Yes, this is still Ridenbaugh Press, and the stuff that’s been here is still here – including all our posts going back to 2005. We’ll be making some substantive additions in the weeks and months to come, but the change you’re seeing today is mainly cosmetic.

We’ve used the same basic design for more than five years, so it was past time for something new. As it happens, Google gave us to the push. One of the big pieces of recent news this season for people running web sites is that Google is ratcheting down in its search rankings any web site that isn’t “responsive” to a range of viewers – not just desktop or notebook computers but smart phones, tablets and so forth. The old design was not “responsive,” and making it so (while keeping it generally the same) would have been a complex and messy operation. So we decided to start fresh.

And according to Google’s own web tool, ridenbaugh.com now is fully responsive. (Try it out on other sites; you may find the results interesting.)

What you see here today is what we’ve done after spending a couple of hours tweaking the core design (it should be more complete within three or four days), which is called Ignite. The simplicity of it, and its emphasis on the word and on typography, were appealing. But let us know what you think.

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We’ll see how this goes … but the plan is to start posting podcasts here from time to time. We’re trying out a service called Spreaker.com, and if it works well our hope is to start including here the voices of a number of people, most (not necessarily all) associated with Ridenbaugh Press.

This first is really just a tester; don’t judge it too harshly. Keep watch and we should be back with more, and better soon.

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The Idaho Press Tribune in Nampa has become the third newspaper home, starting today, of our weekly Idaho column.

Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook has up a piece describing the column and my background in Canyon County.

A bit more about the background:

In 1976, Canyon County had two newspapers, the Nampa Idaho Free Press and the Caldwell News-Tribune, jointly owned and with the larger share of the operations (and the press) in Nampa. At the time I was on summer break from the University of Idaho, and stopped by at Caldwell with a story proposal, which I dropped off. The story wasn’t accepted (for good reason – it was out of date), but the editor called me in for an interview, and hired me. I stayed there about a year and three-quarters.

It was a good experience. The Caldwell office was in effect a substantial bureau, but staffed lightly enough that everyone has a hand in reporting all sorts of things. My main area was the Canyon County courthouse and the local school district, but I worked on police and courts reporting (picking up court records was part of the daily routine) and whatever else needed to be done.

By comparison with just a few years later, it was low tech. Computers hadn’t quite arrived (they would before long, but after I left), so I was among the last cadre of journalists still to work on manual typewriters and edit stories by gluing the parts of them together.

Another era. But one full of lessons nonetheless.

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A quick note: A Randy Stapilus column on Idaho politics starts running on Mondays, effective tomorrow, in the Twin Falls Times News.

And, in a nice piece of geographic pairing, I’ll be on KLIX-AM radio in Twin Falls, at 8:20 am Monday (Mountain Times). That’s just this Monday, that is.

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This site has opted not to be among those striking in protest over the SOPA and PIPA measures in Congress; we chose to explain our view here instead. But we do strongly support the effort, and agree that those two measures – billed as anti-piracy but carrying a prospective reach much broader and much more dangerous – must be stopped.

Some of the leading figures in working to stop these measures do come from the Northwest, including Senators Ron Wyden – one of the first to stand up on it, bring national visibility to it, and the prime backer of a filibuster-if-necessary – and Maria Cantwell. Most members of the Northwest delegation haven’t yet made a clear statement of support or opposition to the bills. A request from here: Urge them to oppose the bills, and soon.

A good but simple introduction to the problems involved is available. The strike’s page is online (at last check).

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Thanks to John Runft, for offering in a comment the opportunity to address a few items – widely various, but still – worth noting all at once.

His comment, first, came in response to a post by blogger Barrett Rainey, “American democracy is drowning in a sea of money,” critical of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and its effects on politics. Runft, who is a Boise attorney long active in Idaho politics, took issue with Rainey:

In re Barrett Rainey’s “American Democracy is Drowning in a Sea of Money, let me suggest that the solution is not to blame SCOTUS’s decision Citzens United and call for more repressive regulations. The decision is sound and complies with your above “Our Stance” # 7 regarding freedom. As you imply in # 7, the corollary to freedom is responsibility. The rationale of the decision is correct, as the Court explained, on grounds of individual freedom. Now, the next step which appertains to individual responsibility needs to take place to create the balance reflected in # 7. That next step could possibly be accomplished by bringing suit against one of the PACs on the ground that it cannot qualify for immunity, because of its inherent anonymity, as a “public persona” under the N.Y. Times v,. Sullivan doctrine. Subjecting the PACs and their contributors liability for their slanders will solve much of the problem (similar to Great Britain where there is no N.Y. Times v,. Sullivan doctrine – although there are other problems in the reverse in G.B). Regrets for the foregoing ” 30 sec. shorthand.” John L. Runft

Three points here.

1. Rainey’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily mine (or Ridenbaugh Press’); we give free range to the resident bloggers who are or have been here, including including Chris Carlson and (formerly Chuck Malloy and others. We don’t always agree with any of them, which hopefully makes the site more interesting. So they may or may not in any given piece match up with “our stance”, and aren’t required to.

2. In this case, I generally agree with Rainey, and I think Runft misread the “our stance” – which is to say, this is where Ridenbaugh Press is coming from – item. Assuming here that we’re referring to the same item, it says:

Freedom in society is zero-sum, not prospectively infinite. If you create more in one place, there’s a real possibility you’re diminishing it somewhere else, and the equations should be watched closely. A guiding principle: Freedom generally should be spread widely rather than narrowly. Corollary: Among the most important things to understand about our society are what things are, and are not, zero-sum. Additional corollary: Concentrated power, wherever it may be found, should be viewed with the deepest of suspicion and should ordinarily be met with a pick ax to break it into pieces. Further corollary: Power is inherently relatively diffuse in republics, concentrated in empires.

Runft is bringing external ideas into the equation noted here, altering its intended point. The concern in our paragraph above is about concentrations of power, and while we don’t buy the idea that money equals speech, we do accept that it equals – or at least can buy – power. The problem with Citizens United is that it opens the door to concentrations of money (and power) on behalf of relatively few people, creating just the kind of power – and freedom – imbalance warned about. If, as I suggest, “Freedom generally should be spread widely rather than narrowly,” Citizens United allows for greatly massed money to cut precisely in the other direction.

3. That said, I’m fascinated by Runft’s suggested remedy: “That next step could possibly be accomplished by bringing suit against one of the PACs on the ground that it cannot qualify for immunity, because of its inherent anonymity, as a “public persona” under the N.Y. Times v,. Sullivan doctrine. Subjecting the PACs and their contributors liability for their slanders will solve much of the problem.” While I doubt it would come close to solving all the problems of Citizens United, I do think there’s some prospectively highly useful legal ground there, and his suggestion might be useful in constraining at least some of the abuses.

Thanks for the comment.

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You may notice a new polling box to the right on this page. With your help, we’ll start running weekly polls here and several other locations (such as Facebook). The poll results on each location will be open; at the end of the week, we’ll collect them and run them in our weekly Public Affairs Digests (Washington, Oregon, Idaho).

This first is about predicting who will be the next governor of Washington. If you have a question you’d like to see here next week, let us know.

All the usual caveats apply. These are self-selecting and unscientific. Still, they may be of some interest as a reflection of thinking (at least, of this site’s readers). So have at it.

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A few changes at work around the site.

You may notice the subject bar just below the picture at the top of this page is a little shorter. The pages that were listed there and are not now – the outta Idaho journalism, Costa Rica and other pages – are not gone. They’re just accessible from elsewhere. (Look down in the column to the right, under “Pages”.) They’re updated infrequently enough that we thought a little less headline-y location would be more appropriate.

And you may have noticed the new box above the posts here. It’s there to draw a little extra attention to the blogs, publications, posts, books and other things we do that otherwise sometimes get buried.

We’ll be doing a few more things in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.

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This year as in the last few, I’m on air Monday mornings (8:20 mountain, 7:20 pacific) on KLIX-AQM Twin Falls, discussing the Idaho Legislature.

It streams and is available via the KLIX web site.

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The last post was, it turned out (hadn’t noticed until after it was posted) number 3,000 for this blog. That is, since we went to WordPress in October 2005; this blog was around for years before that too, back in the days when we hand-crafted the HTML. And it’s still running, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Can’t say about the rest of the country, but in the Northwest that makes us part of an ever-smaller group. Back around the middle of the last decade the region was loaded with political blogs, a batch in all three Northwest states. Today, not so much. There are a lot more blogs operated by mass media (just about all of the larger regional papers have political-related blogs, and they’re generally of high quality). But far fewer independents than there used to be.

The cause for noting this is not just our own landmark but also the note of the passing, at least in likely considerable part, of the Horse’s Ass blog at Seattle. Highly partisan (Democratic) it also has been a top source of information on politics in Seattle and Washington, and has forged a nice sparring partnership with the Republican-oriented Sound Politics; each has undoubtedly become better because the other is there.

What’s happening, HA founder David Goldstein reports, is that he’s joining the alternative weekly The Stranger (where in recent months he’s been a regular contributor) as a full-time staffer, and as a result after February 2, “I simply won’t be writing here much anymore, if at all.” Goldstein is not the only HA writer, but he’s the core. So HA’s future is in question.

We see regular eulogies for newspapers (and it’ll be coming for broadcasters too, just watch), and there’s good reason. But we may before long need some recognition too for some of the blogs that have made a real contribution. As Horse’s Ass has.

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Malloy
Chuck Malloy

A new blog this week on Ridenbaugh Press, by Chuck Malloy called Malloy from the Inside. It’s Malloy’s first blog, and he’s busy posting.

His viewpoint is a little different from what you’ll ordinarily see on this page. For the last several years, he has been chief spokesman for the Idaho House Republicans, and his take on things is substantially informed by that experience. (He’s recently departed from that role.) But not that alone. Before that, he also was an editorial writer for the Idaho Statesman in Boise, and earlier was political writer for the Post-Register newspaper in Idaho Falls.

I’ve known Chuck since we both covered politics for newspapers a long time ago. His background goes way back. His blog stands to become a regular reading stop as this next Idaho legislative session gets underway next week.

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