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Posts published in “Carlson”

Bullying the neighbor

carlson

This past week’s clash between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump at the G7 Conference in Quebec has an historical context.

For some reason more than one American president has felt he could conduct himself boorishly towards a Canadian Prime Minister. Donald Trump is not the first nor will he be the last.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1969, the 36th president) still holds the prize for unpardonable behavior that went far beyond some insulting tweets.

During the mid-60s LBJ invited the then Prime Minister, Lester Pearson (1963-1968, the 19th Prime Minister), to be his weekend guest at Camp David. Just prior to their gathering Pearson had made some comments critical of an escalation in the Vietnam war effort undertaken by Johnson.

Pearson had barely left his helicopter to head to his assigned cabin when there came this loud voice alledgely yelling “Where is that little s.o.b.?” Johnson, who was literally a foot taller than Pearson, then walked up to Pearson and as a stunned staff and aides looked on¸ literally picked up Pearson by the lapel of his jacket, stuck his face into Pearson’s and yelled “How dare you ____ in my nest?

That has to be the nadir of the president/prime minister relationship.

Fast forward to today and Canada is America’s number one trading partner and over the years the two countries have enjoyed mutual prosperity brought on by items like the North American Free Trade Agreement. Despite this economic linkage few Americans can tell you one single fact about Canada except that it produces excellent hockey players.

Idaho shares a border with British Columbia of about 75 miles. You may think that we really don’t have a dog in any trade disputes with our neighbors to the north, but you would be wrong.

When the exchange rate is favorable many Canadians do their shopping in the Sandpoint-Coeur d’Alene-Spokane corridor. Those that grow impatient with waiting for needed surgeries under Canada’s “single-payer” health care sysem, and can afford it, come to the states for needed and timely medical procedures.

Right now there are two processes underway that all Idahoans should be following. One has to do with trade and the other with the renegotiation of the 1964 Columbia River treaty between Canada and the U.S.

After years of watching softwood timber from a subsidized forest industry in British Columbia undercut U.S.companies, the American industry sought a ruling from the Commerce Deparment that slapped a variable import duty of as much as 15% on some Canadian firms.

The Canadians immediately “challenged” the math and so the dispute is in the courts. Should the duty stay in place this willl level the playing field and should benefit firms like Idaho’s Idaho Forest Group.

Of even more importance to Idahoans is the start of renegotiations on the 1964 Coordination Agreement that has BPA working with BC Hydro to coordinate river flows and dam operations in both countries that result in maximized power sales. Of importance here are three reservoirs in Canada that all BPA customers and even private power interests bill their customers in order to pay Canada $250 to $350 million a year for access to the stored water when needed.

Americans think they are paying too much and Canadians think they are not paying enough for the access. Negotiators have many other issues to iron out, such as flow levels that would enhance salmon migration. They have until the current treaty’s expiration date of 2024.

My money is on Canada emerging with an even stronger hand simply because they control the upstream.

My money is also on Justin Trudeau’s cool and smarts prevailing over Trump’s bluster and ignorance. Trudeau will take a multifaceted team approach commensurate with the complexities of trade tariffs whereas Trump will remain a one man band.

Trudeau and company easily grasp the salient fact that both America’s and Canada’s economies are so closely integrated, and will grow ever more so, that attempts to levy tariffs by either side is tantamount to shooting yourself in your foot.

One other thing for sure: you won’t see Trump trying to pick up Trudeau by the lapel of his jacket. Trump and his boorish conduct probably guaranteed Trudeau’s re-election next year also.
 

Lame ducks

carlson

At its most basic level politics is all about power¸who has it and who doesn’t.

One of politics' sad sights is an elected official who has been defeated at the polls but his term still has six months to go. It also applies to those appointed to a high public service position, such as a university president, or a top executive in a corporation who is asked to stay on the job until a successor is found.

Such individuals are known as lame ducks. They can no longer fly but are still expected to strut.

On May 25th University of Idaho President Chuck Staben penned a note e-mailed to the entire Vandal world making him the lamest of lame ducks. He revealed his change in status but indicated he would be there through the coming academic year. Neither he nor the board would say whether he was fired or resigned.

He went out of his way to say his departure had nothing to do with the on-going investigation by the university into the Athletic department’s handling of two sexual harassment complaints to which they allegedly did not respond. (The Moscow Police some say were the first to fumble the ball.)

A few days later though the University quietly reported the administrative leave of Athletic Director Rob Spear had been extended as the school’s internal investigation was taking longer than expected. There are those who think that regardless of the outcome Spear is toast, a victim of not what did you know and when did you know it but rather shouldn’t you have known sooner.

That question is perhaps better directed at Staben rather than Spear whom I personally believe did nothing wrong and hope the final report exonerates him.

While Staben apologized for breaking his pledge to stick around following his weird bid for the presidency of the University of New Mexico four years into his time as the Vandal leader, many felt the board left him little choice once they refused the standard one year contract extension. UNM appears to be in no better shape than Idaho but why was he that desperate to get out of Moscow unless the board had given signals of unhappiness.
Of course no one wants to work for a lame duck so what little talent that remains has to be dusting off the resume. Why the board signed off on this is a mystery. One would expect they would cut their loss, buy up what remains of his contract and send him packing.

From this vantage point the board appears culpable regarding many of the current problems.

This has to be the nadir of the University of Idaho’s decline, especially from a leadership standpoint. I used to think that day came a few years back when the ethically challenged board chair, Blake Hall of Idaho Falls drove off the talented Tim White who today just happens to be the Chancellor of the entire California State University system.

Maybe Staben faced impossible challenges but his tin ear to the politics of Idaho didn’t help. He is a decent person but no leader and in the wrong job. Declining state support and large increases in student fees have many parents questioning the value of a U of I degree. Staben has seemed helpless before the incoming tide.

Why anyone would want to succeed him is a good question. The U of I has had a few years of stability and solid leadership in the past before it became clear their “flagship” role was being supplanted by a rising Boise State.
From 1965 to 1989 two presidents, Ernie Hartung and Richard Gibb held the fort. No one in Moscow though recognized they were about to be sliced and diced by several well thought out and well executed strategic plans by Boise State capitalizing on its assets.

Today finds Boise State extending its search for a new president not yet finding the right fit. One can bet though they’ll find the right fit and he or she will be very good. In the meantime Idaho State’s board has snagged the best rising in-state talent.

Attracting BSU CEO Kevin Satterlee bodes well for their future and his resume reveals he spent six years as a deputy attorney general assigned to be counsel to the board of education. It’s a good bet he understands both the board’s politics and the state’s. He has ties to southeast Idaho as well.

His law degree is from the University of Idaho but his undergraduate degree is from, you guessed it, Boise State. It used to be the state’s GOP leadership and office-holders were Vandals: Phil Reberger, Dave Leroy, Dirk Kempthorne, Jim Risch, Robie Russell, and Brad Little. All but Little are now in their 70s and are almost off the stage.

There’s no upcoming Vandal coming off the bench. There’s plenty of Bronco’s getting ready. What do you expect though from a leaderless university drifting into mediocrity?

Cry, beloved University of Idaho. Cry.
 

Two roads

carlson

It is truly one of life’s mysteries that the choices one makes as they move down life’s road can effect and alter the lives of others including people they have never met. Such is the case with Wilbert D. “Bill” Hall and me.

Hall, whom I consider to be Idaho’s finest political columnist and editorial writer died last week 81 years young still enjoying his evening wine as he contemplated a rich and full life.

I owe my first big journalism job break to Hall His decision to leave the Idaho State Journal to move across state to take up the political and education beat at the Lewiston Tribune created a vacancy that I serendipitously was able to fill.

Hall had barely left town when there I stood dressed in my “zoot suit - $5 special from the Salvation Army) before Lyle Olson desperately needing a job. Olson bit and I was on my way. Doubtful if I’d ever have gone down that road otherwise.

I met Hall about a year later when I stopped off in Lewiston to review a performance of Hall’s play, “Gifford Eaton,” for the Journal.

Hall had a wonderful dry wit and droll sense of humor, but he could slice and dice one in a nano-second if he thought he was being lied to or someone was abusing their office.

Thus office holders will often describe a love/hate relationship. Elected officials often critical of Hall included almost anybody who was somebody in the GOP from Larry Craig to Steve Symms to George Hansen.

Even Cecil Andrus was wary around Hall reminding me Bill was a reporter always on duty. Cece liked and respected Hall, but he felt the sting of more than a few bites. “if he compliments you one day give it a week and he’ll bite you. It’s like he kept a scorebook and always tried to keep it even,” Andrus once said.

Hall was smart, did his homework and knew the issues. He relished playing the H.L. Mencken role: My goal is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Most political journalists after a few years begin to have a yin to see a campaign from the inside. They want to see it from the other side and so they cross-over. In the old days that was it, you’d made a choice and you didn’t cross back. Hall decided to accept an offer to come to D.C. and join the staff of Idaho Senator Frank Church as press secretary. Times have changed as today in D.C. it is a revolving door.

Many of Hall’s friends warned him that he’d be captivated at first but rapidly grow tired of the power seekers, the con artists, the blatantly dishonest, all those on the make. Hall did decide to switch jobs, though, becoming the Church Presidential campaign’s spokesperson. That experience was not all struggle and strife but close to it.

He wrote a somewhat self-deprecating book covering the “highlights”
Entitled “Frank Church, D.C.and Me.” It's well worth reading.

It is doubtful he would ever again cross to the darkside.

No column on Wilbert D. would be complete without mentioning his longtime friendship with Don and Ann Watkins. With Hall serving as Watkin’s biggest fan, Watkins (who worked for State Superintendent Del Engelking) commanded the attention of reporters and journalists, both young and old, all across Idaho. Watkins, a former journalist himself, hosted many an Idaho journalist at the fine table Ann set at their home in Boise. When Hall was in town he was always the prime catch.

Bill Hall was the best Idaho ever produced. With his departure Idaho loses a tremendous amount of institutional history. Rest in Peace!
 

The disaster of identity politics

carlson

Watch carefully my friends over the next six months. You can watch the remnants of the Idaho Democratic party commit seppuku - the ritualized form of Japanese hari kari (suicide).

In the Democratic gubernatorial primary by a 60/40 margin Idaho Democrats rejected the clearly most qualified, most experienced candidate, Boise businessman A. J. Balukoff, in favor of a “symbol”, former State Representative Paulette Jordan, of where the far left faction wants to take the national party.

This is putting identity ahead of competence. Much of politics today is all about perceptions and feelings. Ability, competence, character, honesty all lag behind. And because of this issues matter less. What’s especially sad is identity politics move beneath the surface and if brought up one is quick to be tagged with a negative one word nasty like “racist.”

For example, Jordan is a Native American. If one uses that phrase in describing her even though she is fully exploiting that connection when seeking funds from other Indian gaming tribes, the reporter risks being categorized as a racist.

So let’s check the boxes of identity politics in the upcoming race between Jordan and Republican nominee, Lt. Governor Brad Little, the non-issue oriented items that will be at work but may not surface:

Brad Little is a male. Jordan is female.

Little is white. Jordan is “Native American.”

Little is a millionaire rancher/businessman. Jordan raises horses on a ranch.

Little sent his children to an Idaho public school. Jordan is sending her boys to Gonzaga Prep, an exclusive private college preparatory school in Spokane.

Little is married. Jordan is not.

Little is “Goliath” in this contest. Jordan is the “David.” The media loves to find “short hand” ways to capture a political race which is always a “horse race.” The issues tend to fade away.

Unfortunately, somewhere someplace some outside reporter will parachute into Boise or Lewiston and will end up describing the contest as the latest iteration of the old “cowboy vs. the Indians” story and we all know what happened to the Native Americans.

One person I am confident will not fall into the trap of identity politics is Brad Little. He will relentlessly stick to the issues and this time around the superior more qualified candidate will be obvious.

Come the Wednesday after the first Tuesday in November Brad Little will be elected the 33rd governor of the great state. Take it to the bank.

When normally successful business leaders get into politics they all too often leave that business acuity behind, especially when it comes to following that all important term “return on investment.”

Wednesday morning two multi-millionaire Boise businessmen, A.J. Balukoff and Tommy Ahlquist, had to wake up wondering just what possessed them. Both took what can only be described as a sound thrashing.

Balukoff received 26,286 votes and reportedly spent $3.2 million dollars. The return on investment on that is $121.73 per vote. Ahlquist garnered in his third place run 50,735 votes and reportedly spent $4.8 million. The ROI on that is $94.60 per vote. For Idaho these numbers are staggering and unprecedented.

Why it is that successful business leaders think running for high office is just another business challenge is a mystery. Some attribute it to hubris. Others say it is pure ego. Others say they are bored just making money and are looking for a new challenge

The sad thing is though the trend of millionaires running for office is only going to increase. Most state legislatures and Congress itself will consist almost entirely of the super wealthy.

These legislative bodies will hardly be the citizen-legislators our Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote the Constitution.
Welcome to the big time, Idaho.

Yes, your fearless prognosticator was 0 for 4. Shows 40 years in the game still finds me leading with my heart instead of my head.
 

Two books

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To those readers who might be interested, I am recommending two books, which reflect my bias. The first is “Hells Heroes,” which hit bookstores this week. Published by Caxton Press of Caldwell, it is my fourth book. It is the fascinating story of how one of America’s hidden gems, Hells Canyon, finally obtained federal protection as a National Recreational Area.

It tells the story through the eyes of it’s catalytic hero, Brock Evans, who led the fight while northwest representative for the Sierra Club. Truth be told, Evans wanted National Park designation. Therein lies a story that gives a mere hint of the various politics involving the canyon that went on for years behind the scenes.

Hells Canyon, nonetheless, is truly one of those special places that leaves one awestruck. One of the deepest gashes in the surface of the earth at 7,000 feet, it is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Special places require special people who exhibit true passion for their objective. The first part of this book gives both the politics and intersperses personal anecdotes. The second part of the book is the equally compelling story of how when it came time for the Forest Service to write the regulations governing land use policies within the NRA, the leader of the Idaho Recreation Council, Sandra Mitchell, stepped forward to lead the fight to protect the right of jet boats continuing access to the Canyon. A segment of the recreation community, those who enjoy rafting and kayaking the Canyon, sought to preserve their interest in solitude by having jet boats banned. Mitchell’s story is as compelling as Evan’s and each developed respect
for the other during the process.

While they had their differences, they also had areas in which they agreed, such as the Forest Service’s mismanagement of it’s mandate. Both strongly believe that rangers within the Hells Canyon NRA still manage with a multiple use mentality, which is not good, and in fact can be detrimental to the resource they are charged with protecting.

The book also contains some fine photographs which capture some of the unique features of the Canyon. We owe these pictures to Steve Lee and Marcia Carlson.

The second book, “A Higher Loyalty,” by James Comey, the distinguished former director of the FBI and former Attorney General, who was summarily fired by President Trump for bogus reasons, because he would not pledge loyality first to the President. Comey’s book is about ethical leadership and thank God we still have Americans who are not afraid to stand up for truth and justice. For Comey, character counts and one’s loyality as a public servant is first to the truth, then to the Constitution and then to the American people. Comey does a good job of establishing how his value system developed. He recognizes there are many ambiguities and no simplicities at the top of the political pyramid. For many it comes down to, who does one trust and believe.

Comey avoids the he-said/she-said, instead focusing on facts and imperical data. He concedes that over the years he has had to work at tamping down his own healthy ego. He never claims not to have made some mistakes, nor that people can look at the same set of data and draw different conclusions.

He rightly deplores President Trump’s blatant efforts at trying to undermine public faith in our institutions. He especially deplores Trump’s attacks on the FBI, which insults thousands of good employees. His notes on meetings with the President in which Trump tried to demolish the agency’s independence are simply incredible reads.

He nails Trump for the bully that he is and draws a parallel between Trump and how he operates with how a Cosa Nostro (mafia) boss operates. It is not an exaggeration. Comey also makes enough references to Trump and the Russian investigation that one senses he believes it to all be true, right up to and including Trump covorting with Russian prostitutes. He also thinks Putin may have film.

Comey’s book should bedevil Trump for the rest of his days. Trump cannot be trusted and is simply an inveterate liar. I believe there are enough people of courage and conviction, who like Jim Comey, will stand up for the truth, who believe that no man including the President stands above the law and their voices will be heard in 2018 and 2020. God Bless James Comey who is standing up for the truth and God Damn Donald Trump.
 

The Carlson endorsements

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Some readers have asked for my preferences in the May 15th Primary. Here’s my list. First, in full disclosure I voted an absentee unaffiliated ballot and it's been posted and mailed. I like the convenience of vote by mail and in this highly charged partisan environment it avoids any conflicts or snide asides at the polling place.

Democrat for Governor: A.J. Balukoff, hands down. An experienced and successful businessman and one who can work across the aisle. He learned much from his first gubernatorial campaign four years ago. And he is the only candidate running positive looking forward and support public education tv ads. Depending on who wins the GOP primary, A.J.just might surprise in November.

Former Rep. Paulette Jordan simply is not ready to be chief executive of a state. She has zero management experience and is more attracted to publicity than to solving tough problems. It says something when none of her former legislative colleagues have endorsed her.

Republican for Governor: I have vacillated on this one. I was so disappointed to see Brad Little join Tommy Ahlquist in going with awful, distortive negative tv ads. I’ve been tougher on Ahlquist, however, partly because I see enormous room for growth.

Its been fascinating however to watch the alleged front-runner, Raul Labrador get put on the defensive by Ahlquist’s attack ads. He’s badly mishandled it.

Face it. Idaho’s been stuck in a rut for the last few years, just poking along being too comfortable with the status quo. While Idaho’s economy is doing well we continue to underfund public education. As a percentage of household income we continue to slide.

Yet all three GOP candidates are paying allegiance to the God of tax cuts that are not needed and can only come at the expense of public education. In Ahlquist I see real potential to break out of that restrictive mold. He has talent, charisma, ability and charm. Yes, he will have to figure out how to work with a cantankerous, head in the sand legislature but he’s a quick learner.

Besides, the good ole boy network within the GOP has been passing the governorship along to party loyalists for 24 years. Their system has produced one good governor, Phil Batt, one mediocre governor, Butch Otter, one AWOL governor, Dirk Kempthorne, and one who set the state back 20 years (Risch). It’s time for a fresh face not from the traditional pool.

Ahlquist tells it straight and while I don’t think he had to go negative he is the only one of the three that exhibits enthusiasm and is not pretending to be something he is not. If he takes 50% of the 40% undecided he wins.

GOP Lt. Governor: There’s only one choice and that is State Senator Marv Hagedorn from Meridian. In the race for governor and lt. governor he is the only veteran having served as a Naval officer for 20 years. Following retirement he went into and founded a successful business. He is the only candidate for the second spot that can lay claim to what Cece Andrus referred to as the “hook and bullet” crowd, those that own an Idaho hunting and fishing license. He’s had one for 45 years.

He’s the only candidate that wouldn’t let State Senator Bob Nonini squirm and waffle away on Nonini’s much quoted statement that any woman having an abortion should be punished. He looked Nonini right in the eye and in effect said you can’t blame the media or say you were misquoted. You’re on the record saying it in several places. Kudos to him. He deserves your vote.

GOP Nomination for First CD: David Leroy is heads above everyone else. His experience as state attorney general and lt. governor shows. He is a constitutional conservative who can work with others, has a superior grasp of the issues, doesn’t engage in demagoguery and will bring intelligence and thoughtfulness to the complex challenges America faces.

He’s a true happy warrior on the campaign trail. He doesn’t hesitate to walk into a room or a restaurant and introduce himself. He meets and greets well looking every voter in the eye. It is easy to see why he came so close to upsetting Cecil Andrus in 1986. Former State Senator Russ Fulcher is running a close second supported almost entirely by the hard right Club for Growth which has underwritten Fulcher’s tv.

Leroy has run a better campaign and is better organized which is why he will emerge as the First District congressman elect on May 15th. It will be good for Idaho to have his services once again.

We’ll see on the morning of May 16th how good a prognosticator I am. One thing for certain there will be some surprises.
 

Pot, meet kettle

carlson

Over the 40 years I’ve been involved in politics I’ve come to loathe negative campaign ads.

They demean the process and cheapen it. They thrive on distortion, half-truths and outright lies. They are proof positive that, because they are covered by free speech, one can make any charge and it doesn’t have to be factual or even close to the truth.

Many years ago when the young Lyndon Johnson was an aide to a Texas congressman running for re-election the congressman repeatedly charged his opponent with something and LBJ knew it wasn’t true. Finally he confronted his boss with continually repeating what he knew wasn’t true.

The congressman’s terse response was “let him deny it.” He knew if his opponent denied it the story would carry for another day. That’s the essence of negative campaigning in a nutshell. Put your opponent on the defensive and make his to deny a charge no matter how ridiculous.

I’d like to think that people want to know what a candidate is for, not how rotten his opponent is. Unfortunately, voters are easily manipulated for the record shows negative ads often work because people like to believe the worst about others.

Last week I was ready to convey the character award to Brad Little until I saw that in response to a negative ad by Tommy Ahlquist, Little decided he had to go negative. How disappointing and we’re all losers, for the truth gets lost and trampled in the process.

Little’s ads were every bit as distortive as Tommy’s. Shame on them both. Little’s ad was a classic list of guilt by association and false syllogisms. Follow this twisted logic full of false syllogisms:

Ahlquist gave $5000 to his good friend A.J. Balukoff’s race for governor. He is immediately tagged as a DEMOCRAT in sheep’s clothing (Better keep a good eye on those herds of sheep you run, Brad). Ahlquist also gave a like amount to Governor Otter’s campaign, but of course that’s not mentioned..
Ahlquist is a Republican and he is running for the GOP nomination. Makes no difference to Little’s campaign consultants.

The $5k to AJ means he is a Democrat and by golly he gave at a time when Obama and Pelosi were trying to take away our 2nd amendment gun rights. Don’t you see the connection?

Oh, and let’s be sure and punish Ahlquist for not supporting Trump during the primaries but rather someone else, Ahlquist should be commended for recognizing Trump is not qualified to be president and readily and honestly answering a question. Instead he is held up to ridicule. It’s a known fact that privately Little has said some less than nice things about the President.

Then there are the code words - Ahlquist is a liberal, a big spender and he wants to tax everything he can. Not one shred of evidence supports any of that.

Come on Brad, give me a break. Both your ads and Tommy’s are beneath both of you. Stick to the issues and quit panderng to the lowest common denominator of the voters about cutting more taxes. That’s a code phrase for further cuts to education. Idaho is near last in per pupil support by a state as you well know and the U of I is cutting core classes. Yet you all piously say you support public education.

Your portraying yourself as a conservative tax cutter just doesn’t ring true. You and Tommy and Raul are all capable of debating issues. So eschew the negative and get back on the positive path.

There’s only one gubernatorial ad campaign out there that is all positive. It is Balukoff’s and if he sticks to the high road whoever wins the GOP nomination just might see the crown slip away in November.
 

Braggarts and liars

carlson

Most of us have an innate dislike for braggarts when we bump into one. They are an all too familiar figure from our high school days. They tend mostly to be insecure males who want to draw attention to themselves by telling everyone how smart they are or what a great athlete they are, or how many girls they’ve dated.

Usually there is someone who has the ability to issue a quick put down and pops their balloon. I thought about this the other day as I read another report that once again First District Congressman Raul Labrador was claiming to be the only Republican running for governor with integrity. Someone ought to pop his inflated ego.

Voters beware when any candidate starts trying to claim the moral high ground. Usually, with a little digging one easily discovers the feet of clay. We’ve come to expect one candidate to claim he or she is more capable to lead or has a better program ready to implement, but when one claims more integrity and in effect says he or she is morally superior one sees an adult form of the old insecure high school braggart.

So, Mr. Integrity, would you care to explain to the voters why you carried your wife on the office payroll for years? Some seriously questioned how much real work she did for that compensation. Critics saw it as a thinly disguised effort to supplement household income.

Or go ahead and explain why you supported a hard right conservative to enter the Second District primary and try to take out their popular representative, fellow Republican Mike Simpson? That was a real profile in courage and did so much for delegation unity. You ever heard the expression “people in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones?” And what was Reagan’s 11th Commandment?

In the Idaho where I was raised we were taught not to brag, that if we did something noteworthy let someone else comment. Deeds speak more loudly than words and where I was raised we always appreciated the humble person who knows virtue is its own reward. Its called third party verification. Oh, I forgot---you were raised in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas. Correct?

Equally disappointing and certainly reflective of the”character” issue is a television ad that doctor/developer Tommy Ahlquist is running that does a hatchet job on Lt. Gov. Brad Little. This ad is so full of falsehoods it does allow one to question just what kind of character, if any, Ahlquist has.

The ad accuses Little of supporting a gas tax increase. Not true. It accuses Little of advocating a property tax increase. Not true. The ad accuses Little of helping himself to a 22% pay increase. Not true.

It refers to Little as a career politician. Since when is a job as a part-time state senator and a part-time Lt. Governor somehow morph into a full-time career political job?

Candidates are supposed to personally testify that they have signed off on the ad. This one is so bad one has to believe Ahlquist casually signed off on what his campaign aides put in front of him and didn’t ask any pointed questions.

That does not augur well for his being a hands on detailed oriented governor if elected, does it?

Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan once wrote a fine little book entitled “When Character Was King.” Character, like integrity, cannot be self-proclaimed. One is perceived by others either to have it or not.

Voters do assess a candidate for high office and whether they have character for it is easier to posit trust in a governor we believe to be trustworthy.

So far in the contest for the GOP gubernatorial nomination (i.e., the next governor) there is one clear leader in the character category---Lt. Governor Brad Little.

Judge for yourself and watch the three debate on Idaho Public Television at 8 p.m. Monday night, April 23rd.
 

Desperation

carlson

It is an old gambit if there are many candidates for the same public office. One has to figure out how to separate themselves from the others.

Some use gimmicks like inflatable dragons. Others campaign with a country music or a rock ‘n roll band. Some hand out pens or hot pads. Still others make outrageous statements.

Such was the case last week with State Senator Bob Nonini (R-3rd)who is one seven faceless, obscure candidates running for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor. Speaking in Moscow to an anti-abortion gathering, Nonini gave them more red meat than any reasonable person should.

In a beyond the pale statement Nonini said any woman who had an abortion should be executed and any one aiding and abetting should be imprisoned. No if’s, and’s or but’s; no exemptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. Really, Senator?

If you really believe that, Senator, shouldn’t the guy that got the gal pregnant also be executed? I mean, it takes two to tango without taking protective steps or are you one of those who thinks the woman bears all the responsibility?

Last time I checked, Senator, there are more women voters than men and I think your incredibly absurd statement may have cost you 95% of the Republican female vote even in your home county.

Yes, life begins at conception. And yes government has an obligation to protect life. And yes abortion is deplorable, immoral and a sin. And yes it is wrong and tragic but you should know by now that legislatures cannot pass legislation that covers every contingency. Beginning of life and end of life decisions are intensely personal and private. They should be left in the hands of the family most especially the woman whose body is involved.

You see abortion as murder of the child in the womb. The law does not agree. To propose another murder as the “solution” is just borderline insane. It is not a responsible response.

You have succeeded in separating yourself from the pack, as you desired. However, most voters I’m willing to bet will not mark the ballots for someone that argues “eye for an eye.” You in all probability disqualified yourself. Consider withdrawing.
 

Come again?

carlson

I’ve heard and seen some bilgewater during my 40 years dabbling in politics. Senator James Risch’s spokeswoman’s recent statement that Cecil Andrus would have taken the same course Senator Risch had and held the national interest hostage to a parochial interest takes the cake.

It reminds me of the classic putdown Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen nailed a pretentious Vice President Dan Quayle with during the vice presidential debate. To paraphrase, madam: “I beg your pardon. I knew Cecil Andrus, I worked with Cecil Andrus and Senator Risch is no Cecil Andrus.”

Andrus knew that governors and senators are elected to solve challenges, to find solutions by compromise and figuring out the greatest good for the greatest number. He did not approach issues from an ideological standpoint He was candid and straightforward. He studied issues and took stands based on good policy making good politics. He did not put his finger in the air to test which way the wind was blowing.

He had a sense of perspective and to suggest he would hold the national interest prisoner to a purely parochial matter is bunk.

For Risch to claim he held Cece in high regard and that attempting to bump out Simpson’s amendment was not personal simply does not past the smell test. Risch also claimed to have been blind-sided by Simpson, that he was unaware Mike was proceeding. More balderdash. Early on he told Simpson he would oppose the move necessitating Simpson finding a bullet-proof way to get it done.

Thanks to Simpson’s skill it was fittingly accomplished. Almost as appalling as Risch’s attempt was the Idaho Statesman’s editorial trying to minimize Risch’s gaffe. Risch shot himself in the foot and his trying to find an ex post facto explanation was simply sad.

One may also have noticed that Senator Risch and Senator Mike Crapo, Idaho’s senior senator, voted no on the final spending package. Both cited concerns about budget busting and excessive spending increasing the national debt. This of course is a classic smokescreen.

They want it both ways: to come home and tell Idahoans how they courageously voted no and stood like Horatio at the bridge slaying as many “big spenders” as they could. Notice that neither of them joined or encouraged Kentucky Senator Rand Paul in his effort to mount a filibuster.

Notice too how these balance budget heroes that represent Idaho in the Senate belong to a party that is responsible for the two biggest contributions to America’s deficit in modern times. The recent tax cut for the wealthy by all economists and accountants will add trillions to the deficit, just as the Bush era passage of the government taking over drug payments has.

When you next see these two deficit hawks ask how they lost their wings.

Have you noticed also how there are a fair number of U.S. senators around whom swirl rumors of having girl friends on the side and who seem to think female staff are perks of the office and targets of opportunity?

Many of these are first class hypocrites who talk family values but who live a different life. The nexus of power, money and sex is apparently a toxic brew. Such rumors even touched Senator Crapo a few years back but he emphatically denied them and the story soon died. And in fairness to Senator Risch, he has never been the subject of such rumors or speculation.

As one political observer put it, “Risch wouldn’t dare stray - Vickie would kill him.”

There is one group of senators not touched by such rumors of scandal and infidelity: The 22 members of the Senate that are female. Now isn’t that interesting?