A lecture by a Washington State University professor on Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m., at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library will explore how American politics has become an arena for suspicious and angry minds.
“Crazy Politics: Populism, Conspiracy Theories, and Paranoia in America” will be presented by Dr. Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, where he also serves as the Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor of Government. 
Anti-establishment candidates rail against the government they seek to lead; populist groups like the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street howl about corruption in political and economic institutions; and wild conspiracy theories abound. Has American politics always been so crazy?
Rather than debunking today’s conspiratorial claims, Clayton argues that both populism and paranoid thinking have always played important roles in American politics. From the fear of the Illuminati, to the Know-Nothing movement in the 1850s, to Father Charles Coughlin, Huey Long, and the John Birchers, there always have been leaders and groups who see politics in apocalyptic terms and believe powerful elites are conspiring against ordinary Americans.
Clayton’s talk explains the rise of today’s populist and conspiratorial politics, draws parallels to earlier periods, and describes how populism on the left and right today differ.

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A truly novel country will be featured as a Novel Destinations Friday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m., at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library.
Bob Schaffnit will share images and stories from his visit to Ethiopia in 2005 after receiving an invitation from the Coptic Ethiopian Church.
“We were able to visit some sites as well as islands which are off limits even to Ethiopian countrymen,” Schaffnit said. “We visited the capital of Addis, Axum, Lalabella, and then Bahir-dar.”
The journey also included villages where people lived as they did 4,000 years ago, he said.
“We pieced together an ancient history of the Ark of the Covenant as we attended the Timket festival, Schaffnit said. “Ethiopia is the only nation that claims to have the Ark, yet does not care if anyone even knows about this claim. The highlight of the expedition was visiting Lalabella to explore the churches that have been hewn out of rock and then carved out from the inside out.”
After our trip to Ethiopia the History Channel did their own film documentary that was based off of their itinerary, he said.
Novel Destinations is sponsored by the Coeur d’alene Public Library Foundation. The program is free, but donations are welcome.
Anyone with a travelogue to share at the library is asked to contact the Library Foundation at 208-769-2380 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Patrons who need accommodation to participate in library programs or services are asked to contact the staff prior to the activity by calling 208-769-2315.


The events, developments, and people who have shaped the history of our region will be examined through a series of programs sponsored by the Museum of North Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene Public Library beginning in February.
Historian Robert Singletary will present “Inland Northwest Milestones” beginning Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. with the history of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, which dates from 1912, and profiling Kyle Walker, chamber director from 1948 to the 1970s.
Known as “Mr. Coeur d’Alene,” Walker used just about every medium possible to promote the city. He was also very active in the community and served as master of ceremonies from everything from rodeos to beauty pageants.
The free lectures will be offered in the Community Room, usually on the fourth Thursday of each month, except for the final program which will be presented on Nov. 30 due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Singletary will step away from the lectern on April 27 when songwriter and storyteller Tracy Morrison will present “Idaho Women: Stories and Folksongs.” This program is made possible through the support of the Speakers Bureau at the Idaho Humanities Council, the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support is provided by the Friends of the Library.
Additional programs in the Milestones series will be:
► March 23: Spokane’s Natatorium Park.
May 25: The Military in North Idaho.
June 22: Farragut College and Technical Institute.
July 27: Coeur d’Alene Regattas.
Aug. 24: Farming in North Idaho.
Sept. 28: Inland Empire Electric Line.
Oct. 26: Kirtland Cutter: Spokane’s Master Architect.
Nov. 30: History of Skiing in North Idaho.

Patrons who need accommodation to participate in library programs or services are asked to contact the staff prior to the activity by calling 208-769-2315.