Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Simpson Fails Our Troops. Again.

At the DailyKos, Kagro X calls them the troop killers, meaning the Republicans who repeatedly vote to send our young men and women of the American military into Iraq even though they may be unarmored, not trained, not rested, possibly wounded and not healed, and even mentally unstable. And which Republican in Idaho makes the list? It's Rep. Michael K. Simpson, 2nd District, Idaho. He says he supports our troops, but check out how our Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America rate not just Simpson, but many other members of our national Congress, including Sen. Craig and Sen. Crapo (D- and D, respectively).

Red State Rebels and We have failed... have already reported on this, and you may see it turn up on the other Idaho and national blogs today because we are all so sick and tired of the hypocrisy of Republicans who say one thing but do another. Check out the video at the Daily Kos, it's well worth 30 seconds of your time.

This lying and hypocrisy was recently exposed through the atrocious conditions and treatments offered so many of our troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Coming right on the heels of this exposure of egregious behavior and deploring conditions, Kagro X reports, "...the Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee unanimously opposed requiring that the troops sent to Iraq be properly prepared for their mission and protected with armor. Again."

Way to go Rep. who have never served in the military, you who say you support the troops but then want to send them into war without protection. Once again we have an elected official who does not represent the best interests of his communities, his state, and the troops he has sent to war. Shame on you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spring: Time to End All War

Ah, springtime is here in my garden. Well, it's rather foggy this morning, a kind of Rivendell type of morning for you Tolkien fans, with the trees shrouded in the mists, deer wandering through the forest, birds awakening to light of day, and wild turkeys in the forest gobble-gobbling their terrorist plans for my garden today. I think I'll check on today's war protests, recognizing the date of our disgusting and violent assault upon the Iraqi people in an obvious attempt to control the not just the oil, but, along with the Saudis, and James Baker III, the oil prices in the Middle East.

If you want some national as well as international news about the weekend's protests to the war in Iraq, check out, who provides coverage from Bangkok to Spain to Los Angeles to Athens to Toronto to the Pentagon. But we all know that won't be enough for the Bush Administration. I just hope that it's enough for the Democrats. Perhaps the protest tomorrow, Monday, on March 19th at Nancy Pelosi's office will convince the Democrats that all is not well in Mudville.... For a list of today's protests taking place in Idaho, take a look at Red State Rebels, a blog that frequently tells you more than the Idaho Democratic Party does....

And just in case you think these people march in vain, as of today at least 655,000+ Iraqi civilians have died in this war, 3,211 U.S. military personnel have perished (official number), and the war now has cost $409,052,121,231.

I hate to end on such a tragic note, but perhaps it's the weekend we should all be either marching or holding candlelight vigils. The Bush administration is like a runaway train, and although the train may be falling apart, they just keep on going. I would urge people to contact Nancy Pelosi's office tomorrow and let her know you are there in spirit.

On that note, back to the spirit of springtime, a reminder of the cycle of life that we in four-season country fully appreciate. It's time to start our seeds, be they for the garden or for the rebirth of Idaho into a blue state. I hope you'll enjoy a sonnet I once wrote about the disappearcne of winter into spring:

Sonnet XIII

While tulips remain hidden underground
Under a thick white blanket, safe from cold,
Mysteries unfold there, without a sound,
A secret story waiting to be told.
Ten years ago the tulips seemed to hide,
But now I see them almost everywhere.
During each winter’s sleep they multiplied,
Now become common, when once so rare.
What happened during winter, I don’t know.
Do tulips do the things that people do?
What springtime preparations do they sow,
In full anticipation of the new.
I’m astonished by what I should have known:
During winter’s sleep, spring’s blossom was sown.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Another Week Flies By....

Another week already about over and I still have one foot stuck in winter.... Well, as Red State Rebels noted for Boise, I will note for northern Idaho: we have crocus in bloom as well. And my tulips are coming up, the roses have buds, and I had to spray stinky red pepper, garlic, rotten egg spray on all of those today to keep the deer from eating them. The wild turkeys are another matter completely. They destroy my garden, eat my chives, eat my grape hyacinths, roost on my roof, and I hope the coyotes get them! I heard the coyotes two mornings in a row now and I found myself dreaming the absolute worst kind of dream: coyotes slurping up turkey eggs. You may think I'm vile for such thoughts but how would you like over 70 turkeys in your garden this spring? If I hunted, I would definitely be having wild turkey for Thanksgiving this year....

Politically it has also been an exciting week here in Idaho. Maria Weeg is leaving us for a better position in Arizona. She deserves this! But we will miss her. I only hope that her replacement is energetic, young, progressive, diplomatic and understands Idaho. With Idaho on the edge of becoming blue, the replacement will have a lot of weight on his or her shoulders. But that person will also have much support from various counties around the state. We're all in this together!

I became caught in a tangled discussion this week by one of the local Democrats who questions the reality of global warming. I finally reached the point where I had to declare an impasse. To me, global warming is as clear as An Inconvenient Truth made it out to be. Of course this person also believes that nuclear power is clean, a thought that tightens my throat just to type it. I think it mad to think that something whose waste products outlast their containers by 10,000 years is "clean." This kind of thinking is right up there with Otter wanting to kill the first wolf. Or the Idaho House passing a bill for needs-based Idaho scholarships, WITHOUT providing funding!

But I'm really upset about the House passing the Abortion Consent Bill which requires a minor to get parental consent before having an abortion. I think that more than anything the passing of this bill speaks volumes about the ignorance legislators have about abuse in families, the sexual mores and attitudes that young people have these days, the lack of appropriate education, and turning a blind eye to how people really behave. It really makes me wish that some of the under-30's crowd ran for these offices.

But such ignorance seems par for the course in this country. I'm almost finished reading Mike Gray's Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess & How We Can Get Out, which details how misguided prohibitionists, lying presidents, political fanatics, and other equally irresponsible members of our government brought into being a drug policy based on fallacies, lies, government corruption, thievery, and chaos, and turned it into an industry that makes tons of money by feeding on itself. This book takes a look at a government policy that continues to be based on an out-dated, and misconstrued kind of Reefer Madness mentality.

And we are just experiencing this same kind of idiocy again in Boundary County, where the school district, which is predominantly Republican, wants money for a Supplemental Levy, all the while voting for the Republican Legislators who consistently vote money right out of Idaho public education. And our Superintendent, Don Bartling, is one of the worst! And to top it off, he just loves to throw about self-aggrandizing phrases like, "well, when Governor Otter was in my office last week...." Give me a break! Will the levy pass? The Democrats reminded the superintendent of the party that always supports public education, and of the party that obviously does not. Indeed, as noted by morialekafa on 3/9/07, one of our long-term local Democrats has resorted to feeling that the lack of money for schools is a Republican problem, so let the Republicans fix it....

So much corruption, so much to fix, I'm surprised that anyone would want to run for public office.... Well, I think I'll enjoy the first blossoms of spring, oh, dang, the bloody turkeys are back in my yard!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

North Idaho Food Heaven

I'm thinking I should start another blog, just for my food interests. Maybe it wouldn't go. But, then again, maybe it would. It just seems that talking about food here in the midst of grand (sic) political commentary, well, it just doesn't seem really complementary. However, given that I'm supposed to be writing about how Idaho rocks, maybe it is appropriate....

I'm on this line of thought because I've been reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. Her book is contemporary, witty, funny, insightful, informative, and inspiring. I came to IdahoRocks not knowing whether I should write about politics, books, or food. I decided that if it was positive about north Idaho, I could write about all three. Well, I'll give the food a second? third? try, and if it doesn't receive comments, I'll start a second blog. And then maybe a third one about books....

Anyway, Julie Powell did inspire me to cook this morning, an omelet to be precise. I thought that I had actually begun to master the pan-flipping technique so popular on food tv. Ha! I was certainly humbled this morning. I tried Julia Child's recipe for the perfect French omelet, flipping it so it folds over on itself with the one second jerk and 20 degree angle method. Unlike Julie, it didn't end up on the floor, but not only did it not fold without help from me, but the egg that ended up under the burner forced me to light my aroma oil candle just to get rid of the stench. I chose Cosmic Chi oil because it sounded like something that might cause me to have good karma. Needless to say, the perfect omelet did not slide out of the pan onto the plate, but it certainly tasted delicious. I did note that Julia Child's recipe did not require the milk or cream that Miss Betty Crocker had instructed me to use in my youth. It was just eggs (being north Idaho my local farmer friend, Helen, sells me her eggs), butter (unsalted, organic), sea salt and pepper. Yum!

Back to the karma. I needed to do something for good karma because first thing this morning I received a letter from my friend, Shaela, currently teaching English in Seoul, who, after recounting interesting personal and cultural events, proceeded to explain how, while riding her bike, she was hit by a taxi running a stoplight, and now has to spend 6-8 weeks in the hospital awaiting knee surgery, dying of the heat, and eating, well, let's just call it "hospital food." She certainly need much more good karma than I do at the moment, so, I encouraged her to write a blog....

Food does occupy a significant part of my thought every day. After spending time in Europe, my husband and I decided it was much better for our health to eat like many Europeans, i.e., a big meal in the early afternoon with a tapas-like snack in the evening. So, after defrosting something the night before, like the wild salmon my friend, Chris, catches in Alaska every summer, I begin to plan the next day's dinner. At various points in the evening or morning, I consider what kind of vegetables, starches, etc., I have in storage somewhere in my house, root cellar, freezer, or refrigerator, as accompaniments to the entree. This is, almost always, an extremely pleasurable and blood-pressure reducing process for me. I love cooking and most of the food in north Idaho is really natural, delicious, free of chemicals, growth hormones, etc., and a delight to prepare.

I should add here something about the abundance of good food we have here in north Idaho. My beef comes from my friends, Fred and Alice's, Scottish Highland cattle, which are hormone and antibiotic free, only eat the first cutting of alfalfa, and also receive a mixture of grains and apple peelings from the local apple juice seller, Will. My buffalo comes from our local buffalo ranchers, Spud and Bentley. My wild salmon and halibut are from a guy who fishes in Alaska every summer. Organic chicken and gourmet cheeses, as well as La Brea Bakery bread come from my friend, Julie, who owns our local health food/gourmet food store, Mountain Mike's. She also supplies me with organic Giusto flour (for my weekly bread-baking and European pastry specialities), Bob's Red Mill grains, real smoked, Spanish paprika, organic olive oil, Molinari sausage, organic and free trade coffee and chocolate, and the list goes on. At the Farmer's Market in summer I can buy a vast variety of organic produce, plus some speciality items like morel mushrooms in the spring, huckleberries in mid-to-late summer, and even Yak, from our neighbors in the Pack River area. What I cannot find in town, I can usually find not too far away. My squid, lox, octopus, and wurst (pork cold cuts) come from Canada (drat, we still cannot bring veal over the border). The best Hungarian sausage I ever tasted comes from the Russian deli in Spokane. At the Salzburg-native-owned Alpine Deli in Spokane I buy German goods, and at the Italian deli in Spokane I can even buy anchovies in salt! Now that is some Mario Batali excitement! Huckleberry's in Spokane is great for some game, organic specialities, and gourmet food as well. My local grocery store keeps me supplied with a Two-buck-Chuck style wine, although I have to go elsewhere for variety, like a really good Sancerre. And in Hayden Lake, I can actually buy decent calamari steaks and VEAL! For everything else, I wait until I visit my son in Seattle and then hit Salumi, Uwajimaya, and either the Capital Hill or the University Village QFC (Quality Food Center Grocery store). Finally, one of my favorite Seattle stops is Seattle's Finest Exotic Meats, where I can pick up anything from reindeer to rabbit to alligator, at a very competitive price. I'll tell you, after all that I cannot believe that every DEMOCRATIC foodie around wouldn't want to live here!

So much talk about food has left me sated. So, to finish the blog, and the evening, I'll sip a small bit of my homemade Rose Petal Liqueur, invite Democrats to move here, advise them to buy real estate from Century 21, Bonner Ferry, Mike Peterson, owner, and finish by saying Bon Appetit et Bon Soir!

Friday, March 9, 2007

How To Succeed in Business, IACI style

I just love this. Eye on Boise does a great job reporting on IACI's bill on personal property tax. Yes, check out the possessive on that one. Anyway, the House passed the bill and now it goes to the Senate. Basically it puts into place a bill that will "... phase in a $100 million property tax break for businesses by eliminating the personal property tax on business equipment." So last year the Idaho Congress's homeowner exemption would now no longer help the individual homeowner; instead it would now go to business. Wow, if that's not a stab in the back, I'm not sure what is.

But what I love about this whole tax exemption for business owners is the rational provided by Republicans, somehow reminiscent of their stance on education, child care, and on down the line. Both Rep. Ken Roberts R-Donnelly and Rep. Scott Bedke R-Oakley argue that it is the service required by residential, rather than business like Ag and Mining and Timber, that is not paying their fair share of taxes. Excuse me, it's just individual residential citizens who need so many services? Who works for these businesses? Robots? And like what do they mean by services? Here in north Idaho, heavy trucks are not allowed on most county roads in springtime because they eat up the road so badly it has to be replaced. Think about this: if they tear up the county roads this badly, then who is primarily responsible for tearing up the highway? Cars or heavy trucks? Give me a break.....

And what other services are they talking about? Police? Hospitals? Fire? Utilities? Do we actually have Republicans in this legislature with an education?

On another, but similar note about the complete lack of comprehension on the part of Republicans, yesterday evening the local Superintendent came to our local Democratic Central Committee meeting to garner support for the Supplemental Maintenance Levy that we're to vote on this month. This guy is a Republican. He voted for Sen. Shawn Keough R-Sandpoint, Rep. George Eskridge R-Dover, and Rep. Eric Anderson R-Sandpoint, even though at a public community forum before the last election they all said they wouldn't support the 1% tax that educators and Democrats wanted for the schools. Excuse me, Superintendent Bartling, but just why are you voting for someone who works against your best interests??? Well, he had his 10 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of questions, when I ended his visit with a reminder that Democrats support public education but that the Republican legislature, and Republicans in general, consistently vote against anything that would support our rural schools, and that even though Gov. Otter visited him in his office he hasn't been much of a leader for rural schools, and even though we have local Republicans that support education, they keep voting for the Republican wing nuts who do not support it. And for a last jab, I reminded him that Republicans supporting education have been completely ineffectual in this completely imbalanced Congress.

In full disclosure, even though I believe in public education, I have homeschooled my own child, as well as put him into the public schools. That is another story, based on the lack of choice in my small community, as well as the fact that obedience, complacence, and a short attention span seem to be more important in our local schools than the pursuit of knowledge. I do not intend to disparage the wonderful teachers we have in our community, but unfortunately we also have some really rotten apples, and in such a small community little choice is to be had.

My venture into homeschooling, however, also enlightened me a great deal. I know that Idaho has many homeschoolers, sometimes up to 30% of the community. I also know that a very distinct difference exists between homeschoolers and neglected children, who are sometimes called homeschooled. In Idaho many homeschoolers do so for religious purposes, although many of us do it without the religious influence or bias.

I disclose all this because Idaho now has a specific representative, Rep. Thayne R-Emmett, who takes quotes and ideas from homeschoolers, from writers critical of our particular system of education, and so forth, and twists them into his own idiosyncratic justification for not supporting education, and for his ideology that believes women belong in the home. I'm sure I'll have more to say on this in the future, as it irks me to have someone take solid research and then modify it for their own perverted beliefs.

I'll tell you, between Idaho public schools and the personal property tax, we have some genuine problems to tackle, and I just cannot see anything concrete being done until we put more Democrats into the Idaho Congress. Do I hear any potential candidates ready to take on this challenge? I hope I do....

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Frank Church Banquet

I'm back in north Idaho! Ya-hooie! The Frank Church Banquet and IDP state meeting were terrific! I learned so much, I was surrounded by Democrats, and I could feel that political change is in the air. It is never good when radicals take over government, but the Republican choice of people like Bill Sali, will, I believe, finally convince conventional Republican voters that it's no longer in their best interests to vote a straight party ticket.

Or course it's not just the idiotic things that these elected Republicans say, it's also what they do as elected officials. Idaho is the worst in the nation for child day-care regulations, so what did the Republicans in our legislature do? The killed a bill meant to provide a minimum of safety regulations and criminal history checks! Rep. Tom Loertscher R-Iona and Rep. Steven Thayne R-Emmett voted against the bill because they think that mothers should stay at home! Excuse me, but what does a single mom do? How about two working parents since our minimum wage is not enough upon which to make a living? How could these two representatives even be elected since they don't inhabit reality at all!? Just read all about it here and tell me that your jaw doesn't drop....

Oh, and the vote on the minimum wage? Well, as reported in the Spokesman Review, the Republicans in The House State Affairs Committee voted to tie Idaho's minimum wage to the federal minimum wage, and backed off the Democratic plan that would have given our workers an annual cost-of-living increase, as well as gradually phasing out the lower service wage for workers who receive tips. I wish all waiters and waitresses in this state would rebel against this slave labor....

So the Idaho populace voted for Republicans who, basically, do not have the people's best interests in mind. And I can't even begin to describe how the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry consistently lobbies for legislation which gives big businesses big tax breaks and guess who pays for these breaks? Why, duh, the working taxpayer, of course. George Bush's strategy exactly. And that leads me down the scary, horrific path to the monster Republicans call privatization. I think I'll return to the goodness that was the Frank Church Banquet.

I didn't see much of Boise except the downtown, and Boise businesses are probably happy that my friend, Toni, and I stopped by. As for the state party meeting, I just love Maria's number-crunching - it enables me to actually see purple in this state. Our party chair, Richard Stallings, was, in turns, serious, witty, emotional, and very informative. Obviously he's doing a great job: we voted him, and our vice-chair, Jeanne Buell, into office again. We're such a great group! Gary Allen made the Rules Committee almost seem like fun. And nobody can make money matters as interesting as our treasurer, Stephanie Astorquia. Shelley Landry, our District 1, DNC-funded Northern Field Organizer, has united our district in a way that hasn't been seen in years. Her 24/7 work has renewed, re-organized, and revitalized the northern counties. And, thanks to Alex Jones, the ex-Southern Field Organizer and now our new tech person (thank goodness), Toni and I have actually become Van administrators for our county, which means we will be formidable at the next GOTV. Finally, even though I was on the other side of the room, the slide show was terrific! Especially since Boundary County's infamous billboard began the third part! All around this wonderful state the Democrats are making a difference.

In closing, one of my favorite parts of the entire trip was the blogger's breakfast. Of course it didn't last long enough (unfortunately I had to be abruptly pulled out of my seat for the advanced VAN training) and it was very informative and very productive. A very BIG thanks to Red State Rebels, not only for organizing our early morning rendez-vous, but also for carting Toni and I back and forth to the Canyon County event. And I can't leave out that she has probably the most important political blog in Idaho. I was also pleasantly surprised and appreciative when New West Boise arrived with some interesting topics for Idaho bloggers. Working together, we can become a very strong and resolute force. Thank you. I loved meeting The Sniff Test, one of my favorite bloggers, because, like me, she sometimes diverts from the political track to talk about wonderful side topics like food....but don't think that I don't appreciate her excellent reporting skills as well. It was wonderful that We have failed our duty as citizens..., who keeps such a good eye on national political chatter, came all the way from Gooding in the wee hours of the morning. And last but not least, a big thank you to A Seattleite in Idaho because as a member of our youth, she is also our future. We need the youth to participate, challenge, and help change our country, and this Pocatello student is truly a leader of her generation.

Ah...Idaho is such a great place, now filled with Democrats who want to take back our state from the forces of evil.... We shall prevail!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Just in time, I found you just in time....

Okay, I was there, I heard it with my own ears, IDP Chairman, Richard Stallings, did say that Al Gore had formed a presidential exploratory committee. How he knows this, I don't know. Maybe he was reading or or Or, perhaps he, as party chair, knows something that the news media has not yet heard about. Whatever the reason, it certainly sent my weekend at the Frank Church Banquet and state committee meeting over the top!

Having never been to Boise before, I found myself initially making comparisons to Los Angeles, or more accurately, the San Fernando Valley area, in which I grew up. Things were different back then. The Valley still had many farms and ranches, nobody locked their doors, and children played safely in the streets. I used to walk several blocks home from school at lunch and walk freely around my neighborhood, sometimes taking my bicycle to the store for my mom. That area and lifestyle have completely disappeared. Filled with urban sprawl, tract homes, strip malls and huge corporate owned store chains, the San Fernando Valley is a traffic congestion zone, often covered in smog, and many places are not safe at all. I could see Boise heading in that direction.

Then, I walked around the downtown with a friend yesterday morning and discovered a wonderful, Idaho friendly Boise, with great, individually-owned stores and shops waiting to be discovered on every street. We had a delicious latte with brioche and croissant at La Vie En Rose, did serious buying damage at The Basque Market, and peered through the windows at Trip Taylor Bookseller (which I intend to visit today, being too early yesterday). I was also too early for the wine store (darn, I don't remember the name) near 8th St. in BoDo (the taxi driver informed me that this meant Boise Downtown), and, alas, arrived too late on Thursday to have a late supper and glass of wine at theCottonwood Grille, but maybe I can catch them for lunch today.

I just noticed the time, and I have to skedaddle off the hotel computer to get ready for the second annual Idaho Democrats blogger breakfast....