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Posts published in February 2018

Russian reciprocity

richardson

Our national intelligence agencies unanimously agree on three critical things:
(1) Russia used cyber warfare to have an impact on our 2016 elections and perceives those efforts as successful;

(2) Russia is presently using cyber warfare to influence public opinion in our country; and

(3) Russia will continue to use cyber warfare including propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence our 2018 mid-term elections.

Despite the unanimity of agreement among our intelligence agencies on all of these points, our president - seemingly alone - refuses to acknowledge the past harm, the ongoing damage, and the future threat.

I can think of only one reason he so adamantly looks the other way. It is because he sees Russia's past and present interference as not harmful, but beneficial - beneficial to Trump. And, I believe, he welcomes Russia’s interference going forward because he sees that, too, as helpful to himself.
Assuming for the sake of argument that Trump was not in cahoots with Russia in 2016, it would seem he is now. Trump can have little doubt that Russia is in his corner. Russia is his ally, his protector, his defender. It champions his presidency and those who support him. Consider that just a few weeks ago Russian “bots” – automated accounts – heavily promoted the dubious Nunes memo on social media.

The president likes to use the word "reciprocity." Well, he has been most reciprocal with Russia. Why else would he refuse to implement sanctions on Russia, sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress? Why punish Russia when it did its job so well?

Time and time again we have seen that the president is only interested in his own political and financial well-being. Russia’s continued interference will help ensure that well-being, or at least his survival.

If the president can keep his majorities in the House and Senate in the 2018 midterms, he can prevent impeachment; he can stymie any serious congressional investigations; and he can systematically dismantle the institutional norms of the Department of Justice and FBI, possibly curtailing the special counsel’s investigation.

The Republicans in Congress, with precious few exceptions, have been completely unwilling to conduct credible, serious investigations into Russia’s meddling in 2016. To the contrary, GOP leadership and the likes of Devin Nunes have run defense for the White House, acting as Trump’s agents and not as members of a coequal and independent branch of government.

Incredibly, the president has not instructed our intelligence agencies to aggressively address this real and present Russian threat. He is not only “asleep at the wheel,” he's given Russia the keys to the car.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) explained that the president is making it more difficult to confront the issue of Russia's election meddling. He said that that many of his constituents tell him they think the whole thing is a witch hunt and a hoax because that’s what the president has been saying.

King did not mince words: "We cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, with a whole-of-government response when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists."

Russia has every incentive to keep this president in power, to see to it that he maintains impeachment proof majorities in Congress; and this president has every incentive to see to it that Russia succeeds.

All Trump needs to do is continue to look the other way and refuse to take concrete steps to prevent future meddling. Apparently, that's his idea of reciprocity.
 

It feels different

rainey

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m only wishing. Maybe it’s the higher level of compassion coming from people who’re at last expressing why they hurt so badly. Maybe ‘cause I’m wanting it to end right now, though I know it won’t. But, it just feels different.

We’ve had school massacres before. Too damned many of ‘em. Too many riddled bodies. Too much fibre and muscle and blood splattered all over school desks and walls where the only legitimate task at hand was supposed to be learning - not surviving. Too many futures ripped to shreds by a psychopath with no grasp on reality.

But the Florida shooting. The Florida tragedy. The flat-out Florida killing. There seems - at least to me - something different in the sorrow-filled aftermath. Almost a sense that “enough is finally enough!” That enough is, at last, too damned much!

Maybe it’s a sense of national disgust with a lot of things we’re facing at the moment. Maybe it’s the border-to-border feelings of revulsion felt by thinking Americans who love this nation, love their families, love their children and do so without waving around an assault rifle.

Media - commercial and “social” - are filled with something akin to rage. Editorial cartoons, in papers large and small, are attacking targets with a deliberate viciousness usually reserved for wartime or other national, world-changing events. With the lone, embarrassing exception of Fox News, we’re seeing and hearing from Americans truly in mourning. Searing descriptions of what those kids saw, felt and feared while classmates died next to them.

Even some of the loyalists of our cowering, self-serving, lying “commander-in-chief,” are expressing almost rational thought as they seem to realize that something "may be" different this time. That some sort of coda has been reached. Finally!

And the “thoughts-and-prayers” B.S.. Those who pipe up with those words are seen as playing “Whack-A-Mole” with their own head. Attempting to get off the hook by throwing out “thoughts and prayers” isn’t working anymore and those words are oft responded to by a foul epithet and a promise to “see you at the ballot box.”

But, the frosting on the cake is the thundering silence of the N-R-A. Not a word. Not a peep. Politicians who’ve drunk the kool-aid of hundreds of millions from that out-of-control cancer on the body politic are cowering even as the dollars fill their rotting pockets.

Still, most of all, it’s the kids. The Parkland kids who’re not only allowing themselves to be interviewed in the tragic aftermath but who’re seeking out national media for a platform from which they can express their outrage. Promising to aggressively take whatever actions they can to stop the killing.

While I doubt they can do much by themselves, they can - and I pray they will - be a continuing, outspoken catalyst for others who can be effective. Who can vote and who WILL vote to eliminate political N-R-A junkies. If the rest of us will pay attention, get up off our asses, stop complaining and DO SOMETHING, those kids can make an historic difference.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the ghastly, bullet-filled time warp we seem to be in will continue. Maybe all this will die in a few weeks. Maybe we’ll forget. Again.

But, this time, to me, it just feels different.
 

Understanding the Kruse timing

harris

Senator Jeff Kruse’s resignation is effective March 15th more than a month from now, even though he won’t be voting or participating in the current session. But that date wasn’t picked out of a hat. Working backwards is the best way to understand the timing, and you need to keep in mind statutes, the dates of the next general election and this May’s primary election.

March 15 is more than 61 days before the next general election (November 2018,) but less than 70- days prior to this May Primary.

Even though Mr. Kruse was elected to a four term in 2016, which would expire in 2020, because he resigned more than 61 days before the next general election in November 2018, there will be an election in November 2018 to complete the remaining two years of Mr. Kruse’s 4 year term.

ORS 171.051(4): Notwithstanding any appointment under the provisions of subsection (1)(c) of this section, when a vacancy occurs in the office of a state Senator before the 61st day before the first general election to be held during that term of office, the remaining two years of the term of office shall be filled by the electors of the affected legislative district at the first general election.

This is similar to when Governor Brown was elevated to Governor near the beginning of Governor Kitzhabers term and had to run in the next general election to complete the remaining two years of Kitzhabers 4 year term.

But unlike most general elections, since Senator Kruse made the effective date of his resignation just 61 days prior to the May primary election, there won’t be a primary election to select major party nominees for SD-1. Here’s the applicable statute.

ORS 249.200 Nomination by major party to fill vacancy in partisan office; exceptions; rules. (1) A major political party may nominate a candidate to fill a vacancy in a partisan elective office in the following manner:

(a) If the vacancy occurs on or before the 70th day before a primary election, by selecting a nominee at the next primary election; or

(b) If the vacancy occurs after the 70th day before the primary election but before the 61st day before the general election, by selecting a nominee as provided by party rule.

If Senator Kruse had resigned effective March 5th rather than March 15th, then nominations would have been decided in this May’s primary. That would have obviously caused havoc and I suspect neither the Democrats nor the Republicans wanted that. So don’t get bent out of shape because he delayed his resignation. It was done for election timing reasons. Not because he wanted to squeeze a few more dollars out of taxpayers.

Republican candidate selection: Because Senator Kruse is a Republican within about 30 days of his resignation, SD-1 will be filled by an appointed Republican who will serve until January 1, 2019. That person will be running – we assume- as the nominee of the Republican Party in November to complete the final two years of Kruse’s term.

Democratic Party candidate selection: The Democratic Party will nominate it’s November 2018 candidate under the same process as it uses to select three to five candidates to fill a vacancy in office, excepting that rather than three to five candidates, they will select only a single candidate as it’s nominee (Standing Rule 2, Section II).

Both of the legacy parties require that the nominees be members of their parties and the nominees will be selected by party officials.

The Independent Party: (You may want to refer to a new lexicon for independent voters to better understand the meaning of terms used here) Independent Party of Oregon rules don’t require that a nominee be a member of it’s party, and it’s leadership is intent on letting party members – and possibly even non affiliated voters – help select the Independent nominee. It’s rules for nominations are more flexible to take into account a variety of situations and to maximize the party’s ability to offer alternatives to voters and to influence election outcomes.

One input to inform IPO’s nominating caucus would be to utilize an online ranked choice voting architecture that could include not only independents or non affiliated candidates, but also the legacy party nominees and candidates. That could for instance maximize the influence of i/Independent voters by offering the Independent nomination to a Democratic or Republican candidate that most closely aligns with the voter center of SD-1. That nominee may also be the nominee of the Democratic or Republican Party.

Creatively Using election rules that legacy party elected officials wrote is one path for i/Independent voters and the IPO to influence elections. Guerilla politics.
 

Beware the boom

stapiluslogo1

The last few months have seen headlines about the possibility of another oil renewal in the Bakken Formation, the massive oil shale field in western North Dakota and eastern Montana (extending across the border into Canada). Oil development there, which boomed a decade ago, crashed with lower oil prices about three years ago. Now it might be coming back.

A lot of people in that area are praying it happens. The better advice would be: Be careful what you wish for.

The area has had fluctuations of oil development, wavelets of varying sizes and intensities, for more than a century. Long-timers in the area, those who are left, have come to know the drill, and some are wary of it. But probably more common is the attitude reflected on a popular t-shirt in the area a few years ago: "Please, God, give me one more oil boom. This time I promise not to piss it away."

Problem is, it' always pissed away. There have been no exceptions. For a short time, the money flows like flood water. Overwhelmingly, it is wasted, and lives, communities and landscapes are wrecked beyond recognition in the process.

If that sounds a tad theoretical, I refer you to the recent book The New Wild West by Blaire Briody, Who spent many months around the Williston, North Dakota area during the last great (and to date, greatest) oil boom in the area. With fine-grain detail, focusing on the lives of many of the people who came to participate in or were caught up in the development, Briody fills in a clear sense of what actual life is like in such a place.

It is a hell hole. At best, it can mean significant money; a relative handful of people from and around the area do emerge as millionaires, and some others - oil field workers, a significant number of them - do earn incomes in the low six figures. That's pretty the extent of the upside. The bulk of the 300 pages of careful description of western North Dakota during the boom, however, runs through the other side of the story: Wreckage of all kinds of lives - in personal, medical, social, educational and even business aspects - organizations and environments. The human society of the area is trashed - the ability of people to basically get along. Almost every negative indicator you can think of shoots through the roof. Very little positive results, and that includes economic results for most people. The great bulk of the immense number of dollars flowing through the area winds up in very few hands.

I've heard some people pointing to an economic boom and low unemployment in North Dakota as representing an example to emulate. I have a book I want them to read.
 

A messaging document

trahant

Budgets are statements: This is what "we" care about. It's money that reveals priorities. The "we" could be, and ought to be, the country. Or the "we" could be a presidential administration that's not really equipped to govern. So there will be lots of stories this year, like last year, about the Trump's administration's desire to cut federal Indian programs, wipe out public broadcasting, end student loan forgiveness, wreck Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, housing programs, and generally just about every federal program that serves poor people.

As Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters: “This is a messaging document."

And what a message: Rich people face tough times so they deserved a huge tax cut. Poor people are poor because of their own failures. And more money is needed for a wall that's not needed, for the largest military in the world, and the Republicans no longer believe that deficits matter.

But Mulvaney has a different version. Here is what he says are the messages.

"Number one, you don’t have to spend all of this money, Congress. But if you do, here is how we would prefer to see you spend it," he said. "And the other message is that we do not have to have trillion-dollar deficits forever."

Ok. So the action is in Congress. Even Republicans on Capitol Hill know that this budget cannot be. It's chaos as numbers.

Perhaps the best line of nonsense was written a line written by the budget director to House Speaker Paul Ryan saying domestic spending at the levels Congress has already approved would add too much to the federal deficit. That's funny.

For this budget to become law (and override the current spending bill) the House and Senate would have to agree to a budget. That's unlikely. As I have written before there are lots of votes against any budget but not enough votes to pass any budget. A budget resolution would allow the Senate to move forward with a spending plan with only Republican votes (and even then only one to spare). But unless the rules change (which President Trump wants) the Senate needs 60 votes for regular appropriations bills. That means a lot of compromise before federal spending.

The most popular part of the president's budget is infrastructure spending. But most of his plan would be funding from state, local, and tribal governments. That's a problem. Congress will not be eager to follow this approach, especially in an election year. Members of Congress love announcing new roads and other projects. It means jobs back home.

It's telling that in the White House statement on infrastructure tribes are not mentioned (something that was routinely done in the Obama White House).

Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, wrote: "Our infrastructure is broken. The average driver spends 42 hours per year sitting in traffic, missing valuable time with family and wasting 3.1 billion gallons of fuel annually. Nearly 40 percent of our bridges predate the first moon landing. And last year, 240,000 water main breaks wasted more than 2 trillion gallons of purified drinking water—enough to supply Belgium."

So the Trump administration's answer is to fund this with local government dollars because, as Cohn puts it, "the federal government politically allocated funds for projects, leading to waste, mismanagement, and misplaced priorities. The answer to our nation’s infrastructure needs is not more projects selected by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C Instead, the President’s plan designates half of its $200 billion for matching funds to stimulate State, local, and private investment."

Another thing for a broken Congress to fix. If the votes are there. In theory that should be easy. This is an area where Republicans and Democrats agree (actually anyone who looks at the crumbling state of infrastructure can figure this one out). But in this Congress? We shall see.

At the State of the Indian Nations Monday, National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel said: "Native peoples are also builders and managers of roads and bridges, and other essential infrastructure. These projects are often in rural areas. They connect tribal and surrounding communities with each other, and the rest of the Nation. Tribal infrastructure is American infrastructure. In 2018, NO infrastructure bill should pass, UNLESS it includes Indian Country’s priorities."

Back to the budget as a messaging document. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says this budget "violates the spirit of the bipartisan agreement that congressional leaders negotiated just a few days ago." That's going to make it much more difficult to come up with the next agreement in Congress (unless the law is ironclad, stripping the administration of some of its governing authority).

The budget assumes that Congress would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a block grant formula. The votes are not there for that. It's fantasy.

The current bipartisan agreement "calls for adding $2.9 billion per year over the next two years to the discretionary Child Care and Development Block Grant, boosting this key federal program to help make child care affordable for low- and modest-income parents. But the budget reneges on that and proposes essentially flat funding for the program. The Administration’s blatant dismissal of a major bipartisan agreement on which the ink is barely dry may make bipartisan agreements harder to reach in the future," the budget center reports. "And then, in years after 2019, the budget calls for cuts of unprecedented depth in non-defense discretionary programs even though that’s the part of the budget that contains many federal investments in long-term economic growth. By 2028, funding for non-defense discretionary programs would fall 42 percent below the 2017 level, after adjusting for inflation. Indeed, by 2028, total NDD spending, measured as a share of gross domestic product, would be at its lowest level since Herbert Hoover was president."

To me that's the key point. Domestic spending, the programs that serve Indian Country, are already dropping and have been for a long time. All domestic discretionary programs add up to about 4.6 percent of the budget -- and federal spending on Indian Country is a tiny fraction of that.

And, as the budget center points out, that means Trump budgets would actually "go below the 2019 sequestration levels, which Congress just agreed is too low to meet national needs."

The messaging document (the budget, remember?) has another problem. It's based on assumptions that are even more of a fantasy than repealing the Affordable Care Act. The budget assumes a 3 percent growth rate this year and 4 percent next year. So lots more people earning more and paying more income taxes (since corporations will be paying less). Not. Going. To. Happen.

Even economists think this is nonsense. The crackdown on immigration, for example, is shrinking the economy, not growing it. And the Congressional Budget Office projects a long term growth rate of just under 2 percent. Last year the economy grew at 2.6 percent, below what Trump said would happen and even below the consensus of economists.

This 2019 budget will accomplish one thing: It will serve as a mile post for the fall election. Republicans can make the case for defense spending and, I suppose, that they used to be against deficits. And Democrats will make the case for protecting health care and other domestic priorities.

Mark Trahant is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports
 

Dennis and Sheila Olsen

stapiluslogo1

About the same time I started reporting on Idaho politics back in the seventies, in Pocatello, the Idaho Republican Party chose a new chairman, an attorney from nearby Idaho Falls named Dennis Olsen.

He was tough-minded (smooth diplomacy was not his strongest suit), a fine organizer and a careful watcher of the party’s money - all of which he wanted spent on the campaigns, not left over for anything other than electing Republicans. He was a Reagan Republican when Ronald Reagan was president, and he was there at Idaho Falls when candidate Reagan made his 1980 Idaho appearance.

Dennis Olson died in March 1985, shoveling snow at his house. He had prepared a succession plan for the party organization - a fellow Idaho Falls attorney named Blake Hall would take over - but the ripple effects of his work started closer to home: The deep and long-lasting civic engagement of his wife, Sheila.

Sheila Olsen, who recently died at 79 in Idaho Falls, was at least as important a Republican leader as her husband had been. She too would happily have called herself a Reagan Republican. But she was a different kind of leader, with a different sort of legacy.

She was active in the Idaho Republican Party, less as an office holder and more as a lodestar; the kind of person others looked to for good counsel and guidance. For candidates, her support was eagerly sought; her perspective carried weight. She was an electoral college elector, a post which reflected less personal work or decision-making on her part (or that of any other electors), but rather the esteem she held across the Republican Party. A lot of Democrats and independents held her in high regard too.

She was as active as you could be in the realm of civic pushups. Far from being a partisan obsessive, Sheila Olsen was active in the community in a wide range of roles. She served on the Idaho Human Rights Commission for many years, on the Governor’s Work Force Development Council, the state reapportionment commission, the state Employment Security Advisory Council, and other organizations, including a long list at Idaho Falls, as well. She was highly active in her church too.

What the many people who knew her also knew was something else that might have sidelined many others: For about half a century, she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which bore down on her as the years went on. But as one of her children said, “She was a glass-half-full girl. It didn’t matter how hard it was for her to get places or do things — she just still did them without complaining.”

There were various good reasons she was looked up to, but that last point highlights one of the most important: She was a supporter, not a denigrator, a backer, not a demolition activist. She would provide endorsements where she thought them merited, but if you were looking for bombs to throw, you’d need to look somewhere else.

Sheila Olsen came into Idaho politics in a day when partisan issues were clear enough, and loyalties were evident, but when the demonizing that has become so commonplace today had not yet taken hold. It didn’t take hold of her.

Her example would be worth some reflection for us now.
 

Still valid

frazier

We cannot stress it strongly enough. The citizens of in Idaho are empowered by the State Constitution to control the purse strings of public debt.

Boise City and Team Dave have once again launched a public relations blitz to create support for a $70 million edifice to replace the main Library on Capitol Blvd. near the river. The question before Boiseans is quite simply: “DO YOU WANT A BEAUTIFUL BUILDING OR GOOD LIBRARY SERVICE?”

Nearly a dozen years ago the GUARDIAN offered up a common sense plan to provide first class library service to ALL of Ada County and share the costs. We once again offer up our sound advice which includes a vote of the people for a consolidated Library to serve Boise, Meridian, Garden City, Eagle, Star, Kuna. There is an existing “consortium” of libraries which does a good job sharing assets and talent.

SEPT 2011 POST:

Before Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and his Team Dave go too far politicizing libraries, he better talk to the hardworking folks who make it all work.

The GUARDIAN has been working below the radar to come up with a plan for a county-wide system of libraries in Boise and we can assure you it involves ALL citizens who understand and value the services and rewards of a good library system.

People in Boise, Meridian, Garden City, Eagle, Star, and Kuna are all residents of Ada County. We should have just one library and Boise should NOT be the 900 pound gorilla.

Insiders at all levels–BPL staffers, Ada Community Library, and several 35 year library veterans–tell us the best thing we can do is have a COUNTY-WIDE LIBRARY. One former staffer tells us the State Library favors county libraries and they work toward such systems.

Guess what? TODAY, through a “consortium” of libraries that runs from Caldwell to Twin Falls and even to Hailey, you can use a Nampa library card to borrow a book in Boise and return it to Hailey when you are finished. Or any combination of transactions at those libraries.

If we consolidated just the Ada libraries we could have a greatly simplified system and EVERYONE would share in both the costs and the benefits.

As it is now, Boise residents are getting hit unfairly in the pocketbook and Team Dave wants to build more libraries–he just doesn’t know how to fund them. The library law provides for consolidation with–A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE! We need to get this rolling before Boise gets a debt load or committed to one program without exploring consolidation.

Because Boise annexes beyong its ability to provide services, they PAY other libraries toprovide services to Boise residents. HOWEVER, users (insiders call them “patrons”) from those districts can use their cards in Boise for free.

Without getting into a debate about what libraries should offer, we feel computer access is absolutely essential. The days of card files and 10-year-old encyclopedias are gone. Today’s libraries offer traditional printed books alongside videos and access to just about any information on earth through the internet.

While Team Dave was busy offering up an ill fated and outdated $38 million library bond, the worker bees in the library business continue their efforts at making services available to library types everywhere.

We already share the books, how about sharing the control, funding, and costs countywide and we would all pay just once?

Since the original post, Team Dave wisely opted for neighborhood libraries. Two are new stand alone buildings and two are store front remodels in shopping centers. Good effort, good results, and it was all done out of pocket change in the city budget with no bond debt or solicitation for donations.

The current $70 million plan has plenty of hoopla, a “world class architect,” the usual drawings and color photos in the Daily Paper, but no word on where the money will come from to pay for the dream.
 

Will first district voters ever learn?

carlson

The Congressional Candidate’s Forum this past weekend at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library sponsored by the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans was a depressing exercise testifying to the validity of George Santayana’s saying that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The parallels to 2006 were uncanny. As Yankee catcher Yogi Berra once said “its déjà vu all over again.”

In front of a standing room only crowd of 300 people were six Republicans, all possessing solid conservative credentials. Three of the six gave thoughtful, constructive conservative-based answers to a series of questions, and three were hell bent on trying to establish that they were the only true blue conservative and the rest were dangerously close to being RINOS (Republicans In Name Only).

Does anyone remember Bill Sali? In 2006 when Butch Otter opened the seat up by his decision to forsake Congress and run for governor there were six Republicans who thought they saw a member of Congress when they looked in the mirror. An obscure little known state legislator from the Treasure Valley far to the right of many main-stream Republicans none the less emerged from the primary as the party’s candidate with just 26% of the vote.

Sali played up his adherence to Christian values, his 100 percent pro-life record and once he was seated he voted against the first legislation authorizing a Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for kids from low income households. He also voted against then President George W. Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform bill because it allowed for some amnesty. Sound familiar?

Sali was such a disaster as a congressman that he was defeated in his bid for re-election by Democrat Walt Minnick. This was the first time an incumbent was bounced after just one term since 1952 when Coeur d’Alene’s Dr. John Wood lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Gracie Pfost.

Of the three pandering to the far right the worst was Mike Snyder from Bonners Ferry. He is the living definition of a demagogue. He began his introduction by shouting “how many of you out there believe Hillary Clinton ought to be in jail?” Two thirds of the audience raised their hands but one brave person shouted loudly “no.” “How many of you believe Robert Mueller should be fired?” Again, two thirds of the hands raised.

“How many of you believe the Federal Reserve Bank should be abolished?” Again two-thirds of the hands raised. Utterly unbelievable there are that many folks who get suckered by such rhetoric¸ and not only don’t trust government but hate all levels.

Oh, there’s an exception though - Snyder says government is needed to enforce the right to life and no exceptions for the life of the mother, rape or incest. Snyder continued his pandering by shouting he would vote against any bill that contained as little as one penny for Planned Parenthood.

Later he implored the audience to drive the RINO’s out of the Republican party and he accused Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of being RINO’s. One had the feeling that any one who didn’t agree with him was a RINO.

Initially Nick Henderson, the late Frank Henderson’s grandson and a commercial pilot, sounded sensible but before long he was charging that the entire Congress was corrupt and that he wanted to be there to clean up the corruption which he saw as primarily driven by lobbyists.

Former State Senator Russ Fulcher still comes across as one wishing to be governor which he originally declared for until Raul Labrador decided to run for governor. His answer for everything seemed to be read the Constitution and read your Bible and one will have the answers.

Any sensible person would scratch Snyder, Fulcher and Henderson from their list. None of the other three came across as zealots or single issue types. State Rep. Luke Malek (R-Coeur d’Alene), former Attorney General and Lt. Governor David Leroy and State Rep. Christy Perry (R-Middleton), all conveyed that they would work to make Congress functional again while adhering to their major conservative principles from balancing the budget to support for lower taxes and effective efforts to limit bureaucratic regulations.

Leroy’s experience separated him from Malek and Perry. His answers were more specific and his knowledge of the issues deeper. If grading the top three on a scale of one to ten I’d give Leroy an 8, Malek a 6, and Perry a 5. On the other side Henderson gets 3, Fulcher a 2 and Snyder a 0.

If you want someone who will be an island unto himself and not able to work in a legislative environment go ahead and vote for the reincarnation of Bill Sali. And history will repeat itself with a Democrat taking the seat back after one term.
 

Disappointed but not surprised

richardson

For the umpteenth time, I find myself deeply disappointed in, but not at all surprised by, the president's actions. Trump’s decision not to declassify and release the Democratic rebuttal to the Republican memo (the Nunes memo) made public last Friday is but his latest self-serving and hypocritical outrage.

Trump decided to declassify and release the Nunes memo condemning the contents of a FISA application over the strong objections of the Justice Department and the FBI before even having read it. But he blithely holds Democrats to a different, much higher standard, requiring them to jump through arbitrary hoops to merit comparable treatment.

The concepts of fundamental fairness and equal justice under the law have no meaning to this narcissist, whose goal is not transparency but self-preservation.

FISA is the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which was established by Congress in 1978. The Court entertains applications made by the United States Government for approval of electronic surveillance, physical search, and certain other forms of investigative actions for foreign intelligence purposes.

In their memo, the Republicans argued that the FISA warrant obtained for Trump’s campaign adviser (and suspected foreign agent) Carter Page was improperly obtained. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have publicly denounced the Nunes memo noting that it was incomplete and misleading. For instance, it wrongly suggests that the only basis for the FISA warrant was the Steele Dossier and that the application failed to disclose that the dossier was from a political source.

If the president had any intention of putting the nation’s interests before his own, he would not have released the Nunes memo. Of course, that would require him to be a patriot, not a partisan, and – as we’ve repeatedly seen this past year – that’s not in his DNA. But having decided to release the Nunes memo, he should have released the Democratic rebuttal memo as well – and at the same time.

Dishonest Don is playing fast and loose with our national security to seek cover from the eventual findings of the Special Counsel’s investigation. This is the stuff of third world dictators, and the Republicans in Congress haven’t lifted a finger to stop him. Instead, they have been his enablers.
The ball is in our court. We must flip the Congress and replace this president. We cannot allow our beloved nation to become nothing more than a Banana Republic.

Propaganda 101: Trump’s gibberish gets worse by the day.

But as tempting as it is to dismiss his nonsensical rants as mere twaddle, it is important to recognize them for what they are: propaganda. And, sadly, it’s propaganda that resonates with far too many of our fellow citizens.

Consider, for instance, Trump’s tendency to talk in glittering generalities. This propaganda technique was recently on display when Trump, relying on an incomplete, inaccurate and misleading GOP memo, blasted p...rocedures used to obtain a FISA warrant for surveillance of his campaign advisor, Carter Page.
He did so without offering a scintilla of substance.

“I think it’s terrible what’s going on in this country,” Trump raged. He gave no context, no specifics, just a sweeping, unsubstantiated assertion that something “was going on” and that it was “terrible.”

Then he said, "What's going on in this country, I think it is a disgrace." Again, “what’s going on” was completely undefined and why “what’s going on” qualified as “a disgrace,” was equally unclear.

Finally, he said "When you look at that, and you see that, and so many other things what's going on, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that."

Holy Toledo! When you “look” at what? When you “see” what? And what are the “many other things” going on? And who should be “ashamed of themselves”? And for what should they be ashamed? And what is much worse than what?

See what I mean? He gets away with this rubbish all the time. Reporters must start demanding specifics.

I know he’s slippery, and he filibusters, and he changes the subject and he says something even more bizarre to distract from his original blather. But it would be refreshing to hear someone say, “Mr. President, what you said just now didn’t make any sense. You strung a lot of pejorative words together but you didn’t say anything. Could you be specific? What exactly are you talking about?”

And when he resorts to the same non-responsive gobbledygook, the next journalist needs to follow up with the same question. And so does the next one, and the next.

He’s so adept at babbling using loaded words to create an impression but actually saying nothing. Reporters – individually and collectively – need to pick up their games and start consistently calling him out on his mumbo jumbo propaganda.