Month: March 2016


Sent a hundred dollars off to Bernie Sanders for President this morning.

While there were many reasons, some simple and some complex, it all boiled down to the phrase “youth must be served.” We’re in the midst of a generational change and too many of the baby boomers are clinging and clutching the levers of power unwilling to yield to the younger generations coming up and unwilling to accept the inevitable.

In addition, baby boomers still hold a great deal of the nation’s wealth and since money equals power they wish to influence change as long as they can. The conclusion should be clear: baby boomers are not managing change well at all. Thus, many are looking to a Clinton redux with subliminal joy that one of their own will still be calling the shots for the next eight years.

The young (and those that think and act young, like Bernie himself, who is 72) are saying au contraire. Get off the stage, its our turn and we recognize a fair and balanced playing field is only possible if big banks are busted up and the top one tenth start paying their fair share of tax obligations instead of paying smart lawyers and accountants to keep from paying any taxes.

The sheer enthusiasm that youth is generating for Bernie and his message is a wonder to behold. It’s no surprise to some that the Vermont senator now runs slightly ahead of Mrs. Clinton in national polls. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, he defeats presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump by 18 percentage points whereas Mrs. Clinton only has an easily narrowed eight point margin.

Democratic leaders would be astute to recognize also that this enthusiasm and energy is NOT transferable to Mrs. Clinton should she become the nominee.

The entire electorate does feel adrift as the old political conventions and shibboleths give way to the new. Like the making of sausage it is not always a pretty process, but it should be clear that we’re in the vortex of some major shifting winds.

Give the devil his due, too. Donald Trump had the genius to recognize that an appeal to emotional issues was far better than talking policy matters to an electorate already shell-shocked by job insecurity and growing debt. Trump also saw how easily he could dominate main street media by mastering Twitter and the other social media.

And it is confusing to many folks who have experienced job loss, home forfeiture, unpayable medical costs, growing student debt, as to how ceo’s of failing banks and other flailing institutions still make millions.

Traditional labels for parties are shifting also. Sat through a Town Hall meeting recently in St. Maries and listened to State Senator Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, and Representative Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, try to explain the unexplainable – that the voter had been done in by the entire Kootenai county legislative delegation, all Republicans, who had voted for increasing their property taxes and weakening local control, while still underfunding education and cutting 78,000 Idahoans adrift without recourse to medicaid for health issues.

What many of my contemporaries do not understand is the distinct difference between “managing” the numerous and inevitable changes in life and “controlling” those changes. It’s no coincidence that those who believe they control life’s variables are high on the importance of authoritarian scales, big on traditional values and the raising of childen who can be seen but are not to be heard.

I recognize and accept that I’m in the twilight of a medicore political and writing career. I accept the fact and know it is time for this bit player to get off the stage. Hillary should recognize this also.

Youth will be served. Go, Bernie, go!



Sometimes it is the simple gestures one makes without really thinking about them that for another become a random act of kindness meaning far more than the generator ever could have anticipated. For example, late last week I received a note from Carol Schlentner, one of 32 year round residents of Lake Minchumina, Alaska. It made my day.

Ms. Schlentner is a member of the Lake Minchumina Library Association. I suspect most of the community belongs and there is a board that prudently manages meager resources to purchase books well read and passed around during the long winter nights. Last fall the Library Association purchased the three books I have written to date, but were most interested in the book, Eye on the Caribou, about passage of the greatest piece of conservation legislation in American history – the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980.

Lake Minchumina is one of those Alaskan communities to which there is no road. Access is by air or by snowmobile or dog sled in the winter. Thanks to the late “Uncle Ted” Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator in American history, folks do have access to public radio and public television.

Though an ardent conservative “free enterpriser,” Stevens knew the private sector would never find it profitable to broadcast to communities like Lake Minchumina. As the chairman of the powerful Appropriations committee, Stevens made sure NPR and Public Television were well funded.

Books, however, are still important. The community, located on the edge of an eight mile by seven mile lake, sits at the western edge of the expanded Denali National Park and is darn near the geographical center of Alaska. Cell service allowing one to use kindles is non-existent. There is no wi-fi. However, there is a constantly changing panorama of incredible views across the lake at Denali Peak, the restored native name for Mt. McKinley, which, at 20,000 plus feet is the highest mountain in North America.

Passage of ANILCA (the acronym for the lands legislation) also created numerous National Park Preserves along the edges of the national parks to allow subsistence hunting, a right guaranteed all historical users regardless of race or ethnicity by the Alaskan Constitution.

Thus, Lake Minchumina found itself in one of the Denali Park Preserves when, on December 2, 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed the lands legislation into law. In her note, Ms. Schlentner made reference to the fact that she and others appreciated the large amount of land that was in protected status. She also pointed out that as a year round resident for over ten years, she was eligible for a subsistence moose hunt for five days.

She thanked me for writing Eye on the Caribou, the history of the lands legislation, adding that I had made the subject a most interesting read.

Eye on the Caribou was a great review of what I only heard snippets of as I lived very remotely. We had no mail or telephone, just radio, back when it all took place,” she wrote.

What made the note so rewarding was not the $50 check for another set of the three books. It was the fact that the members of the Library Association had decided my books would be a fine “In Memoriam” donation to Fairbanks’ Northern Alaska Environmental Center in the name of Florence Collins.

Ms. Collins had passed away last November at the age of 95 and had been a long-time member of the Association who in particular reviewed for the Center the numerous and various books written from the environmental point of view regarding the North Star state.

The association also wanted two other pioneers of advocacy for the Alaska lands legislation to be remembered as well – Ginny Wood, and Celia Hunter, who many have called the mother of the Alaska lands legislation.

Cannot begin to say how honored and pleased I was to have the books be a donation in the memory of such great Alaskans. The pleasure is mine and I thank them for their thoughtfulness. It truly made writing the book Eye on the Caribou worthwhile.



He is one of the top behind-the-scenes political operatives in Idaho. Rarely does he say anything on the record, prefering to stay behind the scenes, quietly, efficiently and effectively going about his business whether successfully running statewide campaigns (He’s never lost any race he has managed) or representing clients with interests across Idaho.

Now in his 70s, though not in his class in terms of experience and numbers, we’re two old war horses who have come to respect each other’s acumen and insights. As a life-long Republican he cares deeply for the party and its conservative approach to addressing the world’s challenges. We may disagee about approach but have never been disagreeable with each. We have too much respect for the state we love, its people we have both served and the great future we think it has.

As political practitioners, we know neither of us has a monopoly on truth and both believe politics is the art of compromise with relationships of respect and regard across the aisle being critical to progress. We both deplore the paralysis harsh partisanship has brought to our nation’ capitol, especially as we see cities and states all across the nation still working well.

Neither of us Idaho natives has ever seen a presidential year like this. Both of us did time inside the Beltway and we both recognize the insidious way it often distorts what is happening beyond the Beltway. Both of us feel lucky to have escaped D.C. and both of us have helped decent men succeed as good representatives of the people of Idaho’s best interests.

He sees the party of Lincoln, the great unifer, becoming a party of hard divisions and watches with fascination as Donald Trump hijacks it. He recognizes the fears Trump is channeling and understands the deep disappointment many conservatives have that so-called conservatives when they get to D.C. get absorbed and rapidly defanged.

He recognizes that there’s some validity to Trump’s argument that he is attracting new voters to the Republican party but really wonders how Republican they may be in the long run. He finds it odd that many are buying Trump’s perverse logic (my phrase, not his) that because he’s been on the inside and profited from being there, that now, as an outsider, he better knows how to take the insiders down.

He does credit Trump with successfully convincing many that he is a doer, a builder, one with a track record of getting things done. He also thinks the so-called Republican “establishment” waited too long before recognizing the potential threat Trump may be to Republican prospects for taking the White House..

He feels former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney virtually guaranteed a backlash from Trump supporters, and probably generated an opposite reaction to what he intended by waiting so long to speak out against Trump.

He personally voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich in Idaho’s primary. Even a “business Democrat” like me shares the feeling that Kasich is the class act of the entire field and the best qualified under the old rules to be the next president.

As my friend says, though, Kasich is viewed as too establishment in the new environment. My friend knows that no Republican has ever been elected president without taking Ohio, and presidential electoral calculus also dictates that the Republicans take Florida and Virginia as well.

He laughs though as he recalls being a Naval aviator at Pensacola¸ Florida in 1964 and everyone was just sure Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was going to be elected president. Though some pundits see Republicans losing with Trump in a slaughter similar to 1964, my friend recognizes the lack of enthusiasm on the part of many Democrats for Hillary Clinton as the party’s nominee; thus, my friend does not concede an inevitable loss.

Nor does he see the demise of the Grand Old Party. He’s been around long enough to know there’s a dynamic political pendulum at work in the body politic that swings from right to left. It always self-corrects though, and will do so again. And of course¸even if Trump is the Republican nominee, which appears more and more likely, he will carry Idaho and the Republic will survive.

As with my old Boss, former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, so it is with my friend. I learned long ago never to make a wager on anything political with either of them.