U.S. Senate

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Idaho Agribusiness Call for Immigration Reform From New GOP Majority

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Left to right: Brent Olmstead and Ivan Castillo - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Left to right: Brent Olmstead and Ivan Castillo
This isn't the first time that Brent Olmstead, president of Milk Producers of Idaho and executive director of the Idaho Business Coalition for Immigration Reform, and Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Ivan Castillo have called on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, but there's no denying that the most recent plea—a special section running in Nov. 19th's edition of the Washington Times and individual media events across the country—comes at a unique political moment.

Congressional Republicans retook the U.S. Senate during the Nov. 5 midterm elections; on the campaign trail, many of them indicated an interest in some kind of immigration reform.

"Republicans have control of the Senate. They need to live up to the promises they made in the election and fix [the U.S. immigration system]," Olmstead said.

But Congress may not have time to move on immigration reform on its own, and President Barack Obama has indicated that he will take executive action to provide temporary protections to millions of undocumented immigrants Thursday, Nov. 20. 

"Legislative action is always preferable, but we have waited for Congress to act and the Congress has not acted. The president has waited," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Washington Post.

Nevertheless, Olmstead and Castillo told reporters this morning at the Milk Producers of Idaho office in Boise that the people who have waited for immigration the longest are immigrants themselves, and that giving some kind of legal status to undocumented workers would be a boon for Idaho and the country as a whole. 

"When you give people the opportunity to come out of the shadows, you give people the opportunity to help this country," Castillo said. 

According to Olmstead, there are permits available for an additional 40,000 head of cattle across the state that aren't being used because of a labor shortage, and the dairy industry isn't the only sector of the economy that would benefit from a system that welcomes, rather than discourages, migrant labor. He suggested that reform might include a guest worker program, enhanced border security, work permits renewable in the United States through employers, English language learning and an increase in the number of visas available to highly educated or skilled immigrants, like those with specialized training of Ph.Ds. He cited a double standard within the current immigration system that privileges some applicants at the expense of others.

"There's a visa to bring a ballerina into this country, but there isn't a visa to work on agricultural supply," he said.

While immigration reform is a hot political topic with economic implications, the U.S. immigration system constitutes a human rights crisis. Castillo offered an anecdote about an acquaintance whom he encountered at WalMart shopping for his friends and family who were too frightened of immigration officials to appear in public. According to Castillo, that fear prevents even documented workers and citizens from fully participating in U.S. economic, political and social life.

"We all know someone who doesn't have papers," he said. "Political leaders need to know that Hispanics are here to stay."
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kerry Gives Risch 'Taste of Reality' on Russia Sanctions

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry gave Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch a "taste of reality" regarding America's response to Russian aggression against Ukraine during a recent Senate hearing, NBC News reports.

During Kerry's testimony, Risch told Kerry, "Then we sit down at the table, make some kind of an agreement, and [Russia] misbehave[s] even worse after the agreement. So give us a little taste of what you're going to tell [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov when you meet with him next week."

Kerry's response was curt. 

"Let me give you what I consider a taste of reality about our foreign policy and the realities of the world," Kerry said.

The secretary of state pointed out that the Russian annexation of Georgian territory took place under President George W. Bush, and that sanctions against Russia are "having an impact." 

Risch's remarks come after long, widespread protests ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula—a territory of Ukraine that has long been a base of Russian military and commercial maritime operations, and where the majority of the inhabitants are ethnic and cultural Russians.

For a transcript of the exchange, click here.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

W.Va. Candidate: Smoking Regs Like Hitler's Jewish Star

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM

If you thought that the heated debate surrounding Boise's new anti-smoking ban was incendiary, meet John Raese. A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in West Virginia, Raese is comparing his county's smoking ban to Adolf Hitler forcing Jews to wear the Star of David. Raese was railing against Monongalia County's recently enacted smoking ban as an example of government overreach.

"In Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke-free environment," said Raese. "Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing."

Raese also referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as "Fidel Roosevelt" in the same speech.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

Raese is challenging former West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Machin for the U.S. Senate seat.

Raese joins a long list of politicians, both Republican and Democratic, who have chosen to compare Hitler's actions to cotemporary issues, including California Gov. Jerry Brown, Tennesee Rep. Steve Cohen, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Florida Rep. Allen West.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Liveblogging the Senate Debate

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 6:05 PM

KTVB told me they'd be live-streaming the debates tonight on their website, which is good, because I'm planning on liveblogging the debate from an apartment owned by someone who does not believe in TV antennas. But at the moment, the KTVB website doesn't appear to have anything I can click on to take me to said live-streaming debate. Hopefully all will become clear within the next 10 minutes, and I won't feel like an idiot without anything to blog about. (Update: Just talked to a very nice guy named Jeremy at KTVB who says the blue "Watch This!" link looking thing on the home page that isn't a link now will be a link in just a couple minutes, when the debate goes live. So if, like me, you are antenna-less, just watch for it. It's the black linky thing.)

Anyway, if you want to play a little drinking game, I suggest you follow many of the same rules from the last debate:

1) Drink any time LaRocco pesters Risch to debate him on IPTV.
2) Drink any time LaRocco talks about one of his 35 jobs.
3) Drink any time Rammell says Risch should change parties.
4) Drink any time Rammell says "green" like it's a swear word.
5) Three drinks if Libertarian candidate Kent Marmon makes an appearance.
6) Five drinks if Risch or LaRocco take any of the third-party candidates seriously.
7) New rule: Two drinks if anyone mentions Joe the Plumber.

Oh, boy, technical difficulties. I can't get any audio. I called KTVB; Jeremy just tried it too, and there's no audio online. He will do what he can to get it fixed. Anyone following along here with the TV, please feel free to comment about what's going on.

6:45 -- Yay, audio is on!
6:46 -- Pro-Life says our money is false. Your currency is a lie! We should all go back to gold and silver, because look where centuries of your fake paper money have gotten us.
6:48 -- LaRocco doesn't want to cut you a stimulus check. He wants to put money into building roads and bridges. I CAN'T EAT PAVEMENT, LARRY.
6:50 -- Yay, pizza's here!
6:50 -- LaRocco said Risch benefited at least $53,000 from his own property tax plan.
6:52 -- Not even close, Risch said -- it was $1,000. LaRocco's sticking with his numbers. Risch said if he got that amount, he'll drop out of this race.
6:57 -- Yay, Rammell's here! So apparently he was in the hospital? Pro-Life said a prayer for him on this very stage.
6:58 -- Pro-Life says we're about to have Refrigerator Police and Democratic Communism. Then he goes all No Nukes on us.
7:00 -- On the gas price question, Risch says drilling is a short-term energy solution. I believe that's supposed to take 10 years?
7:00 -- LaRocco says he supports drilling, and says no, he hasn't taken any money from oil companies unlike Risch. Risch of course claims that LaRocco owns oil stocks. (It's apparently some kind of larger investment package like a mutual fund that includes some oil companies, LaRocco says.)
7:00 -- Rammell considers Risch's pro-drilling and pro-carbon cap policies contradictory.
7:03 -- Rammell says anyone who commits abortion should be charged with murder. Risch says abortion shouldn't be legal, but wants a state's rights approach and doesn't want to punish women who get abortions, just doctors. Pro-Life said even people who drive women to baby-murder centers (his words, not mine) are involved in pre-meditated murder. LaRocco says he abhors abortion, but he doesn't believe in the government getting involved in personal decisions.
7:10 -- Pro-Life is anti-NAFTA and anti-any trade agreement. LaRocco said he voted against it because he felt it would outsource jobs; Risch says it's not perfect in it's current form, but we need free trade.
7:11 -- Pro-Life says Americans are becoming imperialists. As long as we get the Darth Vader theme from Empire Strikes Back, right?
7:15 -- Risch says he wants to get his information he bases decisions on from Mike Crapo, from various websites and publications (what, can he not name one, like Sarah Palin?), but mostly from the people of Idaho. Pro-Life says he won't get his info from the people of Idaho because the people of Idaho are selfish. Literally, he said this. He also said he sometimes gets his information from Liberals, because sometimes they'll tell you the truth. Rammell says he gets his info from Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Glenn Beck, Fox TV -- basically your entire rabid hate-spewing Conservative coterie. LaRocco says he gets his info from the people he works side-by-side with on his jobs-for-a-day. Drink!
7:22 -- What would you cut from the budget? Rammell says he'd cut No Child Left Behind; Pro-Life says he'd cut Social Security and that public education is the 10th plank of the Communist Manifesto.
7:25 -- Is Rammell crying about his dead elk? His voice sounds trembly. I'm not sure if it's the illness or if he's just that close to crying. "He should go to jail, not to the United States Senate," he said about Risch. Risch said he didn't like having the elk destroyed, but that Rammell refused to corral the elk, and the Department of Agriculture told him they were a problem and couldn't guarantee they were disease-free.
7:30 -- Thirty-five jobs! Drink! Also, LaRocco lists violent video games in the same breath with rushing into war and the decline of the economy. I'm sorry, but I didn't realize my Bioshock fixation was destroying America.
7:33 -- "The people that run this world, they're Fascists, you know," Pro-Life says. Now Pro-Life is crying as he struggles to say, "if you violate your conscience, you harm America."
7:35 -- "Larry Craig has been in office for a number of years now ... what would change if you were in his office?" Well, certainly less clandestine gay bathroom sex, right?
7:37 -- Every month there are thousands of veterans who attempt suicide, LaRocco said, and Craig didn't do enough for veterans. He also stood in the way of Crapo and Simpson's wilderness bills and rubber-stamped the war, he said. Risch praised Craig for the Craig-Wyden bill, among other things, because it was incredibly important for rural Idaho -- it gives money to communities that lost out on tax dollars when timber harvests were disallowed. (Hey Risch, maybe you could tell Bill Sali that.)
7:44 -- Wait, is Pro-Life suggesting health care professionals should not be regulated? Like, no testing or anything? I'm still not letting you do my brain surgery, Pro-Life.
7:47 -- Rammell says Risch is green like it's a filthy, filthy thing. Drink! Omigosh, Pro-Life is next, and he's an organic strawberry farmer.
7:52 -- LaRocco says Risch should show up to the IPTV debate. Drink!
7:54 -- LaRocco says he'd be bipartisan and he'd love to be in a delegation with Crapo, Simpson and Minnick.
7:55 -- Rammell said Risch is going back and forth on privatizing Social Security and that the Republican Party (i.e., Risch) left him (Rammell) and conservatives like him.
7:55 -- Pro-Life is saying something about gold coins and debased paper money and that you should be able to learn about this issue at church.
7:57 -- Risch is only comparing himself to LaRocco and is tarring LaRocco as pro-high taxes. And he's using the change card -- "I know how to do change."
7:59 -- In a sentence: Risch said he'd lower gas prices and taxes. Pro-Life said he'll save babies. Rammell says Risch has no integrity. LaRocco said he's not a liberal Democrat and that, contrary to what Risch has said, he didn't vote for the largest tax increase ever; he'd vote for a balanced budget.
8:01 -- And we're done! Remember to vote, and tip your waitress generously.

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Uninvited no more

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 9:48 AM

KTVB caught some flack when it refused to allow some members of the media, including the Associated Press and the Idaho Statesman, into its Republican primary debate for U.S. Senate in May. This time around, the television execs seem to have changed their minds.

When asked if a reporter for the Boise Weekly could attend the KTVB debate for the five-way Senate race, a KTVB representative said reporters would be allowed in along with the general public. Only members of the panel would be allowed to ask questions in the debate, however.

The debate airs live tonight from 6:30 to 8 PM, followed by a debate between Rep. Bill Sali and Walt Minnick, who are running for Idaho’s First Congressional District seat.

The Senate race is between Republican Jim Risch, Democrat Larry LaRocco, independents Rex Rammell and Pro-Life, and Libertarian Kent Marmon. Marmon claims he was not invited and is urging supporters to call the station and protest. He plans to attend and sit in the audience.

Rammell was shut out of the GOP Primary debate in May and left in the parking lot along with the media.

The KTVB debate is one of only three that Risch has agreed to appear in during the general election season, and the one that would be closest to reaching statewide.

Candidates for Idaho’s Second Congressional District will battle it out in the KTVB debate on Thursday starting at 7 PM.

Something called the Idaho Media Coalition puts on these debates. It includes the KTVB News Group, KPVI, Peak Broadcasting, Idaho Business Review, Idaho Cable Telecommunications Association, Idaho Press-Tribune, KREM and Northwest Nazarene University. Notice Boise Weekly is not in this particular coalition.

Citydesk is not going to go all the way to Nampa to watch these things just because we can, but check back for another blogging event soon…

—Lora Volkert

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Risch, LaRocco, Rammell battle it out

Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 9:01 PM

From BW's Senate race correspondent Lora Volkert:

Last night Jim Risch debated Larry LaRocco and Rex Rammell for the first time of this campaign. You can watch the whole thing on KLEW's Web site. Hey, watch it twice and try BW's post-debate drinking game below...

A few highlights:

-Risch hates the bailout plan. "It didn't provide enough protection for taxpayers, there was not nearly enough reform in the bill to keep this from happening again, there were no provisions to really go and get after the bad guys that caused this, and lastly and to add insult to injury there were billions of dollars of pork hung onto a bill that was incredibly important to the United States of America."

-Drink every time LaRocco says Risch should debate with him more or post position papers on his website.

-LaRocco said he would have voted for the bailout bill because it's about small companies having the capital and credit to buy a truck or inventory, and because the final version had oversight and taxpayer protections.

-LaRocco and Risch both said lax regulation led to the economic meltdown.

-Risch talks about Treasury Secretary Paulson running into a buzz saw and taxpayers wringing the necks of their elected leaders. Risch has deeply disturbed, violent dreams.

-Rammell said overregulation caused the economic disaster. "Did you know that Fannie and Freddie were required by law to give 42% of their loans to low- and moderate- and high-risk individuals.... All I hear now is we need more regulations that's exactly the opposite of what we need. If we truly lived in a free market economy nobody would have made these high-risk loans. Nobody. The banks wouldn't have done it and the people wouldn't have dared do it."

-LaRocco keeps talking about how he's had 35 jobs in 17 months. Do we really want a guy who can't hold down a job for more than a day?

-Rammell, when asked if there are government programs that should be cut, said, "It would be easier to list the programs we should keep." He claims the Department of Education is unconstitutional and should be eliminated.

-Rammell uses a Ouija Board to contact the spirit of John Adams and asks him if he believes in Social Security.

-Risch said he would cut funding for a Father's Day rally committee in Philadelphia, olive fruit fly research in Paris, and SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. "I'd rather wait till they found us."

-Drink every time Rammell says Risch should change parties.

-LaRocco: "I voted to cut $500 billion out of the budget when I was in Congress and you know what we did? We handed Bush a surplus."

-Drink when the tech guy cuts Rammell's microphone.

-LaRocco: "I know a little bit about terrorism. When I was in the Army in 1972 the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Army Faction, drove a car bomb next to my unit and blew up my unit in Heidelberg, Germany. I lost three fellow soldiers that night, one of whom had taken my security watch."

-Risch says we're running out of oil and we need to develop alternative energy sources, but meanwhile we need to used compressed natural gas, nuclear energy, wind power, and "drilling our way through this."

-Drink every time Rammell says "green" like it's a swear word.

-LaRocco: "We could create 14,000 new jobs in Idaho just by embracing new types of energy."

-Rammell: "I'm so sick and tired of global warming. If we continue to support this lie that global warming is going to destroy this world, we're going to destroy our economy before it gets a chance."

-There are three candidates on that stage, and no two of them agree on whether Jim Risch believes global warming is man-made.

-Risch accused LaRocco of owning thousands of shares of stock in oil companies.

-LaRocco touted his health care plan, which will involve portable plans that cover pre-existing conditions.

-Risch says we need to reform Social Security, but says he does not believe in privatization and will not vote to cut benefits.

-Finish the bottle anytime Risch or LaRocco take Rammell seriously.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Schumer likes LaRocco

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 1:54 PM

New York Sen. Chuck Shumer, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee gave Idaho U.S. Senate candidate Larry LaRocco a pat on the back this morning, after presenting a slate of Democratic Senate challengers in battleground states to the press.

“Larry LaRocco is doing well,” Schumer said, in response to a shouted query from BW that penetrated the media horde surrounding an unfazed Schumer. “Idaho is a very red state.”

Then he walked off with his two harried aides.

LaRocco, who is actually in Denver this week networking and fundraising, is not on the DSCC target list this year, but Schumer said earlier during the press conference that the equation keeps changing. The latest "change" is in Mississippi, which the DSCC considers the most conservative state in the nation (Wyoming is the most Republican state, according to Schumer).

"All of a sudden new seats keep popping up," Schumer said, as Senate candidates from Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, New Mexico and Oregon stood behind him.

LaRocco has not received any material support from the DSCC, but campaign spokesman Dean Ferguson tells BW citydesk that he's gotten moral support and may yet reap some of the committee's largesse as the election gets closer. 

LaRocco is in a five-way race for Larry Craig's open seat. His main opponent is Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, but the crowded field has led many to speculate (including the Wall Street Journal) that the race could be competitive.

We'll try to catch up with LaRocco later as he drops in on the bloggers outside the convention hall.

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