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Columnists
OTHER VIEW
Malloy: Term limits issue shows signs of life

The older I get, the more I like term limits.

This is not to say that longevity is all bad. Sen. Mike Crapo, who chairs the banking committee, and Congressman Mike Simpson, who sits on the appropriations committee, are in those high places partly because they’ve been around for a long time.

But there also are benefits to occasional turnover, and fresh perspectives. Three of the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation essentially have the job security of U.S. Supreme Court justices. They are not likely to be voted out of office, and campaign funds will not dry up.

Next year’s Republican primary will be different because of the chain reaction caused by Gov. Butch Otter’s decision to retire after 12 years. We’re seeing three strong candidates vying to take his place in Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Congressman Raul Labrador and Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist.

With Labrador leaving his First District seat, we have three solid candidates on the campaign trail – former Lt. Gov. David Leroy, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher and state Rep. Luke Malek. Four candidates, at the moment, are lined up for lieutenant governor — Sen. Marv Hagedorn, Rep. Kelly Packer, former state GOP chairman Steve Yates and former Rep. Janice McGeachin.

A couple of candidates are trying to ensure that spirited races become part of the norm in Idaho. Leroy is calling for term limits in Congress, while Ahlquist is seeking term limits in state offices. They are not breaking new ground. Idaho voters approved term limits, only to be overturned by the Legislature in 2002.

Labrador, who has proposed a constitutional amendment calling for term limits, is the only Idaho candidate with legislation on the table. But don’t hold your breath for the career politicians in Congress to push term limits upon themselves. Leroy thinks there’s a better chance for states to ratify the amendment, and go over the heads of Congress. That’s also a long shot, but Leroy says it could be an issue “if anger at the federal level continues to sizzle.”

It’s easy for Leroy to talk about term limits. He’ll be a 70-year-old freshman if he wins, and he wouldn’t be there for more than a few terms anyway. It’s a more difficult proposition for Malek, who is in his 30s and has more long-term ambitions if he wins the congressional seat.

“I have always opposed term limits,” Malek says. “They imply that people don’t have the wisdom to choose representation. More complacency is the last thing we need in politics right now.”

In my view, the electorate collectively doesn’t have the wisdom, brains or desire to choose its representatives. Primary elections have disgustingly low turnouts and general elections are an exercise of voting for the person with the “R” by his/her name, regardless of competency. Yes, complacency is alive and well in the Gem State.

Fulcher favors a constitutional amendment for term limits for all members of Congress, but discourages Idaho from going on its own. He’s right on this one. “Tenure is a factor when it comes to the assignment of chairmanships, and leadership roles in Congress; and those roles come with incremental influence.”

On the state side, Ahlquist is calling for state constitutional officers to be limited to eight years, and he makes a good case. “This step is critical to ensuring we have responsive, citizen-based leadership – and to avoid allowing the status quo to run the Statehouse for years on end.

I don’t feel so strongly about limiting state offices, other than the governor, to eight years. Voters hardly pay attention to those offices, and research rarely goes beyond voting for the Republican on the ballot. But I have never seen a governor, or U.S. president for that matter, who I wanted to see in office for more than eight years.

We’ll see where all this goes. There could be enough fuel for a voter initiative for term limits, and I’d bet on passage if that happens. Term limits on the congressional level are less likely anytime soon, but there’s no telling what a Trump-like revolution might produce – and especially if Congress continues to accomplish nothing.


Columnists
Other view: The Curry snub is one of many times Trump has tried to preempt embarrassment

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry struck a hopeful note Friday when he explained why he wouldn’t be accepting an invitation to visit President Donald Trump at the White House.

“Hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country,” Curry said, as others on his championship team considered whether to accept.

“I don’t think us not going to White House is going to miraculously make everything better,” he said. But, “this is my opportunity to voice that.”

Except, Curry didn’t even get the chance to not go to the White House. In a tweet the morning after his comments, Trump summarily uninvited the guard and his entire team.

Trump’s tweet: Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!

Trump has developed a habit of preemptively scuttling projects that were already circling the drain.

The CEO Council

Curry has never been a Trump fan. Months ago, when he learned that Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank had called the new president a “real asset,” the basketball player quipped to CNBC:

“I agree with that description—if you remove the ‘et’ “

But by mid-August, Plank had become one of several business advisers who resigned from the president’s American Manufacturing Council in the wake of Trump’s infamous comments comparing violent white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville to protesters that opposed them.

“Earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich wrote. “I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.”

The council looked headed toward collapse as other executives followed suit. At first Trump lashed out at defectors and vowed to replace them.

The president tweeted: For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!

Then one day later, he pulled the plug himself.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum. I am ending both,” Trump wrote.

The Kennedy Center

Trump also has a habit of removing himself from events he senses he won’t be welcome at.

As in the business world, his belated condemnation of hate groups at the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally caused a backlash in the arts community in August.

Three of the Kennedy Center gala’s five honorees—television producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade—indicated that they would or could boycott the White House reception in December, where the president traditionally offers kind words to each.

But Trump preempted any boycotts when the White House released a statement in August saying he and the first lady would not attend the Kennedy Center Honors “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”

The White House reception would also be canceled for the first time in the awards’ history, the Kennedy Center announced afterward.

Kennedy Center officials said in a statement that they were “grateful” for Trump’s gesture.

“In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees,” the statement read.

The White House correspondents’ dinner

His early decision to forego the Kennedy Center Honors was reminiscent of his abrupt Twitter announcement in February that he would not attend the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said then on ABCs “This Week” it would be “naive” for Trump to go to the dinner, as most presidents in recent history had done, after a campaign in which he had frequently clashed with the media.

“You know, one of the things we say in the South [is], ‘If a Girl Scout egged your house, would you buy cookies from her?’ I think that this is a pretty similar scenario,” Sanders added. “There’s no reason for him to go in and sit and pretend like this is going to be just another Saturday night.”

Nevertheless, the dinner took place as scheduled. Trump ended up holding a rally in Pennsylvania the same night, where he appealed to his base and emphasized the size of his crowd.

“I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from the Washington swamp spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd, and much better people,” Trump said.

Health-care reform

These aren’t the only examples. As the GOP’s legislative effort to reform U.S. health care has thrashed between life and death this year, so has Trump’s embrace of the project.

The president spent the summer cajoling as Republicans struggled to pass a replacement for Obama-era health insurance laws.

“Go Republican Senators, Go!” Trump wrote before a crucial last-ditch vote in July, for example.

But after the bill failed by one vote, apparently dooming the effort, Trump acted as though this had been his plan all along, tweeting: 3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!

That was back in July. Lately, there’s been another attempt to revive health-care reform, and Trump’s tune has changed accordingly.

Trump’s tweet: Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as “the Republican who saved ObamaCare.”


Columnists
Other view: Facebook's public responsibility

This appeared in Sunday’s Washington Post.

Early this month, Facebook announced the first hard evidence of Russian efforts to spread disinformation over social media during the election: 470 fake accounts and pages, which paid $100,000 to run thousands of advertisements apparently designed to heighten political tensions. Now, after weeks of uncertainty, the company has made the correct decision to share the ads with congressional investigators probing election interference. Next it should do the same for the public.

The company first argued that federal privacy law prevented it from sharing the ads and fake accounts. While it handed over the material to special counsel Robert Mueller III, likely after he acquired a warrant, it balked at providing copies to the House and Senate intelligence committees. Now, Facebook says its legal obligations don’t prohibit disclosure after all. It’s giving Congress not only the advertisements, but also user information belonging to the fake accounts, along with the terms the advertisers used to target particular Facebook users. The latter may be particularly important as investigators examine whether the ads aimed to influence particular groups of voters by location, demographic and interest in certain topics. For example, did the Kremlin seek to push voters in certain areas of the country to support President Donald Trump by showing them anti-refugee propaganda?

Facebook’s decision to provide Congress with ad information is an important step. But while reporting has revealedsomesamples of the fake accounts, Facebook has declined to make public any information about what the advertisements looked like or what messages they distributed.

Facebook argues that handing the advertising information to Congress is the best way to provide a public accounting of Russian election interference, reasoning that congressional investigators are best positioned to interpret Facebook’s data in the context of sensitive intelligence. It’s true that members of the public don’t have the same insight into election interference as the intelligence committees do. But it will take time for the committees to complete the thorough investigation that is needed and to release their findings. While the investigators work, the public should be able to begin an informed discussion about how a hostile foreign power sought to undermine American democracy by warping its citizens’ behavior.

Though Facebook is right to be careful about distributing material that might raise privacy concerns, an advertisement is public by nature. Facebook might choose not to make public potentially sensitive account information or targeting data, but it’s hard to see what’s keeping it from releasing ads that have already been displayed to thousands—if not millions—of users.

Alongside its announcement about sharing information with Congress, Facebook released a promise to continue its internal investigation into misuse of its platform and a commitment to greater transparency in the ads it runs. This is an encouraging sign of its willingness to think of itself as a partial custodian of democratic debate, as more and more Americans receive their news from social media. That willingness also requires swifter accountability to the public.


Mailbag
Letter: Lawmakers should support palliative care

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, their entire world changes. Each day can look and feel different from the last. There’s the fear, anxiety and pain that go along with the diagnosis and treatment of a chronic disease. Over time, this alone can take a toll on a person’s quality of life.

However, palliative care can help treat the whole patient, not only the disease. Specialized medical professionals can improve the quality of life of the patient and their family through coordinated care, relief from pain and stress as well as other symptoms of the disease and treatment. It can also lead to better outcomes and lower costs.

I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., with 700 other American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteers to urge Sen. James Risch to co-sponsor a bill currently pending in Congress that would increase education of and access to palliative care. This legislation has strong bipartisan support, and we need our lawmakers' help to move it forward!

Kandie Bodrero

Jerome