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Posts published in June 2017

The making of an independent


Republicans and Independents across Idaho will be thrilled to learn I have left the Democratic Party and filed to re-register as an independent.

Yes, I know some Democrats will say “good riddance.” Like many Idahoans, they know I vote often as an independent, have never voted a straight party ticket, that friendship and the person take precedence over party.

I call myself a “business” or “Andrus Democrat.” I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal who believes government exists to help the many who through no fault of their own need assistance. We have to pay as we go, though. On the federal level we simply cannot sustain the unbalanced budgets we make and the money we spend while pretending we’re not saddling our children with debt that will restrict inevitably their quality of life.

Character counts and the person is more important than the party. This has led me to vote for the Republican candidate for president four times in the 13 presidential elections since I was first eligible. I also have voted for and contributed to reasonable and responsible Republican conservatives where the Republican was clearly the superior candidate like Senator Mike Crapo, Governor Butch Otter, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and State Senator Shawn Keough.

Under their breath many Democrats have called me a DINO (Democrat in Name Only). I freely confess I thought seriously about registering as a Republican to vote in their May primary because that’s where most of the action will be. However, I could not rationalize the hypocrisy.

For too many years I could easily explain why I thought the Republican party was just wrong on too many issues I cared about. Unfortunately, at the same time Idaho Democrats moved away from the lunch-bucket carrying, hard-working, outdoor-loving Idahoan who understood and subscribed completely to the message of Cecil Andrus: “First you have to make a living, then you have to have a living worthwhile.”

Andrus turned that message into four successful elections to Idaho’s governorship and John Evans turned it into two winning elections.

If I’d become a RINO I would have been the poster child for Bonneville County Republican chair Doyle Beck’s drive to further restrict those voting in the closed Republican primary to true blue Republicans. If Beck has his way, the next iteration of tamping down the vote (and thereby increase the clout of your better organized, ideological kin) will be to move to a caucus system whereby one has to show up and stand up for the candidate of their choice.

Beck would go a step further. He would require signing a loyalty oath to the party’s platform with its some 76 largely absurd positions. Among those sterling positions are such “progressive” ideas as repeal of the 17th amendment which provides for direct election of U.S.senators, and return to the gold standard.

As an independent no one will be telling me what positions I have to take. Beck’s narrowing of the GOP base is inevitably going to lead to the demise of the party, yet he is pushing for Idaho Republicans to seek a caucus system.

The irony is the biggest, most obnoxious RINO out there is President Trump. He is a liberal, not a conservative, a deficit spender, not a budget hawk and before long his base will wake up to how much he is subsidizing the rich at the expense of that base. He is truly a narcissistic, lying, two-faced, ignorant individual who all Americans should feel a sense of shame over his representing us. President Trump has no guiding philosophy, no character, no sense of history, no decency nor any honor.

To have become a RINO would have associated me with the party he professes to be his. Frustrated as I am with the D’s, I simply could not get on their horse. For the rest of my trail ride I’ll b e on the horse called independence. You should think about getting on the same horse.

Open letter to the president


Dear Biff:

It has become increasingly clear that you could not pass a high school government class. You have no rudimentary understanding of how the federal government works. For evidence, we need look no further than your most recent tweets regarding the U.S. Justice Department, the Supreme Court, and your executive orders banning travel from certain majority Muslim countries.

The series of tweets to which I refer include the following:

Tweet #1: "People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!"

Tweet #2: "The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C."

Tweet #3: "The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!"

Tweet #4: "In any event we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political!"

Biff, Biff, Biff . . . .

If you wanted the Justice Department to stay with the original Travel Ban, you should not have withdrawn it. The Justice Department is part of the Executive Branch. You are the head of the executive branch. Once you withdrew the original Travel Ban and entered the second Travel Ban, the original Travel Ban had no force whatsoever. And who created that situation? That would be you, Biff.

You refer to the second Travel Ban as “watered down.” Well, you’re the one who watered it.
You say that you want the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to enter a “much tougher version” of your “watered down Travel Ban.” Reading this tweet, someone would think you had never heard of the bedrock constitutional doctrines of separation of powers or checks and balances.

The Supreme Court is the JUDICIAL branch of government; it adjudicates. It does not legislate. (That would be Congress). And it most certainly does not draft and sign executive orders. (That would be the President – namely you.)

And let’s not forget that the reason you issued your executive orders was to have time to put “extreme vetting” in place. You said you needed 90 – 120 days to do so. Well, you’ve had more than 120 days and, from your last tweet, it appears you’ve already done that. So the entire rationale for your travel ban is now moot.

Oh, and one more thing . . . . The Department of Justice has tried to make a silk purse out of your sow’s ear by arguing that the second version of the Travel Ban is not, in fact, a Travel Ban. And why is that?

Well, a Travel Ban would pretty clearly run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. You do know that “politically correct,” at least in this instance, might equate with the phrase “more likely to pass constitutional muster.” Or do you?

The Department of Justice has tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade two federal appellate courts that all those racist things you said during the campaign are not relevant to the appeal. “That was candidate Trump, not president Trump,” they claimed.

Now that you, as president, have doubled down on your campaign rhetoric, what is the DOJ to do?

In your rogue tweet storm, you seem to have decided that DOJ lawyers are not up to the task and that you would prefer to appear pro bono. Well, there’s an old adage that comes to mind: “He who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.”

Good luck with that, Biff. I’m willing to bet that even Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch might find all of this a little too much to swallow.

But don’t listen to me. Frankie Avalon had some great advice in the musical “Grease!” It came in the song titled “Beauty School Dropout.” Remember? "Go back to high school!"

Different choices


I’ve recently become aware of a word with diametrically opposed meanings. Mexpat. While I’ve heard it in casual conversation, I was told it referred to an American living in Mexico.

However, doing some checking, I find it’s also used for a citizen of Mexico living out-of-country. Didn’t know that. There are worldwide social and educational organizations for both groups involving millions of folk who’ve switched national residences.

The word showed up on my radar when a friend recently said he and his wife were selling much of what they owned and moving to Mexico. Permanently. Now, I’ve known people who own Mexican timeshares, real estate or otherwise spend a good deal of time there. “South of the border” as it were. But, this was a “first” with someone literally taking up permanent residence.

My friend and I - in the interest of privacy I’ll call him Bob - have known each other since fourth grade. His parents and mine were friends in Bend for 50 years. Good small town American stock.

Bob got his college degree and started out as a banker. A good one. In mid-life, he went back to law school, graduated and spent the rest of his career helping low income and disadvantaged Oregonians. After retiring several years ago, he remarried, settled in small town Oregon, sang in the church choir, worked weekly in the local food bank and was very involved in his community. You couldn’t ask for more solid citizens and a happy couple.

So, when he dropped the “We’re leaving the country” bomb, it came as a shock. All I could respond with was the obvious: “Why?”

Bob offered several comments. Interesting, but not the kind of reasons anyone would use solely to undertake such a drastic move. So, I threw caution to the wind and asked “Did the outcome of last November’s election have anything to do with your decision?”

He answered “Yes” but didn’t voluntarily go much beyond that.

In our brief phone conversation, I didn’t pursue it. Maybe we’ll have a chance to talk again soon. Or, maybe I’ll “make” a chance.

So, let’s review. You know Bob is a fine man. Good education. A community contributor. Church going. Feels strongly about helping people. “Walks the talk.” The kind of person you’re proud to know and would like more of living in your community. Except, he and his equally fine wife have now left the country. Maybe for good. I’d like to think - maybe not.

So, the next question that hits you is how many thousands of others will follow? Or have already gone? And this. Why are such solid citizens leaving? How many more? Why?

Since our interim president’s election - (small “p” please, Mr. Editor) - I’ve heard a lot of folks talk of leaving. New Zealand. Australia. Canada. England. France. Usually the name of the country comes after the second drink. Which is as serious as we take the comment. We join in the conversation jokingly.

Then, friends you know - who make a difference - with a lifetime of serving and helping others - people whom you respect - actually take the step. After considerable reflection and discussion, actually leave their native land. They become Mexpats.

We’ve had a guy in the White House now for about 120 days or so. Each of those days, he and his misbegotten minions have ignorantly slashed, cut and burned their way through 250 years of history, tradition, compacts, international relations, treaties and political stability. The only certainty in that morass of mental midgetry is there will be more. More damage. More incivility. More political and economic destruction.

Sitting quietly, I note all that - and more - on one hand. Then, I think of my two friends who’ve left all they know behind to seek some transitory refuge in another country. Then, I seek to balance the two.

“What about the rest of us,” I wonder? What of us? What do we do?

Speaking only for myself, the only acceptable option is to stay. To be part of the resistance. To be a small part of working for an end to override this electoral miscarriage. To be a small part of the opposition.

Bob and I were brought up in that small Oregon town with nearly identical values in similarly comfortable surroundings. We were instilled with a sense of community and loyalty to people and to the national relationships we shared. We were granted the same familial love and respect in a time when both were taught in the home, in the school and the identical religious settings we shared.

I will not say his decision is wrong. I will not challenge nor argue the action he and his have taken. I will respect that, out of two very similar experiences, he and I have chosen different futures.

My hope is that they’ll come home again. Soon. We’ll be here.

Water Digest – June 5

Water rights weekly report for May 22. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

California lawmakers acted decisively Tuesday to make fixes to the state’s broken water management structure. Assembly Bill 313, introduced by Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), overwhelmingly passed the California Assembly with an initial 55-0 vote. The bill makes necessary reforms to how the state manages water rights.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began flood fight operations throughout the Central U.S., along the Mississippi and tributary rivers, in response to heavy rainfall on April 28-30 . High water flows are impacting navigation and stressing federal and non-federal levee systems.

The Bureau of Reclamation announces that Klamath River emergency dilution flows will not be required in 2017 to mitigate the effects of a parasite called Ceratanova shasta (or C. shasta) on outmigrating juvenile salmon. The announcement is made following weeks of monitoring parasite spore concentrations and prevalence of C. shasta infection among outmigrating salmon, and monitoring conducted by Oregon State University, the Karuk Tribe and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Finding of No Significant Impact for the approval to transfer recaptured Restoration Flows from Friant Division long-term contractors to Pleasant Valley Water District during 2017. The FONSI is based on the analysis of potential impacts analyzed and disclosed in the 2013 Recirculation of Recaptured Water Year 2013-2017 San Joaquin River Restoration Program Flows Environmental Assessment.

Idaho Briefing – June 5

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for May 22. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

A visit from the federal secretaries of Interior and Agriculture spotlighted the problem of wildfires, of which Idaho is just now starting to see its first this season. 2017 could be a relatively light fire year, however, given the heavy precipitation and still-large snowpack.

On May 31, the State Board of Education announced a revised process for selecting the inaugural Board of Trustees for the College of Eastern Idaho. Based on community interest and feedback from local leaders, the State Board will expedite the selection of trustees, allowing the new community college to begin operations sooner.

The Idaho Fish and Game commission reopened spring Chinook salmon fishing on portions of the Clearwater River and the Little and Lower Salmon Rivers starting June 3 with several changes to the previous seasons that closed May 24.

Representative Raul Labrador launches his campaign for governor on May 30 at events around Idaho, including at Post Falls Boise, and Idaho Falls.

The Bureau of Reclamation is increasing flows in the upper Snake River below Jackson Lake and Palisades dams because of continued warmer than normal temperatures that have resulted in increased spring runoff from snowmelt.

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were detected in Bannock County on June 1, 2017, prompting health officials to remind people to take precautions to fight the bite. he positive mosquitoes, which are the first detected in the state this year, were collected by the Bannock County Mosquito Abatement District.

State regulators have determined that nearly $10 million spent by Avista Utilities on energy-efficiency programs in Idaho in 2014 and 2015 was prudently incurred.

The city of Nampa invites members of the community to give their opinions about local transportation needs at an afternoon workshop on Thursday, June 8.

Out-waiting the bastards


I am on my now second hour of being on hold attempting to reach Sirius-XM Radio to cancel one of my two radio subscriptions. You cannot do it from their website, even if you are are registered there, which I am.

At the end of the first hour a bi-ped came on the line, we spoke briefly, and she said she needed to transfer me to accounting so the pre-paid radio subscription I'm cancelling would be credited to the still-active radio's account.

I begged, "No, not another hour on hold?!"

Oh, no, she said, it will just take a minute or two. Now I'm back to their pre-recorded noise, saying my wait time was not two, but approximately 75 minutes.

I've long since just put my cell on speaker-phone, made another pot of coffee, made and consumed breakfast, taken a leak and answered the morning's emails.

Thank goodness for unlimited cell minutes and the phone's being plugged into its charger or it would be dead and I would be broke.

Sirius-XM is not alone in this chicanery. Oh, hang on, just got a live, Malaysian-speaking person.

Even during my efforts to cancel one of the two radios, she is trying to sell me a car radio. (I do not listen to car music; I would rather hear how the bearings and rocker-arms are doing, thank-you very much, but I do not go into this with her in my native tongue or hers.)

OK, ostensibly that is done, down to a single radio and the pre-paid service for the other credited onto the account.

As I was saying before being interrupted by an actual transaction, this is not an indignity exclusively inflicted by Sirius-XM Radio. Try to shed yourself of cable or satellite TV service sometime. Log on, click "Manage My Account," and just try to find the disconnect option. It ain't there. "Manage My Account" merely means, in either case, "How can we charge you more for yet more shit you don't want?"

I don't blame the 50-cent-per-day Malaysian girl on the other end of the line, sitting in a boiler-room and probably grateful having to deal with frustrated, pissed-off Americans instead of being sold into the sex trade by her parents. No, I blame the Brussels-based fat-cats who own these companies and subject their workers and their subscribers to this crap.

In the case of the DirecTV, it was simply a question of paying the reduced $77/month rate just to watch the Spokane TV network-affiliate stations for an hour once or twice a week and indirectly subsidising the brainless prattling of Scott Pelley and Judy Woodruff. And now that the Seahawks are even considering signing Colin Kaepernick, my interest in the NFL is circling the drain.

Stepping back to the larger view, these obviously are the gasps of a dying technology. If people were beating down the door for your service, you would not try to sweat the patience out of your departing customers in the hopes they'll give up and figure it's better to bag the hold button and pay that nearly $1,000 a year for something you can do without.
I must give the Malaysian girl credit for this morning's best laugh, though.
She asked, from her script, what part of their service I liked best.

Tours of past and present


This may be a good moment for the opening of Idaho’s newest staffed visitor center, in one of the not especially scenic areas of the state.

And one of the historically ugliest.

The site is the Minidoka War Relocation Center east of Jerome, which has been a designated federal historical site for a while and has allowed visitors in, but only now is staffing up so managers can show visitors around. Self-guided tours have been available for awhile, but only now is the site properly being staffed.

There’ll be plenty to talk about, and a lot of it is sadly pertinent today.

In 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War II, many Americans of Japanese ancestry, half of them children, a large majority American citizens, were uprooted from their homes and businesses and forced into “relocation camps.” (Americans of German descent were not similarly relocated.) A number of these camps were located around the western part of the country, and they were all primitive, degrading places. The camps remained in operation throughout the war. At Minidoka (or what’s more often been called the Hunt Camp) about 13,000 people were effectively imprisoned.

In his book, Idaho for the Curious, writer Cort Conley quoted a former Denver Post editor, Bill Hosokawa, who was among those held at Minidoka: “It’s important to remember this chapter in American history. There are so many people completely unaware of what happened. We can set down the story of what happened, not out of bitterness, but to remind us, and to make damn sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Evidently, we need the reminder.

Last month the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial was vandalized, not once but repeatedly, with ugly, hateful graffiti. Boise Police Chief Bill Bones was quoted as saying, “There’s an obligation to call this what it is. It’s a cowardly act. It’s a criminal act. The words that they wrote are obviously attacks against people that live in this community simply based on the religion they practice or the color of their skin.”

All true. The same and more could be said of the recent killings on a Portland train attributed to a Portland white supremacist who, at his court appearance, shouted out, "You've got no safe place!" and "Death to the enemies of America!"

He was in practice providing cheer for anyone who wishes ill for America.

Our real problem is the people who would turn us all against each other. If you want to consider who serves the interests of people who wish disaster on America, that’s an excellent place to start.

A number of Idaho public officials, including Senator Mike Crapo and Boise Mayor David Bieter, did speak at a ceremony to protest that Anne Frank attacks, and that was helpful. These kinds of strikes at decency and community should not go unrebutted.

But the understanding that all Americans ought to be free from attacks and fear, something most of us probably would take as a given, appears to need much more persistent effort if we don’t want to travel down a road to a new set of relocation camps.

Winning by blasting Trump


Rep. Knute Buehler this week posted a message on his facebook page calling for an independent investigation of President Trump:

As a Republican, I feel a special obligation to speak-out against the actions of the President of my Party – even a candidate I didn’t support.

He also revealed that he didn’t vote for Trump in November

It’s no secret that while President Trump ran as a Republican, he was never this Republican’s choice for President (I wrote-in Ohio Governor John Kasich).

While the majority of commentators were Republicans who criticized Rep. Buehler a large number also applauded him for speaking out. But here’s why Rep. Buehler’s position will ultimataly pay off.


Take a look at this poll that we ran last week, and remember, Oregon as a whole is a safe Democratic state.

If our poll results are accurate, then Rep. Buehler could lose 30% of self identified Republicans. While the Republican vote statewide runs around 43%, that includes both Republican party members (about 29% of all voters) and Republicanh leaning non affiliated and independent voters who make up another 13-15%.

It seems unlikely that 30% of Republican leaners would refuse to vote for Dr. Buehler because of charges of being a RINO. And in any event, those Republicans who do refuse to support a non conservative Republican certainly aren’t going to vote for Kate Brown. And the fact is, regardless of a conservatives vow to not support a RINO, are they really going to skip the Governor race if the polls show Buehler and Brown neck and neck? I don’t think so.

So yes, Buehler will lose some voters, perhaps 30% of the Republican membership. Lets call these “skippers”. That means that rather than starting out with 43% of the vote (Republicans and leaners), he starts out with 33%. But, by sitting out the race, that 10% doesn’t move into the Brown column, they just skipped it. So Brown still has a starting point of 57%.
How many Democrats and Democratic leaners will Buehler gain?

The poll results showed that 57% of Democrats – which also likely includes registered Democrats and Democratic leaners – could support a “liberal” Republican in a safe Democratic district. That means 32% of all Oregon voters are Democrats or Democratic leaners who could vote for a “liberal” Republican. I call these voters “switchers” Because they aren’t likely to skip the race.

That was a lot higher than I expected, and shows the extent of the unhappiness with the people that responded to the poll.

The real significance of these Democrats and Democratic leaners is that because they are more likely switchers than skippers The value of their vote to Rep. Buehler (or any liberal Republican in a blue district) doubles because for every vote Buehler gains, Brown loses a vote.

Lets assume my poll overestimated the number of switchers in a Buehler / Brown race. What if Democratic switchers is merely equal to Republican skippers.

First, just taking into account skippers but not switchers, Brown starts at 57% and Buehler at 33% and 10% are skippers. (I realize there is no way to vote to skip, but I use the 10% as a placeholder. The winner of a Buehler /Brown race where 10% are skippers is therefore 45% plus 1.)

If the switchers are also 10%, then Brown’s share is reduced to 47% while Buehler gains that 10% and his total share climbs to 43%. Now we’ve got a race. And that’s assuming a rate of switchers only 1/3 of what our polling indicated.

If we were to assume a 12% rate of switchers – still much less than the 32% predicted in the poll, the final vote would be Brown 45%, Buehler 45% and skippers 10%.

Now what happens when those skippers realize that in the race for Oregon Governor, Republican Buehler and the Democratic Brown are in a dead heat two weeks before the election.

If Rep. Buehlers statement regarding President Trump is a gamble, it’s a pretty good one. In fact, it’s the only path to a Republican win against Governor Brown.