"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.


The voice on the other end of the telephone belonged to a nice lady who hailed from Wisconsin. She and her husband, who she described as an outdoor enthusiast, had moved to Wallace 14 years ago.

Wisconsin is a state with two strong political parties, and while in recent years the Democrats and their union allies have been outmaneuvered by Governor Scott Walker to the point where critics feel Wisconsin Democrats are somewhat moribund, their organization looks postively dynamic compared to Idaho’s.

The caller wanted to know whether I could come speak to a discussion group of about 25 mostly Democrats and would I be willing to share thoughts on whether there would ever be a Democratic resurrection. Here’s the gist of what I said.

The Democrats can once again be the majority choice of Idaho voters, but it is going to take time, hard work, a major reframing of the issues they focus on and the mother’s milk—money.

Here’s what has to happen: the new State Chair, former State Senator Bert Marley from Pocatello, has to visit all 44 Idaho counties. While there he must interview the county chair and emphasize the paramount obligation to find qualified Democrats to contest for every office on the local ballot. Additionally, they must fill every precinct committee slot.

If the county chair cannot do that Marley should replace them with someone who can get the job done.

Conversely, Marley owes it to these county chairs to find qualified candidates to contest every statewide and federal office. The bottom line is a party cannot start up the comeback trail without contesting every position on a ballot. One cannot win an election with nobody on the ballot, as is the case all too often.

Secondly, Democrats have to thrust forward the kind of talent that has put time in grade developing the personal relationships still critical to winning elections. Butch Otter has won three terms as governor not because of his do-nothing, risk nothing policies. He has won because he spent 14 years as Lt. Governor traveling the state building the kinds of personal relationships with donors, party workers and constituent interest groups essential to achieving ballot success.

Nothing against Steve Allred or A.J. Balukoff, the D’s last two gubernatorial nominees. Both are fine individuals but neither had spent the time in-grade developing the necessary political relationships, nor had they served in other partisan offices.

Next, the Idaho Democratic Party has to attract back the lunch-bucket carrying Democrat—the hard-working, tax-paying dirt under the finger-nails miner, or logger or farmer who started migrating to the Republican party after they felt deserted by the left-leaning, super liberal element of the party.

Others call these folks Andrus Democrats. Whatever one terms them, they along with many independents and Republicans (Andrus received as high as 30% of the Republican vote) voters carried Andrus to victory four times with two of those gubernatorial races providing the highest winning margins in Idaho history.

The Andrus formula falls under the umbrella of what he calls the three “E’s:” the Economy, Education and the Environment. He authored the phrase, “First one has to make a living; then, they have to have a living worthwhile.” In other words one has to have a job.

Consequently, he focused on policies which enhanced job creation and expanded the economic pie—but not at the expense of erxisting businesses. New business had to pay its on way. He did not believe nor did he offer incentives that in actuality were subsidies at the expense of existing business.

Secondly, he knew how important quality educational offerings were to business leaders looking to relocate their business and their families. His steadfast support for education including better pay for teachers was steadfast and constant.

Third, he knew how important Idaho’s quality of life was to the numerous citizens who enjoyed all forms of outdoor recreation. For that reason he was as supportive of wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers as he was of national recreation areas and multiple uses on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Andrus saw these as issues around which people could unite. He avoided trumpeting the numerous social issues that divide people, and which made it all too easy for Republicans to define Democrats.

His advice today would be don’t let your opponents define you, reframe your messages, get back to basics, avoid fear-mongering, and be for the three “E’s.” When Idaho Democrats start listening and acting on the advice of their most successful office-holder ever, the comeback will start.

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A friend sent a note recently recounting a discussion he had with an employee of Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game. My friend is more of a fly fisherman than a hunter. Nonetheless, they talked hunting. He said the Fish & Game employee stated the department is developing data which could show two out of three elk killed in Idaho annually are poached.

That number seemed high so I called my neigbhor, Brad Corkill, who lives a few miles down the road near Rose Lake, and is the north Idaho representative on the Fish & Game Commission.

Corkill said he too thought the number was high, but to a Fish & Game commissioner any number above that of tags sold is too high. He added the figure of two out of three would be hard to prove. It presumes a degree of hard, factual data the department does not yet possess.

If one includes in the “illegal take” the number for “party hunting” (The number shot by one member of a hunting party but someone other than the shooter puts their tag on the game) Corkill conceded the two of three number might be getting close to the real answer.

It should also be pointed out that the number for “road kill” is not utilized though it is an “untagged” taking. As long as one calls the department to report their taking the kill with them, it is legal to do so.

Nonetheless there is ample evidence Idaho has a serious poaching problem. Corkill referred me to Chip Corsi in the regional office. He was informative and helpful in digging into this issue.

Corsi said the number of illegally taken elk was thought to be high by many in the agency, but no one really knew how high. He thought their agency was getting increasingly better at drilling down on the real number and was doing more “focused research” to get at the actual total take. Still there was not enough evidence to warrant significant changes in the length of elk hunting season.

Both Corsi and Corkill praised the work of Citizens Against Poaching, an independent group made up largely of hunters who keep their eyes and ears open for people who brag about illegal takes or, as is often the case in poaching, multiple takes. They report sightings, rumors and suspicions to the agency for follow up.

Both were asked if they thought poaching was ingrained in north Idaho’s “culture?” The argument is the poaching that does occur is often necessity driven—-a hunter has little income, has to feed his family and keep the larder full, so he spotlights and shoots game from the road at night even though against the law. The second aspect of this argument is many north Idahoans living up the various creeks, draws and canyons feel any game on their property is fair game and their game. It is viewed as an extension of their right to the benefits of their land ownership.

It would appear also that many hunters do not view “party hunting” as illegal conduct and still view themselves as law-abiding citizens.

Both Corsi and Corkill firmly reject the “in the culture”view. Corsi said there may be some families who hold these views but indicated that at many of the poaching sites Fish & Game discover there are multiple kills perpetrated by hardened criminals—individuals who have committed or are commiting other crimes.

They acknowledge that when one hears a series of rifle shots after dark and a few days before a season opens, it is a poacher at work. Corkill pointed to the obvious: a person doesn’t sight –in his rifle after dark.

Both, though, believe the vast majority of north Idaho hunters are law-abiding citizens who recognize the Fish & Game department is a trustee who manages for the long-term, and whose goal is to create ample opportunities for Idahoans to enjoy hunting for years to come.

Corkill speaks eloquently about the evolution of game management philosophy and the great difference between the European approach and the American. He points out to anyone who will listen that in Europe the landowner does own the game. In the classic tale of Robin Hood one should recall his worst offence for which he was sentenced to die is that of killing the Duke’s deer.

As a consequence hunting in Europe is largely confined to the wealthy, which Corkill sees as tragic.

He also believes the public gets the nexus between future sustainability of big game and the need to be diligent in protecting the resource so the many may enjoy.

Still, when all is said and done, Fish & Game recognizes its responsibility to come up with a valid number on illegal take and to factor that into its calculation of what it takes to protect a resource in order to manage successfully in perpetuity. And while today they may not have a hard number before long they will. The result indeed may be shortening of seasons which can be laid at the feet of the poacher. If you see someone poaching, call Fish & Game. The elk they might be about to kill just could be the one meant for you.

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The new book Eye on the Caribou by Chris Carlson old from the perspective of one who was on the inside, here’s the story of the passage of the Alaska Lands Act. It was an effort spanning 80 years, from the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt and culminating with President Jimmy Carter signing into law what many consider the greatest piece of conservation legislation in history. It is a story of grit, greed, political double-­crosses and shrewd strategy that achieved what many thought unobtainable. Here’s an excerpt.

Excerpt: (Cecil) Andrus, while still serving as Idaho’s governor in November of 1976, extended an invitation to the then president-elect to take a fly-fishing float trip on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Andrus issued the invitation while standing in the Carter’s kitchen at the former president’s home in Plains, (Georgia) following his interview to be the next Secretary of the Interior. Carter accepted the invitation from the incoming 44th Interior Secretary, and he kept his word.

The float trip turned out to be both serendipitous and fortuitous. As the two couples sat around the evening fire, the men would first settle up on the day’s bet regarding who caught and released the most cutthroat, the largest and the first. They usually bet $1 on each. Then the conversation would turn to larger matters.

The timing could not have been better. Just a month earlier, Andrus had taken 15 of the nation’s premier journalists on a week-long tour of Alaska covering many of the sites being contemplated as additions to the nation’s great systems of protection and conservation: wilderness, national parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments and wild and scenic rivers. The trip garnered extensive publicity for setting aside and protecting anywhere from 80 million to 103 million acres of federal lands. This would satisfy the commitment to the environmental community to accept the settlement of the long unresolved land claims of Alaska’s Natives. It also allowed the trans-Alaska pipeline to proceed in exchange for a promised significant increase in the great preservation and conservation programs that over the years the United States, more by luck than coordinated planning, has been able to achieve.

With his Alaska trip fresh in his mind, and knowing that the president’s No. 1 goal for the nation’s major environmental organizations was passage of the Alaska lands legislation, Andrus took full advantage of time spent by the evening camp fire to discuss his media tour of Alaska, the status of the then negotiations, the likelihood that Alaska’s Democratic Senator, Mike Gravel, would prove to be the dog in the manger and do everything he could to stall and delay any legislation.

Always able to look down the road and over the horizon to anticipate what would be coming, Andrus began to lay out his fall-back strategy to the president should Gravel not only succeed in torpedoing the current legislation but also block an extension of the deadline for resolution of the lands issue contained in the 1971 Land Claims Act.

The idea involved achieving the goal by using the presidential land withdrawal power under the Antiquities Act to create national monuments by the stroke of a pen. Andrus thought President Carter might have to designate as many as 17 new or expanded national monuments to protect both the lands and congress’ option to act in compliance with the previous Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act requirement.

Andrus had the complete trust of the president. The two had worked closely together when both were serving as governor of their respective states and became acquainted at National Governor Association meetings. In later years Carter would say Andrus was the only person he considered for the Interior post. He relied heavily on Andrus’ views with regards to most western issues and backed up every decision Andrus later made on Alaska. Andrus had been reading about Alaska since childhood, in particular Jack London’s stories about Alaska and the Yukon. He also fondly recalled that the barbershop in the nearest town to their little farm used to save the old Outdoor Life magazines, and he and his brother, Steve, would read every issue from cover to cover, and dream about some day visiting there.

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Kudos to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Watching him last week on Idaho Public Television’s program devoted entirely to the issue of nuclear waste and the Idaho National Laboratory’s research mission, it is clear he gets what is at stake in the debate over Idaho abrogating the Batt agreement which bans the importation of any additional commercial nuclear waste material — even if the pretext is “research.”

General Wasden gets that he is charged with upholding the law and the Batt agreement is part of that law. He gets it that there’s an added layer in that the agreement was overwhelmingly approved by the people of Idaho.

Candidly, his show of resolve is encouraging. He reads the agreement correctly: It puts the onus on the federal government to solve the issue of 900,000 gallons of dangerous high level liquid waste stored above the Snake River aquifer. Some form of calcification permitting removal has to have been achieved and removal underway BEFORE any discussions can take place on the importation of any other radioactive material, including material allegedly for “research.”

The attorney general also noted that even in the short time he has been involved, the Energy Department keeps shifting the date for resolution on this critical matter. It is a classic example of an agency continually moving the goal posts.

It is no exaggeration to say General Wasden is a modern incarnation of the legendary ancient Roman hero, Horatio, who stood at one end of a narrow bridge and single-handedly defeated an enemy invading force. Folks, it is no exaggeration to say today that General Wasden is realistically the only person standing in the way of Idaho becoming the nation’s de facto nuclear waste dump.

Wasden gets it that with no national repository for highly radioactive material on the horizon, any material brought into Idaho even for so-called “research,” will NEVER leave.

In general the TV program, hosted by Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz, was balanced with some notable exceptions: the hosts never challenged former Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s claim to have been responsible for the Batt agreement in the first place, an agreement he now wants to discard. Pure baloney, as was Craig’s poor analogy equating nuclear waste to library books.

Nor did they challenge the obfuscation Energy Assistant Secretary-designate John Kotek brought to the program by his conveniently ignoring the series of broken promises by his agency. They should have asked him why any Idahoan, given that track record, should ever believe the agency or trust it?

Finally, what the program brought out was the strategy now being pursued by all the state’s top Republicans, except Wasden, in their craven desire to get the 30 pieces of metaphorical silver. So there is a problem with the Batt agreement?

Well, the solution is simple, my friend. Behind closed doors we’ll just renegotiate and “update” the Batt agreement. After all, it’s over 20 years old. Follow this logic being espoused by Senators Crapo and Risch and we’d be redoing the Constitution every 20 years. So, why should Idaho even agree to these “negotiations?”

The Energy department is already out of compliance because of repeated failures to meet key deadlines. Rather than updating the Batt agreement, Idaho should vigorously enforce it because there is a fundamental question DoE is refusing to answer.

If Idaho were to agree to allow this supposed minor amount of commercial spent fuel into the state for “research,” where will the material (not to mention the some 20 metric tons of spent fuel rods lined up behind) eventually go? The answer is, given the absence of Yucca Mountain (Nevada), nowhere. It will stay here indefinitely.

So will the toxic liquid waste even after it is solidified, BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER PLACE TO SEND IT. DOE, however, does not want to admit this which is why they redacted the answers to specific questions posed by former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, who has sued the department for failure not only to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act but also the Freedom of Information Act.

If there is one minor complaint regarding General Wasden, given his well-known commitment to transparency in governmental decisions and compliance with Idaho’s open meeting law, it is he has not joined Andrus’ suit to force DOE into FOIA compliance.

In the meantime all of Idaho’s top Republicans will stand arm in arm with the Idaho Falls Chamber in trying to peddle this pig in a poke about just a small amount of waste for research purposes being allowed into Idaho.

What they really will do is to open Idaho to an entirely new generation of wastes to join the significant waste already here, while hoping the public won’t focus on failures to meet long-ago agreed to clean-up deadlines.

These boosters, these Judas’ who risk a future they’ll not have to live with, are right now being thwarted by one man of integrity and courage, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Pray that he remains strong and resolute.

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Shame on you, Senator Crapo. Shame, shame on you.

Recently your campaign published a list of Idaho legislators who had endorsed your re-election. Among those was that of State Senator Shawn Keough, recently elevated to the co-chairmanship of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

She has served Bonner County honorably and well for 20 years and is a long-time loyal supporter of Senator Crapo’s. Her reward for all these years of support?

Senator Crapo, in his continuing groveling before the Tea-Party faction of the Republican party and its Freedom Forum caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, named as his Bonner County campaign chair, Danielle Ahrens, a Republican Tea Party zealot who has twice challenged Senator Keough in Republican primaries.

It would be one thing if Ms. Ahrens had conducted a campaign with debate centered on thoughtful explanation of differences. That’s not the case, however. Even minimal due diligrnce on his campaign’s part would have told Crapo that Ms. Ahrens ran a viciously personal campaign full of false charges, innuendo and lies.

One would think Senator Crapo would not want to be associated with this type of campaigning; nor, with the type of zealot for whom the end justifies the means and so what if the truth gets mangled in the process? The old Mike Crapo wouldn’t want to be caught dead with someone like Danielle.

Neither would the “new” Mike Crapo, one would think. Such thinking is wrong. The new Crapo is so pandering to the right it is downright disgusting to view. He will win re-election easily, even if someone like First District Congressman and Freedom Forum zealot Raul Labrador is a challenger.

Crapo is running an unseemly race to the far right in the fear that if not, he would face a primary challenge. Thus, he runs, driven by fear. He must be rationalizing that if he goes to the extreme right there’ll be no room for a challenger.

Additionally, he must fear his Driving while Under the Influence (DUI) charge and conviction a few years ago will be brought up and LDS voters, especially those with “temple passes,” will abandon him.

Likewise, the new Crapo wants to repudiate the old, who, as a member of the Simpson/Bowles Budget Reform Commission voted for a solution that reflected judicious compromise. It called for a combination of spending cuts and “revenue enhancements.”

The latter phrase is a euphemism for “tax increase.” Thus, the Senator broke his pledge to Grover Norquist that he would never support any tax increase. That he was correct is irrelevant as he runs from his previous stance.

Senator Keough, for her part, has to be angry. She knows, unlike Crapo, that political loyalty runs both ways—at least that is the expectation. Presumably she has expressed her displeasure but one suspects true to the form of the new Crapo, his campaign does not dare rescind the appointment.

Admit that they’d made a mistake and not done their due diligence? Are you kidding me? Rather than do that and write a note of personal apology, the campaign will muddle through this stupid decision. It is a sad confirmation that Crapo so desperately wants to be re-elected he is compromising his reputation for integrity and rectitude.

When asked to comment, his campaign chair, Sara Nelson, gave the old line about welcoming the support of all interest groups including people divided on issues but agreeing in their support of the Senator’s re-election. Follow this logic and they would have welcomed the late neo-Nazi, Rev. Richard Butler’s support. Nelson claimed they’d done their due diligence and were aware of Ahrens past, but another staffer conceded theysimply took the recommendation of a member of the Bonner County Republican central committee.

What is truly sad is that Senator Crapo and his cynical, clueless campaign are contributing further to an environment in Republican ranks that is hell-bent on driving the moderates, the so-called Rhino’s, out of the party—especially those in leadership, whether it is a Speaker like John Boehner, a majority leader like Kevin McCarthy, or the co-chair of a Legislature’s JFAC committee, like Shawn Keough.

This is a downhill path that will inevitably lead to the dissolution of the Republican party as we know it today. For Senator Crapo not to be aware of where this groveling and pandering is leading is to demonstrate an incredible degree of self-induced ignorance.

For him, by his actions, to repudiate the value of political loyalty going both ways is simply unconscionable. There’s a Biblical verse saying what good is it for a man to inherit the world but lose his soul in the process? One wishes the Senator would ask himself that question but its obvious he won’t.

It might mess up his application for membership in the Senate’s Freedom Caucus.

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There are three people, two of them aspiring public office holders, and the third a long-time veteran that political junkies in Idaho should keep their eye on over the next few weeks and months. I’ll admit bias right up front: one aspirant is a former student of mine and the other is a talented attorney I have known since he was “knee high to a graas-hopper.”

Both are answering a call to public service and are the kinds of folks we should want to serve. The veteran has proven time and again that he relishes public service and is exceptionally goodat it. He now may be the answer to a problem confronting his party.

The former student is Kathy Kahn, an outstanding educator who teachesEnglish Literature at St. Maries High School. After 27 years Kahn will retire next May, but only to take on a new challenge. She is seriously weighing taking on Second District State Representative Vito
Barbieri. Demonstrating a degree of sophistication few rookies evidence she has formed a political action committee to accept contributions while she travels the district to assess her prospects.

She intends to run as an “Andrus Democrat,” but the district is solidly a 2:1 Republican district and she is well aware that despite numerous gaffes by the incumbent it will be an uphill battle to unseat him.

She has turned heads though by attracting former veteran State Senator Mike Blackbird to serve as her campaign chair and is raising money as well asputting together a string of visits after work hours and on weekends with the
interest groups around the district.

Her first bumper sticker is already showing up on autos, particularly on the cars of a cadre to North Idaho College students, which says “Kathy Kahn Can” and leaves one saying “can do what?” The answer is Kathy Kahn can win, Kathy Kahn can do better, Kathy Kahn cares.

Vito Barbieri may still win, but he’ll know he was in the
fight of his political life. My money says Kahn will run and win.

The second aspiring public servant is attorney Andy Hawes, grandson of the almost legendary Rodney Hawes, publisher of the Owyhee Nugget, literally the last hotlead set printing press in the west. Grandpa Hawes was a classic but charming curmudgeon. Young Hawes, besides inheriting grandpa’s intelligence got the charm also. He turned a few heads when he filed for the seat on the Boise City Council currently held by three-term incumbent Elaine Clegg.

Hawes has nothing against Clegg. He goes out of his way to say his campaign will build on the good work done so far by Mayor Dave Bieter and the currrent Council. “But Boise can and must do better,” Hawes says. He then smoothly moves to his list of issues: Boise has to come to terms with the homeless issue and in a compassionate manner get at the root causes; continued support for open space, the greenbelt and foothills expansion (He supports the Clean Water bond also); and, working with downtown business, both large and small, on street parking and the
over-regulatory approach the city has towards new, small business.

Though only 35, Hawes already has served as president of the Idaho Bar and was one of the leaders in saving Boise High from the wrecking ball. He recently held a quickly organized fund-raiser that attracted 75 folks and garnered $10,000. He says people should thank Clegg for her service but 12 years is enough in any one office, that its time for a change and new energy. He’s a solid bet.

The third name Second District Congressman Mike Simpson. For many reasons the former Idaho House Speaker and dentist from Blackfoot has decided to retain his House appropriations subcommittee chairmanship and not get into the current cat fight between the hard right (Which is where one finds First District Congressman Raul Labrador) and the Tea Party wing of the GOP that favors Utah Rep. Jason Chavetz for Speaker and the moderate to conservative wing which supports Majority Leader and California congressman Kevin McCarthy.

Some observers had thought that when John Boehner gave up the Speakership he might support a bid by Simpson. Simpson, however, has reportedly told friends he would not run for Speaker. He enjoys being a“Cardinal.”

This, however, is a smart strategy for it appears that over the next two weeks Chafetz with the aid of Idaho’s other congressman, Rep. Labrador (The Spokesman-Review reported this week that Simpson and Labrador have not spoken to each other in months) will be able to deny McCarthy the votes he needs (218) to be elected.

Then all hell breaks loose. A possible compromise candidate, when the smoke clears, could be Rep. Simpson, who, an educated guess says would let the crown be hoisted onto his head at least until this session of Congress ends.

Keep your eye on all three of these folks: Kathy Kahn, Andy Hawes, and Mike Simpson.

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This past week has witnessed two Jesuit-trained and educated men being tested by secular society’s differing, evolving and declining view on the sanctity of all life. The Roman Catholic Church they are members of adamantly adheres to the sacredness of life “from conception to natural death.” The two men are California Governor Jerry Brown and Pope Francis.

Both are keenly aware that secular society is undergoing profound changes and is well down the slippery slope of moral relativism by addressing these complex, often complicated highly personal matters as totally a matter of individual choice. Thus , two thousand years of tradition and history that says the first principle of the social compact is that people come together in society to protect the weak, the lame, the poor, the disabled from the predatory nature of the rich and powerful is now null and void. All is to be sacrificed on the altar of the all consuming self.

Heretofore many of society’s laws were extensions of this first principle. Both men understand that all institutions have a shared responsibility to protect life, whether a church or a governmental entity. They also recognize the difficulty in trying to legislate and anticipate every contingency and then codify it. The rub of course comes with the fact that despite laws saying a fetus is a person, its “right to life” only begins when it can exist outside the mother’s womb. And the law now gives a woman the right to make that highly personal decision hopefully before fetal viability, but justified under her right to personal privacy. This is summarized by the phrase “right to choose.”

The insidious genius on the other end of the life spectrum is that the proponents of physician-assisted suicide have largely succeeded in capturing the choice issue for their so-called death with dignity movement. Along the way they dropped the name Hemlock Society and adopted the name “Compassion and Choices.”

Recently, the California Assembly passed in a special session a law permitting physician-assisted suicide. Governor Brown may veto it without addressing the merits simply because it by-passed a committee-hearing which is always held during a regular session.

Let’s be clear about some of the deceit surrounding this end of life matter as championed by its supporters.

First, they often say this is a right to die as you choose matter. What they don’t say is one already can legally end their own life—start the car in the enclosed garage, take a bunch of sleeping pills and it’s over.

The real issues they don’t address are why the state has to be involved and why does a physician have to do harm counter to the Hippocratic Code? Oh, by the way, they redefine death along the way. Initiative 1000, passed by the voters in the state of Washington in 2008 by 58% to 42%, contains language mandating that the physician signing the death certificate of the suicide has to list the underlying disease as the cause of death, not the lethal dose of drugs prescribed by the doctor.

Presumably this is done in order to make sure insurance policies which have suicide exclusion clauses still pay. However, it is legalizing a lie. Oh, by the way, no one has to witness the suicide’s death. So don’t fall for the claim that such laws have plenty of safeguards. Ask yourself instead why is the state incentivizing premature death? Is pain really an issue?. Doctors say no that palliative care eases all pain today and even proponents admit that but their ads keep showing intolerable suffering. And who defines what constitutes dignity in one’s death?

No, the real issue for proponents of assisted suicide is pure and simple selfish power. They want to control how they leave this world though no one has control over how they enter this world. Without question they pass along their pain to their loved ones though they rationalize that they are sparing their loved ones.

Look at the data from Oregon and Washington. The few that avail themselves of this exit are almost all white, well to do, well-educated people who have the means and the connections to obtain the lethal drugs and find a physician to write the prescription.

Does California really need a law to put a patina of societal approval over their self-centered action? Does California or other states not recognize the mixed signal they send to our young at whom we spend millions with public service ads telling them not to take the road that has no return? Then we turn around and say that if they are 18 and a doctor says they have a terminal illness (and doctors can be wrong) they have a right to end their lives prematurely?

Here’s hoping Governor Brown emulates the courage of Pope Francis and speaks out for life and against secular society’s culture of death by vetoing the bill.

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(An Open Letter to Senator Mike Crapo)

Dear Senator Crapo—Thanks but no thanks. I’m returning the fund-raising solicitation I received from your campaign today empty first because you already have $4.2 million in cash on hand and probably will not even have an opponent (which has been your good fortune before).

The hysterical tone that you need $95,000 more by the next FEC report deadline is truly implausible if not downright misleading. You are the safest bet for re-election in the nation, and you know it.

Fiscally conservative Idaho “business Democrats,” like myself, have supported you in the past where we knew you to be the better representative. Also, a few of us admire your intelligence and recognize your potential, even if you don’t.

Candidly, when you first entered the Senate I had high hopes you would be a different kind of a Republican, that you would on occasion stand up against your caucus, that you would exercise independence, that you would dare to be different, that you would be a true compassionate conservative, to borrow George W. Bush’s phrase.

When you served with distinction on the Simpson/Bowels Fiscal Reform Commission you were starting to meet expectations. You stood up against Grover Norquist, the GOP guru who tries to extract a “no new taxes pledge” from all Republicans because you recognized the long-term solution to our incredible debt was a systematic approach that required both a reduction in spending and some new revenue enhancements. That was your finest hour.

What has happened to that Mike Crapo? The one I see running for re-election today is running to the hard right, mouthing the mindless bromides of the Tea Party. Friends of yours tell me that you wanted to pre-empt any primary attack from the right. Really? Mike Crapo is running to the hard right because he’s afraid of someone acting even more heartless than Donald Trump who wants to ship all 11 million illegal but largely tax-paying contributing immigrants out of the country?

And when did you start idolizing that heartless¸wealthy colleague of yours, Senator Jim Risch, who demonstrates time and again he cares for little but himself and maintaining the growing gap between the super rich and the middle class?

That sure was a great deal he struck switching property tax relief for his large corporate contributors for more sales tax and then had the gall to tell folks it would not cut into state support for education – but it did.

Nor did he bother to disclose his personal though modest benefit from this legislation he pushed during his seven months as governor.

So imagine my disappointment when I hear you bragging that you and Risch vote the same 99% of the time? You’re honestly proud of that? Really? If voting with Jim Risch is an example of what your letter calls good old-fashioned common sense, God help us all.

Of course your letter contains the usual list of issues you’ll work on which polls tell you are popular with the electorate, but all are couched in broad generalities. You say you’ll work to repeal ObamaCare. With all due respect Senator, ObamaCare is here to stay. You know its provisions banning denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and capping expenditures are well on their way to becoming entitlements.

Senator, for the life of me, I really don’t understand why you don’t exercise more independence and display more courage. Be the salmon that swims against the strongest part of the current. You’re a good senator doing an adequte job but you could do so much more than just touting about holding town meetings in every town in Idaho.

I’m sure you are familiar with the parable of the talents in the New Testament. Do you honestly believe you are employing all your talents for the greater good of the citizens? Or are you indeed becoming more like Senator Rish, gliding along in what is the easiest job in the world when you hold one of the safest seats?

Many people have told me that you greatly admired, and rightly so, your older brother, Terry, who was taken so prematurely just as he was beginning a political career in which most veteran observers at the time thought would lead to true greatness. I had the privilege of covering one sesssion of the Idaho Legislature in which he truly stood out. I too thought he was destined to be someone who truly would make a difference.

I believe you and he are cut from the same cloth, that you can still fulfill a higher, better destiny. You’re a good man and a good senator, but dare to be great, Mike. Dare to be great.

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As millions of Americans go about the Labor Day weekend brought to them in the name of the working men and women of America, one wonders if much thought is given, especially in a right-to-work state like Idaho, to the debt owed to those labor pioneers who worked so hard to establish benefits we all take for granted: the eight hour work day and the 40 hour work week; overtime pay; health benefits; retirement plans to supplement Social Security; the passage of laws outlawing child labor and laws ensuring safe working environments are the priority not productivity.

Its doubtful much thought is given or thanks offered. In part this is due to a relentless campaign over many years by Republicans to portray labor as “greedy unions” that would rather see a business go broke if it cannot meet the union’s grasping effort to get paid more for doing less.

There’s greed in abundance, but today it is almost wholly monopolized by over-paid, unaccountable corporate executives who often install strategies that fail but still receive outlandish compensation for their failure. The failure usually reveals a woeful undervaluing of employees who are treated as “overhead,” not as people trying hard to do their best. Constant cutting of “over-head”can tempoprarily improve share price and/or provide the façade of a better return on investment number. But its short-term thinking that sacrifices the future for the present.

In past years, the gap between the average union worker’s paycheck and the company ceo once was 10:1. Today it is more likely 100 to one and growing. It’s at a point now where it is excessive enough to be an issue in the presidential campaign.

The decline in union membership is well-known, as is the proliferation of right-to-work laws which forbid the forced payment of union dues in an organized shop. There’s no argument that there was a time in the late 50’s when unions were their own worst enemies. Public disdain grew either because of corrupt union leaders or strikes supporting demands for excessive pay increases, or suspected “socialist” tendencies.

I once was a member of United Steelworkers of America local 338, the union shop at Kaiser Aluminum’s huge Trentwood rolling mill. I worked there the summer of 1965 to earn extra money before heading east for college.

Initially I was assigned to the box shop stacking lumber that came through a saw cut to the correct dimensions to make pallets for shipping coils and other products. During the afternoon break a union “brother” mosied over and said, “Slow down, kid. You’re working too hard.”

I was dumbfounded since I was easily keeping up. “But I’m doing fine,” I protested. The brother then got blunt and snarly. “Listen, kid, the company contract says that’s a two-person job. Your showing one person can do it is denying another person a job. Slow down or else. .”

Welcome to what’s called “featherbedding.” Not wanting to find out what the “or else” meant, I slowed down. The next day there were two of us during the work. In those days Kaiser was selling every pound of aluminum it produced at a handsome profit.

When the economy started to slide with inflation and interest rates rising, demand declining, and profits disappearing, Kaiser began to hemorrhage and a long slow struggle to right the ship began. To their credit the Kaiser unions recognized inefficiencies had to be removed, that contract niceities had to be sacrificed for maintenance of necessities.

Despite wage and benefit concessions for future profit sharing,eventually Kaiser went into bankruptcy.

The idea of labor/management partnership though has survived and many unions today work closely with management to maintain solid profitable production while providing a safe working environment and a decent benefits.

Unfortunately, state Democratic parties everywhere have become enamoured of Labor’s major legislative priority—raising a state’s minimum wage. While Idaho’s is one of the lowest in the nation, imposing an unrealistic, unsustainable number on businesses in Idaho is not the answer.

Idaho Democrats should take note of the fact that the four states that most recently increased their minimum wage did so through a ballot initiative. That’s not going to happen in Idaho.

The Idaho Democratic party would be better served by promoting a woman’s right to “equal pay for equal work.”

So what is Labor’s top legislative agenda for the next session: a law that mandates an Idaho employer has to provide a one hour lunch break for employees! In 2015 an Idaho employer can deny an employee his or her lunch break and force them to work eight or ten hours without the lunch.? Simply unbelievable.

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