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Posts published in “Carlson”

Braggarts and liars


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.



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?


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?



I’m a believer in the Almighty, in Heaven, in the Communion of Saints. I’m a Roman Catholic. I pray, carry and say the Rosary. I believe in the Resurrection and during Lent I recite the Stations of the Cross and often recite the Nicene Creed.

I look at the world and I see the hand of the Almighty. The reality we move in and have our being cannot be the product of random chance, some quark gone awry. If one subscribes to the Big Bang theory, whether the explosion that started evolution was of energy or material, atheists and agnostics cannot explain how it came to be.

To create is to make something from nothing and only God Almighty can do that, which is why people of faith also use the word Creator. I also believe God is Love and those that love are in God and God is in them. I further believe we each have a guardian angel, but few listen.

These musings are not prompted per se by the eminent arrival of Easter on April 1st. Rather, the passing in mid-March at 76 years of one of the world’s most intelligent individuals, Stephen Hawking, who despite an almost non-functioning body, nonetheless was able to triumph over his adversity to become an astrophysicist. Sadly, rather than thanking the Almighty for the blessing of his brilliant mind, his fame and notoriety he was an out and out atheist.

For him it was all chance, the swerve, the errant quark that started the ball rolling.

Why I have a strong faith life is a consequence not just of my gratitude for all my and my family’s considerable blessings, but also my escaping premature death at least nine times. Odds on this are astronomical, and I don’t believe there are coincidences

Look at this list:

1) When I was 4 I took off from our home in Kingston. I was wearing coveralls and I was found out on a limb overhanging Highway 10. I’d fallen but another limb caught the back of my coveralls so there I dangled.

2) When I was 10 I was going through a house nearby under construction. There was a board across the hole where they were starting a fireplace on the basement floor. I decided to swing on the board, it rolled and I fell into the basement hitting my head on the fireplace knocking myself out cold.

3) When I was 12 and riding my bike I started to cross a highway by riding down into the barrow pit and up the other side onto the highway, where unseeen by me came an auto speeding. I literally rolled backwards off my bike otherwise I would have been toast.

4) When I was 15 I was helping a great uncle open up an abandoned mine in the Yellowjacket country near the Big Horn Crags. There was a gyppo miner a half mile above us that had been working his claim for years and had a tunnel into the side of a mountain. I decided to check out the mine and started walking into the tunnel. I walked ever deeper and ever darker into the tunnel, but for some reason stopped and decided to go get a hard hat with a light so I could see where I was going. I returned with the lighted helmet and could see my tracks in the dust of the floor. My steps led right up to a shaft that was a good hundred feet deep. One more step and I would have been killed. What caused me to stop?

5) When I was 20 I was riding in a laundry truck outside of Pocatello headed for West Yellowstone to deliver new laundry and pick up the soiled. Bone tired I fell asleep and awoke just in time to see the pavement coming towards me as the truck rolled due to the driver collapsing. Get this, the seat I was sitting on,( a bench seat) was tossed from the truck but I remained in the cab. I did sustain a gash on the head from an inside wiper blade that required over 900 stitches. I have to tell you I never doubted I would be okay and I later recognized I’d been the recipient of the peace that passes understanding.

6) When I was 21, after finals at Columbia my roommate convinced me to have two drinks (a Singapore Sling and something else). I never drank until I discovered beer one hot summer day in D.C. We then went to someone’s apartment on the 16th floor of some building in Brooklyn. Feeling tipsy, hot and flushed I opened a window and sat on the window sill to cool off. Yup, I promptly fainted but rather than falling backward out the window to my death I fell forward.

7) When I was 25 and the press secretary to Governor Andrus I rode in an old stage coach that turned into a run away during a parade in Payette. The coach rolled but I emerged unscathed.

8) When I was 35 I was riding in first class on a Northwest jet that took a direct hit from lightining. It hit the plane immediately to my right and exited through the door to my left.

9) When I was 58 I was diagnosed with an incurable Stage IV neuroendocrine cancer and given six months. I’m not dead yet 13 years later thanks to the miracles of modern medicine and the power of the many prayers said on my behalf by family, friends and myself.

You bet I believe in the Almighty, Mr. Hawking. Here’s wishing all my readers that share a faith life a blessed and Joyful Easter. He lives.

Petty vindictiveness


(Open Letter to Idaho Senator James Risch)

Senator—attached to this column is a picture of the headstone in Boise’s Pioneer Cemetery that marks the gravesite of the late, great four-term Idaho Governor and Carter Administration Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus.

For years you two engaged in sniping at each other in what was recognized by most of the state’s political cognoscenti as hardball, partisan politics. You could give as good as you received.

During those times you amply demonstrated that you could be mean, vicious, and petty, that you lacked a sense of humor and viewed politics not as an exercise that found the greatest good for the greatest number but rather a form of war.

During all those years there was one thing I never thought you capable of - outright stupidity. Imagine my surprise then when you took your six-shooter out of its holster and shot both your feet?

This one act of vindictive insanity is going to be your legacy.

In case you’ve forgotten, Cece passed away August 24th, 2017, a day shy of his 85th birthday. Apparently the fact that he is under six feet of mother earth, and you’ve outlived your old rival is not enough for you. Reports out of Washington, D.C. indicate you put a hold on the $1.3 trillion spending bill and demanded that a provision passed by the House at the behest of your Republican congressional colleague, Mike Simpson, renaming the White Clouds wilderness area the Cecil D. Andrus White Clouds Wilderness be removed.

If not, you would see the federal government shut down. Seriously? One newspaper ran the perfect headline: “Senator Risch Picks Fight with Dead Governor---Loses.” How does it feel to have the entire world laughing at you?
As Cece’s press secretary, confidant and adviser for many years I was well aware there was little love between you two, but never in my wildest thoughts did I think you could be so petty.

Why? It can’t be that you and he quarreled over appropriate levels of education funding when you were the Senate Pro Tempore leader in the Senate, can it?

It can’t be that a number of times you tried unsuccessfully to over-ride vetoes or spike important appointments.

It can’t be that he was a better, more respected politician than you, or that he supported State Senator Mike Burkett’s successful effort to deny you re-election?

This attempt to take revenge is a true lose-lose for you. Why such animosity that transcends partisan politics?

Could it be that Andrus early on nailed you for the little man with a Napoleonic complex you often displayed? Andrus was on to the games you would play, such as having your desk and chair on a riser, and you’d then stand and semi-sit on the corner of your desk looking down on a guest who you insisted take a seat in a chair on the floor?

Then there was the time you were about to be sworn in as governor for six months. Invites were sent to all former living governors and all rsvp’d they would be there except Andrus. Do you were remember this, Senator?

You called Andrus at home and the conversation went something like this:
Risch: “Cecil, this is yourrrr governor. And your governor would respectfully request your attendence at his inauguration tomorrow.”
Andrus: “All right you little so and so, I’ll be there.” And he did attend.

Andrus had more class in his little finger than you will ever have. If you had an ounce of class you’d apologize to the Andrus family and to your colleague, Mike Simpson. I won’t hold my breath.

Shame on you Senator Risch for attempting such petty vindictiveness. You proved to one and all you are every bit the little man that you are.

Snoozing along . . .


Idahoans may soon find out the answer to an old joke question: what if they held an election and no one came?

In less than two months for all practical purposes Idaho’s next governor and its next member of Congress from the First District will be the winner of the May 15th Republican primary.

Does anyone care? In 50 years of observing Idaho politics I’ve never seen a less interested, not-paying-attention Idaho electorate. Maybe the campaigns have more visibility in southern Idaho, as all the campaigns are eschewing buying television out of the expensive Spokane market. The return on investment calculus simply says its too much to pay to reach what is seen as less than 10% of the probable GOP voters.

Quick. Tell me three major difference that separate the three major Republican gubernatorial candidates - Tommie Ahlquist, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, and Congressman Raul Labrador - from each other? Can’t do it, can you?

A low interest, low turnout vote probably favors Labrador whose hard right conservative base n theory will be the most motivated to vote.

However, the winner will be the one that has the best ground game - the one who has identified the most likely voters, has phone banks set up to call voters, can provide rides to the polls, has a top notch absentee and vote by mail operation, and has a direct mail program sending three or four pieces to all Republican households.

One suspects that if it comes down to who has the best ground game that will favor Brad Little in the governor’s race and in the congressional race will favor former attorney general David Leroy. The reason is they are more familiar to the state’s voters having run state-wide and have built a cadre of solid supporters - people who know them and more importantly like them.

An election that has attracted hardly any interest clearly will not be a change election, but will be a maintain the status quo. That too favors Little and Leroy.

Rest assured both races will be decided by the voters of two counties - Ada and Canyon, which between them hold 40% of the voters. Some pundits think this tilts the congressional race towards former state senator Russ Fulcher from Canyon County, but there is no evidence to support that. With seven R’s the winner may have only 20% of the vote and such races are impossible to predict.

Labrador released his first tv ad this past week, the last of the three major GOP candidates to do so. Interestingly, he repeatedly tries to reassure his base he is the only true “consistent conservative” in the race though Idaho voters grasp that all three are conservatives.

Labrador though is probably badly out of step on many of the issues with most Idahoans. His code talk about focusing more on educational performance than funding is just a slick way of saying he will slash educational funding despite public wishes to the contrary. It’s the only way he can reach his touted tax reduction plan calling for capping sales, property and income tax at a uniform 5%.

The guess here is that despite a low turnout many traditional conservative to moderate R’s will turn out and that most independents will vote in the Republican primary as well. All of this should see Little nose by Labrador with Ahlquist running third.

In most years one would think Ahlquist’s enthusiasm and charisma as well as being the fresh face would catch on. That doe not appear to be the case though and most observers won’t be surprised by Ahlquist finishing third.

The congressional race still appears to favor Leroy who has done an excellent job on the stunp demonstrating his mastery of the issues and underscoring his “constitutional conservative” views. His adroit dismissal of age questions has faded as he demonstrates vigor and with humor dismisses such questions.

A word about the Democratic gubernatorial primary featuring the party’s 2014 candidate, millionaire businessman and long-time Boise school board member A.J. Balukoff and former State Representative Paulette Jordan from Plummer. The first take was that she could actually win the nomination given the thin slice of liberal “wine and cheese” D’s in Idaho who nonetheless can deliver in the smallish Democratic primary.

Any chance she might have had though may have become foregone given her recent endorsement of gun registration for all firearms, and not prospectively but retroactively. There are enough D’s in Idaho who hunt who will dismiss her out of hand for taking such a position.

We’ll know more on May 16th when we will learn who our next governor will be and the new First District congressman. Don’t blink though or it may just escape notice.

The gentleman


He was a true gentleman - unfailingly polite, always as well spoken as he was soft spoken. Possessed of a subtle sense of humor, a bit shy, but he walked with ease among the rich and famous because he commanded their respect. When he spoke it was always on point; he didn’t waste words. The intelligence and common sense he displayed spoke volumes.

Though he hailed from Olympia on the wet-side of the Cascades, he and his older brother Ward attended Washington State. Though slight of stature he was a four-sport star athlete in high school as well as student body president due primarily to his leadership skills.

He bled Cougar red the rest of his days, which came to an end in late February when he quietly passed away, no doubt glad to rejoin his beloved wife, Retha, his life-long partner in every sense of the word. Not incidentally she was a Vandal.

His name was Jay Rockey; he was 90.

When Seattle’s community and business leadership, led by United Airlines then CEO, Eddie Carlson, decided in 1960 that the city needed to jump-start itself into the 21st Century, they hit upon the idea of creating a World’s Fair. Thus, was born Seattle’s iconic Space Needle with its revolving restaurant, as well as the Monorail and other venues.

They also turned to Jay Rockey to sell the concept to the rest of the nation, to make Seattle a “must visit” and peek into the future. That Jay Rockey succeeded beyond expectations is part of his legend. Twice the folks at Life Magazine put the Fair on its cover. Jay’s skills were critical to the Fair drawing 10 million visitors ensuring success and even a profit.

The day after the fair closed Rockey opened the door of Jay Rockey Public Relations. Retha ran the backshop, the accounting and payroll and they had one employee, Mike Dederer, who early on became a full business partner.

Almost immediately Rockey had a list of clients that read like the top membership of the Seattle Chamber. Indeed, before long George Duff and the Chamber was also a client.

Rockey was sought after not just by blue chip clients but by boards and foundations. During his career he was president of the Rainier Club, vice president of the Chamber, president ot the Public Relations Society of America, on the board of the Museum of Flight, the Ryther Child Center and the Downtown Seattle Association as well as a dozen others.

If Rockey was your friend it was for life. Don Kraft ran an advertising firm and he can testify to Rockey’s loyalty as can Spokane’s Dale Stedman who became a friend at WSU.

It was my privilege to have worked for Jay from 1982 through 1984. Rockey asked me to set up a public affairs division, find a deputy and also take the lead on serving his Alyeska Pipeline Service Company client and the proposed Northern Tier Pipeline. He was pleased when I selected young Mike McGavick from Senator Slade Gorton’s campaign staff to work with me.

Rockey was one of the first to work standing up. He had a high table upon which he had his old typewriter. Sometimes he would send a typed note with instructions, other times invite one into his office, but rather than “order” one to do something he would ask or suggest as a favor to him.

If Rockey had one regret it was that no governor named him to the Washington State Board of Trustees. Rockey studiously avoided partisan politics so he never was a big contributor to campaigns. He gave generously to the WSU Foundation and supported the campus chapter of PRSA named after him. It is WSU’s loss that he never was tapped.

The last time I saw Jay we sat together in Martin Stadium and watched with pleasure a rather average Cougar football team play above its head and upset USC, 34-14. Rockey couldn’t stop smiling.

Rockey can rest in peace, secure in the knowledge he was the best at public relations that ever walked. He was also the personification of a good guy finishing first.

Another billionaire?


There is another billionaire that appears to be laying the groundwork to run for President in 2020. Only this one intends run as a Democrat and he has hired one of the best in the business to put together the pieces and devise the strategic game plan - someone who just happens to be a native of Idaho.

You may have seen his television ads, especially if you watch CNN. The ads are well done and effective. The first flight made a clear cut case for beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump. If you agree with Tom Steyer he gives you a website to go to and sign a petition which calls on Congress to begin the impeachment process.

Apparently over one million people have done so.

The second flight of ads are set in Philadelphia where Steyer speaks eloquently about the Constitution and the fact the President has done nothing about the unprecedented cyber attack on America’s voting system.

Both ad flights feature the tall¸ lanky, thoughtful Tom Steyer, an almost cowboy-like figure, who speaks softly but carries the big stick of someone who knows he is national player and has bought himself a place at the table.

Steyer made a fortune as a hedge fund manager who specialized in more risky investments than many of his peers. The return on investment was commensurate with the risk and his approach of risky investments in unstable spots around the world.

He was easily the biggest contributor to Democratic candidates around the nation last election cycle, doling out $187 million. He and his wife also give generously to charities and foundations and they’ve taken the “Bill Gates” pledge to give most of their wealth away.

Steyer made no secret last year that he was actively exploring running for governor of California or for the U.S. Senate against five-term incumbent Diane Feinstein. In mid-December he announced he would do neither.

So what does a ga-zillionaire who has spent hundreds of millions developing high name recognition do next? This is pure speculation - I have no inside track into his mind but I doubt he spent all those millions simply out of the goodness in his heart.

The logical conclusion is he has decided he would do a hell ‘uv a lot better job than the President and he is going after the ultimate prize in politics.

The clincher is that it is fact he has hired Idaho’s own Bruce Reed and is probably paying Reed a seven figure sum to put it altogether. For those of you who don’t know who Reed is, don’t feel bad. He studiously remains behind the scenes, but insiders consider him to be one of the best.

His resume is golden. The son of former Idaho state senator Mary Lou Reed and the late super lawyer, Scott, he attended Princeton following graduation from Coeur d’Alene High. (He was born in Boise 57 years ago.) Next to Cecil Andrus and Frank Church he is probably the most influential Idaho Democrat in the last half of the 20th century.

Reed received his M.A. from Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship then went to work as a speech writer for Al Gore. He helped found the middle-road Democratic Leadership Council, wrote speeches for Bill Clinton, and was his domestic policy director when Clinton was president. For President Obama, he staffed the Simpson-Bowles Commission and then served several years as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff.

This latter job could prove problematic for Reed if Biden, as rumored, also runs. It is a reasonable guess that Reed, however, will stick with Steyer and help implement a game plan largely crafted by him.

Bottom line is keep your eye on Bruce Reed and don’t be surprised when Tom Steyer carries the D standard into battle in the fall of 2020.

Into the sunset


Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter sat for a somewhat retrospective look back at his three terms with Idaho Public Television recently. As it is with the governor, there were plusses and minuses. In many respects it reflected the enigmatic nature of the man himself.

For as long as he has been in public office, as gregarious and outgoing as he is, as personable and charming as he can be, few people outside of his wife, Lori, and his old side-kick, Mike Gwartney, really know him and what has driven his yen for public service for so many years.

Like all good politicians, he could present a different side of his personality to different folks at different times and to different audiences. The Butch Otter that loved riding horses on his ranch, or galloping into a rodeo ring, was much different as the international salesman for marketing Idaho products in Cuba, Mexico, China and Japan. He is a cosummate salesman---no one can take that from him.

Much like the man he acknowledges as Idaho’s greatest governor, at least on the Democrat side, Cecil Andrus, Butch remembers names and faces and has a long political memory. Like Andrus he is intensely competitive.

In fact I first met Governor Otter on the basketball court at the Boise YMCA playing noon pick-up games the winter of 1972-73. He was a newly elected rookie lawmaker from Canyon county. One can learn much by just observing others on the hardwood. Mike Gwartney loved to feed Butch the ball; the Governor loved to rebound and was a mite too quick to call a foul, and of course he hated to lose.

After two terms he left the legislature. These were years in which he also was working hard to make his mark at his father-in-law’s corporation, the J.R. Simplot Company. These years also saw his first abortive run for governor in 1978, where he placed a close third in the GOP primary.

Few folks know that Butch came from humble beginnings, that his parents, Regina Mary and Joseph, a journeyman electrician, were Catholics and Democrats. They had to sacrifice to send him to St. Theresa’s Academy, the forerunner of Bishop Kelly, from which he graduated in 1962. He was 20 when he graduated having had to sit out a year because of an accident involving gasoline exploding burning him and his brother.

He received his B.A. from the College of Idaho in 1967 after brief stints at St. Martin’s and at Boise State.

He emerged from these wilderness years, so to speak, still determined to serve the public and was elected in 1986 Lt. Governor, a post he served in for 14 years, the longest tenure for any one, before winning a congressional seat in 2000, where he served three terms before his election as Idaho’s 32nd governor.

In reviewing his tenure the Governor had a hard time citing outstanding successes. He does get credit for fighting for a gas tax hike to pay for needed infrastructure improvements, but he still makes no apology for eviscerating school funding and teacher pay during the early years.

And he still is proud of the $400 million surplus Idaho has in the “Rainy Day” bank.

Now that the economy is rolling along he is trying to close the gap of lost funding, but the state has steadily dropped by most national measurements. He seems to believe that technology improvements will also compensate but most are skeptical.

In the interview he made no reference to some major misteps such as the scandal surrounding the Corrections Corporation of America as well as the awarding of a major technology improvement project that was tossed out by a judge.

Neither does he seem to yet understand why former Governors Andrus and Batt fought him and the folks at the INL over the camel’s nose exception he sought to allow spent fuel rods into Idaho for alleged research. At one point he even referred to the late Governor Andrus as as “my former friend.” He clearly meant my late friend, for he truly mourns Andrus’ passing and there was great mutual respect.

In a way, Otter’s legacy will be written by the voters of Idaho as they weigh who should succeed him. He is backing his loyal Lt. Governor, Brad Little. They share much in common. Little has diligently done his homework, traveling with the Governor Otter all across the state for “Capitol For A Day” visits. In addition, on more than 375 occasions during the years Little has served as next in line he has been the acting governor when Butch is out of state.

Raul Labrador and Tommy Ahlquist are guessing that Idahoans want a change and they see Little as a fourth Otter term. They may be correct, but many others do not see this as a “change” election. Rather they see it as an endorsement of the Otter approach.

When all is said and done Butch presided over some challenging times and some economically good times. Most Idahoans, according to the Boise State issues poll, think Idaho is moving in the right direction. They appear to be comfortable with the Otter/Little approach. This writer’s wager is those rock-hard solid conservative Republicans will cat their ballots for staying the course, and that is good news for Lt. Governor Little’s prospects.

Game changer


In the wake of another school shooting, with all its heartbreak and tragedy, words from two of Nobel prize winning songster, Bob Dylan, come to mind: “Come gather round people wherever you roam/ and admit that the waters around you have grown/ and you’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone/ for the times they are a-changing.”

And the second:

“How many deaths will it take till he knows/ that too many people have died.
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind/ the answer is blowing in the wind.”

Wake up folks. The water is growing and way too many of our children are dying.

Listen up, all my friends and readers for whom the Second Amendment is the most sacred part of the Constitution, you’d better come forth with some construction suggestions that will reassure the mothers of America that their children are still safe while at school.

The status quo is not enough. Clearly our government should just enforce the laws already on the books. That isn’t enough either, for they will learn, in a democracy, the power of the majority and angry voters can work their will.

Millions of mothers and women across the country are fed up with President Trump’s actions, not to mention his prevarications, philandering, petulance, and pettiness. Polls are starting to show a dramatic shift away from the GOP by women voters and millions more are registering to vote for the first time. And they sure as hell aren’t going to dutifully follow hubby’s lead.

A blue tsunami is shaping up and it may bring about changes, the likes that have not been seen, since FDR’s 1932 sweep. Make no mistake, my friend, this movement is targeting Republican office holders, especially members of the House of Representatives.

Women have every right to be angry with the most misogynistic President in US history. Just look at an sample of anti-female policies Trump is working on. For example, is it any surprise that a man who has 19 female assault charges against him has his Department of Education revising guidelines upwards for the burden of proof for students accused of rape?

On one of womens’ touchstone issues, the right to choose, his administration has made it easier for employers to strip from healthcare plans birth control costs.

Women, like most men, are as concerned about his lack of temperament and judgment and his inability to exhibit self restraint.

Single handedly President Trump is galvanizing the #MeToo movement which is going like topsy and is going to retire many Republicans in November, in part, because he is exercising zero leadership in this issue of protecting our schoolchildren.

Allow me to offer a constructive suggestion:

1. Looking forward, no one under 14, or anyone else can own a handgun or automatic weapon without first having attended and satisfactorily completed a firearms safety course conducted by the NRA.

2. Course instructors will receive additional training on how to spot potentially unstable individuals and can refer them for additional evaluation.

3. Future gun owners will have to have insurance just as car owners have to have insurance.

4. States will conduct the licensing of firearms and as done with licenses they will periodically need to be renewed.

5. Teachers who have taken the gun safety course will be permitted to open-carry in the classroom or carry as a concealed weapon. Teachers have to be able to protect themselves and their students.

Gun owners everywhere should recognize that change is coming. The issue is will they guide the change or will the change drive them.