Archive for September, 2017

I’m a “repeat offender” when it comes to criticizing the national media. There’s so much wrong that at least some of my anger must have some merit. This time, the whole mess of ‘em are mucking through something that will, eventually, change us all as consumers.

Having been a very small part of it many years ago, I learned a lot and am happy for the opportunity – lucky to have had the experience. Maybe that’s a big part of why I use this space to rant against some of the current practitioners from time to time. “Been there. Done that.” So, when they screw up, it touches a reflexive nerve which brings out the angry reaction. I’ve got one of those reactions going now. But, this time it’s different. Angry AND uncertain.

Not many in today’s media crowd were around in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s when I was learning the craft. Their early training and mine are a couple of generations apart. Oh, some of the basics are still the same i.e. who, what, where, when, why and how. Still gotta have all that.

Then we -and they as youngsters – went through the Watergate era where the most prized reporting came to those doing “investigative journalism.” Woodward, Bernstein, Mike Wallace et al. Dig out the dirt, confront the bad guys and make major headlines. Or a very rare six minute “package” leading the evening’s national TV news. Journalism turned a sharp corner then, and the “who, what, where…” guys largely disappeared. So did a lot of “getting it right” with facts before being the bearer of constantly “breaking news.” Damn, how I hate that phrase!

Now, another “sharp corner” is being turned. Labeling public officials – up to and including the President of the United States – liars. Which – on a daily and often hourly basis – he, and nearly all the appointed minions who “speak” for him, are. Without question.

Most of the “street” reporters in the national media are less than 50-years-old. Such training as they received was much different than us older types had in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. That – and Trump”s continuing reprehensible public utterances – has resulted in a very different “code of conduct” between them and news makers.

Case in point: Richard Nixon. I didn’t like Nixon when he was in Congress in the ‘50’s. He was a liar then, just as he was in the presidency. He felt persecuted, disrespected, undervalued and cursed with being a perpetual “outsider” in Washington. All of which he carried into the White House later.

My limited, working contact with him was usually as a weekend reporter or subbing for regular, daily beat reporters. Also had a couple of minor personal occasions to be in his presence. Each time, my innards churned with disrespect. A lot of contemporaries felt the same. But nearly all of us played our different roles professionally and – all in all – until Watergate, respectfully. If not for him, then for the office. But we knew he often lied. Big time.

Now, the next generation of reporters is faced with Donald Trump – the most unqualified, unprepared, unskilled and biggest misfit ever to hold the office of President. To that can be added his penchant for distortion and outright lying on a daily basis. And, his selection and use of people equally unskilled at their jobs who share the same distasteful habit of publically – and often – speaking “truth” as they see fit to create it.

Trump operated in the same dishonest manner for nearly two years of the national campaign. For a long time, he wasn’t openly challenged for his regular, daily “untruths” by a media not used to dealing with an openly confident, perpetual liar at that level.

Then, editors and others in charge of content for broadcasters and print, had to make some decisions. Should they continue to avoid or soft-pedal the daily torrent of lies and, thus, become complicit in passing them on to viewers and readers as fact? Should they employ fact-checkers and give the job of separating truth from fiction to them? Or, should they step outside the boundary of simply reporting and call the torrent of lies what they were? Lies!

Though the media is currently held in very low esteem by much of the American public, I can tell you, from experience, a lot of good scotch and considerable bourbon was consumed, a lot of sleep was lost and a lot of professional soul-searching was done by some very dedicated people. To openly challenge the voices and the blatant lies of the top tier of political “leaders,” would forever change the honored – and mostly respected – balance between government officials and media. The relationship would never be the same.

The resulting decision for most of the major media has been to label this administration’s lies for what they are – lies. Not just once in awhile. Not just when the lie is a big one. Not just for spite. Not just for anybody but the President. A lie is a lie is a lie is a lie. Anytime. And anyone.

To my mind, this puts us on a whole new path. Those who persist in lying are going to be called on it – regardless of who they are. At least nationally. And the national media, once simply an institutional reporting source, has become a daily arbiter of fact.

Will this continue when Trump and his minions are gone? No one knows. But, that sweeping difference in one of our most significant national institutional relationships is what exists today.

I’m not comfortable with that. But it is what it is.

Ladies and Gents:

We realize, in your diligent search for answers to national problems, you probably wouldn’t look out here on the far edge. Even we understand our remote location is not a place solutions to the weighty conundrums you face will most likely be found. Still, we do think about them. And, when we believe we may have an answer or two, we like to “belly up to the bar” as it were and make a suggestion. Or two.

Here’s one for thought. A lot of hourly wage, beer-drinking workers – and those of us formerly so – have been interested in your struggles to reduce the horrendous national debt. Seems you’ve wrestled with this for a very long time. Some of you want to raise more income. Some want to just not pay bills you’ve already run up and simply slash dollars being spent – even for the “necessities.” As we’ve stood around the bar here talking about it, we think many of you have forgotten where you came from. You don’t remember how you used to handle your personal budget problems before you got to Washington to spend other people’s money. Our money.

Take our families, for instance. If we’ve run up more bills than we have take-home pay, here’s what we do. First, we stop buying stuff. Just get along with what we’ve already got. Second, we carefully examine what we’ve acquired and see if we can get along without any of it. Like maybe driving one pickup rather than two – cut back on payments and gas. Maybe decide we’ll eat out once a month rather than once a week. You know.

Another thing. If we need more income to cover the bills already in the cardboard file box, we consolidate some of ‘em. And we may take on a second – or third – job. Increase what comes in until we cover current expenses and reduce those we’re already committed to. Like what the national debt really is to you.

Now, I’m not saying you all have to get a second job. Or even an honest
one. Even here next to the Pacific, we don’t expect that. No. What we mean is you need to have more income. Not a lot. Just enough to catch up a bit. Pay down what you – and thus we – owe. Avoid late fees – interest on the debt if you will. Keep your credit score up. Our credit score.

Now, let’s review. Stop or reduce future spending. Carefully eliminate a few expenses on things you can get along without. Raise a few dollars to stay current, with just enough left over to pay down those nasty back bills.

We think those are pretty reasonable steps to take. Together, they work for us at home. Makes no difference if we watch Fox or MSNBC. It works.

The other idea, well, you probably won’t like. But even before the third round at the bar, we had this one handled and put away. So hear us out.

Some of our Republican brothers and sisters are trying to get a handle on voter fraud. Even if they haven’t found any significant examples of it. ANY. Which they haven’t. Still, all those Republican legislature’s are changing various state laws to keep out the “fraud.” The “fraud” you found when Democrats won and Republicans didn’t. That “fraud.”

Well, this is just our suggestion, mind you. But what if state elections were run by state laws? All 50 of ‘em. Any way they want to. But, what if national elections were operated under national laws? Controlled nationally. Each state could look after its own races without federal interference. And national races would be run by a single set of rules that would assure national elections are fair and square. Without state “undue” interference. Seems pretty simple. Should take care of all that “fraud.”

And here’s another thought just from me. What if the 49 other states took a good look at how we run elections here in Oregon? What if they started to do what we’ve successfully done for, oh, 20 years or so now? Very successfully. Suppose other states copied our system of voting by mail. No registration problems. No standing out in the weather for 10-12 hours. No long lines. Nobody campaigning at the polling places. And, so far, our cases of fraud have been virtually non-existent. For more than 20 years!

So, there you go. Two problems you’ve been trying to find answers to for far too many years. Two suggestions how to handle them so you can solve ‘em and get back to work on other important things. And a bonus solution that might make the whole national balloting process better.

My calculations are you’ve spent about $800-900 million administratively and still aren’t any closer to solutions. Cost for our ideas was less than a $40 bar tab. As I said, maybe you just forgot how you used to handle these kinds of things. Here at home. Back when you were one of us.

Your friend,


In the beginning

Author: admin

Once upon a time, there was a Sen. Cecil Andrus. Not a governor then. A simple, lowly state senator. Nothing unusual about him. Just over six feet, 175 pounds, trim physique but balding a bit on top.

I first met him in early 1965 when he came for a weekend in Pocatello with native Rep. Darrell Manning. Manning introduced us. A weekend visit that far away from his Orofino home was unusual for Andrus because, while serving in the state senate, he was selling insurance out of Lewiston. So, most weekends, he went home to check on family and the business. Just not that weekend.

I was reporting for KID-TV out of Pocatello’s Bannock Hotel. It was a couple of months later I learned why the visit to far Southeast Idaho. Manning was introducing him to local Democrats, some business and money folk. Andrus was prepping a run for governor. He came to Pocatello more and more after he announced. Always paid KID-TV a visit and, usually, sat for a short interview.

In 1966, he lost the primary to then-Democratic candidate Charles Herndon. Andrus was out of it. Then, in September, Herndon and several others died in a small plane crash. Andrus became the last minute replacement. And he took off. He and I had stayed in touch and he asked me to be his press guy. So, with a wife and three kids at home, I quit a secure job and hit the campaign road.

While I’d covered politics, being IN politics was a whole new game. Steeped in ignorance about what was expected of me, I met Cece at the Pocatello airport early one morning. Cece had been a private pilot for some years; I hadn’t started on my own license yet. In the aftermath of the Herndon crash, his wife, Carol, made him promise to quit being a pilot. So, that morning, our chauffeur was Johnny Bastida, soon to be an Ada County Commissioner. Oh, yes, he was also a solid lifetime Republican. He was, also, the finest private pilot I’d ever met.

As we cruised at 10,000 feet to Boise, Cece asked Johnny about feathering a prop. That means, turning off one perfectly good working engine and, after a short time, restarting in the air. Before the Herndon crash, Cece had been licensed only in single engine.

Obliging the request, Bastida feathered a perfectly good engine and walked Andrus through the restart procedure – while the dead prop looked like a standing tree to me. It was a warm day with lots of thermal activity – hot, bumpy air rising from the East Idaho desert. I was jammed in the backseat, balancing a very small portable typewriter on my upright knees, trying to compose a news release for Boise media, trying to think, looking at that dead prop and worrying about the descent.

You see, Bastida seemingly paid no attention to locating an emergency landing spot as he was teaching Cece how to restart an engine while losing altitude. Maybe he didn’t because we were smack over the middle of the Craters of the Moon where landing a helicopter would have been damned near impossible much less a twin-engine Cessna.

The two of them were animated and busy. In hindsight, and as a now-licensed pilot, I’m sure Johnny had things under control . But, he was so patient with Andrus who was taking what seemed forever to learn what I found out later wasn’t a very difficult procedure. We may not have been in as much trouble as it seemed to a non-pilot at the time, but it was beautiful when that starboard prop was spinning again. And the boys up front were laughing and having a good time.

I relate this story because many Idahoans didn’t know Andrus personally. To me, it fits his personality to a “T.” He was a constant learner – his eyes and ears always open to something new. And he asked questions. All the time. More hearing than talking was my experience.

But he did learn to talk politically like a master. Again, curiosity and hard work. In his first years as governor, he would talk to anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. He learned by saying “Yes” to every invitation to speak. If three others people were on an elevator, he practiced. He’d go to the furthest corner of Owyhee County to talk to a half dozen cattlemen. PTA’s, Rotary, Kiwanis, bridge clubs, hunting clubs, feed lots and cafe’s. Any audience. Anytime. Anywhere.

And he got to be a master of public speaking which served him well for 50 years. Which served Idaho well for 50 years.

I hope others who are sharing their “Andrus stories” will continue to do so. Even those closest to him, and who thought they’d heard them all, are being surprised by the outpouring. And that’s good.

Maybe, unlike so many other public figures before him, he won’t soon be forgotten or simply relegated to his political activities because there’ll always be another story. A “new” Andrus story.

He’d like that.