Politics: Week at a glance

by Judy Ferro

Idahoans have some things to be happy about right now.

Recent estimates are that the Idaho government will have a $64.5 million budget surplus by the July 1 end of the current fiscal year. Legislators gambled on a stronger Idaho economy when they appropriated funds, and the earliest returns indicate they were right. August’s revenues weren’t as strong as July’s, yet they still exceeded forecasts in every taxing category. In addition, Idaho Health and Welfare reverted $19.1 million back to the general fund, most from unspent Medicaid funds.

With our state’s schools, colleges, and infrastructure all needing further investment, a healthy surplus is great news. (And Idaho attained this healthy economic growth after choosing to increase spending, especially in education, rather than lowering taxes. Kansas, please take note.)

On top of that, Idahoans who own stock got good news when the Fed decided not to raise interest rates. All three indexes showed immediate increases of 1%, with NASDAQ setting a new record.

Moreover, Nampans can be happy that renovations for the former library are back on track with Mussell Construction promising venues similar to Bistro 29.

And Caldwellites, already happy about a fun and well-attended Indian Creek Festival, can now celebrate being finalists for the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation’s Healthy Community Grant. Safer pedestrian pathways may not be a “sexy” proposal, but safe paths would give parents one less thing to worry about and increase the number of people walking. Moreover, it’s a concrete proposal; several communities’ applications sound like they aren’t going to start planning until they have the money. (Support Caldwell by voting before Sept. 30 at www.highfiveidaho.org/vote.)

Not all the news is good though. In an effort to rid the state of investments in commercial property, the state Land Board is planning to auction nine properties. I don’t understand the drive to divest; I’ve been taught that diverse investments protect from a downturn in a segment of the economy. It’s not like nine properties would give the state a monopoly of available commercial property.

Administrative Director Bob Geddes pointed out a serious problem with these particular sales. Five properties are near the state Capitol. If Idaho’s population continues to grow, chances are the state will end up repurchasing some of them—at higher prices—in the not-so-distant future.

Another case where Republican dogma contradicts common sense.

And the past weeks have not been good for those who support, or even those who fear, a Trump presidency. Reports of an illegal campaign contribution by the Trump Foundation have been followed by articles detailing the Foundation’s use of over $250 million of other donors’ money to settle legal disputes for Trump.

Newsweek published what it could learn about Trump’s entanglements with overseas governments including significant ties with Russia. As a result, over 50 foreign affairs experts signed a letter stating “our policies must be motivated exclusively by what is in America’s best interest, not by the financial interests of our president.”

And 375 scientists, including 30 Nobel laureates, declared Trump’s plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate agreement a danger to us all.

Notably, the New York Times turned on Trump pointing out he’d given speeches the same day first retracting, then promising, a tax cut for small businesses. Then, in an article about various Trump’s “birther” claims, said, “[Trump] has exhausted an army of fact-checkers with his mischaracterizations, exaggerations and fabrications. But this lie was different from the start, an insidious, calculated calumny…”

Life continues to be better than we fear and worse than we hope.

Politics: Outsiders threaten party administrators

by Judy Ferro

One of the lessons of the elections of 2016 is that U.S. parties have little control over who runs for office under their banner.

Not that the parties haven’t been struggling with this at the state level for years. Republican fear that RINOs (Republicans-in-Name-Only) might take over their party has led to Idaho reinstituting registration by party and a closed Republican primary.

Democrats have recently developed a problem with Candidates-by-FAX-Only. Shizandra Fox, a dietary counselor from Sonoma, CA, filed as a candidate for the U.S. House Seat. Perhaps she was inspired by the Brooklyn attorney who filed for an Idaho U.S. Senate seat in 2014.

We’re seeing something different on the national scene this year though—outsider candidates gaining massive support.

For a year now, America has waited to see how the Republican Party would deal with a Donald Trump candidacy. Would they actually nominate a man who has threatened Mexicans, Moslems, and the media? Who relates to women only as sexual objects? Who promises to violate the U.S. Constitution?

Well, yes, they must—or appear at war with their own voters. Leaders who’ve said that Trump is rotten to the core are now urging people to vote for him.

Some are assuring voters that Trump will fly right now he’s sure of nomination—as though it’s an accepted practice for Republican candidates to say one thing before the primary and another after. Trump’s speech on foreign policy, however, suggests he can’t do it—he managed to support both sides of three different issues, apparently without recognizing the incongruities.

And there is no doubt this solution is hurting Republicans. An AP poll indicates that 67 percent of Americans view the GOP negatively—that’s even higher than Trump’s negative ratings.

Democrats, in contrast, have been smugly proud that they have two great candidates—Clinton and Sanders–who can politely discuss the complicated trade agreements and global warming. Sure, Bernie fans have criticized media and party official bias, but the candidates themselves have been presidential, each recognizing that the nominee would need the support of the other’s base.

So what happened in Nevada?

It’s amazing to think that the Nevada Democratic Party planned to gather 3,500 political activists in one room for eight hours running—it actually extended to 12—and keep control by giving dictatorial powers to the party chair. (We know Rebecca Lange had dictatorial powers because she announced them prior to a number of biased decisions.)

Two of the major conflicts developed early. One, Lange moved to give Clinton three more delegate by changing the basis for allotment from the county conventions, which Sanders had dominated, to the precinct caucuses. Two, the credentials committee guaranteed her two additional delegates by barring 58 Bernie supporters from taking part without allowing them to defend their status. A move which the committee co-chair said violated “the spirit and values of our state and our nation.”

Then one reporter—who’d left the convention early—took seriously a fellow reporters claim that violence had erupted and chairs been thrown.

The media jumped all over his report. Video shows one man raised a chair, was stopped by friends, put it down and hugged one of those who stopped him.

National media choose to show only the frame with the chair in the air. They cannot, however, cite a police report or interview a victim, except for Lange who had indeed been “verbally abused.”

Five extra votes for Clinton.

And the Democrats job of uniting the party under one candidate just got harder.