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Posts published in December 2018

A contrast in style and substance


With the passing of former President George H.W. Bush, much of the nation has reflected upon his life and accomplishments. It was hard for many of us to not make comparisons between Bush 1 and our present chief executive. The things that pop to mind are deliberative vs impulsive, empathetic vs narcissistic, and truthful vs not so much, to name a few.

I was not a real Bush enthusiast. In 1988, I co-chaired the Bob Dole for President effort in Idaho, along with my dear friend Lydia Justice Edwards, who was then the State Treasurer. When Bush won the nomination, I was certainly behind him.

President Bush made mistakes just like the rest of us (Willie Horton, Clarence Thomas), but all-in-all he conducted himself with honor and dignity. It is impossible for me to envision him cavorting with porn stars, continually uttering falsehoods, stoking unfounded fears, and casting aspersions on our justice system.

A couple of significant differences come to my mind. One of HW’s best performances was his efficient ejection of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the First Gulf War. After Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia, Bush set about forming a 35-country coalition to defeat the Iraqis. It took hard work and meticulous planning. Bush worked with our friends and allies around the world, all of whom trusted and respected our President, and the job got done.

Bush knew that the world order set up by the U.S after World War II worked to our country’s great advantage and he fostered and maintained mutually beneficial relations with our allies. He knew America could not go it alone in a dangerous world.

Contrast that deliberative approach to our current President’s preference for a seat-of-the-pants approach to foreign policy--essentially making decisions on the spur of the moment and announcing them on Twitter.

For instance, Trump impetuously cancelled the Trans Pacific Partnership, disheartening our Pacific allies, while handing a great gift to China. That treaty addressed a number of our trade disputes with Canada and Mexico, but was much more—a strategic partnership to strengthen America’s Pacific defenses. The President has also weakened our strategic position in the western hemisphere by continually provoking our NATO partners and European allies, much to the glee of the Russian Federation. It will take coalition efforts to counter China and Russia, but we are creating ill will with our strongest allies.

As a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Bush knew our national security depends upon effective intelligence gathering. He helped the CIA build itself up after troubled times. He would have been appalled by the unrelenting attacks by our current President on that vital agency. The President makes it publicly known that he does not trust the U.S. intelligence establishment on issues related to Saudi Arabia, Russia, and North Korea. Denigration of dedicated agents who routinely place their lives on the line for their country is tremendously harmful to our national security.

When he ran against Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bush correctly labeled the trickle-down economic theory--that tax cuts for the rich and powerful would pay for themselves by increased revenues--as “voodoo economics.” He later backtracked as vice president and then gave his imprudent pledge of no new taxes when he ran for president in 1988. When it turned out during his term that taxes had to be raised, he did the correct, prudent and courageous thing by raising taxes. He was well aware that doing so would possibly doom his reelection chances, but he put the county’s fiscal well-being over his own self-interest.

Last year, my old party and its President readopted the idea of handing a large tax cut to big business and the wealthiest Americans, claiming it would be revenue neutral when they knew it wouldn’t. The result was entirely predictable--no increase in revenues and a deficit for the current fiscal year of over one trillion dollars. President George H.W. Bush correctly called it voodoo.

Stay in your lane


Though well into the late senior years at our house, we like to think we’re still flexible in adjusting to new ways. We try to accept and adapt. “Change,” they say, “is the only constant.” We like to think we’re open to that.

Well, at four score and two, I’ve “hit the wall.” The politically correct and the do-gooders have lost me. I’ve been wavering for a long time, but, chances are, they’ve lost me permanently.

What finally pushed me over the edge was the decision at an Ohio radio station to stop playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” That hacked it!

Anyone who can find “sexual innuendo” and “suggestive lyrics” in Ricardo Montalban singing the words to Esther Williams has one of the sicker minds around. And the station “management” that pulled that song from its rotation should be ashamed.

Listen to any contemporary music format - especially Rap - and you’ll hear lyrics of sexual assault, murder, cop killing, rioting, Satanism and on and on. In fact, Rap had its roots in protest and violence. Many of its popular “stars” have been killed in violent ways.

Compare those “lyrics” to recordings of “Baby, It’s Cold...” by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney or any of the dozens of other artists who’ve crooned those words. Even Lawrence Welk!

We live in a crude world. Much more so in the last few years. Nobody chose it. But, here we are. I’m often amazed at how much vile junk is on Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the “social” media. I try not to use most of the terms or even condone much of it. Still, I admit to passing some of it along as “humor.” Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But, that’s our world today.

Go to any sporting event. Pay a hundred bucks or so and sit in the audience of nearly any show by today’s top performers. Even ride public transportation or just walk down any street. Crude doesn’t even come close to describing what you’ll hear.

We also live in a world where too much attention is paid to a few people - a distinct minority of people - continually trying to push their lifestyles, beliefs, religion and demands on the rest of us. The “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” fiasco is simply the latest and most outrageous example.

Most of the time, the naysayers for almost anything use religion - or “personal discomfort” - as the basis for their objections. Ironic that, at the same time they’re using their beliefs to justify umbrage, the numbers of people attending church these days is in distinct decline.

There’s another anomaly at play with many of these pious folk. While using religious beliefs as justification for trying to control the rest of us, many of these same people are devoted followers of a President whose warped lifestyle, repeated violations of his marriage vows, corrupt business practices and serial lying they accept. Even venerate.

We’re told the first settlers came to this country seeking religious freedom - the right to practice what they believed without interference. A couple hundred years later, those who put our national demands for freedom on paper refused to adopt a national religion. “To each his own,” was the idea.

I grew up in a small Oregon town where a little old woman genuflected to parking meters and believed God spoke to her from fire hydrants. Crazy? Maybe. But no one stopped her or, to my knowledge, ever objected.

Religion, in belief and practice, is - and should be - a private matter. On that issue, we’re a nation founded on the basis of absolute religious freedom. But, it cuts both ways. Accept and believe what you will. But, show me the same courtesy.

There’s a recent catchphrase going around. “Stay in your lane.” It most often means, “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.” Makes a lot of sense. Especially when it comes to religious beliefs and practices as those disparate gentlemen wrote many years ago.

The manager of that Ohio radio station - and others who cave to minority voices making ridiculous demands - should use some common sense when making decisions that affect the rest of us. We don’t all “march to the same drummer.”

One more thing. Based on a long life dealing with the public, when it comes to those who opposed Ricardo’s crooning, I’d like to see their Internet browsing history. But, I’ll just stay in my lane. For now.

Idaho Weekly Briefing – December 17

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 17. Would you like to know more? Send us a note at

With Christmas on the horizon, government activity slowed last week, though some remained busy (such as Representative-elect Russ Fulcher, who has to work speedily to set up his new congressional operations in less than a month). December did also bring with it a coating of snow across much of the state.

The Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a draft water quality certification of the federal license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the continued operation of Idaho Power Company’s Hells Canyon Complex.

The state of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture will enter into a new agreement to improve forest health conditions across Idaho that sets an example of interagency collaboration for other states to follow. Jim Hubbard, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment overseeing the Forest Service, will join Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Governor Elect Brad Little in signing the new “Shared Stewardship Agreement” on Tuesday in Boise.

Developer Aaron Howell announced on December 12 donation of a 16-acre parcel in the southeast corner of Boise. The park to be developed on the property will be named in honor of Aaron’s wife, Sue Howell.

Senate leaders from Oregon and Idaho are joining together in a long-term reform of the Secure Rural Schools Program. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Mike Crapo and co-sponsored by U.S Senators Jim Risch and Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, provides certainty for rural counties to ensure they have the long-term funding needed for schools, road maintenance, law enforcement and other essential services.

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter said on December 12 that the Ada County town of Star will host his administration’s 108th, and final, Capital for a Day on Thursday, December 20.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, known simply as the Farm Bill. Was supported by Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation announced a gift of $2 million to the Idaho State University College of Technology capital campaign that will be used for the renovation of the ISU William M. and Karin A. Eames Advanced Technical Education and Innovations Complex.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is asking Idahoans to be aware of an increase in scams targeting state residents. The alert comes after a surge in so-called imposter scams. These scams vary, but always include a scammer pretending to be someone they’re not in order to get money from the target.

IMAGE The Cloverdale Bridge over Interstate 84 west of Boise was demolished last week, over the course of two nights. It had been damaged in a major traffic accident earlier this year. (photo/Idaho Department of Transportation)

Yielding to moral and intellectual rot


In the wake of the latest revelations about the president of the United States, the extent of the intellectual and moral rot of the modern Republican Party has - again - come into sharp focus. A party that once built a brand around "family values" has decided Donald Trump's involvement in a scheme that paid off a porn star and a Playboy model to hide affairs shouldn't be treated as criminal.

The National Review's Jonah Goldberg, no squishy liberal, says the party - leadership and followers - is guilty of "outsourcing our moral, our political judgment to legalisms."

The new GOP brand: moral relativism.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, dismisses Trump's involvement in felony campaign finance violations, crimes that Trump's one-time lawyer Michael Cohen will serve jail time for, as essentially a paperwork mistake. "These guys were all new to this at the time," the senator says and besides what's a little hush money to quiet a scandal during a presidential campaign. "Most of us have made mistakes when it comes to campaign finance issues," Thune says.

Or this from Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, a pillar of propriety on everything but presidential misconduct: "President Trump before he became president, that's another world. Since he's become president, this economy has charged ahead ... And I think we ought to judge him on that basis other than trying to drum up things from the past that may or may not be true."

You can search high and low for any Republican concern that Rex Tillerson, the former Secretary of State and CEO of Exxon, said recently: "So often the president would say, 'Here's what I want to do, and here's how I want to do it' and I would have to say to him, 'Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way. It violates the law.' "

Few Republicans have bought more heavily into the party's moral and intellectual rot than the Idaho delegation. After a brief flurry of indignation when Trump was caught on videotape bragging about assaulting women, the get-along-go-along Idahoans have been pretty much in lockstep with Trump and they generally decline to say anything even remotely critical regarding his behavior.

Sen. Jim Risch is the worst offender.

Risch, soon to be carrying Trump's water as the high-profile chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, couldn't even bring himself to condemn the administration's handling of the brutal murder of a Saudi national who was also a columnist for the Washington Post. The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the murder, a position Trump refuses to accept, presumably because it would cause him to have to do something that might upset oil prices or, more likely, his own business interests.

In an interview with the editorial board of the Idaho Falls Post Register last week, Risch said that he had reached a conclusion about who was responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but that he couldn't discuss it without revealing classified information.

That is simply an absurd statement.

Other senators in both parties have laid the responsibility directly at the feet of Mohammed bin Salman, but as the Post Register noted: "On all questions having to do with bin Salman's direct responsibility, [Risch] deflected," obviously in deference to Trump.

Meanwhile, as the New York Times has reported, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been counseling his Saudi pal, the crown prince, "about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments."

Or as one wag put it: "The president's son-in-law is giving the Saudi prince some tips on how to get away with murder."

Trump deference - or better yet servile submissiveness - is a pattern with Risch. In the face of much evidence that North Korea's dictator snookered Trump during talks in Singapore in June, Risch has helped maintain the fiction that Trump knows what he is doing.

Risch has backed administration policy in Yemen where the Saudis, with U.S. help, have bombed the country back to the Stone Age. By some estimates, 85,000 children may have already died in Yemen, with as many as 12 million more people on the brink of starvation.

Risch, with a seat on the Intelligence Committee, has been almost completely silent on Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign, speaking only to dismiss its importance. "Hacking is ubiquitous," Risch said in 2017 before adding, "Russia is not, in my judgment, the most aggressive actor in this business."

We now know that at least 14 individuals with direct or close ties to Russia, from the Russian ambassador to the lawyer who set up the infamous Trump Tower meeting during the campaign, made contact with Trump's closest advisers, his family and friends during an 18-month period and during the campaign.

We also know that, while Trump's story continues to shift, special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted a bus load of Russian agents and gained convictions of Trump's campaign chairman, former national security adviser and many others. The investigation goes on, more indictments loom and Risch seems to care not at all.

When Risch made his Faustian bargain to support Trump after the notorious "Access Hollywood" tape emerged, he said he had no choice but to support the con man his party had embraced.

"Without any options other than to abandon America to the left or vote for the Republican nominee, as distasteful as that may be, I will not abandon my country," Risch said.

In reality, by ignoring and excusing the inexcusable, he has put party loyalty above both his country and our Constitution.

Paul Waldman in the Washington Post put a fine point on this kind of moral rot when he wrote recently of Trump: "Once he's no longer president - perhaps in 2021, or perhaps even sooner - everyone who worked for him, supported him or stood by him is going to be in an extremely uncomfortable position."

Johnson served as press secretary and chief of staff to the late former Idaho Gov. Cecil D. Andrus. He lives in Manzanita, Ore.

How not to celebrate Christmas


The Christmas season is based in religious practice but has other meanings as well. President Calvin Coolidge called it “a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” Clergyman Thomas Monson suggested, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others.”

We do see this around us, and we can rejoice in it. But Christmas brings out not only our better angels but sometimes our darker selves.

Welcome to Christmas at West Hayden Estates, in rural Kootenai County, where Christmas season has brought anger, death threats, lawsuits, donkeys, gun-packing and lights. Very bright lights.

The full story of the low-grade fever that has gripped this subdivision is very well recounted in a recent edition of the Inlander newspaper. There’s not nearly enough space here to tell it all, but in summary:

In 2014 an attorney named Jeremy Morris, who is very enthusiastic about Christmas, lived at Hayden. His Christmas decoration of his house that year -- and in subsequent years -- involved lots of light bulbs; many more than in most houses, reportedly as many as 200,000. (This is Las Vegas casino level.) He also planned some associated activities, holding a lighting event with seasonal food and drink and more, at least partly as a fundraiser for local charities. About a thousand families said they would come to visit and, the Inlander noted, he expanded the show a bit: “He called up a woman who owned a camel, recruited kids at Lakeland High School to sing Christmas songs and marshaled an army of volunteers from his church, Candlelight Christian Fellowship, to help out.” Attendees evidently enjoyed it and the charities wound up with good contributions.

At least some neighbors were unhappy, though, about the bright lights, the sound, the crowds and what is described as a traffic jam in the neighborhood. When Hayden city noted that permits were needed for some of his activities, Morris decided to find another location.

This, outside of Hayden city, is at his new house in West Hayden Estates, where the local power is not a city but a homeowners’ association. Informed in advance by Morris of his plans - which he was describing also as his ministry - the HOA expressed some concerns, mirroring some of those of his former neighbors, in addition to violations of the neighborhood covenants. There was also this line in one document (which the writer probably would dearly love to retract): “I am somewhat hesitant in bringing up the fact that some of our residents are non-Christians or of another faith, and I don't even want to think of the problems that could bring up."

And of a sudden this became not just a matter of neighborhood comfort and aesthetics, but one of War on Christianity and War on Christmas. Since we’re talking here about rural Kootenai County, I shouldn’t need to emphasize how unlikely it is that any neighborhood in that area would want to engage in such a war. But the story line quickly became irresistible, nationally.

Before long, the Morris homestead became ground central for all kinds of fierce emotions and activities. And threats; people were talking, darkly, about all the guns they were packing. Weeks prior to the famous sit-in at the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon, members of the Three Percenters showed up to offer support for Morris. Morris told one federal judge that a neighbor “threatened to murder me in front of my family, threatened in explicit detail about things that could be done."

Yes, judge, because of course this thing has been all over the court system. It may continue there for a while.

Somewhere in all this, do we still have room for:

Merry Christmas. Peace on earth, good will toward men. And neighbors, too.

Suicide in Idaho


A man I knew well and considered a friend killed himself this last week. The feelings that wash over us survivors might mirror the feelings of the victim: anger, sadness, despair, failure. I will admit to all those. I imagine someone close to you has killed themselves. I am sorry. It sounds so inadequate, doesn’t it? What else can we offer?

Like any painful issue, if we are not willing to look at it, talk about it, try to understand and respond, then it will stay with us. We might get better at hiding the pain, denying the pain, but it’s still there. And if our best response after honest reflection is prayer, then let us pray. I will join in the prayer.

Let me offer some numbers for this moment of reflection. Idaho has consistently been in the top ten in states for rate of death by suicide; 8th nationally in 2016. The rate of death by suicide for Idahoans is over 50% above the national average. In Idaho, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34. Teen suicide rates are higher than our overall suicide rates. Did you know the highest rate of suicide is in men over 80?

But numbers don’t tell a story, do they? I got my share of stories as a county coroner. Suicides, like homicides or any “unnatural” death got the time and attention (and tax dollars) of this lowly public servant. I will admit to a pretty libertarian viewpoint toward suicide early in my career. We are all going to die. So what if someone makes the choice? I did not see it as a mortal sin, but then I was not brought up in that faith. But so many of the deaths I struggled to come to peace with, beyond the mere investigation; I changed my view.

The many older men (some my age) failing in their strength, their independence who chose to end their lives, I could somewhat accept, though I could hear the pain and suffering in their loved ones.

The ones who had struggled with addiction or depression, sometimes were not a surprise to their family. But I could clearly hear the sense of failure, their sadness, their shared despair at the loss.

But the young deaths, sometimes impetuous, fueled by anger or lubricated with substances or an impetuous nature left me very burdened. And I am sure their families still struggle.

I have come to believe suicide, like homicide deserves our attention, our investment as a society. Not all violent deaths can be prevented. But if we cannot prevent all, should we give up on preventing some? If we as neighbors, as fellow citizens are not willing to even make such a commitment, what does that say about us, the survivors?

I am proud that Idaho has made this commitment. You taxpayers invested in this, with the legislatures and the governor’s approval. In 2016 a small investment was made to coordinate existing suicide prevention programs, to educate youth, to support the statewide hotline, and advance public awareness. Like all investments, we need to pay attention to the wisdom of each dollar spent. But it’s about time we did something. There is so much to do.

Crystal ball justice


In 1907, Congress enacted legislation to deny entry into the U.S. of “persons likely to become a public charge.” The idea was to prevent immigration of people who would be drawing upon public assistance.

The “public charge” legislation is still the law of the land and has worked fairly well to conserve public resources. At the same time, America has admitted millions of immigrants who have contributed mightily to building this great country. The Trump administration is now proposing to substantially expand the definition of what constitutes a public charge so as to clamp down on legal immigration into the U.S.

Since 1999, potential immigrants have had to show that they are not likely to need long-term institutional care or become “primarily dependent” on “public cash assistance” programs. In fiscal year 2017, the State Department found 3,237 immigrant visa applicants to be ineligible on public charge grounds--slightly less than one percent of the 332,003 ineligibility findings that year.

Under a new rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security, the government would deny green cards and visas, not on whether people have ever used any public benefit but, on whether it is possible that they might at some time in the future. The rule would expand the programs considered to be public benefits to food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, and Medicare Part D subsidies.

In the past, the public charge exclusion was applied to those who used the benefits and were not able to support themselves without the benefits. The new rule would deny legal status to persons who might at some time legally apply for a little help to get through a rough spot. The rule does not take into account the extent to which an immigrant family is supporting itself.

It should be noted that those who immigrate to this country are people much like our ancestors - driven by a desire to make good and provide a better life for their children. They are not slackers or welfare bums. Our recently departed president, George H.W. Bush, referred to immigrants from south of the border as, “good people, strong people.” Many of them are more than willing to do the back-breaking work that home-grown Americans refuse to do.

The new public charge rule is intended to deny legal status to many more immigrants - people who could fill some of the many jobs in Idaho and across the country that are currently begging for reliable help.

And, it should not be forgotten that immigrants set up businesses at twice the rate of U.S. citizens. They build America and create jobs, like Hamdi Ulukaya of Chobani and Sanjay Mehrotra of Micron.

The new rule essentially amounts to administrative legislating. It is the responsibility of Congress to set the rules for immigration, not unelected bureaucrats. The current understanding of “public charge” has been in effect since 1999 and been observed by Congresses and Presidents of both parties. If there is need for a change, let Congress do it.

The proposed rule will lead to arbitrary classification of those seeking entry into our country. The fate of applicants will be in the hands of bureaucrats who will have to guess whether the people will ever need even a short-term bit of help with food or medical care expenses at some time in the future. If so, they are out of here. To reduce the chances of arbitrary action, it might help if the President would furnish crystal balls to the immigration screeners.

Jim Jones’ previous columns can be found at

Other duties as assigned


As a Republic, we’re living in dangerous times. Unlike the past, when wars defined the danger, we’re at war with ourselves. And, it seems at moments, much of the rest of the world.

Divisions, tribalism, racism, anti-Semitism, far right and far left hate mongers, sexism, laws based on lies, ignorance and political self-service being enacted in state-after-state. Our federal judiciary is being filled with wholly unqualified but politically expedient nominees, mass media outlets spewing flat out lies and fictitious “stories” passed off as “news.”

These and more demonstrations of outrageous national conduct are threatening our freedoms, our place in world societies, our relationships with other nations and even with each other. Add in the most repeatedly proven self-dealing serial liar and least qualified president in our long history. All of this portends a future - at least a short-term future - of anger, fear, resentment and great difficulty effectively governing with such dangers.

Fearful? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Pleasing to our enemies? Yes. All of that and more.

So, we’ve turned to a federal prosecutor. A Marine veteran with a political and judicial histories that are truly outstanding. We’ve given him the task of sorting out the criminals, crimes, lies, double-dealing, treacheries and illegal conduct that have been the sources of much of these dangers. We’ve assigned him and his team the job of rooting out perpetrators and reporting to our Congress and to us his evidence-based findings.

At about the 18 month point of his work, the investigation seems only about at the mid-point. Starting with some low-level actors and a couple dozen Russians, there have already been subpoenas, evidence of criminal activity, confessions and a few prison sentences. Enough evidence proving the digging must continue.

The most recent “crooks de jure” are Roger Stone and several of his sycophants. These hangers-on in the netherworld of the national Republican Party are really the dregs of the political “barrel.” If you look at their backgrounds - one low-level patronage job after another over the years - it’s not hard to see why they find themselves staring into the face of some jail time.

All of them - “without portfolio” - have accomplished or contributed nothing. But, they’ve made a good living trying to associate themselves with people in power. They’ve bragged about their “importance” and their “access” to political folks in high office. Stone, in particular, became a right-wing media “darling” with claims of being a “mover-and-shaker.” His bragging included Wikileaks connections, his links with Russians and his access to “halls of power” in Congress and the White House.

Now, with little evidence they ever accomplished anything of importance, Stone and company have talked - bragged - themselves into the criminal “stew” in the crucible of the Muller investigation. Their years of touting false claims of exaggerated importance may, finally, put them in little rooms where the sunshine is seen only through the bars.

The longer the Muller investigation goes, it appears we may have asked him to do something else - something even more important than just rooting out political criminal activity. “Other duties as assigned” as it were. We seem to have tasked him to clean up the mess - to “cleanse” the system of liars, cheats, double-dealers, self-servers, crooked politicians and the treachery in the White House.

If Muller’s report is published before January, it’ll likely hit the Speaker’s desk with a loud “thud” followed by silence. But, if it comes after that, there will certainly be impeachment action in that same House. Then, the next step would be in the Senate where a trial is required by law.

Would the Senate, where everything is controlled by Republicans, hold that trial? That’s far from certain. Odds at the moment, probably 50-50. Whether action would follow would most likely hinge on who’s identified by Mueller as guilty of wrongdoing, what that wrongdoing was, what damage has been done, what that damage consists of and whether there are a lot of “co-conspirator #1" citations.

The Roger Stones of the world are just grist left on the mill floor. Their only use in what Muller is doing is to be rungs on the ladder to the next level of proven criminality.

There will be a report. A conclusion. A document of evidence detailing the cancer in our recent political history. It will go to Congress. But, it will also go to us. The affected. We must access it, read it carefully and thoroughly digest the details for ourselves.

Whether Congress will act is still an open question. But, as a society, we must act on the results. We cannot allow that document to be relegated to some musty shelf in the Library of Congress.

We did a little housecleaning in November. Muller’s work could prove a very useful voter’s guide for voters for years to come. And more cleaning.

Idaho Weekly Briefing – December 10

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 10. Would you like to know more? Send us a note at

The Idaho Legislature's organizational session last week ended with little change in floor leadership but lots of shifts in committee chairs, even among the legislators who had one last term and are returning. The preceding taxpayers association session included an unusually strong warning of the prospect of a recession coming at some point in the months ahead.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on December 7 approved an agreement to keep most steelhead seasons open, but steelhead fishing in two areas will close effective 11:59 p.m. December 7.

Bipartisan legislation led by Senators Jim Risch and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to protect Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed salmon and steelhead from extinction has passed the Senate without objection.

The Bonneville Power Administration on December 6 released its initial wholesale power and transmission rates proposal for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The rates proposal includes significant program cost reductions and supports a multi-year grid modernization initiative to maximize the capacity of the federal power and transmission systems and improve grid efficiency.

The Idaho Department of Lands concluded a 21-month review of historic endowment trust land sales to determine whether sales exceeded constitutional provisions limiting how many acres may be sold to one individual, company or corporation.

The next phase of the Lewiston Orchards Water Exchange and Title Transfer project, construction of a second well (pictured), is underway with the purchase of land and city permitting complete. In July, the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District procured land located just east of the first well site as the home for the second well and secured final city permits in October. With land purchase and permitting complete, contractor solicitation and selection can commence leading to construction.

Former Idaho Department of Correction correctional officer Richard McCollough, 37, of Boise, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis said on December 6.

State regulators will hold a telephonic public hearing on December 11 regarding the proposed transfer of eight customers from Rocky Mountain Power to Idaho Falls Power in eastern Idaho.

IMAGE An image of the fish that was the center of passive controversy during the last week. (photo/Bureau of Land Management)