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Posts tagged as “Jimmy Carter”

James Earl Carter

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For anyone with an honest interest in the true profession of politics, the name James Earl Carter has been on your mind for the past week. If you’re fortunate to have access to any form of media expression, coupled with that sincere interest in all things political, you’ve been wrestling with what to say about the Carter story - and how to say it.

The best regional piece I’ve read is from friend Marc Johnson in Boise, on his blog “Many Things Considered.” To read something political - with heart and substance - take a minute right here and go to http://manythingsconsidered.com/. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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So much for the well-written, scholarly approach to the Carter story. My response is far more visceral.

Historians will debate the Carter presidency as they do those of all temporary occupants of the Oval Office. The good - the bad - the important - the trivial. That’s their job and they’re welcome to it. I possess none of their scholarly credentials. So don’t look for any of that here.

But, I’m an adult American male with some longevity and understanding of what I admire in someone of the same description. And, politics aside, I can think of almost no other public figure who rises to the common definition of role model and just plain decent human being as does James Earl Carter.

With some training in matters of hospice care, I’ve also watched Carter’s public discussion of the very private issue of impending death with interest. In sum, those few minutes embodied what nearly every hospice professional looks for in someone in their care - thoughtfulness - perspective - reflection - understanding. And humor. Humor from - and directed at - the human experience that death is a part of living. If religion is part of someone’s life - as it certainly has been with Carter - invoking one’s faith is not only relevant but crucial in how matters of fate can be accepted.

But, within a few hours, matters of politics soon interrupted this moment of witnessing humanity at its best. It took less than a day for one of the cretins running for president to take a public shot at the Carter presidency. A shot that was not only ill-timed but factless. Embarrassment and personal humiliation don’t exist in the Cruz world.

But Cruz and others - whoring for dollars and votes - offer the most glaring examples of how far our national politics have fallen when compared to the humanity and moral stature of a Jimmy Carter. I include all but two in the current crop. Trump is not prostituting himself for big bucks. He’s whoring on his own campaign tab. His prostitution is selling himself for public adulation and to gorge his own billionaire-sized ego. I also don’t include Sanders because he’s not looking for big donors and not running the kind of “selling-your-soul-in-the-marketplace” campaign of the others. Including Ms. Clinton.

Try to simultaneously hold in your mind the kind of life lived, and the contributions to humanity made by Carter since his White House years, while also considering our current presidential choices. Pick one of the strident voices from the entire pack - just one - from whom voters could expect a future personal life of humanitarian service, public dignity and selfless contribution. With the possible exception of Sanders, I can’t.

Our moment in political history is befouled by money, lies, unfounded fears of government spread by callous but well-paid voices, wide-spread willful ignorance, candidates far, far exceeding the “Peter Principle” and scores of office holders not qualified to do the jobs to which they’ve been elected.

The National Republic Party is reaping a harvest of shame from years of accepting the lowest denomination of unqualified candidates. This scrum of flotsam has been propped up by billionaires determined to set our country’s agenda for decades to come. In Democrats, the leading candidate is someone whose run has long been “ordained” but who’s not been sufficiently publically challenged and who’s become profoundly rich at the public trough.

And it’s our fault. We’ve accepted all that. We’ve accepted people who’ve disdained educating themselves or participating in the conduct of their government as having some sort of personal right to do so. They don’t! We’ve not been involved enough with a selection process that puts names on the ballot - the names from which we have to chose to set our national course. We’ve stood at the polling place too often and cursed while making a choice of “the lesser of two evils.” By our careless and uninformed vote, we’ve allowed office seekers - and holders - to become whores chasing dollars while rewarding big donors with favoritism. We’ve failed to demand high standards and have allowed incompetence to be perpetuated and accepted. We’ve allowed elected office holding to be perpetual employment.

Then, a former peanut farmer from Georgia displays the grace, dignity, acceptance and guts of someone you can’t help but admire, whatever his politics. He does it in our living rooms, face-to-face, showing us how to deal with our own mortality by offering the finest of ourselves.

For centuries, travelers have navigated by the North Star because of its reliability and stability. Future presidents would do well to navigate their own courses using the same personal qualities of James Earl Carter.

Alaska, Andrus and Carter

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Former President Jimmy Carter, the best ex-president this country has ever had, is suffering from liver cancer and could be crossing the Jordan River soon. He is now 90 years old and just finished his 25th book. The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta has become a model for the good works a former president can do both in this country and around the world.

Without question the top achievement legislatively from the four years President Carter held the wheel was passage of the Alaskan lands legislation which overnight doubled the size of the National Park system and the Fish and Wildlife system of bird refuges. Almost 100 million acres, including entire ecosystems received protection.

I have a new book out, Eye on the Caribou, published by Ridenbaugh Press that tells the inside story of the critical role played by former four term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus in securing the historic legislation while serving as President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of the Interior.

I’ve long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history, so I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy.

This new book joins a well reviewed biography (Cecil Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor) on the governor published in 2011, and a book of 13 essays (Medimont Reflections) in 2013 that covered other issues and political figures Governor Andrus and I worked on during my 40 years of public involvement.

Andrus has always been quick to say that “success has a thousand fathers and mothers” and has especially singled out the Alaska Coaliton and the critical role played by Chuck Clusen, Brock Evans and Doug Scott for their contribution to successful passage of the legislation.

Future historians will find some heretofore little known jewels of information in this latest book. For example, during the summer of 1978 when Andrus and President Carter spent four days fly fishing and floating the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River, they settled on the fall back strategy of President Carter using his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the largest national monuments in history. They guessed correctly this would bring the Alaska delegation back to the bargaining table to undue the more restrictive form of protection monument status requires.

Other examples of anecdotes in the book include a heretofore unreported 1979 secret meeting between Alaska Governor Jay Hammond and Secretary Andrus in which the two by themselves spent a day fishing at some of Hammond’s favorite fishing sites in and around Lake Clark and Lake Iliamna. The two would set aside their fishing rods from time to time, get out their maps and pretty much settled on the boundaries of the soon-to-be new additions to the Nationl Park Service and to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s system of bird refuges.

The book also details the massive cross-over vote in 1980 orchestrated by the late Senator Ted Stevens to defeat in the Democratic primary his senatorial colleague, Mike Gravel. Stevens held Gravel directly responsible for the circumstances leading to his wife Ann’s death in a plane crash on December 4th, 1978.

The book also details the adverse impact the legislation had for the owner of a properly proven up mining claim owned by a partnership that included a Spokane exploration geologist, Wallace McGregor.

Even universally acclaimed legislation can still have adverse impacts on some people, and while Mr. McGregor’s dispute with the Park Service over his inholding is complex the fact remains that 40 years have gone by without any compensation to them for a de facto taking.”

The book retails for $16.95 and is now available directly from the publisher, Ridenbaugh.com, or Amazon.com, or directly from the author, or at your nearby Hastings outlet in Idaho and at Aunties in Spokane, as well as The PaperHouse in St. Maries.