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Posts published in “Bond”

Don’t screw it up this time

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

If one believes the polls, Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate next week, and retain the House of Representatives.

For the Republic, this may or may not be a good thing. As astronaut Alan Shepard, Jr. famously prayed, muttering into his microphone, on the launch-pad of America's first space-flight in May of 1961, “Shepard, don't f**k this up.”

We've had six years of a Democratic Senate and White House and seen the horrors of their monopoly. Harry Reid has been the hockey goalie blocking debate. I get his emails. On the other hand, Republicans didn't behave much better under Newt Gingrich. Comity evaporated. The sensible consensus is that regardless of party we are governed by greed-heads.

They Rs better make good use of their time, and they've only two years to show their stuff.

Hello Senate Rs. Shove bill after bill onto Obama's desk, passed by both houses. They should include, among many other things, mandatory up-or-down votes on regulations adopted by federal agencies now run amok.

For our purposes here in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District, such review ought to include the EPA's tawdry interpretation of the Clean Water Act. While Congress specifically confined the agency's authority to the navigable waters of the United States, EPA bent the rules to give itself authority over every molecule of H2O in the U.S.

Examples of “mission creep” are rampant in nearly every branch of the U.S. government and need to be stopped. We've come a long way from Richard Nixon's Council on Environmental Quality to Jimmy Carter's lame-duck Superfund, which is now on v 2.0 and slobbering for an upgrade.

Sen. Mike Crapo, who is not up for re-election this year, was in town the other day. The evening before, we blew the froth off a few with one of his long-time staffers, a personal friend from newspapering days, at a local pub. We introduced the staffer around and asked the miners – not CEOs or managers, just the people who do actual mining – what they'd like of the Senator.

To a man (and woman) they said, “Get the EPA and MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) off our backs and let us do our jobs.” Again, these were not corporate guys. They were mostly union guys and one shift-boss.

The working men and women of this nation have woken up to the perils of Progressivism, which unfortunately some of their unions at the national level have not. The working people have discovered the annoyance of a bureaucrat, uneducated in the nuances of the craft they perform, peering over their shoulders, citation books and lawsuits in hand.

It didn't used to be that way. The early EPA guys, even from Region X, were engineers and scientists: decent people. The early MSHA inspectors were experienced miners. They've all been replaced by MBAs, pencil-pushers and busybodies.

A decade or so ago, we shared an afternoon wine with Paul Glavin, who was at that time head of the United Steel Workers union's Northwestern U.S. region. It was Paul, a true gentleman, who posited that labour and management had common cause against the federal government's agenda. It is our common enemy if we want jobs and prosperity, and labour and management had better start talking to each other about this. There is evidence that this conversation has begun. (more…)

Wal-Mart, zipperheads, Idaho Republicans

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

Being a second-generation Republican – Dad served the 6th District of Washington State as an “R” in the House for many terms, and was deemed a “troglodyte” by that state's (also Republican) governor for his obstinance over raising taxes and his opposition to motorcycle helmet laws (“If the fools want to kill themselves, why is that our business?”) -- this is a tough thing to say:

We are pulling a straight Democrat lever come next month's county and state elections. Apologies to Butch and Lori Otter, who we respect and admire: If we thought our vote would matter we would throw it Butch's way. But the reality is that loonies are running the asylum, and it's time to kick the bastards out.

Never in Idaho politics has extremism so suffused Idaho's governance. The Religious Right ought to re-think its agenda. They're acting a lot like intolerant Muslims, and they are downright vicious. Toss 'em out.

There is so much cronyism going on in Shoshone County with this lot that your public profession for your love of Jesus Christ trumps your ability to run a calculator. If we may quote from the book of Matthew, it was Jesus himself who said:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Once again, let's toss the Pharisees out. If we have to replace them with Democrats, sorry Dad, so be it.

On to Zipperheads, the rude bicyclists who infest our community in summer, buy nothing, and drive their bicycle-hauling Volvos and Priuses down Moon Pass at 50 miles an hour. Our column in the Shoshone News-Press was killed by an ex-Californian who is one of them. Forty years of reporting in northern Idaho silenced by this bozo, who has run for ever paying public office and never been elected.

We were feeling a tad chastened by this – maybe we got something wrong about these moochie, earth-loving humanoids – until breakfast this morning at the Snakepit on our way back from Spokane.

We were warmly greeted by the morning waitress who said, “We loved your column about rude bicycle riders.” Apparently, the Snakepit has to deal with these people every day, being a trail-head for the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. All these cyclists want is free water from them. She points them to the cooler, where the bottled water is, at a buck a pop.

Lastly, on to Wal-Mart. It's a place everybody wants to pick on. Let us step aside from that noise. (more…)

Rituals

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Wallace St

Ritual is these days pretty much ignored or even despised, unless you're a gangsta wannabe who has to shoot a school-aged child to get yourself into the inner circle.

Ritual – the rite of initiation – used to be of great value to this country, at least to its male component. The rite of initiation used to humble us and make us human beings.

I can't claim to surviving Marine Corps boot camp training, as my father can. Nor did I attend the Air Force Academy, as my great kid brother did. But between initiation into Phi Delta Theta and a summer camp doing officer's boot with the USAF, I learned the lesson. Trouble is, the lesson has to be beaten into you.

One purpose of the rite of initiation is to grind you down and humiliate you beyond belief. In this age of artificially pumped up self-esteem, the “attaboy” for showing up for school once or twice a week even as you drool in a stoned stupor on your textbook, it's outright archaic.

Here's why the rite of initiation is not archaic: It turns wild young boys into human beings.

How does this happen?

Your masters, whether military NCOs and officers, or the seniors of your college fraternity, beat the living crap out of your ego. You are, at the end of weeks of physical exhaustion, forced to turn to some guy you never liked and beg him for help. And, funny thing is, he needed your help, too, and so did the chap next to you.

I will give a simple example, from a Phi Delt initiation. We pledges were placed in a circle and forced to do curl-ups until we were all about ready to croak, wearing buckets containing onions about our necks for a week. Not a dandy way to pick up girls from sorority row.

Hours and hours of this, after days of no sleep and all the time being screamed at. We could do no more curl-ups.

Then, one-by-one, a consciousness spread among us. The big asshole Hawaiian football player grabbed my arm and helped me do one more pull-up. By instinct I grabbed the guy on my left, whose name I cannot remember, and grabbed him up, and the three of us got ourselves up, and within the space of a minute we were all of us in that circle, arms locked, together, nobody better than anybody else. It wasn't about me anymore. It was about us, and we could do curl-ups together all night long.

At that moment, we got “it.” We were liberated spirits because we had become united. Ain't nobody better than anybody else. Some went on to greatness and built great things. Others became street bums, legislators or journalists.

It doesn't matter, because the rite of initiation gave us all the same starting line and, I believe, the same humility and sense of humanity. It is a rite sadly missing.

On the death of newspapering

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Wallace St

A friend sidled up to me the other day and said his daughter wanted to get a journalism degree and become a newspaper reporter. My response was that he should just loan her his Smith & Wesson. The consequences would be the same and she wouldn't be stuck with all that college loan debt.

Newspapering used to be robust fun. That's because we used to be a two-newspaper-town country.

One paper would be the calm, conservative, business-community oriented rag; the other would be the fire-breathing, liberal-bent, crusading rag. They went head-to-head every day with their coverage, and whether liberal or conservative, there would be an editor at each who said to his or her reporters, “Chill out and check your facts.”

Get it first and get it right – that was the rule – because if you blew it the competition would clean your clock.

Competition: that's how we got to the root of things. The competition of ideas informed our debate about matters that were of import great or minor. Neither newspaper in a two-newspaper town got it right every morning or afternoon, but if you read both, you could arrive at a sensible middle and a conversation could ensue.

Most important, two newspapers independently owned and edited in a single circulation area kept each other honest. The publishers and editors could spin things, but they had to hew to the facts or they'd get called on it, mercilessly.

I started my newspapering career in a country with two-newspaper towns: Seattle, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Coos Bay, Salem, Anchorage, Elizabeth, N.J. and the Silver Valley. You woke up in the morning and dashed to the front porch, picking up the papers and dying to know who had kicked whose butt. Did we get it first? Did we get it right? Or did those other guys whomp us?

As a reporter you cared because your editors would drag you into a room with rubber hoses if you blew it. “Where the hell were you when this happened?” was a pretty common question in the morning's inquisition.

In a one-newspaper town, these inquisitions don't occur. Who cares? There's nobody out there with a different version of the truth. (more…)

Remembering Hopper

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Wallace St

Saturday, Sept. 13, would have been Robert Dwayne Hopper's 75th birthday.

For those new here, or with short-term memories, Robert Hopper was owner and managing partner of the legendary Bunker Hill Mine in Kellogg, Idaho, from 1990 until his death in January 2011. He was an Elk, a Mason, a self-educated genius, and my dearest friend.

We met by happenstance in 1999 when a former colleague from the Coeur d'Alene Press who was working on the Milo Creek flood control project told me of this guy who had bought Bunker Hill, was making colloidal silver, and had just put the lie to the whole EPA Superfund fiasco in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin.

As to colloidal silver, try it sometime on a burn, or inhale a few drops to end your sinusitis: Silver is nature's oldest known bacteriacide.

No, despite the propaganda from Big Pharma, it won't turn you purple unless you chug a gallon of it every day. In jigger-sized daily doses it fights all kinds of disease, and over time even seems to give viruses a run for their lives. Big Pharma hates colloidal silver because you can't patent an element and charge a royalty for it.

Bob Hopper knew this, and many, many other things. His giant intellect inhaled knowledge and could not resist curiosity.

When the EPA-instigated “mining-caused lead pollution” debate in the Silver Valley was raging and every mining company was being sued to bankruptcy, it led him to postulate: If this is a lead-mining district, it's because there is lead here and has been for quite awhile. Where might one find a place where the normal, pre-mining “background levels” of lead might be found?

Simple answer: The Sacred Heart Mission at Cataldo, Idaho, chinked with mud from the Coeur d'Alene River and built between 1850 and 1853 – 35 years before lead-mining began here. He obtained permission to sample mud-chinking still in place from the Mission's original construction, split the samples from these tiny injections and sent them to two independent laboratories.

The results astounded even Bob Hopper, who was not easily astounded. The lead levels in the Mission's original mud were as high or higher than the levels the EPA was attacking and suing mining companies for.

Here's where the story gets funny. (more…)