The poll in this week’s Idaho Politics Weekly takes on the question of Idahoans views on the “ag-gag” law. That law was passed in 2014 in overwhelming votes by the Idaho Legislature, with few Republicans (and many of the Democrats) voting against. That would seem to indicate legislators, in general, felt they were representing constituent viewpoints in supporting the measure. But that doesn’t comport well with the reports in the IPW poll, which asked whether Idahoans agreed with Federal Judge Lynn Winmill’s decision killing the law as unconstitutional. “Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds that 53 percent of Idahoans support the judge’s ruling, 32 percent oppose it, and 16 percent don’t know. Jones polled 508 adults from Aug. 20-31; the survey having a margin of error of plus or minus 4.35 percent.” Not only that, Jones said, “Republicans agree with the striking down of the law, 47-35 percent with 17 percent “don’t know.”” Just how closely do Idaho legislators represent the public? A review of previous IPW polls, among other things, seems in order. – rsShare on Facebook
This should come as common sense, but it helps make some sense of things. Pew Research, which is as close as we get to a gold standard among pollsters, has some new data about presidential politics and immigration, among other things. Its numbers show that, in the Republican contest, Donald Trump remains in a strong lead (about 25%) over Ben Carson (about 16%) and others far behind. Still no significant change there. Pew also asked questions about several specific issues, including immigration, and among other things emerged with this: “Eighty-four percent of those who favor mass deportation say immigration is the most important issue in the 2016 election, while only 44 percent of respondents who do not favor deportation say immigration is their top priority.” That fits: The most extreme response matches with the people who are most emotionally invested in it. – rsShare on Facebook
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin has been wrong about a number of things related to this week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College at Roseburg, but one general impulse he got at least sort of right was downplaying the shooter’s name. He got wrong the matter of releasing it at all: We needed to have that much. But news editors might bear in mind the problem of glorifying these guys. The tangled strands of motivation behind their horrific acts may be tough to work out perfectly, but one that can usually be found somewhere in there is a place for fame and immortality: A thing wanted badly by the ignored and lonely. That certainly seems the case with the Umpqua shooter (who will not be named here). He apparently spent a good deal of time studying past shooters, and an online posting found by the site Gawker, which appears to have been written by the shooter, said: “I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more your’re in the limelight.” Not that it’s a solve-all, but giving these people less personal attention, running their names in less visible ways and pictures sparingly and in an low-key way, might be the right thing to do – as a pushback and out of relative respect for the people who died. – rsShare on Facebook
Yesterday, for me, mass shootings in America got personal.
A year ago my sister, who had been teaching geology in the Portland area, was hired as an assistant professor, teaching geology, at Umpqua Community College at Roseburg. She’s had an enjoyable year there and was beginning on a second yesterday afternoon, teaching a class as usual, when a student came into the classroom saying a shooter was killing people in the building next door.
Karen and her students were lucky enough to get out uninjured, but the 10 people who were killed and seven more injured were less fortunate. Umpqua, and Roseburg (a town of about 20,000 people), is in shock.
These shootings are getting personal for more and more people. The FBI reports that the number of mass shootings so far this year in America are coming at a rate of more than one a day.
So take care. If we don’t at some point try to get a handle on this, a mass shooting coming soon down the road may get personal for you. – rs
A quote Thursday from President Barack Obama: “And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations – because I won’t put these facts forward – have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”
The website Vox did what Obama suggested, and came up with this.Share on Facebook
In his New York Times column today Nicholas Kristof talks about global poverty, which isn’t a new subject for him – but the angle is, and it surprises me, and probably will surprise you. What I thought I knew, at least in the back of my head, about global poverty is that it’s always there, we’re stuck with it, it’s more or less insoluble; we can try and do good deeds here and there, but they really on scratch the surface. Surveys say most Americans think it’s worse than that, that global poverty is on the rise. But is that true? Kristoff looks at the best available studies and finds that the portion of the globe’s population enduring “extreme poverty” did rise through the middle of the last century but then plateaued and since has dropped from 35% in 1993 to 14% in 2011. Worldwide, the number of children who die by the end of five has fallen by more than half. Among other conclusions, Kristoff writes that “Cynics argue that saving lives is pointless, because the result is overpopulation that leads more to starve. Not true. Part of this wave of progress is a stunning drop in birthrates.” Hopelessness is overrated. – rs (photo/Poverties.org)Share on Facebook
Tomorrow marijuana sales go legal in Oregon, and the location will be medical dispensary businesses licensed to sell to recreationalists as well. As it goes commercial, commercial labeling takes hold too. Here (from the official state list) are some favorite pot seller business names from around the state:
High Winds Cannabis, Hood River
bud4u, Mapleton and Florence
Pipe Dreams, Lincoln City
Meg’s Marijuana, Springfield
Peace Love & Cannabis, Salem
Plane Jane’s LLC, Portland
Cannabliss And Co., Eugene and Portland
The Grass Shack, Portland
Stoney Brothers LLC, Portland
Happy Leaf, Portland
Coastal Cannabinoids, Waldport
Too bad George Carlin isn’t around to see this.
The 203 recreational stores (another 80 are medical only) range from the California to Washington borders, and some are scattered on the coast. As for what’s easternmost, that would be one of the stores in Bend or Madras. – rsShare on Facebook
The first Daily Show of the Trevor Noah era probably pleased most watchers from the Jon Stewart era: Noah seemed up to the job, and the show seemed not to have lost its steam from the last months of Stewart’s run. I’d been concerned, because up to this point we haven’t been getting the better part of the deal from the transitions this year at late night Comedy Central. When Stephen Colbert left his Report at the end of last year, he was replaced in the slot by Larry Wilmore, whose show was a little less kinetic and seemed less essential viewing, though it has been getting steadily stronger over the months. Colbert’s new CBS show is totally professional but scattered, unfocused, with a host much more concerned about being liked than he used to be; he’s lost edge, and his material and interviews are less arresting. Noah, though, showed signs of bringing some of Colbert’s edge back – his capabilities seem closer in fact to Colbert than they do to Stewart. There’s serious potential here: After all the second-guessing, Noah may turn out to be an excellent choice for the program. – rsShare on Facebook
Oregon legislative days for this month are cranking in, with what’s looking like a preview of the regular session in February. What’s on deck? The loud protests calling for a statewide raise in the minimum wage (which otherwise isn’t slated to be raised this cycle) are getting top attention, and seem to be the leading Democratic issue. Representative Brian Clem had a useful comment about it, though: “Inside the building, the noise will probably be about minimum wage. I see it as rural versus urban — can we have one statewide minimum wage policy?” Or put another way, is there a way to separate it out? Other hot topics mentioned more by Republicans are led by PERS – which will be a big budget topic in the next biennium – and transport funding. Whatever else, the next session is likely to be devoted to very practical matters. – rsShare on Facebook
The uproar over refugees – as reflected in the Middle East, across Europe, and in the speeches of the Pope as he traveled across the United States – has reached a new level in its emotion and sweep.
But refugees are not new. Not even in Idaho.
And the prospect of taking in refugees wasn’t really controversial, not for a very long time, and refugees (most notably Afghan refugees, but others too) often got notable support from conservatives.
The Idaho state Indochinese Refugee Assistance Program was launched in the mid-70s when refugees fled Southeast Asia, fleeing the then-ascendant Communist regimes in the area as the Vietnam conflict wound down. Eastern European refugees, from stressed counties in that region, became more prominent in the refugee stream in the 80s.
In the 90s, the refugee office noted, “Idaho resettled over 5,000 refugees, more than half of which were from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Civil war, ethnic cleansing and unchecked violence forced millions of Bosnians to flee their homeland, and the subsequent impossibility of return for many led to a major resettlement effort by the U.S. The other half of the refugees arriving in the 1990s originated from other European countries, Africa, East Asia, the Near East, Central Asia and the Caribbean.” That pace continued into the 2000s. In 2012, the office said, “686 refugees and special immigrants arrived in Idaho from 20 different countries.”
None of this occasioned any great controversy.
In Idaho most refugees’ services, and so many of the refugees themselves, have been based in Boise. Twin Falls, through the College of Southern Idaho refugee center, has been the secondary hub, and by far the hottest debate in Idaho has been centered there.
Last week more than 700 people packed a community forum at Twin Falls about the local refugee program; it even drew Larry Bartlett, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office on Refugee Admissions. Much of the discussion was supportive, but some of it was not. About halfway through a speaker joked that there were a few empty seats in the room “we’d like to fill with refugees.” The Twin Falls Times News reported that then “a group of people wearing black T-shirts with the logo of the Three Percenters on them left,” and one man shouted out, “This is propaganda.”
In Twin Falls right now, there is no hotter topic.
Some of it may have been sparked by news that Syrians may be among the refugees coming to the Magic Valley. But so what? People from around the globe have come to the area for years.
One speaker said, “A word we’ve heard over and over again this summer is ‘sharia.’ And I think a lot of people are worried about refugees bringing values to this community that don’t jibe with traditional southern Idaho values. . . . Why should Twin Falls take in people that might not necessarily share the values that are traditionally here and have been practiced here for years and years?”
That same question could have been asked in the 70s, when Idaho took in refugees from far away. Or in the 80s, or 90s. But, in the main, it was not. Idahoans were far more confident in themselves then. Why are so many so frightened now?Share on Facebook
The biggest news in Idaho last week was the determination by the federal Department of Interior that sage grouse would not be declared as endangered, in large part because of actions the states have taken where the grouse are extent. Some changes in federal environmental rules, reflecting the state activities, were put in place. A number of western governors cheered the development. Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter was not one of them. He, in fact, was displeased enough to file a lawsuit over the federal decision. Was this simply a matter of Obama Administration enthusiasts banding together for a big new federal rule? Before you conclude so, consider this statement from Oregon state Representative Cliff Benz, a Republican who represents a massive area on the east side of his state facing the Idaho border:
The decision not to list the Grouse under the ESA means that protection of the bird on private, and to a certain extent, federal land in Eastern Oregon will be regulated by Salem and not Washington, D. C. This means that when a land owner wants to change the use of his or her land, in a way that might affect core grouse habitat, they will be able to address the issue with Oregon, and not federal, people. Although change of regulation or arguing about the application of rules at the state level is difficult, it is not impossible. Changing regulations at the federal level is extraordinarily difficult and expensive, so avoiding a listing under the ESA and the massive wall of federal regulations that would have accompanied the listing, is a huge victory for Oregon.
Said Rep. Bentz (R-Ontario): “It is impossible to thank all of those who worked so hard for this hugely positive result, but I want to specifically thank Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Vice President John O’Keeffe, Drewsey rancher Carol Dunten, and from the Governor’s office, Richard Whitman, (Senior Natural Resources Advisor), for the enormous amount of work, and time, and in many cases, unbelievable patience they devoted to the effort.”
(photo/Jeannie Stafford, US Fish & Wildlife Service)Share on Facebook
In writing about House Speaker John Boehner’s announced resignation, the Washington Post noted that he has been “faced with a constant conservative rebellion” – true (allowing for whether “conservative” is the right descriptor), and it has been true most of the time he has had the job. Boehner’s fellow Republicans have been far more headachy for him than the House Democrats. The Democrats have been opposition but operate by normal rules Boehner would have been accustomed to. The Republican insurgents – a better descriptor, since “conservative” really doesn’t work here – have thrown out the rule book, and many are content to be simply destructive, not least of the country itself. Too many of those insurgents and (especially) the insurgent forces back home constitute a mindless whirlwind – and if that sounds like simply a partisan blast, consider the analysis of what impact Boehner’s resignation may have on the prospective government shutdown. You might on the surface imagine that it would make a shutdown more likely, since one of the main opponents to that will be going away. Not so: The resignation is figured to reduce chances of a shutdown, because a new fight for the speakership will be coming, and that battle may be enough to draw the attention of the insurgents, diminishing interest in a shutdown. This is government by follow-the-bright-shiny-object. It is a madness. – rsShare on Facebook
Probably I would have guessed Idaho state Senator Marv Hagedorn would have signed up with one of the Republican presidential candidates deemed more rigorously conservative, so his appointment as co-chair of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s campaign for Idaho comes as a little surprise. Still, Kasich worked on the federal balanced budget back in the 90s so that wins him some points (and figures large in Hagedorn’s own statement about his choice). It also underscores how few of the national Republican contenders have an Idaho champion. Aside from Kasich, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has Representative Raul Labrador as an Idaho leader, but that’s about all. Trump? Carson? Fiorina? Bush? Cruz? The rest? Nothing much yet. Is it a matter of leading Idaho Republicans not really having a favorite, or being uneasy about joining a campaign that might not go the distance? – rs (photo/Michael Vadon)Share on Facebook