• Andrus and Carlson

"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." - Chris Carlson

carlson

A few weeks ago former Idaho Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor David Leroy turned 69. He has stayed in good shape (Obviously exercises daily)and except for his all white, perfectly coifed hair one might think he was in his late 40’s or early 50’s.

With apologies to Irish poet Dylan Thomas, Leroy is not quietly going into the good night, nor with apologies to General Douglas MacArthur, is he like an old soldier fading away.

Still bursting with energy, a ready smile, a sense of humor and plain smarts tell one why he came so close to winning Idaho’s governorship in 1986.

Early in his political career Leroy idolized former governor and U.S. Senator Len B. Jordan, a principled but reasonable conservative. The Leroys even named their first child, a daughter, after Jordan. In addition, he gave an eloquent and heartfelt eulogy at Grace Jordan’s funeral services.

Somewhere along his political path Leroy became more and more enthralled with the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. He stumbled, metaphorically speaking, across the factoid that Lincoln had signed the legislation creating the Idaho territory in 1863. The more he read the more enthralled he became. It truly can be said that he is a self-educated genuine Lincoln scholar.

He has traveled the state talking about Lincoln and his impact on Idaho. He easily won a grant from Idaho’s Humanities Council to support some of the expenses for these lectures. The grant, however, does not cover all his expenses so he donates his time as well as his treasure to the cause.

During these past years he and his wife accumulated a decent collection of Lincoln memorabilia which they have donated to the Idaho Historical Library and a wing of the Idaho archives contains a fine display of much of their donation.
In early September Leroy announced the formation of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, a non-profit that will be dedicated to public education, opinion research and presentations taking educated guesses on where Lincoln might be on divisive political issues of our time. Early next year he intends to announce the formation of an advisory board and to begin fund-raising.

With the announcement, Leroy sent out several pages of quotes from Lincoln on issues still under debate today such as amending the Constitution and holding a constitutional convention.

Oddly, though Leroy had no quote touching on one of the major issues still dividing Idahoans today and that is the grants of every other section of public land to the routes railroad companies constructed across the west. The grants were incredibly generous incentives to the timber firms that emerged from these railroad firms—companies such as Weyerhauser, Potlatch and Plum Creek can trace their lineage to these grants which in places like Idaho’s upper Lochsa and the upper St. Joe have become management nightmares.

This has led to often controversial land swaps in which the public land agencies such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management try to work out equitable in value land swaps and block up holdings for more efficient management.

Leroy does mention Lincoln’s equally important signing of the Homestead Act that especially in southern Idaho spurred economic growth as settlers received 160 acres of land to farm.

Leroy’s selection of quotes does make it clear that Lincoln had no problem with selling public lands to private interests and he clearly believed in public/private partnerships.

Oddly enough, this stance by Lincoln would put him at odds with the Republican nominee for president today, one Donald Trump. When asked about the selling of public lands to states or private interests at a September 22nd fund-raising event in Boise, Trump’s son, Donald Junior, raised more than a few conservative eyebrows by saying: that he and his father have “broken away from conservative dogma a little bit” on public lands. “We want to make sure that public lands stay public,” he said. “I’m a big outdoorsman, I’m a big hunter, when I lived out here that’s what I hunted on, public land, and I want to make sure that the next generation has that ability to do that.” He said if federal lands were transferred to state control, they could be sold off when a state has a budget shortfall, “and then all of a sudden, you never have access to those lands ever again.”

At least Trump has one issue correctly sized up. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Column

carlson

Chris Walsh, the realtor who has made a fortune selling north Idaho land to “preppers” – those folk who believe they have to stockpile food and weapons to protect that food from hungry urban hordes come Armegeddon or the Russians invade – is buying three “double page” ads for three Sundays in a row in The Coeur d’Alene Press telling readers Donald Trump is the person to lead America back to prosperity.

Why not spend $3000 a pop or about $10,000 total? After all, his business feasts off fear and people being afraid, so afraid that they spend a fair amount of money purchasing land from which they can plug the starving hordes trying to steal their food-supply.

Walsh was recently quoted extensively in a long piece on the American Redoubt Movement in the Washington Post by Kevin Sullivan, one of their fine reporters.

Donald Trump, therefore, is the only choice. Trump doesn’t mince words as he plays to American insecurities about the future, too much illegal immigration, crime, the drug epidemic, American troops fighting proxy wars; and, the state of the economy. You’ve heard it all and so supposedly you’ll blindly stampede to the polls to vote for the biggest con man in history.

So, you bet, Mr. Walsh, let’s do what’s good for your business and urge people to vote for the fear-mongering artist par excellence, Donald Trump.

Walsh buries his real goal in copy that says the universal answer is creating more good-paying jobs.

In looking at his polemic it is easy to spot classic rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions, false either/or’s, false syllogisms, use of the vague “they” as in “they said,” and the straw dog argument one builds and then tears down.

Early on Walsh uses a false syllogism regarding youth’s alleged lost work ethic. He claims if the unemployed young had good-paying jobs they would rediscover the forgotten virtues of a decent job. Not necessarily so, Mr. Walsh.

Then he makes use of the vague “they,” as in “they sold us down the river,” “they told us that moving jobs overseas would not hurt,” “they were wrong, it’s a lie.”

Just who are “they?” Well, of course, the politicians and the super-rich. You can bet when Mr. Walsh is flying any of the super-rich around looking for property he doesn’t read this part of his thesis.

He throws out for consideration one of the mantras of this world’s cons: “The answers are actually simpler than most think.” I’m sorry but that is a pure lie. Life is full of complexities, ambiguities, and nuance. The thoughtful know there are no simple solutions to any serious divisive issue. Those that say otherwise just don’t get it and probably never will.

Walsh then lays out four ideas on how to create jobs and get America moving. He sees a resumption of more natural resource conversion as the first principle. He sees a hard-working citizenry; he sees government at all levels as supportive, not dictatorial; and, he sees the need for legitimate trade agreements. Even I can agree with much of this and we could find common ground. The trouble is this is Walsh speaking, not Donald Trump. Like many, Walsh thinks he knows where Trump is coming from. The truth is he doesn’t have a clue and neither does Trump himself.

Walsh also believes all these Trump generated jobs will end racism in America. I wish. Where’s he been the last eight years as the hard-right mounted its vicious, hate-filled campaign against President Obama?

Given all these preliminaries Mr. Walsh stuns with his primary reason to support Trump: “Because the Democrats and Establishment Republicans hate him.” That’s it, Chris? Seriously? Because he is hated Trump should be elected?

Walsh ends by saying it comes down to a hard choice. However, he again makes the mistake of framing matters in the false language of the either/or.

He ends by invoking a phrase made famous by the Beatles: The words “come together.”

The entire phrase in the lyrics is “come together, right now, over me.”

Not going to happen, Chris. Trump is a divider, not a unifier, and you know it.

Column

carlson

The anniversary passed largely unnoticed last week, but it is part of the context which one must weigh in order to understand the “Redoubt Movement” taking place in north Idaho today as well as isolated and sparsely settled parts of Montana and Wyoming.

Inspired by a manifesto written (2011) and posted on his website (survivalblog.com) by survivalist author James Wesley, Rawls, the document urged folks worried about the next financial crash or Armageddon to move to the sparsely settled areas of the upper mountain west.

Rawls pointed out that these areas would be good places to live by those who felt oppressed by exploding government regulations and a federal government over reaching in people’s lives. He noted places like north Idaho had a justifiable reputation for being libertarian and a terrain that could more easily be defended. Thus, he urged folks to relocate where their numbers might be few but their unity could disproportionally influence their political milieu.

With Rawls emphasizing little interference in their private life and the access to nearby U.S. Forest Service lands for hunting, fishing, berry-picking and a real estate agent aggressively marketing all this, Rawls supporters claim thousands of folks have migrated here.

Local officials in Bonner and Boundary counties dispute those claims, but the truth is no one really knows. What is known is the “redoubters” are participating in local politics. State Reps. Heather Scott and Sage Dixon, with “redoubter” support, have captured two of the three legislative district one seats. They have failed, however, to knock off Senator Shawn Keough, current co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Critics see similarities between the “Redoubt” movement and the old posse comitatus in its emphasis on the sacred status of the Constitution and the supremacy of a county sheriff as the top law enforcement officer. Rawls has been careful to avoid anything close to appearing to be a racist. To the contrary, all are welcomed, he says, who share a desire for less government.

The contextual aspect mentioned earlier with regard to an anniversary still lingers in the minds of many Idahoans. August 21st was the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the siege at Ruby Ridge in which federal agents were responsible for killing Randy Weaver’s wife, Vicki, and one of their children. Anyone who reads former Spokesman-Review reporter Jess Walters’ excellent book on the siege comes away convinced that the federal government engaged in pure entrapment.

A brilliant Wyoming defense attorney, “Gunning for Justice”
Gerry Spence, proceeded to tear apart the government’s case and a Boise jury acquitted Randy Weaver of all charges after 19 days of deliberation.

The message many took away from Ruby Ridge is that the federal government can literally kill one with impunity. However, if the time comes, Rawls’ message to redoubters is also one of possible murder, though he would call it self-defense. What they preach is be ready to shoot to kill all the panic-driven folks who will pore out of cities in search of sustenance.

Seeing Idaho as a haven for anti-government, take the law into your own hands types is not the image Idaho wants to convey. It can have a real downer impact on a local economy, especially if some national organization serves notice of a boycott. Losses could be in the millions.

The legitimate concern that Idaho’s elected officials should be sounding alarm bells about is the tendency of national media to want to characterize the Redoubt movement as the reincarnation of the Richard Butler/Neo-nazis plague that afflicted Idaho’s image world-wide for years.

Jame Wesley, Rawls and the redoubters are certainly hard right libertarian conservatives who can intimidate simply by showing up at meetings wearing their pistols whether there is an open-carry law or not. There is no evidence, however, that they espouse the hate-filled, white supremacist racist views of Butler. National and even international media are already monitoring and watching perhaps hoping they are.

The August 6th Economist magazine had a long some would say sympathetic article extolling the desire for less government regulations and more individual freedom. The author errors though in repeating the belief that thousands have already moved here. He also seemed to think people can still homestead in the west. In addition, two months ago the Washington Post sent one of its Pulitzer prize-winning reporters, Kevin Sullivan, to northern Idaho to explore the possible story. (Editor’s note: Sullivan’s article appeared in the August 28th issue of the Post, two days after this column was written and distributed.)

An obvious question is what’s the difference between the Butler era and the Rawls era? The answer is that though it took some time to get it together, local leaders in Coeur d’Alene did unite with the state’s political leadership to denounce the racist, hate filled language of the neo-Nazi’s.

Governors Andrus, Batt and Kempthorne all worked with local leaders like Tony Stewart, Father Bill Wassmuth and Marshall Mend to denounce Butler and company. In other words there was real political leadership both at the local and state level.

One has yet to hear a peep from Governor Otter, or Senators Risch and Crapo, or Congressman Raul Labrador, speaking out that even the “redoubt movement,” possibly a more benign posse comitatus group, is not reflective of Idaho, its citizens and its collective values.

Column