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


In his article for the Atlantic previewing this year’s presidential debates, James Fallows talked with a variety of people offering perspectives relating to the event. One of the less expected was Jane Goodall, the renowned researcher of chimpanzees.

“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” she said. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

In the first and third debates, Trump (like his opponent Hillary Clinton) was locked in place at a piece of furniture. But in the second, he was able to move around. When he did, he instantly reminded many people (Fallows, for one) of Goodall’s description – not only how the male chimps moved, but why.

To express dominance.

If you’re looking for a through line connecting the disparate things Trump has done in this campaign, you can find it with the single word “dominance.” It’s not enough to defeat an opponent; he needs to dominate them. It’s not enough to have a good positive outcome; what’s necessary is to win, which means someone else has to lose.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has been arguing all year that the way to make sense of what Trump does, and why he does it, is through the lens of dominance: Either you dominate, or your’re beaten and humiliated. There’s no middle ground and no other outcome. Whether the United States or its people are prosperous and free is not the point, according to Trump speeches; the question is whether we “win” or “lose.”

“Trump is the master of GOP ‘dominance politics’, the inherent appeal of power and the ability to dominate others. All of this has a deep appeal to America’s authoritarian right, especially in a climate of perceived threat, which has been growing over the last two decades – something political scientists are now catching on to,” Marshall said in March.

By July, he wrote, “the entirety of Trump’s political message is dominance politics. To paraphrase McLuhan it is both the messenger and the message. Trump attacks, others comply and submit. Whether or not that is always true it is the story and the promise he has sold his supporters.”

The way he treats New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as his valet? The way he introduced his vice presidential pick, Mike Pence, by spending a half hour talking by himself, bringing Pence on stage and then leaving? It’s all about dominance.

And if he fails to dominate in a given setting? Look closely at the picture of Trump, in the seconds between the end of his third debate with Hillary Clinton, and before his family got to the stage to surround him. He stood there motionless, head down, seemingly lost in space. (Clinton had already bounded off stage to shake hands and greet supporters.) Trump had to have known he lost the debate, and with it his last good chance to change the trajectory of the race. But that was not all: He was beaten, humiliated, surely in his own eyes at least.

That may almost be cause for some sympathy. But imagine a Trump invested with the power of the office of the presidency, with a drive to dominate and humiliate all around him.

That means you, too. – rs

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University of Idaho President Chuck Staben is living on borrowed time. His days are numbered and the reason is simple: He just doesn’t get the fact that in today’s environment of winners and losers, the key to the perception that a university is exceptional and successful is whether it has a winning football (and to a somewhat lesser degree a winning basketball) program.

A statewide survey the University commissioned four years ago appears not to have been read by the then new and incoming president. That survey indisputably demonstrated that Idahoans all across the state rate Boise State number #1 in almost all categories measured. This position of superiority is a direct outcome of BSU’s football and basketball success.

When alumni identify with a university’s success they more quickly reach for their checkbooks. This becomes self-sustaining and self-fulfilling as success breeds more success. Respondents to the survey appear to believe that BSU is more efficiently run, a safer campus with a better faculty, and a better school for delivering a post graduate job. Few of these views are correct.

Staben’s major sin was deciding Idaho would be better off dropping down to the second tier FCS (Football Championship, the former Division I-AA) Big Sky Conference as opposed to staying at the FBS (Football Bowl – the big dogs like the PAC-12) level.

In Staben’s defense he did talk to the university’s many shareholders and did contract with Collegiate Consultants to review athletic spending at both peer universities and other schools. Staben is keenly aware that the Spokane television market is large enough to support just one major collegiate program, and in the Inland northwest that is Washington State in football and Gonzaga in basketball.

Idaho, Eastern Washington and Montana have to scramble for the crumbs left over.

Ironically, Staben’s decision comes in a year when the Vandals have a shot at the six wins needed to qualify for an invite to a bowl. Coach Petrino appears to have turned the program around, but to the chagrin of Athletic Director Rob Spear (whose crunching of the numbers shows it may cost Idaho more to step down) it may be too little too late.

It’s not so much Staben’s decision, it’s how he made it and when. Also, many are speculating who he listened to last before deciding. Critics are especially angered that Staben announced his decision in April after promising to wait until the fall football season was over. They also point to his use of the Operational Study by Collegiate Consulting not released until May 2nd but cited in April as part of the justification.

Many of Staben’s critics are large athletic donors who feel he lied to them by making a premature announcement. They charge Staben with deliberately sabotaging ticket sales and contributions to assist in making his decision a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Furthermore, Staben allegedly claimed the Big Sky Conference had given Idaho a “drop dead” date for deciding, which the Big Sky commissioner later denied.

Staben is further faulted for not really listening to those with differing opinions, and for who he does listen to last. Some point to Mike Parry as one of those overly influencing Staben. Others throw out other names.

Parry came to Idaho as part of a “package deal” that brought his spouse, Mary Kay McFadden, the highly successful vice president of development, family and alumni relations at Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, back to Idaho as the new vice president for advancement.

Whoever or whatever, Staben was led to believe a solid majoriy of large donors supported the move to the Big Sky.

This is absolutely not true critics say and claim Staben can cite few large athletic donors other than former interim Idaho president Gary Michael (the former chief exeuctive of Albertson’s ) and former Vandal football coach Keith Gilbertson, who now resides in Coeur d’Alene, as move supporters.

Staben does appear to have a tin ear regarding Idaho politics and just how political his job is. He is faulted for awarding much higher salaries to his new hires. Critics charge this has come at the expense of increasing student tuition which in turn has led to declining enrollment that is fast becoming a major issue within the university community.

Additionally, they point out Idaho no longer participates in the “good neighbor” tuition reduction program that used to be in place for applicants from any state touching Idaho’s borders.

Staben also received some poor advice telling him that it was illegal to offer a tuition reduction incentive program for alumni children to enroll at the University of Idaho. He also has long promised to start acting on a strategic plan that would restore the image and prestige of the University. So far little success has been noted.

Critics note the Idaho Board of Education which has the dual duty of being the University’s Board of Regents, appears to be totally in the thrall of Boise State partisans.

The real bottom line here, and why Staben should dust off his resume, is he has lost all credibility with a major constituency of the University of Idaho. When a chief executive of any kind of entity loses his credibility, its best for both the executive and the entity that the person pack his bags.

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Even Hitler accepted the election results . . . But not, apparently, Donald Trump.

This was not always so. At the first presidential debate, asked about accepting the results, Trump said, “I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is, if she wins, I will absolutely support her.”

But something – the polls? – changed. At several recent rallies, Trump made several references to questioning whether the upcoming elections were “rigged” and, implicitly, whether he would accept the results. There was, understandably, an outcry.

More recently, his daughter Ivanka and his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tried to walk it back. Asked if there was substantial campaign fraud, Conway told MSNBC, “No, I do not believe that. So absent overwhelming evidence that there is, it would not be for me to say that there is.” Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence made a similar statement.

But Trump himself did put an end to that line of talk. In his Thursday (and last) presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked him explicitly if he would accept the results of the election. That was not, please note, a request to accept that the election was error-free, just that he – like every presidential candidate in this history of this country – would accept the results.

“I will look at it at the time,” he said, then added, “I will keep you in suspense.”

Compare that to the patriotism shown in 1960 by Richard Nixon and in 2000 by Al Gore, who easily could have demanded something closer to justice in their respective races, simply be insisting on a closer look at the results, and could have wound up with the presidency, but didn’t because they felt the country needed closure and certainty.

An evidently stunned Wallace sought to clarify: “Not saying you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and the country comes together, in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?” Yep, that’s exactly what he said.

The CNN news report said, “The comments at the Las Vegas showdown marked an extraordinary departure from one of the most fundamental principles of American democracy: the peaceful transfer of power after an election. They exposed a divide with Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer before the debate ‘we’ll certainly accept the outcome of this election’.” (Better have a chat with Donald about that.)

Trump’s statement about not committing to accept the results is all by itself one of the most powerful disqualifiers from the presidency imaginable. Why? Consider this translation from Iowa editorial writer Jon Alexander: “”Will I start a civil war? I dunno. I’ll tell you later.” – rs

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A commentary from Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington.

In recent days, we have heard heated campaign rhetoric about American elections being “rigged” and somehow predetermined. This kind of baseless accusation is irresponsible and threatens to undermine voter confidence on this most basic foundation of democracy.

As a 24-year election administrator at the state and local level, with close relationships with the national elections community, federal security experts and independent academics, I have full and complete confidence in our system. Every eligible ballot will be handled securely and will be tabulated carefully and accurately.

As ballots go out this week, I am pleased to note that our paper-based system creates an audit trail. Our state registration system remains cybersecure and our tabulation systems in the counties are air-gapped and not connected to the Internet. We have multiple layers of security, both physical and electronic.

Voter fraud in the United States is considered extraordinary unlikely by experts. The voting system is highly decentralized, with each state, red, blue and purple, running their own elections with a total of over 9,000 election professionals who are directly accountable to elected or appointed officials. The culture is that professionals leave their personal politics at the door and treat every ballot with integrity.

This is quite true of our 39 tireless county auditors and election directors. Our counties operate with full transparency and welcome observers, some even using live webcams to show ballot processing.

It makes no sense that election managers would somehow indulge in a conspiracy across party lines and state lines.

As with concerns about cybersecurity, Washington remains vigilant to any possible voter fraud.

Voters should have trust in our elections system. My hope is that every registered voter will confidently cast their ballot. We will ensure their ballot is tabulated just as they cast it. There will be no rigging on our watch.

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The job of a presidential does not overlap exactly with that of a candidate for the office. If it did, we’d be electing nothing but wonderfully well-suited presidents. The needed skills for each are a little different.

There is some similarity, though, enough that by watching how a candidate runs, you can get some sense of how that candidate will handle many key parts of their presidency. Barack Obama ran what was one of the most brilliant campaigns for the top office, ever; that much usually is admitted even by many of those who opposed him, Republicans included. His display of many of the skills involved, from finding excellent help, demonstrating conversance with a large and wide-range collection of issues, inspiring large numbers of people, an understanding of new communications tools and how to use them, raising funds and spending them well (a little-noted part of the Obama campaign’s success), honing a message and delivering it effectively enough to win support of a large number of Americans, gave many Americans confidence that Obama would also do a capable job once in office. (Obviously, not everyone agrees, but as his second term winds down, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans do.)

It can be said of Donald Trump and has been – maybe most often by himself – that his ability to vanquish 16 competitors in his own party for the Republican nomination for president is a demonstration of some political skill. But it’s a demonstration that went only so far. He had a few genuine insights (most notably, the real nature and thinking of a large part of the under-served Republican core base), and a great deal of luck (his opponent’s hapless efforts to cope with his unexpected presence, which ran outside their calculations). For a specific audience, he has been an electrifying presence.

None of those skills, or perceptions, much translate into the running of a presidency. And if you look at the other campaign activities and demonstrations of skill shown by Obama, and many of his successful predecessors of both parties, you find hardly any of those traits replicated by Donald Trump.

Finding excellent help? Not really, and he runs through top campaign staff like a kleenex box and a man with a bad cold: He’s on his third campaign manager in six months, and apparently disregarding her (relatively sound) advice already. Demonstrating conversance with a large and wide-range collection of issues? Sorry, not in his litany. Inspiring large numbers of people? Only those in his hard-core base; few others can stand him. Understanding of new communications tools and how to use them? Aside from Twitter, which he over- and mis-uses, he seems to be a technical Luddite. Raising funds and spending them well? Somewhat surprisingly, he’s shown little ability in either area. Honing a message and delivering it effectively enough to win support of a large number of Americans? Not close; he’s far more comfortable riffing like a stand-up comic, the closest model available for his rally performances.

Donald Trump flukishly tapped into a vein of real concerns and grievances on the part of millions of Americans, but he has neither the understanding nor the skills to do anything useful with or about them. His campaign is a prime demonstration of that. – rs

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It was the bottom of the second inning of the second game of the National League playoffs, Cubbies v. the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez slammed in a single-run homer, the only run of the entire nine innings.

This, Mike and me, we learned afterwards. While Gonzalez worked his magic, we were gazing at the Suddenlink blue screen of death in Mike’s living room. Error No. XXXXXX, please wait a few moments for the channel to return. At 1715 and 1730, Suddendeath repeated its message. Please, just wait a moment.

Cell phone calls ensued.

We were informed that Customer Service was closed for the weekend. Tried Suddenlink tech support, which reported after numerous pushed buttons that Mike was not subscribed to the channel – which he’d been watching all season and is paying for.

Anyone, and I mean everyone, who is a subscriber to Suddenlink, nee Cebridge, nee Cablevision, is a blithering idiot. As the blue screen of death refreshed itself with yet another blue screen of death, Mike demanded, over the telephone, a name and an address to whom he could lodge a complaint, and promised a call to the Better Business Bureau as well.

They gave him an address, no personal name, just a P.O. box in Houston. Mike will no doubt write a nasty letter to them, but good bloody luck. It will not get to the right person.

When the Zanettis created Cablevision, which began with a big receiving antenna up top of Burke to catch the four channel signals issuing intermittent service from the stations in Spokane it was a Good Thing. They wired-up those of us down in the gulches, it was a local operation and a noble enterprise. God bless ‘em. We finally got TV here in the mining camp.

Suddenlink is neither local nor noble anymore. The Zanettis sold their co-ax-wired system years ago. There is, such as it is, still an office in Osburn, about 5 miles west of Wallace, where reside a few trucks whose main duty (this, honest to God, from one of their own servicemen) is to disconnect pissed-off customers who have gone to a dish or Frontier’s (nee Verizon’s) DSL.

When Cebridge/Suddenlink was the only game in town, I was getting download speeds slower than dial-up. Not always, but frequently enough that I had their techy supporters on speed-dial.

When Verizon, now Frontier, started offering DSL as competition to Suddendeath, I snatched the deal and with the odd (semi-annual, at worst) outage, they’ve not let me down. Happiest day of my life was when I called up Cebridge/Suddenlink) and said, “Get your shit out of my house and don’t waste a stamp asking me back onto your system, no matter the discounts. I wouldn’t take your service again for free.” Some guy in California yawned and said, OK.

Anyone who feels loyalty to Suddenlink because of the Zanettis’ pioneering efforts to stream visual media into this mining camp needs to have their head held underwater until the bubbles stop.

I marvel at the stupidity of the Wallace powers-that-be who continue to enable Suddendeath’s screw-job on the city. When my friend, who is connected to this user-unfriendly city-mandated system, needs to do a major download or upgrade, she brings the computers home rather than wait all night on no salary.

Mike’s letter to Houston will never get to its intended source, because Suddenlink’s American corporate P.O. box is actually in St. Louis, not the Houston address he was given.

And writing St. Louis won’t do any good, either. Cebridge/Suddenlink is in reality a European company and headquartered in Belgium and Switzerland under the aegis of the Altice Group LLC.

Having endured Suddenlink’s voice-mail hell, Mike and I repaired to the Metals Saloon and watched the remainder of the game on satellite. A couple of hits, no runs and no errors, but the Rainier was in handy supply and Tracey’s service was as always, superb. Which is a helluva lot more than you can say about Suddendeath.

Think you’re dealing with a local company? Wait. I can still see your bubbles. Keep thinking. Don’t ya love globalism?

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Not often would, or should, a presidential candidate’s post-campaign plans enter into consideration of why that person should become president.


When a presidential candidate can conceive of his run for the highest office in the land as a launching pad for a new business enterprise, that’s a startling reversal of priorities that should stun the senses.

Welcome to Trump TV.

Caveats here up top: No one has announced such a thing, it may never materialize, and what degree of interest candidate Donald Trump may have in it is not clear.

There’s been speculation that Trump, who has a long-running presence on reality TV (mainly in “The Apprentice”) might combine efforts with two friends and allies who have extensive media experience: Roger Ailes, formerly head of Fox News, and Steve Bannon, now the CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign and also formerly head of Breitbart News and a former film producer. (One early-on problem would be that Ailes and Bannon apparently are not friendly.) The concept would be a new media organization, which might include web, cable TV or streaming activities, with a presumed built-in audience: The Trump campaign loyalists.

There is somewhat more than just speculation to this. On Monday the Financial Times reported, “Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November. . . .the approach suggests Mr Kushner and the Republican candidate himself are thinking about how to capitalise on the populist movement that has sprung up around their campaign in the event of an election defeat to Democrat Hillary Clinton next month. Mr Trump has in recent days ramped up his criticism of the “dishonest and distorted” mainstream media, which he accuses of being biased against him in collusion with the Clinton campaign.”

Trump hasn’t added a lot of personal fuel to the fire. A recent Huffington Post report said that “Trump denied last month that he’s had any talks about starting a media company, whether alongside disgraced former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who has recently advised him, or other conservative media figures. Ailes reportedly has a non-compete clause that could prevent him from launching a Fox News competitor.”

But a source also said for that article, “Trump is saying, ‘I’m not going to give up trying to be president, but just in case it doesn’t happen, I want to have a voice for me and my people … we will not lose the voice we’ve built.’”

Is Trump’s “appeal to the base,” his campaign approach dominating the last month of his campaign, really nothing more than a business setup for what comes next?

Is the United States really nothing more than one more big business opportunity to him, damage to the country be damned?

We’ll know in another three weeks. – rs

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We older folk spend an inordinate amount of time in our latter days running to keep up with technology, new social acceptances and the multitudinous current events around us. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how fast all those things change.

Those of us still able keep up mentally, socially and with the changing morality, do pretty well. But, sometimes, something comes along that’s surprising. I had such an experience the other day when I ran afoul of someone on Facebook. Interesting, speaking of change. Spellcheck doesn’t recognize Facebook. Spellcheck, either, for that matter.

We’re not habitual Facebook users at our house. We check in periodically. We sometimes find something interesting or humourous to pass along. We learn what’s going on in someone else’s life. We’re exposed to strangers who may – or may not – have something interesting to contribute. We see – and skip over – a lot of material not suitable for mixed company. These “SECOND THOUGHTS” ramblings are often re-posted there. We sometimes are brought up short by an unexpected response to something we’ve posted. That’s where my new experience came in.

First, some background. I’ve never given much deep thought to Zuckerberg’s electronic gossip line. After learning its invention years ago was pretty much to improve ways college students “hook up,” I sort of accepted its expanded role in most people’s lives as just another technological convenience. Or, inconvenience, as the case may be.

Our household use of Facebook is done without publishing a great deal of personal information about either of us. No need for the exposure. Those in our lives who need access – or have interest in such information – already have it. Those who don’t – don’t. We get very little spam. We try to be careful what we post.

But, I’ve got to admit, I let my guard down with Facebook. It sneaked up on me. Shortly after initiating my page, I got “friend” requests from lots of folks we’ve known over the years. We found old school names we hadn’t thought of in 40-50 years – found some USAF buddies long lost – even a forgotten family member or two. Quite an amazing experience for oldtimers who – like all oldtimers – spend considerable time wondering where so-and-so is now or whatever happened to cousin Grace or how an old house you lived in 35 years ago looks now. We suddenly got answers to all of that. And a lot more!

So, in the early period, Facebook seemed harmless enough and brought with it contacts that had been lost or forgotten. It sort of oozed into our consciousness and daily routine. Until a week or so ago it didn’t get much more thought than any other daily exercise. Then I got brought up short.

The insidious thing – and I now know as a hidden danger about Facebook – is it keeps growing. Usually for two reasons. First, old familiar names keep cropping up. They want to be part of the communication. Harmless enough. Except people change. Not having conversed in 30-40 years, you don’t really know that person anymore. He/she is just a “voice from the past.” You really may not know that person as he/she is today.

The second reason/danger – at least in my case – is that “friends of friends” keep showing up. If Cousin Lucy has a friend she stays in contact with, that friend of Cousin Lucy may want in on the conversation, too. So she slides into the list of contacts. No big deal.

Except. You don’t know that “friend.” You don’t know the personality – what makes him/ her laugh or cry – what, if anything, you may have in common – whether you’d like her or find her a bore – whether she’s a boozer, religious, on drugs, likes/hates kids, likes/hates animals, has a compatible personality or would walk over you on the street. A stranger. But a stranger you now “talk” to.

This last part – last danger – is what I walked into. And got gobsmacked.

Those who really know me know I love satire. I love puns and wordsmithing and Groucho Marx-style verbal sparring. My humor tends to be on the pointed side. Some would say occasionally sarcastic or caustic. Comes from many years in the media covering plane crashes, car wrecks, seeing lots and lots of bodies on the crime beat. And dealing with too many politicians. Without a sharpened sense of humor, you don’t last.

Whatever. Someone I hadn’t seen in 30 years or more – and whom I didn’t know well even then – posted something which brought wide personal praise. About 20 wonderful, positive responses. I, on the other hand, reverted to form and humorously – at least I thought so – humorously inserted a small verbal pin prick.

Not good! The immediate response pounded me. And, when I attempted to apologize, I was instantly electronically informed, “See, there you go again!” I guess we’ve “unfriended.” Maybe rightly. Maybe wrongly.

This will probably happen again. And you may run into something just as painful, too. Facebook is a good way to communicate with friends. I mean FRIENDS – people you know well-enough to appreciate their sensibilities, their likes and dislikes. And their tolerance level for all sorts of things. I didn’t know those things about my sensitive “friend” of three decades ago and stepped right in it.

So, my advice is this. Be careful out there. “Friending” and “unfriending” don’t really mean what they say. At least not on Facebook. It can actually be a minefield of people who don’t know you, don’t have other contacts with you, who’ve changed a lot since your last personal encounter, who don’t realize how much you’ve changed, who talk one way but react another or just don’t understand your sense of humor.

Be careful. Be VERY CAREFUL. When someone on your Facebook page asks for your opinion and you give it – be prepared to be unfriended. Friend.

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Notice how, when things don’t go Donald Trump’s way, his response usually involves furious destructiveness?

It’s happening in epic style as this is written, as the polling has gone decisively against him, media reports are frequent but overwhelmingly bad news, and his critics (such as Republican politicians and abuse victims, two categories that do overlap) continue to multiply in number.

Trump, apparently having shaken off the last influence from his handlers, said he is free of the “shackles” and can campaign as he wants. That involves spreading doubt about the veracity of American elections, warning of extreme dangers if his opponent wins demanding a drug test before the next debate, hashing women who have accused him of sexual assault, and an ongoing string of bizarre moves.

All of that is bad enough. But what would a four-year-old’s tirade look like in the West Wing? How many people might suffer or die because the Donald didn’t get his way that day? – rs

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A president who aims to look out for this country has to think of its well-being in terms of something more than talking points, and look at it in terms broader than for himself alone.

Donald Trump’s campaign has given us repeated examples to the contrary, enough that several allied points can be drawn from them.

But focus here for a moment on one in particular – the largest catastrophe the United States has faced in at least the last decade.

That was the 2008 crash of the housing market and finance system, a crash foreseen, to one size or another, by a good many people (though not nearly enough of those in a position to do something about it in advance).

Two years before it happened, developer Trump said he doubted a crash would happen. You could ding him to some extent for a lack of foresight, but he was hardly alone on that count.

Where he was unusual, if not totally alone, was on this: He hoped such a crash would happen.

Never mind the terrible effects on millions of people, the collapse of huge businesses, the devastating effect on the United States.

Trump said this:

“I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy,” Trump said in a 2006 audiobook from Trump University, answering a question about “gloomy predictions that the real estate market is heading for a spectacular crash.”

As CNN reported, “The U.S. housing bubble burst two years later, triggering the stock market crash of 2008 that plunged the U.S. economy into a deep recession, leaving millions of Americans unemployed. Trump was speaking with Jon Ward, a marketing consultant who “masterminded all the initial education programs for Trump University,” according to his website. The audiobook is available on iTunes.”

Trump continued: “If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you can make a lot of money,” Trump said in the 2006 audio book, “How to Build a Fortune.” “If you’re in a good cash position – which I’m in a good cash position today – then people like me would go in and buy like crazy.”

Don’t count on him to help the United States avert the next crash. – rs

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Here is one of the ways this year’s presidential campaign is so unusual:

The elected officials from one of the two major parties are split on their nominee, but more than that, it is the in-party supporters to that nominee who will have a much harder time explaining themselves, down the road.

Presidential nominee Donald Trump has divided Republicans nationwide, and no less in the gem state. Of Idaho’s five major officials, there’s (as this is written) an even split, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (who has a position in the Trump campaign) and Representative Raul Labrador sticking with Trump, and Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Mike Simpson in opposition. Senator Jim Risch, reportedly was out of state and apparently not weighed in.

The kind of rejection of one’s party nominee Crapo and Simpson have made is rare coming from elected officials in either party, especially those in the upper rungs. I can’t recall any similar, after the party nominations were made official, in Idaho in the last half-century. Crapo and Simpson are not the kind, either, to lightly abandon their party; over the years they have been as loyal to the Republican brand as any party loyalist could ask. Something really powerful must have blown them loose. (Neither, I should note, has gone as far as endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton.)

Crapo cited Trump’s “pattern of behavior …. His repeated actions and comments toward women have been disrespectful, profane and demeaning. I have spent more than two decades working on domestic violence prevention. Trump’s most recent excuse of ‘locker room talk’ is completely unacceptable and is inconsistent with protecting women from abusive, disparaging treatment.”

Simpson said he found “his recent comments about women deplorable. In my opinion, he has demonstrated that he is unfit to be President and I cannot support him.”

The large and fast-growing record of Trump statements and incidents concerning women offers plenty of backing for those statements. But you have to wonder. For these two to split from Trump, surely there was more than just a collection of statements and incidents, many of them years old.

If you listen to the ideas offered by Idaho’s congressional delegation, and its governor, over the years, you get little overlap with Trumpism. (Maybe Idaho’s Republican voters saw that in the primary contest, when the state went for Ted Cruz over Trump.)

Trumpism has attracted and closely allied itself with white supremacists and hard core nationalists of the kind Idaho, and many of its top officials, have been trying to shake off for years. Trump’s Florida speech Thursday would have gone over well at the old Aryan Nations compound.

Trumpism has no consistent policy. Those Republicans worried about who Hillary Clinton might appoint to the Supreme Court should reflect that no one (likely including Trump) has any idea who the orange whirlwind actually would appoint. Trump on any substantial topic is a spinning wheel; I can point you to 18 distinct changes of position on his hallmark issue – immigration – alone. Conservative? Liberal? Those concepts don’t seem to be understood by, and are unimportant to, Trump. Forget about any certainty.

Except this: A strong predisposition to authoritarianism, or more bluntly, an American dictatorship. Republicans no less than Democrats have raised this concern. Congress? The Supreme Court? Unimportant, along with participation by the American people. (He seems no more interested in the states, or in the 10th amendment.) Trump’s answer to all problems and issues, devoid of explanation, is what he said at the Republican National Convention and repeated since: “I alone can fix it.” He alone – no one else. You think the federal government has been too powerful? Wait ’til you get a load of this guy.

This is a Republican who doesn’t talk about freedom or liberty or opportunity, but about “safety” and “winning” and “getting tough.” His is the speech of a dictator, not an American politician.

Trump runs directly counter to nearly everything leading Idaho Republicans have said, over generations, that they support. The next time Otter or Labrador tell you how much they love freedom, state’s rights and the reputation of Idaho, ask them why they supported Trump. You may find Crapo and Simpson won’t have nearly as much trouble with the question.

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus


One reason we should insist on candidates for president filling in the gaps about what they would do in office is a little subtle. Yes, we should insist for the reason of knowing what direction they would take the country – what they would pursue or allow or oppose. (Presidential candidate “promises” are really a term of art: They never can be more than what a candidate legitimately might want or try to do; presidents are powerful but inevitably limited in their capacity to change the world.)

The more subtle reason we should insist on knowing their intents comes from reversing the telescope: So that we don’t write our hopes and wishes on them. A candidate left vague enough, who has personal appeal of some kind, can become a blank slate on which millions of people may write their own desires, often in contradiction with millions of others. This can lead to all sorts of obvious problems.

Donald Trump’s supporters may claim specificity for their candidate: Hasn’t he been spending more than a year delivering hour-long rally speeches and including talk about, well, all sorts of issues? Yes he has, but that talk has been astoundingly vague and slippery, even by the lowest of standards for politicians. Where he does come up with specifics (“the wall” or banning Muslim immigrants, for example) he soon evades, alters and adjusts when challenged. His supposed platform is made not of granite but of pudding.

In Trump’s case there’s an application of this vagueness that’s much worse than mere uncertainty.

Consider this passage from the Texas Observer a few days ago:

Trump has provided a dark, dank hole into which these folks can dump whatever it is they’re mad about. Even contradictory views, since Trump frequently changes viewpoint in midsentence, can happily nest there, swelling and breeding like poison fungus. …

It’s a jungle out there. At least, to hear the Republicans tell it. But what it’s really about, in earthier conservative circles, is a chance for people to feel important, to think they are standing on the lines of freedom, fighting back the zombie hordes. What drives these folks is fear; but for many, it’s a delicious fear.

It’s a chance for the bored and disappointed to play army, a way to justify having tons of guns and ammunition. They feel that if not for their vigilance, dead-eye aim, and concealment due to camouflaged pants and a Duck Dynasty cap, we would be standing on the edge of a precipice looking into the bowels of hell.

This is an invitation to follow Trump they know not where, and unleash violence along the way. And inject fear into the rest of the country along with them. – rs

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