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Posts published in May 2024

The new Republican geography

On June 13 the Idaho Republican Party will hold its biennial convention at Coeur d’Alene, and the delegates to it will decide on a number of things, including resolutions, a platform and party leadership.

Those decisions have been playing an increasingly central role in Idaho government, so they matter.

It might, or might not.

Marco Erickson, a Republican state representative from Idaho Falls, evidently is in the “it will” category, and his reasons are understandable and based on personal experience.

Party officials on the state, and in many places, county level have in the last few years gotten into the business of critiquing votes on legislation and even specific debates and statements by Republican legislators, calling them on the carpet, censuring and even threatening them with a loss of party support, in ways the party has never done in Idaho. It hasn’t happened everywhere around the state, but it has in many places.

Erickson was among those legislators criticized by his local Republican organization. He rebuffed the party actions, and has prevailed: This month he won his contested primary election and a precinct committeeman seat, which makes him a party official. He was one of a bunch of Republican legislators in the Bonneville County area where that happened. On top of that, the roster of precinct officials changed too.

Speaking of state Republican Chair Dorothy Moon, Erickson told writer Chuck Malloy, “She will not be returning as the party’s chairwoman, and I think she knows that … Every candidate they have endorsed in the last two years has lost, with the exception of one state race. In Bonneville County, voters paid attention to the negativity they were spreading, and they didn’t like it.”

Bonneville County is likely to raise major objections to the party leadership’s direction.

But what about the rest of the state?

Overall, 15 incumbent Republican legislators lost their primaries. A few of those who lost were aligned with GOP leadership but most were not. The Magic Valley legislative roster saw a sharp turn to the right, and determined and strong efforts against some of the party-aligned members in places like Nampa, Middleton, Mountain Home and Moscow-Lewiston all fell short.

I’ve seen no reports yet on how the Republican precinct committee contests statewide - and there were an unusual number this year - have shaken out. But if they reflect at all the results in legislative races, as seems likely, then what’s emerging may be this:

A geographic mottling of different kinds of Republicans prevailing in different parts of the state, sometimes in hard to predict locations. The Idaho Falls area may be a geographic center of some of the resistance. Other regions may run more in the other direction.

In the panhandle, Kootenai County shows signs of sticking with its hard right, but the Bonner-Boundary area seems more conflicted, as does Latah-Nez Perce. The Magic Valley seems to have taken a sharp turn toward the right; Canyon County may have too.

Why is Idaho Falls reacting as it has? Maybe the fact that its party organization has more visibly and enthusiastically than in most places gone after its legislators for a lack of platform purity - thereby generating an angry reaction - was a factor. If so, then only time may be needed for similar dynamics to rise up elsewhere.

Last December, Erickson seemed to envision as much: He speculated the party actions against legislators in Bonneville County, “wakes up people to the idea of why they need to run as precinct officers. We need to have rational people in there and civil discourse again.”

A new Republican geography may be on the rise. And we may see it reflected at the state convention in Coeur d’Alene.

 

Replacements?

If Dorothy Moon wins another term as chair of the Idaho Republican Party, it will be without the help of Bonneville County Republicans.

That’s because the central committee’s leadership team, which includes Doyle Beck and former congressional candidate Bryan Smith, were thrown out on primary election night and a new slate of officers will move in after reorganization this week.

The immediate focus of the leadership team will be to restore peace and harmony to the central committee. In mid-June, during the state party’s convention in Coeur d’Alene, the group will be leading the charge to remove Moon as the GOP’s leader. At least one state representative thinks that a change is inevitable.

“She will not be returning as the party’s chairwoman, and I think she knows that,” said Rep. Marco Erickson of Idaho Falls, who was re-elected to a third term in the Legislature and won a precinct position as well.

Predictions can be perilous in a state convention, where mood swings can change rapidly. But Bonneville County is a traditional Republican hotbed and delegates there can have a big say over who runs the party and how the platform reads. If the statewide turnover rate of precinct positions is anything like Bonneville County’s, then Moon’s chairmanship may end.

Erickson and friends in Bonneville County would have no trouble getting support from the likes of Gov. Brad Little and Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke – assuming that they bother showing up to the convention. They are no fans of Moon, or her brand of leadership.

So, we’ll see what happens in the Lake City rumble. To borrow from the late sports announcer, Keith Jackson, this should be “a real slobberknocker.”

Meanwhile, the post-election celebrations continue in Bonneville County, where six incumbents who were reprimanded in some form by the central committee, easily won re-election. According to Erickson, the party’s more moderate faction now holds 40 of the county’s 53 precinct posts.

“The central committee had zero influence,” Erickson said. “Every candidate they have endorsed in the last two years has lost, with the exception of one state race. In Bonneville County, voters paid attention to the negativity they were spreading, and they didn’t like it. To lawmakers, they tried to call us names – like RINOs or Democrats. No, we’re all Republicans.”

Rep. Wendy Horman, a co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, said that primary voters sent a strong message.

“The message is that we (legislators) are more in touch with voters than the central committee. Voters spoke loud and clear that they don’t care for DC-style campaigning and they want to be the ones to hold their legislators accountable,” she said. “All six of us were brought under that inquisition process, and all of us won.”

The other winners included Sens. Kevin Cook and Dave Lent and Reps. Barbara Ehardt and Stephanie Mickelsen, who the central committee tried to bar from running on the Republican ticket.

“I don’t think they (the central committee) had the influence they thought they had,” Mickelsen said. “I think you will see a more collaborative relationship between legislators and the central committee … without feeling that we’re in front of a jury trial, and without being with someone who is trying to reprimand us. We can have a good conversation, without kangaroo courts or trying to take away the ‘R.’ It has been a difficult situation for a long time with the legislators and the central committee.”

Erickson says the central committee will have a new direction – one that supports Republicans and does not choose winners and losers in a primary campaign. Erickson says that as a precinct officer, he plans to support all Republican candidates – even those he might not like.

“If you are the Republican candidate, then you will be treated well,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve felt confident that the central committee will not have a side agenda, or not having some puppeteer pulling the strings.”

One of the first orders of business for the revamped central committee, he says, will be to reverse the reprimands against his fellow legislators.

“Hopefully, there also will be an apology,” he said.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com

 

The danger is now

There comes a time when you've got to say "Enough is enough!"

For me, when talking about the 48-percent of Americans who refuse to get vaccinated, that time is NOW!  Enough is enough!

The child-like stubbornness  exhibited when it comes to protecting oneself from the ravages of COVID - and whatever morphs from these strains we're now dealing with - has created very dangerous conditions for all of us.  Damned fools who refuse scientific fact are listening to TV talking heads who know nothing.  But, you just know, the talking heads have gotten their own shots.

People with real medical emergencies are being turned away from hospitals filled with unnecessary COVID cases and sick fools who've taken horse medications.  People have died because of this mindless refusal on the part of some 48-million of us to get the shot(s).

Health care programs like Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance are being hit with unnecessary costs.  Again, from these same people - driving the costs of care up by their ignorant behavior.

Because of the lying excrement from Faux Neus, OAN and other right-wing media, that ignorance is seen as "truth" - as "knowledge" - from their closed-circuit input of lies.  They 'exist' in a world of fallacies, fantasies and untruths, ignoring mountains of scientific advice and evidence from government agencies steeped in many years of research.

We're being warned by credible medical authorities that, if current conditions continue without change, if the unvaccinated count remains as it is, more than 100-thousand of us will die this year because of the large number of people unvaccinated.

We see calls for government or business to "do something."  Do what?

This medically dangerous condition in nearly half of all Americans not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves - to protect the rest of us - can't be remedied by either entity.  The shots - paid for by government - are free.  Programs and campaigns underwritten by business already exist.  Again, do what?

Let's fantasize here a moment.

Suppose we stop paying for these miscreants when they eventually show up at the hospital.  And they will.  Medicare, Medicaid, all private insurance.  Just stop paying.  Do lots of advertising.  Posters, news stories everywhere.  Even sky-write if necessary.  Really get the word out.  No shot, you're on your own for all associated heath care costs.  Every penny.

Second, make masks mandatory, when necessary, in all places of business for the unvaccinated - Mom and Pop groceries to Yankee Stadium!  No mask, no vaccination card, no entry.  And enforce it.

Third, for businesses having sales on merchandise, no discount for the unvaccinated.  Show a valid shot card or pay full price.  For businesses selling large items like RV's, cars, boats or even houses, add 10% to the price for the unvaccinated.

Now, I realize these fantasies come from an old desert rat.  And, there are likely laws to prevent some of the "recommendations."  And, legal challenges sure to come.

But, if we don't start thinking "out-of-the-box" and take some stiff actions to increase compliance, more than 100-thousand Americans will die each year!

We can't stop Faux Neus and the other irresponsible media from their deceitful and disgusting output.  We can't stop the flow of lies and disinformation rampant on (un)social media.  "First Amendment" don't ya know.

But, allowing nearly half the population of this nation to endanger the lives of the rest of us - and themselves - can't continue.

When you have insurance companies, medical practice organizations and hospitals trying to recruit retired professionals, you have to realize what's coming.  Every day, some of those 40-million or so, unvaccinated are flooding the system.  In some cases, forcing denial of life-saving care for the innocent - people who got the vaccine but have immediate care needs and can't gain access due to the lines of the unvaccinated.

There is no 'one answer.'  But, if our nation is going to continue to function  - if we're ever going to be a healthy nation again - if we're going to avoid the destruction of our health care system - we need real answers.

NOW!

 

Memorial Day

The last Monday in May has been established by Congress as Memorial Day, the day to remember, honor and mourn the Americans who have died in the country’s wars. We should all put aside our differences on May 27 to thank those who gave their last full measure to protect America’s “government of the people, by the people and for the people” as President Abraham Lincoln described it.

Memorial Day encompasses the almost 1.4 million Americans who have died in the country’s wars and conflicts, beginning with the Revolutionary War. That figure does not tell the full story of our war dead because each conflict leaves a broad wake of destruction, including future deaths of service personnel from war-related physical and psychological wounds, substance abuse, suicide and exposure to harmful substances like Agent Orange and burn pit emissions.

Our recent conflicts, starting with the Korean war, had disappointing outcomes, which left a bitter taste in the mouths of many, including some veterans who fought in them. I remember going overseas in 1968 with a country generally in support of  the Vietnam War and returning in 1969 to a fiercely divided country. Even though the 58,220 Americans who died in the Vietnam War served honorably, they did not get the measure of respect owed to them by a broad spectrum of their countrymen. It took years for many Americans to separate their anger against the war from their feelings toward those who served in it. The dead, and the survivors, were doing just what was asked of them. The politicians, not the soldiers, were responsible for the unfortunate outcomes.

When I returned from Vietnam, I was proud of my service and felt like we had kept South Vietnam from being taken over by the Communists. When Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese on April 30, 1975, it was like a knife to the heart for me and many other Vietnam veterans. All of those lives had been wasted with nothing to show for it, not to mention the many thousands of South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians who died, the American troops who returned home with serious health problems that would plague them for years to come and the lingering hard feelings of Americans on both sides of the war issue. Was it all for naught?

There was nothing to do for it those years later, but Americans could step forward to remember and memorialize the brave Americans who lost their lives in service to the country. An Idaho Falls group, the Freedom Bird, named after the flights that took the troops home from Vietnam, decided to do just that. Freedom Bird announced plans in 1984 to construct a state memorial to recognize and honor those who died in the war. The funds were raised, the state designation was obtained and the Idaho Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on August 4, 1990.

Freedom Bird members followed up with a book recognizing the 251 Idahoans who were listed as dead or missing. The book, “Reasons to Remember: A tribute to the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War” was written by Marilyn Whyte of Blackfoot and published in 2002. It included biographies of the fallen, as well as stories based on input furnished by their survivors. It provided an insight into the character of many of these individuals who died in service to their country.

The book is, unfortunately, out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon. More can be found about the Freedom Bird project in my book, “Vietnam…Can’t Get You Out of My Mind,” which is also available on Amazon or from Ridenbaugh Press.

The point is that we all have the ability, just like the Freedom Bird members, to take the time and effort to honor those who have died in the United States’ wars and conflicts. Dislike for the conflict itself is beside the point. May 27 will soon be upon us and it is incumbent upon Idahoans and other Americans, regardless of political leanings, to pay respects to the men and women who have given their all for the Land of the free and home of the brave.

 

Footnote

I got these publications as a State Senator and read them avidly. “Facts, Figures and Trends” published by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Now, on the Board of Health and Welfare, I get them again. You could read them online. I get great joy from turning the pages and folding over a corner. But they are printed at your, the taxpayers’ expense.

The trends, the facts are thrilling.

That’s a joke.

But if you are in charge of spending the public’s money, I believe you should pay attention to how it is spent. I watch our current batch of Idaho legislators and I don’t think they are paying much attention. You should be.

Let me draw your attention to the plot twist on page 57. This pertains to the Division of Family and Community Services, specifically Foster Care. The graphs clearly show that the number of children placed in foster care has gone down over the past four years. Yeah, the crowd roars, less children needing state intervention. But then it shows the cost of this to the taxpayers has tripled. If I was still on the Budget committee, I’d be looking at that pretty closely.

To be honest, you should know the IDHW, and the oversight committee has their eyes on this. But you, the voter, the taxpayer should too. Ask your legislator at the next town hall when he asks for your vote. I’ll bet you get a blank look.

We shouldn’t overlook the foreshadowing on page 31. This is a different chapter concerning the Division of Behavioral Health. The data here is deep, but on the forementioned page numbers struck me. Facts, don’t you love them?

The table shows the number of children served by this division over the last four years. In 2020 3,300. In 2023, 1715.

What? Are there suddenly half as many children needing mental services? Indeed, the number of court-ordered services dropped by 25% too. Are our youth suddenly more resilient? Are we doing something great that we should all know about?

Then I turn to page 35. The plot deepens.

Adults have also seen a decline in services. Over the four-year trend, 2000 less adults needed behavioral health services between 2020 and 2023. Only a quarter needed other services, housing, meds, employment.

Don’t skip over the footnotes.

Should footnotes be at the bottom of the page or in the back? Same type, or smaller? This one was on the same page, but small enough print I needed to squint.

Medicaid expansion happened in January 2020. Many adults needing behavioral health services became eligible for this health insurance and then moved to that care.

Do your legislators know such care is paid for with 75% federal dollars? Taxes pay for all of this. How do you want to pay?

Of course, maybe you just don’t think folks need this care. These are important questions. You might want to ask your representative.

I’ll skip over the bouncing numbers of communicable diseases on page 132.

At community town halls I have heard my representative say about Medicaid: “We can’t just keep paying for this, we have to get a handle on these expenses.”

I would encourage our representatives to get a handle on the expense by embracing the numbers. Only by paying attention to details can we manage a budget.

But then the question comes, should we embrace our fellow citizens with the comfort of health insurance?

Do you even understand where Medicaid money is spent?

You legislators are still whining about Medicaid Expansion. But the annual taxpayers’ cost for those coved by this health insurance is about $7500. While we taxpayers pay over $20,000 a year for the health insurance for our legislators.

Maybe you just think you deserve it, and others don’t.

 

TBS

A guest column from Michael Strickland of Boise.

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light." - J.K. Rowling
From Special Olympians to great scientists to achievers of all types who don't fit the traditional mold, I have always had an interest in promoting access for those who are differently abled. Step into the world of words without the constraints of traditional print. For those facing the challenge of reading large fonts or grappling with the physical act of holding a book, a literary escape awaits in the heart of Idaho. The Idaho Talking Book Service (TBS) serves as a source of light, offering the joy of literature to those facing obstacles in traditional reading.
The TBS emerges as a beacon of accessibility, offering a treasury of audiobooks that transcends barriers. This invaluable service, administered by the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL), extends its embrace to residents struggling with visual or physical limitations, opening the door to a vast collection of tales that traverse genres and themes. I have always been excited about this gateway to stories, where the pages turn with the gentle hum of narration, echoing the promise of a literary journey free for every Idahoan in need.
The TBS is an audiobook library service that is convenient and available at no cost to any Idaho resident who is blind, has a perceptual or reading disability, or is unable to read standard print due to a visual impairment or physical disability. To utilize the service, a person must have a qualifying condition, which can be certified by a medical professional, social worker, librarian, activities director in a care facility, or others.
The TBS loans audiobooks and magazines, and provides an easy-to-use player for the audio cartridges. Materials are mailed to and from the user’s residence at no charge. There are more than 100,000 fiction and nonfiction titles in the collection -- everything from westerns and romance to mysteries and biographies. Also available are titles with an Idaho theme or connection, which are recorded locally.
Each participant's service can be as automated or personalized as the user and/or their caregiver would like. Whether it means having materials mailed to an alternate address when the family heads south for the winter or increasing the frequency of books, the TBS customer service representatives (CSRs) help ensure the users’ needs are met. And if those needs change, the service can easily be altered to meet them. In addition, there is no complicated phone tree to navigate before reaching an actual person to speak with. The TBS CSRs are based in Boise and eager to help patrons by phone or via email every weekday. Patrons simply call or click, and the TBS staff responds. Plus, they love talking about books and giving reading recommendations.
Another feature of the service is the Braille and Audio Recording Download, known as BARD, through which books and magazines can be downloaded directly to the user’s device. A TBS CSR can help a caregiver access BARD for the patron, and there’s no wait time for the next great read.
Maybe you know someone who might benefit from the TBS, but you aren’t sure. Visit your local public library and ask a staff member to show you a TBS player. You’ll experience the player’s large and user-friendly buttons and see how simple it is to use. The player has a power cord and a battery, so it can go everywhere a TBS user does -- on a road trip or just outside to the garden. The library will also have TBS marketing materials.
A patron receives their audiobooks on a cartridge. When they are ready to return the cartridge, the patron or their caregiver simply turns the mailing card over, slides it into a slot, and puts the cartridge in their outgoing mail. No trip to the post office or postage required. The materials are mailed “free matter for the blind.”
As the spoken words weave tales of adventure, romance, mystery, and more, the Idaho TBS not only transcends the limitations imposed by print but also fosters a community where stories become bridges between hearts. In this auditory realm, where the written word transforms into whispered narratives, the power of imagination knows no bounds. The Idaho Commission for Libraries continues to champion accessibility, ensuring that every resident with a qualifying condition finds solace in the symphony of audiobooks. So, let the stories echo in the minds of Idahoans, transcending barriers and fostering a shared love for literature that reverberates far beyond the realms of the tangible pages. The Idaho Talking Book Service stands as a testament to the belief that everyone deserves the magic of storytelling, no matter the obstacles they face.
The Idaho Talking Book Service is very straightforward for patrons and/or their caregivers to use and there is no cost associated with the program. TBS can provide a lifeline for Idahoans who have become isolated. Staff receive countless cards, letters, and emails from family members of TBS patrons who praise the service for giving something valuable back to their loved one. Through its commitment to accessibility, the TBS breaks down barriers. In a world where isolation can often loom large, the Idaho Talking Book Service serves as an oasis, offering not just literature but also a sense of belonging and connection.
If you think the TBS can help you or someone you know, visit https://libraries.idaho.gov/tbs for more information. Or call the Idaho Talking Book Service at 800-458-3271.

The 15, and beyond

The defeat for re-election of Idaho Senate President pro tem Chuck Winder in the recent Republican primary was widely described as an upset. And it was, in the sense that it was widely unexpected.

But it also was very much of a piece with the results overall in the Idaho primary. Those include the ouster of 15 legislators by voters of their own party.

If attention has focused a bit on Winder, who has been a prominent figure in Idaho public life for more than three decades, one reason may be that few people seem to know much about the man who prevailed in that race, Josh Keyser.

He didn’t, in the campaign, seem to establish a clear identity. A basic resume is out there, but you get little feel for who the guy is or what he would do in office: His campaign seemed more an effort to say as little as possible and keep it generic and inoffensive. His website describes his vision as: “Protect our Rights. Empower the Family. Strengthen Idaho.” The site doesn’t even have much of anything to say about the veteran legislator he was trying to defeat. Keyser almost comes across as a noncombatant.

Nor did his campaign seem overwhelming: Current finance reports show he raised $28,081 and spent $12,212, in total. Winder raised several times as much.

Cutting to the chase: In political terms, Keyser is a cipher. He didn’t win, really. Winder was beaten, beaten up, mostly by forces - contributing mass money, mailers, videos and more - far outside his district.

Why this happened is a complex story. One immediate trigger concerned some activity, likely obscure to most Idahoans, from inside the Senate Republican caucus. Some months back, some members of his caucus (from the extreme Freedom Caucus wing) started firing shots at other Republican legislators from outside their group. Winder, whose job as pro tem implicitly includes keeping the caucus membership at peace, warned them that was improper behavior for a legislator (as it was), and he exacted punishment through changes in committee assignments. That in turn led to the Idaho Freedom Foundation and related groups aiming fire at Winder, and assembling the artillery from all over the place. This was, of course, just one incident; much more background underlay it.

Around and around it goes. Idaho politics now is not about what you want to do (or even stop doing) or what kind of track record you may have (living in a district for mere weeks or months now seems qualification enough to represent it). What’s relevant: Who’s your enemy? The needs and interests of the state and the people in it barely enter in.

That’s story of the Winder race maps directly or indirectly onto many of the other 14 ousted legislator taxes, and the half-dozen or so close calls.

The 15 Republican legislators defeated this month join 20 defeated two years ago. This is beginning to look like a pattern. (A side note: The one major region in the state where this dynamic seemed not to hold was eastern Idaho, near Idaho Falls. It’d be worth sussing out why.)

And that’s especially true when the voter turnout was notably low, as it was in this election.

Voters in Idaho are better off turning out in larger numbers for primaries than for generals, because most of the real decisions now seem to be made in May rather than November. Barring unexpected developments in the next few months, the path to the next legislative term looks clear: A couple of additional steps toward the extremes, and passage of some measures (school vouchers comes to mind as one possibility) that were barely stopped last time. Idaho education policy in particular is likely to head toward the extreme in the next term.

Why did the Republican voters of Winder’s district choose to kick him to the curb? Was there an actual reason that relates to what the legislature should do? Or was it about power plays and the artificial generation of voter anger?

See you in November.

 

Read Write Own

Most of what I have heard about blockchains has been in the context of cryptocurrency - a topic notable in the last few years for associations with uncertainty and untrustworthiness. (That sound of dismissal isn't entirely warranted, though cases like that of Sam Bankman-Fried give it some rationale.) But what about the technology underlying it? Tech is just a tool, right? Tech can be used for all sorts of things, good and bad.

Chris Dixon, a tech investor and author of the new Red Write Own, makes a strong case that the underlying computing elements - the most key component of which is something called a blockchain - could become the lever for solving many of the worst current ailments of the internet as we know it. And more than that, a sizable slice of the problems of many societies around the world, not least ours.

The book is not large (the main text of the print book I read is just 230 pages) but it is tightly written and argued, and written in plain enough English than non-tech people can follow it regularly. For the most part, you'll understand his points, his concerns and his proposals, reasonably well if you're an active user of the net ... as most of us are these days.

He begins with a quick review of the last 30 years or so if the online world and how it developed into the one we know, transitioning from a system dominated by protocols (meaning, generally, e-mail, websites and a few others services) to one dominated by a handful of tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Those mega-companies, he points out, started out by building networks of users, which became enormous with time, and transitioned from an effort to add people and groups to their networks, to trying to squeeze as much revenue as possible out of them (the "take"). So much money is being pulled in this current extractive phase, he says (and he's clearly right) that much of the commerce and creativity of our world is being diminished, and our society and democracy are being weakened.

Dixon's answer to this and other related problems relates in large part to blockchains, a subtly different software technology which relies on strict usage rules and open-access, along with openly-accessible information, to do many of these same kinds of things our other networks (like those of the tech giants) have been doing, along with some new things that might be added to the mix. Blockchains could be controlled by users rather than a small group of owners, Bixon points out, and while the operators of them can operate profitably, either as profit or non-profit entities, the built-in incentives would provide for a far smaller take, and few fewer cumbersome and restricting rules, than the current regime imposes.

The possibilities seem large,  and by the end of the book he even offers plausible ideas for how we might more effectively cope with such challenges as artificial intelligence and deepfakes. Dixon's approach is basically a solution through ongoing research and business development, but this is no libertarian tract: He sees a need for regulation and guardrails as well. It is in all a broad-minded view of how we might work out way out of what seems a muddy swamp.

If you get concerned and depressed at times about where the internet, and our tech future, may be headed, pick up this book. The solution it offers may not materialize (Dixon describes himself as optimistic but not a prognosticator), but it could. And it demonstrates the way answers to our problems may be developed, possibly in the not too distant future.

Opting for the familiar

After all the primary campaign season drama this year, most of the Oregon results tended toward the familiar in both parties.

And most races weren’t even close.

On Tuesday, Oregon had two relatively critical Democratic primary contests, in ways important both locally and nationally that  collected plenty of attention in the state and beyond. Both were resolved sharply, by strong margins that reflected the sensibilities of Oregon’s – and the nation’s – Democratic leadership.

In Oregon’s 3rd House District, seven candidates were competing to replace veteran U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, but the race clearly was going to come down to two: state Rep. Maxine Dexter and former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal. Dexter has been a productive legislator working smoothly with Democratic leadership, while Jayapal was perhaps best known as the sister of a member of Congress from Seattle, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who is one of the most visible and sometimes controversial progressives in the House.

Dexter got the mass of support from contributors and Democratic-leaning organizations, and her lopsided win – about twice the number of votes Jayapal received – looked like a clear demonstration of Democratic organization clout.

In Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, one of the half-dozen top battleground districts nationally this year, the Democratic nominee from two years ago, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, faced state legislator Janelle Bynum, each seeking to take on first-term Republican incumbent Lori Chavez-DeRemer. McLeod-Skinner only narrowly lost to Chavez-DeRemer last time, and the primary contest was widely described as competitive, with the sole public poll giving Bynum a slight lead.

On election day, Bynum’s lead wasn’t slight at all. In results on Tuesday night, she led McLeod-Skinner in five of the six counties, with only one vote reported in that race in Jefferson County, and that was for McLeod-Skinner. Overall, Bynum led by more than two to one. Some of that probably had to do with negative headlines for McLeod-Skinner in the last few months, and reports that Republican-backed money was supporting her in an effort to elect a weaker candidate in November. But the larger factor may have been a solid weighing-in of the Democratic establishment, from Gov. Tina Kotek on down, on Bynum’s behalf.

If one trend line ran through most of the notable Oregon primary results on Tuesday, it might have been the absence of revolt against the powers that be.

In the top statewide race, for Secretary of State, speculation had run in favor of the well-established Treasurer Tobias Read, who two years ago had experience running for governor. On Tuesday, he drew a stunningly wide lead, winning about 70% of the vote in the Democratic primary over his chief opponent, Democratic state Sen. James Manning. The margin of the Democratic legislator seeking to replace him, state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, against a candidate who had run for the office twice before, Jeff Gudman, was even larger – 77%.

The familiar and the established mostly did well on the Republican side, too. In the 1st Senate District on the southern Oregon coast, a determined effort to take out incumbent Sen. David Brock Smith fell far short as he received twice the vote of the nearest of his three competitors. In the 2nd Senate District in Josephine and parts of Douglas and Jackson counties, Noah Robinson, the son of incumbent Art Robinson, decisively won the nomination for the seat there. And in the 28th Senate District in Klamath County, Diane Linthicum, the wife of Dennis Linthicum, the incumbent and the Republican secretary of state nominee, was winning easily.

The most striking but not surprising result in the whole state may have been in the 12th House District in rural Lane County, where incumbent Rep. Charlie Conrad, a Dexter Republican who split from his party on a vote concerning abortion and gender care, was getting only about a fifth of the vote against Darin Harbick, a challenger opposing him mainly on that issue.

There, as elsewhere, the message seemed to be: Stick with the party line or it may line up against you.

This column originally appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.