Monday, December 8, 2008

United We Stand....

I read an interesting article in the Seattle Times this morning by David Sirota about the progressive victories that have occurred at the grassroots level around our nation. I did not know that 17 states won a Democratic trifecta, taking the governorship, state house and state senate. Wow! That makes me even happier to be living in Obamaland....

But this wasn't just a Democratic victory. In some states, like New York, these victories occurred because of the extensive, grassroots organizing of a new third party: the Working Families Party. This recent (1998) organization began in New York and has worked very hard to ensure that the voice of working families is heard by politicians, and what they want is "good jobs, fair taxes, good schools, reliable public transportation, affordable housing, and universal healthcare." This is known as a "progressive agenda." I guess there must be lots of progressives in the state of Idaho, as well as the rest of the nation, because those seem to the be goals that most Americans want. The Working Families Party secures these goals through electoral fusion.

Electoral Fusion is the process in which more than one party endorses a single candidate. When this happens, both parties are recognized on a ballot, each endorsing the same candidate. It is a process that is legal in only seven states, including Idaho. In effect, it brings together seemingly disparate people, albeit with similar wants and needs, in the effort to elect the candidate who is not just a Republican or Democrat but one who represents what working families want. This has produced numerous successes in New York and the party has branched out into other states, including Connecticut, South Carolina and Oregon.

It seems to me that Idaho has need of a working families party, or at least similar efforts to promote what most Idahoans want, like "good jobs, fair taxes, good schools, reliable public transportation, affordable housing and universal healthcare." Wait, Idaho has such a party, and it's the Idaho Democratic Party. I guess the major task in Idaho is convincing Republicans and Independents to participate in some "working families fusion" and vote for candidates who put people's needs before big business and personal values agendas.

As Patrick Henry stated in his last public speech, "United we stand. Divided we fall."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Someone Stole My Obama Yard Sign Last Night

Can you believe it?

I was a poll watcher for 6 hrs. beginning at 8am. Then I had to drive 50 min. to Sandpoint to teach an evening class. That ended early so I rushed home to celebrate at my Vice-Chair, Fred's home, arriving just in time for Obama's speech. We all watched with great happiness, clapped our approval, and cried tears of joy. I guess about 40 people were there. Then, I finally headed home around 10:30, only to discover that my Obama/Biden sign had disappeared from my yard.

The missing sign was a portent of the next several hours as I mulled and mulled over the Idaho Secretary of State's election night results, along with the Boundary County Clerk's election results, and then cried my heart out for Idaho candidates. Wow! So many 24-28% losses. I can't believe that our local candidates did so badly. It all seemed so bright. But it soured so much.

As a poll watcher I saw all our local wingnuts arrive at the polls, but not alone. They brought their newly registered spouses, their first-time-voting children, and their friends. I haven't reviewed the statistics, but I think that Sarah did a good job of bringing out the religious right. I still had hope, however, for the votes received from the youth and from new arrivals to our community. Unfortunately those hopes were shattered in the night.

We lost two county commissioner seats in Bonner County. Our local candidates for county commissioner lost to Republican incumbents. Our two representative races were lost to Republicans. The Secretary of State offices, who mistakenly put Lew Langness on the ballot, marked him as a withdrawal rather than excluding him after the primary as they should have. Shawn Keough has certainly taken that to the bank....

So, I would like to put out a call to Blaine County - perhaps some of your Democrats would consider moving to north Idaho??? Our land is cheaper, we have less people, and our local Democratic Central Committee is strong. Any takers? I'm sure that Bonner County, also ID District 1, would love to have you as well. We're not the "Crown Jewel of the North" for nothing.... And hey, I'm a sous-chef at a local restaurant, Papa Byrd's Bistro, and our food has received raves from customers from around the world. So, think about it, that's all I ask....

In the meantime, we're making arrangments for evaluation and planning, I've already volunteered to work for a local possible candidate in the 2010 campaign, Minnick will be in congress, and our Idaho candidates ran some damn good campaigns.

So thank you, everyone, all volunteers, all candidates, and our very own IDP. We have taken steps forward on the successful undertaking of making Idaho blue.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Racism in This Campaign? You betcha!

It started after the Obama campaign began in Idaho. Our local newspaper, the Bonners Ferry Herald, along with the Idaho Statesman, printed an LTE that called Obama a Muslim who tooks his oath of office by swearing on the Iran (sic) and all sorts of other misinformation, racial slurs, and outright lies. Then, about a month ago, the Spokesman Review, decided to print the Michael Ramirez political cartoon, Lipstick on a Pig, a very racist caricature of Barack Obama. The actual cartoon can still be found at radical right websites, although it was taken off Ramirez's usual website post, Investor's Business Daily, about five hours after it was originally posted.

And now it turns out that one of our only large Obama signs in Bonners Ferry has been defaced by someone who spray-painted a large, black "N" over the "O" in Obama.

Is this an act of hatred and racism? An adolescent prank? A politically motivated activity? Well the Boundary County Democrats are providing a reward for information that will lead to the arrest of this person or persons. Why? Because not only is this a rash and egregious political act, but with its undertones of racism, if not blatant hatred, it is a message that most Idahoans do not want to send. Republicans and Democrats alike have worked very hard to fight the presence of Aryan Nation types, to promote Human Rights, and to make our state too great for hate. Such defacement of a political sign is not good for the election, for the county, for the state or for the nation.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fair And Balanced...

I originally saw this on OpenLeft this morning. It's a photo taken by loojie at DC's national airport. It's tagged with the headline "Fair and Balanced." The Republicans seem to have a real knack for tipping the truth scales. The network coverage of this presidential campaign should be interesting, and hopefully not downright irritating. I'm curious about where those T-shirts came from....

Of course the biggest headline these days, running neck in neck with Gustav is that hero of the Christian Right, Senator Stevens, Big Oil, and foreign policy expert, Sarah Palin. I believe that this morning, Governor Palin has won the race with Gustav because of her announcement that her seventeen year old daughter is pregnant, that is without the benefit of marriage. You know, the information that her daughter is pregnant doesn't bother me, although I think that it is irresponsible. Given her parents Christian Right background, I do wonder if her only education on the topic was one of abstinence....a deplorable use of the term education when young adults should be taught about protection as well. This news brings up topics which should be discussed, although I think that the privacy of the daughter should be respected. On the other hand, Palin did accept a Veep position which means as much public exposure as the media can grab. And given how much of a surprise it was and is, I can't imagine that we're going to hear about much of anything else in the next two months.

Sisyphus at 43StateBlues has a great summary of who Sarah Palin is, while Red State Rebels chimes in twice about the chimera. IdaBlue thinks Palin will implode within two weeks, which I certainly hope for but the media has a way with toying with my sense of reason. Of course Morialekafa had his usual bit of fun with this nomination, should you need to find some humor in the selection. And then there are the Idaho extremists, including the Village Idiot and the wingnut.

The presidential race has certainly become interesting, but what will be even more interesting is how fair and balanced the media will actually be.

Go Democrats! Go Obama/Biden!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh To Be Part Of The Convention Confusion...

I just eat up the reports about the Democratic National Convention that are coming from our Idaho bloggers. The confusion, hard work, and long hours are summed up nicely by D2 at 43StateBlues, who describes a typical blogger's day at the Convention. And although she is not at the Convention, RedStateRebel's dedication to posting everything that's happening includes an excitement that reverberates in the blogosphere.

For the typical delegate's day, check out Megan Nagel's descriptions, who puts more activities in a day than I thought possible. From events to interviews to getting those daily credentials to travel time to enthusiasm and to catching up on eluded sleep, Megan describes it all.

Of course, being both blogger and mom, I keep turning to my son, Julian, page and youngest member of the Idaho delegation. He has done well with meeting people from Evan Bayh (they are in the same hotel) to Bill Richardson to John Oliver, and, while on the floor, ran into Howard Wolfson, with whom he briefly joked about his role in Hillary's campaign. Hey D2, maybe you can talk Julian into letting you get those pics out of his camera....

Those are some of the highlight moments in days that begin closer to 4:30 am, and which keep Jessica and Julian very busy from carrying signs to running credentials to making sure everyone is present for roll call to listening to both the mundane and the most exciting speeches. And Julian, like so many of us in Idaho, loved Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's speech, whose enthusiasm, wit, and passion is so inspirational.

Julian and the other delegates have also been featured in various news articles. Julian was lucky enough to be interviewed by AFP, which was picked up all over the internet. Richard Hill, a delegate from Moscow, was featured on NPR. Jerry Brady reports about the souvenir collecting at the Convention, which is interesting just in terms of what's being offered. Megan Nagel was picked up by the Norwegian Dagbladet, although they had trouble with their geography thinking that she came from Ohio. The National Journal Online couldn't resist asking Keith Roark about Idaho potatoes.... Albert Wilkerson was stopped on day one for his take on Obama. And there has to be more to come!

Go Democrats! Go Obama!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Idaho at the Democratic National Convention

Wow! Idaho is at the Convention and our Idaho delegates, bloggers, and reporters are doing their best to bring the convention to all of us. With charm, wit, fun and great reporting, 43StateBlues is Idaho's "official" blog at the Convention. Watch the videos and feel like you're there (and you'll also find out why D2 and Serephin have to "share" a floor credential). You can also follow their every movement (well, almost) at Twitter and Flickr.

Of course Red State Rebels is on top of everything in spite of reporting from Idaho. She notes some of the other reports coming from the convention, including Jill Kuraitis from NewWestBoise and Nathaniel Hoffman for the Boise Weekly. I especially liked the excitement that emanates from delegate Megan Nagel's report in Blue Girl From A Red State, and, of course, that informative and interesting blog from one of Idaho's best legislators, Nicole LeFavour and her Notes From The Floor. We even have reports from our very own Jerry Brady who, as a delegate also provides a well-rounded description of Convention events.

With 3 news people for every one delegation member, delegates and anyone with those special lanyards, are being interviewed left and right. As many of you know, my son, Julian Langness, is the youngest member of the Idaho delegation and is there as the page from District 1. He says he has been interviewed by so many different people, he can't remember all of them. But Mom was smart enough to sign up for GoogleAlerts and discovered that Julian and roommate Steve Mercado have already appeared online at New West Politics. I liked the article because I believe that the youth that Obama has drawn into the party are my future, if not yours.

Go Democrats!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Just Another Day....

Well, another part of our water line burst on Saturday night and we're still without water.... We just had half the water line replaced about a month ago. In between then and now a wind storm knocked down a huge Ponderosa pine which took with it three electric poles on our street so we were without electricity for two days. Now it's the water line again. Doing without water, and power, and water, certainly teaches one a thing or two about their value. I think of all the people in the world who do not have water and electricity and am thankful that I live where I live. I must say though, that it's tempting to try to "get off the grid." Being dependent on so many other people really requires a tremendous amount of patience. And when I think of how our American infrastructure is beginning to crumble because of things like corporate salaries, it just shortens my temper.

I did finally get my internet service back, about two weeks ago. That was a VERY BIG LESSON in patience. I also finally am back on my old, trusty laptop, after accidentally spilling a glass of wine on the spare computer....yeah, just let your imagination run wild.

Bill Sali hasn't disappointed me either this summer: he still persists in being the Idaho Village Idiot in our national congress. Thanks Sali. I can't wait until Minnick demonstrates to Congress that intelligent life does exist in Idaho.

I also can't wait for Larry LaRocco to replace that lying, impostor of family values, Senator Wide Stance Craig. I might have some pity for him if he ever actually sought to upheld the truth, perform honorable deeds, and do something beneficial for the state of Idaho (as opposed to filling the coffers of the Republican party). So, you go, LaRocco! We want Idaho people and Idaho values representing us in Congress.

On another note, I do plan to take up pen, well, keyboard, more often, now that I'm into the groove of working six days a week.... I still love the "cheffing," as a recent visitor, Serephin of 43StateBlues can tell you, because Serephin visited the restaurant where I work. Thanks so much for the visit! One of these days I hope to drink liberally with you in the southeast nether lands of this great state!

In the meantime, the sun is lowering in the sky and I still see no sign of my water returning. Well, tomorrow is just another day....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good Eats In My Blue Idaho

Wow, only one post this month.... I must be following in the footsteps of TheMountainGoatReport who has also been noticeably absent from the usual consistent format and vigilance. Sometimes one's life takes new direction and mine certainly has. Aside from a return to teaching part-time at the college level, I've also taken on full-time work as a sous-chef, or as my boss says, everyday we get to "play restaurant." He jokes, but since February the place has grown past four times what it was when they first opened. I am especially lucky, because cooking really good "wow" food is very dear to my heart and my boss treats me as an equal, creatively speaking. So now I'm doing two of my favorite activities in the world: teaching anthropology, and cooking in a really good local restaurant. So, RSR, please put Papa Byrd's Bistro on your list of great places to dine in Bonners Ferry, ID.

And yes, we are good. That's why the restaurant has grown so quickly. Indeed, the Moroccan spiced ribs with couscous and tzatzikis sauce that my boss made last night deserved a very special photo, but alas, I didn't have my camera with me. Of course, I probably wouldn't be able to take many photos because we're always so busy.... I've been able to contribute many desserts including a drop-dead Tres Leches Cake, made with Thai coconut milk. And on the chocolate side, I've contribute both a chocolate mousse cake (not too many calories....) and a decadent chocolate cake served on raspberry coulis with a dollop of whipped cream. Hungry yet?

Well, it may not be politics for this blog, but it's still my blue Idaho, and I just feel great about making the crown jewel of northern Idaho just that much more tempting.

Friday, May 9, 2008

US Ecology Making Millions Accepting Toxic Waste

Is that glow I see in the southern sky actually southern Idaho? The online Hanford News out of the Tri-Cities area of Washington, recently reported that toxic waste is bringing in big bucks to southern Idaho. It seems that US Ecology's public hazardous waste dump facility knows that toxic waste is a lucrative business venture.

Boise based American Ecology is the parent company of US Ecology. As the article reports, last year American Ecology brought in $165.5 million with a $45.5 million gross profit. As for the contribution to Idaho:

"According to a 2006 economic impact analysis by economist Don Reading, American Ecology's annual economic contribution in Idaho is $51 million in taxes, payroll and direct and indirect spending. The company paid $1.4 million in state taxes in 2005."

Unfortunately we don't yet know how much they're going to be making off the Kuwaiti sand. But as Mountain Goat reports, following the money certainly provides much information about why Idaho is filling up with an abundance of toxic waste.

Given the effects that Hanford had on my neck of the woods, American Ecology doesn't seem like the best business venture for the state of Idaho. I'd hate to think that Idahoans may, in the future, suffer the same economic fate of the buffalo.... As much as I love north Idaho, British Columbia is beginning to look more and more desirable.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just Another Day...

Ah, the days pass quickly and blend into each other all too easily... Last Friday the Boundary County Democrats had a great Spaghetti Fundraiser/Auction. Besides our wonderful local Democrats, we hosted our local and District 1 candidates, Steve Elgar, Tom Hollingsworth, Jerry Pavia and John O'Conner. Laura Bry of Bonner County also attended and it makes everyone happy to see at large District 1 members attending each other's county events. We're tight up here in the north country.

Shelley Landry had planned to attend but rumor has it that she swept her girls into the car for a quick trip to visit out-of-town Dad for his birthday. What don't the Republicans get about Democrats' family values??? You show 'em Shelley! And we all hope you had a terrific visit!

Now that the school year is coming to a close, I decided, at the last minute, to add one more hat to my collection. So besides sociologist, anthropologist, rare book seller, and blogger, I just took on a position as sous-chef. Gosh, you'd think I was 18 again, but that thought is quickly dashed when I take a look in the mirror. I think I'll get rid of the mirror.... I'm loving what I'm doing! Even if it does mean that I don't have time to do a lot of blogging these days.

But I'm sure that the primary and the state convention and the old-girl-network versus the vision of youth will motivate me to shoot off my mouth soon.

In the meantime, Go Democrats! And thank you Mother Nature for a warm and inviting first Farmer's Market of the season!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday....

Ya, it is. There's an inch of snow of the ground and the sun is shining. Me and Mother Nature are tight! We have to be, after all, Earth Day falls on my birthday. And it's being celebrated around the world, including a thematic tribute by some of the most popular newspaper cartoon writers. How cool is that! And, you think you know/remember the first Earth Day celebration? Well, take the Earth Day Quiz and find out.

I actually had a great post written about the North Idaho Democratic Dinner, but the photos sent to me were piggy-backed by a bloody virus and it has been hell ever since. I'm still working on it but may have to succumb to an expensive overhaul.... What a drag! Now I get to spend my birthday attempting to get all needed data off the computer. I guess that will teach me to forget my camera. I don't know how Don did it (he must have a better anti-virus program), but he did post one of the photos over at Red State Rebels. When I get my problem solved, I may find time to post....

Well, back to work, but with an eye on the Pennsylvania primary. If Obama wins Pennsylvania today, that would be some cool birthday present!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Grant Withdraws From 1st CD Race

Today a local hero threw in the hat and decided to support his opponent. Yes. Larry Grant withdrew from the Congressional District 1 race and indicated his support for his opponent Walt Minnick. A news release appeared at Red State Rebels shortly before a report appeared at the Idaho Statesman. 43rdStateBlues chimed in early in the morning as well as NewWest Boise, and by afternoon The Mountain Goat Report and redstateresident's dailykos diary also had full reports. In short, Larry Grant's statement reads:

"I'm standing here with Cecil Andrus and Walt Minnick. We have stood shoulder to shoulder on many Democratic campaigns. We will stand together on many more, including, most importantly, this one.

My campaign has never been about my personal ambition. I have spent the last three years on the campaign trail doing my very best to build the Idaho Democratic Party from the ground up. I'm proud of what I and my campaign team have achieved.

There isn't ten cents worth of difference between my view of the world and Walt Minnick's. That's why we need to be working together to beat Bill Sali, not spending valuable time and resources in a contentious primary.

For that reason, I am withdrawing from the race this morning.

Bill Sali is one of the most ineffective and embarrassing Congressmen we have ever had. Governor Andrus and I will be leaving here today with one objective in mind, to claim this seat for a responsible and respected voice for the people of Idaho, Walt Minnick."

Frankly, I'll always believe that there's more to this story than those simple yet noble statements, but we know that I'm always suspicious that way.... Anyway, I began with the description of Larry as "local hero" and I want to share how much he touched the people in Boundary County.

Tonight we had the Boundary Country Central Committee meeting and I learned first-hand how much Larry had connected with the people of this county over the past three years. Some felt shock, very similar to that moment in 2000 when we learned the Supreme Court's decision to make Bush president, or when, in 2004, John Kerry no longer felt the need "to make every vote count." Some were saddened and disappointed and just felt tired of politics. Some were angry with Andrus, with the Democratic Party and with politics in general. And a few, gals and guys, cried with grief when they heard the news. Several lost the urge to even vote in the next election.

I told them all that the greatest response I had read came from Red State Rebels when Julie commented, "Ouch. Ok. Onward." And even though many of us had aching hearts, we moved forward, concentrating on our wonderful local candidates, and focusing on how we could best support them both politically and financially. Because we all know in our hearts, that that's what Larry would want us to do.

Thanks for being such a terrific candidate, Larry! You know you have lots of friends here in the crown jewel of the north and you and Pam will always be the most welcome of guests.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And The IDP New Executive Director Is...

The Idaho Democratic Party has a new Executive Director, Jim Hansen. Many of you already know Jim, especially those in Congressional District 2 where he was a candidate in the 2006 election cycle. Jim, a founding member/director of United Vision for Idaho, also brings much experience as an elected legislator, state campain manager, and all around energtic and knowledgeable activist to the IDP. How lucky can we get!

We now have a new IDP Chair, a new Executive Director, two tireless DNC employees working for our party, a good Communications Director, and a well-organized Adminstrative Director, plus a great County Chair organization (thanks to the efforts of Lin Laughy and all the other active chairs). I think it's about time to turn Idaho blue again!

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Pledge Allegiance...

Well, several legislators in the Idaho House, as well as the the Idaho Values Alliance, certainly outdid themselves by whining and complaining that Press Corps. members who didn't recite the Pledge of Allegiance should not only have their loyalty questioned but were then advised to not be present while the pledge was recited. See more at Fort Boise "Calculated Malice", the Mountain Goat Report "Of Kerfuffles", and the unequivocal notion "Bryan Fischer's Readers". The first time through I missed Jill's post over at NewWest Boise (sorry Jill), contained within a general post appropriately called Harebrained Absurdities at the Idaho Legislature.

This gross display of ignorance about American history cannot be forgiven just because they recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I sure as hell would like to know where in the U.S. Constitution it says, according to Idaho Values Alliance Executive Director Bryan Fischer,

“This would have been news to the Founding Fathers...since they established the political foundation of our form of government on the concept that our rights are an inalienable gift to us from the Creator. The United States was founded on a religious concept, and the Pledge is a simple way of reaffirming today the original vision of Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Founders.” (highlighting mine).

First of all, our founding fathers came from a European background of religious harassment and persecution. They deliberately left religion out of the Constitution and only added the first amendment later on. Thus, the only place in the U.S. Constitution that refers to religion is in Article VI which states:

" religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

So much for Fischer's knowledge of U.S. history.

The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." ostensibly because two of the original thirteen states still supported having an established religion. However, Connecticut did away with that idea in 1817 and Massachusetts in 1813.

The Pledge of Allegiance wasn't even written until 1892, and the author was a Christian socialist, Francis Bellamy, who was later thrown out of his church because of his socialist values. As chairman of superintendents for the National Education Association, he helped arrange for this pledge to be recited in all the public schools. In 1923 at the National Flag Conference, the words changed from "my flag" to the "flag of the United States," and in 1924 "of America" was added. Congress officially recognized the pledge in 1945, five years after the Supreme Court mandated it be said in public schools until 1943 when the Supreme Court decided it should no longer be compulsory. It was not until 1954, pushed by a campaign of the Knights of Columbus, that Congress officially added the words "under God."

Indeed, even today students in the state of Idaho are not "...compelled... to recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor sing the national anthem." So, Bryan Fischer and his Republican friends in the legislature would be better off working on the real problems faced by the citizens of Idaho rather than revealing their own ignorance and idiocy by questioning the constitutionally correct behavior of the Idaho Press Corps.

Friday, March 21, 2008

And We Have Candidates

Idaho Legislative District 1 has Democratic candidates for several key positions as well as for local positions. For Idaho Legislative District 1, Steve Elgar will be challenging incumbent Eric Anderson, who must participate in a Republican primary run-off with Daniel Lawrence. Tom Hollingsworth will be challenging George Eskridge for the second Id Dist. 1 seat. Tom has already been knocking on doors, attending meetings, and working hard on his campaign. Boundary County also has candidates for six of its seven precincts.

In ID Leg District 2, we have Rep. Joyce Broadsword in a primary run-off with two other candidates, Bill Largen and James Stivers, with Democrat Rand Lewis as the sole Democratic candidate. You go, Rand! You have made us very happy! C. J. Rose, Democrat, will be running against Dick Harwood. And Mary Lou Shepherd will be running unopposed.

Locally in Boundary County, Jerry Pavia-D, commercial garden photographer and past president of the Idaho Conservation League Board of Directors will be running against incumbent Ron Smith-R for County Commissioner. And John O'Connor-D, owner of Bonner Books, will be running for the second district county commissioner position. Also in that district 2 commissioner race are two Republicans, including the incumbent, who will be facing a primary run-off for that position, and a newbie Independent. We now have several great candidates who will help lead the way into making north Idaho once again a Democratic stronghold through a grassroots effort based on Dean's 50-state strategy.

Boundary County thought that Bonner County had a Democratic candidate to run against Shawn Keough, but poof! the deadline passed and no name appeared. Other Bonner County highlights include a District 1 County Commissioner race with incumbent Todd Crossett-D, who will be running against the winner of a Republican primary run-off between Cornel Rasor-R and John T. Reuter-R. District 2 County Commissioner has a Democratic primary run-off between Brian Orr-D and Patty Palmer-D, with only one Republican challenger, Joseph Young-R. For Sheriff, one Democrat, Tony Lamanna, will be challenged by one of five Republican primary candidates: Rocky Jordan, Chip Roos, Geoff Rusho, Elaine Savage, and Daryl Wheeler.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Senator Larry Wide-Stance Craig Does Idaho Dirty

Anyone reading the Times News this past Wednesday must now know that the citizens of Idaho, and of Mountain Home in particular, have become Larry Craig's latest targets. You see, Craig is just dying to see the U.S. Air Force build a nuclear reactor at their base in Mountain Home. As the paper reports, Dan Whiting, Craig's press secretary, said, "Sen. Craig would love to see a reactor at Mountain Home." Although relatively small at 5-10 megawatts, that means a new pile of nuclear waste in Idaho, something which will linger in the area for at least 10,000 years or so. Diana, at We Have Failed Our Duty, provides a succinct but impressive amount of information on why nuclear just isn't a good idea.

France claims that they can environmentally control the waste by enclosing it in glass and storing it underground in Normandy. But the environmental reports I've seen on Normandy suggest that this isn't such a safe bet. And that's ignoring the waste that they've shipped off to Siberia. But who cares about Siberia? That's like caring for Idaho.

I just wish Senator Craig would keep his dirty little activities in the bathroom. Idaho doesn't need, or want him, any more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

HB 516 And The War On Drugs

Tara at The Political Game is beginning to feel like she's beating a dead horse for bringing up the same topic within a short time period. This topic, however, is so important, that every person in Idaho should be reading about it. Before the Idaho House is House Bill 516, a bill that, in Tara's words "...would give discretion to sitting judges to determine in which drug offense cases treatment is appropriate...." This bill is not only humane, economically good for the state as well as for its prisons and taxpayers, but also gives pause so that all of us may re-consider what we are actually doing with our drug laws.

In a prohibition movement that boggles the mind, the United States has moved far away from giving doctors and the medical profession the right to determine patient treatment based on their medical knowledge, to a government agency, created

" enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States...."

What exactly does this mean? It means that under the Controlled Substance Act, the Attorney General can decide which substance is a drug, what kind of drug, the ability of a drug to create dependency, and how to criminally control that drug. Did anyone hear of the word physician mentioned here? True, the DEA and the Attorney General are supposed to read the scientific evidence. But lo and behold, or should I say, shock and awe, guess whose scientific articles they read and cite? You're right, Big Pharma, whose own research has been brought into question on any number of occasions. Check it out here and here and here and here and need I go on? I guess it's obvious whose research the DEA and the Attorney General read, if they read it at all.... It's more likely that they just take and take and take more and more money from the drug lobbyists.

HB 516 wants the Idaho courts to take into account the medical condition known as addiction, and thus, as The Political Game points out,

"The purpose of this legislation is to provide treatment focused alternative sentencing for certain mandatory minimum sentences. This legislation will allow judges, where appropriate, to sentence those whose crime was primarily the result of addiction, to a treatment focused track so as to more effectively rehabilitate offenders, reduce recidivism and slow growth in Idaho's non-violent offender population." (Highlighting is mine.)

And Senator Denton Darrington and Representative Jim Clark are leading the way to oppose this bill, no questions asked, no consideration given, no compassion shown, and, well, basically no rational thought given to the good this bill might do, not just for Idaho people, but for the state as well. See the excellent press release by Nicole LeFavour and more about the cost of ignoring treatment at The Mountain Goat Report.

The draconian drug laws of the United States have done more to create criminals, as this CATO report describes:

"The long federal experiment in prohibition of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs has given us unprecedented crime and corruption combined with a manifest failure to stop the use of drugs or reduce their availability to children." by David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute.

Many scientists support this view as a google search will reveal yet our government, and the state of Idaho included, persists in destroying the lives and families of non-violent drug offenders. In other countries, novel approaches to drug dependency have taken a more compassionate approach, focusing on harm-reduction, treatment, and health professional training. Lower crime rates, less "needle-park" scenarios, employment and improved quality of life for addicts, and illegal drug activity reduction are just some of the benefits that countries like Switzerland and Holland now appreciate because of their sensible drug policies as noted here and here and here and here and here, and that's just for a start.

To end with a few more absurdities, it seems that while the International Narcotics Control Board has issued a press release (pdf) calling for Greater Access to Opioid Medicines in Developing World, a doctors group issued a memorandum warning doctors "...not to prescribe opiates for pain relief...." They further state that since the US government has lost the war on drugs, now they're starting a war on doctors.

I don't think you can say enough about this problem, Tara, so keep up the good work at The Political Game.

New Executive Director for the IDP

Unfortunately Nicole's decision has changed due to other circumstances. Hopefully we'll have a new Executive Director soon. This time I'll make sure the person is IN THE OFFICE before reporting about it....

Keith Roark announced this morning that Nicole Goitiandia will be the new Executive Director for the Idaho Democratic Party. Those of you in Boise may know Nicole already as she was born and raised in Boise. Fluent in both Spanish and Basque, she also brings many management, as well as financial skills to the position. She has also served as director for the Utah State Democratic Party. We all welcome her presence with the Idaho Democrats!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Credit Card Man

Credit Card Man

My friend, Glenda Guilmet, is an incredible artist who recently created "Credit Card Man." Extending the public appearance of her original work of art, Credit Card Man can now be viewed at youtube, by going here. Although I know very little about economics, friends like Glenda, with a background in economics and business administration (as well as art, now how well-rounded can you get?), make the current economic situation in the US somewhat understandable and certainly put things in perspective.

Glenda Guilmet

I've noticed that the economy has been in the news a lot lately, from reports on how rich the rich really are, to NPR reports on "super capitalism," to criminal investigations into Pentagon contracts with Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, to America's addiction to debt, and finally, to an international fear of a dollar collapse, which brings us back around to Credit Card Man. I shake my head in disbelief. It's just spend, spend, spend. Everyone seems to own a snowmobile, ATV, gas-guzzling trucks, power boats, etc. in my neck of the woods (except my family and close friends, of course), even though most of them cannot afford it! What kind of madness is this?

I try to maintain a sense of sanity in the face of such economic upheaval by escaping into the worlds that books create. Keeping in mind such memorable lines like the opening of the novel Scaramouche, "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad," I also turn to comedy (thank you John Stewart and Stephen Colbert). Besides dry wit, I love irony and satire. Which brings me back to Credit Card Man. Satire puts things in perspective.... Politics through art, I like that. Thank you, Glenda.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Pizza And Politics In Bonner County

Last night we attended Pizza and Politics in Bonner County, held at the Sandpoint Community Hall. Wendy Jaquet and George Sayler each gave overviews of what's happening in the Idaho House. I liked Wendy's three main points of preserving the Idaho way of life, standing up for the middle class, and seeking transparency in government. Wendy spoke about residential sales price disclosure, working in an obstructionist legislature, financial disclosure, her work on the energy committee, and more. George also spoke about the obstructionist legislature, the failure to pass bills supporting licensing of day care centers, criminal checks on those who work with children, education and the future of Idaho's children. With an open question period, it soon became obvious that Wendy and George are very much in tune with Idaho voters, but constantly thwarted by wingnut Republicans and big business money and thus, despite their constant hard work, they can only move forward in small steps because, bottom line, we need more Democrats in the Idaho congress.

Several other local elected officials and candidates all showed up for the event, as described in no particular order: Larry Grant, candidate for national Congressional District 1 gave his usual thoughtful, articulate, and meaningful presentation of issues near and dear to the people of Idaho; Jeanne Buell, IDP Vice-Chair expressed how happy and proud she was to attend these north Idaho events and to see how involved and committed everyone is; Boundary County's candidate for Legislative District 1 seat, Tom Hollingsworth, gave a brief presentation of his reasons for running, emphasizing issues important to the people of this district; Todd Crossett, Bonner County Commissioner, spoke eloquently about his entrance into the political arena and thanked Larry Grant for his help and support; Shelley Landry, northern representative of the DNC in Idaho, spoke about the Neighborhood Leader program and received a positive reception in the number of people who then volunteered to be Neighborhood leaders; Marie Scott, Bonner County Clerk, spoke of the travails of being a clerk in a state that puts more and more monetary responsibilities and constraints on the county clerk's office. Many others also attended, including people from both Kootenai and Boundary counties, including state legislative district chairs, county Democratic central committee members, at least one high school student, and others. The evening was friendly, included much information, and gave the separate counties a chance to just hang out together.

Larry orates while Wendy and George look on in approval.

Watch these faces of potential candidates: Steve Elgar and Dan Sheckler with fiancée, Lisa.

Larry with Tamara Poelstra.

The far north contingency: Alice, Fred and Tom Hollingsworth.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Numbers Game

Well, I'm not surprised that before the weekend was over I'd hear a refrain I've heard before: in the Congressional District 1 race, the votes in north Idaho just aren't important. The only important votes are in Ada and Canyon counties. That really kind of irks me. Boundary County may not be statistically significant when compared to the Ada County or even Canyon county vote. But remember the words are "north Idaho." I guess one could argue over where north Idaho begins and ends, but I think you'd find that people in north Idaho are not so unaware.

So let's look at some numbers. In the last General Election in 2006, Larry Grant received 31,748 votes in Ada county and 16,459 votes in Canyon county, for a total of 48,207 votes. Now, let's put that against just the five northernmost counties: in Benewah, 1,131 votes; Bonner, 6,475 votes; Boundary, 1,276 votes; Kootenai, 15,874 votes; and Shoshone, 3,854 votes, for a total of 28,610 votes. Now that beats Canyon county and brings it close to Ada county. And if we add the other northern counties: Clearwater, 1,367; Idaho, 2,405; Latah, 7,087; and Nez Perce, 6,576, for a total of 17, 435 votes, and add that to the 28,610, we get 46,045 votes in north Idaho for Larry Grant. That is not a significant statistical difference from the 48,207 "important" votes that Ada and Canyon counties received.

It's true that many candidates find it difficult to travel all the way to Bonners Ferry, although they do manage to make it up to Sandpoint. We're kind of forgiving about that and we do make the almost one hour trek down to Sandpoint for those purposes. Heck, some of us even work in Bonner and Kootenai counties. But don't say that our vote doesn't count, because the numbers just don't add up.

Not only that, but we have had our own problems with growth and development over the past several years, especially since Sandoint was named, in several different prominent magazines, as one of the best places to live in the U.S. Couple that with property taxes, the second and out-of-state homes in our counties for which we receive no property taxes, and the 75% of federal and state owned land in Boundary County, and our problems are in many ways no different than the rest of the state. So our vote is just as important as that of the urban sprawl areas like Ada county!

Finally, if what this really happens to be about is who can sink the most money into this race, I think that the voters in District 1, like voters most everywhere in Idaho, are much more impressed with a personal knock on the door than an expense of money that most people do not have. Indeed, if money could buy a race, then Al Blinken would be a senator now. What I do know, however, is this: the north Idaho vote is important and we in the north know that. And that vote will be significant in the coming elections.

The Republican stronghold on north Idaho has lasted almost thirty years, but change is in the air. Indeed, today a Republican stopped by the business of our local Democratic co-chair and asked for an Obama bumper sticker. Oh yeah, do I feel good now!

Monday, March 3, 2008

2008 Frank Church Banquet

Yesterday I arrived home from the 2008 Frank Church Banquet, the annual fundraiser for the Idaho Democratic Party. Accompanied by a round of IDP meetings, training, candidate introductions, and just a great time for seeing old friends and meeting new ones, the FCB has, for a second year, been a fun event for me. This year was especially great because the keynote speaker was Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the dailykos. And just as great, I met even more of my fellow bloggers, and, needless to say, I had a wonderful time. Serephin, from 43sb has all the evidence, taking at least 10,000 photos over the course of the weekend. Okay, maybe it was only 1,000.....

Arriving on Friday evening (I had to teach in the afternoon), I came in on the tail end of the Canyon County event at the Doubletree, the place where all meetings and festivities took place. Having only that evening free to see my friend, Joanna, I met her at the bar and numerous friends joined us. We had a great time with plenty of discussion, before retiring for a long Saturday.

Saturday began with meeting Keith Roark, the new IDP chair. He seems very well organized, efficient, politically capable and smart. I look forward to his presence as IDP chair. Next came some training for central committee members, followed by lunch. THEN, one of my favorite people, Parag Mehta of the DNC, gave a presentation. He is so smart, articulate, humorous, and engaging, I cannot imagine how anyone wouldn't be inspired by him. I was joined by some early-arriving bloggers, including Markos, mcjoan, and the Red State Rebels blogmother.

Finally, the evening began with a silent auction, no-host bars, and candidate host areas. Then into the banquet for lots of inspirational speeches, food, the keynote speaker, live auctions, and the after-parties. For an anthropologist like myself, it was great ceremony with all the essentials of ritual.

The banquet room was decorated with symbols of the party: photos of our great, past leader, Frank Church, for whom the banquet was named. The walls were adorned with photos of Frank Church, as were each of the tables, reminding us all of who we are as Democrats. In speeches we honored our past icons/heroes with descriptions of what they did and analogies and metaphors of how they affected our own lives (think of Amy's Little Red Wagon speech). One of our past/still living heroes even appeared in a candidate's video. Our recent chair, Richard Stallings, was honored in speech before being called to speak himself. He and Governor Andrus should thank God they live in the US instead of Africa where they might be considered members of the walking dead.... People took part in sharing ceremonies by recalling to mind past group memories, and bringing us to the present with the same shared food. We bestowed gifts upon each other in the terms of auctions, and the presentation of a large check from Quanah Spenser of the Coeur d'Alene tribe to the Idaho Democratic Party. Such "gifts" promote the community as a whole. Our place as parts of this whole community were defined not only by our own tales of perseverance, but through our guest, keynote speaker, Markos, as well. He reminded us that Idaho Democrats are like an endangered species in a swarm of Republican rulers and its our tenacity and desire to endure that has allowed us to survive, and now, even prosper. He also bought the symbolic, auction item: the dated Andrus jacket which allowed Markos to require all other members of this tribe to wear this symbolic jacket during their own presentations, thus invoking a shared symbolic past. This helped the numerous, Idaho Democratic communities to feel not like separate parts but members of a larger whole. Through this ceremonial occasion we become a community whose sum is greater than its individual parts. Finally, at the end of promoting this whole community of kindred Democratic spirits, we finally allowed the whole community to disperse into its separate parts until the next ceremonial occasion. We did this by separating into smaller groups who continued to celebrate the values of the larger whole, whether in the bar, on the dance floor, in small discussion groups, and so forth.

The only aspect of this occasion that seemed to be passed over was the celebrations of the youth and all that is new. Well, we had Markos as the keynote speaker but then nobody really mentioned our own Idaho bloggers..... But perhaps that wasn't so important because the bloggers have their own clear voice.

This blogging voice became apparent the next morning when we all met for coffee at the IDP headquarters. In a short discussion that mentioned blogging, who we all are, some of what we are about, questions we had for Markos, and finally, our appreciation of Markos's attendance at this event, we headed back to our own individual worlds to once again share ourselves with the blogging community.

How Lucky Can I Get....

Some of the bloggers arrive in time to hear Parag Mehta's inspirational, interesting and humorous presentation at the Idaho State Democratic Party's Frank Church Banquet weekend. I'm pretty lucky to be included with this bunch, and pretty darn lucky to be able to hear Parag speak again (last year he was in Post Falls). Of course the best part of the whole weekend was hanging out with Markos from the and some of my fellow Idaho bloggers including 43sb guys, mcjoan, Red State Rebels, The Political Game, We Have Failed Our Duty, and IdaBlue.

I want to personally thank John Foster, our out-going Executive Director for this, because he was the one who came up with the idea of bringing Markos to be the keynote speaker in the evening at the Frank Church Banquet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Thinking of Sara

I just heard that Sara Anderson of f-words, has received some horrible news:

I found out today that I have a huge tumor-looking thing in my brain. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Needless to say, friends and fellow bloggers have all sent her lots of love, good thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. I met Sara last year at the State Committee Meeting in Post Falls. She is a delight and I was so happy to meet a young person who is so involved in politics and feminist issues. It was also nice for both of us to meet a fellow "foodie" as well.

Sara's husband, Andy, will be fielding emails and "holding the keys" to her blog for a while. Leave a message for her at the blogsite. We all hope she's back in full swing soon.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hollingsworth Announces House Bid

Boundary County businessman and community volunteer Tom Hollingsworth on Thursday, December 20, announced his candidacy as state representative for District 1, saying it has been 20 years since Boundary County has had a local Representative in Boise.

Tom and his wife, Toni, moved to Boundary County 20 years ago and opened a retail garden center, Holly Gardens. Throughout his time here, he has been active in the community, serving for many years as a volunteer in the Sheriffs Office, as a member and past chairman of the county translator board, on the Neighborhood Watch program, in the North Bench Fire Association, and on the county Youth Advisory Board. He has served on the Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission for several years and is currently its chairman, and he was recently appointed by County Commissioners to serve on the county Guardianship Board.

In announcing his bid for the State House, Hollingsworth said he would like to take his community service one step higher.

“Bonner and Boundary Counties need a voice in Boise that can be heard,” he said. “There are many important issues; transportation, quality jobs, law enforcement, an educated workforce, senior citizen concerns, primary care funding, elimination of the grocery tax, elimination of the business property tax, affordable housing, a cap on real estate assessments and more. I feel the State of Idaho has to step up to the plate and lend assistance to rural counties that have a low population base, and therefore a low tax base.”

For further information, write Tom at PO Box 212, Moyie Springs, ID 83845, or call (208) 267-2627.

Having known Tom and his wife, Toni, for many years now, I need to add how much both of them have given to our community in terms of volunteer work. Toni has been a major mover in getting more people active in the local Democratic party. She also just brought in much needed grant money for the Restorium. She has organized the twice yearly "Take-It-Or-Leave-It" days at the county landfill. And of course there's much more. Tom's volunteer activities have been vital to our community, a community in which volunteers are often stretched thin. And both of them take their volunteer activities very seriously.

Both Toni and Tom were active in sales before retiring to Bonners Ferry. That's if you can call opening a nursery retiring! With the nursery now closed, except for the beautiful cut flowers they make available all summer, most of their time is dedicated to the community.

Boundary and Bonner County Democrats are elated that Tom has stepped forward to become the Democratic candidate for Congressional District 1. He will be running for the seat that Republican, George Eskridge, has occupied for years. Known as a representative who does little for District 1, it seems high time for George's position to be filled by someone who truly represents both counties, especially someone with the willingness to be active. With a degree in business from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, as well as the respect he has from so many of the people he knows through his community involvement, Tom is, by far, the best candidate for the job.

Watch for him in his red suburban with the large signs on the car! He's always happy to stop and chat about District 1 concerns. From meetings to just filling up the car with gas to community activities, and even behind the bar in Clark Fork, say hello to Tom, voice your concerns, sign up for volunteer work, and let's put District 1, the crown jewel of Idaho, back on the congressional map!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rand Lewis Withdraws From District 1 Race

As just reported at Red State Rebels and a press release from the Larry Grant campaign, Rand Lewis has withdrawn from the race for Congressional District 1 and has endorsed fellow Democrat Larry Grant, stating,

“...[we] share a very high degree of agreement on the important issues such as veterans, national security and the military, the economy, health care and retired people and senior citizens. I like Larry, his sense of values, his honesty and his integrity. I’ll do what I can to help him both before the election and when he goes to Washington.”

Grant thanked Lewis for both his endorsement and his offer to act as an adviser on important issues such as veterans’ affairs and national security. Grant said,

“I’m extremely appreciative of Rand’s endorsement. We have had time to get to know each other during the campaign and have become friends. I have a great deal of respect for him and his background. His experience and service to our country are commendable. He has offered to advise me on matters that are important to him, such as veterans’ issues, and I’m glad that I and the people of the 1st District will have the benefit of his knowledge.”

I, personally, have found that Rand and his wife, Michelle, have been gracious and enthusiastic supporters of Democratic issues in the state of Idaho. It is an honor to Larry Grant that he has Rand's endorsement.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Here's The Deal....

If I'm sporadic in the coming days, it's because I've taken on employment in Coeur d'Alene, a good two hour drive one way, and while I'm becoming adjusted to my new schedule, I don't have the time to devote to IdahoRocks. Too bad I couldn't just dictate my blogs to my computer while commuting.... Okay, don't tell me I can because it will be awhile before I'm ever that computer savvy. However, being the workaholic that I am, as well as someone who gets easily excited over favorite issues, you will hear from me occasionally. And I will be at the Frank Church Banquet. My second time in Boise. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Caucus O Caucus

I invited some of the other northern counties to describe their caucus evenings. I think they're as exciting as elsewhere in Idaho. Please read what Shelley Landry from Bonner County and Bev Moss from Kootenai County have to say about their events.

As Bonner County Vice-Chair and the Caucus Chair for the 2008 Idaho Democratic Caucus in Bonner County, all I can say about Super Tuesday, Feb. 5th is: “What an unbelievable and exciting night it was!” We had 593 people attend our caucus which goes on record as the largest turn-out for a Democratic Caucus in our history.

We began planning this caucus several months ago. We were warned by the Idaho Democratic Party that we should expect a turn-out that was triple the size of our 2004 caucus. Many people laughed and scoffed at that prediction……oh how RIGHT the IDP was! We had an incredible team of volunteers that worked hard helping to prepare for anything: tables, computers, food, candidate materials, finding more volunteers, the list was endless. I can’t thank my team enough!

By the day of the caucus, we all knew that we were going to be getting a record crowd. I think many of us were grateful for the snow. Bonner County Democrats proved that no matter the weather they are ready to win and win big! People began flooding in at 5pm and by 615pm we had almost reached capacity at the Panida Theater. We somehow managed to squeeze everyone in.

One of my greatest moments of the evening was right at the beginning. I welcomed everyone, said the pledge and then asked the question, “who is ready to take back the White House?” The response was not a cheer it was roar! That roar set the tempo for the rest of the evening. Bonner County and clearly the rest of the state are ready for change!

Shelley Landry

"We are the ones we have been waiting for"

Last night Kootenai County Democrats filled the North Idaho College Gym literally to the rafters! We were pushing the fire code restrictions of 1250 with over 1300 in attendance. In order to get all the people into the gym, we delayed the actual caucusing until about 7:25, but we started right at 7:00 with the pledge and used that extra time to fire everyone up. It was great to be with so many other Democrats and friends who care about the direction and leadership of our country. Our 27 delegates were split 80% for Obama and 20% for Clinton. Although we were finished with the actual caucusing by 9:30 pm, the delegate elections for the Obama caucus took until 11:00. Even though we’ll need to spend the next few days sorting through boxes of supplies that were dropped by the headquarters late last night, we all agreed that we pulled off the biggest caucus Kootenai County has seen with a minimum of glitches. Congratulations to all of the counties throughout our state who went to great lengths to make sure Idaho voters’ voices were heard.

Bev Moss
Chair, Kootenai County Democrats

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Caucus in Boundary County

This is the succinct edition: Boundary County had almost three times (145) as many in attendance as in the last caucus (55). Our caucus also occurred in the midst of a snowstorm, receiving about 6 in. of snow. Several Republicans turned out for Obama, as well as a number of Independents. Although most of the crowd was older, we had a small but significant number of high school and college students show up for the caucus. We began with a small group for Edwards (some of our older Edwards' supporters called to say that due to the weather they would not be able to attend), a slightly larger group for undecided, the next largest group for Clinton and the largest group for Obama. The final results ended up with all Edwards' supporters going to either Clinton and Obama. We had several die-hard uncommited. But we ended up with about 73% for Obama and 25% for Clinton. Representatives for each candidate gave great speeches. We also had two foreign (French) observers (with children) who wanted to see our political process in action. Not expecting quite this large a turnout in a room that turned out to have horrid accoustics, it was difficult to be heard (without yelling), but we succeeded in having our numbers carefully monitored. I think, and I want to personally thank, all the volunteers in Boundary County who put on a great chili feed, set up, kept a number count, greeted newcomers, collected names, represented their candidates, and came out in the middle of a snowstorm to participate in the caucus. All the Boundary County Democrats were very pleased, we have some new faces for the State Convention, and we'll be in the news again tomorrow. Go Democrats!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Caucus Eve

It has been an interesting day. It began with people needing rides to the caucus. That was cheerful. Then it moved into information that our new Democratic Mayor and City Council (no website for the mayor or the city or the city council) wouldn't be coming to the caucus because they never changed (nor seemed inclined to change) the regular meeting date for city council meetings. I understand their predicament as newly elected officials, but I guess my obligations towards my voting responsibilities are just different than theirs. I mean, they are participating in our democracy, which is good, but they only seem to care about one small aspect of it. At least it's the grassroots, hometown aspect. But you know, the caucus is really the only vote that counts for Democrats in Idaho. And I'll bet the Democratic mayors in most other Idaho cities will be at their caucuses. Well, the the chair, vice-chair, and most precinct captains of the Boundary County Democratic Cental Committee would have changed the City Council meeting time, but obviously that is not our decision....Schade....

Then I heard that after a query phone call about the caucus to our local County Clerk's office, the woman was only told that "there is a primary in May." Well, I do not believe that an older female stranger, who needed a ride to the caucus, made this story up. I reported it the the IDP and heard that this was going on around the state. I urged the IDP to call our county clerk because she had run as a Democrat and at the first opportunity switched back to being a Republican. Our vice-chair also called them today, before I called just before 5pm. They said that they have been telling people the location is at the fairgrounds but they didn't know the time or anything else about it because we had not given them the information. EXCUSE ME, but the information has been (remarkably) in our local rag for the PAST THREE WEEKS! The clerk office employees know who the chair is and the phone number. How could they know nothing about the caucus but the place???? Which information, it seems, was not always given. Is this a boast of local ignorance? Do they never read the paper? Or, as Republicans, do they feel threatened by a display of Democratic popularity?

Finally I learned that the Spokesman Review reported that our caucus was at the city fire hall, even though we had changed the venue, as posted at the Idaho Democratic Party website, over a month ago, after finding out that the fire hall did not have wheelchair access. Ah, how to deal with such ignorance, such a lack of efficiency, such blatant and willful inattention to details. I guess that in exchange for all the physical beauty of Idaho's northernmost county, we have been given a balance in human inadequacy. Ah well, if the youth turn out for Obama at our caucus, perhaps all is not lost....

"This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease." - Robert Kennedy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Dropping Out....

As reported all over the TV news this morning, and already over at Red State Rebels, John Edwards is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, ostensibly because of his poor showings lately. The official speech will be at 1pm EST in New Orleans, where his campaign began. Giuliani is expected to follow suit.

Well, that leaves the Democrats with Clinton and Obama which means it will be a very exciting campaign, especially since Clinton not only showed up in Florida afterwards to accept congratulations from her supporters there, but also said,

"I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today. I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida's Democratic delegates seated, but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.''

So much for you Barack Obama.....

And I think it will get dirtier, not only because both candidates hunger for this position, but also because this is, in the background, a struggle between the DLC (Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council) and the DNC (the Democratic National Committee, now headed by Howard Dean). Dean of course has put money into all the states with his 50-state strategy, a strategy that considers the grassroots, the people, to be the foundation of the party. The DLC, on the other hand, seems to believe that money wins elections and goes about spending that money as if they were the Roviaters of the Democratic Party.

I've always liked John Edwards. As RedStateRebels suggested, it would be good to see him having a significant placement in the next administration. Only time will tell....

And now, I await February 5th.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I just received my latest copy of The New York Review of Books in the mail, and turned immediately to the article by Sarah Boxer with the simple title, Blogs. Once assigned to "create an anthology of blogs" for a book, she addresses that insurmountable task in the article. She also reviews several recent books about blogs. Aside from describing what a blog is, some of the legal rules concerning blogs, and the difference between blogs and journalistic and/or book writing, she finishes with a wonderful allegory of superheroes and bloggers, summing it up with the phrase, "They [bloggers] are what they write." I think that is true.

Speaking of blogging, the discussion amongst several Idaho bloggers over at RedStateRebels on the topic of videos versus live speakers at the Frank Church Banquet is interesting, important, and somewhat amusing. I think the idea of videos is great; however, I prefer live speakers (especially since I have to spend so much money and travel that far...I may as well live in Canada....). Of course, since the IDP has only posted partial information about the Frank Church Banquet, it's difficult to know exactly what the weekend's plans entail. Now I've heard that the candidates will not only have a chance to speak on Friday evening, but that they will all have hospitality rooms as well. If that's the case, then videos at the banquet no longer seem like such a bad idea.

I think that the problem here is that the IDP just doesn't release enough information at any given time. This tends to make their activities appear secretive, ill-planned, or just plain unorganized. Things seem to be getting better now that some re-organization of the website is going on, we have a new party chair, the Chair of County Chairs is a well-organized and diplomatic, and Shelley and Randy are around to keep everyone apprised of what they know. But the IDP still needs to do more to keep one step ahead of the bloggers..... if that's even possible.

Unfortunately for me, I am unable to get to Boise before about 8:30 Friday evening so I'll miss out on everything that day. Luckily for me, I am not afraid of speaking to candidates and asking them tough questions like how could you possibly support more nuclear energy in Idaho when there's nothing to do with the waste, it uses so much water and its costs to taxpayers are outrageous?; or how could you even think of mentioning pro-logging in Boundary County when not only is it the single most controversial wedge issue here, and, when Risch's roadless plan puts so much of Boundary County into the General Forest (read "protected by USFS whim") category; or what is your plan for withdrawal from Iraq; or what would you do in the US Congress to fight corporate monopolies; or how do you stand on the death penalty, on gay marriage, on the second amendment; and so forth.

Anyway, for the moment, I'm just trying to get enough money together to attend the Frank Church Banquet....

Back to blogging, which I think is a wonderful way for people to connect. It's great, creative, informative, occasionally malevolent, but usually positively purposeful (as in the "alternative" press), sometimes petty as well as brilliant, witty, idiotic, cathartic and blatantly over-personal, stream of consciousness as well as the well-researched academic article, and the adjectives go on and on.

I think that the Idaho bloggers have done quite well in bringing together diverse areas of this state so that suddenly it's not just north, south east and west, but Idaho as one entity. Not that regional differences don't exist and I, for one, make that obvious. But now I know what's going on in Boise, Pocatello, Idaho Falls or Moscow. I hear about energy plans around Idaho, the latest Bill Sali idiocies, what's happening in the ID Legislature, Larry Craig's latest presents to the IDP, environmental concerns around the state, as well as about food, restaurants, drink, local politics, and so forth. All thanks to Idaho's bloggers.

Indeed, meeting these bloggers at the Frank Church Banquet will probably be just as exciting, if not more so, than watching our candidates speak, uh, act, uh, whatever it is they'll be going (no offense intended, candidates, but blogging is just, well, just so interesting). Maybe it's just appreciation of the writing. As Anais Nin once wrote, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Welcome To Rural North Idaho

Last Sunday, my ISP suffered a major disruption and I haven't had internet service since. This has been a real drag, especially since I just took on teaching at my local community college (only 90 miles away, giving new meaning to the word local....). Given the lack of internet access, it has not been an efficacious week in terms of completing necessary work....If I've had any success, it has been because of my dear friends, Fred and Alice, who have been more than generous in offering me the use Fred's computer while he's busy at work.

Julie at RedStateRebels, contributed to the Idaho Progressives list, an interesting thread from the dailykos about competition between the Democratic Leadership Council and Democratic National Committee. On the dailykos thread, the opinion is that if the DLC has its way in getting Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee, then Howard Dean is out and a new leader (probably Harold E. Ford) will be put in that position. This may, at first glance, may not mean much for insignificant little Idaho, but, as they say, looks are deceiving. Note that the President of the Democratic Leadership Council is none other but our very own north Idaho boy, Bruce Reed.

In full disclosure, I am a supporter of the Democratic National Committee under the leadership of Howard Dean. If the DLC believes that Idaho wants to have a Democratic Party that follows in their footsteps, then I think that the DLC may find that not every Democrat supports their efforts. Indeed, they may well find that the Progressive Caucus has many more members than they thought possible. At least, that is my perception and only time will tell....

Be all that as it may, it leads to an interesting perception regarding Hillary, Obama, the DLC and the DNC since the Obama campaign is so strong in Idaho, several presumed DLC members support Obama, and the Progressives (at least in the north) appear to be divided between Edwards and Obama....Hmm, very interesting.... I can't wait till the caucus....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And The Gifts Just Keep On Coming

My first moment to post after learning Thursday evening that Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, publisher and founder of DailyKos, will be the guest speaker at the Idaho Democratic Party's annual Frank Church Banquet, happening this year in Boise on March 1. Several other Idaho bloggers have already reported this news since we were all in on the same conference call when the announcement was made. These include 43rdstateblues, the Mountain Goat Report, The Political Game, the unequivocal notion, and others. Over at New West Boise, Jill Kuraitis's terrific write-up prompted the mud-slinging to begin right there in the comments section. So, is Markos's guest speaker appearance at the Frank Church Banquet good or bad for Idaho Democrats?

I think it's great. With the DailyKos, Markos has given local grassroots politics a tremendous gift, demonstrating how the internet can be utilized to not just spread messages, report news, and provide educated opinion, but everything can be cross-checked for facts. Through the DailyKos, Markos has become aware of political trends around the nation, aware of politics from the local level to the top levels, and knowledgeable about both the strengths and weaknesses of the internet. I'm looking forward to what he has to say. I hope that he relates some of the content from his critically-acclaimed book, Crashing the Gate, specifically to Idaho, and generally to the west.

An issue that might be important here in Idaho has to do not only with a seemingly imploding Republican party, but wedge issues between top presidential candidates that are pertinent to our large Mormon and evangelical populations as well as to other issues including immigration, racism, and living wages. All this bodes well for the Idaho Democratic Party, especially after receiving weeks of wonderful gifts from Senator Larry Wide-Stance Craig, that just keeps on going.

And now those Republicans are doing it again! It must have been VP Cheney's hunting accident (sic) that taught them how to shoot themselves in the foot so well! So today in the Spokesman Review, we learn that the Republicans introduced legislation Friday that would close Idaho primaries. As reported by Betsy Z. Russell,

"The bill, with a price tag of at least $800,000, would allow only registered Republicans to vote in the Republican primary, only Democrats to vote in the Democratic primary, and wouldn't allow independents to vote in any primary. Nearly a third of Idahoans say they're not affiliated with any party."

Needless to say, the Democrats don't support this legislation, so now may be the time for Independents to join with the Democrats for the kind of changes we need in this state. No voter should be disenfranchised!

Okay, I'm saving my pennies for the long haul from Bonners Ferry to Boise and the Frank Church Banquet! Thanks, John Foster, for making it even more worthwhile!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Minnick in Boundary County

Today Walt Minnick, candidate for Congressional District 1, visited Boundary County for a first time introduction to his congressional campaign. Staying for about 1 1/2 hours, he was plied with questions about a variety of topics including what he has to offer that Larry Grant does not, immigration, the war in Iraq, energy, the death penalty, gay marriage, health care, the war on drugs, nuclear, and so forth. Because of an appointment with the newspaper and an evening meeting in Sandpoint, the questions had to end but I'm sure there will be more during his next visit.

He does plan on visiting again with a strategy of four day "immersions" into counties around Ditrict 1. Besides talking to Democrats he also wants to speak with Republicans and Independents. It should be an interesting visit. We had a good turnout today, given that he came in the middle of a work day, probably around 10 people. I think that next time, if it's in the evening or on a weekend, many more people may show up.

Boundary County is proud to have candidates visit this crown jewel of the north. We're also expecting Rand Lewis in March, another visit by Minnick in March, and the Larry Grant campaign kick-off in March. It certainly seems like the Boundary County Dems will be quite busy in March.... and so be it! This is an election year and it's about time for some change!!

Go Democrats!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Draft Rule for Idaho's Roadless Areas

I learned at a young age that when people become complacent others may make decisions that result in a rude awakening from that state of contentment. For me, that happened today with the Associated Press announcements that the Bush Administration had released on Monday its draft rule for managing the more than 9.3 million acres of Idaho roadless area. The Forest Service will hold a series of meetings across the state the and comment period ends April 7. The Federal Register released the information on Monday, January 7th.

Last year Risch wrote up a draft for Idaho's roadless areas that did not stray far from the Clinton Roadless rule. Not all environmentalist agreed with Risch's draft, but, all-in-all, they were willing to go along with it under the circumstances. Now the Forest Service has changed Risch's original draft and put in language that would provide the Forest Service with good excuses for building roads in designated roadless, allowing mining, taking out timber and so forth. For a more in-depth description of what is happening check out the report at the Environmental News Service. More information is available at the Lewiston Tribune, but only if you're a paid subscriber....

I just love the way the Bush Administration quietly released all this information while people were busy with the holiday season. Typical Bush present to the American public in general and the Idaho people in particular. I guess I was just enjoying the holiday season too much and had to have this change in Idaho's roadless rule language pointed out to me by someone else. It seems like we have to be on our toes all the time when it comes to politics....

The most irritating part about this whole business is that just when you think that everyone has come to an agreement that sits well with all parties, someone just ups and changes the stakes. It reminds me too much of how local Republican politicians have their hands in almost everything, and for the most part these people are not experts, not particularly well-educated, and not really interested in the opinions of those who are well-informed; rather their interests are usually selfish and greedy. And that certainly doesn't bode well for good government....

Well the comment period begins. Watch for statewide US Forest Service Roadless meetings dates which should be published locally; stay tuned to what's happening by reading the Idaho Conservation League website; and finally, I'll be reporting on this whenever something comes up.

"A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself." Edward Abbey in Desert Solitaire

Friday, January 4, 2008

Go Democrats!!!

Well, the big vote happened and I was surprised, very pleasantly surprised that Roark won 57 to 15 (you can check the exact figures but that's what I heard). My husband thinks the results indicate that other people also thought some sort of shenanigans were going on in Boise. I disagree. And I certainly don't think that it had anything to do with my blog; I don't write often enough for people to read it every day. Rather, I believe that Roark gave the most eloquent presentation. He appealed to the people who work on the ground, going door-to-door, trying to fill local positions, wanting the IDP to understand their needs rather than being told what they had to do. Our previous Idaho senator from Boundary County, Senator Tim Tucker, has said for years what Roark said tonight: we need to fill the courthouses with Democrats.

I also must commend Jerry Brady, who so thoughtfully explained his endorsement of Minnick. It made it all so clear; too bad it wasn't clear until tonight. As I said before, I do not doubt Brady's integrity, nor do I think he would be anything less than a great IDP Chair, I just didn't like what appeared to be going on in terms of full disclosure from the IDP offices in Boise.

But, be all that as it may. We had an election. It was overwhelming for Roark. I hope that the IDP will now move forward and after the Iowa Caucuses, I am really looking forward to our own Super Duper Tuesday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

There's Something Happening Here, Redux

Tomorrow, January 4th, the Idaho Democratic Party is having a State Central Committee meeting via conference calls at three locations. The initial reason for the meeting was for a discussion on amendments for caucus rules that made explicit the procedure for caucus absentee pledges. When Richard Stallings, our most recent IDP Chair stepped down on December 20th, the meeting suddenly morphed into voting for a new IDP Chair.

Well, that bothered me, and many others, it seemed, because of the urgency that surrounded it. Many central committee members (chairs and state committee men and women) work for a living but volunteer our time. December is usually a rather slow month, politically speaking, and many of us put aside our Democratic duties to tend to the holidays and family and so forth. So when the announcement came that we now had to elect a chair, a number of us felt that this was too soon, too quick and too hurried. We quickly received one nomination but no others were forthcoming. Nominations could be made on the floor, but there would be no physical floor for this meeting since it was via conference call.

So I started calling around to see if others felt like I did about the hurry and the single nomination and what was going on. Boy did I get an earful!

My first inkling that there may be more here than meets the eye came when I heard that our IDP in-group just wanted to appoint Jerry Brady as the Chair. Well, the by-laws don't allow that so that appointment, or even nomination, became "difficult" because Brady had already endorsed Walt Minnick over Larry Grant and Rand Lewis for the District 1 Congressional Seat. I questioned the word "difficult" suggesting "impossible" instead. After all, how can you have an IDP Chair who has already publicly endorsed a primary candidate??? That seems rather unethical to me.... but perhaps that is politics as usual and one shouldn't be worried about ethics.
But then I never received a notification about a nomination for Jerry Brady. I, and the other Central Committee members only received the nomination for Keith Roark, a man well-qualified for the position. Not only was he the Democratic nominee in 2002 for Attorney General, his resume indicates a life dedicated to service to his community. Just what we need for the IDP. And, I heard that he may actually work as hard, if not harder than our dynamite Vice-Chair, Jeanne Buell. Now I really like this guy.

In the meantime, word also comes through from others who just feel something fishy is up in Boise, that Cecil Andrus, whose recommendation of John Foster as Executive Director took precedent over the fact that he was least qualified for the job, perhaps wanted Brady to be Chair. I also heard that the strategy was for Foster's nominee to declare on the floor and not beforehand, and so Brady would be thought popular by name recognition alone.

And then I heard that it all has to do with money and fund-raising capabilities given that the IDP is running low, so to speak....

So now I'm wondering why Brady, who has always struck me as a man of integrity, would pursue the Chair position having already endorsed Minnick. And I wonder why, after the great united front at the last State Central Committee Meeting, John Foster would suddenly be pushing for a possibly dividing IDP Chair. I mean, how can a chair be said to be fair if he has already endorsed one candidate over another. Like what does he say, "Oh, I can be fair now and I'll put my endorsement aside." Give me a break! The damage has been done.

Finally, I've heard that the argument for electing Brady over Roark is we should really question whether we want our top three party leaders all from Blaine County. This includes House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet and Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett. Hey, these two were elected by the people, the public. If they both happen to be from Blaine County then perhaps that suggests that Blaine County has a lot of Democrats. Now Roark would like to be IDP Chair and he happens to be from Blaine. So what? That suggests to me that he not only has a great background in community service but great experience with Democrats as well. What better choice for an IDP Chair?

Actually this whole situation could be a lot worse, or possibly even better than I think. After all I had one person already figuring out what exactly happened and he surmised that Stallings knew that a core group wanted to have all their compatriots leading the party, so he stepped down early to thwart them. Now this is a complete conjecture but when secrecy is in the air, people try to figure out what's really going on. It's human behavior. It's why detective stories and mysteries sell so well. It's why we have conspiracy theories. But it's also why there are those who get so carried away with their power that they forget open government, due process, accountability, and honesty.

I'd like to know the truth. So many Idaho Democrats worked too hard in the last several years to nourish the grassroots of this party to now have their work ignored in a new top-down approach that thinks money is going to turn Idaho blue.