carlson CHRIS


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.

As editor of the Salt Lake Tribune for ten years, Shelledy had become good friends with the Huntsman family, particularly Jon Senior and Jon Junior as well as David. He placed a couple of calls and the arrangements were taken care of. With my team of doctors at Cancer Care Northwest in Spokane we had worked out an attack strategy which the team at Huntsman concurred with, which was to attack the lesions on my liver first as they were the most immediate life-threatening.

The day came for my first visit. Once again I was stunned. Perhaps if I had known that Jon Senior was a cancer survivor, that he knows only one way to do things, and that is first class with meticulous attention to details as well as creating a soothing and reassuring ambience, I would not have been so surprised.

David Huntsman himself greeted me at the entrance. The facility itself looked like a five star hotel, and with its modern design and a spectacular view of the Wasatch Mountains as well as a view to the west of the Salt Lake Valley, the lake and the mountains beyond, it looked like something out of a futuristic Star Trek movie.

Almost immediately I was in a meeting with the Institute’s director, Dr. Stephen Prescott, and my interventional radiologist, Dr. James Carlisle, who over the course of the next year would handle five chemoembolism procedures. My room was larger than a hotel suite, with plenty of comfortable chairs, lamps, tv’s, lovely original paintings, all color coordinated.

One long hallway leading to my section had a fantastic display of Navaho rugs and other artifacts collected over the years by Karen Huntsman. The staff nurse’s and other medical personnel were all wonderful—patient, kind, thoughtful. Dr. Carlisle’s lead nurse, Lei Allison, was simply outstanding.

I felt like visiting royalty, and that because of Shelledy’s connections, I was receiving special treatment. I soon found out I wasn’t, that every patient is treated the same way. From his own experience Jon Huntsman knows how important a peaceful, serene atmosphere is, and one that conveys a subliminal message that with the team they have and the research they do, while you may not be cured the cancer can be stymied and in many instances, managed for a good number of years.

What really counts is the result. A fifth and final procedure I had at Huntsman was a then experimental procedure that is now almost standard that involved placing Ytrium-90 radioactive pellets flown in from Australia on the day of the procedure and placed on the remnants of the shattered tumors on my liver.

That seemed to do the trick because the generating tumor’s “production rate” dropped considerably and that coupled with the monthly shot of a sandostatin called octreotide that I take has enabled me to manage a fairly normal life far beyond the six months I was once given.

In that time I’ve been able to see two grandchildren born and grow, write three books and do a fair amount of fly fishing.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute along with the Mayo Clinic are the two facilities I always recommend to anyone facing cancer. Thank you, Jon Huntsman, for your vision. The Good Lord granted a miracle but you and your skilled doctors were the instrument. You know you have helped save thousands of lives. When your time comes I have no doubt you will hear the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy your heavenly Father has prepared for you.”

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carlson CHRIS


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?

She and her husband could not have children “naturally,” so they went the in-vitro fertilization route with her donating an egg, he his sperm, and then implantation in her womb. She informed her principal, who initially congratulated her. None of them were aware they had crossed Catholic doctrine, which does not condone in-vitro fertilization, primarily because the process can result in more than one egg combining with sperm, and that’s the beginning of an independent, individual life. These other inseminated but unused eggs are disposed of, which Catholic doctrine says constitutes abortion. So she was fired.

Last month, a grand jury awarded her and her husband $2 million for a violation of her civil rights. The diocese cannot afford the award and so will appeal. The pure doctrinal approach taken by the diocese’ bishop will insure a federal ruling further restricting the right of private, religion-based schools to require adherence to church teachings from its teachers, who sign contracts pledging not to teach counter to church doctrine and to reflect church teachings in their private lives.

The unintended consequence will be further restriction of a religion’s right to operate separately from the so-called norms of secular society. Common sense and a humane, non-doctrinaire response should have told the bishop to look the other way and be happy there was a wanted child.

Bishops everywhere should get in sync with the new pope, who acts and speaks with common sense and humanity guiding him. If more of them did, the Roman Catholic Church would begin to restore its tarnished image.
While in the Philippines in early January, the Pope Francis interacted with people living on the streets. He spent time in particular with two young teen-age girls, one of whom asked him the question that is at the center of Russian author Fyodor Dostoyesky’s great novel, “The Brothers Karamazov”: Why does God permit children to suffer?

Did the pope offer some philosophical treatise? Did he cite church doctrine? Nope, none of these. In the face of this mystery in front of him, he reacted like a real human being, a real father: he wept.

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carlson CHRIS


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.

Not surprisingly the top of the list came right out of the old southern Bible Belt with Birmingham/Tuscalosa being number #1. Folks there must really pray hard and read the Bible often so as to keep their beloved Tide football program on top.

How does one explain the nation’s acknowledged sin cities—Las Vegas (#95), New York City (#91) and San Francisco (#97), in effect finishing higher and thus more Bible-reading and less sinful behaving than Boise?

And Salt Lake City, the St. Peter’s of the LDS Church, came in at #90, right there with the Big Apple, and behind the nation’ s capital that was placed at #85?

Apparently in Boise there aren’t enough good Catholics, Protestants and Mormons (as defined by whether they are judged worthy of the “temple pass”) who while they may practice the exhortation in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants appear not to read their Bible as much as they read their Book of Mormon.

The most Bible reading city in the northwest surprisingly was Spokane at #52. Those who spend time in both Boise and Spokane will question the survey just on that ranking alone, as Spokane seems far more secular than Boise.

Go figure. Lists like this one always create more questions than provide real answers.

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carlson CHRIS


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.

Bush has a much better shot at taking Florida, and not just because he is a former governor who was well-liked. If he adds someone like “born again” former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckaby to form a ticket, it will be formidable.

Romney’s real problem is that in looking at vote totals in southern states in the important ones he ran behind totals achieved by John McCain. The best analysts say this reflects the real disdain Southern Baptists have for Mormons. As long as Southern Baptists believe Mormonism is a cult not a religion, Romney is not going to command their allegiance.

Given these facts – and unless Romney has figured out a way to satisfy the southern Baptists – it is mystifying as to why he is dipping his toe in the water to assess prospects.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a Mormon miracle out there in the hinterlands that will supplant this Mormon mystery.

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carlson CHRIS


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.

Felt, who grew up in the Twin Falls area, has to have had someone in the White House feeding him the damning information he passed on to the Post.  Consider the possibility that all three Mormons were offended by the dishonesty, treachery and abuse of power going on in Nixon’s White House.  Consider the possibility that all three saw Watergate for the breach of trust that it was.

Now add Huntsman’s own words in which he writes there were only three or four people in position to know what was going on at that time:  Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, Special Assistant Alexander Butterfield, possibly Legal Counsel John Dean and Huntsman himself.  Huntsman quickly dismisses himself but his excuse sounds flimsy.  He then goes on to say why he didn’t think it was Haldeman or Dean.

Yes, that leaves Alexander Butterfield. Huntsman says Butterfield knew about and oversaw the tape recording system ordered installed by Nixon that ran whenever anyone was in the Oval office. He points out that Butterfield also was the liaison for the White House with the Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI.  He doesn’t really provide a motive for Butterfield, however.

There’s an old saying that when one is pointing a finger at another there are three fingers pointing back at the pointer.  Shelledy disputes this and says the senior Huntsman is a straight forward what you see is what you get kind of person.

If that’s the case, Huntsman, who is 77 years young and was born in Blackfoot, will probably carry the truth off to the Celestial Kingdom. untsman is veruIt may forever just remain another “Mormon Mystery.” Read the book yourself and see if you don’t come to the conclusion that the real “Deep Throat” was Jon Huntsman, Sr.

Then say a prayer of thanks to him for his courage, character and convictions.

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carlson CHRIS


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.

Both said they thought it was a perfect storm of converging events and that the odds of it happening again were a million to one.

One woman who uses a purse similar to Veronica said part of the challenge is women’s clothing, unlike men’s, is designed to show her figure and a concealed and carried weapon is easily visible.

Robin Ball, who along with her husband, Steve, owns Spokane’s Sharp Shooting Indoor Range, said she believes women should wear their weapons and they “should dress for the gun.” She points out that for most threatening situations most women won’t have the time it takes to open the purse, open the internal zipper and pull out the weapon.

Robin offered some other practical advice. For example, she said if women choose the purse they should be conscious of having the purse appear to be a source of goodies to small children. One should not pull out gum, or candy, or a crayon from their purse. The child immediately sees it as a a source of goodies.

Third, if a woman chooses a weapon-carrying purse, she has to keep her eyes on it at all times, if nothing else to keep a thief from walking off with it. Robin emphasized she did not know Veronica’s circumstances, and was making a generic point.

Robin’s fourth point in some ways is the most important. Anyone who has a weapon in the home or carries a concealed weapon has to spend some time thinking through “what if” situations and worst case scenarios. She says too often people superficially think that having a locked drawer or a gun case is enough. This can and does often foster a false sense of security that one only recognizes after a tragedy.

Robin also believes trigger locks can foster a false sense of security. The emphasis has to be on adult responsibility. Both women stressed that Veronica may well have done everything absolutely correctly, and a tragedy like this could still have happened.

Both women also said they worry about complacent urban dwellers with at hand police protection outstripping the ability of voters to understand and respect why women carry weapons: It’s not just to protect themselves, it is to protect their families and their children.

How doubly sad that a mother who cared about protecting her child should by a twist of fate become a victim of that good intention.

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carlson CHRIS


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.

Would bring regional and religious balance to a ticket. Just re-elected to his 9th term despite the Tea Party in Bonneville County trying to censor him three times.

#4. State Senator Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian). Might be Brad’s smartest move especially if he thinks First District Congressman Raul Labrador has a hankering to be governor and would plan on attacking Brad from the right. Fulcher drew a lot of votes and presumably has lots of Tea Party supporters who would be neutralized if he were on a ticket with Brad.

#5. Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer. A sleeper and a darkhorse, but an obvious comer. Intelligent, articulate, successful businessman, a genuine people person, talented with a great sense of humor. Mayor’s post is non-partisan and R’s would be smart to capture him. He would bring energy to the post, would be a fresh face and would charm most everyone. Only drawbacks would be no legislative experience and some would say he is too close to north Idaho business king Duane Hagadone.

There you have it, governor. Put them all on your interview list should the time come. As you know, you’ll cement one friendship and make at least four new enemies. It comes with the territory.

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carlson CHRIS


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.

VanderSloot displayed his fund-raising prowess in Idaho by easily raising several million dollars for Romney, including over a million from his own personal coffers. Cross reference Romney’s Idaho contributions with a list of Republican officeholders, other prominent Republican contributors and the list of ward and stake bishops and presidents and it is easy to see that very few said no to VanderSloot’s “request.”

Some of Idaho’s political cognascenti were bemused when VanderSloot criticized fellow Saint and wealthy Boise businessman A.J. Bulakoff, the Democratic candidate for governor, for trying to buy the Idaho governorship by spending $3 million of his own money on the race—a severe case of the pot calling the kettle black.

If Romney decides to make a third run (And there are persistent rumors he will), VanderSloot will again play a prominent role. He will also continue to dominate the Idaho Republican Party through the State national committeeman, his employee and vice president for government affairs, Damond Watkins.

He is incontestably the most powerful behind-the-scenes figure in Idaho politics since the late Lloyd Adams (from Rexburg). He is the true Shadow Shogun. I doubt very much I’ll be receiving a phone call because of any disagreement with this assessment.

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carlson CHRIS


It always comes as a surprise, though it should not, when one sees “a man with a collar,” prove he is as fallible as the rest of us mere mortals, capable of misleading conduct and apparently as misguided by “the end justifies the means” philosophy as any other rudderless politician.

Such is the case with Archbishop Blasé Cupich, late of the Spokane diocese and the new Archbishop of Chicago.

In a recent article in the Spokesman-Review, the Archbishop impugns the integrity of Father Steve Dublinski, the current pastor at St. Augustine’s. This good priest served faithfully and well as the Vicar General (in effect, the chief operating officer for the Spokane diocese) for the past 12 years, first for Bishop William Skylstad and then for the Archbishop.

Anyone who knows, or has met or has worked with Father Steve knows he is a person whose integrity and commitment to truth and justice is above questioning and beyond reproach. He is devoted to the truth and the mission of the diocese.

Even if one does not know Father Steve, his action in resigning speaks volumes for him. It should be clear that such a resignation was an act of conscience on his part. It took courage to publicly split with the Bishop. It should also be obvious that the reason for Father Dublinski resigning as Vicar General was his refusal to go along with Cupich’s lawsuit for malpractice against the diocese’s outside legal counsel, the venerable Paine, Hamblen law firm.

If one reads carefully the article that appeared on December 16th in which Cupich is trying to undo the damage done to the diocese’ alleged case against the law firm, Cupich never denies having said to Vicar General Dublinski that he would “just throw some mud against the wall and see what sticks.

Rather, he says he never directed his lawyers to throw mud and see what sticks. It is a classic misdirection ploy that in the process has him implicitly questioning Father Steve’s integrity. This is simply outrageous and an insult to our intelligence. Ask yourself what would Father Steve gain by resisting Cupich’s apparent pressure to be supportive of his desires in this matter?

In filing his lawsuit for malpractice, Cupich was obviously hoping that the diocese would win and be able to collect $4 million in damages from the firm’s liability insurance carrier.

We’re all too familiar with that gambit – we’ve all heard the plaint “It’s not the people we’re suing that will pay, it’s their insurance company.” The implication is those sued shouldn’t care because someone else will pay for the damages.

So what if in the process one trashed the reputation of a venerable law firm’s attorneys, not to mention one of the diocese’ fine priests as well as his distinguised predecessor, Bishop William Skylstad? One cannot help thinking that Archbishop Cupich must view this in terms of what the military calls unfortunate collateral damage.

As an aside, the diocesan interim administrator, Father Mike Savaleski, has a moral obligation to step forward to make sure the diocesan family knows that he was the lead negotiator for the Association of Parishes with plaintiff attorneys who hammered out the future claims section of the Diocesan Plan of Reorganization.

Somehow we always expect more from those that wear collars. We really shouldn’t. Cupich may mouth the new vocabulary of Pope Francis, but his actions belie his words. I may feel he is ethically-challenged but others may find no fault with his conduct.

At the end of the day, though, one does not have to know either Father Dublinski or Archbishop Cupich to know which is the one who has acted with devotion to integrity and the truth. Father Dublinski’s conscience is clear. I have to believe the Archbishop’s conscience at best is cloudy.

There’s an old expression the Archbishop should remember: Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

(Chris Carlson is the former long-time press secretary to Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus, a parishioner at St. Augustine’s, and is privileged to fly fish with Father Dublinski on occasion.)

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carlson CHRIS


Several readers have expressed surprise that I would urge former Virginia Senator James Webb to run for president. Their view is Hillary Clinton has it already locked up. While she appears to have better character than her husband, the former president, she does not come close to his leadership skills.

Every presidential election since 1968, with one exception, has for me come down to who has the better character and displays real leadership skills. Sometimes it is “yin and yang” with one attribute weighing more. It helps if one has met the candidate in person and can form an evaluation based on that. We all give off non-verbal signals that astute observers can pick up on and weigh through the prism of their own eperience and needs as well as what one believes is best for society.

Occasionally it has been a toss-up between the candidates, but not very often. Of the two attributes, character often prevail. The judgments of other trustworthy people who can give me a well thought out testimonial can be influential as can good books, either biographies or memoirs, that are part of my due diligence.

A key part of my character evaluation is whether they have kept their marriage vows. A vow is a vow. Yes, people are flawed and make mistakes they regret unless they are serial philanders. Particularly egregious to me is whether they lie if asked about the subject. If they can lie about keeping their marriage vow, they can easily lie to the American people.

Most can accept a candidate saying such a question violates the zone of privacy they feel they are entitled to and it is nobody’s business but their spouses and their family. What none should accept is the hypocrisy of an officeholder preaching family values and using the wife and children as props for photo ops while chasing skirts as if they are some sort of high office perk. Most of us know the type.

The sine qua non of character is honesty and truthfulness, as well as fidelity, compassion, and courage. Leadership is admittedly harder to define,but we know it when it when we see it,

Some may consider this too simple. Others obviously take refuge in voting based party affiliation alone. The party and the policies are secondary in my book.

And yes, with 20/20 hindsight I have made mistakes. Judge for yourself:

1968 Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon. Humphrey was a philanderer Nixon was a lier. Nixon had better leadership skills but his character was too flawed.

1972: McGovern over Nixon. Hands down McGovern had far more character and was a legitimate war hero. Nixon continued to lie.

1976: A true toss-up. Governor Carter and President Ford have sterling character but neither had leadership skills. I went with Carter.

1980: H a hard time voting for Carter again. He had badly failed the leadership test. Both were men of character. My first vote mistake.

1984: Reagan over Mondale, though I knew and liked Fritz. Both were men of character but Reagan clearly the better leader.

1988: George H. W. Bush over Dukakis. Both men of character but Bush clearly had far more experience and far better leadership skills.

1992: Bill Clinton over President Bush. Bush clearly ahead on character as stories of Clinton’s skirt-chasing were multiplying. Bush blew the biggest presidential lead in history after freeing Kuwait. His failure to capitalize made me question his leadership. Second mistake.

1996: Senator Dole ahead on character but behind on leadership. I prefer commander-in-chiefs who have worn a uniform and preferably evn been shot at. Dole was a legitimate war hero. Clinton was a draft dodger.

2000—Governor Bush over Al Gore. Bush won both character and leadership tests. Gore clearly was a phony in my book.

2004—Kerry over Bush. Both men of character but Bush disappointed in many respects so opted to see what Kerry could do. Third mistake.

2008—Obama over McCain. Obama’s character is sterling. McCain’s age, temperment and picking Sarah Palin to be a heartbeat away made me question his judgment. McCain though won the leadership test.

2012—Governor Romney over President Obama. Both men of sterling character but Obama has badly failed leadership test.

2016—who knows?

If I’m wrong and it is Hillary against Jeb Bush, I agree with Bush “43” who has said brother Jeb will beat “sister-in-law” Hillary.

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carlson CHRIS


Some state senator or some state representative somewhere in Idaho should ask Legislative Services to draft a bill for consideration by leadership that makes so much common sense it will probably be rejected—or consigned to oblivion in some committee chairman’s desk drawer.

The bill, if enacted, would prohibit a governor and a lieutenant governor from flying anywhere together on the same aircraft.

In Idaho, far more frequently than one may realize, Lt. Gov. Brad Little hooks a ride with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, especially during the campaign season when both are appearing at the same venue. That they may split the expense if the campaign is reimbursing the state for the flight to save both campaigns a few dollars is beside the point.

Even during the “non-campaign” season, though, Brad would hook a ride with Butch if both, as they often did, were participating in Governor Otter’s frequent Capitol For A Day visits across Idaho. Given Idaho’s sad history of plane crashes changing political history, one would think they would not fly together. But they do They like each other and enjoy each other’s company and there’s no law against it. But there should be.

While Idaho has yet to lose a sitting governor to an airplane crash, despite its mountainous terrain and its variable and changeable weather, all one has to do is to look at the neighboring states of Oregon and Montana for examples of sitting governors dying in a plane crash.

On October 28th, 1947, Oregon Governor Earl Snell, along with Oregon’s Secretary of State and its State Senate president, and their pilot all died in a plane crash east of Klamath Falls—-sad proof that it can happen and it can wipe out part of a state’s political leadership if they are flying together.

On January 25th, 1962, Montana Governor Don Nutter also died in a plane crash.

For Brad to fly with Butch is unnecessary risk-taking and it ought to stop. The bottom line is that we as taxpayers have an investment in the lieutenant governor, whomever he or she is. They are truly governors in waiting, and part of the purpose of the office is to ensure a smooth transition to capable hands should, Gof forbid, something happen to the sitting governor.
The writers of Idaho’s State Constitution as far back as 1888 and 1889 saw the wisdom in giving the lieutenant governor all the powers of the governor when the governor is out of state. For one thing, if they were of different parties, it would serve as a way to keep the governor close to home doing the job.

There is even a strict notification protocol that has to be followed of notifying the line of succession every time the governor and/or lieutenant governor leave the state. For example, even if they leave Idaho’s airspace for just 15 minutes, as happens when they fly from Boise to the Pullman-Moscow airport located just over the state line before driving back into Idaho, the line of succession has to be officially notified.

In Idaho, if both governors were to perish in the same accident the line of succession provides the Speaker of the House (Today that would be Scott Bedke from Oakley) would next serve as governor and if something were to happen to him the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (Today that would be Senator Brent Hill from Rexburg) would be next.

Idaho is fortunate in that the line of succession is filled with veteran and experienced politicians who would be capapble of quickly stepping up to the job, but no one wants a governor who has to be trained while doing the job

Incidentally, and not insignificantly, whoever is acting governor sees their daily pay rate rise up to that of the governor. After all, the individual is the governor, if not for a day, at least a part of the day.

Some states already prohibit a governor and a lieutenant governor from traveling together anywhere at anytime in anything regardless if plane, train or car. These are states that recognize there is an investment made in having and training a lieutenant governor to be ready to step into the role full-time if Fate so decrees.

Here’s hoping such a bill finds a sponsor, is printed and at least gets a hearing. Here’s hoping that both Butch and Brad recognize the common sense of the legislation and endorse it.

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carlson CHRIS


An open letter to former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

Dear Senator:

Recently you announced the formation of a committee to explore whether you should make a bid for the presidency in 2016. From a small stop on what once was a railroad stop, a now gone town named Medimont, lost away in the Silver Valley (Idaho) within a 24-square mile Superfund site, comes this answer: Run, Jim, run!

This writer thinks you possess the qualities this country desperately needs, namely an ability to make tough decisions. Additionally, you demonstrated an ability to keep many southern white men in the bi-racial coalition so necessary for future success for the Democratic Party. Your tough election in Virginia in 2008 demonstrated .a unique ability to inspire both black and white men. and say to folks, follow, lead or get out of the way.

Whether Hillary Clinton runs or not, and I personally think she will not, I hope you can stay the course because you recognize, as both Bill and Hillary do, that the long overdue generational change is occuring in American politics. The mantle of leadership is blowing towards younger Democrats like you or Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.

For much the same reason, I don’t think Jeb Bush will run either. The Republicans will nominate someone like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, or a younger U.S. Senator, like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul or Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the latter two casting themselves as the reincarnation of former Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater.

Allow me to be so bold as to lay out the key elements of your platform and a successful winning strategy.

The key item you offer the American people is the ability to lead. From your days at Quantico when you were receiving the tough indoctrination only the Marine Corps offers, to your service as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy., to your seat in the Senate you have always resonated leadership. It is the sine qua non for any president.

The best way for you to demonstrate that leadeship and courage is to make your number one issue the need for the 2016 election to be a referendum on ALL the recommendations of the Simpson/Bowles Commission.

Correcting the horrible deficit and the nation’s incredible debt in order to restore fiscal sanity and meet our obligations to future generations can only be accomplished if everyone is asked to sacrifice and everyone sees the need to do their part. Many of us mark President Obama’s failure to endorse the balanced solution of his own commission as the beginning point that raised serious doubts about whether he was truly capable of leading.

Taking that stance will put Hillary on the spot since she did not endorse the commission and it will also split the Republicans, with the fiscal conservatives led by folks like former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg and Idaho’s senior senator, Mike Crapo, supporting the package in the national interest and seperating out the Tea Party fanatics like Ted Cruz who would rather see the economy collapse than have any increase in revenue from tax reform.

Second issue is to support tax reform and demonstrate with easy to understand examples how the middle class is subsidizing the upper 1 tenth of 1%, many of whom say “only stupid people pay taxes.” Read all three of New York Times tax writer David Cay Johnston’s books exposing the subsidy in such graphic detail your blood will boil.

The third issue is to campaign as the true champion of women’s rights by supporting equal pay for equal work measures, endorsing the “No more” campaign, and having talented women in key positions in your campaign organization.

Fourth, no one knows defense issues better than you, and if Hillary is in the race and you have the chance to engage her in a debate, you’ll tie her in knots.

Fifth, your efforts to revise our archaic, borderline barbaric prison practices has led us, as you know, to have not only the world’s worst recidivism rate, but to squander an enormous amount of human capital that could be tapped if we as a society would adopt more enlightened practices such as seeing a released prisoner has a job, and a support partner.

Finally, tap into the nation’s network of Marines who are in the reserves or retired. I suspect many are just waiting for a retired Marine to run. You’re it. It goes without saying your colors will be Marine red and gold. Go for it, Jim Where do I send my check?
Semper Fi!

Chris Carlson

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carlson CHRIS


Supporters of better state support for public education, both K thru 12 and higher education, awoke the day after the election, to the stunning news that Jana Jones, a former deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction under Marilyn Howard, had lost the SPI race by some 5000 votes to Sherri Ybarra, a Mountain Home educator/administrator.

Ms. Ybarra had committed gaff after gaff, all disclosed in excruciating detail by Spokesman Review capitol reporter Betsy Russell. The mistakes ranged from outright plagiarism of information on her website taken from Jana Jone’s website, to misleading reporters on how long she’d been in the state, how many marraiges she had been in and her failure to vote in any election in the last ten years.

Yet, because she had the R behind her name, said little of substance during the election, generally avoided the press, and stayed away from State conventions like those held by a state’s district superintendents and by school board direcrtors, she won.

That conclusion begs to be restated, and those who know Idaho has to increase public support for education have every right to be angry about this: Jana Jones lost the election that was hers to lose for a variety of reasons. She should stand up and be accountable. She really let down those who have worked so hard for so many years to put education on a better footing.

It’s not just that she ran a lousy campaign, she ran no campaign. She had just one person working with her and supposedly staffing the campaign. She refused to make fund-raising calls, even when friends like the former SPI, Marilyn Howard, would have her over, give her a list of people just waiting to hear from her before they opened their checkbooks, and she would still refuse to make the calls.

Despite this aversion to fund-raising she somehow collected and spent $125,000 on her “campaign.” Still, that was apparently five times more than the $25,000 that Ms. Ybarra reports having spent. That has to be close to a modern day record in low spending per vote – about 11 and ½ cents per vote. By comparison millionaire gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff spent approximately $16.00 per vote received.

Without any evidence, Ms. Jones apparently believed the National Education Association and the Idaho Education Association were going to step in and run an independent campaign for her election. She guessed wrong.

This may sound petty, but even supporters were non-plussed to see how uncombed her hair looked in the statewide televised debate. A photo of the debate that went over the wire made her literally look scatter-brained. There is ample evidence verifying a UCLA study that says 80% of a viewer’s conclusion on who won a debate is related to appearance and non-verbal signals.

What they say is seldom a factor unless there is a real mistake. Ms. Ybarra understood the importance of visuals. Her hair was neat, she dressed with some “power red” in her attire and remained cool and calm. She won the encounter going away despite media coverage saying she had lost.

From the returns it is also apparent Ms. Jones must have spent most of her time campaigning in Ada County and several of the higher populated counties, and pretty much ignored the smaller counties. They reciprocated.

Especially galling was how few votes she garnered in the rural LDS dominated counties of southeastern Idaho given the fact she is LDS.

Ms. Jones did carry her home county of Bonneville, 56% to 44%, but lost Canyon County by the same 56 to 44 margin. Ms. Ybarra also carried her home county of Elmore 61% to 39%, but where she was able to offset Ms. Jones margins in most of the urban counties was in rural Idaho. There she consistently won by almost 2 to 1 margins and compiled numerous thousand votes margins.

In Bonner county, Ms. Ybarra ran up a 2500 vote margin and in the county which probably elected her, Kootenai, she almost doubled Ms. Jones vote, winning with a 9000 vote margin.

If there’s any consolation, Ms. Jones did run ahead of Democratic gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff in most of the rural counties, but he was one of six on that ballot as opposed to her head to head against Ybarra.

The most significant number was the drop-off vote between the top Republican vote receiver on the ballot, U.S Senator Jim Risch who received 285,358 and the number of Republican votes Ms. Ybarra garnered­ – 217,035.

That’s a difference of 68,323 votes. One might call that the possible number of well-informed Republicans and Independents who, knowing that Ms. Ybarra was a very flawed candidate, still could not bring themselves to vote for Ms. Jones. Given her non-campaign, can you really blame them?

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carlson CHRIS


The concensus among most political pundits in and around Washington, D.C., is that the most powerful, influential political action committee is the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Most members of Congress think twice before crossing it.

It rewards its supporters with lavish contributions generated from its many members across the nation and is quick to punish those who vote against what they define as the best interests of Israel. Even Greg Casey, the talented Idahoan who once was Senator Larry Craig’s chief of staff and then Sergeant of Arms of the Senate, and is now president of BIPAC (Business and Industry Political Action Committee) would concede his powerful PAC is Avis to the pro-Israel Hertz.

With the leadership of the pro-Israel PAC, one is either for or against them. There’s no middle ground; their issues are black or white, and if you don’t vote with them 100% of the time, then you are suspected of harboring anti-Semetic views, as any who question how the Israelis have been treating the Palestinians soon find out.

Recently, well known Idahoan Marty Peterson, who retired from public service over a year ago, visited Israel. Marty’s last post was that of vice president for government affairs and lead lobbyist for the University of Idaho. Prior to that he served in a variety of posts including service as budget director for Governor John Evans, executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, and executive director of the Idaho Centennial Commission.

Marty is a history buff and a keen observer of political affairs so he shared his take on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with a column posted on Randy Stapilus’ widely read blog, Ridenbaugh Press/Northwest. Like most Americans, he flew to Israel thinking he was pretty pro-Israel. Unlike most though, he saw through the propaganda and ended up expressing great sympathy for the Palestinians whom he observed are being treated by Israel much as Jewish people have been mistreated over the centuries.

In particular, Marty noted the defiant extension of law-breaking Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory and the unilateral appropriation of water for these illegal settlements taken from the Palestinian owners. He also had a long visit with the recently retired Catholic Archbishop for Galilee, Elias Chacour.

Marty praised the Archbishop’s efforts to find a peaceful solution through education to the seeming intractable views of the two warring groups. One would think that taking the view that there is somewhere somehow a reasonable path to peace would not be controversial.

However, I predicted to Marty that before long all AIPAC supporters in Idaho will see a memo from someone associated with AIPAC questioning his judgment and implying if not outright accusing him of secretly holding anti-Semite views.

I speak from experience. A couple of years back I contributed to an election review for clients of the firm I founded in 1989, The Gallatin Group. I pointed out that one of the big winners was Washington Fifth District Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, but noted there was grumbling in some quarters that Cathy’s then chief of staff was replacing district based staff with westsiders who also shared the staff chief’s Jewish faith. A statement of simple fact.

I speculated this represented a concerted effort by AIPAC to expand its congressional base of support into even more districts because of the possibility Israel, concerned about the Iranian nuclear program, might launch a pre-emptive strike unilaterally without U.S. concurrence.

I had no idea this elicted a memo to AIPAC members in eastern Washington branding me as an anti-Semite. Fortunately, one of the AIPAC members was my heart doctor who quickly wrote back that he knew me very well and that there wasn’t a prejudicial bone in my body.

He added a footnote: “Besides, all five of Chris’ doctors are Jewish. He wouldn’t dare harbor any anti-Semitic views.” He of course was correct but that nonetheless did not stop the effort to brand me.

Like Marty, I had merely stated a couple of facts I’d observed but it still brought me to AIPAC’s attention. Get ready, Marty.

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carlson CHRIS


Dear CH—

You commented recently on your Facebook page how courageous you thought the young 29-year-old California woman was that moved to Oregon and availed herself of Oregon’s Doctor assisted suicide law on November 1st.

With all due respect to your right to hold a differing view, you could not be more wrong. It does not take courage to opt out of life prematurely. It is an an act motivated by fear, a desire to control the end of one’s life, and when glamorized by the former Hemlock Society, now rebranded as Compassion and Choices, a publicity stunt that sends the wrong signal to our youth.

Always it is by definition a selfish act that passes one’s pain onto their loved ones. It is an act of cowardness and the furthest thing away from courage.

What is the true act of courage is to look death in the eye and fight valiantly to one’s natural end

As you know, nine years ago I was diagnosed with a rare and always fatal form of a carcinoid neuroendocrine cancer. I was in stage IV and given the proverbial six months. I sent all my tests, my CT’s, my MRI’s, my blood work, x-rays and body scans to M.D. Anderson, the world renowned Cancer Care center in Houston, Texas.

They refused to see me. It was hopeless, they said and they did not want to waste their time or resources. If Washington’s Initiative 1000 had been passed into law at that time, I would have easily qualified.

Instead, I worked with my team of doctors, developed an attack strategy and I’m still here. I fought like hell, and I still fight. There isn’t a day that has gone by in the last nine years that I haven’t felt pain. Initially, I lost 75 pounds, looked like death warmed over and most were sure I was gone. Gradually, though, between the experimental radioactive particles placed on my liver and the monthly “golden “rear”” shot I take of a sandostatin that is my chemotherapy, the tide started to turn.

Here I am nine years later. In that time I’ve seen the births and watched with joy the growth of our grandchildren. I had built my wife’s dream retirement home in north Idaho and was able to watch with tears in my eyes as our Marine Corps captain, our son, was wed to a wonderful daughter-in-law at the Botanical Gardens outside San Diego.

Such events have made the pain and suffering truly manageable. There are thousands like me who fight on against all odds and while most of us are never cured we can and do reach a period of stasis in which we manage the disease for a number of years and move on.

To think that I might have missed such events because I’d opt out of life early out of fear is just unthinkable.

I don’t argue with the notion that one can take their life if they wish to do so. The ability to purchase sleeping pills and turn on a car in an enclosed garage is virtually pain free and doesn’t need the assistance of a doctor nor does it bring the state into the matter.

I believe there are issues at the beginning of life and at the end of life that should be left to the person, their family, their doctor, and their spiritual counselors. I firmly believe that we will never be able to legislate fair , equitable and balanced laws respectful of everone’s rights on all life issues.

I do know that we should not invite the state to get into the suicide sanctioning business.

Ask yourself why did every disability group in the state of Washington oppose Initiative 1000? Why did the Washington Medical Association oppose.?

Are you prepared to take the next logical step and force doctors to write prescriptions and pharmacists to fill them even though it violates their faith, values or belief in doing no harm?

Whatever you do, whatever you believe, my dear friend, don’t mistake fear for courage. The courageous ones are those who fight on, against all odds because that is the nature of man.

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