A place for the writings and the ideas of the people in and around (and coming to the attention of) the Ridenbaugh Press.

mckee

The Republicans have paid unfettered, blind obeisance to the dogmatic tenet that government mandated redistribution of wealth is an abomination in a free market society for so long, that even some Democrats can no longer see the forest for the trees.

“Redistribution of wealth” is the singular, most dreaded anathema of the Republican objection to anything proposed that touches upon the economy. But in these changing times, this abhorrence of what may become an essential ingredient to our continued peace and prosperity needs to be reexamined.

Since around 1980 to current times, the inequality of income and wealth has gradually but dramatically shifted in the United States to the point where it might be reaching into dangerous proportions. From the end of the pre-Reagan era, around 1980, to the advent of the 2008 recession, being the halcyon period of supply-side economics, the incomes of the wealthiest 1% increased by a whopping 275%. The incomes for the top 40%, excluding the tip, increased around 63%, not bad and very comfortable; but the lower 60% did not fare nearly as well and the bottom quintile increased only 18% in close to 30 years.

From 2007 to the present, through the recovery and into the post-recession boom, in every other sector of the economy other that wages and incomes, the post-recession recovery has been spectacular. In every measured way we have returned to record levels in the financial markets, in manufacturing and production, in construction starts, in GDP, in the international value of the dollar, and in exports and imports.

In wages and incomes, it’s different. The raw employment numbers have almost returned to pre-recession levels, but the values in that employment have become even more lop-sided. The top 1% recovered much faster, with top incomes growing an additional 20%; however, incomes for the rest of the 99% have stayed flat, increasing overall less than 1%, with the bottom quintile actually losing ground. At the very tip of this number reside the top 400 wealthiest families, who now own more wealth than the entire bottom 50% of the population combined – more than the 150 million or so struggling at the bottom of the scale.

The upshot of all these numbers and percentages is that supply-side economics, or “Reagonomics,” or tickle-down economics, from the standpoint of producing a balanced economy that maintains a level field of opportunity for wages and incomes, with natural re-distribution flowing from internal market forces, does not work. The wealth and power is steadily amassing at the pinnacles. It does not trickle down. The only dramatic impact over almost 40 years of trickle-down economics has been the gradual eradication of the middle class labor force and significant impediments to the small and medium class independent businesses. We are left with the fabulously wealthy 0.1% of us growing even more fabulously wealthy; with the comfortably wealthy 1% of us staying comfortably wealthy; and with the remaining 99% of us losing ground. This group is largely beginning to sag and to struggle, and the pressures are beginning to build.

The shifting of wealth into the hands of the few amasses power in those hands, and with power comes additional pressures upon legislative bodies – state and federal – for protective measures to insulate the wealthiest proponents. While the Republican mantra may seem to be “no government regulation” period, the real mantra coming from the mouth of each of the most powerful is “no government regulation except for me.”

A prime example is the tax code, an impossible labyrinth of arcane and indefensible examples of outrageous favoritism, which everyone – right and left alike – agree should be scrapped and reconstructed from the ground up. Yet everyone – right and left alike – also agree that to attempt to do so in the present atmosphere of Congress would be a waste of time. Someone estimated that there are four highly paid lobbyist lurking the halls for every member of Congress, everyone with a different pet tax feature that they would insist be included in any attempt to rewrite the code.

If something is not done to turn this trend around and to rebalance the economy into a smoother curve of wealth across the entire population, it is going to tip over. The possible, if not probable result, if the situation continues to worsen, is a revolution. Perhaps it could be a bloodless revolution such as sustained the British as they reorganized their economy from one controlled by the medieval baronage system to the forerunner of the modern capital based system of today; or perhaps it will be as bloody as the French Revolution of the 18th century or the Russian Revolution of the 20th. If anyone is still shaking their head thinking it will never happen in modern times, all they need do is look at television, take note what is happening in many of our cities on almost a fortnightly basis, and multiply these events by any progression of numbers one picks, from 1 to 100. All that has to happen is for the present situation to continue to fester without relief.

From the standpoint of the progressive advocacy, it is not that the government should act, it is that there is no one else to act. There is no natural impetus to cause the private sector to favor more equitable balancing of wages and incomes, and most business leaders are not addressing this themselves. The fundamental principle of a free market economy is survival of the fittest, with no regard given in any respect to the individual or humane interests of the members of the economic element labeled “labor.” The assumptions from a pure economic standpoint is that all business entities are equal, and that “labor” is fungible, mobile and perfectly reactive to market forces, when in fact and individually, none of these characteristics are true. While we have many laws to protect the humane elements of the workplace – child labor laws, OSHA, workers’ compensation laws, etc., we have few laws to protect the economic strata of the individual members of the working class, and fewer still to protect the smaller businesses from unfair, predatory and sometimes criminal practices of the bigger entities.

The obvious facts are that unless the government steps in, it won’t happen. Big business won’t do it, the stockholders are not interested or are from a practical standpoint powerless to intervene, the financial markets do not reward social justice remedies, individual wealth is of no help, the individual worker has no power and no rights to act on his own, and organized labor has been stripped of resources once available, such as legal protection for union shops and striker’s rights, and has become a toothless tiger.

Government action is all that is left to increase or protect the economic standing of the individual worker. At a minimum the government could: enhance present laws on predatory and unfair business practices with a view to small and medium size entities; eliminate the presumption of “at will employment” and give seasoned workers built-in job protection; provide that participation in a legitimate strike called by the recognized bargaining unit of the business is not grounds for termination of employment; re-enact the limitation on pay ranges where the cash pay from the bottom to the top within a given business cannot exceed a certain ratio – the CEO’s cash salary cannot exceed X times the bottom individual’s actual pay, for example, with all pay rates in between equitably distributed along the curve; require stockholder approval for stock dilution incentives to top executives, such as disproportionate stock options; and enact a sound, national minimum wage, with mechanisms to keep this floor current as the economy fluctuates. This need not be a universal wage, applicable to all parts of the country; it is very true that different regions may well have different influences at work, and the requirements may shift as one moves about the country. The national government might set an index against which regional differences could be applied.

The point here is that all of these issues have been ignored for years on the national level, and this is contributing to the disproportionate shifting of income and wealth. More needs to be done if the inevitable is to be avoided, but we have to start somewhere.

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McKee

trump

Donald Trump’s run for the presidency seems to be singularly oriented around Donald Trump; the drop from him to the next figure of real significance is steep. Theoretically, the secondary figure might be Mike Pence, the vice presidential nominee. But we mostly hear from him, it seems, when he’s disagreeing with some oddball statement by his principal. There may be good reason we don’t hear more from him.

Aside from family, political figures and other celebrity types, the one other notable figure at the National Republican Convention this year, the one other that Trump might actually think of as something of a peer, is Peter Thiel, who did get a convention speaking slot, and a prime one, shortly before Trump’s own acceptance speech.

Much of the attention went to the point that he was “the first person ever at a GOP convention to declare from the stage that he is gay.” Besides that, he is a major tech industry figure, a central leader in the development of Facebook and Paypal.

No problem with any of that. But when word began to circulate widely that Trump was interested in appointing him to the Supreme Court – Thiel is a lawyer – some reviews of Thiel’s views were prompted. Thiel seems to be one of the few people whose views Trump has sought out for reference and maybe implementation, and could take a major place in a Trump administration, so they are well worth the review.

And some of them, if turned into some form of reality, could be well into the range of scary.

Some sound simply creative and out of the box, such as his co-founding of the Seasteading Institute, which has the fascinating (for libertarians) idea of establishing cities relatively free of government out in the oceans. Other initial enthusiasts appear to have backed away as the details of making such a thing happen proved hard to pin down.

It’s the kind of thinking you might expect and – in its creativity – work for a high-tech executive, but not so much for a person tasked with running an actual, real-world government. (Which Thiel isn’t – yet.)

Of more concern are some more philosophical thoughts he has let loose, which again are fine coming from a private citizen but would be scary if put into office.

In 2009, he wrote this for a Cato Institute publication: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. […] Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” He leaves no doubt that in a conflict between the two, his sympathies lie with capitalism, not democracy.

Red flags should shoot up all over the place on reading this, and some did in 2009. Thiel partially walked back his statement to say he didn’t want to take away anyone’s right to vote. He has also added, “We’re living in a representative republic, but then that’s modified through a judicial system. Of course, that’s been largely superseded by these very unelected agencies of one sort or another, which really drive most of the decision-making.”

When the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about Thiel, Trump and the convention, a commenter named Tom Channing offered this by way of putting the pieces together:

“Peter Thiel is explicitly against the concept of democracy. This isn’t something people concluded about him, it’s something he proudly said himself. This is a conclusion he came to after a lot of deep thought. Unlike Trump, who is personally stupid and child-like, Peter Thiel is a very smart guy and doesn’t say or do things without understanding their full implications. The alternative to democracy is dictatorship. Again, logical. Again, something that would not be lost on somebody as smart at Peter Thiel. Donald Trump is the closest thing so far to an out-and-out dictator we’ve ever seen in American politics. His core message is “strength”, which, to any of us who have read a lot of history (like say Peter and myself), know that is the message of a dictator.”

The Guardian newspaper put it this way: “Trump isn’t just a flamethrower for torching a rotten establishment, however – he’s the fulfillment of Thiel’s desire to build a successful political movement for less democracy. A Trump administration would diminish democracy, lending credibility to white supremacy and ultranationalism. Trump is openly campaigning on the idea that American democracy should belong to fewer people. . . . Such an outcome would fit Thiel’s purposes well. For Thiel, a smaller, more easily manipulated mob is preferable to a bigger one. If democracy can’t be eliminated, at least it can be shrunk through authoritarianism. A strongman like Trump, by exploiting the racial hatred and economic rage of one group of Americans, would work to delegitimize and disempower other groups of Americans.”

A quarter-millennium of progress toward expanding democracy, voting participation and human rights in America could stand on the edge of reversal in this coming election. – rs

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Trump

rainey

For anyone with an honest interest in the true profession of politics, the name James Earl Carter may have been on your mind for the last few months. If you’re fortunate to have access to any form of media expression, coupled with that sincere interest in all things political, you’ve been wrestling with what to say about the Carter story – and how to say it – since his disclosure a year ago that he has cancer. And a resulting remission.

The best regional piece I’ve read was from friend Marc Johnson in Boise, on his blog “Many Things Considered” awhile back. Something thoughtfully political with a great deal of heart and substance.

Historians will continue to debate the Carter presidency as they do those of all temporary occupants of the Oval Office. The good – the bad – the important – the trivial. That’s their job and they’re welcome to it. Not possessing any of their scholarly credentials, don’t look for any of that here.

But, I’m an adult American male with some longevity and understanding of what I admire in someone of that same simple description. Politics aside, I can think of almost no other public figure who rises to the common definition of role model and just plain decent human being as does James Earl Carter.

I’m a cancer survivor. So far. As such, I’ve watched Carter’s public discussion of that very private issue of possible death with interest. In sum, his public statements about his battle contain what every medical professional looks for in someone in their care – thoughtfulness – perspective – reflection – understanding. And humor. Humor from – and directed at – the human experience that death is a part of living. If religion is part of someone’s life – as it certainly is for Carter – invoking one’s faith is not only relevant but crucial in how matters of fate can be accepted.

But, within a few hours, matters of politics soon interrupted these moments of witnessing humanity at its best. In less than a day, one of the cretins running for president took a public shot at the Carter presidency. A shot not only ill-timed but factless. As too many of recent statements have been. Embarrassment and personal humiliation don’t exist in Cruz world.

But Cruz and others – whoring for dollars and votes – have offered the most glaring examples of how far the institution of national politics has fallen compared to the humanity and moral stature of a Jimmy Carter. Trump is the worst as he usual is when taking about the value of someone’s humanity. His outright prostitution is selling himself for public adulation and to gorge his billionaire-sized ego

Try to simultaneously hold in your mind the kind of personal and public life lived and the contributions to humanity made by Carter since his White House years, while also considering those “candidates” who got into the Republican primary this year. Pick any one of the strident voices from the entire pack – just one – from whom voters could expect a future personal life of humanitarian service, public dignity and selfless contribution. I can’t.

Our recent political history is befouled by money, lies, unfounded fears of government spread by callous but well-paid voices, wide-spread willful ignorance, candidates far, far exceeding the “Peter Principle” and scores of office holders not qualified to do the jobs to which they’ve been elected.

The National Republic Party is reaping a harvest of shame from years of accepting the lowest denomination of unqualified candidates. This scrum of flotsam has been propped up by billionaires determined to set our country’s agenda for decades to come. For Democrats, the candidate is someone whose run has long been “ordained” but who’s not been sufficiently publically challenged in this campaign and who’s become profoundly rich at the public trough.

And it’s our fault. We’ve accepted all that. With the exception of Clinton and Sanders, we’ve accepted vastly unqualified people who’ve disdained educating themselves or participating in the knowledgeable conduct of their government. We – you and I – have not been involved enough with a selection process that puts names on the ballot – the names from which we have to chose who’ll determine our national course. We’ve stood at the polling place too often and cursed while making a choice of “the lesser of two evils.” By our careless and uninformed vote, we’ve allowed office seekers – and holders – to become whores chasing dollars and taxpayer-funded retirements while rewarding big donors with favoritism. We’ve failed to demand high standards and have allowed incompetence to be perpetuated and accepted. We’ve wrongfully allowed elected office holding to be perpetual employment.

Then, a former peanut farmer from Georgia displays the grace, dignity, acceptance and guts of someone you can’t help but admire, whatever his politics. He does it in our living rooms, face-to-face, showing us how to deal with our own mortality by offering the finest of ourselves.

For centuries, travelers have navigated by the North Star because of its reliability and brightness. Future presidents would do well to navigate their courses using the same qualities of humanness as James Earl Carter.

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Rainey

trump

When your mayor speaks about your city, you expect them to talk it up – what a great place it is to live in, to do business in, to recreate in. That’s normal. It’s part of the job. Same thing for governors and their states.

And presidents and their countries.

In his debate Monday night with Hillary Clinton, presidential nominee Donald Trump called the United States “a third world country.”

As he did at his party’s convention, he described it as a horrific center of violence, an economic hellhole. A terrible, terrible place. And he went on this way, at length. It was not a passing comment but a central thread to his message.

To be clear here: Another part of running for president is to enumerate problems that the country does have, and talk about answers for them. Trump did enumerate some problems – usually in overwrought, almost hysterical terms. He missed many, many others. And he offered actual solutions for nearly none. When asked how he would redress certain problems (such as, near the beginning of the debate, bringing back to America jobs which have been offshored), he comes up with nothing. Nothing.

What we’re left with is a vision of dystopia and hopelessness – and not only for now, but for the course of a Trump presidency.

I woudn’t vote for a person to be president of a local stamp collectors club if he had a comparable attitude about stamps, the collectors, or the club. It would just be counter productive.

If they want to protest the existence of a stamp club from outsidem fine. But send them out the door – or, in this case, into the loser’s column on election day.

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Trump

jorgensen

Legislators descended upon the capitol building in Salem last week for a series of interim committee meetings. But before conducting the peoples’ business, they convened in the Senate chamber to pay their respects to Sen. Alan Bates (D-Ashland), who passed away August 5.

Bates’ Tuesday, September 20 memorial service was attended by both former and current state lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists and members of the news media alike. Oregon Congressional delegation members Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader joined former governors Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Governor Kate Brown and Salem oncologist and Republican gubernatorial nominee Bud Pierce in honoring Bates’ memory.

Soft piano music created appropriate ambiance as quotes about Bates from political heavyweights like Brown and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) appeared on large screens, accompanied by similar remarks from citizens from throughout the state.

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) banged the gavel to start the ceremony, as he’s accustomed to doing as that chamber’s presiding officer. Representatives from the military honored Bates’ service in the Army and as a veteran of the Vietnam War before Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) gave the invocation.

Monroe told an anecdote about a time he was ill and his wife urged him to call Bates, who spent much of his professional career as a physician. Bates showed up five minutes later with his black doctor’s bag “and he never sent me a bill,” Monroe said, prompting quiet laughter from the audience.

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) said that Bates served with “passion, integrity and honor.”

“As I look in this chamber, I see people Doc loved,” she said. “I see people he healed.”

Brown said that Bates left an “indelible mark” on the Legislature.

“In many ways, he was the heart of the Senate,” Brown said. “His heart was to help people.”

Kotek offered similar praise for Bates.

“Alan Bates was a lot more than a nice guy,” Kotek said. “He was considered a colleague and friend by so many.”

Bates’ daughter, Keri, said he was a “humble man” and a “master mediator” who brought people together to get things done.

“He would have hated all this fuss,” she said. “But he would have appreciated it, nonetheless.”

Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem) was one of many lawmakers Bates had assisted with health issues over the years.

“I did as he advised, and am healthier for it,” Winters said. “I wish I could have thanked him one more time for his care and his compassion.”

A video presentation of photos from Bates’ life showed him as a boy, as a Cub Scout, in military uniform, flyfishing, sitting pensively during a committee meeting and with his grandkids and other family members.

Courtney credited Bates for never backing away from difficult issues.

“He always took the tough vote,” Courtney said, and did it “over and over again.”

In closing, Courtney told a story about a day during last February’s legislative session when he was feeling under the weather. Bates left him some orange juice and insisted that he drink it. Courtney said he did, and was much better afterwards.

“Thank you for always being on call for us,” Courtney said. “What are we going to do without you?”

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Jorgensen

trump

I’ll return to the subject of Donald Trump and the usage of Amerian nuclear weapons – about which, his core attitude seems to be, if you have ’em, why not use ’em? – a little later. But that’s not the only nuclear-related subject that ought to serve as a presidential disqualifier.

The other one is: Maybe a bunch of other countries ought to have them too.

A number of countries do, of course, and the spread of nuclear arsenals over the decades generally has been seen as a serious problem. The United States has been opposed to that expansion since the Truman Administration, back when the United States did have a nuclear monopoly. Most American presidents, including Barack Obama, have taken steps to try to control the further spread of nuclear weaponry, especially into the hands of terrorists.

Trump, who professes to a fascination (which sounds as if it borders on the unhealthy) with nuclear weapons, remarked, It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them.”

He said that at an April 3 Fox News interview, and also said this: “In many ways, and I say this, in many ways, the world is changing. Right now, you have Pakistan and you have North Korea and you have China and you have Russia and you have India and you have the United States and many other countries have nukes.”

Two months later, Trump told CNN this: “I am prepared to — if they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world. We are, right now, the police for the entire world. We are policing the entire world.

“You know, when people look at our military and they say, “Oh, wow, that’s fantastic,” they have many, many times — you know, we spend many times what any other country spends on the military. But it’s not really for us. We’re defending other countries.

“So all I’m saying is this: they have to pay. And you know what? I’m prepared to walk, and if they have to defend themselves against North Korea, where you have a maniac over there, in my opinion, if they don’t — if they don’t take care of us properly, if they don’t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what’s going to have to happen, Wolf? It’s very simple. They’re going to have to defend themselves.”

These are among the kind of comments that have led scores of Republican, not to say Democratic, foreign affairs and defense specialists to warn that under no circumstances can Donald Trump become president – lest this country face danger like it has not faces since the tensest times in the Cold War. – rs

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Trump

trump

We all of us here are Americans. Those I like and agree with, those I don’t. We’re all covered by that promise on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” The people, for that matter, Neil Diamond sings of in his song “America.” People like my four grandparents, who made their way here just a little over a century ago.

Or Issur Danielovitch, the son of recently-immigrate Jewish Russians, born in December 1916, who would eventually change his name to Kirk Douglas. In recent weeks, as he has watched the election unfold just ahead of his 100th birthday, he has reflected on the century past, and what he has seen.

Such as the Second World War, “started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness. I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously. He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric. The ‘experts’ dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong.”

Douglas wrote about how, recently, his wife Anne, who grew up in Nazi Germany, was “chilled to the bone” when she heard these words from presidential candidate Donald Trump:

“We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here…[including] new screening tests for all applicants that include an ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values…”

A shocked Douglas (who served in the Navy in World War II) reflected, “Until now, I believed I had finally seen everything under the sun. But this was the kind of fear-mongering I have never before witnessed from a major U.S. presidential candidate in my lifetime.”

The point of this particular disqualifier isn’t even the point Trump was trying to make, or even the world view he was promulgating – I’ll cover those disqualifiers, bad as they are, elsewhere.

My point here is Douglas’ remark about how Adolf Hitler “was laughed at ― not taken seriously. He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric. The ‘experts’ dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong.” Sound like anyone you know?

We dismiss people who filled with hatred at our extreme peril. They recognize no boundaries, no morality, no ethics. We cannot know what a Donald Trump, given power, actually might do. Because of his arrogance and ignorance, there’s probably a low ceiling to the good he could do. But there may be no bottom to the potential bad. – rs

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Trump

stapiluslogo1

When Republican Senator Mike Crapo was last up for election, and was overwhelmingly favored for a re-election he easily won in a landslide, he showed a little vulnerability at one point.

That was amidst his debate with Democrat Tom Sullivan, who lobbed one tough debate point after another at Crapo. In Idaho terms it was not out of bounds but was pungent. What went on inside Crapo’s mind only he knows, but he looked to be steaming, furious, and he didn’t come across well. If the race with Sullivan had been close, it might have been seriously up for grabs after that debate.

Crapo’s first Senate debate, in 1998, was a different matter. There, his sparring with Democratic Boise attorney Bill Mauk was no less intense than the 2010 model. But it also was so high-minded, so intelligently geared to ideas and issues that people spoke of it afterwards in terms of being Idaho’s version of a Lincoln-Douglas debate. It may be the best joint debate performance I’ve ever seen in Idaho. One of the things it accomplished was this: Whether you were a Republican or a Democrat, you got your side of the case made solidly by those two candidates.

Today, if you’re an Idaho Republican, you may not feel as if you need your side of the case explained: Unless the state this year takes an abrupt left turn from what it’s done for the last quarter-century, it will vote down the line Republican, mostly if not entirely in landslides. Still, absent some kind of formalized debate – and Idaho’s debate structure is better formalized than some states have – there’s no explanation for it. An unchallenged position can become a mindless one.

But if you’re an Idaho Democrat, when you heard that the state’s three Democratic candidates for Congress – Jerry Sturgill for the Senate and James Piotrowski and Jennifer Martinez for the House – all missed the filing deadline for the debates, you probably were appalled. The phrase “political malpractice” circulated around Democratic circles, and for good reason.

For Democrats, the debates are not only the best place during campaign season they have to make their own case, and the best place to criticize the Republicans, they’re also the one singular spot where they’re on a playing field with Republicans that’s level. Differences in money, in organization, in incumbency, in interest groups – none of it matters.

In a debate, there’s just two candidates saying their piece. It’s the most dramatic point in a campaign: Two antagonists going head to head. The presidential debate on Monday will get a big audience for that reason. The Idaho debates could draw a decent audience too, in Idaho terms. They still have the potential to change a few minds.

How it happened that all three Democratic congressional candidates missed the deadline for filing is unclear. The Idaho Debates organization, which includes people from Idaho Public Television, the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club, for years have been the organizers of the state’s only statewide debate series; the filings they require are intended among other things to show that the candidates involved are running serious campaigns.

The Democratic candidates and the state party were, at this writing, trying to put together another debate series through some other media outlets. Whether they can get the media support and the Republicans to go along is another question.

Incumbents generally would just as soon pass on debates if they can; it’s probably the most stressful single point along the way for a strongly-favored incumbent, as the current Idaho three are.

But they could pick up some points for participating. And it would keep them in practice for when the next closer call comes around. In the larger picture, everyone gets something useful out of campaign debates, even if it’s sometimes just an uncomfortable look in the mirror. Or sometimes, a stretch into stronger thinking and communicating.

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus

trump

Generally I try to avoid on this list items which come down to policy judgments. People of good will, and similarly presidential candidates, may disagree about some of these items.

But can people of good will really disagree about the wisdom of abruptly throwing 20 million people off health insurance? Donald Trump has proposed exactly that, saying he would move to demolish the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as soon as he became president. Plenty of people, including many other Republicans, agree.

But think for a moment before you do that. The effect of doing that would be to throw 20 million people off health insurance, and upend the country’s health infrastructure for years to come.

This is not to argue that the ACA is perfect and can’t improved. Of course it can, and no less than Barack Obama has made that case.

But 20 million people deliberately and swiftly thrown off health insurance. Preseisting conditions or – hell, any reason at all – for dropping health coverage will return.

How is that helping or protecting the people of the United States? Or even – since for some politicians the well-being of businesses matter when that of individuals does not – what does that do to the economic and financial side of health care in the United States? Health insurers and providers spent years adjusting to the ACA; imagine the chaos if they have to adjust virtually overnight to going back to what was. And what was, for millions of people, was no great bargain. To put it mildly. – rs

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Carlson

trahant

It’s time.

It’s time for politicians to treat American Indians and Alaska Natives as an important constituency, not an outside group living in our own homeland.

The words of North Dakota’s representative in Congress, Kevin Cramer, capture the old thinking perfectly. He told Oil and Gas 360 that the Dakota Access Pipeline will be built no matter what. “I think DAPL will be finished due to the investment and amount of construction already completed. Regardless of short-term decisions, I don’t see how you can’t eventually finish the pipeline. In the short-run, the question is whether the three agencies’ review will further delay the project by implementing a full-blown EIS or whether the review will approve of the process and apply any changes prospectively rather than retrospectively. I’m optimistic that [the work] will be up and running in a few weeks.”

And what about his constituents, the people of Standing Rock, who object? “I think the appropriate people at the tribe didn’t pay enough attention to the proceedings, but I don’t have any insight as to why they chose not to meet with the Corps of Engineers. I will say that the government to government expectations of tribal governments can sometimes get in the way of participation in more mundane, routine aspects of the regulatory process, which is unfortunate because they miss the opportunity to have their say in the matter.”

Geesh. No additional comments are needed. Add this quote to the dictionary as an example for “condescending.”

It’s time politicians use both hands. Sure a Republican is supposed to be the voice of oil and gas. It’s in the job description, especially someone who wants to be in a Trump Administration. But a representative of all the people could also at least try and understand his constituent’s concerns are and propose a solution. He could say, should say, “on the other hand …” and then restating an argument even if it’s one he disagrees with. That’s what is supposed to happen in representative democracy.

How do we make that happen? By making certain that Indian Country votes like never before. In North Dakota that means finding, roughly, forty-thousand votes. Can’t happen, right? North Dakota is a deep red state. But what if people who never vote, did? What if every reservation in the state showed up at unprecedented turnout rates, 80 or 90 percent of those who are eligible? That would be at least 10,000 more votes. Add to that voters from the camps at Standing Rock. Let’s say, 3,000 new voters.

But that’s like the refrain before stick games where you only hear the call, “Short! Winning side.”

Short? Winning side? Yes. Because Indian Country has more allies who need to be called up. If you add into the voter mix, GenX and the Millennial generation — terrible voters, they — there becomes a potential pool of 90,000 voters. Millennials are now the largest age group. But as Pew Research points out, “eligible voters don’t necessarily translate into actual voters – that all depends on who shows up to vote on Election Day. Whether Millennial and Gen X adults outnumber Boomers and other generations in November will hinge on voter turnout.”

Standing Rock is the kind of story that can accomplish that. Because it calls for people to do something more. It’s not just about candidates, but about the idea of what can be done. (Although don’t forget that there are three Native American candidates are running statewide in North Dakota, a record, Chase Iron Eyes, Ruth Buffalo and Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun.) Iron Eyes who’s running against Cramer reflects the mirror image on just about every issue, especially climate justice. He posted on Facebook: “People have asked where I stand on the Dakota Access pipeline issue. I have said it many times in many different media sources that water security is foremost in the world. There is no Bakken play, there is no lignite coal development, there is no farming, no ranching, no agriculture, no hunting, no fishing, no tourism, no industry, no jobs, zero economic development whatsoever without water. None. This is a matter of national security. So I don’t think the pipeline should cross the Missouri, at all.”

When it comes to the issue of climate change young people think differently than their elected representation.

“Climate Change is the issue of the millennial generation,” wrote Joelle Thomas in Scientific American. “Millennials,research suggests, are increasingly driven and motivated by a sense of purpose. As the world’s greatest cities risk disappearing under water during our lifetimes, the call to save the world we know becomes more compelling … millennials understand that the problems of 2050 are already our problems.”

Then the only way to fix our problems is for younger people to defy history and vote. A surprise turnout adding 40,000 votes would change everything.

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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trump

There is some reason – if you’re a Trump loyalist – to question the undergirdings of Disqualifier 47.

But the credibility of the case looks strong, and if you think there’s even a realistic possibility it’s for real, it should absolutely disqualify Donald Trump from the presidency,

It suggests, after all, that Trump really doesn’t want to be president after all, maybe doesn’t think he can do it, and he’d rather someone else do the work and he take the credit.

The Trump campaign has laid the basis for this on its own. In May, then top-advisor Paul Manafort told the Huffington Post, “He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He sees himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

So presumably substantial parts of the job, at least, he simply “doesn’t want to do.” Only the fun parts.

But then came the July 20 New York Times report about how he wanted to outsource practically all of the power of the job – to his vice president:

One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

There’s been, apparently, no indication he’s made a similar offer to his actual VP nominee, Mike Pence.

But still, such an offer is jaw-dropping. The man is running for president and he isn’t even interested in exercising its powers? Stunning. – rs

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carlson

Chris Walsh, the realtor who has made a fortune selling north Idaho land to “preppers” – those folk who believe they have to stockpile food and weapons to protect that food from hungry urban hordes come Armegeddon or the Russians invade – is buying three “double page” ads for three Sundays in a row in The Coeur d’Alene Press telling readers Donald Trump is the person to lead America back to prosperity.

Why not spend $3000 a pop or about $10,000 total? After all, his business feasts off fear and people being afraid, so afraid that they spend a fair amount of money purchasing land from which they can plug the starving hordes trying to steal their food-supply.

Walsh was recently quoted extensively in a long piece on the American Redoubt Movement in the Washington Post by Kevin Sullivan, one of their fine reporters.

Donald Trump, therefore, is the only choice. Trump doesn’t mince words as he plays to American insecurities about the future, too much illegal immigration, crime, the drug epidemic, American troops fighting proxy wars; and, the state of the economy. You’ve heard it all and so supposedly you’ll blindly stampede to the polls to vote for the biggest con man in history.

So, you bet, Mr. Walsh, let’s do what’s good for your business and urge people to vote for the fear-mongering artist par excellence, Donald Trump.

Walsh buries his real goal in copy that says the universal answer is creating more good-paying jobs.

In looking at his polemic it is easy to spot classic rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions, false either/or’s, false syllogisms, use of the vague “they” as in “they said,” and the straw dog argument one builds and then tears down.

Early on Walsh uses a false syllogism regarding youth’s alleged lost work ethic. He claims if the unemployed young had good-paying jobs they would rediscover the forgotten virtues of a decent job. Not necessarily so, Mr. Walsh.

Then he makes use of the vague “they,” as in “they sold us down the river,” “they told us that moving jobs overseas would not hurt,” “they were wrong, it’s a lie.”

Just who are “they?” Well, of course, the politicians and the super-rich. You can bet when Mr. Walsh is flying any of the super-rich around looking for property he doesn’t read this part of his thesis.

He throws out for consideration one of the mantras of this world’s cons: “The answers are actually simpler than most think.” I’m sorry but that is a pure lie. Life is full of complexities, ambiguities, and nuance. The thoughtful know there are no simple solutions to any serious divisive issue. Those that say otherwise just don’t get it and probably never will.

Walsh then lays out four ideas on how to creat jobs and get America moving. He sees a resumption of more natural resource conversion as the first principle. He sees a hard-working citizenry; he sees government at all levels as supportive, not dictatorial; and, he sees the need for legitimate trade agreements. Even I can agree with much of this and we could find common ground. The touble is this is Walsh speaking, not Donald Trump. Like many, Walsh thinks he knows wehere Trump is coming from. The truth is he doesn’t have a clue and neither does Trump himself.

Walsh also believes all these Trump generated jobs will end racism in America. I wish. Where’s he been the last eight years as the hard-right mounted its vicious, hate-filled campaign against President Obama?

Given all these preliminaries Mr. Walsh stuns with his primary reason to support Trump: “Because the Democrats and Establishment Republicans hate him.” That’s it, Chris? Seriously? Because he is hated Trump should be elected?

Walsh ends by saying it comes down to a hard choice. However, he again makes the mistake of framing matters in the false language of the either/or.

He ends by invoking a phrase made famous by the Beatles: The words “come together.”

The entire phrase in the lyrics is “come together, right now, over me.”

Not going to happen, Chris. Trump is a divider, not a unifier, and you know it.

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Carlson