Writings and observations

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One of the shameful aspects of modern politics is the tendency of people to define those holding differing views with perjorative labels. For example, in a recent column I complimented a conservative Republican state representative, Luke Malek, for displaying solid judgment and genuine dedication to his public service in a town hall meeting he held.

This was apparently too much for a Tea Party ideological critic of Malek’s, and in particular, Rep. Carol Nillson Troy. Note that I too am using a couple of labels to define the critic. His letter to the editor was a classic case of using the guilt by association and the false syllogism devices as rebuttal. Others might simply call it the “straw dog” device.

To this particular critic it was further proof that these two representitives had to be RINOS, Republicans in Name Only¸because they were being complimented by a “liberal Democrat.” Of course “liberal” despite its derivative from the Latin word liber (to free, to be free) just as libertarian is also a derivative, is now a nasty perjorative.

For the record I have always labeled myself as a business Democrat or an Andrus Democrat – that is a social liberal who is fiscally conservative. By that I mean I believe government has an obligation to help those who through no fault of their own cannot help themselves and government is the only agency that can realistically provide the needed help. However, we have to pay for that government assistance as we go. It is simply immoral to pass debt along to our children and grandchildren, as we have been doing. Both parties are guilty of this.

Thus, I support the solutions of the Simpson/Bowles Commission which came up with a solid set of recommendations that over a period of time would restore fiscal sanity to the nation.

Here’s the real ignorance in calling me a “liberal Democrat.” Even a minimal amount of research would reveal that in the eyes of many Democrats I’m at a minimum an apostate—one who deviates from orthodoxy—if not an outright independent. I vote for the person, not the party. I own firearms and rifles, have a concealed weapons permit and I believe friendship trumps partisanship any day.

I even have a copy of a resolution passed in 1982 by the King County Democrats drumming me out of the Democratic party for apostasy. They were outraged that I had played a major role in forming a Democrats for Dan Evans for the U.S. Senate committee. We bought our own ads and sent a group reflecting our diverse membership barnstorming around the state.

Evans defeated a true self-described super liberal, Congressman Mike Lowry, for the seat held by the legendary Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson. Many observers felt our committeee had been a critical part of the former three-term governor’s success.

I helped because Dan was a friend, I’d served on the Northwest Power Planning Council with him, and he asked.

This was too much for the late Karen Marchioro (Later the state chair) and her associate, Geoff Smith. The day after I received my expulsion notice I received the first of continuing requests for money for the party.

I compounded my apostasy in 1988 when I publicly supported a friend and the mentor to a future partner, the conservative U.S. Senator, Slade Gorton. Because of my role then as a major business figure in the Inland Northwest (regional vice president for Kaiser Aluminum), Slade asked and I cut television and radio ads supporting his candidacy.

Of coure that meant I again supported Slade in 2000 when he narrowly lost (2200 votes out of 2.4 million cast) a re-election bid to Maria Cantwell. When my business partner and former Gorton chief-of-staff, Mike McGavick, challenged Senator Cantwell in her 2006 re-election bid, I supported Mike. Friendship in my book always trumps partisanship and loyalty to those who have displayed loyalty to you is among the highest, and most rarely found, of political values.

It might further surprise readers to learn that the first Idaho officeholder to ask me to be his press secretary was a former Idaho governor and then U.S. Senator Len B. Jordan. While I greatly admired Len, I respectfully declined.

I am a self-described business or Andrus or conservative Democrat. To all those out there who want to label me as something else, go ahead, show your ignorance. Make my day.

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Carlson

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There’s a time bomb ticking in our western states that’s going to blow one of these first days. And Americans are going to die. Whether it’ll be a gun-happy citizen out to prove some sort of perverted loyalty to the old Constitution, or a lawman who’s finally pushed into a corner, depends on who shoots first. And who shoots last.

The latest Oregon standoff is near our eastern border – about 30 miles outside of Burns in Harney county – one of the largest such jurisdictions in the nation at some 10,000 acres but only about 7,500 people. From beautiful to desolate, it’s remote by all definitions. Can be hot like the fires of Hell in the summer – frozen as the arctic in the winter. Conservative by the traditional definition of that word – not by the standard use today which too often equates to craziness.

Some 200 people have taken control of a federal BLM site 30 miles out of town. Several brick buildings and a few trees. Men, women and children in the compound. Along with enough guns and bullets to take over a small country. The occupants – some with past criminal convictions – have vowed to stay “40 years” or more. While claiming peaceful intentions, they say they’ll shoot if fired upon.

The pretext for the outlaw’s illegal activity was to come to Oregon to defend two ranchers they believed were being persecuted by the court system. Under appropriate law – and as a result of a legal conviction for their crime – the father and son were not being “persecuted” and have peacefully turned themselves in to serve their sentences. So, it would seem the armed interlopers should go home. Right? Not hardly.

Even the Harney County sheriff now says that whole “protect the innocent” claim was B.S. and the intent of the occupiers is – and has been from the start – to confront government. They’re using social media to loudly urge like-minded government haters to come to Oregon, join the movement and make the BLM compound their rallying point for a national offensive to attack government at all levels.

Two of the loudest voices in the compound are those of two sons of Nevada criminal Clive Bundy. Bundy was the focus of an armed confrontation two years ago in which feds backed down even though he’d been convicted of not paying over $1 million he owed the BLM for past grazing on federal lands. Our lands. Our money. Yours and mine.

Both Bundy boys have served time on convictions for this and that. They are what they are – small time criminals with experience in our judicial system. When the NY Times did a well-researched story on the first Bundy confrontation, it found many gun toters on-site had previous criminal and mental problems. Some were actively wanted by the law. It can reasonably be assumed the same situation exists in Harney County – likely with some of the same offenders.

This is at least the third such confrontation forced by armed outsiders in Oregon in the last year. The other two ended with the law backing down and occupiers doing high 5’s for “whupping those damned feds again.” In my opinion, the Harney county situation must not end the same way. These people must be stopped. There. Now.

While I don’t want to see anyone killed in or outside the compound, there are ways to bring this illegal occupation to a head – and to an end. First, use existing technology to block cell phone use. No communications in or out not controlled by law enforcement. Isolate those bastards in every possible way. Second, cut electricity. All of it. Temperatures there this week will be about 30 degrees during the day and low 20’s and teens at night. Third, cut the water. All of it. Nothing like backed-up toilets and no bathing for making very close quarters uninhabitable.

Shortly, based on my own survival training, I believe three things will happen. First, parents will want to get their children out. Let ‘em out. Second, the occupiers will start arguing among themselves. Not all are hardcore or there because this is the most important thing in their lives. Maybe for the Bundy boys, but not all. They’ll want out. Let ‘em out. Arrest ‘em. Third, just sit tight with guns holstered. Outlast ‘em. They’ll either start a fight the law can win or they’ll give up. I’d bet on surrender.

There should be no concessions. None. Haul their criminal butts off to the Harney County jail. Try each one on whatever charges are appropriate. Jail time for those convicted. Which should mean all.

A basic precept of our national freedoms is that we are “a nation of laws.” While administration of those laws should be done with compassion and tempered by situations at hand, we cannot – must not – allow roaming bands of armed citizens to go unchallenged when they decide to ignore our laws. Laws all of us are expected to obey. Some large American cities are being faced with the same situation. Large groups – armed or not – are flaunting the legal process we must maintain.

Citizens of Harney County have not flocked to support these criminals. News reports and social media are filled with demands that law enforcement at all levels end this occupation and punish all those involved. Get ‘em out!

One more thing. To the media. All media. The people illegally inside that federal compound are not militia. Not in thought, word or deed. The occupiers may call themselves that. But the rest of us – starting with the media – must not. They are defending nothing. They are offending many.

These are armed criminals whose activities border on insurgency. We have laws aplenty to deal with insurgency. If action isn’t taken to stop these folks, they’ll keep coming back again and again. This is the largest collection of them law enforcement has encountered. If they aren’t met with the full force of the law this time, the next “incident” will be larger and more dangerous. And maybe not in such a remote location where they can be confronted as easily.

Eventually, someone will pull a trigger. Someone will die. If this mess in Burns can be ended peacefully, I’m all for it. But if it takes the full efforts of law enforcement at every level to do it with gunfire, now is the time. And 30 miles out of Burns, Oregon is the place.

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Rainey

The occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, acting ostensibly in protest of the imprisonment of members of the area’s Hammond family, are protesting as well in a more general sense the federal activity and management of many of the lands in the area.

A quick review of how the refuge center, which they’re now occupying, came to be, might be in order.

The push for a wildlife refuge in the area began in earnest around 1918 after so-far unsuccessful attempts to rebuild key elements of a bird population that had been mostly killed off around the turn of the century. With the purchase of more than 60,000 acres of ranch land in 1935, the effort got more serious. But improvements and needed infrastructure came with the arrival of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which in the later 30s built not only that but also much of the other infrastructure in the remote area southeast of Bend.

From the refuge’s history:

The three CCC camps on Malheur Refuge left behind an incredible legacy that remains today. Initial projects undertaken by the camps included fencing over 200 miles of the Refuge boundary; some of this fence is still in use today. Cattle guards were installed at all access points to the Refuge to prevent trespass by adjacent cattle. At refuge headquarters, work began on construction of four stone buildings (two residences, an office and a barn) to better manage the Refuge. The CCC also extended the telephone lines from the Narrows to refuge headquarters, and then on to the communities of Diamond and Frenchglen.

The telephone lines followed improved or new roads. Major portions of Highway 205 south of the Narrows were surveyed and constructed by enrollees from all three camps. This not only improved access to the camps and made transportation of materials more efficient, but enhanced the transportation network used by refuge neighbors. The enrollees also improved access to the community of Diamond as bridges were constructed across the Donner und Blitzen River. Along portions of the river channelized by the Eastern Oregon Land and Livestock Company in the early part of the century, enrollees used dozers to sculpt the dredge piles into a network of roads that would traverse the center of the valley. Over 35 miles of road would provide access to the center of the refuge for better management of the newly acquired lands. Seven bridges were constructed by the CCC along this newly created Center Patrol Road.

As work progressed over the next seven years the CCC enrollees would construct five concrete diversion dams on the Donner und Blitzen River. Several of these dams replaced existing smaller wood structures left over from the ranching days. All five dams improved diversion of irrigation water along hundreds of miles of new or revamped irrigation ditches. Major diversion ditches, including the Buena Vista Canal, the East and West Canals, Ram Ditch and the Stubblefield Canal, increased the amount of water that could be diverted over a greater distance in the Blitzen Valley. Much of this water was directed to new ponds (the Buena Vista Ponds, Wrights Pond, the Knox Ponds, and Boca Lake) that were crafted from the valley floor.

As transportation improved across the refuge, the CCC also made significant improvements elsewhere on the Refuge. Two large shop buildings and a residence were constructed at Buena Vista Station to facilitate management of the north end of the valley. At the south end of the valley major renovations were made to Pete French’s White House to improve living conditions for new Refuge employees. Existing ranch buildings at the P Ranch were modified for new Refuge uses. An addition was also added to back of the Frenchglen Hotel, which became part of the Refuge with the purchase of the Blitzen Valley.

Not a lot of “improvements” have been added to the area since.

The occupiers might reflect on that, too, as they wait through the winter days and nights at the refuge headquarters. – rs (photo/Malheur Wildlife Refuge)

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