A few thoughts on a few, somewhat random, topics...

Infrastructure and Cybersecurity. The Idaho National Laboratory plays a major role in protecting U.S. infrastructure — power plants, utility systems and more — from cyber attacks.  The INL has hundreds of workers engaged in this effort and local chatter indicates considerable numbers are joining the ranks. They are a key part of the shield that helps keeps the lights on, and water and sewer flowing in the U.S., despite nearly constant foreign attack from countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

A part of the sword was revealed in a New York Times story over the weekend. U.S. Cyber Command, a branch of the Pentagon, has apparently launched a series of massive strikes against Russian power facilities, including the insertion of malware which could be used to strike back in a conflict.

National Security Advisor John Bolton said last week that the purpose of such efforts were, “To say to Russia, or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’”

Russia is believed have recently used cyber tools to cripple power distribution in the Ukraine.  Don’t be surprised if reports start circulating of problems inside Russia related to utilities, with the INL working quietly in the background to mitigate any counterattack.

Idaho GOP needs to engage young voters. Because Idaho is overwhelmingly red, it is easy for many Idaho Republicans to believe it will remain so for the foreseeable future.  That is a mistake. Idaho Democrats were competitive less than a generation ago with Cecil Andrus as governor and Richard Stallings, Larry LaRocco and Walt Minnick in Congress, and much larger numbers in the Legislature.

One sign of a possible turn is that Democrats dominate Ada County, both at the legislative level and on the county commission.

One key to the future is the youth vote. Idaho’s GOP officials may want to follow the sound advice of Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (and 2020 candidate for Utah governor) who points out that in 2018 68% of voters nationally under age 30 favored Democrats.

His solution? He told Washington County Republicans:  “We have to explain ‘the why’ behind [conservative policies].  It’s not that we don’t like people, it’s actually that we do like people and we want to help them, and government’s just not good at it.”

Cox likes to speak to young audiences and is willing to take hard questions. His willingness to engage young voters is worthy of emulation.

Trump’s man crush on Kim Jong Un. One thing I don’t get is the president’s infatuation with North Korea’s brutal dictator, Kim Jong Un.  Last week he bragged about getting a “beautiful letter” from Kim.

The man is reported to have had his uncle killed by an anti-aircraft gun and fed others to rabid dogs. He undoubtedly ordered the killing of his brother at a Malaysian airport using a nerve agent.  And, despite Trump’s denials, he is directly responsible for the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea as a healthy young man and returned in coma, before dying.

Kim Jong Un is a class A-1 creep and the president should stop the charade that their friendship can curb North Koreas’s continued bad behavior, most recently yet another threatening missile test.

 

Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com).  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..