize his considerable skills. He has demonstrated both when in the Idaho Legislature and the Congress that he is not afraid to take on his party’s leadership. And like legislative leadership, during the last election cycle Labrador reportedly donated almost $20,000 from his own campaign PAC to Republican state legislators in contested races.

In doing so he may have hurt himself with some of his Tea Party base. For example, his PAC contributed $500 to Rep. Caroline Nilsson-Troy’s re-election even though Tea Party favorite Ken DeVries, from St. Maries, was running as an independent in the 5th district house seat.

Nothing prevents him, either, from converting his congressional PAC to his campaign for governor.

Labrador is on record saying his decision to leave D.C. will be based in part on whether he feels he has accomplished or put in motion to accomplish immigration reform and criminal justice reform. Beauty though is in the eye of the beholder and he can define progress and success.

On criminal justice reform Labrador deserves credit for his ability to work constructively with Democrats, such as the recently retired Virginia Senator James Webb.

There is a fourth possible gubernatorial aspirant that neither Little nor Fulcher nor Labrador can ignore----Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Now in his fourth term, he is a proven vote-getter and has a reputation for thoughtful, solid work. Given his canny handli

ng of the Department of Energy’s inept handling of the Batt Nuclear Waste Clean Up agreement, Wasden owns that issue.

Most political observers know that any primary with more than three contenders gets hard to predict. From Little’s standpoint it should be the more the merrier.

The fun is just starting.

To be or …


And you thought once the race was over, things would return to normal? Hah!

Now we have to worry about which Trump are we going to get – the reasonable fellow who met with the President and gave the gracious acceptance speech after taking Secretary Clinton’s concession? Or the T.V. mogul leering at his women, polishing his brand and promising a Christmas list of changes to everything? Or the misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist ranting about Muslim terrorists and Mexican rapists?

The next few weeks will produce some huge signals on what we can expect from a Trump administration – being the individuals that Trump announces for his key cabinet and staff positions. Not the names of the wannabees that keep spewing forth from the hangers-on in the bleachers, but the real list of real McCoys from the Horse’s Mouth himself.

Who he selects and who he leaves out in these appointments will tell mountains about how Trump’s administration will perform substantively. Will he go for ability and skill – as he promised – or merely loyalty? What will be the mix between Washington insiders and those from outside the beltway? Will everyone be a hard right conservatives, or will there be room here for a moderate voice? Will the opposition be acknowledged at all, or totally left out? Where, if at all, will women fit in, and who will they be? Consider, for example, one key appointment: Secretary of State.

Heading up Department of State is a huge job. Foreign policy is not a strong suit with Trump. He has no experience in this area, and his policy declarations to date have been bumper-sticker slogans with no substance. He has wandered all over the place in trying to come up with a consistent set of goals for the Middle East. He has managed to bring into question our commitment to NATO, our role in the defense of the Pacific Rim, the future of the Balkan states, and nuclear proliferation. The rest of the world is up in arms over Trump’s election in light these pronouncements along the way.

One thing Trump needs to do immediately is send a strong message to the rest of the world to calm the fears of foreign leaders that while some changes may be in the offing, drastic change in the relationship with our allies is not contemplated. One way to do that is to name a Secretary of State of international prominence; one that would send a calming message to all.

A truly bold move on Trump’s part to send such a message to the world and also to declare his intention to reunite the country and attempt to bring an end to the crippling divisiveness that has developed, would be to reach across the aisle and appoint a Democrat to this key cabinet post – asking Secretary Kerry to stay on, for example, or drafting Joe Biden for the job. If asked, and if either would accept, this would be a monumental step in demonstrating Trump’s true intent at being a President for everyone and to reconcile and reunite the country.

There is a strong tradition for the appointment of at least one key cabinet post from the opposition party. Every president back through FDR has selected at least one cabinet secretary or other high appointed official from the opposite party. Appointing a moderate Democrat to head State and help guide foreign policy does not denigrate the right wing’s true interest in domestic policy, commerce and taxation, and would be a huge relief to the rest of the world.

If Trump is not persuaded to go that far with this position, the Republican candidates most often mentioned for the job of Secretary of State are John Bolton, Newt Gingrich and Senator Robert Corker. Bolton is a hard right, hawkish ideologue. He could not garner the votes to get confirmed as Bush’s ambassador to the U.N., and has been on the sidelines ever since. Newt Gingrich is an enigma. More to the center than Bolton, Gingrich has been said to be of the “Reagan-John Paul II-Thatcher” strain of aggressive diplomacy developed during the 1980’s. He has been out of anything connected with foreign policy for 30 years. Senator Bob Corker is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is clearly the most current of the three on worldwide problems. Although a conservative Republican, he is the most moderate of the three in his foreign policy, often voicing a more cautious and non-interventionist note than his more hawkish colleagues.

Barring the dramatic step of selecting a Democrat, the selection of Senator Corker would signal an intent to aim at moderation in foreign affairs. It would assuage most of the country and most foreign leaders that reason and common sense will continue to guide U.S. policy.

Selection of John Bolton would signal a toleration for brinksmanship and military intervention everywhere. It would mean a resurrection of American Exceptionalism, a tolerance for nuclear proliferation, and the return of the Ugly American. It would scare the bejesus out of half the country, the rest of the world, and me.

Picking Newt Gingrich as Secretary of State would leave it a mystery for now, until Gingrich’s policies firm up more, and it is clarified whether, on foreign policy, he tends towards the hard right or would tolerate the more moderate center. The delay would not serve to calm the fears of the foreign leaders. Also of Newt is the fact that since he has lived off the dregs of politics for more than 30 years, his appointment would not be viewed as consistent with Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.”

Most of the picks will be conservative Republicans; that is to be expected. There will be some token exceptions, but these will be flagged and well labeled. All of Trump’s appointments should be examined for answers beyond the mere name of the individual involved. It will all come down to one question: does the individual possesses the flexibility to adjust to meet the needs of the entire country, or will all answers only address the demands of the far right?

The answer will be revealing

Defending law and order


Working at the Oregon State Capitol, protests become a regular part of life. This is especially true during legislative sessions. Every group you could imagine has its own lobby day and busses people from all over the state for some sort of rally or protest.

I always try to make it a point to go check them out, if I can. If people care enough about something to take time out of their day to come to the capitol to be heard, I figure the least I can do is try to listen.

That’s just how it is when you work at the most public building in the state. But such a high level of accessibility has its upsides and downsides.

Sometimes it can be amusing.

The first legislative session I worked was in 2005. An Alaska resident went and bought a bunch of cheap beer to advocate for a higher beer tax in Oregon. His entire argument was that our tax is so low that it encourages underage drinking.

This man was kicked out of the capitol by the Oregon State Police after it was discovered that he was handing that beer out at legislative offices—some of which were staffed by underage interns. I was among those that he handed half-racks of beer to as a TV news crew followed, but was 24 and over the legal drinking age. Of course, there’s no small degree of irony in a guy saying that beer is too easy for minors to obtain getting in trouble for handing it directly to them.
Sometimes it can be scary.

During the February 2016 session, a bill was being passed to honor former Senate President Brady Adams (R-Grants Pass). I had gotten to know him during my days as news director of the Grants Pass Broadcasting Corporation and thought the world of him. He was a pillar of that community until his passing last year.

Because I had such respect and admiration for him, I wanted to be on the Senate floor when he was honored. Adams was praised for his character and good deeds by Senators from both parties.
All of this was rudely and inappropriately interrupted by a group of protesters who stood in the gallery unfurling banners and shouting slogans. Another group did the same in the House while a third was causing a similar disruption outside of the governor’s office.

It didn’t take long to realize that we were sitting ducks down there in the Senate floor. They could have easily hurled projectiles at us, or much, much worse. And this went on for what seemed like an eternity. Going back and reviewing the video footage, I could see myself in the bottom of the screen, visibly agitated and wondering why this was being allowed to continue.

No arrests ever resulted from that disrespectful disturbance.
Maybe that’s why an anonymous e-mailer felt empowered enough to send a message to Senate Republicans weeks later threatening mob action at their homes. It appears to be the same kind of mob action being done in Portland in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

More recently, Second Amendment activists staged an open carry protest on the capitol’s front steps. The sight of men armed with guns scares some people who work there or know people that do and makes them feel nervous and unsafe. Many people who support the ability to protect your family in your own home draw the line somewhere between there and having guys display their firearms at the state capitol building.

The OSP were there, as always, and thank God for that. Their large presence that day may have seemed a little excessive. At one point, it almost looked like there were as many police officers as protesters. There was a whole line of them beyond the revolving front doors, and another cluster visible from there, up above and in front of the governor’s office.
I went outside to see what the fuss was about, and there was an effigy of Governor Kate Brown. It was obvious what was going to happen next so I went back to my office. The overwhelming OSP presence made much more sense.

That particular act, which is an implied threat of violence, seemed to accomplish little but make Brown more of a hero and martyr to her supporters. Anyone would be hard-pressed to say that it drew more people to the cause.

It reminds me of a book that everyone in politics should read, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. This would be the polar opposite, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. If nothing else, it’s a great example of what not to do.

My thirties have taught me virtues that I lacked in my twenties. Among them are humility, temperance and tact. The key to tact is simple—Don’t be a jerk. There’s not much else to it.

Sometimes the protests happen elsewhere.

A protest in rural Burns over the imprisonment of some ranchers turned into a prolonged siege at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. That all ended over a month later with many arrests and one occupant shot by police.

After spending most of the year in jail, the occupiers, who started as protesters, were found not guilty on all charges.

And just to think—many people commented on online news stories about the standoff that the government should just use predator drones to kill them all on site without due process.
I was at a dinner event the night the verdict was read. The keynote speaker was the U.S. Attorney, whose office had handled the case. Both his work and private cell phones rang off the hook as he spoke, interfering with the PA system. It’s easy to imagine that some of those calls may have been from people wondering what had happened on what could have been one of the worst days of his life.

The people in Portland protesting the election of Republican Donald Trump by damaging other peoples’ property need to remember the Golden Rules of Tact:

Don’t be a jerk.

Don’t jam up roads and public transit so people can’t get home or to work.

Don’t destroy things that aren’t yours.

What makes it worse is that this is happening on a holiday to honor those who fought for Americans’ rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. Once again, tact is important.
History shows that there can be consequences for these kinds of things. I wasn’t around for the 1960s, but I could just imagine all those anti-war protesters being aghast when Richard Nixon was re-elected in a landslide in 1972.

Nixon did it by being the Law and Order candidate. As protests went from peaceful to violent, Middle America did not like what it saw and demanded a return to Law and Order.

These kinds of protests are probably not the kind of thing Barack Obama wanted as part of his administration’s legacy. But if the public wants more Law and Order and a Trump administration can deliver it, these protesters may end up with eight years of their worst nightmare. And no amount of protesting will be able to stop it from happening and may very well guarantee it.



It’s been nearly a week since we common sense, right-thinking Americans lost control of the White House. That control - whatever is left of it - will be in the hands of the worst national party nominee for the office of President in our long history. There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest he’ll be any better after assuming full authority.

I’ve written nothing about the terrible miscarriage in the exercise of our democratic franchise. Voices and scribes far more thoughtful have summed up our political disaster - and what it bodes for our future. I’ve listened and read much of their output and am, for the most part, willing to let their words speak for me. But, there are some areas of the electoral process that need fixin’.

One is the Electoral College. We need to kill it. As is the case with some other items in our founding documents, this one seemed right for those times but is not for these times. The forefathers feared decisions made at the polls in 1776 (and beyond) might not be “good” decisions. In other words, not the ones more “professional” and “experienced” members of the Continental Congress might make. To head off what they saw as possible misdirection at the hands of citizens, they created the College as a sort of “safety net.” The “professionals” reserved the right to overrule the populace and decide the “correct” choice if - to them - the electorate screwed up.

Might have worked in 1776. But not 2016. Because of the existence of the Electoral College, and it’s flawed place in our political process, we’re now to have a “winner”who received less popular votes than “the loser.” Happened in 2000, too, with Gore and Bush. In fact, the “minority winner” scenario has been repeated several times.

Now, there may be scholars who’d opine the College is “holy” and “sacrosanct.” They’d posit the College was created by “visionaries” who got everything right in one shot. Road apples!

By their own terms, those 1776 “visionaries” repeatedly stated national authority was supposed to flow up from the people - not down from the elected. The College has become an impediment to that flow and that authority. Again, Gore-Bush, the College and the Court in 2000.

The claim “small states votes won’t count” holds no water. Small state votes don’t count now.

Voters in our day - as they did in 1776 - deserve the guaranteed right to make the national choice of a President. He/she with the most votes gets keys to the front door. Period. That’s the way we run all other elections. Not perfect. But it’s the right way to do things.

The other issue needing our urgent attention is who votes and where they live. Americans in 49 states got a lesson this year - a bitter lesson. They got “gobsmacked” the same way voters in Idaho have been for years. The “rural tail” wagged the “city dog.”

Idaho’s elected government has run that way for many a decade. Voters in the most populated areas are dictated to by country folk in the making of many important legislative decisions. Makes no difference that, as cities have grown and outlying communities have become smaller, the power has remained out in the hinterlands. If the words “urban renewal,” for example, offended country folk, they simply dictated to cities, who might be making good use of the development tool, and added so many restrictions it became more difficult to use. In some cases, impossible. Small town Idaho has also stopped population centers from passing certain local laws. Non-discrimination ordinances, for example.

Taxes, too, have been jiggered to benefit rural residents where possible. Allocations for rural roads versus city highways. Seats in the Idaho Legislature gerrymandered for both rural and Republican benefit. And a whole lot more.

Nationally in 2016, country folk stuck together in state after state to overcome urban voting blocks. It wasn’t just Montana or the Dakota’s or New Mexico where this has happened for years. No, it was Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida and Michigan and Illinois and Wisconsin. Large urban areas were “gobsmacked” by what had traditionally been the lesser vote totals from “out there.”

Coupled with the sometimes illegal gerrymandering of Republican districts by Republican majorities in national census years, the 2016 election was far from “one-man, one-vote.” Or “one woman,” if you prefer. Courts have had to step in when boundary fudging got too far afield to direct state authorities to redraw some of the lines.

Taken together, head counting, vote counting, legislative and congressional redistricting and continued existence of the Electoral College have got to be seriously addressed. Little by little, national decision-making by popular vote has been distorted and twisted so far out of shape, the average American marking a single ballot has little to no voice in the Republic.

Finally, the issue of disenfranchising voters had a large affect in 2016. SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act a year ago and look what happened in the next national election in the Carolina’s, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, Florida and Missouri to name a few.

We’re in frighteningly new territory now in politics, society, economics, business and by all other measurements. Old rules and old ways, which were the security of this nation for 240 years, have either been ignored or become outdated or have been selfishly perverted.

Our national government and our individual freedoms are now a whole new ball game. Like it or not, here we are. What the hell will happen with the next “gobsmack?”

In Idaho, more of the same


For the last generation of general election days, in Idaho, if it’s breathing and Republican, it gets piles of votes.

This year even more than usual. By some measures, this was the most Republican general election in Idaho since 2000. And that’s saying a lot.
Donald Trump did very well, obviously, nationally, but his just-short-of-landslide in Idaho (59.3%) was striking. Considering how decisively he lost the Republican primary a few months ago, and how much significant parts of Idaho society (notably many members of the LDS Church) disliked him, he exceeded expectations. Evan McMullin, who only a few weeks ago seemed to be exciting a lot of interest in eastern Idaho and talked a lot more like traditional Republicans (Mitt Romney, say) do, could manage only 6.7%. His problems may have been various, but crucially he didn’t have the R behind his name.

The legislature, already one of the most Republican in the nation, moved further in that direction, which barely seemed possible. The long-time House Democratic leader, John Rusche of Lewiston, lost (it wasn’t even close, a margin of more than 3,000 votes) – should Lewiston now be accounted as a Republican city, period? - along with one of the few Democratic state senators, Dan Schmidt of Moscow.

That means in the whole of Idaho north of Boise, just one Democratic legislator is left. She is Paulette Jordan, representing the Moscow-based district, and she won this time by fewer than 300 votes. She’ll be targeted next cycle.

Among Republican legislators, the most controversial probably was Heather Scott, known for her alt-right leanings, whose followers were said to have engaged in harassment of her political opposition. Scott won with 62.5%, just a little shy of the average for Republican legislative candidates throughout the north in “contested” races.

A couple of strong campaigns by Democrats to break through in Twin Falls were smacked down, rolled under Republican landslides.

The picture differed in only a few places.

The city of Boise remained Democratic-leaning, its Democratic legislators re-elected easily. But the west Boise district 15, which has been on the edge between the two parties, remained just out of Democratic reach. It’s still distinctly purple territory (the Republican legislators won there with just 56.3%, 50.8% and 56.2%), but tinged on the red side.

And District 26, the central Idaho district anchored by Sun Valley and Ketchum but surrounded by more conservative farming areas, remained the most competitive region in Idaho. It is one of the few legislative districts split by parties (two Democrats, one Republican), all three of whom won with less than 60% of the vote.

The district centered on the city of Pocatello, district 29 (Idaho State University is located there), traditionally has been the lone Democratic stronghold in eastern Idaho. It’s a stronghold no more; Democrat Mark Nye, running for the Senate, was held to 48.1%, and he might have lost but for the incursion of a Libertarian in the race. The other House seat, which Nye had held, went to Republican Dustin Manwaring. The other Democratic representative there, veteran Elaine Smith, was unchallenged this year, but don’t expect that to repeat next time. This district shows the signs of flipping Republican.

Actual competitive politics in Idaho has boiled down to one or maybe two legislative districts, out of 35.

Talk about species on the verge of extinction.

A new day


Starting with Harry Truman's impossible win over Governor Thomas Dewey in 1948, Tuesday marks the 17th presidential campaign that I have personally watched - usually from the edge of my seat, sometimes with hair standing on end, but always mindful of every twist and turn, from beginning to end. Nine of these races went one way, and eight the other, meaning that overall, the end result has been as close to 50-50 as one can get with an odd total.

No matter which party, and no matter which candidate was involved, no matter the issues involved or the principles being argued or the programs being promised, in every one of these past goes, approximately half the country was convinced that the defeat of their candidate meant doom was inevitable for the end of the world as they knew it was nigh. And yet the country survives, just as it will undoubtedly survive this one.

I tried this logic on my sweet wife, and was told, promptly and in no uncertain terms, that this one was different. Perhaps it is so. This is the first time in my memory, for example, where we have elected a misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, racist who declared himself such before taking office. Most have waited at least until after the oath was administered to stumble into the issues. But then, certainly no one is contending that this will be the first time we have ever had such in the White House? Right? Of course not.

What does make this is one different in my view is that this is the first time in memory, and perhaps even in recorded history, when so little has been known about the president-elect's true abilities at governance. To my memory, the only other candidate with no direct experience at governance from elected office was Eisenhower - but he had accumulated a reasonably acceptable record as a substitute; he won WWII.

As far as Trump is concerned, we know him only to be a business man of uncertain and somewhat controversial talents. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he is not what anyone would call a skilled politician, and we have no idea how what skills he does possess will translate into the political science arena. We do know that he organized a primary presidential run with almost no money, mowed down the entire bench of traditional candidates offered by his party, ran his end game with very little ground support, and somehow kept the significance of most of what was happening away from the cognoscenti of traditional campaign methods.

What nobody was paying any attention to, and what was not being picked up by the media, the savvy commentariat, or the data mavens of conventional polling, was that a huge segment of the voting electorate was so enraged with the status quo, so unhappy with the beltway norm, so dissatisfied with what they perceived the politicians were delivering up to now, that they were collectively willing to sacrifice it all on a total unknown, despite all the political gaffs and missteps, despite the randy women's issues, despite the lack of depth on any of his promises and bumper-sticker slogans of policy, despite the foreign relations blunders, and despite the suggestion of chumminess with the wrong foreign leaders, all simply upon the promise that he was not your typical politician and that he, and he alone, intended to shake the box.

We may believe he is singularly unqualified to serve, but right at 50% of the voting public disagree. Because of the arcane way we count, they are in the majority and they are willing to take this chance that shaking the box will work no matter what else might be involved. And who knows what will happen here. Giving the box a sound shake up by one from the outside has never been tried before. What can possibly go wrong besides a worldwide economic depression, the dismantling of history's most responsive democracy and thermonuclear war?

Actually, the implementation of much of the policy changes Trump is talking about by executive fiat may be very difficult to bring about. The President's power to act unilaterally, without the concurrence of Congress, or the concurrence of the deeply imbedded civil servants in most agencies, is considerably limited. Especially if some shakeup appears to be a drastic change or upheaval from the "normal" way of things are done, it is probably going to be much, much more difficult than Trump imagines.

Changing regulations by executive order can run into trouble if the President starts to monkey around. Everything is governed by the Administrative Procedures Act and nothing can happen summarily. The agencies critical to our national security, for example, the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI and Foggy Bottom, are all loaded with career civilians who are in designated positions that are insulated from political influence. These folks cannot be fired, have out-lasted numerous changes in the administration, and can cause significant problems in the implementation of any administrative orders that are not favored. Look at the problems being encountered at streamlining the Veteran's Administration. Ingrained methods and programs are very tough issues to tackle, regardless of the best of intentions.

Insofar as obtaining Congressional approval, having simple majorities in both houses of the President's party is not necessarily a pathway to everything Trump desires. The razor thin majority in the Senate is not enough to get anything done if the minority digs in its heels - as the Republicans recently proved to Obama. Even among the R's, a fair number do not necessarily approve of him or his programs. Further, the members of Congress are separately elected, and are individually going to be watching out for their personal interests, more so over Trump's. Outright repeal of many programs with desirable features will be troublesome; we are at least likely to see amendments attached to any repealers to keep the more desirable features and prevent serious a harm from resulting.

So, Secretary Clinton had it right in her talk. The best thing here is to take a deep breath. This fellow is our president, whether we like it or not, and he deserves a chance to get it right. Some of these things do need changing and there is the possibility that he will grow into the job and be effective at it. If he is terrible and horrible and awful at it, there are plenty of resources within the government to block his way, slow things down and make it difficult if not impossible for him to do any real harm. We bide our time until the mid-terms and then corral his power completely. Or wait it out until the next general.

And that may not be too bad; remember, he was a Democrat until just a few years ago.

The business of business


While certain businesses in Idaho have always been deeply involved in politics and public policy - Idaho Power, Simplot, Boise/Cascade, Avista, Union Pacific, Micron, Hewlett-Packard, Monsanto, to name a few - the recent election cycle has seen more involvement by more Idaho businesses than ever before.

In several instances this has not been helpful to the public good, but in one instance it clearly has. Starting with the positive is the effort being put forward by a group called Idaho Business for Education.

Headed by Rod Gramer, a former reporter for the Idaho Statesman, and a long-time director of public and political affairs for two television stations, Boise’s KTVB and Portland’s KGW, this group has expanded rapidly under his leadership. When Gramer first accepted the position there were only 27 members. Today there are over 160.

Gramer was lured home from Florida by Skip Oppenheimer, a well-to-do community business leader who has long harbored concerns about growing disparities and slipping standards for many of Idaho’s schools and the children supposedly being prepared to compete in the ever increasingly competitive future job market.

The group does its best to eschew partisanship and seeks to work collaboratively with all the various educationsal interests, from the Board of Education to the Idaho Education Association to the offices of the governor and the superintendent of public instruction.

They seek to be a catalyst for progressive, meaningful reform across the board. While more dollars for teachers and fully funding education’s needs are priorities, they know reform is not just throwing more money at the challenges. Thus, they hve worked closely with Governor Otter’s education reform task force and have embraced most of their recommendations.

Gramer skillfully avoids being baited into saying anything negative about the Legislature, knowing that the 105 “gubernatorial house guests” still have to adopt the group’s recommendations. He politely says the group does not look in the rear view mirror. Instead they look ahead.

IBE members fully embrace a statement first made by former four-term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus that “the classroom is the engine room on the train that drives the state’s economy.” As a group the IBE members stay relentlessly focused on their core principles of placing the highest priority on best practices which lead to the best outcomes for Idaho students.

They also understand the importance of better pay for teachers and the need to stop the drain-off to nearby states where teachers can be better paid. As business leaders they demand data-driven information and stress the importance of transparency and accountability. Of course, they are keenly aware of staying current with evolving technology as well as constant review to find the best, most effective and efficient systems.

Gramer has been traveling the state in recent months to discuss with members their ambitious agrnda for the 2017 Legislature. This agenda includes the Idaho School Readiness Act which is designed to teach children how to read in kindergarten.

Other measures include the Idaho College Completion Act which will incentivize students to finish college. Idaho ranks near the bottom nationally with high school graduates who actually obtain a college degree.

IBE will also introduce a Idaho Workforce Incentive Act, as well as a program of industry sector grants. Further, they will keep an eye on the previous Legislature’s commmitment to appropriate the next installment of $56 million to improve the Teacher Career Ladder.

This positive stands in marked contrast to two other initiatives Idaho businesses have collectively pursued. The two are self-servng items running counter to the obligation to work for the greatest good for the greatest number.

Led by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, this business group has been funding a misnamed Idaho Citizens for passage of HJR 5 which is nothing less than a pure power grab by business to increase its power over state government by vetoing outright rules and regulations written by agencies charged with implementing new laws.

To their credit, Governor Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden oppose the move. Unfortunately, Lt. Governor Brad Little, in a disturbing kow-tow to business, has chosen to support this effort, as have some Democrat legislators such as Pocatello State Rep. Mark Nye.

Many IACI members also bought into providing financial support to State Senator Curt McKenzie’s campaign for a vacant seat on the Idaho Supreme Court. Robyn Brody, an attorney from Rupert, is (was) clearly the better choice. She was rated much higher by the Idaho bar and no one would ever charge she was bought and paid for by Idaho business.

The irony is that many of the members of IBE are also members of IACI. Thus, some display a split personality and send a mixed message.

One can only conclude that in Idaho the business of business is no longer business, it is sometimes “monkey business” and the people are the real losers.

No words

Not tonight. Maybe tomorrow.