Writings and observations

carlson

If you think someone is watching or listening to you, odds are pretty high you’re partially correct. For sure you are not paranoid because it is almost a certainty that in this digital age you are being recorded.

The proliferation of sensors and digital cameras has been simply breathtaking. The amount of data being accumulated about individuals, their buying habits, recreation preferences, medical condition is stunning. Google yourself. You’ll be bowled over by high much is known about you.

Many folks have a false sense of security that their personal
information, income status, health history and credit record are safe. Balderdash. If there is one lesson folks should indelibly imprint on their brain it is that there is nothing a professional hacker cannot hack into. A basic rule one should keep in mind is this: The more connected one is the more vulnerable he is.

I garnered an inkling of what was coming during the presidential election of 2004. We kept getting a call from the county Republican campaign headquarters asking our presidential preference. Whether my wife answered or I answered each time we politely told them there was no way we would vote to re-elect President George W. Bush. Still, they kept calling.

Explaining all this to a good Republican friend drew a laugh. He gleefully explained the GOP (as well as the Democrats) had a sophisticated voter analysis program that developed profiles of solid Republican voters. I fit the profile yet was blowing their model.

Their data showed I had voted for Bush in 2000 (Could not stand Al Gore), was the co-owner of a successful small business, had purchased a flaming red Cadillac, had purchased a new shot gun for trap shooting, had a concealed weapons permit, had for a time belonged to the NRA, attended Mass at least once a week, sent my children to a private Catholic high school – in short, I appeared to be an almost perfect Bush voter, but I wasn’t.

One had the feeling they thought their entire model would collapse.

Fast forward now to 2017, and the amazing proliferation of even more technological developments, from iphones and ipads to kindles to gps chips in everything that moves and sensors that record reams of data instantly. All this and much more is explained in the one book everyone should read this year – Thank You for Being Late by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

His thesis is that there are three major forces inexorably shaping our future. Furthermore they are accelerating at an exponential pace that is outpacing human ability to understand and keep up let alone shape and control.

This ought to scare the hell out of a normal person because the day is not far off when society will have robots with artificial intelligence performing many mundane tasks. Think though about the implications of AI advancing beyond its inventor.

Perhaps you may recall that great scene in the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001. Hal, the on board computer, decides Dave, the space vehicle’s pilot, and his co-pilot are threats to the all-consuming mission to Jupiter.

While the co-pilot is outside the ship Hal cuts the tether and there goes the co-pilot spinning off into space. Hal then refuses to open the airlock that will permit Dave back onto the ship. Dave nonetheless figures out a way and the next scene is Dave, still in his space suit walking into the guts of the super computer to dismantle it.

The dialogue between Hal and Dave is one of the show’s highlights. The only thing Kubrick gets wrong is the size of the computer. Friedman explains how “Moore’s Law” has driven technology in the last 50 years to ever smaller, ever more powerful computer chips at ever more cheap to produce costs. The super computer in 2001 would fit into today’s lap top.

Friedman contends that what is so discomforting to so many is the simultaneous explosive acceleration in technology coupled with forces driving globalization and compounded by global warming and habitat loss.

He outlines how this incredible pace is impacting politics,
geopolitics, ethics, the workplace and communities. The implications of computer chips coupled with sensors, digital cameras, storage capacity and search engines to make a billion calculations in one second makes for an easy leap to recognizing that somewhere,someplace there are recordings of our coming and goings, of our phone conversations and who they are with. The search engine just needs a key word to find it.

What makes this book a cause for hope rather than despair is a quote Friedman cites at the beginning from the famous French scientist, Madame Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Amen.

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Carlson

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The subject is dying and death, especially for the first of the baby boomer generation many of whom are either now 70 years of age or about to turn 70.

The boomer generation has been a trend-setter, defying the societal restrictions it inherited on everything from sex to drugs to dodging the draft. Boomers are the most self-indulgent, narcissistic, ego maniacal generation ever.

Many have inherited or about to inherit the largest generational transfer of wealth in history. While some will turn it around and give to worthy causes, most will hoard it like no tomorrow. Others who can afford it will invest in various medical marvels that at most may extend their lives by six months or a year.

One thing one can bet on for sure, if funeral home directors are to be believed, few have bothered to do the planning necessary to ensure a peaceful passing that children and extended family will truly appreciate. It is almost as if boomers think planning for their
passing will somehow bring the day the Grim Reaper comes calling just that much sooner.

It’s not as if there aren’t reminders of mortality that bombard the consciousness every day – from graphic news stories about deaths (If it bleeds it leads) to pictures of children starving in Somalia or the Sudan, to the obituaries most boomers have furtively been scanning for several years.

Just this past week three fine Idaho friends – selfless, dedicated, decent, loyal to family, faith and country – were called to the Big Round-up, the trail ride having ended. They were former State Senator Mike Mitchell, Duane Jacklin, one of the founding partners of the world renowned Jacklin Seed Company, and Bob Templin, the founder and developer of Templin’s Resort.

Some families are prepared, others are not. The point though is that if one cares about their loved ones and those that survive them, they do the planning, make the key decisions and pay in advance so that the grieving surviving spouse or the child in charge doesn’t have to guess what Dad or Mom would have liked.

Every family should make sure that all are prepared for the inevitable day the loved one passes.

Many folks avail themselves of the wonderful supportive Hospice program. Hospice ought to require every family that engages it, as a first step, to watch and then discuss an excellent movie called Two Weeks. It stars Sally Field as the divorced and remarried mother of four who is prematurely dying of cancer.

The movie, which came out in 2006, probes the relationships and reactions primarily of her four children – three sons and a daughter. Each reacts differently. Indeed, the rock is of course the mother. The movie is not pollyansish – it makes clear that her passing is painful and gut-wrenching.

It even alludes to the fact that the morphine injections she receives to counter the pain towards the very end has a dosage increase that brings death more quickly rather than prolonging the agony.

Yes, it is a form of assisted suicide and one can debate whether it is compassionate or something akin to a mercy killing done to ease the discomfort of the family. It brings home the point that issues surrounding death cannot all be legislated, that room has to be left to respect the wishes of the person dying, the family and their personal clergy.

The mistake made by voters in Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide is legal, was to get the state involved at all in the first place. Just as we have a constitutional right to life, we also have a right to choose to ease our suffering by seeking a little assistance at the end.

My definition of a natural death does not allow for such assistance, but that’s my faith’s belief and should not be binding on others. The point though is that all families should have these discussions and make the decisions long before Hospice is called in for assistance.

Few Idahoans are aware, and even fewer Americans that Hospice costs are covered by Medicare and we all should tip our hat and say a prayer of thanks to the good Senator Frank Church who led the drive to have Hospice costs covered.

The legislation was passed shortly before the Senator died from the reoccurence of a cancer that almost killed him in his early 20s. Incidentally, the Senator eschewed the drugs and painkillers he could have availed himself of and chose instead to take his death head on.

Dying and death are matters that require rigid adherence to the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared! And while you’re at it, do yourself a favor and watch Two Weeks.

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Carlson

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Shoshone County Republicans gathered on March 3 at their annual Lincoln Day dinner, which took place at the Wallace Inn. Those that attended might have been surprised at the number of major political candidates there eager to meet, greet and solicit support.

Start with the featured speaker, former attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy who has been a natural choice to speak at almost all Lincoln Day dinners because he has become a true expert and scholar on the impact President Lincoln had on Idaho. The date itself was propitious because March 4 was the anniversary of the day President Lincoln signed the bill in 1863 creating the Idaho Territory.

Leroy’s remarks were tailored to contemporary times and his speech was an interesting contrast of similarities faced by both presidents (Trump and Lincoln) when they took office.

Once a rising star in Idaho politics, Leroy “retired” from the political scene following his narrow 1986 defeat at the hands of Cecil Andrus when Andrus decided to reclaim the governorship. Since then his legal practice has prospered and he clearly has prepared another run for public office. He is “tan, rested, and ready,” as the expression goes.

Whether he runs is dependent upon the decision of the presence that was not present, but was in almost all conversations at the dinner – First District Congressman Raul Labrador. Is he, as rumored frequently, going to come home and run for governor in 2018?

If so, will he resign his seat to campaign full-time? Or is he going to resign and accept some position in the Trump Administration that deals with the immigration issue, which he has considerable expertise on based on his legal practice.

If he resigns before November of 2018, Idaho law specifies a special election in a winner-take-all ballot. Idaho is the one state in the union that has never had a special election for the House though in the early 30s the second congressional district seat was vacated on June 8th, 1934 when Democratic Congressman Thomas Coffin was hit and killed by a car on a street in Washington, D.C. Because Congress had already adjourned for the year the seat remained vacant until November when D. Worth Clark won the general election.

Declared gubernatorial aspirant Lt. Gov. Brad Little was present as was Boise developer and businessman, Dr. Tommy Ahlquist. Both chose to work the crowd one-on-one rather than address the entire gathering. Former State Senator Russ Fulcher was represented by some family members and Attorney General Laurence Wasden had no one representing his as yet undeclared interest.

If one supports Lt. Governor Little, you want four or five candidates in the race, the thought being your base will hold while the Tea Party vote would split between Labrador and Fulcher. Ahlquist is LDS and he has to be courting Melaleuca founder and billionaire Frank VanderSloot, hoping that his support will consolidate the state’s LDS vote (assumes of course that it is monolithic, which it is not) behind his candidacy.

While some pundits believe Little has to be the favorite others feel he will be handicapped by his close identification with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter who has disappointed many Republicans because he is perceived to have been coasting these last few years. Critics will charge that a vote for Little is a vote for a fourth Otter term. Brad has to figure out how to distance himself from Otter while not appearing to be disloyal.

Labrador and his supporters are still citing a poll, now six months old, that shows their horse with 48% of a Republican gubernatorial primary vote and all the other wanna-be’s in single digits.

Leroy is the one person positioned to be up and running almost instantly should Labrador resign. Name identification alone should make him the initial favorite. Reports around the district indicate there would be several other contenders including State Rep. Luke Malek from Coeur d’Alene and State Rep. Brent Crane from Nampa.

Such gatherings always serve as breeding grounds for political rumor milling. Two of the best were that GOP legislative leadership is quietly preparing a couple of measures to spring on the last day for sine die when they’ll suspend the calendar and ram a bill through that will create a primary requirement even for a special election. Another effort would be a legal mandate that will supersede the Batt nuclear waste agreement and permit the importation of the spent fuel rods Governor Batt and Governor Andrus have thus far been able to thwart

The other fun rumor is that House Speaker Scott Bedke has been approached by Interior Secretary Zinke about being nominated for one of the assistant secretaryships at Interior. A call to the Speaker’s office asking for a comment was not returned.

Still, when all was said and done it is clear that Raul Labrador is holding the key to most interesting political machinations over the next two years.

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Carlson

carlson

Something has gone seriously awry in the world. It has given this writer cause for pause but two devils have to be given their due painful though it is. President Donald Trump has done something I’ve been hoping some president would do for years. Almost as stunning, First District Congressman Raul Labrador has also done something I could not agree with more.

While it is hard to understand why President Trump is going out of his way to pick a fight with those that make and use ink by the barrelfull, one can see the guiding hand of Steve Bannon, his senior strategic advisor, in deciding to make war on the media and Hollywood since both are perceived to be the self-annointed elite of the nation, and entitled to be the ruling class.

They lend themselves too easily as a target for one who wants to divide, not unite. Since the Democrats are providing nothing but road kill beside the highway, Bannon has decided destroying the credibility of the media and punching out the pretenders in Hollywood are much more inviting targets of opportunity.

It is a not so subtle form of fomenting class divisions; it pits the haves against the have nots. It just might work if enough people are content to abdicate their responsibility to be informed citizens and would rather just follow “der leader.”

All that said, the President is absolutely corrrect not to lend his office and its prestige to the self-glorification spectacle the White House Correspondents dinner has turned into. It used to be a modet affair with actual writers who covered the president. It was more of an informal get together, off the record, with a little frivolity and good conversation.

It has turned into a three-day bash dominated by the media and publishing world’s management and owners who want to brag about dinner with the president and what cabinet officer or movie starlet they’ve been able to woo to sit at their table. It is a glorified form of show, tell and brag and all administrations are expected to play along as good sports while bowing to the fourth estate’s influence.

It is disgusting. Competition for limited tickets to pre-event and post events is almost as demeaning as the competition for tickets to the dinner itself. The president gets an “atta boy” on this one and his decision not to be a hypocrite and play along is the first encouraging sign that they just might restore the proper adversarial relationship that should exist rather than the fawning and patronizing orgy of self-congratulation and self-praise it has become.

Then this past week Idaho’s First District congressman, Rep. Raul Labrador, expressed his support for term limits. His is a well reasoned approach and should be given careful consideration. Most Constitutional scholars believe the Founding Fathers never envisioned a permanent or semi-permanent ruling elite with lifetime tenure for those who held seats in the House and the Senate. However, with incumbents retaining their seats over 90% of the time, a ruling elite has emerged.

One need look no further than Alaska’s lone Congressman, Don Young. He was elected to the seat vacated by the disappearance and presumed crash of the aircraft flying incumbent Nick Begich from Juneau to a fund-raiser in Anchorage in 1972. Young won the special election in March of 1973 and has been there ever since—that’s 44 years.

Labrador believes 12 years should be the max and he is correct. Something happens at the ten-year mark even to the best members of Congress or the best governors. Many cannot conceal a sense of entitlement, nor can they hide a sense that they’ve seen and know all the problems one confronts.

The voter gets the sense that they think trhey’ve been there and done that, and there’s nothing new to surprise them. Thus, they grow impatient, imperious and they quit listening. Two consecutive terms for a U.S. Senator and three consecutive terms for a governor is more than enough time to solve problems.

Then it is time to head back to the farm or the business and let others take on the challenges.

There is one other wrinkle, though, that Congressman Labrador should include as an amendment to his proposal—the 12 year limit ought to apply to the civil service. If one wants real and truly significant change this is how one breaks the stranglehold the bureaucrats have over the elected and the appointed.

The goal should be to encourage turn-over. Each year we graduate from our colleges and universities thousands of young men and women who are fishery biologists, engineers. lawyers, field geologists, etc., most of whom cannot find a job.

Force turnover in all government levels by setting an upper limit of 12 years and there will be plenty of qualified applicants. One can still have 36 years in their field—12 years at a county or city level, 12 years at the state and 12 years at the federal level.

Everyone would win. So an atta boy to the Congressman and to the President. You’re on the right track.

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Carlson

carlson

Listening to President Trump’s rambling, meandering rant against the media and its allegedly dishonest coverage of his Administration last Thursday, as well as his claim that he had inherited a mess, reminded me of an old political story. It also led me to conclude that the POTUS is due for a refresher media training course.

The old story goes thus: A newly elected young governor was paying a courtesy call on the older veteran governor he had defeated in the November election. He was smart ernough to ask the veteran whether he had any counsel to impart.

The veteran governor said “as a matter of fact I do. I’m going to pass along to you the same package of three letters my predecessor handed me. When you first run hard into a sticky-wicket of an issue open the first letter. And when you run into a second crisis, open the second and if you have a third crisis open the third one. Then follow the advice in the letters.”

Sure enough, about one year into the new administration the new governor ran into a seemingly insoluble problem. Remembering the packet with the three letters he went to his desk, opened a drawer, took out the first letter and opened it. It simply said “ blame your predecessor!”

So he called a press conference and kicked the living daylights out of the previous governor. And it worked.

Another year went by and the governor ran into another, complex and complicated matter. Remembering the packet he went to his desk and extracted the second letter which he immediately opened. It simply said “blame the Legislature!”

So he called a press conference and ripped the Legislature. And it worked.

Another year passed before the governor hit the biggest bump in the road, a seemingly intractable matter with no solution in sight. Remembering he had one more letter he went to his desk, grabbed the last letter and ripped it open. It simply said “prepare three letters!”

The moral of this story is that executives, regardless of whether they are a president, a governor, a mayor or the chairman of a county commission, all are elected to solve problems and meet challenges head on without blaming anyone else. President Trump ought to take note.

He also should schedule and commit to taking a media training refresher course. Being the Donald, I’m sure he thinks he doesn’t need such training, but he clearly does.

The first rule is “never, ever lie to the media.” Rather than say he can’t say or he’ll get back to you, he shucks and jives media reporters. He continues to erode the one true sine qua non for any president or governor: the public trust. Without the implied consent of the governed a leader can never really govern. That he lies is incontestable; that he seems to get away with it is debatable; that he is rapidly losing the public trust also seems incontestable.

President Trump has to relearn how to stay on message and how to avoid the negative. Rather than deny his administration is so far a chaotic organization, he should block the thrust of the question and bridge to a positive message. So, rather than deny the chaos, which is manifest to all, he should not implicitly accept the premise of the question.

He should have said, “The premise of your question is wrong. While we’ve encountered a few bumps in the road here and there, we have taken on more campaign promises than any previous administration. We’re getting things going which will become more clear to you down the road.”

Notice, one does not repeat the negative in the question, but rather quickly says it is incorrect and then bridges to their message of the day.

The fact that neither the President nor his abused press secretary, Sean Spicer, understand this is one of many reasons they are coming off as rank amateurs.

Look for the Republicans in the House and Senate to recognize that by the mid-term elections in 2018 they had better impeach and remove Trump from office or they’ll suffer catastrophic losses.

The first rule of politics is the imperative to survive and riding the wooden rocking horse of Trump is not going to pave the way. Here’s hoping the Republic can survive the turbulence coming down the road.

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Carlson

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At the risk of dating myself some readers may recall an old folk song by Pete Seeger made more famous by the Peter, Paul and Mary trio whose first line is “Where have all the flowers gone/Long-time passing?/Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?” It is a poignant plea for something lost which never will be recovered.

Sometimes on weekends, my wife and I prowl through thrift stores and old bookstores. Recently, while cruising through a thrift place in Kellogg, I came across a tear sheet of a page from the Idaho Statesman of September 1, 1912. The tear sheet was full page write up by the Statesman’s Washington, D.C. News bureau on the considerable legislative accomplishments of “the Lion of Idaho,” Senator William E. Borah, during the five plus years he had served in the Senate.

The old Pete Seeger song ran through my mind with a slight variation in the words: “Where have Idaho’s senators gone/Long time passing?/Where have the statesman gone/Long time ago?”

Admittedly, the full page article was a “puff piece” so glowing was the praise. It was clearly slanted with quotes from other senators on what an energetic dynamo the Idaho senator was.

Borah had been chosen by the Idaho Legislature to take a vacant senate seat in March of 1907. The 17th amendment to the Constitution changing senators’ elections to a popular vote had yet to be enacted. The Statesman article was also clearly signaling that the paper would be supporting Borah’s bid for a second term, which Borah received from the Idaho Legislature in early January of 1913.

Here are two quotes from the article. As you read ask yourself if you have ever heard anything similar said about Idaho’s two current senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

From the Statesman of September 1, 1912:

“A review of the Congressional Record for the past few years shows that no member of either branch of congress has been more successful than Senator Borah of Idaho in securing the enactment of legislation, and important legislation at that.”

Another quote:

“So successful has Senator Borah been with his bills of late that it is a matter of comment among senators. Not long before adjournment, one of the senate leaders, who has been in public life for nearly thirty years, remarked to some of his colleagues that “Senator Borah is the most successful man in charge of a bill that has been in the senate since I have been a member of that body.”

Few of the issues were simple or easy. Borah’s list of legislation passed included the three-year homestead law, the children’s bureau law, the eight-hour workday law, and the law giving early patent for homesteaders on government reclamation projects.

Borah also took pride in defeating an Alaskan government bill which would have denied Alaskans any voice in their government. He led the charge for an alternative bill which provided a great degree of self-government. He also strongly supported passage of the 17th and 19th amendments which provided for the direct election of senators and the vote for women.

Though a staunch Republican, Borah was a true progressive. History notes his opposition to the League of Nations and his isolationist views, which, coupled with his reputation for great oratory, would have one think he was more of a show horse.

Aside from the fact that his favorite form of exercise was horse-back riding early each morning through Rock Creek Park, Borah was clearly a work horse.

By all accounts a decent, honest, hard-working senator and loyal to his friends the only blemish on his distinguished record was a rumored affair with Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who was married to the then House Speaker Nicholas Longworth (a notorious rake himself). The affair produced a daughter and the story is the Speaker vetoed naming the daughter Deborah (as in de-borah). Instead she was named Paulina (and nicknamed Aurora Borah Alice) and sadly took her life at age 30.

Borah collapsed and died in 1940 at age 74. His widow, Mary McConnell (herself the daughter of a former Idaho governor and senator), survived him by 36 years, passing away in 1976 at the age of 106.

Some 77 years later Borah is still remembered in Idaho along with his progressive record of accomplishments.

I have a challenge for readers: Name one piece of legislation today you can attribute to Senators Crapo or Risch. They hold the two safest seats in the United States Senate. Senator Crapo has just been re-elected to his fourth term, which when completed will tie him with Frank Church for the second longest tenure. He could go on and perhaps break Borah’s record of 33 years. Thus, he still has time to make a mark.

Right now, though, neither he nor Risch are going to be remembered by history for anything other than warming the seats. I wish it were otherwise.

“Where have the Statesmen gone/Long time passing?”

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Carlson

carlson

It gets downright depressing to see conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats oiling their guns, sharpening their knives and starting to circle each other in a modern day version of the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral.

It is the latest iteration of that age-old fight which starts off with “he hit me, first! Therefore I’m entitled to hit him back.” Yet even a pre-schooler in a sandbox knows two wrongs don’t make a right. Democrats correctly called foul on the refusal of Senate Republicans to take up President Obama’s nomination of Merick Garland to the Court just about a year ago.

So much for the “advise and consent role” the Constitution lays out as a major responsibility of the U.S. Senate. Instead, the Republican Senate cynically would not even hold a hearing on the nomination let alone hold a Judiciary or floor vote on the nomination.

One reason, however, many Republicans held their noses and still voted for Donald Trump was his promise to nominate Judge Antonin Scalia’s replacement from a list compiled by conservative of “acceptable” court nominees.

Worthy though Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch is, Senate Democrats are planning on filibustering the Trump nomination offering as an excuse that “turn about” is fair play. Because it takes 60 votes to overcome a Senate over-ride of a filibuster, many folks expect Gorsuch may have to withdraw his name, especially if Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky does not avail himself of the “nuclear option” – a simple majority vote of those present and voting.

Even then, if just two Republicans abstain a tie vote would go to the chair to cast the tiebreaker, and this is the only situation that allows the sitting vice president, Mike Pence, to cast the tie-breaking vote.

The net result is two exeedingly competent nominated justices, Merick Garland and Neil Gorsuch, both with exceptional records, could be destroyed in this overly politicized gunfight.

Can this stalemate, this at loggerheads ever be resolved? Yes, there is still room for compromise and bi-partianship and there is a path forward that could neutralize the vitriol and animosity.

Here is the proposal:

Step #1: This step is designed to reduce the overt and crippling partisanship now surrounding Supreme Court nominations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee creates a Special Subcommittee to vett all Supreme Court and Federal Distict Judge nominations. The subcommittee chair would be Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. the sitting chair. The ranking minority member, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, would also be a member.

Altogether there will be seven members: one seat will be allocated to the sitting president of the American Bar Association. Another seat will be assigned to those who once served as U.S. Solicitor Generals. The majority party will name qualified members of the legal profession to two seats and the minority party will nominate the last seat.

In order for a name to move forward to the full Judiciary Committee a person must have five of the seven votes.

Step #2. This step is designed to forge the only realistic compromise now clouding the nomination of Justice Garland and Justice Gorsuch. Neither should become “road kill” or “collateral damage” in the current fight.

The key though is for one of the several judges on the current Supreme Court who should resign because of age or illness. One of them is the linch pin to this win-win compromise. For arguments sake let’s say Justice Ginsberg volunteers to step down.

The judiciary committee then resurrects the nomination of President Obama’s nominee and the two nominations, Garland and Gorsuch are vetted by the full committee and then sent to the floor for a vote where, based on qualifications alone, both are approved and once again there is a functioning nine-member Supreme Court.

Thereafter future nominees for all federal judgeships are run through the process outlined in Step #1. This is a realistic solution but probably too sensible to be adopted. If someone has a better solution I’m all ears.

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Carlson

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The executive director of Idaho’s Democratic party, Sally Boynton-Brown, crossed a line last week, in her long-shot pursuit to win the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, that can only described as disgusting and a further embarrassment to Idaho’s already tattered and torn image.

If the State chairman of Idaho’s Democrats, former State Senator Bert Marley from Pocatello, does not convene the party’s executive committee by phone, and promptly fire the misguided executive director an already decimated Idaho political party may find itself on the border of extinction.

Some would argue that Idaho’s Democrats are already an endangered species and ought to file for a listing with the Environmental Protection Agency before it becomes extinct. Under Boynton-Brown’s “leadership” Idaho’s Democratic party has put forth nothing that even remotely demonstrates the tide may be turning. Democrats hold no statewide office and haven’t elected a true Democrat to Congress in years (Some may say “not so” and cite Walt Minnick, but others know he was a Republican wolf in sheep’s clothing.)

Instead of heading to D.C. to talk to people about how once upon a time Democrats held their own in the west; perhaps, history could be a guide and the formula for that success could be shared and with conviction presented to the members of the DNC who vote in less than a month.

She could have touted the Cecil Andrus’ mantra: “First, you have to make a living. Then you have to have a living worthwhile.” In other words keep the economy growing and keep it strong so that there’s a place for our young people to work (and often work off a huge debt) after they graduate. Note that saying has no gender bias, nor racial bias to it.

This is the formula followed successfully by Andrus, Idaho’s only governor elected four times, and his successor, John V. Evans, elected twice. The formula was also the winning pitch for other western governors: Scott Matheson of Utah, Mike O’Callaghan of Nevada, Ted Schwinden of Montana, Mike Sullivan of Wyoming, to name just a few.

Instead of standing on a stage, prancing around like some gospel preacher and spouting gibberish such as “my job is to shut other white people down” and make them listen to minorities, all of whom are oppressed by whites in the current culture.

This is not the politics of inclusion, this is exclusion. Boynton-Brown should be reinforcing the message of former Vice President Joe Biden, who wisely talks about attracting back the working middle class white male, the so-called Reagan Democrat, back into the Democratic coalition.

As Andrus used to say,you don’t win by subtracting voters, you win by attracting two-fers – i.e., a Republican vote for him was one less for the R and one new one for the D – a two-fer.

The conclusion of Boynton-Brown’s pathetic, pandering and patronizing plea was especially puzzling. She seemed to be saying that because she’s a white living in Idaho it is hard for her to relate to minorities because there are so few.

So in a groveling, patronizing way she was saying teach this whitie how to understand minorities and movements like Black Lives Matter. Teach me how to feel your pain. Teach me how to listen to your cri de coeur.

This inability to find minorities to relate to has to have the 16% of the Idaho electorate that is Hispanic scratching its head, not to mention the Indian country population or the African American.

Once again Idaho hits the national news and becomes a joke for YouTube viewers. We’ve managed to beat back the white supremacist tag, the preppers and American Redoubt survivalist tag, the posse comitatus tag to cite a few of the false perceptions.

Even if the few remaining Democrats fire Boynton-Brown as quickly as possible, it most assuredly will not enable us to beat the “just stupid” tag. Cry, beloved Idaho. Cry.

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Carlson

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During the confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s designee as U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) went after his colleague on his vote not to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Idaho’s member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Mike Crapo, is a strong proponent of the Act, and was solidly for reauthorization. Issues are rarely black and white choices, though Senator Leahy tried to portray Senator Sessions as indifferent to the plight of abused women.

Sessions strongly denied the charge. In doing so he alluded to an issue that calls for more understanding and awareness, especialy by non-Native Americans who reside on Tribal lands or are married to a Native spouse.

It turns out Senator Leahy had not offered a “clean” reauthorization bill. Instead, the Vermont senator attached a new provision which troubled the Attorney General designee. Sessions had constitutional reservations about a provision that allows a non-Indian charged with abusing a Native American within the boundaries of a reservation to be tried in a Tribal Court.

Sessions believes the Constitution guarantees individuals a trial in front of a jury of one’s peers. A non-Indian standing trial for assault in front of a jury of Natives does not meet that standard.

Senator Crapo, however, accepts the provision because elsewhere the bill makes it clear this provision is restricted just to non-native assaults against natives, primarily spouses. In addition there is language providing for pilot project funding which encourages tribe’s to align their legal codes with state and federal codes and to meet other criteria spelled out in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, in particular the requirement that the jury pool in a tribal court be drawn from all those living on a reservation, not just enrolled tribal members.

Of the 566 federally recognized tribes across this nation only four have met the criteria laid out in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Three of those four reside in the northwest—-the Tulalips in western Washington and the Warm Springs Tribe and the Umatilla Tribe in eastern Oregon.

The arbiter of whether tribes have established a truly independent judiciary is the Department of Justice. This is part and parcel of Congress’ ability to exercise its plenary powers, even over treaties with tribes. Understandably, tribes who believe their sovereignty is absolute, chafe at requirements that in effect say “prove your judiciary” is an equal and independent agent in your governmental structure.

Tyrel Stevenson, for nine years a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s legal staff and the newly designated director of government affairs for the Tribe, states flatly that the vast majority of tribal judiciary are “law trained” or “law qualified.” Whether judges in the tribal courts, prosecutors, defense counsel, bailiffs, or court reporters, they all received the proper training and the attorneys all admitted to the applicable bars.

He quickly cites the legal precedents for current law applied to Native Americans in a way one wishes Senator Crapo could have done when queried about his stance.

Stevenson cites the seminal laws and their being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court: the Winter’s Doctrine of 1902; the 1924 legislation finally conferring the right to vote on America’s first citizens; Suquamish vs. Oliphant, the case which clarified a tribe’s right to decide who is a member; the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act which said tribes were not subject to the U.S. Constitution but that individual tribal members are; the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010; and the Violence Against Women Act of 2013.

To date no non-Indian has gone before any Tribal Court in Idaho on a charge of domestic abuse, nor is it likely there will be such a case for some time. Thus, in a sense it is a moot point. Why in response to a series of questions regarding how expanding the jury pool on a reservation met the constitutional test of a trial by a jury of one’s peers, Senator Crapo could not provide a better explanation is a mystery only he can answer.

The time willl come when Senator Crapo will have to clarify his thinking on this issue of a right to a trial in front of one’s peers. He can duck my questions, but down the road he won’t be able to hide.

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Carlson

carlson

Idaho is a state that historically has elected governors and senators from the pool of veteran politicians – mostly men who have served in previous public offices.  There’s a sense that this pool has been vetted already and passed muster by virtue of prior election.
 
Of the ten men who served as governors during the last 70 years (The modern era beginning in 1946 up to the present), only two had not had previous service in the Idaho Legislature.  Those two, Dirk Kempthorne and Robert Smylie, had been elected to other public offices, however: Kempthorne had been mayor of Boise and a United States senator; and, Smylie had been elected  attorney general.
 
The times they are a’changing, though, and it could be a matter of time until Idahoans go for a no previous public service, non-politician as governor.  After all, the nation has elected its first non-previous office-holder, non-Army general to the presidency.
 
A recent review of the nation’s governors and those running in 2018 by Larry Sabato, the reigning guru of the nation’s political pundits (He heads up the University of Virginia’s Public Policy Institute), was a possible peek into the future.  To the surprise of traditionalists the phenomena of starting at the top, with money, especially one’s own, coupled with an ability to talk intelligently about the issues while proclaiming yourself to be an outsider, or a business man, or an anti-government, anti-regulation agitator appears to be a seductive siren song to voters.
 
Sabato’s survey revealed 13 of the nation’s 50 states are already being governed by folks with no previous experience in public office.
 
Heretofore it was Idaho’s Democratic party that was offering up aspirants for governor with no previous experience:  A. J. Balukoff in 2014, Keith Allred in 2010, Jerry Brady in 2006 and 2002.  All, of course, lost.
 
Now, however, Idaho’s Republicans may offer up as their 2018 gubernatorial nominee an individual with no previous elective office experience.  Republican circles are abuzz with the news that Tom Ahlquist, a wealthy M.D. and the local face of Salt Lake City’s Gardner Corporation, the leading developer of high rise office buildings in downtown Boise, is telling friends and partners he will be a candidate.
 
He also is reportedly ready to spend several million dollars. He is a member of the LDS Church in good standing and there is speculation  Ahlquist will win the support of eastern Idaho billionaire Frank VanderSloot, the chairman and CEO of Melaleuca Corporation.
 
If such an alliance is established it will more than compensate for the fact that Ahlquist has virtually no history of working with the State party.
 
Primaries with more than three entries are historically difficult to predict.

With Representative Raul Labrador telling his friends and supporters he is headed home to run for governor, Lt. Governor Brad Little has to be smiling.  In theory, former state Senator Russ Fulcher and Labrador will split the Tea Party vote, Ahlquist might win the southeast’s heavily LDS counties, but Little will win seven of the ten largest voting counties.
 
Little though, is going to have to win it; he is not going to inherit the office.  The likelihood of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter receiving an appointment in the Trump Administration is slim and none.
 
Otter is viewed as a johnny-come-lately by Trump supporters in Idaho.  It is no coincidence he was passed over in the contests for Interior, Agriculture and International Trade.  His ego would not let him accept a lesser position.
 
Idaho, according to a veteran Republican advisor, does not share national sentiment regarding right direction/wrong direction, which he believes works in Brad Little’s favor.  He points out that question begins almost all polls and Idahoans tell pollsters the country is headed in the wrong direction, but Idaho is headed in the right diretion.
 
Outsiders like Ahlquist do better when people believe their state is headed in the wrong direction.  When people are satisfied with the way things are a non-previously elected candidate has a much tougher time.
 
Reading between the lines he is saying put your money on the “steady eddie” in the group, Brad Little, and the others, in particular Tom Ahlquist, no matter how much he may spend, would be a losing wager.
 
Labrador’s apparent decision to come home will set off a stampede of candidates. The early favorite has to be former Lt. Governor and Attorney General David Leroy.  Still sharp, charming, well conditioned and vigorous, he has better name id and a cadre of both new and veteran supporters who he has kept in touch with while traveling the district to give his speech on President Lincoln’s impact on Idaho.
 
Other aspirants are thought to be former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, and State Representatives Brent Crane, Luke Malek and Brandon Hixson.

Note: Corrected to remove reference to Robert Huntley in list of candidates without previous government experience. He served in the legislature and was elected to the Supreme Court before running for governor.

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