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Posts published in “Carlson”

Entitlement?

carlson

Tommy Ahlquist, the 49-year-old medical doctor turned fabulously wealthy developer who wants to be Idaho’s next governor, lacks neither passion nor raw ambition nor confidence that he’s got the answers and should be Idaho’s governor.

He’s got all the answers, just ask him. He’s charming, articulate, intelligent. He’s also terribly arrogant and naïve about what it is to govern a state. He thinks it just takes leadership and a plan, sort of a blue print for progress. He could use a strong dose of humility.

He was peddling his formula like an old snake oil salesman last week in St. Maries as part of his “Visit all 44 Idaho counties in 44 days” tour. Let’s start with the fact that he has stated flatly he will spend whatever it takes of his fortune to be governor---“one dollar more than is necessary to win.”

That one you can take to the bank. He has already spent thousands of dollars on tv advertising in the Treasure Valley (the great state of Ada as he likes to say when outside the largest county). He has signs up everywhere, has hired top-notch staff, has sophisticated polling and intends to buy the govrnorship.

His basic pitch is he has ideas and the leadership ability to lead Idaho through improvements in education without costing more, achieving an Idaho based solutions to health care challenges, taking care of small business and oh yes tax reform. So he throws out simple solutions to complex challenges and while his tour is supposedly a listening tour he clearly isn’t listening much, he already has the answers, so just elect him.

Unfortunately, rather than provide real specifics, he loves to use gimmicks, such as 44 counties in 44 days or claiming that in the first100 days he’ll find $100 million of pork in the state budget that he’ll cut out. Count on it.

Another gimmick---he promised to disclose his wealth and makes much of demanding other candidates follow suit. Trouble is he’s too cute by half. Instead of truly disclosing how much he is worth or who his partners are in some of his ventures, he released the names of 25 businesses he owns and 29 investments he has. His disclosure was to say they are all worth more than $5000.

Somehow one suspects most Idahoans won’t see that as true transparency. As the AP pointed out, he also did not list his liabilities therefore it is impossible to determine his net worth.

Another gimmick is his trite phrase regarding education reform. He says he will create a “line of sight between Idaho kids and Idaho jobs.” What the heck does that mean? He talks about goals for education, about abolishing the department of education, and says it can be done by spending less money.

He fails to see that part of the problem is Idaho’s system of education is failing to produce enough graduates that have a real work ethic. Ask any job recruiter and they’ll tell you how hard it is to find kids today who know they have to be to work on time and to work hard. He said not a word about how he would instill such a work ethic. And of course he does not support the Common Core initiative---you know, that pesky interference by the Feds to usurp local control and try to measure how well our students will compete with the rest of the world.

He also pitched tax reform at the state level, though Idaho businesses appear fairly comfortable with Idaho’s pretty predictable balancd three-legged stool (income, sales and property taxes). He also conceded that until one knows what will happen with tax reform at the fedeal level it will be difficult to effect state reforms.

While he talked knowledgably about the challenges of health care and its reform (he is after all an m.d.), until asked about the role of the constantly rising costs of pharmaceuticals and the role they play in driving costs, he had not said a word. Reminded by the question he denounced the industry (to his credit) but admitted he had no answer.

Saying he didn’t necessarily have an answer was the most refreshing thing he said for it did show he has an inkling that there are some challenges that don’t have simple solutions.

The biggest challenge for Tommy Ahlquist when all is said and done is he has to overcome his own thinly disguised sense of entitlement to be crowned governor. After all he has invested $300 million in Idaho and the least Idahoans can do to show their apppreciation is to hand the governorship to him. Don’t bet on it, Tommy.

Of mountain goats and burros

carlson

The National Park Service (NPS), one of the few loved and admired federal agencies, is cruising for a black eye. Set aside that nine months into the Trump Administration the President and his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, have yet to name a director for this venerable agency.

Lack of leadership is indeed a problem but the black eye is going to come the Park Service’s way when the public realizes the Park Service has decided the best way to overcome an over-population of mountain goats in Olympic National Park is to start shooting them.

Many Americans have a soft spot for warm and fuzzy animals that look cuddly to them, whether it be mountain goats, wild burros and horses, buffaloes, lynx, wolves or even grizzly bears. Rational thinking goes out the window.

The problem is the goats are consuming too much of the flora and fauna within the park, and are particularly attracted to the salt a person carries around whether it be in the urine discharged next to the trail or the sweat soaked handle of a hiking stick.

Despite their benign look goats can be dangerous also. Attacks on humans are extremely rare but in 2010 a goat gored a 63-year old male severing an artery and then would not allow others to try to assist the hiker who did bleed to death.

The Park Service closed comments on a voluminous Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on September 26, 2017. The document appears to favor darting goats from a helicopter, landing the chopper while the goat is tranquilized and moving them across Puget Sound and releasing them in the similar habitat of the North Cascades. However, the plan also allows the NPS to shoot to kill problem goats or those in difficult terrain.

Part of the justification is the fact that the NPS does not believe the goats are natives. They cite stories pointing to the introduction of 12 goats into the park in the 1920s by a hunting group. By the 1990s the goats had grown into the thousands and an open hunting season drew the goat population down to the more sustainable 300 or so. Last year the population was 623 and has been growing at 8% per year. Thus, the goal is to again reduce the number to 300.

A decision is expected in support of the preferred alternative by spring.

Don’t be surprised though if the fuzzy, furry loving Fund for Animals, founded by Cleveland Amory in the early 1970s, doesn’t file suit and seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) that will suspend the program pending a hearing and possible trial.

In 1979 a similar problem existed in the Grand Canyon National Park and at New Mexico’s Bandolier National Monument. The guilty party though was wild burros which had a penchant for finding native American artifacts such as priceless mixing bowls and then stomping them to bits, as well as munching on most of the native grasses.

Since this was the early days of producing impact statements the Park Service did a fairly cursory one to justify its plans to shoot a number of burros. The Fund for Animals filed suit which temporarily stalled the plans. The Park Service then acted on advice from the then Interior Secretary’s office, that it separate out Bandolier, quickly do another EIS, figuring on it escaping notice, and commence shooting the offending burros in Bandolier.

By the time the Fund for Animals realized what had happened the desired number of burros was achieved. This success in Bandolier stands in marked contrast to the Grand Canyon which still is dealing with the burro problem today.

Americans also love birds, even those that are not endangered. Even pigeons that sully statues and are basically an unclean scavenger have a constituency. I found this out the hard way when as Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus’ press secretary I sanctioned and orchestrated a highly visible reintroduction of peregrine falcons into the nation’s capital.

Nests were set up on the Interior Department Building’s roof and a picture of Secretary Andrus holding a peregrine chick with its mother carefully watching while perched on his shoulder made the front page of the Washington Post.

Peregrines of course feast on pigeons. Instead of letters praising the department for the reintroduction of a bird that would help control the pigeon population my office was inundated by angry letters from the pigeon lovers of the world.

Now it’s the turn of the goat lovers. I hope the Park Service is ready.

Pensees

carlson

Listening to President Trump’s bellicose remarks in the building dedicated to promoting peace throughout the world was one of the more depressing things this manifestly unqualified to be president amateur has done to date.

Engaging in juvenile name-calling demeans the Office of the Presidency and further troubles America’s allies, all of whom wonder just what kind of loose cannon has America unleashed on the world. The president appears to be one of those who never served but think they can send young Americans all over the world to die in conflicts initiated by old men who think they have the testosterone of their younger years.

Nothing is truer about history than the statement that those who do not learn from history and the mistakes made are doomed to repeat those mistakes.

In today’s interconnected world every person’s needless death diminishes further mankind and touches all of us. A nuclear exchange of any kind is too horrible to contemplate so we sequestor it away in a corner of our mind where we can dismiss it totally. Yet this carries real peril with it.

Almost 30 years ago I accompanied then Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus on a trip put together by my public affairs office of the “Trust Territories” out in the Pacific, those hundreds of islands run by the Department of the Interior.

One of the stops during the week long trip was the island of Saipan, in the Marianas, the site of some fierce fighting between American Marines and Japanese Army soldiers. From my hotel room in the modern western hotel built in the 70s to accommodate the numerous Japanese tourists to Saipan, out in the harbor one could still see an American tank stuck on the reef it could not get over during the amphibious assault on the island.

It served to remind folks that wars should not be forgotten, that they wreak pain and suffering not just for the combatants but also for innocent non-combatants. We truly must never forget those who gave the last full measure for their country, but also remember there are often innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire.

Wars understandably also elicit fear on the part of the innocent. A must stop for Japanese tourists on Saipan is the north end of the island, where hundreds of men, women and children threw themselves off the high cliffs rather than suffer the torture, rape and physical abuse their propaganda said they would suffer should they fall into American hands. Fear, easily instilled, is tough to root out.

Both sides engaged in propaganda efforts designed to de-humanize the opposition. For us the “Japs” were devious, slant-eyed, yellow sub-humans who gunned down our fly boys when they were in rafts after their planes were downed. We, however, did the same thing.

History books tend to focus on the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with each bomb killing between 60,000 and 80,000 people. We rationalized using such a weapon of mass destruction on the grounds that it was saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of American military.

Lost in many memories is the fact that American B-29’s, launched from the airbase we created on Saipan, engaged in saturated fire bombing runs that in one night incinerated over 100,000 Japanese. American planes completely razed the city of Sendai, a city the size of Seattle.

In our arrogance we act like we think God will never allow mass destruction like that, but over 50 million people died during World War II. If as a race we’re crazy enough to destroy ourselves, one suspects the Almighty won’t stand in the way of such stupidity.

Another lesson of history is that today’s enemies can be tomorrow’s friend. Witness Japan and Germany.

In the early 60s I met Group Commander Fuchida,who led the air attack on Pearl Harbor and uttered the famous words back to the carriers they’d flown off of “Tora! Tora! Tora!” It meant they had achieved total surprise.

After the war he had become a Christian and was on a speaking tour of the United States sponsored by the American Baptist Convention. He seemed like a pretty normal human being.

In 1982 along with my wife and our four children we spent three weeks in Sendai. The courtesies and kindnesses extended to us were simply incredible. Our son was not yet three so I carried him about in a back carrier. His blond hair and his old felt cowboy hat were simply irresistible to the Japanese, especially women, many of whom asked us to pose for pictures with them. They would touch his hair and say “cowboy, cowboy,” and smile.

Had the Japanese killed a comparable number of American civilians as we killed I had a hard time imagining that we would have reciprocated such hospitality.

Another night I sat down in a bar and was engaged by the owner in a convesation. It turned out that like my father he had been a gunnery officer on a destroyer, and had gone through several of the same battles.

Time had turned these people into friends and it was clear to me that honey on our part towards this one-time adversary worked far better in achieving a lasting peace than did threats, recriminations and things like juvnile name-calling.

One can only wish our president gains this understanding before stupidly leading us into another inhumane and downright insane war.

Alternative repository

carlson

There is an opportunity for any one of the three Republican candidates for Idaho’s governor - Lt. Gov. Brad Little, First District congressman Raul Labrador, or medical doctor and developer Tommy Ahlquist - to show some gutsy leadership skill as well as an understanding that a governor’s role is to solve challenges.

For that matter, the same opportunity exists for either of the possible Democrat gubernatorial nominees, A.J. Balukoff or former State Senator Dan Schmidt.

The issue is that of holding the Department of Energy’s feet to the fire regarding their continuing to adhere to the agreement worked out with former Governor Phil Batt to have removed from Idaho all the various nuclear wastes stored in some form at the Idaho National Laboratory site west of Idaho Fall by 2035.

The Energy Department accepted this part of the Batt agreement because at that time they allegedly believed America would have its National Nuclear Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, up and operating. They badly underestimated the power and skill exercised by the former Senate Majority Leader, Nevada’s senior senator, Harry Reid.

Reid was able to cut off the funding and stop the project dead in its tracks.

The Batt agreement also forbid the importation of additional spent fuel rods recognizing it made little sense to add to a supply of nuclear waste you were supposedly committed to removing down the road.

The implication for many was Idaho would become the de facto repository, keeping all high level wastes on-site while accepting additional spent fuel rods for “research.” Support for this passive acceptence of the status quo quickly became a political litmus test for candidates for statewide office if they wanted support in eastern Idaho.

The reasoning was that keeping waste material on site (other than low-level transuranic wastes which are shipped by rail to salt caverns in New Mexico) would assure continued funding for the site and thus remain an integral ingredient in eastern Idaho’s economy.

Folks in the Idaho Falls Chamber are more than willing to accept the risks of possible contamination of the Snake River Aquifer which could devastate the economy down river in the Twin Falls area.

There is a real possible solution, however, that requires an ability to look over the horizon and recognize what is best for Idaho is removal of all the waste material despite the short-sighted bias of the IF Chamber.

The operating asssumption for several years has been there is no alternative repository with the demise of Yucca Mountain.

Wrong. There will be a fully certified operating nuclear waste repository capable of accepting nuclear waste as early as 2024 known as Onkalo on an island off the coast of western Finland. It has under construction for years, but is nearing completion and is being built by a Finnish company called Posiva.

Presumably Finland would negotiate agreements with the United States, the European Union, Japan and other countries which have nuclear energy facilities but are storing spent fuel rods on site. To prod the process along a governor and a state attorney general could conceivably open its own negotiations.

The point is there is a viable solution. Any or all of the major candidates can and should get on a plane and go see for themselves what the Finns have accomplished that no one else has been able to do.

They’ll see an entrance bored into near seamless bedrock, called gneiss, that is geologically stable and water resistant.

It drops 1500 feet down and then has a series of tunnels that run for miles with storage chambers where spent fuel rods are encased in cast-iron canisters further encased in two inch thick copper which is extremely resistant to corrosion. The chambers and access tunnels will then be backfilld with bentonite clay, which also absorbs moisture.

Here’s hoping all the candidates for governor visit Finland and see for themselves the potential viable solution to an issue that has vexed Idaho for years, but now just may be on the threshold of a real solution for which future Idahoans will be most grateful.

Without Carol Andrus

carlson

Without Carol Andrus there never would have been a Cecil Andrus.

Amidst all the well deserved accolades for the good, great former four-term governor her role in his success understandably gets overlooked, but it shouldn’t. The Latin phrase “sine qua non” is appropriate. It means “without which there is nothing” and without Carol it is doubtful he would have achieved as much as he did.

Few outside of the immediate family realized how much Cece respected her political instincts, used her as a sounding board, and often listened as she had the last word. She too had multiple roles to handle from the formal duties of being the First Spouse to being a mother to their children, protecting their zone of privacy and fighting for family time.

At times being a political spouse must have been draining to say the least, especially when one values their privacy yet knows that an adoring public expects to know everything and anything about a governor.

I started off on the wrong foot with Carol and ran smack dab into the “Mama Bear” role. It was the winter of 1969 and I was the rookie political reporter at the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello. I’d begun writing a weekly political column and the key question then was would State Senator Cecil Andrus try again to make a run for governor. If so he would have to win a contested primary.

Without thinking one day I threw into one of those “bits and pieces” columns an item that State Senator Andrus might have a special in with students at Idaho State because Andrus’ oldest daughter, Tana,was dating the ISU student body president. My bad and big mistake.

The next thing I knew I was on the phone with an angry Carol Andrus who explained in no uncertain terms that unless a family member was actually out campaigning for the candidate they were off limits and their right to privacy was to be respected. She was correct and I was wrong and I had the good sense to apologize.

Fast forward to December of 1972 with Cece now being governor. He comes to the breakfast table one morning where Carol is reading the Idaho Statesman. She looks at him with those penetrating eyes and coldly states “I see where I have to read in the paper that you’ve hired Chris Carlson as your press secretary.” Cece acknowledged the obvious and wisely let the subject drop.

It took a couple of years and a long car drive from north Idaho back to Boise during the 1974 campaign in which just the two of us were in the car and we discussed many subjects. I gained an invaluable insight into the multiple roles demanded of Carol and had a new respect for how well she handled all of them.

Another key role for political spouses is to keep the politician’s ego in check. Carol was a master of the well-timed put down. The classic example came early in Cece’s first term as governor. He and Carol were fishing for steelhead on the Clearwater. Cece gave her a few pointers and fairly quickly Carol pulled in a couple of nice fish. Cece still had not landed anything so in a bit of role reversal Carol suggested a couple of pointers.

Naturally, Cece didn’t like the role reversal and the teacher didn’t like the student offering suggestions, so he got a little huffy. Carol looked at him and then struck right to the heart, saying, “well why don’t you just throw a few of your business cards overboard and let the fish know who is up here!” Ouch.

Carol was particularly good at protecting family time and keeping matters private that she felt should be private while still accommodating public interest. The most recent example was the decision by the family for a private funeral church service and a private internment balanced off with a public memorial service at Boise State and the lying in state ceremony at the State Capitol.

Cece had some exceptionally competent administrative assistants over the years - Zuriel Brown, Billie Jeppsen, Clareene Wharry. The common denominator was all three knew the importance of consulting with Carol on the governor’s schedule. Furthermore, they knew they were to assist in preserving Cece’s family time, especially time at their get away cabin on Cascade Reservoir.

I couldn’t help admiring how well Carol composed herself and carried with her usual grace and aplomb the last public role Carol was called to fulfill in late August. Obviously tired she nonetheless displayed steadfast stoicism while comforting grief-stricken daughters and the extended family.

Cece and Carol were married for 68 years. Their devotion to each other and her willingness to share him with the demands of politics was clearly a key to his success.

I invite all those who admired and respected Cecil Andrus to join me in a heartfelt thanks to Carol Andrus for sharing, nurturing, protecting, humbling Cece when needed, and throughout their 68 years loving him as only a spouse can.

Without Carol Andrus there never would have been a Cecil Andrus.

Will they send a message?

carlson

President Donald Trump continues to play a form of Russian Roulette virtually unseen since the nation’s founding. In the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., he continues to reinvent the rules seemingly with little forethought and leaves confusion, anger and anguish in his path.

Each day the 24 hour news cycle is all about Trump all the time and his latest tweets, which jump all over the map, portray a man who can flip flop in a nano-second and thinks nothing of lying. His ego seems to need insatiable feeding all day every day.

His strategy appears to be always playing to his hard core base in the belief that other Republicans will jump into the primaries for the 2020 presidential race and again will be unable to coalesce under one challenger. Thus, with a mere plurality, he will win again the Republican nomination.

That assumes he will not have been impeached and removed for his erratic and dangerous game of providing constant entertainment to the media and his base. Unfortunately, his fumblings and bumbles in foreign affairs could have real catastrophic consequences that lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Some speculate the House has not approved impeachment charges and then asked the Senate to conduct the trial because there is little stomach for tearing the nation apart. Additionally, insiders have a great deal of confidence in the three US Marine Corps generals who surround POTUS: General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense; General John Kelly, the chief of staff and General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

This triumvirate of generals, along with the vice president, and a majority of the cabinet can in fact under the 25th amendment remove a president if he becomes deranged. The Congress does not have to concur.

The voters can of course send their own message in November of 2018 by voting for the Democratic or the Independent candidate running for Congress against a Republican incumbent.. In modern times the mid-term elections usually see the party of the president lose about 11 seats.

There have been, however, some tidal wave elections in which the electorate cleans out and cleans up a mess. Good examples are the New Deal in 1934, the post WW II 1946 election, the lanslide election of LBJ in 1964, and, the Gingrich Revolution of 1994.

Members of Congress go to great lengths to keep their seats and further rig the system through shrewd gerrymndering of district boundaries. Are you surprised that after each election nine times out of ten the incumbent wins?

The key to the casting of an informed ballot is most often one taking the time to read about the issues and knowing where one’s member stands. Too often one has to cut though a great deal of baloney before they can start to ascertain the congressman’s real views.

For the system to work best though it is incumbent upon the minority party to put up viable candidates for office and to provide decent party support to the viable candidate. One need look no further than the congressional district immediately to the west of north Idaho, the 5th District in the state of Washington, currently represented by Cathy Mc-Morris­-Rodgers.

Two weeks ago former State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, announced her candidacy to replace McMorris-Rodgers. A former professor of economics at Eastern Waashington University and the former head of the WSU-Spokane campus, Brown is a shrewd, canny political veteran and should give the incumbemt a competitive challenge.

If there is an anti-Trump tide Spokane Democrats have come up with a more than qualified challenger, a political veteran who can do a decent job of representing their interests.

Look now by contrast at Idaho’s First Congressional District, an open seat now that Rep. Raul Labrador has decided to run for governor. So far three have announced their candidacy - all Republicans. They are former attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy, the presumed front-runner, former State Senator Russ Fulcher from Canyon County, and State Rep. Luke Malek, from Kootenai County.

On Labor Day at the annual North Idaho Labor Rally and Picnic in Post Falls I asked one of the region’s top labor leaders, Brad Cedarbloom, if he was aware of any potential Democratic candidate for the seat. He said he was not aware of anyone.

There is an old politicl saying that applies: “You have to have somebody to beat somebody.”

Voters even in Idaho may want to send a message of dismay to D.C. in November of 2018, but won’t have the opportunity. Voters in the state of Washington’s 5th district, by contrast will be able to send a message.

Will they?

So long, Cece

carlson

When Cecil Andrus first ran for governor in 1966, his campaign manager was Leo Krulitz, a brilliant young attorney from Mullan, a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law. He came up with what he thought would be the winning slogan: Cecil Andrus for Governor—“My kind of man.”

In today’s politically correct world Krulitz would probably come up with something else. The slogan did not resonate with the electorate even back then. Andrus lost the 1966 election not once, but twice.

In saying so long to the longest-serving, most successful, progressive governor in Idaho history it is important to understand the man behind the public figure.

Andrus was an extraordinary person who filled the multiple roles required with grace, character, elan and panache.

He genuinely liked people, and had a photographic memory for people’s names. If he met a person once then did not see them for years he would still instantly recall their name.

Despite his phenomenal political success he was at heart a humble man. “I put my pants on one leg at a time just like every other man,” he would state. He always drove his own car, and eschewed security details. He never was one to brag, either. He let success speak for itself.

He had a great sense of humor and took pleasure in telling self-deprecating stories. While speaking he once was rubbing his hand across his balding head saying that “grass doesn’t grow on a busy street,” A voice from the rear of the audience loudly piped up saying “neither does it grow on a rock.”

He was a natural teacher who always took time to explain the teaching moment whether it involved kneeling down to look a youngster seeking an autograph in the eye or underscoring a life-lesson in a matter troubling an aide. He cared about the person regardless of who or their station in life.

He was a religious man, but didn’t wear it on his sleeve. He let his actions, his compassion, his caring speak for his adherence to the Gospel values. He participated in a monthly Bible group for years that few knew about.

Largely self-educated few knew he was a prodigious reader.

He was a devoted father who loved his daughters and knew the best thing a man could do for his children was to love and respect their mother. Like most dads he was a soft touch for his girls but he always had time for them to offer advice and counsel when asked.

He loved to hunt and fly fish in Idaho’s great out-of-doors. A hold-over from his own hard-scrabble youth was a sense of the need to fill the freezer each fall with the deer and elk he shot, the ducks, geese and pheasants he brought home. He ate what he killed and was a genuine conservationist.

Because he loved hunting he kept and trained a hunting dog which always became a devoted companion that he and Carol would walk in the Boise foothills. His current bird dog, Maisy, was next to him when he died.

He wasn’t afraid to show emotion and shed tears in front of others. Once, while visiting him at his home I walked into the living room quietly only to see him sitting in his recliner with big tears rolling down his cheeks as he was watching the tv. A Fish and Game ad he’d done several years earlier was running and the video was of him and the hunting dog he had then and deeply missed.

He understood the importance of one taking responsibility for his actions, of not being afraid to admit a rare mistake now and then. He never pretended to be perfect. Like the “gyppo logger” and saw mill operator he was before being elected to the Idaho Senate and entering the industrial insurance business, he could get angry. Those who lied to him never had a second chance, and the only times I ever saw his eyes flash and thought he was about to punch someone was when his integrity was questioned.

In this monochromatic world where society seems to be striving to homogenize everyone and minimize gender differences, he stood out as an authentic man—a real man’s man. He stood on life’s stage as a giant, often surrounded by pygmies. It is doubtful Idaho will ever see the likes of him again.

Krulitz had it correct, after all. Cecil Andrus is and was my kind of man, your kind of man and Idaho’s man for all seasons and all reasons. His trail ride is over but it was one heck’uv a ride. I will always believe he could have been president if he had wanted to be. He loved his family and Idaho too much to put them through the rigors of that pursuit. He will long live on in our hearts and in the many legacies he left us.

As he rides off into history you can almost hear him saying “I’ve been rode hard and put up wet a few too many times” but it was my honor to serve the people of Idaho.

Rest in peace, Cece.

What little people can do

carlson

His name was Eddie Gaedel. He is the answer to one of baseball’s great trvia questions: Who is the only major league baseball player to retire with a 1.000 on-base percentage? The answer is Eddie Gaedel.

An even tougher trivia question is who then replaced Eddie as a pinch runner following the walk Eddie drew? The answer is Jim Delsing.

This past August 19 was the 66th anniversary of the most famous walk in all of baseball history. Yet it reinforces one of the great features that seperates baseball from other professsional sports such as football and hockey - one doesn’t have to be a big man to play the game.

One of baseball’s creative owners, a salesman and marketeer named Bill Veeck, owned the St. Louis Browns who in the summer of 1951 were mired in last place in the American League. It was also the 50th birthday of the American League’s founding. The challenge for Veeck was to draw a crowd for his last place team was also last in attendence.

Veeck did the usual, offering free beer for the adults and free ice cream and hot dogs for the kids. However, he also had a surprise for the fans - during the break between the first and second games of this Sunday doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers he had a seven foot high birthday cake carried onto the field.

Some fans undoubtedly expected to see a scantily clad and sexy looking female pop out but instead out popped Eddie Gaedel, all 3’7” of him. He was wearing a Brown’s uniform, but the Detroit team thought little about it until the Brown’s manager brought his line-up card to home plate to present to the umpires with Gaedel pencilled in as a pinch-hitter for the lead-off hitter.

The manager also had a valid major league contract properly prepared and signed, so the umpires decided the game had to go on with the first “little person” (some reporters and writers use the politically incorrect term of dwarf or midget) to appear coming to the plate.

Veeck instructed Gaedel not to swing at anything, but instead to hunch over creating a strike zone of about 1 and ½ inches. Detroit pitcher Bob Cain started laughing so hard there was no way he could throw a strike.

Four straight high and outside pitches and Eddie Gaedel walked to first and into baseball history. The ensuing uproar only served to cement his immortality and the reputation of Veech. Two days later the American League president, Will Harridge, voided Gaedel’s contract which called for him to be paid $15,400. In 1951 that was a decent salary for a major leaguer.

Three years later Veeck sold the Browns who promptly relocated to Baltimore to become the Orioles.

Gaedel was no fool and in years to come capitalized on his notoriety through appearances wth the Barnum & Bailey Circus as well as playing the role of Buster Brown in their shoe ads.

In later life he faced challenges due to his notoriety, developed a chip on his shoulder and became combative and aggressive especially when he drank. Despite his dimnutive size he’d take on average sized adults.

On June 18th, 1961 his life came to an end the result of a beating he received outside a Chicago bar. Having been born in Chicago of Lithuanian heritage on June 8th, 1925 he was only 36 years old. He is interred in the St. Mary Cemetery and Mausoleum in Cook County, Illinois.

The only person from baseball who attended his funeral was the pitcher who had walked him that famous day in baseball history, Bob Cain.

Gaedel’s memory lives on in part because of the ingenius marketing and p.r. skills of a retired Kamiah attorney, Tom Keefe. The son of a Seattle judge, the former administrative assistant to the legendary Washington Senator Warren Magnuson , a former deputy mayor of Seattle, Keefe is married to Joann Kaufman, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, and the owner of a phenomenally successful Native American Health Care consulting business.

Keefe is the founder of Club #1 of the Eddie Gaedel Society. For seven years now he hosts a celebration at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub in downtown Spokane around the famous date.

The club is growing exponentially because everyone loves stories of underdogs and the exploits of the “little people” around us. Keefe can be reached at the offices of Kaufman & Associates in Spokane. Call him and join the society.

The wisdom and the history

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On occasion there are quirks of history one should pay attention to because they are accurate predictors of the future even in the face of conventional wisdom. For example, virtually every political pundit in Idaho takes it as a given that whoever wins the Republican gubernatorial primary next May is a lock to become Idaho’s governor in January 2019.

Probably so, but maybe not. There is an historical factoid that says otherwise. In modern times the Idaho governorship has changed party hands every 24 years twice in a row. In 1946, C.A. “Doc” Robins, a state senator from Benewah County and a medical doctor, defeated incumbent Democrat governor Arnold Williams. This began a string of Republican governors in Idaho for 24 years.

The string ended in 1970 when the Democrat state senator from Nez Perce County, Cecil Andrus, defeated incumbent Don Samuelson. This began another string of 24 years in which Andrus and his successor, John Evans, a former state senator from Oneida County, held the governorship.

In 1994, with the victory of Republican Phil Batt, a former state senator from Canyon County, the governor’s chair again changed hands after 24 years. If history is an accurate guide this should tell the pundits two things: Idaho’s next governor will be a Democrat and a former state senator.

There’s the rub one might say. There is no such politician on the horizon. Au contraire. There is a former Democrat state senator from Latah County, Dan Schmidt, who also is a medical doctor, and is reportedly seriously considering entering the gubernatorial race.

On the basis of history alone Democrats should encourage him to run. Set aside the fact that he is extremely competent and established a reputation for doing his homework and was especially knowledgable on health care issues during his six years in the Legislature. He knows the issues and he knows the state.

He also reportedly believes a contested race for governor among Democrats will keep Democrats home and minimize the tendency of some to register as Republicans for the primary because of the mistaken belief that is where the action will be and will determine who the next governor is.

Reliable sources report Schmidt has already talked to A. J. Balukoff, the Boise businessman and the Democrat’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014 who spent $3.5 million of his own money in a losing race to incumbent Governor C.L.”Butch” Otter. Balukoff is set to announce he is again seeking the office in early October. Schmidt may surprise and announce his candidacy in September.

Of all the candidates running for governor Schmidt willl have the least resources. He is not personally wealthy like Balukoff or Republicans Tommy Ahlquist or Lt. Gov.Brad Little. Nor does he have a government job like Rep. Raul Labrador that pays him while he is seeking another office.

None of them will outwork him and he believes the fact that he is not trying to start at the top and buy the office will work to his advantage. He also believes Republicans will nominate First District Congressman Labrador as their nominee. He sees Labrador as far and away the most conservative of the Republicans, but thinks many in the GOP are tired of Tea Party conservatives and some of the extreme views they hold.

He reportedly believes he can capture these disenfranchised Republicans and that he will also be more attractive to independents than will Balukoff. Furthermore, Schmidt reportedly says one should not underestimate the ability of Labrador to show his lack ocompassion for the needy, the homeless and those he would kick off medicaid.

In other words Schmidt thinks the Democratic nomination for governor is well worth purusing because Labrador is quite capable of losing the race. Is history on Dan Schmidt’s side? Time will tell but it just might be.

Looking to the future

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It was a small news item and it escaped public notice which is a shame because it speaks volumns about the fundamental basic intelligence of America’s body politic.

The item was a report on Maine Senator Susan Collins’ return home for the August recess following her vote against repeal of the “ObamaCare” health plan without anything to replace it. As she deplaned the commercial airliner she had flown into Bangor, Maine, there was a good sized crowd stacked up waiting to board the plane.

Almost instantly, Collins was recognized and as she walked into the terminal and down a causeway spontaneously every one stood and applauded the Senator as an expression of appreciation for her courage. For any political officeholder it doesn’t get better than that.

Senator Collins along with Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, who also cast a courageous no vote, are just two of the women reshaping the Senate and their respective political parties. On both sides of the aisle women are showing men what leadership is about.

Most people are familiar with old cliches like “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Such condescending statements reflect shallow thinking about a woman’s influence being exercised behind the scenes. It may have had some validity 70 years ago but it sure as heck isn’t true today.

It is safe to say that the future of the Democratic party, as well as the Republican, rests in the hands of the increasingly talented pool of women governors, congressional representatives and senators. In the not too distant future one may see a woman as the presidential candidate of each party.

Idaho holds a unique place in American political history as the first state in the nation where each party’s standard bearer in a race for a congressional seat was a female. The year was 1956. The incumbent in the First Congressional District was Gracie Pfost, a Democrat and a former Canyon County official. The challenger was Louise Shadduck, a former journalist, the state’s first female chief of staff for a governor, and the first head of a cabinet agency, the Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

Despite Dwight D. Eisenhower winning a second term easily, he proved not to have any coattails in Idaho. Shadduck lost, but many pegged her to become Idaho’s first female governor or U.S. senator. However, while remaining politically active she never sought office again. The glass ceiling for those two offices remains unbroken.

It is almost too obvious to say that the future of both political parties is tied to which one does the best job of addressing issues the woman voter determines to be most important. Their agenda is more practical and less ideological.

According to many national polls, women voters care most about economic issues and health care matters. Regardless of party, women voters strongly support “equal pay for equal work.” Access to affordable health care is another critical issue which more and more is seen as a fundamental right, not a function of privilege and income, and access to higher education without incurring crippling debt brought on by too easily obtained stuent loans.

Women are more attuned than men to the homeless issue, the opiod crisis, and the lack of enforcement of laws against spousal abuse and child abuse.

Each party caucus in the Senate has some outstanding veteran female legislators as well as some rising stars who bear watching. On the Democratic side Caucus chair Patty Murray from the state of Washington is a classic “work horse” who gets things done. Noted for her common sense, excellent staff, and an ability to work across the aisle, she could emerge as a future majority leader.

Many thought with the retirement of Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Murray might challenge New York Senator Charles Schumer for the minority leader post. Murray, however, recognized that minority leader was a thankless job with little upside and wisely took a minor position while biding her time. She enjoys broad support among all the female senators and counts Senator Murkowski as a real friend.

Murray incidentally has constantly ben underestimated over the years. She holds the Sente record for having defeated the most members of the House in her re-elections---having defeated five.

Looking down the road it is easy to see that the rising stars in both parties, and the key to whether they can expand their base by attracting more of their gender, rests in the hands of new, young and energetic senators like California’s Kamela Harris on the Democratic side and Joni Ernst on the Republican side. Keep your eye on them.