• 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

One of my cardinal rules about politics is there are seldom any coincidences. There may be coincidences, however, of time, place, and especially, of people. Our lives during the Biblical three score and ten will intersect with many different people. This has led demographers and social scientists to refer to the six degrees of separation – go back six generations and you will discover the Pope and you are related – in theory.

Over the years I’ve been surprised at the number of people my path has crossed who, like me, were born in Shoshone county, either in Kellogg or Wallace. For a county with fewer than 4000 people, I could quickly name a dozen, most of whom were serving or had served their homestate with honor and brought distinction to the native county.

All merit mention, but space limits dictate just a few. This is my saying thank you for your assistance.

Tim and Julie Olson. High scphool sweethearts who married while Olson was attending Idaho State in the mid-60s having led Kellogg to its last state basketball championship in 1964. Tim retired two years ago as the vice president for Blue Shield of Idaho, but has continued to lobby the Idaho Legislature. We always gather at their summer place on Rose Lake for a good old fashioned patriotic 4th of July and he allows me to sing “Here We Have Idaho.”

Mike Blackbird. A former state senator who would have been a great governor had he stayed in Idaho. I assisted him in doing a wonderful book about his brother, Jerry, also a state senator, entitled One Flaming Hour.

Kenton Bird. Currently the head of general education at the University of Idaho, a former director of the School of Journalism at the University of Idaho, and a former journalist, he was terrificly helpful to me in bringing back to public attention the fine novels penned by a former Idaho poli-sci teacher, Syd Duncombe.

Art and Sherry Krulitz; Leo Krulitz. I knew Art’s cousin, Leo, long before I knew Shoshone County Commissioner Sherry and her husband. One could say they are easily the “power couple” of the county. Sherry was a popular commissioner and could still be if she wanted to be. She still works Facebook and the pictures of her flowers and garden are terrific.

Leo, like Art, grew up in Mullan. He attended Stanford, graduating with honors, then attended and graduated from Harvard Law. While still in his 20s and an active Democrat he became a stalwart supporter of then State Senator Cecil Andrus’ gubernatorial ambitions. He served as the campaign manager for Andrus’ first run in 1966. I still tease him about the campaign slogan he came up with for Andrus: “My kind of man.” Leo went on to become general counsel for the Cummins Engine Corporation until Andrus lured him into government service as his Solicitor at the Department of the Interior from 1977 to 1981.

David Fisher. First met “Fish” when he was working for First InterState bank. He went on to work for one of America’s great innovative corporations, Intel, the master builder of ever smaller but ever increasing capacity microchips, the wafers all made from the same material assembled in anti-septic environments and the guts of your computer. Fisher deftly handled the competition between northwest states for Intel’s major fabrication facility that located near Portland.
Chuck Malloy. One of few editorial writers who has covered Idaho politics extensively for over 30 years and has an institutional memory. He hails from Kellogg and though he has worked at times for the Idaho Republican party, he is a fine journalist and a great observer of the scene.

The late Harry and Collen Magnuson and their sons, Jim, John and Tom. Selected by Governor Andrus to run the 1990 Idaho Centennial Commission, and the man who saved Gonzaga University from bankruptcy, Harry was synonymous with the county. He and his sons also saved the hometown of Wallace by turning it into the snowmobile capitol of the world.

When all is said and done, my old rule regarding no coincidences in politics still holds true. Either that, or there is something in the water we all drink up here in north Idaho. I know I am better for having our trails cross. All of these people were the kind of folks dedicated to leaving the old camp site in better shape than they found it.

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carlson

If you think someone is watching or listening to you, odds are pretty
high you’re partially correct. For sure you are not paranoid because
it is almost a certainty that in this digital age you are being
recorded.

The proliferation of sensors and digital cameras has been simply
breathtaking. The amount of data being accumulated about individuals,
their buying habits, recreation preferences, medical condition is
stunning. Google yourself. You’ll be bowled over by high much is
known about you.

Many folks have a false sense of security that their personal
information, income status, health history and credit record are safe.
Balderdash. If there is one lesson folks should indelibly imprint on
their brain it is that there is nothing a professional hacker cannot
hack into. A basic rule one should keep in mind is this: The more
connected one is the more vulnerable he is.

I garnered an inkling of what was coming during the presidential
election of 2004. We kept getting a call from the county Republican
campaign headquarters asking our presidential preference. Whether my
wife answered or I answered each time we politely told them there was
no way we would vote to re-elect President George W. Bush. Still,
they kept calling.

Explaining all this to a good Republican friend drew a laugh. He
gleefully explained the GOP (as well as the Democrats) had a
sophisticated voter analysis program that developed profiles of solid
Republican voters. I fit the profile yet was blowing their model.

Their data showed I had voted for Bush in 2000 (Could not stand

Al Gore), was the co-owner of a successful small business, had
purchased a flaming red Cadillac, had purchased a new shot gun for
trap shooting, had a concealed weapons permit, had for a time belonged
to the NRA, attended Mass at least once a week, sent my children to a
private Catholic high school – in short, I appeared to be an almost
perfect Bush voter, but I wasn’t.

One had the feeling they thought their entire model would collapse.

Fast forward now to 2017, and the amazing proliferation of even more
technological developments, from iphones and ipads to kindles to gps
chips in everything that moves and sensors that record reams of data
instantly. All this and much more is explained in the one book
everyone should read this year – Thank You for Being Late by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

His thesis is that there are three major forces inexorably shaping our
future. Furthermore they are accelerating at an exponential pace that
is outpacing human ability to understand and keep up let alone shape
and control.

This ought to scare the hell out of a normal person because the day is
not far off when society will have robots with artificial intelligence
performing many mundane tasks. Think though about the implications
of AI advancing beyond its inventor.

Perhaps you may recall that great scene in the Stanley Kubrick movie
2001. Hal, the on board computer, decides Dave, the space vehicle’s
pilot, and his co-pilot are threats to the all-consuming mission to
Jupiter.

While the co-pilot is outside the ship Hal cuts the tether and there
goes the co-pilot spinning off into space. Hal then refuses to open
the airlock that will permit Dave back onto the ship. Dave
nonetheless figures out a way and the next scene is Dave, still in his
space suit walking into the guts of the super computer to dismantle
it.

The dialogue between Hal and Dave is one of the show’s highlights.
The only thing Kubrick gets wrong is the size of the computer.
Friedman explains how “Moore’s Law” has driven technology in the last
50 years to ever smaller, ever more powerful computer chips at ever
more cheap to produce costs. The super computer in 2001 would fit
into today’s lap top.

Friedman contends that what is so discomforting to so many is the
simultaneous explosive acceleration in technology coupled with forces
driving globalization and compounded by global warming and habitat
loss.

He outlines how this incredible pace is impacting politics,
geopolitics, ethics, the workplace and communities. The implications
of computer chips coupled with sensors, digital cameras, storage
capacity and search engines to make a billion calculations in one
second makes for an easy leap to recognizing that somewheere,
someplace there are recordings of our coming and goings, of ourr phone
conversations and who they are with. The search engine just needs a
key word to find it.

What makes this book a cause for hope rather than despair is a quote
Friedman cites at the beginning from the famous French scientist,
Madame Maria Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to
be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may
fear less.” Amen.

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carlson

The subject is dying and death, especially for the first of the baby boomer generation many of whom are either now 70 years of age or about to turn 70.

The boomer generation has been a trend-setter, defying the societal restrictions it inherited on everything from sex to drugs to dodging the draft. Boomers are the most self-indulgent, narcissistic, ego maniacal generation ever.

Many have inherited or about to inherit the largest generational transfer of wealth in history. While some will turn it around and give to worthy causes, most will hoard it like no tomorrow. Others who can afford it will invest in various medical marvels that at most may extend their lives by six months or a year.

One thing one can bet on for sure, if funeral home directors are to be believed, few have bothered to do the planning necessary to ensure a peaceful passing that children and extended family will truly appreciate. It is almost as if boomers think planning for their
passing will somehow bring the day the Grim Reaper comes calling just that much sooner.

It’s not as if there aren’t reminders of mortality that bombard the consciousness every day – from graphic news stories about deaths (If it bleeds it leads) to pictures of children starving in Somalia or the Sudan, to the obituaries most boomers have furtively been scanning for several years.

Just this past week three fine Idaho friends – selfless, dedicated, decent, loyal to family, faith and country – were called to the Big Round-up, the trail ride having ended. They were former State Senator Mike Mitchell, Duane Jacklin, one of the founding partners of the world renowned Jacklin Seed Company, and Bob Templin, the founder and developer of Templin’s Resort.

Some families are prepared, others are not. The point though is that if one cares about their loved ones and those that survive them, they do the planning, make the key decisions and pay in advance so that the grieving surviving spouse or the child in charge doesn’t have to guess what Dad or Mom would have liked.

Every family should make sure that all are prepared for the inevitable day the loved one passes.

Many folks avail themselves of the wonderful supportive Hospice program. Hospice ought to require every family that engages it, as a first step, to watch and then discuss an excellent movie called Two Weeks. It stars Sally Field as the divorced and remarried mother of four who is prematurely dying of cancer.

The movie, which came out in 2006, probes the relationships and reactions primarily of her four children – three sons and a daughter. Each reacts differently. Indeed, the rock is of course the mother. The movie is not pollyansish – it makes clear that her passing is painful and gut-wrenching.

It even alludes to the fact that the morphine injections she receives to counter the pain towards the very end has a dosage increase that brings death more quickly rather than prolonging the agony.

Yes, it is a form of assisted suicide and one can debate whether it is compassionate or something akin to a mercy killing done to ease the discomfort of the family. It brings home the point that issues surrounding death cannot all be legislated, that room has to be left to respect the wishes of the person dying, the family and their personal clergy.

The mistake made by voters in Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide is legal, was to get the state involved at all in the first place. Just as we have a constitutional right to life, we also have a right to choose to ease our suffering by seeking a little assistance at the end.

My definition of a natural death does not allow for such assistance, but that’s my faith’s belief and should not be binding on others. The point though is that all families should have these discussions and make the decisions long before Hospice is called in for assistance.

Few Idahoans are aware, and even fewer Americans that Hospice costs are covered by Medicare and we all should tip our hat and say a prayer of thanks to the good Senator Frank Church who led the drive to have Hospice costs covered.

The legislation was passed shortly before the Senator died from the reoccurence of a cancer that almost killed him in his early 20s. Incidentally, the Senator eschewed the drugs and painkillers he could have availed himself of and chose instead to take his death head on.

Dying and death are matters that require rigid adherence to the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared! And while you’re at it, do yourself a favor and watch Two Weeks.

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carlson

Shoshone County Republicans gathered on March 3 at their annual Lincoln Day dinner, which took place at the Wallace Inn. Those that attended might have been surprised at the number of major political candidates there eager to meet, greet and solicit support.

Start with the featured speaker, former attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy who has been a natural choice to speak at almost all Lincoln Day dinners because he has become a true expert and scholar on the impact President Lincoln had on Idaho. The date itself was propitious because March 4 was the anniversary of the day President Lincoln signed the bill in 1863 creating the Idaho Territory.

Leroy’s remarks were tailored to contemporary times and his speech was an interesting contrast of similarities faced by both presidents (Trump and Lincoln) when they took office.

Once a rising star in Idaho politics, Leroy “retired” from the political scene following his narrow 1986 defeat at the hands of Cecil Andrus when Andrus decided to reclaim the governorship. Since then his legal practice has prospered and he clearly has prepared another run for public office. He is “tan, rested, and ready,” as the expression goes.

Whether he runs is dependent upon the decision of the presence that was not present, but was in almost all conversations at the dinner – First District Congressman Raul Labrador. Is he, as rumored frequently, going to come home and run for governor in 2018?

If so, will he resign his seat to campaign full-time? Or is he going to resign and accept some position in the Trump Administration that deals with the immigration issue, which he has considerable expertise on based on his legal practice.

If he resigns before November of 2018, Idaho law specifies a special election in a winner-take-all ballot. Idaho is the one state in the union that has never had a special election for the House though in the early 30s the second congressional district seat was vacated on June 8th, 1934 when Democratic Congressman Thomas Coffin was hit and killed by a car on a street in Washington, D.C. Because Congress had already adjourned for the year the seat remained vacant until November when D. Worth Clark won the general election.

Declared gubernatorial aspirant Lt. Gov. Brad Little was present as was Boise developer and businessman, Dr. Tommy Ahlquist. Both chose to work the crowd one-on-one rather than address the entire gathering. Former State Senator Russ Fulcher was represented by some family members and Attorney General Laurence Wasden had no one representing his as yet undeclared interest.

If one supports Lt. Governor Little, you want four or five candidates in the race, the thought being your base will hold while the Tea Party vote would split between Labrador and Fulcher. Ahlquist is LDS and he has to be courting Melaleuca founder and billionaire Frank VanderSloot, hoping that his support will consolidate the state’s LDS vote (assumes of course that it is monolithic, which it is not) behind his candidacy.

While some pundits believe Little has to be the favorite others feel he will be handicapped by his close identification with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter who has disappointed many Republicans because he is perceived to have been coasting these last few years. Critics will charge that a vote for Little is a vote for a fourth Otter term. Brad has to figure out how to distance himself from Otter while not appearing to be disloyal.

Labrador and his supporters are still citing a poll, now six months old, that shows their horse with 48% of a Republican gubernatorial primary vote and all the other wanna-be’s in single digits.

Leroy is the one person positioned to be up and running almost instantly should Labrador resign. Name identification alone should make him the initial favorite. Reports around the district indicate there would be several other contenders including State Rep. Luke Malek from Coeur d’Alene and State Rep. Brent Crane from Nampa.

Such gatherings always serve as breeding grounds for political rumor milling. Two of the best were that GOP legislative leadership is quietly preparing a couple of measures to spring on the last day for sine die when they’ll suspend the calendar and ram a bill through that will create a primary requirement even for a special election. Another effort would be a legal mandate that will supersede the Batt nuclear waste agreement and permit the importation of the spent fuel rods Governor Batt and Governor Andrus have thus far been able to thwart

The other fun rumor is that House Speaker Scott Bedke has been approached by Interior Secretary Zinke about being nominated for one of the assistant secretaryships at Interior. A call to the Speaker’s office asking for a comment was not returned.

Still, when all was said and done it is clear that Raul Labrador is holding the key to most interesting political machinations over the next two years.

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