Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in July 2018

North at Pocatello


Lt. Col. Oliver North, incoming president of the National Rifle Association, told an enthusiastic crowd of some 700 Republicans attending the 2018 Idaho GOP Convention inside Idaho State University's cavernous Holt Arena that it is his objective to double the NRA's membership from six million to 12 million as it comes under increasing fire from gun control advocates.

North was introduced by former Idaho U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, a longtime NRA board member who was instrumental in arranging North's appearance in the Gem State. Craig praised Melaleuca CEO Frank Vandersloot for dispatching a corporate jet to fly North to Idaho Falls after his flights were delayed out of Washington.

Calling North “a true American hero,” Craig referred to the NRA as “without question the strongest civil rights organization in the United States” because of its efforts to protect the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that ensures the right to keep and bear arms.

North joined the NRA's board in 1998, the same year Academy Award-winning actor Charlton Heston started his three terms as its president, Craig pointed out, noting the NRA's membership then stood at 900,000. Upon addressing the Idaho Republicans, North joked that the NRA now has gone from “Moses to the U.S. marines.”

North commended Idaho for helping elect George W. Bush to the White House and sending Al Gore packing during the crucial 2000 presidential election. He predicted Republicans would win Idaho's gubernatorial election in November and took shots at Paulette Jordan, the Democratic candidate who will oppose Lt. Gov. Brad Little, the Republican candidate. He said she has earned an “F” rating from the NRA.

Jordan backs gun control, including licensing schemes and banning firearm magazines, North said, adding she also defends sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. “Paulette Jordan sounds perfect for office in San Francisco,” North said, mocking her endorsement by the singer/actress Cher. “You can't make these things up folks.”

When he welcomed North to the podium, Little said it has been no accident that Idaho leads the nation in job creation and income growth. He was roundly applauded when he said Idaho also leads the U.S. in per capita manufacturing of firearms and ammunition. He mentioned that Jordan arrived at a recent event in a limousine and with bodyguards.

Idaho is in partnership with the Trump administration in ensuring bills comply with the Tenth Amendment that states the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution, with all remaining powers reserved for the states, Little said.

He extolled the 180 degrees in U.S. Department of Justice changes that have occurred under the Trump administration and said he's excited President Donald Trump will soon nominate a second justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Idaho was among the first states to return money from recent federal tax cuts to citizens and ask the Trump administration to end Obamacare, which has priced people out of the health care market. It also is working closely with the U.S. government for better management of federal lands to prevent devastating wild fires, Little said, stressing that Idaho repeatedly is ranked at the top in national surveys.

North said much is at stake in November's crucial mid-term elections with a “progressive cabal” headed by socialist billionaire George Soros and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg planning to spend millions of dollars to defeat Republican candidates so Democrats can regain control of Congress.

“They may have the money, but the NRA turns out the vote,” North said, noting there are 100 million gun owners in the United States, promising the NRA can and will make a difference in the elections.

North warned: “There are evil enemies who have wanted to visit terror on our land,” and he urged that the American flag be honored. “The NRA will never 'take a knee',” he remarked.

North criticized retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who recently called in a “Washington Compost” article for the Second Amendment to be repealed. “The Second Amendment is not going to be eradicated,” he vowed, calling it essential to the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights. “The NRA is not going to let real American voters be shut out.”

When North asked for a show of hands of those in the audience who were NRA members, a majority of the Idahoans in attendance raised their arms. He cautioned that it's easy to delude certain voters as pivotal elections approach.

“Progressive politics is spinning a web of hollow arguments to deceive voters,” he said, adding that “Idaho United, Idaho Strong” is a motto that the state's Republicans can use all the way to victory in November.

To the test


Most of what you see in political party platforms and resolutions is more or less than you’d expect to see. There’s a good reason most of what they have to say generates few headlines.

Close watchers could pick out a little more than that this year from the state party conventions a week ago at Pocatello (the Republicans) and Caldwell (the Democrats).

For the Democrats, the point is of a party statement that feels a little more assertive than it has most years (a call for legalizing cannabis, including recreational, for example). You can imagine the climate of 2018 and the presidential contest of 2016 contributing to that.

For the Republicans, a couple of other types of items jumped out.

One was a proposal to make city offices partisan: Candidates for mayor and council would not, as they now do, run outside the party structure, but would carry R and D labels.

The question of what offices should be partisan has been visited periodically in Idaho; many may not know that generations ago, elected judges ran on party slates in Idaho. County officials still do, of course, though how a Republican or Democrat would differently deal with the work of a county assessor or (is there a novel in this one?) a coroner, is hard to fathom.

Idaho has 200 cities, the bulk of them small enough that the people there know the candidates quite well and have no need know party membership for a voting guideline. In the larger cities like Boise, where voting populations have in many cases gotten more competitive on a partisan level or even trend Democratic, Republicans might be wary of what they ask for.

Gold medal for the most illuminating item to hit either convention however was the Republican proposal concerning employment of people not legally in the country. The idea was to punish businesses employing undocumented workers, a clear extension of the Trump Administration immigration and deportation approach.

This one is based on the real-world point that people who come to the country illegally mostly are doing it for money -- to find work -- and that would be impossible if employers weren’t offering it to them. One northern Idaho supporter of the proposal (a Republican Party leader in the Panhandle) was quoted, "If your business depends on illegal practices then I call that organized crime."

Considering Idaho Republican support of the Trump Administration, and presumably of its immigration policies, this would sound like close to a slam dunk. Except . . . what that last quote did was to describe a large portion of Idaho agriculture and food producers, which is to say a large share of Idaho’s economy, as “organized crime,” and potentially represented a dagger at those industries’ employment heart. The Idaho Republican convention certainly couldn’t have that, either.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

In this case, the irresistible object, the ag community, prevailed, mostly. The resolution proposal lost in committee and on the floor, though its backers demonstrated substantial support and clear determination.

Maybe these party conventions really can generate news sometimes.

Now, they must organize


Trump and the Republicans keep dredging Hillary’s name up, again and again. And every time they do, some bunch of Democrats rush to her defense, playing straight into the Republican strategy of keeping Hillary’s name up in the main lights. The whole intent of this is plainly obvious: to make Hillary the face of the Democratic party, and then plant the suggestion or even hint among the most stalwart independents that where there is smoke there might be fire. And the Democrats are letting them get away with it.

At the same time, Obama’s name is starting to vanish. In the main, this is also because of Republican antics. Trump acts like Obama never even existed. He never mentions Obama by name as he steadily removes every vestige of his administration. When faced with some feature of the Obama years that cannot be ignored, Trump blithely rewrites it, revising history and inserting alternative facts more to his liking. Then he casts himself into the lead role and claims full credit for anything positive. To see this strategy in operation, all one has to do is watch Fox News. And the Democrats are letting him get away with it.

The Democrats are in disarray. If they do not recognize it, and do something about it right now, they risk losing the midterms this fall and even the Presidential in 2020. Right now the party must stop allowing the Republicans to define what the Democratic party stands for. They need to start by getting Hillary off stage once and for all. She is the totally wrong icon to leave out as the standard bearer of the party. She is the anathema of a candidate who paid no attention to the clamor for hard issues erupting all around, and whose only campaign strategy was to avoid taking a hard position on anything even remotely controversial, keeping tight instead to the platform of “It’s My Turn,” and “I’m Not Trump.”

The party, ideally, needs somebody of their choosing up on stage and under the lights who can stand as a true face of the Democratic Party. The obvious pick here would be Obama, but others might serve just as well. A charismatic chairman of the DNC, for example, or perhaps Joe Biden, unless he is determined to run himself in 2020. The objective has to be to stop allowing the Republicans to define what the Democratic party looks like, and to get a positive example out there who can do some good.

More, or at least equally important, the party must advance a core set of positive programs to frame the difference between the parties and provide a reason for support that is keyed to something other than the negative. In plain words, the “Anybody but Trump” issue is not going to be enough to win any election, and if that turns out to be the central issue this fall, it is an omen of disaster for the Democrats.

The recent primary upset of New York Congressman Joseph Crowley, the ten-term representative from the Queens who was number four in the Democratic caucus and looked on by many as Pelosi’s successor, should be a clamoring alarm to every Democrat running for anything anywhere. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old waitress and community organizer from nowhere who pulled it off, spent one-tenth the money and was totally ignored by the DNC, the DCCC and the entire Democratic establishment of New York. But she concentrated on hard Democratic issues without flinching or softening or sugar coating anything – her platform was a list of Democratic Socialism straight out of Bernie’s playbook. Crowley tried to telephone in a plain vanilla centrist campaign that would not ruffle any feathers. Ocasio-Cortez set up a grassroots organization right out of Obama’s playbook that ran into every corner of her district, and then personally hustled around shaking every hand, kissing all the babies, and talking the arm off everyone who would listen. Crowley stayed in Washington, relying on what money would buy and sending stand-ins to show up when a personal appearance was demanded. The result should have been predicted: Ocasio-Cortez clobbered the insouciant congressman by a landslide 15 points - 57% to 42%.

The lessons should be obvious. There has to be something more to the Democratic promise than “Anybody but Trump.” There have to be positive programs being advanced that will define the party and attract the essential votes from the undecided independents. The Democrats have to quit running away from legitimate Democratic principles just because Republicans threaten to call them “socialistic.” Bernie Sanders should have taught all that they did not have to cover up mainstream Democratic philosophy in order to motivate the vital core of independent or undecided voters.

Ocasio-Cortez’s list isn’t that bad: Medicare for all; free community college; increase the minimum wage; and a guaranteed jobs program for all who want work, to name a few from her basic set. In other words, a refocus and underscore of core Democratic issues promoting the social and economic empowerment for the average person. The key here is for the Democrats to step up and claim ownership of Democratic issues in Democratic terms, and not allow the Republicans to define them in Republican terms.

If the Democrats do not get busy and start to reverse these Republican stratagems right now, the midterms may turn into a disaster and the result in 2020 may very well be 2016 all over again.

O Canada


It was my first good laugh of the week. My oldest daughter had circulated an item that our son, an active duty Major in the US Marine Corps, had written to military colleagues in the Canadian Armed Forces. It was indeed worth sharing and she attached a comment of her own in which she stated, “This has more actual knowledge and experience to draw on than all these backroom racist keyboard warriors, mostly non-military, supporting the corrupt, morally repugnant current administration that is cozying up to Russia and North Korea in the name of nationalism”.

She added a postscript: “Our allies were there in our times of need, but how much longer will they be?”

My son wrote “With Canada Day being celebrated this week, I find myself reflecting on the sacrifices our allies have made, and continue to make, along side us during the War on Terror, not just from Canada, but from all member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Australia New Zealand US (ANZUS) accords, and all our other partnerships and alliances that are the foundation of post World War II international order.

With the faith of our allies shaken in recent weeks, it is important for our friends to remember the following:

True Americans honor their sacrifices.

True Americans don’t insult their friends.

True Americans remember we are the only nation to activate the self defense clause of these treaties after 9/11.

True Americans know that our friends to the north have paid the price in blood while answering our call for help.

So, Happy Canada Day, friends. It is an honor to serve with you, and we will see you back in the fight.”

Canada Day, on July 1st, is akin to our Fourth of July, and its essence can be seen in the thousands of family barbecue get-togethers and community pot-lucks just as in the United States.

The Seattle Mariners ace pitcher, Jimmy Paxton, hails from British Columbia, and he and his family enjoy their Canada Day get-together which often includes a family baseball game. He is proud of his Canadian citizenship and Canadians are justifiably proud of his pitching the first no hitter ever on Canadian soil which he did earlier this year against the Toronto Blue Jays..

Many Canadians are still perplexed by President Donald Trump’s ignorance of the balance of trade, which is actually slightly favorable to America. Nor was he aware that Canada is our largest trading partner with their purchases valued at $690 billion annually. Nor will they forget nor forgive Trump’s rude and insulting behavior towards their Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

It is Trump’s mercurial, unpredictable behavior along with his inveterate lying that has the military’s officer corps shaking their heads. These talented, well-educated and superbly trained young men and women know strategies, while having to be flexible, are put together carefully and for the long-term. For years joint exercises with their counter parts have been a crucial component.

Yet in the time it takes to do a tweet Trump dumps 50 years of painstaking history.

Canada of late has been reducing its defense outlays, relying more than ever on the shield provided by the United States. Likewise, the economies of the two nations are becoming more entwined. The degree to which America is starting to look to be an unreliable partner might cause the folks in Ottawa to rethink this reliance.

Canadians are also keenly aware that several times in the past America sent invasion forces to seize Canada. And as late as the 1860 s there were calls from the U.S. Senate to annex Canada. Despite past history and current events, Canada remains a true friend. Lucky for us.

I close with the Canadian national anthem, one of the finest ever penned:

Oh Canada, our home and native land,
True patriot hearts in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see the rise
The true north strong and free.
From far and wide
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free,
Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee (repeat).

Trust all had a great 4th of July or a great Canada Day.
It’s these traditions and community gatherings that will keep us together.

Let’s debate, not demonize


As our nation celebrates its 242nd birthday, all of us living in this great country should remember that we are part of the United States. The brave people who signed the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July in 1776, would likely be appalled by the lack of decorum in public discourse these many years later. After all, their goal was to unite the people of the thirteen colonies for the greater good and not to divide them into warring camps.

The Founding Fathers certainly debated the issues addressed in the Declaration and those that went into the other documents giving birth to this country, sometimes heatedly. But, with the purpose of forging a nation dedicated to unity, they shied away from demonizing or delegitimizing those with whom they disagreed.

There are strong disagreements on important public policy issues today, but personally attacking an opponent does nothing to resolve those issues. Rather than demonizing the other side, it is more effective to point out the merits of our position, as well as any flaws in the opponent’s position. If you start out by proclaiming that the opponent is an ass or crook, you obscure your own argument on the merits. That not only inflames the debate, but often results in the opponent just digging in harder.

I think the President’s policy of separating asylum seekers from their children was and is extremely ill advised for a number of reasons. The argument should focus on the reasons for opposing the policy, not by comparing the policy to Nazi concentration camps. Some of the President’s supporters might be inclined to agree on the policy issue, if the argument is confined to the merits.

The President did not invent course and destructive public commentary but he has certainly perfected the technique. That does not mean that the rest of us should follow the example. Let’s remember that we were given the precious legacy in the Preamble to the Constitution of forming “a more perfect union.”

Public discourse is not well served by statements that demean those with whom we disagree. Congressman Labrador’s recent contribution to the family separation debate is a prime example. On June 21, he is reported to have said that Democrats “don’t really care about the families. They want to have no enforcement of immigration law.” He knows this is not the truth. His statement misrepresents the different approaches to immigration that other members of Congress are promoting.

Instead of vilifying those with whom we disagree, perhaps we might consider an approach that caught my attention in Bible study over sixty years ago. Proverbs 25:21-22 says, in part: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat...for you will heap coals of fire on his head.” At the time, I could picture dumping a bunch of burning embers on somebody’s head. But, I think it means that if somebody is being a butt, treat them kindly and they may relent under the embarrassment. It is a variation on the you-can- draw-more-flies-with-honey-than-vinegar theme.

The Fourth of July is a perfect time to think of how lucky we are to live in a country where we have unprecedented freedom and opportunity. Why spoil it with hateful acts and words against our fellow Americans. We can disagree on important issues without being disagreeable. Let’s all have a happy and reflective Fourth.

Casey P. Worth


Well, it’s finally happened. Our family is finally personally involved. We’re finally feeling the loss millions of families have felt because of the interminable, costly and absolutely unnecessary wars we’ve inserted ourselves into in the Middle East. Political wars of old men killing our young men.

Casey is - was - Barb’s nephew. Son of one of her brothers, 41-years-old, living in Hamilton, Montana. I say “was” because he’s gone now. Suicide. At 41. A Marine. A tour in Afghanistan. A tour in Iraq. No visible signs of physical wounds suffered in the battles he fought. As in the picture, just another healthy-looking, animal-loving, typical Montana guy in the prime of life. With PTSD.

“No visible wounds.” But a head full of demons caused by experiences no one his age - or any age - should have had to endure. Apparitions, noises, physical sensations, fear, memories. Many, many memories. Of things none of us have had to face if we haven’t shared his battlefields.

Casey knew his illness. Probably, early on, knew what it would eventually do to him. We know that because, in his last days, he took to Facebook to remind everyone he knew that June was Post Traumatic Stress Awareness Month. Bet you didn’t know that. I certainly didn’t.

Casey was trying to both inform and warn all of us of the extremely deadly disease PTSD really is. What he was experiencing. Though loved and cherished by his extended family, that wasn’t enough. Without extensive - and expensive - psychiatric care, nothing would be - could be - enough. Nothing.

And, in that, our government that sent him into those battlefields failed him. It wanted his participation. It appealed to his sense of duty. It clothed and equipped his body. It gave him free transportation to the foreign lands important to none of us as a nation. It gave him a rifle and all the ammunition he needed. And it sent him out to kill. To kill other “Casey’s.”

I’ve strongly opposed both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from the gitgo. I’ve never found the American “security interests” so often referred to by our politicians. Just the damned oil. In years of thinking about it, I’ve not found a single justification for them when balanced with the trillions of dollars of treasure spent. And the thousands of “Casey’s” who’ve died in them, become deeply scarred physical remnants of what they once were or, like Casey, one of the walking wounded who finally succumbed to his wounds. The human leftovers who’ve been largely failed by the same government that called them.

With no clear vision of expected outcome, no national idea of what “victory” would look like, no well-defined goal to be reached regardless of cost - in both dollars and lives - we’ve blundered on for more than two decades.

We’ve tasked one - and possibly two - generations with an impossible job. To bring American “democracy” to countries that don’t have it and, from all indications, don’t want it. We’ve asked them to overcome more than a thousand years worth of warring, killing, hating. We’ve asked our young people to bring our “peace” to peoples who are conditioned to living their own ways - the old ways.

Now, we have a Commander-In-Chief” who hasn’t any more realistic “plan” to achieve an impossible peace than his predecessors. If he even thinks of those hellish places. He’s told us he “knows more about how to run the military” than those in uniform that actually do run it. We’re also told the latest person with professional advice on how to conduct wars - his Defense Secretary - is the latest name on the “I don’t trust you anymore” list.

How much treasure - how many lives - are we going to throw into this pyrrhic Hell before we realize there is no there there? That no amount of sacrifice - national or personal - will achieve a desired result even close to the expense? How much longer before we realize we are a nation decaying from within because we have squandered the means to restore it to the “beacon on the hill” seen by the rest of the world?

Just imagine what our infrastructure, our cities, our lives would look like if we had spent as much on them as we have thrown down the ratholes that are Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine the accomplishments of the “Casey’s” we’ve lost to these quagmires if they had been allowed to live and contribute to a healthy, vibrant nation.

Our family has lost our Casey. For his parents, that will be a hole-in-the-heart they will take to their own graves. For his extended kin, we’re left with memories - only memories - of someone we knew and cherished.

Thousands of other families have lost their “Caseys” They, too, are left with some old pictures, a few mementoes, maybe an empty room. And a hole in the ground.

They, too, are left with the question: “How much more, how many more, will be destroyed before we regain our national senses?”

Old men’s political wars paid for by the young.

Idaho Weekly Briefing – July 2

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 2. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

The two political parties in Idaho held their conventions – the Republicans in Pocatello and Democrats at Caldwell – and both generated some headlines. The Republicans had Oliver North and protests, and Democrats had efforts at working toward clearer self-definition.

A sense of inequity and urgency dominated the testimony of witnesses at at June 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on expanding government compensation for victims of cancer known as “downwinders.” S. 197, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2017, was the subject of the hearing.

Idaho is on pace to have a carryover of more than $100 million when its budget year ends Saturday, according to the latest numbers presented to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Monday.

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Joel D. Horton said on June 29 he intends to retire at the end of 2018 from the Idaho Supreme Court.

On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a requirement that retailers must have a physical presence in a state to collect that state’s sales tax (South Dakota v. Wayfair). The Idaho State Tax Commission is still studying how the decision affects out-of-state retailers, such as online sellers. In a statement, the agency said, “We’re closely watching any actions by the U.S. Congress on this issue. We’ll also continue to follow developing legal issues arising from the decision.”

On June 27, the Department of the Interior announced fiscal year 2018 Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments, which compensate local governments for the inability to collect property taxes on federal land.

A court order calling for Meridian city to build a new magistrate court facility has been vacated. On June 27 the Ada County Fourth Judicial District Court issued a decision to vacate the 1994 and 2018 orders after a long-term solution, presented to Legislators during this past session, was approved.

Idaho ranks last in the nation for early childhood education participation. The early years of a child’s life lay the foundation for future success. Yet Idaho is one of only six states that does not invest in prekindergarten or school readiness programs.

Idaho’s Hispanic population grew 3.6 percent between mid-2016 and mid-2017, up from a 3.4 percent increase the prior year, according to recent estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The total number of Hispanic residents of 215,392 accounted for 12.5 percent of the state’s population of 1,716,943.

State regulators have denied an Intermountain Gas Co. proposal to implement an Infrastructure Integrity Management Mechanism, which would have allowed the company to recover from ratepayers the costs incurred on infrastructure improvements made during the previous calendar year.

IMAGE One of the Boise city library proposal design concepts, in this case the view from the Greenbelt and Anne Frank memorial. (photo/Boise city)