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  • CSUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2013 SECTIONisj

    C MY K

    INSIGHTINSIGHT

    Know the

    Know that theres help available for those in abusive relationships

    By Sarah LeedSFor The Journal

    An abusive relationship is about power and control.

    Though there are no typical victims of

    domestic violence, abusive relationships do share similar characteristics. In all cases, the abuser aims to exert power and control over his partner.

    Many people think domes-tic violence is about anger. It absolutely isnt. Batterers do tend to take their anger out on their intimate partner. But its not really about anger. Its about trying to instill fear. And its about having power and control in the relation-ship. In an abusive relation-ship, the abuser may use varying tactics to gain power and control, including:

    Emotional abuse. Uses put-downs, insults, criticism or name-calling to make you feel bad about yourself.

    Denial and blame. Denies that the abuse occurs and shifts responsibility for the abusive behavior onto you. This may leave you confused

    and unsure of yourself.Intimidation. Uses certain

    looks, actions or gestures to instill fear. The abuser may break things, destroy prop-erty, abuse pets or display weapons.

    Coercion and threats. Threatens to hurt other fam-ily members, pets, children or self.

    Power. Makes all major decisions; defines the roles in the relationship; takes complete charge of the home and social life, and treats you like a servant or posses-sion.

    Isolation. Limits your con-tact with family and friends, requires you to get permis-sion to leave the house, doesnt allow you to work or attend school, and controls

    your activities and social events. The abuser may ask where you've been, track your time and whereabouts, or check the odometer on your car.

    Children as pawns. Ac-cuses you of bad parenting, threatens to take the chil-dren away, uses the children to relay messages, or threat-ens to report you to Chil-dren's Protective Services.

    Economic abuse. Controls finances, refuses to share money, makes you account for money spent and wont let you to work outside the home. The abuser may also try to sabotage your work performance by forcing you to miss work or by calling you frequently at work.

    See Leeds, C4

    ABOUT THE AUTHORSarah Leeds is the executive director of Family Services Alliance in Pocatello.

    She serves on the board of directors of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence and the Idaho Childrens Trust Fund.

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

    SIGNSWARNING

    NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ABUSED! IF YOU THINK YOU MAY BE IN AN ABUSIVE SITUATION, SEEK HELP OR ADVICE AS SOON AS YOU SAFELY CAN.

    Imagine sitting in your home, your mortgage and property tax paid, and you hear a knock on your door. It turns out to be a federal official with an eviction notice.

    How can that be possible? Well, it cant at least not yet.

    But something similar hap-pened to some tax-paying U.S. citizens found in the nations parks after the shutdown. They were given trespassing citations.

    Whats going on here?There are many, particularly on the

    left, who seem to think the nations parks and monuments belong to a separate en-tity they call the federal government. To them the federal government is a

    controlling force that deter-mines where you can go, and what you can do, think and say. Their federal government is run by an ever-growing army of custodial bureaucrats, which is needed to administer the federal governments ever-expanding intrusions into just about every facet of our lives.

    But last I checked, the fed-eral government was not supposed to be a central controlling, tax-hungry beast set up to keep its citizens in line. No, the federal government was supposed to be its citizens.

    Citing any citizen for trespassing on his or her own land is just about as ri-diculous as the eviction notice served on

    the guy sitting in his home whose tax and credit obligations had been met.

    To understand just how ridiculous shutting down federal parks has become, look at what happened at Mount Rush-more this past week. Federal workers erected barricades so that no one could see or take pictures of four of our na-tions most prominent citizens from his-tory whose likenesses are carved forever in stone.

    It makes me wonder how low and how far the president and some members of Congress will go in their childish attempt to make the other side look bad.

    To top it all off, the federal parks em-ployees who are furloughed are on what amounts to a paid vacation.

    See Petrovsky, C3

    No trespassing: federal parks workers on an unexpected paid vacation

    COMMENTARYMIKE PETROVSKY

    Sweet Potato goodbyeMen are inclined to view many things that women do as strange.We can't help it we're only men. And the natural phenomenon has

    given rise to an in-dustry of literature including Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus and other futile attempts by men to explain relationships. They pale in comparison to a series of books written by a Tennes-see woman, Jill Con-

    ner Browne.Her take on relationships was simply

    expressed in her first book, Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love.

    Try to avoid getting involved with somebody whos gonna need killing be-fore its over, Browne wrote. It may seem to you that that narrows the field somewhat, but be diligent.

    Browne started a movement in this country when she wrote about the Sweet Potato Queens in a series of books. The core theme involves a deep belief in a sisterhood that promotes self-esteem and positive thinking and is targeted espe-cially at middle-aged women.

    See ODonnell, C3

    COMMENTARYMIKE ODONNELL

    Acheerful post card reminder from my den-tists office came this month. OK, last month. Its time for a teeth cleaning and check up. I love going to the den-tist. Really. There wasnt an ounce of sarcasm in that statement. Or in that one. Ive just been busy.

    I began going to this den-tist when I was four years

    old. I remember the Dr. Seuss books in the waiting room, the golden shag carpet of his old office, and pos-ing for toothy Pola-roids when I didnt have a cavity. Having my picture taken was plenty

    incentive to brush, but I also loved the box of erasers and bouncy balls. MarJean, the receptionist, is one of about five people that can still get

    away with calling me Billie Jo.

    My dentist doesnt see as many patients as he used to, but I can tell he stops in the office now and then. The Karen Carpenter and Barry Manilow crooning over the speakers give him away. Nowadays I see his son or son-in-law who have joined his practice. They have main-tained that homey comfort and I always look forward to my visits with them.

    See Johnson, C3

    The ones you want to keep

    COMMENTARYBILLIE JOHNSON

    INSIGHTINSIGHTINSIGHTINSIGHTINSIGHTBIPARTISAN HATRED OF TED CRUZThe mainstream media has told us what to think of this U.S. senator from Texas. Read Neal Larsons column on the politics blog at idahostatejournal.com

  • isjINSIGHTINSIGHTIDAHO STATE JOURNAL SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2013 C3

    C M

    Y K

    PetrovskyContinued from C1

    Dont worry federal-worker vacation-ers about not being able to spend your unanticipated time off at popu-lar U.S. destina-tions closed or blocked from view because of the shutdown. I hear the Baha-mas are nice this time of year.

    And many of you will be able to afford it.

    A Washington-based Associated Press labor reporter I spoke with on Thursday told me that furloughed federal employees are entitled to un-employment compensation once they meet the waiting period, usually a week, required by the state in which they live. What is unclear is whether the furloughed federal employees will have to pay back the unemployment compensation once Congress and this is all but a done deal gives fed-eral workers the back pay for the time they were furloughed.

    The reporter told me that the state of Virginia, which has a quite a few federal employees, would require furloughed federal workers to pay back any unemployment benefits they receive should their back pay be reimbursed. He said, in that case, Vir-ginia would send the once-furloughed federal employees a letter asking that their unemployment benefits be paid back.

    The reporter added that the rules on unemployment compensation for furloughed federal employees vary in each state. And he said he could not rule out the possibility that some furloughed federal workers in states other than Virginia could double dip or receive unemployment benefits in addition to the back pay Congress likely will give them.

    A report on Fox News on Thursday revealed that should federal workers be reimbursed for furloughed time by Congress, they would not be required to pay back any of the unemployment benefits they received from any state unless they were specifically directed to do so by their federal government supervisors.

    That could not be confirmed by the Associated Press reporter I spoke with.

    Another aspect to consider, how-ever, according to the Associated Press reporter, is that because of the large numbers of people collect-ing unemployment compensation these days, many states have trouble keeping track of those who defraud the unemployment compensation system by going back to work while continuing to collect jobless benefits. So there is some doubt if the states would have the wherewithal to track down any federal employee scofflaws who dont pay them back, much less prosecute them.

    Regardless of whether federal work-ers will be able to, or can get away with, double dipping, they are still far, far better off than their counterparts those of us employed in the private sector.

    When we get laid off, all we get is unemployment compensation, which in some states could equal a quarter of our normal salaries or even less. And there is little to no chance our em-ployer will hire us back when things improve, even if we could wait out the bad times without having to take another job. And if, by some miracle, a former employer does rehire us, forget about getting the back pay we missed when we were laid off.

    Also consider that many of us in the private sector work through our lunch hours and breaks, and dont take paid vacations all perquisites enjoyed by federal employees, even when they are not furloughed.

    This is a reality we share with pri-vate federal contractors who service our national parks and monuments, and the folks who work in the hotel, restaurant and other service industries surrounding our national attractions. Many private-sector workers rely on those attractions for their livelihood. They are not likely to get back pay from Congress. For them, this is no va-cation. And depending on the length of the federal shutdown, some might be burdened with the added expense of moving elsewhere to find work.

    Oh, and lets not forget health care. When federal workers are laid off they dont have to worry about state health exchanges, having trouble accessing websites or being able to afford an insurance policy mandated by the Af-fordable Care Act. (As an aside, the Idaho health care exchange plans to raise its insurance premiums by 75 percent over the next two years. Wel-come to Obamacare!)

    Sorry, federal parks employees, if I dont shed a tear. But, after all, you dont need my pity. Youre on vacation. Dont worry, its on me and millions of other taxpayers.

    Mike Petrovsky is the Journals news editor.

    ODonnellContinued from C1

    It also allows women to act a little crazy and feel good about it.

    It wasnt until my wife, Jody, showed up with a big red-haired wig, pink cowboy hat and obviously fake monster boobs and derriere that I began to sense the impor-tance of the crazy part. She and a group of close female friends had formed one of more than 6,000 chapters of Sweet Potato Queens now active in the country.

    The look was outlandish and she loved it.The freedom that came with dressing

    up was something this cluster of friends would nurture along with their friend-ships. Of course it involved a level of secrecy so they could appear in parades from Salt Lake City to Butte, Mont., and remain anonymous.

    Their float became a crowd favorite with provocative dance moves accom-panied by wild music and a flair for the dramatic.

    A few years ago, this group of women from Southeast Idaho took first place in Salt Lake Citys annual parade and posed with a group of city motorcycle cops after the event. The cops loved it pictures dont lie.

    But the women loved it even more. Over the past decade they became a tightly knit group of different talents and personalities.

    Birthdays for every member were impor-tant moments of bonding.

    So it came as a deep cut to the soul of my wife and the other Sweet Potato Queens in her group when Karen became sick. An American Falls woman, she had been fight-ing back pain for nearly a year and finally after a series of visits to phy-sicians the news came. Bad news. Karen had cancer.

    I felt the blood drain from my wifes heart when she shared the news with me. Husbands of the Queens were among the last to know. And I can understand that. Browne had captured the reason suc-cinctly in her first book.

    If there exists in this universe any-thing more infuriating and crazy-mak-ing than a man, I dont know what it is, thank you, and I dont want to know, Browne wrote.

    News of Karens cancer was not an easy thing to share with an outsider.

    For the next several months Jody wor-ried about her friend. She made visits to Karens home and saw her in the hospital as Karen underwent chemotherapy. With each passing week, Jody watched her friend go from optimism to stoic accep-tance.

    Jodys updates went from shes just get-ting so tiny to shes nothing but skin and bones.

    The Queens rallied to show their support. Several Saturdays they held a movie day at

    Karens home where popcorn and friend-ship were pitted against pain.

    Text messages became lifelines between the ailing Queen and the rest of the group.

    The worst part for all of them was watch-ing Karens smile slip away.

    Sunday it ended. Jody had been pen-sive all week, and she pushed some of her anxiety and sad-ness in my direction, but I understood as best I could given my limitations as a man.

    Jody sat at the kitchen table going through the ads in Sun-days Journal. The look on her face told me she was some-where else likely on a float with Karen and laughing at the

    fun.Karen died about noon, she finally

    managed to say.Karen Gale Michelson was 50 years

    young and her funeral was held Saturday. Family, friends and sister Queens were gathered to bid her goodbye.

    Karens obituary said, She had a zest for living that everyone wanted to emulate.

    Ill add that she shared that zest inti-mately with her fellow Queens.

    If some area of your life sucks do something else, Browne wrote in her Book of Love. Life is too short and too long to spend it being miserable.

    Karen would be the first one to tell her friends to get back on that float.

    Michael H. ODonnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.

    JohnsonContinued from C1

    There used to be a sign above one of the exam room thresholds. It was precisely in my field of vision from the reclined, too-big chair. I would look past my toes and study the handmade wooden plaque with a 1970s hippie font and caked-on shellac.

    You dont have to floss all your teeth just the ones you want to keep.

    Im a diligent teeth-flosser during corn on the cob and steak grilling season and during the month between receiving the postcard and my check up. If I floss for a month straight, surely they will think I have flossed ev-ery day since I saw them last.

    Flossing is on the same list as watering the plants, clean-ing my bike after muddy rides, and sending thank you notes.

    Sometimes these happen. Some-times they dont. I recognize the need. My intentions are good. My follow-through ebbs and flows, and I could stand to take care of all of them better.

    I have three Hawaiian shirts older than a fifth-grader that I always wash on delicate and air dry. I hand wash the ice cream scoop and pizza cutter that once belonged to my grandmother, and I get an annual mammo-gram because I definitely want to keep those. With my box turtle having just celebrated his 30th birthday, its clear that I get the care and keeping con-cept with many things.

    There are days I miss the memo, though. I feel like a par-ticipating drone in an overly consumerist and easily bored society, and Im not sure how to step out of the habituated herd.

    As the school year began, parents everywhere admon-ished their children, you get one backpack this year,

    so take care of it. But how many purses do their moms go through?

    You need to make these shoes last through the fall until we can afford boots and no mud puddles! How many pairs of hunt-ing boots or gym shoes do we really need? We plead with kids to take care of things, but do we model the same be-havior? With things? With people?

    Hoping for behaviors in the next generation is futile if we cant change them in our own. We lose things we wish wed taken better care of. We get new things before we need them and without first caring for the old. We get hurried and careless, but then its tricky to draw upon a success story because some-times we take as good of care as we possibly can and things are

    lost regardless.I have lost plants, wool

    sweaters, bike components and friendships because I didnt

    take care of them, but at least I still have my teethmost of them any-way.

    I guess I should take care of this lingering to-do list item and schedule my appointment. MarJean and the rest of the folks at

    my dentists office have done a wonderful job taking care of me for over three decades. Youd think they want to keep me.

    Billie Johnson of Pocatello holds a bachelor's degree in en-gineering and a master's degree from Idaho State University. She has worked as an engineer for 16 years, participated in numerous K-12 math and engi-neering outreach programs, and is an avid community volunteer.

    ONLINETo comment on this column visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com.

    ONLINETo comment on this column visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com.

    ONLINETo comment on this column visit the Community Blog at idahostate journal.com.

    Debt limit and government funding: Kick the can again

    Were into week two of the government slowdown, and the stakes for government resumption have just been raised. Negotia-tions for funding the government, which have been stifled by the White House until the House of Representatives abandons its principles, are now merging with the imminent de-bate over the federal debt limit. This creates another crisis for the White House that will yield new opportunities for making the nation suffer as much as possible until the president gets his way.

    What began as a courageous effort on the part of the House to derail the Obamacare train be-fore it crashes and damages the economy and our health care de-livery even further, has weakened dramatically over the past two weeks. The latest iteration of the Houses terms is to simply do for individuals what the president did unilaterally for businesses; allow a one-year delay in implementation.

    Something as logical as a delay in implementing the individual mandate for health care insur-ance can hardly be expected from such an ideologically driven White House, even if the Healthcare.gov website is a complete bust. Digital Trends said of the first week of op-eration, the befuddled beast that is Healthcare.gov has shutdown, crapped out, stalled and mis-loaded so consistently that its track record for failure is challenged only by Congress.

    Describing the technological debacle, they continued, The site itself ... still re-jects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago,

    the number of people that suc-cessfully purchased health care through it was in the single dig-its, according to the Washington Post. Well, it would appear the American people have bought another government lemon, for the bargain price of $394 million!

    Whats even worse is that de-spite the efforts to apply a quick fix to the site, it continues to crash, reset user passwords, and stall. CNBC interviewed a technology expert this week who said getting the bugs out could take years. Sounds to me like a one year re-prieve for the individual mandate is well warranted.

    And still there is no end in sight for the government slowdown. The House has offered to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling for six weeks without resumption of full government funding. The president still refuses to even talk to House majority leadership until they are willing to completely cave to his demands.

    What will likely happen is the Republicans will cave, the govern-ment will be funded with a clean Concurrent Resolution, and the debt limit will be raised another couple of trillion dollars to allow us to mortgage the nation and our

    childrens futures with an even more menacing and potentially disastrous debt. In other words, the can will be simply kicked down the road again, with no reduction in spending, no plans for reducing the debt and no plans for increased fiscal stability for entitlement programs. And the Democrats will likely win a new look at increasing taxes.

    Which brings us to the debt ceiling discussion. The notion be-hind having a debt limit is to force those in government to be fiscally responsible and keep the national debt below their self-imposed boundary. Instead, the debt limit is increased with much drama and political demagoguery and they then sprint to the newly imposed limit only to repeat the drama and demagoguery all over again. Its very much like a spendthrift who hits their credit card limit and then whines and moans to the bank until they increase the limit, and a new spending binge ensues. Grate-fully theres an increasing number in congress whore refusing to kick the can down the road any further without meaningful fiscal reform, but theyre still in the minority. And ironically, even though they seem to be the only fiscally sane ones, theyre vilified by the main-stream media and their liberal demagogue counterparts.

    And the threats by Treasury Secretary Lew and the presi-dent of defaulting on our debt shouldnt even be on the table. It is unconscionable that they would jeopardize the credit worthiness of the nation to achieve their po-litical objectives. Section Four of

    the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution declares that the nation will honor the debts that we have incurred. But that is only meaningful to politicians who actu-ally honor their oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and there seem to be precious few of those.

    More significant, is that according to the General Ac-counting Office, we hit the $16.7 trillion debt limit in May. By prioritizing payments, jug-gling the issuance of new debt securities, and accounting gim-micks, the Treasury Department has flat-lined the federal debt for the past five months. With over $250 billion in tax-receipts collected each month, there is no more reason for a default in October than there was in May. Its only a possibility with an administration steeped in the Saul Alinsky ideology of political chicanery, posturing, and strong-arming.

    Prepare for the drama and the politics of self-destruction. After all, we, our children and grandchildren, will be footing the bill and paying the price for the inevitable procrastination of meaningful fiscal reform.

    Associated Press award win-ning columnist Richard Larsen is president of Larsen Finan-cial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello. He is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Po-litical Science and History and coursework completed toward a Masters in Public Adminis-tration. He can be reached at [email protected]

    LettersContinued from C2

    that is sometimes all too impersonal. Your presence there and your willing-ness to help her was just so wonderful and heartwarming. You have the gratitude of her entire family. May you be blessed for your actions on Saturday. To those out there who think nothing of

    getting behind the wheel after you have had just a couple of drinks DONT DO IT! Drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car is just asking for trouble. Call a taxi, call a friend, or have someone along with you that isnt drinking. Do not chance injuring or killing someone. The man who hit my daughter could very well have killed her or someone else. Why would you chance taking a life or maybe more than one life, just because you had a drink or two? You do NOT have the right to take a loved one away just because of a few

    drinks. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE! Its not worth killing or injuring someone who has family that love them. Again ... Our family is soooo grateful to the people who helped our daughter Leila, and to Officer Weinheimer who was so kind and helpful. Thank you all soooo much ... May God bless you all. You are special people. Sincerely grateful mother, Debbie Ludiker, St. Maries

    COMMENTARYRICHARD LARSEN

  • Cday, MONTH daTE, yEaR sECTiONisj

    C MY K

    insightinsightCsUNday, May 26, 2013 sECTiONisj

    C MY K

    insightinsight

    &efficiencyConservation

    By GeorGe WuerthnerFor The Journal

    F or thousands of years humans had no choice but to be miserly with energy. They built their homes and used caves that soaked up solar energy in the daytime and radiated it back at night. They had small homes, huts, tents that were easily heated by a single fire. They utilized renewable sources of transporta-tion like horses, oxen, and camels and wind for sailing ships on the sea.

    Regional architecture reflected the need for energy conservation. For instance, adobe homes with 2-foot-thick walls ensured a cool home in the desert while sod houses on the plains ensured warmth in the winter. However, with the advent of abundant power, these energy efficient buildings were replaced by thin-walled homes kept cool by air conditioning, or warm by furnaces, not thick walls of insulation.

    Increasingly we are having to spend more and more of our energy to get back the same net en-ergy. In the past we could garner 100 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil energy used to extract them. Today one barrel of oil equitant energy only nets us 20 barrels of oil and even less in some sources like tar sands.

    The demand for more energy development over-looks the most important factthe most abundant source of energy is conservation and efficiency.

    There is more oil to be recovered in Detroit auto factories than Alaskas North Slope because the energy we dont use is energy we dont have to find, refine, and transport.

    Although energy conservation and efficiency are often used in the same breath, they actually mean slightly different things. Although there is some ob-vious overlap since greater efficiency conserves en-ergy, in strict terms conservation typically implies using less energy, while efficiency is getting the most work from the energy you do consume. Shut-ting off a light is energy conservation. Using LED light bulbs that use less energy to illuminate a room is an example of energy efficiency. A combination of both can result in substantial savings in energy.

    The good news is that Americans are so waste-ful with energy that there is plenty of room for energy recovery through energy efficiency and conservation.

    One estimate by the Rocky Mountain Institute suggests that adoption of efficiency in transporta-tion, buildings, and industry could reduce U.S. oil consumption in half by 2025.

    The potential for energy savings in buildings is enormous. In most countries, 40% of the energy is used for lighting, heating and cooling buildings. In a typical American home, more than 30 percent of the heat is lost through windows and doors. To put this into perspective, the amount of energy wasted

    See Wuerthner, C4

    Saving energy could cut oil consumption in half by 2025

    About the Author

    In honor of those who serve in military

    It has always been with a sense of awe that I have regarded those who have either voluntarily or involuntarily, assumed the role of guardians of life and liberty, by taking an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic.

    Im deeply moved by our military men and women who don the uniform of our vari-ous military branches, who may enlist for different reasons, yet are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. They know all too well that they can, and most likely will, be called upon to place their lives in harms way for our sake, and untold millions around the world.

    I vividly recall visiting Arlington Memo-rial Cemetery. Even as a teenager, I was moved to tears to observe the seemingly numberless, perfectly aligned crosses mark-ing the final resting places of those who have

    See Larsen, C3

    CommentAryriChArd LArsen

    onLineTo comment on this column visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com.

    Finding Specialist Neff

    George Wuerthner has published 36 books, most recently Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth.

    Currently he is the ecological projects director for the Foundation for Deep Ecology in Sausalito, Calif. Prior to that position, he worked as a freelance writer/photographer, backcountry ranger, botanist, biologist, high school science teacher and university instructor. Wuerthner resides in Bend, Oregon, and Helena, Montana.

    Afeeling that Randy Neff was out there in the white crosses swept over me like the wind whipping the flags at the Field of Heroes.

    I knew his name was among the thou-sands of small white crosses creating a pattern of sacrifice across the expansive green field near Cen-tury High School. Where was a mystery.

    There was another feeling that tugged at me as I walked toward the field of green and white. My trip to Arlington National Cem-etery a few years ago came back to life.

    We are a warrior nation.At Arlington there are 624

    acres of crosses lined up with precision. The bodies of sol-diers who have fallen in battles from the American Civil War to the mountains of Afghanistan rest in that hallowed ground. It's nearly impos-sible to find a time in America when we weren't at war.

    Here's the list, post-Civil War:

    Indian Wars, 1865-1891; Spanish-American War, 1898; Philippine-American War, 1899-1902; Banana Wars, 1898-

    1935; War with Mexico, 1910-19; World War I, 1917-18; World War II, 1941-45; Korean War, 1950-53; Vietnam War, 1964-75; Grenada, 1983; Beirut, 1983; Panama,

    1989; Persian Gulf War, 1990-91; Somalia, 1992-93; the Balkans, 1992-99; War in Iraq, 2003-10; War in Afghanistan, 2001-pres-ent.

    And from 1945 until 1991, the United States and the former Soviet Union were involved in a nuclear weapons standoff known as the Cold War.

    Billions of dollars were spent and millions of people died throughout this history of vio-lence.

    At the front of the line for danger and death have been our servicemen and women.

    It is our tradition to honor them and Arlington is the largest col-lection of heroes in our nation.

    Even with the mountains of the Portneuf Gap in the background, I could still see a soldier in dress uniform walking the 21 steps dur-ing the changing of the guard at

    See ODonnell, C3

    CommentArymiChAeL odonneLL

    onLineTo comment on this column visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com.

    CsECTiON

    sCAndAL Lance earl takes a look at scandals in the obama Administration. read at powercounty journal.com

  • ODonnellContinued from C1

    the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington. My visit there had left an in-delible memory and my visit to Century High Sat-urday gave it company.

    Scattered among the white crosses in south Pocatello were adults and children wandering among the markers, flags and flowers. An elderly gentleman with pure white hair took slow and careful steps as he made his way through the field. He stopped several times and bent down to read the name on a cross.

    Children were gathered around their young par-ents as they made their way through a distant corner of the field. A hus-band and wife stood at podiums erected on the south end of the complex to read the brief histories of Americas battles that Field of Heroes organiz-ers had added to the mix on this 10th year of the field's existence.

    It takes about 6,000 vol-unteer hours to make this commemorative come to life in the Gate City each Memorial Day weekend. It all began when one local soldier decided to create an Arlington along the Portneuf for a few days each year. Pocatello made national news because of the endeavor.

    One of the four women responsible for organizing the field these past several years said veterans tend to come in the evening.

    They take their memo-ries out onto the field under the blanket of fad-ing light and talk to fallen brothers and sisters. The Field of Heroes marks those who have died in our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them were young deprived of a future at ages 19, 20 or 21.

    As I walked across the field, a little girl dressed in pink walked past. She approached the special rows of larger crosses that bear the names and photos of Idaho's fallen. Then she knelt down and stared at one cross and a photo-graph of her father, Damon Legrand. She was 2 years old when her father was killed during an ambush in Iraq in 2007.

    Is that your daddy? I asked.

    Yes, she said with a note of pride and sadness.

    Her mother called for her and she stood up and disappeared into the cross-es. A tear got caught at the

    bottom of my sunglasses as I watched her go.

    Sacrifices on the battle-field are shared at home.

    After walking a few more steps past cross after cross, suddenly I recognized a face. It was Spc. Randy Neff Jr. That former high school student who had stunned me with his boundless energy when I taught in Blackfoot was now on a white cross of his own.

    His short life ended

    when a bomb exploded un-der a Jeep in Afghanistan. It was July 2009 and Ran-dy was just 22 years old.

    His exact location in that field was no longer a mystery. He had found me like he did when he was a student at Blackfoot High.

    Thank you, Randy, was all I could say.

    Michael H. O'Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.

    isjINSIGHTINSIGHTIDAHO STATE JOURNAL SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2013 C3

    C M

    Y K

    LarsenContinued from C1

    fallen in defense of liberty. The experi-ence was made even more poignant by observing the solemnity of an internment ceremony of yet another of Americas young sons, buried in the soil that he gave his life to defend.

    Those same emotions have cascaded over me as I have visited the Field of Heroes at Century High School, honor-ing those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and witnessed the traveling Wall recognizing the fallen from the Vietnam War. The sense of loss, coupled with pro-found gratitude for their sacrifices in our behalf is truly ineffable.

    Over the years, with the added perspi-cacity afforded by historical context, and the increased sensitivity to sacrifice that comes with age, my sense of gratitude has only deepened. Especially in an era when there is no compulsory military service, why would young men and wom-en full of hope and promise for the future be willing to sacrifice their future, for ours? What possibly could motivate them to secure our future, our lives and our freedom by placing theirs in jeopardy?

    Various reasons are given for joining the military, but after reading, hearing and watching testimonials of countless brave young men and women who joined our armed forces ranks after 9/11/01, Im convinced the majority do it at least in part, out of a sense of protection for the nation they love, and their families for whom theyre willing to give all. They do it out of loyalty to the principles that made America unique among all nations, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happi-ness. They do it out of a sense of grati-tude that, because they have been given much by being born in relative freedom in these United States, they too must give.

    Sacrifices are not made solely by those who serve, but by their families as well. Our soldiers service is made nobler and more sacred by the sacrifices made by their families.

    They forfeit control of their lives with their soldiers. They sacrifice time with their husband, father, wife, mother, daughter or son as they accept orders to be separated from loved ones for extend-ed periods of time and often thousands of miles apart. They forgo familial security and many of the temporal comforts en-joyed by most citizens. They relinquish control of their lives, placing their very

    soul in the hands of those of authority to command them into bellicose and violent milieus.

    War and military conflict have political components that inexplicably preclude unanimity of support from we citizens who are being protected, and whose rights are being secured. Regardless of the politics, or how we may feel about specific conflicts or even war in general, none of that should obviate our intense gratitude and respect for these guardians of freedom.

    Most inexplicable to me are those who foster an anti-military attitude. Do such hold the local constabulary in contempt for keeping the peace? Or do they scorn the local hero who may push a child to safety while placing himself in harms way?

    Such is the illogic of contemptible at-titudes toward our military personnel for assuming the risk and making their per-sonal sacrifices to protect us.

    Perhaps the most ludicrous of bumper stickers is the one that says, War is not the answer. That depends on what the question is, for sometimes it is the only answer to tyrants, dictators and truculent ideologies intent on destruction of na-tions, ethnic cleansing and dismantling of cultures.

    And where appeasement and diplo-macy may fail, the only one left standing between those destructive forces and our freedom and security is the American serviceman.

    The significance and emotions as-sociated with Memorial Day should be pervasive, and not limited to a single day each year. Jesus said, Greater love hath no man than he who would lay down his life for his friends, and this is what our soldiers are willing to do for us.

    May we individually and collectively more fully acknowledge our gratitude, our respect and our dependency on those who take upon themselves the guardian-ship of liberty.

    And may we commit likewise to pre-serve, protect, defend and perpetuate those liberties they fought for not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

    Award-winning columnist Richard Lars-en of Pocatello is president of the broker-age firm Larsen Financial. He graduated from Idaho State University with degrees in history and political science.

    LettersContinued from C2

    human or otherwise. Mostly their com-ment is, There is no one available to assist you. Standard also is, We dont know anything about Telmate, call them.

    There is no reason to treat any human being without any human contact. It is cruel and unusual and punishing, not only to incarcerated individuals, but to me, you, the general public: No touch, no face to face, no eye contact, no identi-fication and certainly domestic animals are treated much better.

    Jennie Conley,American Falls

    BULLYINGI found the article on school bullying

    in the Saturday, May 11, issue of the News very worthwhile because any-thing interfering with a childs educa-tion is, to me, unacceptable!

    Without elaborating as to the details, I have realized that my abhorrence of bullying of any kind stems from seeing a man beat a woman. Seeing a big kid tormenting a weaker kid would send me into a rage, and I would take on the bully with fists. Sometimes I won and sometimes, I didnt.

    But, another thing you might raise your eyebrows about, is that I would of-ten become friends with the bully!

    I scanned the article quickly for evi-dence of concern for the bullies. There was a little because these are kids, too. But the emphasis was on the kids who were bullied to the extent that their

    lives and education were seriously harmed.

    OK, but heres my point: How about some sympathy and understanding for the bullies?

    A kid who is so unhappy with his life, or who feels inadequate to handle his per-sonal, family or educational demands, will look for an outlet, which offers him or her some relief from (his or her) own pain. Causing pain for others is, unfortunately, one of the ways that humans relieve their own frustrations or fears of failure.

    We love the stories of the warrior who fails in some way, then goes out and beats the hell out of someone from a neighboring tribe and returns home a hero. Dont we?

    Long story short: As I said, I did fight guys who bullied my friend. But, in the sixth grade, I bullied the son of some rich people who got a little carried away with his own importance. At that time, my mom and my little brother and I were liv-ing free in a two-room apartment owned by my grandfather while my mom earned $18 a week as a saleslady. We ate a lot of Campbells soup at 10 cents a can.

    If she bought one of us a shirt or pair of pants, she had to deduct it from her next paycheck.

    Well, the bullied kid brought his mother to school, and we all went in to speak with the principal. What im-pressed me was that the kids mother understood that I was a fatherless kid from a poor home and she pitied me over her own kid, who hadnt had any-thing hurt besides his feelings.

    My point: Find out whats bothering the bully. Help him, too, and everyone goes home with a smile. (I hope!)

    Jack Contor,Pocatello

    More Letters, C4

  • CSUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013 SECtioNisj

    C MY K

    insightinsightidaho State University President Arthur Vailas, in a report to the Fac-ulty Senate on Jan. 28th , discussed the plan of the State Board of Education (SBOE) to initiate Per-formance-Based Funding (PBF) at the states institu-tions of higher education. I believe that this plan deserves serious examination by the faculties of our colleges and universi-ties, and by the general public.

    The traditional way in which states contribute to the cost of post-secondary education is by paying institutions a cer-tain amount for each enrolled student. That amounts to paying in proportion to the institutions student input. Perfor-mance-Based Funding is a scheme for paying a university according to its level of output, as measured by such metrics as the number of graduates, or the num-ber of students that complete courses,

    or the numbers of graduates placed in jobs or accepted by graduate schools, or the cost to the state per graduate.

    What assumptions moti-vate this plan in Idaho? To begin with, the SBOE be-lieves that there is, and will be, a far greater demand for educated workers than can be satisfied by the current

    graduation rates of our institutions of post-secondary education. It believes that this problem results, in part, from too many students dropping out of col-lege before they complete degrees, and spending more years achieving degrees than is necessary. It is their view that the colleges and universities could solve those problems if they tried harder, and that PBF is the way to in-centivize that effort.

    All of these assumptions deserve further scrutiny.

    The SBOE based its assumption

    that there will be a need for educated workers on a study by Georgetown University and concluded from it that Idaho would soon require 60 percent of its citizens aged 25-34 to be in pos-session of a B.A. degree or certificate, rather than the current 31 percent. Yet an Idaho Department of Labors Office of Performance Evaluations report (1/2012) projected that by 2018 only 31 percent of Idaho jobs would require postsecondary education (and that includes bachelors and graduate degrees). Furthermore, the report ad-dressed the Georgetown figures and explained that they resulted from an excessively broad definition of what postsecondary education includes.

    See Hitchcock, C4

    More bachelors degrees a good thing, but COmmentary LeOnard HitCHCOCk

    OnLineTo comment on this story, visit isuvoice.com

    Living and dying by the libertarian rhetoricRon Pauls unfortunate tweet a few days ago explaining the murder of patriot and ex-Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle proves that he who lives by the stupid libertarian rhetoric, dies by the stupid libertarian rhetoric. Dr. Paul, a physi-cian who has consistently stood up for life as we are constantly reminded by his unques-tioning followers ditched that respect for no more than 140 charac-ters when he announced to the world that Kyle essentially had it coming. Sort of a libertarian's version of Kar-ma, if you will.

    Pauls tweet read Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense.

    To anyone familiar with Ron Pauls movement, this really doesnt come as a big surprise. Ron Paul, minus his handlers, stooped to the level of most of his followers. It hearkened back to a couple of years ago, when a die-hard Paulite and radio show listener one who plastered his own vehicle in Ron Paul bumper stick-ers suggested I ignore Veterans Day on my radio show because its warmongering. He took me up on my invitation to defend his position on the show, explaining to all of our listening veterans why they should not be thanked for their service. For him, it was as bad a train wreck as you're imagining. Yes, these people are real classy.

    See Larson, C4

    COmmentary neaL LarsOn

    Fourth of July belongs to all of usWhat were they thinking? That is the reaction of a lot of people to the recent an-nouncement that the LDS Church of Pocatello/Chubbuck de-cided to move their Pioneer Day Celebration from July 24th to the 4th of July.

    Like other non-LDS persons I was dismayed at the move to combine the celebrations and have been following the debate, how-ever, I feel when a person is given a chance to write opin-ion pieces they should visit others to see what they are thinking as well.

    I spoke with Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad and he told me, and assured me, the LDS Church is not tak-ing over the Independence

    Day events, they instead accepted his invitation to take part in the 4th of July cele-bration as a way to bring the com-munity together, not divide the community.

    The mayor points out he, and others he knows, have felt the Com-munity was divided into two distinct groups, LDS and Non-LDS with the two sepa-rate celebrations. Were all Americans, he said.

    The mayor didnt think this would end up being a di-viding point for the commu-nity, but, it was his effort to bring us together, and didnt know the discussion would take on a life of its own.

    One of his concerns was the small 4th of July parade two years ago. The parade was only a half-hour long

    and the mayor received many complaints.

    Before I spoke with the mayor, I called one of my friends who was a leader in the LDS Church in Boise. He is a war veteran, as am I, and I expressed my opinion that I was not happy with the change, in fact the words I used were I was outraged.

    His response: The members of the Mormon Church should be the ones who are outraged by this decision. My friend is someone who I have known since I was 12 years old and I turn to him with questions about the church.

    I agree with his position because he told me the rea-son for celebrating the 24th. That is the day the Prophet Brigham Young and others

    reached the rim of the Salt Lake Valley and said This is the place. Young had a vision for a Mormon home-land which was fulfilled at that time.

    My friend spoke about this event with reverence and pride in his voice and was happy to share the story with me.

    The mayor was clear that he did not ask the LDS Church to cancel its Pioneer Day

    celebration, just the parade so they might use their re-sources to have one large pa-rade to celebrate America.

    The mayor also made it clear to me the Elks Club are the ones who are in charge of the parade, as they have been in the past, and the LDS Church is only a

    See Archuleta, C3

    COmmentary david arCHuLeta

    OnLineTo comment on this column visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com

    Discrimination, mental health anD values

    By Steven R. LawyeRFor The Journal

    The discussion of Po-catellos consideration of a city ordinance that would add sexual mi-nority status to the list

    of groups (such as ethnicity and religion) that cannot be discriminated against in

    the context of housing and employment has generated two fundamental positions. On the one hand, there are those who argue that such an ordinance adds a needed layer of protection to those in our community who are vulnerable to dis-crimination.

    See Lawyer, C3

    abOut tHe autHOrSteven R. Lawyer, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and an associate professor in the Idaho State University Department of Psychology.

    Independence Day SaintsWhen I first moved into a neighborhood in Pocatello three decades ago, the first thing that struck me as odd was the Mormon check that took place.

    It came disguised as a paper plate loaded with cookies.

    Holding that plate was an older woman with a pleasant, inquisitive smile.

    She said she had noticed we were new to the home on the corner of the block, a mere stone's throw from the Portneuf River. Her probe came early in the ex-change of pleasantries.

    What ward are you from? she asked.

    Of course the only ward that seemed familiar to me was Montgomery Ward, but I doubted she was interested in my shopping habits. My puzzled look probably sparked a note of realiza-tion inside of her, but she persevered.

    Are you LDS? she asked.She left the cookies along with a tinge of

    disappointment as she exited my rental house and retreated down the sidewalk to her nearby home. It wasn't the first time my ignorance would reveal itself among a culture flavored heavily by Mormonism.

    After securing my first job in the Gate City I was having a conversation with a group of other young men about college, careers and catching the wind into the future. One of them mentioned that a longtime friend was going on a mission.

    What branch of the service? I asked.The guys at the table looked at each other

    with a shared look of puzzlement and laughed. They assessed the situation and informed me it was a church mission. Another elder had decided to share the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints with the rest of the world.

    Now I had two more terms to add to my understanding of the local religious culture ward and mission. I had already learned that stake centers had nothing to do with medium rare sirloins. Relief Societies did not deal with headaches and being sealed was not a reference to safe packaging.

    It took a few more years before I realized Jack was not a nickname for the guy who drank beer on the golf course on Sunday instead of spending half the day inside a ward.

    Another surprise was a summer event that took place in late July Pioneer Day. At first I assumed July 24 was a strategic date in the formation of Pocatello, having something to do with the railroad driving its first spike or some forefather of the frontier building a shack north of the Portneuf Gap.

    It's a Mormon thing, a longtime gentile of the area told me.

    After I purchased a home in the old Al-ameda section of town and received another Mormon check, I witnessed first-hand the fes-tivities that surrounded a memorable Mormon day in the 19th century when Brigham Young and a band of followers first set foot in the Salt Lake basin.

    The city park located a few blocks away be-came a mecca of merriment. Softball games, booths and food filled the space with a throng of people. The intersection of Jefferson and East Poplar became a logjam for one day each sum-mer. Times change and the quaint park with limited parking was swapped out for larger digs.

    Now it appears leaders in the local LDS Church are going to swap dates. Members of their faith who want to participate in a parade this July will join forces with the community-wide July Fourth festivities. The news has gen-erated mixed reviews.

    Among them is the cry that July 4 is all about patriotism and independence, not the arrival of Latter-day Saints in the West. There have been expressed fears that the Mormons are going to take over a celebration of national pride.

    Them and us are at odds once again.Those are the labels that distinguish the peo-

    ple who are just like you and those who are not. Race, politics, incomes and even occupations tend to pin people to these two general catego-ries them or us.

    There is no denying suspicion festers in both camps, Mormons and non-Mormons. Members tend to be close-knit and have strong allegiance to leadership in Salt Lake City. Unlike other faiths who declare themselves Christians, the LDS have their own books. And it's an Ameri-can-born religion.

    The product of Catholicism, I'm not free to lecture anyone about strange rules and odd beliefs. As George Carlin once said after the Catholic Church changed its mind about the sin-ful nature of eating a hamburger on Friday, I'll bet there are still guys in hell doing time on a meat rap.

    Faith is tricky business.But maybe we need a little faith in the no-

    tion that Mormons and others in Pocatello and Chubbuck can celebrate July Fourth together as Americans.

    Michael H. O'Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.

    COmmentary mike OdOnneLL

    OnLineTo comment on this column, visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com.

  • CSUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013 SECtioNisj

    C MY K

    insightinsightidaho State University President Arthur Vailas, in a report to the Fac-ulty Senate on Jan. 28th , discussed the plan of the State Board of Education (SBOE) to initiate Per-formance-Based Funding (PBF) at the states institu-tions of higher education. I believe that this plan deserves serious examination by the faculties of our colleges and universi-ties, and by the general public.

    The traditional way in which states contribute to the cost of post-secondary education is by paying institutions a cer-tain amount for each enrolled student. That amounts to paying in proportion to the institutions student input. Perfor-mance-Based Funding is a scheme for paying a university according to its level of output, as measured by such metrics as the number of graduates, or the num-ber of students that complete courses,

    or the numbers of graduates placed in jobs or accepted by graduate schools, or the cost to the state per graduate.

    What assumptions moti-vate this plan in Idaho? To begin with, the SBOE be-lieves that there is, and will be, a far greater demand for educated workers than can be satisfied by the current

    graduation rates of our institutions of post-secondary education. It believes that this problem results, in part, from too many students dropping out of col-lege before they complete degrees, and spending more years achieving degrees than is necessary. It is their view that the colleges and universities could solve those problems if they tried harder, and that PBF is the way to in-centivize that effort.

    All of these assumptions deserve further scrutiny.

    The SBOE based its assumption

    that there will be a need for educated workers on a study by Georgetown University and concluded from it that Idaho would soon require 60 percent of its citizens aged 25-34 to be in pos-session of a B.A. degree or certificate, rather than the current 31 percent. Yet an Idaho Department of Labors Office of Performance Evaluations report (1/2012) projected that by 2018 only 31 percent of Idaho jobs would require postsecondary education (and that includes bachelors and graduate degrees). Furthermore, the report ad-dressed the Georgetown figures and explained that they resulted from an excessively broad definition of what postsecondary education includes.

    See Hitchcock, C4

    More bachelors degrees a good thing, but COmmentary LeOnard HitCHCOCk

    OnLineTo comment on this story, visit isuvoice.com

    Living and dying by the libertarian rhetoricRon Pauls unfortunate tweet a few days ago explaining the murder of patriot and ex-Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle proves that he who lives by the stupid libertarian rhetoric, dies by the stupid libertarian rhetoric. Dr. Paul, a physi-cian who has consistently stood up for life as we are constantly reminded by his unques-tioning followers ditched that respect for no more than 140 charac-ters when he announced to the world that Kyle essentially had it coming. Sort of a libertarian's version of Kar-ma, if you will.

    Pauls tweet read Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense.

    To anyone familiar with Ron Pauls movement, this really doesnt come as a big surprise. Ron Paul, minus his handlers, stooped to the level of most of his followers. It hearkened back to a couple of years ago, when a die-hard Paulite and radio show listener one who plastered his own vehicle in Ron Paul bumper stick-ers suggested I ignore Veterans Day on my radio show because its warmongering. He took me up on my invitation to defend his position on the show, explaining to all of our listening veterans why they should not be thanked for their service. For him, it was as bad a train wreck as you're imagining. Yes, these people are real classy.

    See Larson, C4

    COmmentary neaL LarsOn

    Fourth of July belongs to all of usWhat were they thinking? That is the reaction of a lot of people to the recent an-nouncement that the LDS Church of Pocatello/Chubbuck de-cided to move their Pioneer Day Celebration from July 24th to the 4th of July.

    Like other non-LDS persons I was dismayed at the move to combine the celebrations and have been following the debate, how-ever, I feel when a person is given a chance to write opin-ion pieces they should visit others to see what they are thinking as well.

    I spoke with Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad and he told me, and assured me, the LDS Church is not tak-ing over the Independence

    Day events, they instead accepted his invitation to take part in the 4th of July cele-bration as a way to bring the com-munity together, not divide the community.

    The mayor points out he, and others he knows, have felt the Com-munity was divided into two distinct groups, LDS and Non-LDS with the two sepa-rate celebrations. Were all Americans, he said.

    The mayor didnt think this would end up being a di-viding point for the commu-nity, but, it was his effort to bring us together, and didnt know the discussion would take on a life of its own.

    One of his concerns was the small 4th of July parade two years ago. The parade was only a half-hour long

    and the mayor received many complaints.

    Before I spoke with the mayor, I called one of my friends who was a leader in the LDS Church in Boise. He is a war veteran, as am I, and I expressed my opinion that I was not happy with the change, in fact the words I used were I was outraged.

    His response: The members of the Mormon Church should be the ones who are outraged by this decision. My friend is someone who I have known since I was 12 years old and I turn to him with questions about the church.

    I agree with his position because he told me the rea-son for celebrating the 24th. That is the day the Prophet Brigham Young and others

    reached the rim of the Salt Lake Valley and said This is the place. Young had a vision for a Mormon home-land which was fulfilled at that time.

    My friend spoke about this event with reverence and pride in his voice and was happy to share the story with me.

    The mayor was clear that he did not ask the LDS Church to cancel its Pioneer Day

    celebration, just the parade so they might use their re-sources to have one large pa-rade to celebrate America.

    The mayor also made it clear to me the Elks Club are the ones who are in charge of the parade, as they have been in the past, and the LDS Church is only a

    See Archuleta, C3

    COmmentary david arCHuLeta

    OnLineTo comment on this column visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com

    Discrimination, mental health anD values

    By Steven R. LawyeRFor The Journal

    The discussion of Po-catellos consideration of a city ordinance that would add sexual mi-nority status to the list

    of groups (such as ethnicity and religion) that cannot be discriminated against in

    the context of housing and employment has generated two fundamental positions. On the one hand, there are those who argue that such an ordinance adds a needed layer of protection to those in our community who are vulnerable to dis-crimination.

    See Lawyer, C3

    abOut tHe autHOrSteven R. Lawyer, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and an associate professor in the Idaho State University Department of Psychology.

    Independence Day SaintsWhen I first moved into a neighborhood in Pocatello three decades ago, the first thing that struck me as odd was the Mormon check that took place.

    It came disguised as a paper plate loaded with cookies.

    Holding that plate was an older woman with a pleasant, inquisitive smile.

    She said she had noticed we were new to the home on the corner of the block, a mere stone's throw from the Portneuf River. Her probe came early in the ex-change of pleasantries.

    What ward are you from? she asked.

    Of course the only ward that seemed familiar to me was Montgomery Ward, but I doubted she was interested in my shopping habits. My puzzled look probably sparked a note of realiza-tion inside of her, but she persevered.

    Are you LDS? she asked.She left the cookies along with a tinge of

    disappointment as she exited my rental house and retreated down the sidewalk to her nearby home. It wasn't the first time my ignorance would reveal itself among a culture flavored heavily by Mormonism.

    After securing my first job in the Gate City I was having a conversation with a group of other young men about college, careers and catching the wind into the future. One of them mentioned that a longtime friend was going on a mission.

    What branch of the service? I asked.The guys at the table looked at each other

    with a shared look of puzzlement and laughed. They assessed the situation and informed me it was a church mission. Another elder had decided to share the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints with the rest of the world.

    Now I had two more terms to add to my understanding of the local religious culture ward and mission. I had already learned that stake centers had nothing to do with medium rare sirloins. Relief Societies did not deal with headaches and being sealed was not a reference to safe packaging.

    It took a few more years before I realized Jack was not a nickname for the guy who drank beer on the golf course on Sunday instead of spending half the day inside a ward.

    Another surprise was a summer event that took place in late July Pioneer Day. At first I assumed July 24 was a strategic date in the formation of Pocatello, having something to do with the railroad driving its first spike or some forefather of the frontier building a shack north of the Portneuf Gap.

    It's a Mormon thing, a longtime gentile of the area told me.

    After I purchased a home in the old Al-ameda section of town and received another Mormon check, I witnessed first-hand the fes-tivities that surrounded a memorable Mormon day in the 19th century when Brigham Young and a band of followers first set foot in the Salt Lake basin.

    The city park located a few blocks away be-came a mecca of merriment. Softball games, booths and food filled the space with a throng of people. The intersection of Jefferson and East Poplar became a logjam for one day each sum-mer. Times change and the quaint park with limited parking was swapped out for larger digs.

    Now it appears leaders in the local LDS Church are going to swap dates. Members of their faith who want to participate in a parade this July will join forces with the community-wide July Fourth festivities. The news has gen-erated mixed reviews.

    Among them is the cry that July 4 is all about patriotism and independence, not the arrival of Latter-day Saints in the West. There have been expressed fears that the Mormons are going to take over a celebration of national pride.

    Them and us are at odds once again.Those are the labels that distinguish the peo-

    ple who are just like you and those who are not. Race, politics, incomes and even occupations tend to pin people to these two general catego-ries them or us.

    There is no denying suspicion festers in both camps, Mormons and non-Mormons. Members tend to be close-knit and have strong allegiance to leadership in Salt Lake City. Unlike other faiths who declare themselves Christians, the LDS have their own books. And it's an Ameri-can-born religion.

    The product of Catholicism, I'm not free to lecture anyone about strange rules and odd beliefs. As George Carlin once said after the Catholic Church changed its mind about the sin-ful nature of eating a hamburger on Friday, I'll bet there are still guys in hell doing time on a meat rap.

    Faith is tricky business.But maybe we need a little faith in the no-

    tion that Mormons and others in Pocatello and Chubbuck can celebrate July Fourth together as Americans.

    Michael H. O'Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.

    COmmentary mike OdOnneLL

    OnLineTo comment on this column, visit the Politics Blog at idahostate journal.com.