"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

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Indian Country is a key voting bloc in the Democrat’s campaign to win more House seats. Sort of.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is focusing on 19 seats that the party thinks it can win from Republicans, labeled as the “Red to Blue” campaign. Three of those seats have a significant number of Native American voters.

This is good news for Democrats who are competing in these districts because it should mean there will at least be seed money from a national network of donors.

The most important seat on the Democrats’ list is Montana where Denise Juneau is challenging Rep. Ryan Zinke. Montana is an ideal state for a Democratic pickup. Montana’s demographics are changing and there will be a lot of ballot and fundraising chaos should the Republicans nominate Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. And, Native Americans already have a good turnout track record during presidential years.

Another House seat on this list is Nevada’s 4th district where former Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, Walker River Paiute, is a candidate. (He still must win a primary.) This district is almost 15 percent Native American.

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat, told Politico that “House Democrats are on an offensive and will pick up these seats in 2016, and these effective, hardworking and diverse candidates are the foundation of our success this year.”

In a normal election cycle, a focus on two seats with Native candidates would be a good thing as part of a diversity foundation.

But this year I think Democrats could do more. A lot more. There are congressional districts that could get a huge boost from a strong Native American candidate. One of the best things that the Liberal Party did in its sweep of Canada’s election was recruit strong Aboriginal candidates. (If you want to see how powerful that was in one picture, check Adam Scotti’s official picture of Justin Trudeau asking Jody Wilson-Raybould to be the nation’s Attorney General.)

Where this DCCC list most conflicts with the principle of diversity is Arizona 1st congressional district. (Even though it’s already represented by a Democrat, the seat is still a target because it’s expected to be so close). This district is the most Native in the country — more than 22 percent and growing — and it’s time for Native representation. One. Who. Can. Win. The Democrats should be recruiting star candidates from tribal government, academia, or business. In an election cycle where outsiders are being rewarded by voters, this is a “ya’ think?” moment.

Instead Democrats have chosen Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican legislator, turned Democrat. Wonderful. That should excite folks across Indian Country.

Two other districts with Native candidates are not on the list. Probably because they are considered long shots at this point. True. But this will not be a normal election year.

Those districts are Washington’s 5th district where former Colville Chairman Joe Pakootas is running again; and Arizona’s 2nd district where Victoria Steele, a Seneca, is polling well but lacks money. Both Steele and Pakootas face primary challengers.

I would add one more seat to any target list: Alaska. Rep. Don Young is vulnerable even if that doesn’t show up in polling. And, like Arizona 1st, it’s time for an Alaska Native to represent Alaska. Democrats should be relentless in their recruiting (and that actually should be easy) and make certain that any candidate has enough money to be competitive. There are so many talented Alaska Natives who could win. (Note to Democrats: Do I need to put a list together for you? Or will you do your homework yourself?) It’s time.

The DCCC says this is only the first list. There will be more down the road. The sooner the better.

In case you are counting: There is a total of six seats where American Indian and Alaska Native voters could make a difference. When the goal is to win 30 seats, that’s not bad.

There has never been an election with more opportunity for Indian Country. Why? Because we are the ultimate outsiders. And in 2016 that’s the winning hand.

Mark Trahant is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. On Twitter @TrahantReports

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Trahant

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appears to be on the cusp of sinking the vaunted, well-financed and well-staffed Clinton election machine. It’s a notion the vast majority of the political punditry class, and the political cognoscenti (Especially those inside the beltway) thought to be absolutely unimaginable.

One could hear it anywhere – some version of the “Democrats will never nominate one who calls himself a “progressive socialist.” Well, Bernie just may surprise.

Listening to Bernie and Hillary the differences become more clear each time they debate or share a platform: one speaks with an undeniable sincerity, the other sounds like an automaton – a flat-sounding almost plaintive voice.

It reminds one of that great scene in the classic movie 2001 where the onboard computer has tried to kill Dave, the astronaut who has gone outside the spacecraft to make a repair. The computer, named Hal, is trying to reason with Dave.

“Dave, listen to me. I suppose you are upset with me. And you have a right to be. But the mission must go on. Dave, talk to me Dave,” Hal pleads.

Just as many Democratic voters in New Hampshire, as well as across the nation, have stopped listening to Hillary Clinton’s plea to support her historic quest to be the first woman elected president, Dave does not listen. He relentlessly goes into the computer’s “brain” and turns Hal off. Hal’s credibility and trustworthiness gone – as is Hillary’s.

Bernie clearly speaks with more passion than Hillary. He has stayed on message relentlessly while Hillary has bounced between various messages. He’s following the KISS formula and it’s resonating. He is absolutely correct in pointing out that the top 1/10th of 1 percent, the wealthiest, have been and are subsidized by the middle class.

What’s worst, they brag about their status.

There are numerous stories of extraordinarily wealthy individuals boasting about paying no taxes.

Readers are invited to read New York Times tax writer’s David Cay Johnston’s fine books which document in painful detail the many ways the average American subsidizes the wealthy. Read Perfectly Legal or No Free Lunch or Read the Fine Print. If you’ve got a pulse, you’re spitting mad.

When Bernie makes it clear he has no SuperPAC, nor received any money from Wall Street, like the $17.2 million Hillary has received, more and more voters know what he is saying.

The great irony is that the oldest person in the race has so galvanized the nation’s under 45 years of age crowd, and especially those in college, that his plausibility of winning the nomination and the November election grows with each passing day.

National polls have him almost dead even with Hillary, within the margin of error. His campaign team thinks Bernie did actually win the total vote count in Iowa and also point to six Iowa precincts which supposedly were dead even where Hillary won the coin flip each time.

Conventional wisdom is that Bernie will clobber Hillary in New Hampshire, so watch for the spinmeisters and biased media to play down a Sanders victory. Candidly, many media scribes engage in the “expectation” game and then breathlessly proclaim how their pre-vote speculation did indeed happen. Of course there’s no one engaging in self-fulfilling prophecy.

Conventional wisdom says that South Carolina is Hillary’s firewall that will offset the midships blow she took in Iowa and the possibly 2:1 loss in New Hampshire. Much is made of the commanding lead she has among African-American voters there.

Bernie, however, is countering with the endorsement of one of the most influential NAACP leaders in modern times—Ben Jealous. Bernie has another gambit in his favor the media is ignoring—-there are many white Democratic voters who are strong supporters of gun rights.

Bernie voted against the Brady Bill five times and he’s never been a big anti-gun senator in part because there are several major job employing gun manufacturers in his state. Like rural states and rural areas across the nation, there are many gun owners. Thus, Bernie is not anathma to the National Rifle Association though his rating is now an “F” because the NRA perceives a major shift to the left and support for more gun controls. If Bernie pulls off the upset, however, and beats Hillary in South Carolina his momentum may be unstoppable.

As Bernie’s national surge continues look for Hillary to attack more and harder. If she gets too nasty, look for Bernie to play the Walmart card.

It could unfold as follows: “Madame Secretary, you say you will be a fighter for the average working person. However, you served on the Walmart board for six years, from 1986 to 1992.

“During that time did you ever fight for an increase in the minimum wage? The answer is no, isn’t it? Did you ever argue for equal pay for equal work? The answer is no, isn’t it? Did you ever argue for health benefits to be extended to the thousands of part-time Walmart workers? The answer is no, isn’t it? Did you ever in the confines of the board room argue for the right of Walmart employees to form a union? The answer is no, isn’t it?

“You tell folks to look at your record. Well I have, Mrs. Clinton, and the record belies your claims.”

Game, set, match. It’s all over.

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Carlson

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Against the informed advice of smarter, saner people, I’ve tried – yes, really tried – to watch the presidential “debates” this year. Even though there’s only been one real “debate,” I’ve tried to watch all of what the national media passes off as “debates.”

I put the word “debate” in quotes here because all but one really weren’t actual debates. They were shows – displays of unchecked egos – flights of brainless fancy – unfounded charges – verbal putdowns – lies and damned lies. In terms of issues, they lacked reality-based discussion of the problems this nation faces and avoided mention of a number of subjects voters need to know more about from the candidate’s perspective. Nada. Zero. Zip.

The only real debate thus far has been the Sanders-Clinton match-up on MSNBC – and not because they were Democrats. Simply put, it was because the candidates were allowed to go back and forth directly and the two moderators stayed out of most of the discussions. There was actually a 28 minute period when no one spoke a word except the candidates – something I’ve never seen before.

There are two reasons why Republicans have shown so badly. First, there have been too damned many of them. When you have six-eight-10 or whatever behind matching podiums, there’s no real opportunity for meaningful face-to-face action or moderator followup. People just fling a bunch of unchallenged statements or charges without being cross-examined for accuracy or truth. Throw it against the nearest wall and see what sticks.

The other reason is that GOP candidates – all of ‘em – deliberately avoided subjects on which they could be challenged. If you wanted to see how each felt about global warming, it never came up. In any meeting. Not once. If you wanted realistic in-depth discussion of whether we should continue or change our approach to middle east issues, it didn’t happen. Not once. Lots of irresponsible gibberish about nukes, carpet bombing, unwarranted attacks on the current administration and empty threats made by voices with no serious knowledge of what they were talking about.

Maybe there’s a third reason for the failure of GOP “debates” to have any real substance. That’s the candidates themselves. With one or possibly two exceptions, the rest didn’t deserve a place on any of those stages because they had nothing serious to say. The one talking about “carpet bombing” couldn’t accurately describe it in a media interview the next day.

In a way, I envy the people of New Hampshire for making candidates show up for small town hall gatherings – one-on-one. I learned more about Bush, Christie and the rest by watching some of these back-and-forth sessions with real voters. Hard to hide who you really are when it’s just you and 50-60 people sitting around in a circle listening to every word. A lot more information – and better information – than the televised “debates.” As a result, by the end of this week, there’ll be fewer Republican candidates.

The recent GOP “star” has been Rubio, though his stock took a real plunge Saturday. Pleasant enough fellow. Good speaker. Pleasant appearance. But he’s undisciplined and, at the moment, an untruthful voice for his party.

An example. Last week, President Obama visited a mosque in Baltimore. Among his remarks describing this country, he said “An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths. We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and (which) targets people because of a religion.” Word for positive word.

Rubio’s reaction? “Always pitting people against each other. Look at today. He gave a speech at a mosque. It’s this constant pitting people against each other that I can’t stand.” Word for lying word.

It’s this kind of uncalled for B.S. that’s marked the Republican “debates” and has made them far less useful than they were intended to be. I don’t care which party or what candidate positions are on anything as long as they can clearly state those positions without a lot of carping and flinging too-often false charges about the sitting administration, each other or anyone else. Just make your case as clearly as possible, avoid useless and false rhetoric, stick with the truth and let us know who you really are and what you really think. It’s just that simple.

Some advice for Republicans left in the count. If you’d like to know how that’s done – what a real debate can be – how much more effective you may be – dig up a tape of the Sanders-Clinton match-up. You may not like what you hear and their answers might not be your answers. But count the number of subjects addressed, the depth of understanding each participant was allowed to display and the amount of real information produced for voters in the same 120 minutes as your last “debate.”

Candidates should not be up on that stage for their own gratification. They’re up there to make give important information to voters – you and me – about subject knowledge, goals if elected, direction of the country and improving our national quality of life. So far, one of those debates has done that. The rest are still “debates” in quotes. Spectacles we can do without.

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Rainey

Res ipsa loquitur.

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The story of how and why Jenny Steinke died last summer might be the kind of story that would goad a legislature into action. That’s because, had the legislature voted differently at any point over the last few sessions, she might be alive today.

Jenny Steinke, 36, of Idaho Falls, had for some years endured asthma, but generally managed it with the use of inhalers. In late August, her condition got worse, but she and her husband Jason put off medical treatment until insurance at Jason’s new job started on September 1. For a long time up to then they had been uninsured, since their employers hadn’t provided health insurance as part of the employment package. A serious brush with the medical profession, not to mention an actual useful health insurance policy, was financially either out of reach or a disastrous proposition.

The Steinkes were not a rare fluke case in their lack of health insurance. State officials have estimated 78,000 Idahoans are similarly caught in a gap, outside the provisions for a state health insurance exchange policy, or for Medicaid coverage. In many other states, as part of the Obamacare effort, Medicaid was extended to cover people like the Steinkes. Idaho is one of the states where it hasn’t been; while several task forces have recommended the expansion, the legislature has been resistant.

With medical assistance, asthma usually isn’t life-threatening. But Jenny Steinke’s case got worse quickly, unexpectedly fast, and hit a crisis. By the time she got to an emergency room, she was in a desperate condition. About three days later, she died.

On Tuesday Jenny Steinke’s physician, Kenneth Krell, the critical care director at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, reflected on her case as he spoke to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee about the possibility of Medicaid expansion.

Krell told how the Steinke case, and others not so different, and their implications haunted him: “I kept asking myself, how could this be? How could, in a state like Idaho where we care about each other, could I be seeing deaths and really damaging illness on a nearly daily basis as a result of failure to expand Medicaid that cost tangible lives? It’s difficult to understand.”

He added, “Nearly one patient per day dies in this state as a result of not having Medicaid expansion. And that’s a direct result of that failure to obtain care at a stage when the disease process could be treated effectively and not only death, but hospitalization and illness prevented.”

That adds up, as the headlines around the state noted, to around 1,000 Idahoans who have died over the last three years because the legislature chose not to expand the reach of Medicaid.

After the hearing, no vote on Medicaid expansion was taken by the committee. The chairman did not, however, rule out a vote at some later time.

If Jenny Steinke were the only person who died because of that decision, the moral case involved here would be clear enough. But hundreds of Idahoans dying every year?

All legislative decisions involve weighing the good and the bad, and sometimes those decisions are close and difficult. (This is not, I should note, a case of inadequate resources; the state would actually save money with Medicaid expansion.)

Here, you have a lot of lives on one side of the equation, and on the other side – well, what, exactly, is it in this decision that is worth more than saving a life every day?

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus

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Why I’m quitting writing about mining:

First and foremost, I’ve lost interest. I find tube hi-fi much more interesting.

Second, I have been connived and fooled by the best in the business and passed this tomfoolery off to my readers. 

Justin Rice and the Russell Brothers took me and many friends into near-bankruptcy on the Azteca Gold project up Two-Mile just northeast of Wallace. I republished many of their lies and I am ashamed of it. I trusted them. Their lies seemed true at the time.

Secondly, I’ve been hauled into federal court involving a lawsuit between shareholders and Bob Genovese over a mine I wrote about, the Liberty Silver Trinity silver property near Lovelock Nevada. I still think it’s a good prospect, discovered by US Borax and heavily and positively reviewed by a respected mining evaluator, SRK, but after my writing a positive article the stock tanked and the longs lost, well, their shorts and have dragged me into their shit. Never owned a share of Liberty. I did lose $7,000 on Justin’s gambit, long after I wrote about it, and I could probably sue Justin for his lies, but really, why sue because I’m stupid or gullible. Maybe Ralph Nader could knock some sense in to me.
Whatever happened to, You pays your money and you takes your chances? Ain’t that the American way?

Capitalism is by nature creative and destructive. What do we taxpayers owe the buggy-whip makers for going out of business because of the auto mobile, which did not require horses? Precisely nothing. But then in steps the modern federal government, to sue Henry Ford for buggy-whip-maker damages. This latter mind-set prevails today and it’s why your kids can’t read. But that’s another rant.

I am not abandoning in spirit the hard-rock miners for what they do, which if you think about it, is magnificent. But having been conned twice, and having passed along bad advice, it’s time to move on. And I have some very precious vacuum tubes I need to sell.

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