Archive for the 'Carlson' Category

Apr 14 2015

Republicans and Cuba

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There was both good news and bad for the Grand Old Party this week. The good news was the presidential candidacy announcement by Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. At the age of 43, he’s young, handsome, smart as a whip, and gives terrific speeches. First elected Speaker of the Florida House at age 34, his is an ascending star.

Presidential elections are most often about the future and who can best lead the nation into that uncertain time. Historically, the Democratic Party has been the one presenting younger, future-oriented candidates. This time around it may just be the Republicans, who with Rubio, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have a corner on the younger, generational change leaders.

Former Senators Hillary Clinton, and James Webb (The only two announced Democrats) will both be approaching or at age 70 on Inauguration Day, 2017.

The bad news for Republicans is the candidacy announcement by Senator Rubio.

Rubio’s declaration coupled with the well-orchestrated meeting in Panama at the Organization of American States gathering between Cuban President Raul Castro and President Barack Obama spells trouble for the Republican presidential wanna-be’s.

Perhaps the most critical state for a Republican hopeful to capture in the primary is Florida. Likewise, the path to the White House in November, 2016 will go through Florida. There is one issue above all other issues that moves a critical Florida Republican constituency and that is maintenance of the trade embargo in the minds of the Cuban/American community.

President Obama’s long overdue movement to begin the process of doing away with the embargo ensures it will remain a divisive issue throughout the campaign cycle. Obama knows a good wedge issue when he sees one.

Senator Rubio, the son of immigrants who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro took power, is expected to maintain the “no compromise/no trade” position which must may give him the critical edge he’ll need to defeat in the primary his political mentor and friend, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Even before the Obama/Castro meeting, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced he was for pulling the trade embargo. Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Wisconsin’s chief executive are expected to follow suit. After all, free trade is one of the tenet’s of the Libertarian faith.

Idaho’s current governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, has long advocated lifting the trade embargo so Idaho producers could market and sell directly to Cuba. During the six years Otter was in the House he took three, lobbyist paid for trips to Cuba.

The first trade mission Otter organized and led as governor was to Cuba in April of 2007. Saying, according to spokesperson Jon Hanian, he was going down there “to sell some groceries,” Otter led a delegation of 35 Idahoans that included folks from the Idaho Potato Commission, the Idaho Milk Producers, a seed company, a couple of professors from BYU-Idaho, and Marty Peterson, the public affairs director for the University of Idaho, wearing his historical preservation hat. Peterson was hoping to take part in an effort to protect and preserve author Ernest Hemingway’s Havana home. Continue Reading »

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Apr 07 2015

The inevitability of Hillary?

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Most any day now Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for the presidency. It appears she is going to be nominated as the Democratic standard bearer almost by acclamation. Fully 2/3’s of self-identified Democrats say she should be their nominee – a simply astounding lead for any one any time who aspired for an open seat presidential nomination.

Virtually every potential Republican has two mantras in their campaign speeches: why they are the true conservative and why they can beat Hillary Clinton. The media is positively salivating at the prospect. Her every move is scrutinized, not just her every e-mail (Those that were not purged from her personal PC server, that is).

They know the Republican party has a storehouse of materials researched, vetted and prioritized which they will start rolling out long before they have selected their nominee. It will be a string of invective, innuendo and distortion unlike anyone has ever seen. To their surprise it won’t change many minds.

I have a theory that many voters have already made up their minds about whether there should be a return to the White House of the Billy and Hillary Show. Yes, no matter how one wants to spin it, that decision is going to be influenced for many by the thought, for good or for ill, that coming along to the White House with Hillary would be “First Spouse” Billy.

All they are waiting for, before making up their minds, is to see whether Republicans will be smart enough to nominate a reasonable, competent alternative.

I haven’t seen or analyzed any polls on this subject – I’m just going with the old gut check here, but, for the sake of argument, indulge me for a moment.

First, most men voters, especially white men, are not enamored of Mrs. Clinton. The reasons vary, but it basically is a “not that woman at this time and this place.”

Thus, it is safe to say that Hillary arriving at the White House will depend on her “sisters” delivering close to a 2/3’s majority for her, and that’s where the Hillary juggernaut will stumble, and ultimately be stopped. My guess is she will at best win the women vote nationwide by a 53% to 47% margin.

Her sisters will let her down not because they reject that it is a woman’s turn, nor that it is Hillary’s turn. Nor that she isn’t qualified or because they have concerns about Slick Willie. Continue Reading »

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Apr 02 2015

“The Dummies”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see below for a response by a reader referred to in this column; and a response from Carlson.

Hollywood has its Oscars; New York has its Emmies and its Pulitzers. Boston has its Eppies. As of today, Medimont has its “Dummies” – a ten inch lead question mark.

Dummies can be awarded anytime, anyplace for any reason at the sole discretion of the awards panel whose identity is kept secret to protect their lives from being ruined by an avalanche of nominations. Idaho has become such fertile ground.

While political in nature, that is not a requirement. The only condition is nominees have to live in Idaho.

The envelopes please.

The first ever winners of a “Dummie” are Idaho State Senators Maryanne Jordan of Boise and Grant Burgoyne of Boise—the two and only members of the Democratic Party on the Senate Judiciary committee. The prize is awarded because, as the Lewiston Tribune’s Marty Trillhaase put it, not only were Republican Senators like Majority Leader Bart Davis, asleep when Governor Otter’s nomination of State Police chief Colonel Ralph Powell to a second term came before them, the two Democrats had to be snoring.

There is no excuse for missing the opportunity to make the ISP Chief and his governor at least be embarassed if not downright ashamed of conduct unbecoming one serving such high offices. This is the police chief who told the media he would be conducting an investigation of Correction Corporation of America’s deliberately over-billing the State of Idaho 26,000 hours for supposed management of the maximum security prison outside of Boise.

A year later, when asked where things stood, he reveals that there was no investigation undertaken because he decided that over-billing was a civil matter, not criminal. Where was Senator Burgoyne, an attorney no less? Isn’t any theft over $500 a felony and by definition criminal? This theft was in the millions.

When did the chief make this decision? Was it ever discussed by he and the governor or any member of the governor’s staff? Did he discuss it with CCA’s lobbyist who just happens to be a former chief of staff for Otter? What did he know and when did he know it?

Why was his renomination not in the original package of Otter’s renomination of his cabinet sent in early January? Why should the public posit any further trust in an ISP Chief who if he truly acted of his own volition is worthy of nomination for a “Dummie” award himself, and if he was directed to do so, is covering for a governor who, like the chief himself, puts personal interests ahead of their public trust?

Some would excuse Senator Jordan as she was just appointed. Perhaps, but she reportedly has a lick of common sense. People wonder why Democrats are so few in number in Idaho and growing fewer? Look no further than this. They cannot take advantage of a golden opportunity even when it slaps them in the face. Snore on.

The second winner of a coveted “Dummie” is State Representative Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, serving her third term. Rarely does one see a legislator so brazeningly vote against the interests of their own district. She voted against funding for the Idaho Youth Ranch near Cottonwood, a facility on the military model that instills discipline and responsibility in wayward youth that can still be turned.

The ranch is a classic example of pay a little now or pay a lot more later – a concept she does not appear to understand. Also, she was one of only a handful of votes against increased funding for education and more pay for teachers. Continue Reading »

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Mar 22 2015

When horses kick

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It was probably inevitable that a clash between Idaho’s Second District Congressman, Mike Simpson, and Idaho’s First District Congressman, Raul Labrador, would develop.

For the record of course and when with their senatorial colleagues they try to maintain the appearance of comity, that it is all one happy gang of Republicans working together for Idaho. Don’t be fooled, folks. There is growing evidence the two men hardly tolerate each other.

Last week’s not so subtle “tit for tat” columns revealed much even to the untrained observer. It’s not just the canyon-wide differences on political and policy matters. It is that their style is different, which reflects real differences in their approach to public service.

Mike Simpson is a true “work horse.” The veteran congressman believes he is there to solve problems which often means to compromise and even to work together with Democrats. Simpson has paid his dues. He has worked within the seniority system, paid attention to details, displayed respect for all members but especially the seniors.

Simpson is a good legislator. He learned his craft while a member of the Idaho House where he quickly rose to become the Speaker. In Congress he has become a confidant of House Speaker John Boehner and is considered to be a key member of the Speaker’s Leadership team.

He is also known as one of the “Cardinals,” the rare achievers who chair agency appropriation subcommittees. As such, Simpson has much to say about the tax dollars that go to the major cabinet agencies of Interior, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Labrador comes across to veteran observers as a “show horse.” He is adept, almost gifted at attracting media coverage for himself. For a member only in his third term he has had an unusal number of appearances on television’s Sunday talk shows. He obviously likes publicity.

He is a darling of the Tea Party faction of the Party precisely because he is a young man in a hurry who has little use for protocal and traditional procedure. Two years ago he challenged his own Speaker because he and a large contingent of the Republican caucus are ideologues who prefer confrontation to compromise. Many of his Tea Party supporters applauded him. This January, when he voted for his Speaker, these same folks were angered.

Simpson and his staff were not pleased last year when Labrador did not endorse his Republican colleague. While he did not formally endorse Simpson’s challenger either, there were questions in the minds of some as to whether Labrador encouraged and even advised the challenger. Labrador denies having done anything to assist the challenger.

Labrador compounded his suspect behavior, however, by voting against the funding garnered by Simpson for the Idaho National Laboratory.

It came as no surprise then to see Labrador take a couple of not so subtle “potshots” in a column that ran in several Idaho dailies on March 9th. Labrador was part of a group of conservatives who sought to undue President Obama’s excutive orders on immigraion reform by tying up the budget for Homeland Security and making it a hostage. The goup not only threatened to cut off funding for Homeland Security, it threatened to once again stop all government spending except for Defense.

Labrador was critical of Boehner (and his leadership team) in compromising, saying he capitulated to the Democrats, and accusing the Speaker of weakening the Constitution. He ridiculed the so-called “adults’ of the Republican caucus. You can bet Simpson took every one of those shots personsally.

Within three days Simpson’s column with its not so subtle shots aimed obviously at Labrador appeared. Simpson excoriated those in the Republican caucus who practiced the politics of confrontation, who would use shutdown of an agency or the entire government as a tactic. He termed these types as obstructionits, pointing out that the Republicans had been given a chance to show America they could govern, but were fumbling it away. Continue Reading »

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Mar 18 2015

Three groups of truths

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The counter-attack by the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce boosters of the Idaho National Lab, orchestrated by the Department of Energy, against former Idaho governors Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus for blowing the whistle on current Governor Butch Otter’s attempt to give a waiver from the 1995 Batt Agreement on the importation of two shipments of commercial spent fuel rods for research purposes is missing some key points.

For those still trying to understand objectively what this is all about, there are three phrases they should keep uppermost in mind. Phrase one comes from the Tom Cruise movie a few years back, A Few Good Men. Cruise plays a young Navy JAG officer and he is grilling on the witness stand in a trial a tough Marine colonel played by Jack Nicholson.

At a key moment he challenges the colonel to tell the truth. Nicholson rears back and with the meanest demeanor of total disdain snarls back at Cruise, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Phrase one.

Phrase two is one of the best statements ever uttered by former President Ronald Reagan: Trust but verify!

Phrase three is a political truism: Politics most often is about dealing with perceptions which are based on emotions which often trump facts.

Critics of Andrus and Batt are busy engaging in raising “straw dog” arguments that play with words and semantics, all designed to divert attention from the real issues. Or, they’ll find one nit that may be incorrect and immediately conclude that invalidates their entire thesis.

So one can read that spent fuel rods are not waste and that research on the commercial spent fuel rods is all part of an expanding research role for the site that will generate a couple hundred million dollars over ten years, and, oh yes, more jobs And don’t those former governors know that the spent rods are solid materials, so they can’t possibly migrate to the aquifer and pollute it?

Here are some truths that the INL booster types cannot handle: Continue Reading »

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Mar 11 2015

Governor Otter just doesn’t get it

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Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s failure to understand not just the nuances but the primary purpose of the nuclear waste agreement negotiated for the state in 1995 with the Department of Energy and the Navy by Governor Phil Batt is simply appalling. It’s the people of Idaho and their descendents who are going to suffer if Governor Otter’s obsession with money trumping environmental risks warrants his unilaterally abrogating the Governor Batt 1995 agreement.

The waiver he and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are ready to allow for the importation of commercial spent fuel rods should be withdrawn or halted by a Federal district judge. It violates both the letter of the law and the spirit of the agreement.

Every citizen of Idaho, and every future Idahoan, should stand and applaud two of Idaho’s best former governors, Batt, the Republican, and Andrus, the Democrat, for coming out of retirement and dedicating themselves to reversing the folly of this successor. May the good people of Idaho recognize how extraordinary this is and rally to the cause.

As Governor Batt has pointed out recently, by a two to one margin the voters of the state ratified his agreement that states no more commercial nuclear waste is to be brought into Idaho. Furthermore, that which is here is to be gone by 2035. We know that won’t happen because work at the proposed national repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was stopped and the Obama Administration has shut it down.

Now, there are reliable reports the federal government is going to ask Idaho for a 15-year extension of that deadline to 2050. Why shouldn’t they, since in Otter they have a compliant, asleep at the switch governor who rolls over every time he’s asked to do so.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see the handwriting on the wall – any additional commercial waste, including spent fuel rods, brought to Idaho for any reason is going to be here for a long, long time stored above the Snake River Plain aquifer.

Governor Otter’s response to the announcement that his two predecessors are getting ready to go to federal court to enforce the Batt agreement was pure blarney. It was nothing but a partisan, red herring designed to divert attention to the real issue.

Yes, Governors Batt and Andrus do see storing commercial nuclear waste above the aquifer as a liability. They also understand that legitimate research will continue with plenty of what’s already there available for research. Furthermore, they can see the best insurance for continuing research activities at the site is to clean up what’s there and not let the site become the nation’s de facto nuclear garbge dump.

What doesn’t Governor Otter understand about the Batt agreement’s emphatic, unequivocal “no more commercial waste” in Idaho?”

What doesn’t Governor Otter understand about the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement that major federal actions impacting the environment have to be subject to public review and comment?

The NEPA process is to be an open, transparent process with plenty of time for citizen comments. On that point alone the former governors should prevail easily in a court of law. Continue Reading »

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Mar 03 2015

At the Benewah County Lincoln Day

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My Democratic sympathies are well known, so there was more than an eyebrow or two that arched up when I walked into the St. Maries Elk Club last Saturday, plopped my $10 down for the chili luncheon fare, and took a seat.

While some were surprised, they were no more surprised than I at the warm greetings I received. County GOP chair, former State Representative Dick Harwood, was his usual gracious self. I’ve known Harwood for years. While we seldom agree on much, we respect each others right to hold differing views and we keep our sense of humor.

Likewise, St. Maries City Councilman Judd Wilson, though a Tea Party Republican, is a good friend and we enjoy debating the issues and exchange book recommendations. Wilson knows I have a soft spot for Marines inasmuch as my son, Scott, is currently a captain in the Corps. Wilson is a retired USMC officer though he’d be quick to tell you that once a Marine, always a Marine.

I also enjoyed meeting the State GOP’s Second Vice Chair, Jim Pierce, who walked over and introduced himself. Said he was a fourth generation Idahoan who enjoyed my columns, though he seldom agreed with their point.

I said that wasn’t a bother. My purpose was achieved if I provoked a reader to see things from a different perspective and to revisit an isssue.

I came to listen to what Senator Mike Crapo had to say about current debates in Washington, D.C. I like Mike Crapo. He is thoughtful, intelligent and articulate. I have long admired the courage he showed when sitting on the Simpson/Bowles Coimmission that President Obama largely named to look at the catastrophic escalation of the national debt and recommend some tough castor oil.

President Obama began to lose me when he did not endorse the tough set of spending cuts, some new taxes and some genuine reforms to get us back on the path to fiscal sanity and balanced budgets. Crapo stood out in forthrightly defending the Commission’s work.

All that said, I was surprised by the Senator’s remarks. Frankly, he just tossed out “red meat” one-liners to his conservative audience. It was political cant, posturing and patronizing. Continue Reading »

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Feb 25 2015

‘Out, your damned dams!’

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To breach or not to breach the four lower Snake River dams is again being discussed across the region thanks in no small part to an excellent front page article in a recent Sunday edition of the Lewiston Tribune written by Eric Barker.

Thanks in no small part also to Jim Waddell, a long-time civilian employee of the Army Corps of Engineers, now retired, who skillfully took apart earlier Corps economic studies attempting to validate the thesis that it would be more expensive to breach the dams than to keep them running.

That just did not pass the common sense test for Waddell. So after he retired from the Corps as a deputy district engineer, he sank his teeth into a hard-nosed analysis of claims made by the Corps. To say he found skewed assumptions, ignored issues and cooked numbers would be seriously understating what he unearthed.

Allow me a chortle or two. Two years ago I published my second book, Medimont Reflections, which contained 13 essays on other issues and other people I had worked with during my almost 40 years of public sector involvement.

Two of the essays should have generated some controversy inasmuch as they dealt with the four lower Snake dams and with the Northwest Power Planning Council, of which I was Idaho’s first appointee and sat for almost a year.

In the essays, I called for the dams to be breached and the Council to be abolished. One would think a former member of the Council calling for its abolishment and for breaching the four dams would have made the news, wouldn’t you? Nope. Both comments sank with nary a surface ripple into the sea of indifference the smug and the ignorant can convey., Those arrogant few that knew and understood the hieroglyphics of power and energy production curves just sat back and smiled.

After all, old Carlson was not an economist, nor was he an engineer. They thought they could safely ignore me and at least up to now they have been correct.

One current Council member flat told me that the Council and most BPA engineers had decided not dignifying my thoughtful analysis with a comment would ensure no coverage. Take a look, if you get the chance ,sometime at the BPA budget for p.r., public affairs, community relations and the various other names for flackery. Add to it the p.r. budget for the Army Corps of Engineers, the Pcific Northwest Waterways Association and the Power Council itself not to mention state energy offices and you’ll get the picture of what the Save Our Wild Salmon people like Pat Ford, as well as Linwood Laughy and Ed Chaney, have had arrayed against them for years. Continue Reading »

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Feb 17 2015

The posturing politician

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There’s something about a politician who piously postures on an issue that sticks in the craw. In a way it tells the voter the officeholder thinks a majority of the electorate is too stupid to see through the posturing and the pontificating.

Exhibit A from last week is Idaho’s First District congressman, Raul Labador. The darling of the Tea Party Republicans is more and more proving to be, like a majority of those in Congress, nothing more than a “show horse,” as opposed to his colleague, Second District congressman, Mike Simpson, a true “work horse” who does the heavy lifting that keeps Congress moving.

Labrador engaged in two activities last week which were pure posturing. The voter should be wary and take them with a grain of the proverbial salt.

First, he introduced and heavily publicized a bill he had filed which would restrict and further circumscribe the absolute power the President has under the 1907 Antiquities Act to create national monuments with the stroke of a pen. The bill is similar to one introduced in the Senate by Idaho’s two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

These bills generally require public hearings before a president could act as well as the concurrence of a state’s governor. There are two major problems with this action that confirm the “political posturing” tag.

Labrador’s ostensible goal is to preclude President Obama from using his Antiquities Act power to declare the Boulder/White Clouds area a national monument, as he is being urged to do by folks like Idaho Conservation League executive director Rick Johnson and former four-term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus.

In doing this, the congressman has with malice aforethought breached congressional protocol which states as a matter of professional courtesy one congressman does not introduce a bill in a colleague’s district having no impact in his district. It is tantamount to saying, “In your eye, Mike.” Rest assured this is duly noted by Simpson and will not be forgotten.

The second reason this is pure posturing as well as a waste of taxpayer’s money is that Labrador, as well as Crapo and Risch, know damn good and well this legislation is going nowhere. Sure, they’ll pontificate and excoriate President Obama, Governor Andrus and the ICL for imposing their will on the good citizines of central Idaho while camapigning at home during a congressional recess.

If honest with the voters, though, they would acknowledge they don’t have the votes to over-ride a presidential veto. They would also acknowledge that every president since the passage of the Act has used his authority to make and has made nationl monument declarations.

What Labrador does not want to admit is that he and his colleagues will not have the skill or the standing to get legislation passed invalidating the monument declaration by passing Simpson’s original carefully crafted bill creating a wilderness area.

The other pure political posturing by Labrador last week was the Congressman telling The Hill newspaper, the daily bible of all those who work on Capitol Hill or serve in the House, that he was NOT going to challenge three-term incumbent Mike Crapo in the 2016 Republican primary for the Senate. Continue Reading »

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Feb 10 2015

A thank you to Huntsman the elder

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This is an “open letter” expressing my deep gratitude to Jon Huntsman, Sr., the Utah billionaire, who founded the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, and has contributed almost a billion dollars to the Institute.

He and the top-notch staff he assembled have enabled me to manage the rare and always fatal form of neuroendocrine cancer I was diagnosed with in November of 2005. It was already Stage IV. There was a large tumor mass over the stomach wrapped in and around the artery and blood vessels going to my intestines. There were numerous tumors on my liver and most were already large. The cancer had also attacked my heart’s tricuspid valve which in turn was deteriorating. I’d lost 80 pounds almost ovrnight.

When doctors cannot find the generating tumor in 80% of the cases that patient is dead within six months. Mine was a case where the generator could not be detected. Thus, I was given the proverbial six months and told to put my affairs in order, which I did.

My wife and I did what most couples do after receiving such news: we cried, we prayed, we talked about bucket lists, and we did our homework. We ferreted out who the best doctor was for treating this rare form of cancer. We also found which cancer treatment hospital was the best in the world for treating it. Supposedly it was M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas.

The best doctor was affiliated with Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. This was serendipitous because it gave us an excuse to drop in on an old friend of mine, Jay Shelledy. He was teaching and advising in the Journalism School at LSU.

While visiting with Shelledy we also heard back from M.D. Anderson. We’d sent my complete file to them—the MRI’s, the CT’s, the blood work, x-rays, colonoscopies—the works. The doctors at M.D. Anderson examined it all and sent word back that they were not going to see me, there was nothing they could do.

I was stunned. I’d never heard of one being refused an appointment to obtain a second opinion. The Lord works in mysterious ways, however, because it gave Shelledy the opportunity to pitch the relatively brand new Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City adjacent to the University of Utah Hospital. Continue Reading »

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Feb 03 2015

A case of flung mud

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The recent settlement of a malpractice lawsuit filed by the Diocese of Spokane against its long-time outside counsel should be viewed as another example of a bishop who, while professing to reflect the new direction set by Pope Francis, does not by his actions truly walk the talk.

The Spokane Catholic diocese, while under the leadership of Bishop Blasé Cupich – now archbishop in Chicago – spent two-and-one-half years, and who knows how many wasted dollars, because he was, according to the deposition of former vicar general Father Steven Dublinski, “throwing mud at Paine-Hamblen to see if any mud sticks.”

Dublinski resigned over his differences with Cupich.
But the settlement announced January 22 leaves no other conclusion than none of the “mud” stuck.

Cupich, who denies making the mud-on-the-wall comment, was trying to explain his lawsuit against the diocese’ long-time outside counsel, Paine Hamblen, which served the diocese for many years. Shortly after arriving in Spokane, Cupich says he asked for a review of the firm’s work regarding a diocese bankruptcy filing. In particular, Cupich thought the settlement did not fully anticipate future claims from those abused by diocese priests. The potential consequence would be insufficient funds to handle new cases.

The malpractice suit might have concluded with a pre-trial settlement or a jury award of damages to the diocese.

Everybody knows lawyers are covered by malpractice insurance, so the individuals in the firm would not pay personally. Reputations, though, are priceless, and the lawsuit put that of the partners at Paine Hamblen at risk.

Whatever the archbishop believed, it is up to individual members of the laity, as well the diocese’ priests and nuns, to decide whether he was sincere or insincere. The settlement, the actual terms of which have not been disclosed, would appear to be a complete vindication for of the law firm.

One cannot help thinking that if more Catholic bishops across the country would truly take a cue from Pope Francis and follow his lead, walk the talk, act with humanity, humility and with a dose of common sense, the Catholic Church would be in much better standing.

Another example of this need to use common sense and act humanely towards all is the behavior of the bishop of the Fort Wayne/Indianapolis diocese. Two years ago, he fired a married, veteran Catholic teacher in the diocesan high school for violating the morals clause of her contract. Her sin? Continue Reading »

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Jan 23 2015

Cheers, jeers

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Cheers. . . . . to Boise Mayor David Bieter who took advantage of some face time with President Barack Obama on Air Force #1 while flying to Boise to lobby for the President to utilize his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the Boulder/White Clouds a National Monument. The President can and will give Rep. Mike Simpson the six months he has requested to get a new bill through the House after Senator Jim Risch six years ago went back on his word and put a hold on the bill Simpson had worked out with all the interest groups and was ten years in the making. Risch remains a road block in the Senate so even if Simpson gets his revised bill through the House he still has to overcome Risch before something is on the President’s desk. You can bet your last dollar though that if there is no Boulder/White Clouds bill on Obama’s desk as his term winds down, there will be national monument declared under the Antiquities Act.

Cheers. . . .also to former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Rick Johnson and to Roberta Crockett, all of whom mentioned to the President while he was in Boise the need to protect the Boulder/White Clouds.

Jeers. . . .to Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who, as Acting Governor with Gov. Otter recovering from a hip operation, greeted the President when he landed in Boise. Little used his face time to lobby the President against a Monument declaration. Little should not be carrying Sandra Mitchell’s brief case nor carrying water for the snowmobilers and ATV users she represents who think it is their God-given right to run anywhere they want, anytime they want in Idaho’s vast backcountry. Brad should be aligning himself with Rep. Simpson and not the troglodites like Senator Jim Risch.

Cheers. . . . . .again to Governor Andrus, and add Governor Phil Batt, for once again standing up to the federal government and saying no to additional spent fuel alledgedly for research purposes. The Batt agreement is working and Idaho should not grant waivers for any reason.

Rest assured Andrus, who had some time with the President, also touched on the subject of nuke waste with the President. Though Andrus seldom mentions what he says to any President, always treating such conversations as private and privileged, don’t be surprised if the Energy Secretry doesn’t get an order from the White House to back off plans to bring two shipments of 25 spent fuel rods each to Idaho, at least until the department has answered the pointed questions Andrus sent on behalf of himself and Batt to the Governor’s office and the Department of Energy on January 22nd.

Jeers. . . . to the City of Boise. Or cheers if you lean towards secular humanism. Despite a heavy concentration of Mormons and Catholics in Idaho, the state’s largest metropolitan area failed to make it anywhere on Christianity Today’s recently published list of the 100 most Bible-oriented communities in the nation. Study was based on the percentage of population that reads the Bible at least once a week. Continue Reading »

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Jan 20 2015

Mormon mystery to miracle?

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Chronicles

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is assessing his prospects for another run at the Presidency. His name indentification alone from being the GOP presidential candidate in 2012 would in normal times give him a leg up and make him the leading contender.

However, these are not normal times and there are some insurmountable obstacles standing in the way. That is not saying he does not have some assets, because he does.

First, he is adaptable, or, as he says with a new-found self-deprecating sense of humor, wife Ann says he learns from experience and is getting more experienced. Romney, his wife and their talented, attractive children are convinced that the warmer, human and humane side of the good husband and fine father he is was not allowed to show in 2012.

Second, they believe his executive and business skills will be even more obvious as an asset both in the primaries against non-business ceo’s like Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as presumptive Democratic nominee, former Senator Hillary Clinton. They will argue that only Mitt has the ability to capitalize on and make sure the nation’s economic expansion continues.

Third, supporters like Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz claim time has proven that in foreign affairs Romney was correct in saying one could and should not trust the Russians. Across the board they believe their man’s ability to understsnd better the “optics” of issues than the President has been bourne out.

His two biggest assets, however, have considerable downsides. These two assets are flip sides of the same coin, and that is Romney’s Mormonism. The plain fact is that the Church Authorities up to and including virtually all the membets of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency, are very proud of Governor Romney and his viability as a candidate for the Presidency.

Publicly, of course, the LDS church and its leadership maintain a posture of neutrality and non-partisanship. However, privately and behind the scenes this “favorite son” quality enables Romney to be one of only two GOP candidates, the other being Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and only one Democrat, former Senator Hillary Clinton, capable of raising the one billion dollars (yes, that is a “b”) most political analysts believe will be raised and spent to secure a party nomination and then run a viable campaign for the Presidency.

Thus, from an organizational and fund-riasing standpoint, Romney’s faith and religion are great assets. Through the Church he has an ability to muster more dedicated followers than even the Clintons and the Obamas.

And through the Church he has an almost inexhaustible fund-raising base that will enable him at a minimum to wear down his lesser resourced opposition, again with the exception of former Flordia Governor Jeb Bush.

If Romney does formally annnounce one can expect his 2012 Fiance co-chair, Melaleuca chairman Frank VanderSloot of Idaho Falls, to again line up as many statewide elected Republicans, and others, such as the Legislative leadership, behind Romney. It migh not be as easy as 2012 for there is little doubt that former Idaho attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy will head up Jeb’s Idaho camapign.

Count on Leroy and othe Bush loyalists across the country to exploit publicly one great negative issue in Romney’s record that he cannnot walk away from: he will be linked inextricably to the hated President Obama and the ObamaCare Health Plan which Democrats themselves say was modeled on the RomneyCare Health Reform program promoted and passed into law when Mitt was the governor of the state.

Romney’s biggest negative though is that because he is Mormon he cannot win in the south. If he cannot win the south he can neither win the nomination nor the general election. The path to the White House goes through Florida both in the primaries and the general. Continue Reading »

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Jan 14 2015

Was Huntsman behind Deep Throat?

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Jon Huntsman, Senior, has published an autobiography covering his fascinating life, his endowment of the Huntsman Cancer Research Institute attached to the University of Utah’s hospital, and numerous other charitable undertakings. Entitled Barefoot to Billionaire, it was written with the assistance of Jay Shelledy, the former editor of the Salt Lake Tribune and publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Shelledy also assisted Huntsman in writing his best-selling book, Winners Never Cheat, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.  Huntsman is a graduate of Penn’s famed Wharton School of Finance.

While initial sales are brisk, Shelledy reports, it has yet to be reviewed in either the New York Times Sunday book section, or the Washington Post’s, or the Los Angeles Times. That’s a real shame and the oversight will hopefully be corrected.

Why? If for no other reason alone the book is worth the time and the money because of some new insights into the Watergate scandal which brought down the administration of President Richard Nixon. As very few folks know, but many will find more than interesting, the father of Utah’s one-time governor, Jon Huntsman, Jr., was once a Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon for secretarial matters.

What that means is that for slightly more than a year every piece of paper that went into and came out of the Oval office crossed Huntsman desk in the White House. It was quite a perch from which to watch the comings and goings in the “under siege” Oval Office.

Huntsman left before the proverbial horse pucky hit the fan, but nonetheless was interviewed and told he might be subpoenaed to testify before North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin’s Senate Committee investigating Watergate.  Old Sam wanted to know what Young Jon knew and when he knew it.  Huntsman convinced the committee counsels he knew nothing prior to Watergate hitting the paper. Hence, he was never indicted or charged. He was just about the only higher up in the White House NOT charged or indicted.

Reading the passages in the book one wonders though if Huntsman didn’t know more than he is letting on.  It is the way he words things that starts one wondering.  Add that to the fact that the “Deep Throat” identified by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward was Mark Felt, the number two person at the FBI. Felt, however, has to have had source within the inner Nixon circle that was providing the damning information.

At about this same time period, muck-raking syndicated columnist Jack Anderson also started reporting on information regarding Watergate that was leaked to him. Throw into this stew one other important factoid: all three (Huntsman, Anderson and Felt) were members in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and all three attended the same LDS ward in the D.C. area.

Mere coincidence? Perhaps, but one rule in politics is there are no coincidences. Continue Reading »

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Jan 08 2015

Children and guns

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

More years ago than I want to recall I spent a year teaching 8th, 9th and 10th graders at Kootenai Jr.-Sr. High School near Harrison. I was fresh out of college, truly green behind the ears but still look back fondly on the year.

I felt I had a good impact on every student. Equally important though, I learned as much from the students and their parents. especially about the strong sense of community that binds all the residents together. Most of it derives from a shared struggle to make a living in a resource economy under transition.

In small communities no person is an island unto themselves. The shared struggle translates into one extending their sense of family to all their neighbors. Conversely, when any member of this small community dies it hits everyone hard because as the English poet John Donne put it so well five hundred years ago, any one’s death and everyone’s death diminishes us all.

These thoughts all flooded my mind as I read the tragic news of a two-year-old boy finding his mother’s concealed weapon in her purse last week while at the Wal-Mart in Hayden, pulling the trigger and killing his 29-year-old mother.

One just knows that the profound sense of deep grief almost overwhelmed all who heard the sad news. The entire family has to be distraught over Veronica Rutledge’s senseless death. A husband will never be the same nor a son.

Mrs. Rutledge came from a well-known and well-liked family, the Hendricks family, who reside in Harrison. Veronica was the valedictorian of her 2004 class. She and all her siblings were described by former Kootenai principal and Harrison Mayor Rich Lund as incredibly bright and all well-liked.

Are there lessons to be learned so that other lives might be saved? I think so.

First, many urban dwellers don’t understand why most rural residents own and/or carry weapons. One woman’s answer to why she carried was a tart “because I can’t carry a policeman around on my back to ensure my protection 24/7.”

In urban areas police protection is often just five minutes from the time of the call to 9-1-1. In a rural area it can be well over an hour. I asked two women who carry concealed weapons for thoughts on this tragedy and what could be done to prevent it from happening again. Continue Reading »

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Jan 05 2015

Who would be #2?

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Alright, political sports fans; since Lt. Governor Brad Little opened this parlor game of “What If . . .” by talking with the Spokesman Review’s Boise correspondent, Betsy Russell, a bit too candidly about how well prepared he is to step up, lets take the game a bit further.

Let’s play who would be Brad’s choice to be his number two? After all, it is possible that Governor Otter could step down mid-way through his third term to give Brad a running start. If he does, Brad can select his own number two subject only to State Senate confirmation

It’s hard to imagine any governor voluntarily quitting two years ahead of time. Has it happened? Sure, but not in Idaho. If Republicans recapture the presidency in 2016, and Butch is asked by the third Bush president to serve in his cabinet, Butch could not say no (David Leroy, the Bush family’s “man on the scene” would have to also bless).

So Brad, could, like John Evans before him, become Governor without having to step on lots of toes. And, heaven forbid, Otter could die in office, and Brad could ascend by that route.

Now the fun begins. There’d be lots of rhetoric about politics having nothing to do with it, that Brad is simply seeking the best person. Pure poppycock. Politics will have everything to do with it and you can bet Brad will have a poll to help him decide.

Allow me to help, Governor Little, and . toss out a few names that should be on your list:

#1. State Senator Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint). The well-liked executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho, was just elected to her tenth term. She’s overcome two vicious Tea Party challenges and is a moderate, pro-education Republican. She is co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Appropriation committtee.

Senator Keough knows the budget and is more than qualified. And it appears she is the best chance for a woman to break the glass ceiling in Idaho bystepping up from lieutenant governor should Brad also be asked to serve in a Republican Administration.

#2. House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). Has done a solid job as Speaker and has adroitly handled the Tea Party types. Smart, does his homework and knows how to lead. Only drawback is he and Brad are a lot alike.

#3. State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls). Smart, tough, caring, a true “compassionate conservative” who could handle any challenge he faces. His and his wife’s appearing before the Idaho Parole Board to speak on behalf of parole for the man who had murdered their son because they were convinced there was true remorse will always stand out as an incredible act reflecting their deeply held faith. Continue Reading »

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Dec 30 2014

Shadow shogun

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Throughout much of Japanese history the Emperor has been a figure-head, the titular head of the nation, but considered semi-divine and thus above politics.

True power resided with a figure behind the scenes, a figure who weilded the real power through personal influence and patronage as well as being the chief administrative officer in the government. Often this figure stayed completely in the background, working in the shadows. In today’s political jargon one often will hear the phrase “he leaves no fingerprints,” but one knows the shadow shogun has instigated an action.

The most powerful and influential figure in Idaho politics today is NOT Senator Mike Crapo, nor is it Rep. Mike Simpson, nor Rep. Raul Labrador, nor Governor Butch Otter, nor Lt. Governor Brad Little, nor House Speaker Scott Bedke, nor President Pro Tempore Brent Hill, nor Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, though a good case could be made for each and everyone of these folks.

The most powerful, politically influential figure on the Idaho landscape today holds no political office. Rather he weilds his power through minions who do his bidding. Like the shadow shogun that he is, he prefers to stay behind the scenes. He rightly expects loyalty and he gets it because he is loyal to those who are loyal to him.

There isn’t a Republican in any office in Idaho who doesn’t know who he is, and wouldn’t think twice before crossing him. He appears to even own judges for most judges are keenly aware that he quite legally took out a judge who crossed him by putting up a candidate of his liking that defeated the wayward judge.

It is also well known among legal circles that Attorney General Lawrence Wasden pays close attention to the shadow shogun’s views.

His net worth reportedly exceeds $1.5 billion, making him the richest person in Idaho. What differentiates him from other Idaho billionaires, like the late J.R. Simplot, is he is absolutely unafraid of using his wealth to get his way. Thus, he contributes to candidates for many offices, not just the major ones. He spreads his wealth around viewing it as a form of investing. Of course like any good businessman he expects a decent return on his investment. He fully understands that money is the mother’s milk of politics.

He knows though that politics is all about cultivating personal relationships, not just giving money. Thus he entertains various political figures and by all accounts he can be as charming as he can be alarming depending on what the situation requires.

This “shadow shogun” is course Frank VanderSloot, the 66-year-old chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Melaleuca Corporation. A graduate of both Ricks (Before it became BYU-Idaho) and of Brigham Young University, he is a member in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (He gets the “Temple Pass” needless to say), it came as no surprise that fellow Saint, Governor Mitt Romney, named VanderSloot co-chair of his fund-raising for his 2012 Presidential run. Nor was it a surprise that virtually every Republican statewide officeholder dutifully lined up behind Romney’s candidacy. Continue Reading »

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This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
 
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Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
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JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
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The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
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WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
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The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
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