"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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(An Open Letter to Senator Mike Crapo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlson

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There’s an old political saying that when asked to choose between two good friends running for the same office, the answer is, “I’m with my friend.” That means you’re not about to choose, nor are you going to say who you might opt for in the privacy of the balloting booth.

One might even contribute the same amount of money to each campaign. Such a stance risks the loss of both because they’d rather that you choose, but the smart and prudent person stays neutral.

If Bruce Reed is anything, he is smart and prudent. The Coeur d’Alene native and 1978 Coeur d’Alene High graduate went onto Princeton, graduating with honors in 1982, thence onto Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, and obtained an MA in English Literature. Despite being a rather quiet and unassuming person his classmates could tell he was destined for good things.

A family friend, Tony Stewart, a professor at North Idaho College for many years, and a co-founder along with Bruce’s parents, attorney Scott Reed and State Senator Mary Lou Reed, of north Idaho’s Human Rights Foundation, would play tennis with the younger Reed. If Stewart was the least bit late he would find Reed patiently waiting but also always reading a book.

Early in his public career Reed encountered presidential politics as his services were sought by two young and intelligent senators, Tennessee’s Al Gore and Delaware’s Joe Biden. Reed had gone to work for Gore as a speechwriter in 1985.

As the 1988 election drew closer Biden asked Reed to work for his 1988 presidential bid. Reed was astute enough to ask Gore whether he planned to run. When told by Gore that he was going to run Reed politely declined Biden’s offer without burning any bridges and did work on Gore’s 1988 campaign.

In an amicable parting he left Gore in 1989 to work for the Democratic Leadership Group in 1990, where his talents and ability soon caught the eye of young Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. He joined Clinton’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1992 and when Clinton won Reed went to work first as a deputy domestic policy advisor, and two years later as the chief domestic policy advisor.

His relationship with both Clinton and Gore remained strong and in 2000 he left the White House for two months to help Gore with his debate preparation. Despite being close to the seat of power one seldom saw Reed quoted. He preferred to remain in the background and did not play the game of being a “high placed source” for the media.

When 2008 rolled around Reed’s loyalty to the Clintons’ trumped all others and he supported Hillary’s bid for the presidency. Once elected president, Illinois Senator Barack Obama let bygones be bygones and named Reed to be the executive director of the Simpson/Bowles Commission, a group of distinguished elected officials as well as private sector folks charged with restoring fiscal sanity to a budget process gone awry and with curbing excessive federal spending.

Reed, by all accounts, did a masterful job of helping hammer out a decent, doable set of compromises that could, if adopted by Congress, have met the challenge the commission was given. Following this Reed accepted an invitation from old friend Joe Biden, now Obama’s vice president, to become Biden’s chief of staff, which he did for two years.

Reed has many talents, one of which is to look down the road and over the horizon. It is fair to speculate that unlike many in the political game Reed saw the real possibility of being caught in the middle between friends with Mrs. Clinton again making a bid and his friend and current employer, the vice president, also deciding to run.

Reed’s answer, like the old political saying, is not to choose between friends. On November 13th, 2013, he announced he and his equally talented wife, Bonnie (Also a Coeur d’Alene High graduate), were leaving the nation’s capitol for Santa Monica where he would be the president of the Ely and Edythe Broad Foundation whose primary purpose is to facilitate meaningful reform in public education.

It was a wise move by a loyal soldier. My personal preference would have been for him to leave his job with Biden to run for the Democratic presidential nomination himself. At 55 years of age he’s at the right age to take on the rigors of the office. It’s time for the baby boomer generation to step aside and pass the torch to the next generation. Mrs. Clinton, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden – all will be in their 70’s should they take the oath in Janaury of 2017. Candidly, that’s just too damn old.

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Carlson

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Two recent columns have elicited two different responses which demonstrate, on the one hand, the skill of a smart communicator, and on the other, the nit-picking approach too often taken by amateurs to divert attention from a column’s major point.

The first example comes from the column questioning whether there really is a cure for cancer, and suggesting that recent television ads seen frequently on CNN by M.D. Anderson, the huge Houston-based cancer care center affiliated with the University of Texas, were in fact over-promising with an apparent claim that MDA had conquered the dread disease.

The column also referenced an incident ten years ago in which they refused to see a potential patient and turned down the request for a second opinion. The column listed its outlets and invited MDA to submit a rebuttal if they felt injured.

Within 24 hours an associate director of external communications, Julie Penne , e-mailed back a truly responsive response reflecting the fact tht she had obviously mastered easily Public Relations 101, and that MDA, huge though it is, knows how important smart communications is for their national image.

First, she addressed the personal, and sincerely offered congratulations for holding my cancer at bay for almost ten years. Next, though it was ten years ago since they had refused to see me, my column and cover note had been forwarded to the clinic’s leadership team and someone would be calling shortly.

Third, she thanked me for sending the contact information for the media that carry my column should they wish to produce a rebuttal.

Fourth, she sent the critique of the ads to their marketing team for a review. This past weekend there were script changes in the “talking head ads.” They substituted for language like “cancer, you lose” and inserted a phrase I have often used, and one that was in my cover note: “I’m still here.” That’s all they have to say—-a straight forward, indisputable fact.

A good guess is they arrived at the need for some slight changes based on reactions from ad “focus groups.” It clicked with them when several of the participants said the same thing. Still, it is nice to think just maybe I influenced the decision a wee bit.

Contrast that response now with Craig Gehrke’s letter to all my media clients in which the field director for the Wilderness Society took exception to my column expressing disappointment in supporters of the new Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness settling for less than half a loaf in this wonderful part of Idaho, rather than holding out for President Obama to invoke the Antiquities Act to protect more acreage while restricting more motorized vehicle use.

Gehrke believes the National Monument designation would have been a hope and a prayer that let the perfect be the enemy of the good and risked gaining nothing at all. However, it is incontestable that all the Risch/Simpson legislation really does is preserve the current status quo.

Gehrke engages in a classic false syllogism whereby he cites my factual error on a minor point in the column and hopes then to invalidate in a reader’s mind everything else I wrote. His nit-pick was to challenge my statement that the Andrus/McClure comprehensive statewide wilderness bill in the late 1980’s would have placed more acreage into wilderness than does Congressman Simpson’s legislation.

He is correct. My memory was faulty on the amount of wilderness (157,000 acres) in the Boulder/White Clouds wilderness proposed by the duo, as opposed to the 275,000 acres of wilderness in the new law. I’d thought the two major political players in the late 80’s had proposed 300,000 acres.

That error, however, does not belie the column’s major point that the land itself, and more of it, would have been better protected by designation as a National Monument.

Nor does Gehrke acknowledge the many areas not included in Simpson’s bill because of increaseed motorized vehicle use over the last 25 years that invalidated the ground from being considered for wilderness—areas like Champion Lakes, Washington Peak, Little Redfish Lake and lower lands of the Big Boulder and Little Boulder Creeks and the area south of the Pole Creek/Germania Creek trails. These areas left out are why all the Simpson bill really does is to place into law what is the current status quo.

Ask yourself what is truly best for the resource and an honest answer has to be a National Monument. Preserving the status quo is no cause for celebration.

His nit-picking response is disappointing, and it should be clear which response, his or MDA’s, warrants acclaim.

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Carlson