• 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

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Soon, courtesy of all Idaho’s taxpayers, Republican voters will march to the polls to state their preference for the nation’s next commander-in-chief.

Whether this exercise has any impact upon the presidential sweepstakes remains to be seen, especially since Idahoans will be voting one week after Super Tuesday, the big enchilada that will see over a third of the delegates being selected.

With Michigan and Mississippi also holding primaries, it’s a safe bet the national media will congregate that night in Detroit, not Boise.

Still, it is fascinating to examine which aspirant is being supported by which major Idaho Republican figure. To date one could say Idaho has covered itself with prominent Idahoans having spread their support across most of the candidates.

The one big exception is the current GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump. He has a posted list of 860 supporters, but who they are and how well organized they are remains to be seen. It is doubtful that endorsements by any one figure will carry real influence. Far more likely is the scenario that the one or two top winners in Super Tuesday will likewise do well in Idaho.

In 2008 and in 2012 Idaho Republicans went with the eventual party nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney. In 2016, Idaho GOP rules for selecting delegates to the National Convention in July in Cleveland will probably result in more than one candidate picking up Idaho delegates.

If one candidate receives over 50% of the vote he will garner all 32 delegates. If the winner has less than that, to receive delegates, the threshold is more than 20%. This will guarantee that Idaho has a split delegation at least for the first round of balloting in Cleveland.

In late February the Idaho race appears to be shaping up as a contest between Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Mr. Trump with Florida Senator Marco Rubio closing in on the frontrunners.

Rubio has two aces in his hand – U.S. Senator Jim Risch and the “shadow shogun” of Republican politics, Idaho Falls billionaire businessman Frank VanderSloot. Risch and Rubio serve together on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. Both are devout Roman Catholics.

VanderSloot is a member in good standing of the LDS Church. Speculation as to why he would support Rubio over Cruz goes right to the heart of the major difference between Cruz and Rubio regarding the issue of illegal immigrants, who Cruz would ship back, but Rubio would allow to remain if they go to the back of the line of those applying for citizenship.

VanderSloot reportedly employs a goodly number of legal immigrants at his Melaleuca company. A major fund-raiser last time around for Mitt Romney were the National Convention to be brokered one could expect VanderSloot to switch back to Romney.

Approximately one-third of the Idaho electorate belong to the LDS Church. These voters tend to be quite conservative, but some would argue this does not mean they would go for Cruz. After all several million evangelicals stayed home in 2012 rather than vote for Mormon.

This fact alone caused some to arch an eyebrow when First District Congressman Raul Labrador threw his endorsement to Cruz following the collapse of Rand Paul’s campaign. Other Cruz supporters include former party chair Norm Semanko and State Treasurer Ron Crane.

Jeb Bush enjoys the support of former Governor, U.S. Senator and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, as well as that of former Attorney General and Lt. Governor David Leroy. Phil Reberger, former Kempthorne chief of staff and major domo in his own right in GOP circles is also thought to be a Bush supporter.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has the support of two Idaho state legislators, Merv Hagedorn and Robert Anderst.

Idaho’s other major officeholders – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Senator Mike Crapo, Second District Congressman Mike Simpson and Lt. Governor Brad Little are all remaining studiously neutral.

To this writer’s thinking, the best of the GOP lot, and indeed the best of the whole bunch is the Ohio governor, John Kasich.

As to the Democrats, they caucus on March 22nd. Last time around Hillary Clinton’s team overlooked Idaho and to their chagrin Obama’s team captured a majority of Idaho’s delegates.

This time around Idaho will be a contest that will come down to whether the young voter’s adoration for Senator Sanders translates into attendance at their caucus vs. the Clinton team’s ability to turn out her base.

One word of caution to Senator Sanders – he’d best back off of his plank calling for free higher education to be treated as a birthright. Universities in states like Idaho or California, where there are private religious affiliated schools, would rapidly be driven from the field – the College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene, BYU-Idaho, and Gonzaga simply could not compete against public schools offering free higher education.

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The people of the state of Iowa are getting ready to attend their precinct caucuses in a few hours as this is being written. It is the first balloting by the people expressing their views on who should lead this nation for the next four years.

Regardless of who comes out ahead for either political party, the question the rest of us should ask is whether the winners expressed optimism about our future as a nation and appealed to our hopes and aspirations or did they win by utilizing cheap demagoguery and appealing to fear?

Unfortunately, too many elected officials today take the easy path of motivating by fear and tapping into anger. For this writer watching two events this past week crystallized the difference in approaches.

The first was an interview in Davos, Switzerland at the annual World Economic Forum with the recently selected Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Trudeau is the son of Pierre, perhaps Canada’s most famous Prime Minister.

By no means was he groomed to succeed his father someday and his path to the Prime Ministership saw him spend several years working as a teacher and part of another year as a snowboard instructor at Whistler outside of Vancouver.

He did, however, spend time often traveling with his father as the then Prime Minister criss-crossed Canada. The most important thing he said he learned was how to listen to what Canadians were saying they wanted from their government and then channelling those desires into programs that deliver services effectively and efficiently.

He ended the interview by saying that Canadians had a choice to make which was whether they would be motivated by hope and optimism or by fear and pessimism. He offered the former and the Canadian voters gave young Justin’s Liberal party an overwhelming victory this past October.

This contrasted greatly with a Legislative Forum held this past weekend by eight of the nine member, all Republican Kootenai county delegation to the Idaho Legislature. It was a disappointing display of pure pandering to the Tea Party element in attendence as well as supporters of permitless gun carry.

Most in the audience seemed to see the federal government as an out and out enemy. Yes, there are too many examples of agencies and individuals over the years lying about everything from atomic testing to deceptive practices by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nothing, however, can justify any one taking the law into their own hands, seizing federal property and engaging in outright sedition. Yet when one member in the audience asked if the Legislature would take up or would one of them in front introduce a resolution of support for the outlaws at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, not one legislator had the guts to look the guy in the eye and say “Hell no. No one is above the law in this country and there are long established processes for obtaining redress from the excesses of government.”

Another person expressed his frustration with what goes on in Washington, D.C. We all know inside the Beltway is a surreal world, but rather than propose a real solution of say term limits for both elected officials and public servants in the civil service we would rather just rail against our government that for all its faults does a pretty good job of taking care of those who legitimately cannot do so themselves.

This person though asked “why vote?” Now there’s a question every one of them should have knocked out of the ballpark. Only State Senator Mary Souza, to her credit, pointed out the obvious. If you want change you have to participate and vote for people who reflect your views and hope (there’s that word) that they’ll do what they say when they get into office (and yes, too many don’t).

Someone should have reversed the question: if you don’t vote why should I even listen to you?

Six of the eight at one time or another gave out misleading information. Another person in the audience decried the many rules and regulations that come with new laws. While pointing out that Idaho is one of the few states where the Legislature reviews and approves an agency’s regulations the six pretended this review had nothing to do with approving the often astronomic increase in fees. Fact is when they approve the regs they approve the fees.

Another legislator assured a questioner that the Federal government could no longer obtain any additional acreage without state approval. This completely ignores the government’s ability to condemn property or the President’s authoriity to with the stroke of a pen create new National Monuments.

Several others sanctimoniously talked about how state acreage returns $14 per acre to the state while federal property only generates 10 cents an acre. No source was cited nor was there any promise to increase the number of Department of Lands employees that would be needed if by some miracle the state did get ahold of federal property.

Another example of a misleading response was the promise several made to try to protect private and personal information. The questioner had had his identity stolen six times and made a valid point, but instead he received vague bromides.

Reference was made to possible legislation severely restricting the gathering of personal data but the honest answer is it will never pass because two of the biggest collectors of personal data in order to profile individuals are our two great political parties.

As far as this observer is concerned two legislators distinguished themselves by saying very little – State Senator Bob Nonini and State Rep. Luke Malek. At times, State Senator Mary Souza also did well. No one, however, delivered a message of hope and optimism. Sad.

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There’s a new player on the Idaho political scene that warrants careful monitoring and serious scrutiny. They call themselves the “American Redoubt” movement but they bear an uncanny resemblance to the survivalists and posse comitatus types that operated in Idaho in the ‘80s.

The agendas are remarkably similar: the primacy of the U.S. Constitution, support for so-called “open carry” of firearms; repeal of the 17th amendment (direct election of U.S. Senators by a state’s legislature); adamant opposition to immigrants; abolishing agencies like EPA; supremacy of a county sheriff as the highest figure in the criminal justice system, etc.

The differences between then and now are revealing.Then, they did not register or vote. They weren’t active in local or state politics; now, they have become the shock troops for the Tea Party and openly support certain candidates.

In the Republicans’ “closed primary” they can exercise tremendous influence over their fellow citizens. Several of their sympathizers, such as Rep. Heather Scott of Blanchard, have been elected to the Legislature and have started referencing the writings of their spiritual founder, James Rawles.

(Scott, by the way, has truly become an embarrassment to Idaho. She unfurled and embraced the Confederate “Stars and Bars” at one rally just as police in South Carolina were finally getting a handle on things. If I’d been the U.S. attorney for Idaho, I would have cited her for trying to incite a riot. Then, Scott traveled to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge to embrace the cause of folks there engaging in sedition. The people of Harney County, Oregon, most of them ranchers who abide by the terms of their grazing leases, don’t want her or the SS-like storm troops hanging around. Scott tries to justify the unjustifiable.)

The forefathers of the American Redoubters used to embrace racism. Now, Rawles says racism ignores reason.

They say they welcome all, and that there’s no discrimination against minorities, but that’s easy to say when you have few minorities.

Then, the Redoubt types banded “together” for protection wherever they were. Now, Rawles touts political migration to smaller western states like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming where he believes they can live relatively unbothered by the federal government. This in fact is the underlying concept and the key to understanding American Redoubt.

Despite the outcome of America’s great and bloody Civil War, these types still adhere to the concepts of a state’s right to secede from the Union or nullify congressional laws they dislike. The Supreme Court has firmly rejected both.

They still don’t understand what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in his majority ruling and precedent setting 5 to 4 Supreme Court opinion, District of Columbia vs. Heller, ruled. Scalia wrote there was a qualified right for an individual to carry a weapon, whether concealed or not apart from being a member of a militia.

Scalia clearly said there is NOT an absolute right. He went on to write that the state in the name of public safety has the right to close off public spaces like schools and courts to the carrying of any weapon, whether concealed or otherwise. One can conclude he would not support Rep. Scott and American Redoubt’s so-called “constitutional carry” legislation.

The Redoubters say they love their country, but fear their government that protects their right to dissent, their right to free speech, their right to vote and their right to own side arms, rifles and shot guns.

However, they don’t believe in your right to an ownership interest in the nation’s public lands, its wonderful national parks, its wildlife refuges, its national forests and wilderness areas. No, beause they live adjacent to these lands, whether dedicated to multiple use or a prominent single use, they think these lands are theirs, and that they own them.

Keep your eye on these American Redoubters and their Tea Party puppets – they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Caveat Emptor.

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Some disparate thoughts for one to ponder as he or she goes about their daily routine.

Item #1. Idaho’s brand. For many years now if one were asked what came to mind when they heard the word “Idaho,” inevitably it would prompt association with potatoes. The phrase “Famous Potatoes” is even on the license plate. The Idaho Potato Commission has spent millions on clever advertising that underscore how superior our potatoes are to those pretenders in Maine or central Washington.

Ads in recent years are some of the best ever with the spud farmer and his dog driving a vintage Studebaker pick-up truck all over the country trying to locate, and just missing the traveling “Giant Idaho Spud” truck. Such well produced with clever dialogue ads make any citizen proud to be an Idahoan.

That’s the good side of the brand. Unfortunately, there is a bad side that has taken years to change despite the efforts of many folks in north Idaho to correct the image. It is the by-product of the late neo-Nazi, Richard Butler, establishing his “church” and compound in Hayden. This purveyor of hate, espouser of racism, and a fear-mongering anti-Semite, almost overnight furthered a misperception of Idaho as a state full of bigots.

A little over 11 years ago my wife and I along with our son and youngest daughter were on a delightful three week trip driving all over Scotland. We’d been in the Orkney Islands and just had gotten off the ferry at Thurso. It being Sunday I picked up the Daily Scotsman and like many Sunday papers it carried a Sunday magazine the cover of which stunned me: The Neo-Nazis of north Idaho marching down the main street of Coeur d’Alene. Butler had earlier been evicted, and the church and compound burned to the ground.

Yet years later this is still often the second association many have when they hear the word Idaho. I mention this because one of the fall outs of the Bundy and Hammond ranching families seizure of the Visitor Center at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns in eastern Oregon is going to be another black eye for several western states, like Idaho, Nevada¸Utah and Wyoming¸where the federal government owns on behalf of all Amercians most of the land.

These scofflaws give the vast majority of hard-working, tax-paying ranching families a bad name and further the “wild west” image many in the east still view as the truth about the mountain west.

Item #2. Ads on the 100th Anniversary of one of Uncle Sam’s most popular organizations, the National Park Service. Americans love their parks, whether its Yellowstone, the Olympics, Yosemite, Acadia, the Everglades, or one of the Urban National Parks like Golden Gate.

Normally, I might question spending taxpayer money on such self-congratulatory ads. This is an exception though. Also, I looked a little deeper and discovered that the actual day the service was created was on August 25th, 1916. That day in 2016 just happens to be the 85th birthday of the Interior secretary who played the lead role in doubling the size of the lands managed by the National Park Service through the passage of the Alaskan Lands legislation in 1980 – Governor Cecil D. Andrus.

I suspect the coincidence will not escape the notice of current Interior Secretary Sally Jewell or NPS Director Jon Jarvis and that an appropriate part will be carved out of the program in Yellowstone Park on that day for Idaho’s former four-term governor.

Item #3. The Republican National Convention. It will be held in July in Cleveland. When the smoke clears, sanity will have returned and the nominee will be Ohio Governor John Kasich who many observers believe is the best of the GOP field and the one who will give presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the toughest race. There is one simple indisputable fact: no Republican has ever won the presidency without taking Ohio.

Item #4. The luck of the Seahawks. That phrase may replace the more classic “luck of the Irish” someday. Unbelievable that they got by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday because the normally reliable Viking field goal kicker who had already made three longer field goals during the game, would miss a 27 yard chip shot in the last seconds.

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One of the shameful aspects of modern politics is the tendency of people to define those holding differing views with perjorative labels. For example, in a recent column I complimented a conservative Republican state representative, Luke Malek, for displaying solid judgment and genuine dedication to his public service in a town hall meeting he held.

This was apparently too much for a Tea Party ideological critic of Malek’s, and in particular, Rep. Carol Nillson Troy. Note that I too am using a couple of labels to define the critic. His letter to the editor was a classic case of using the guilt by association and the false syllogism devices as rebuttal. Others might simply call it the “straw dog” device.

To this particular critic it was further proof that these two representitives had to be RINOS, Republicans in Name Only¸because they were being complimented by a “liberal Democrat.” Of course “liberal” despite its derivative from the Latin word liber (to free, to be free) just as libertarian is also a derivative, is now a nasty perjorative.

For the record I have always labeled myself as a business Democrat or an Andrus Democrat – that is a social liberal who is fiscally conservative. By that I mean I believe government has an obligation to help those who through no fault of their own cannot help themselves and government is the only agency that can realistically provide the needed help. However, we have to pay for that government assistance as we go. It is simply immoral to pass debt along to our children and grandchildren, as we have been doing. Both parties are guilty of this.

Thus, I support the solutions of the Simpson/Bowles Commission which came up with a solid set of recommendations that over a period of time would restore fiscal sanity to the nation.

Here’s the real ignorance in calling me a “liberal Democrat.” Even a minimal amount of research would reveal that in the eyes of many Democrats I’m at a minimum an apostate—one who deviates from orthodoxy—if not an outright independent. I vote for the person, not the party. I own firearms and rifles, have a concealed weapons permit and I believe friendship trumps partisanship any day.

I even have a copy of a resolution passed in 1982 by the King County Democrats drumming me out of the Democratic party for apostasy. They were outraged that I had played a major role in forming a Democrats for Dan Evans for the U.S. Senate committee. We bought our own ads and sent a group reflecting our diverse membership barnstorming around the state.

Evans defeated a true self-described super liberal, Congressman Mike Lowry, for the seat held by the legendary Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson. Many observers felt our committeee had been a critical part of the former three-term governor’s success.

I helped because Dan was a friend, I’d served on the Northwest Power Planning Council with him, and he asked.

This was too much for the late Karen Marchioro (Later the state chair) and her associate, Geoff Smith. The day after I received my expulsion notice I received the first of continuing requests for money for the party.

I compounded my apostasy in 1988 when I publicly supported a friend and the mentor to a future partner, the conservative U.S. Senator, Slade Gorton. Because of my role then as a major business figure in the Inland Northwest (regional vice president for Kaiser Aluminum), Slade asked and I cut television and radio ads supporting his candidacy.

Of coure that meant I again supported Slade in 2000 when he narrowly lost (2200 votes out of 2.4 million cast) a re-election bid to Maria Cantwell. When my business partner and former Gorton chief-of-staff, Mike McGavick, challenged Senator Cantwell in her 2006 re-election bid, I supported Mike. Friendship in my book always trumps partisanship and loyalty to those who have displayed loyalty to you is among the highest, and most rarely found, of political values.

It might further surprise readers to learn that the first Idaho officeholder to ask me to be his press secretary was a former Idaho governor and then U.S. Senator Len B. Jordan. While I greatly admired Len, I respectfully declined.

I am a self-described business or Andrus or conservative Democrat. To all those out there who want to label me as something else, go ahead, show your ignorance. Make my day.

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