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unraveling

Leap Day! Permanent URL to this day's entry

Red Phone Moment Permalink to this item

The Clinton campaign, having lived through most of seven years of successful Bush/Cheney fear-mongering is now trying some of its own.

It's embarrassing, really.

No one, not Hillary, Barack, John, George, Dick, Bill, Al, the other George, or Ronald, Dan, Jimmy, Walter, Gerald, Nelson, Dick, Spiro, Lyndon, Hubert or Jack was "ready" to be President on Inauguration Day. It's a job like no other, there is no training for it, certainly not being First Lady.

These are desperate times in Camapign '08.

The Bearfaced Wolf of Socialism Permalink to this item

Jasper LiCalzi, in his blog at the idahostatesman.com, decrying state-controlled liquor sales, "the most manifest form of government control in our state." What's this? Hypocrisy in our government?

"Hugo Chevez could not find a less market driven system." [sic]

Me, I'm just glad the craft-brewing industry busted through the swill of industrial Pilsners, and provides my fix at the most convenient, employee-owned grocery store.

Morning in Cuba? Permalink to this item

That we could round up almost a quarter of the U.S. Senate to sign a letter to the Secretary of State saying it's time to move beyond the "isolation and estrangement" policy that succeeded in driving Fidel Castro out of power (ha, ha) and instead find a constructive way to "promote principles (to) advance democracy, human rights, and the rule of law" is not particularly remarkable.

But look at who's together on this! Idaho's two Republican Senators joined with Chris Dodd, Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer; it's hard to imagine getting any more bipartisan than this. And Florida only has two Senators, so maybe there's a chance Condi will pay attention.

Or maybe not. Bush says no to "meeting with tyrants" (even though we suppose he will still talk to his Vice).

You'll Never Walk Alone Permalink to this item

That's the song title that popped into my head while reading about a new company in San Diego called "You Walk Away," "help(ing) people walk away from their homes, ceding them to the banks in foreclosure."

"No money down!" used to be a joke about low-budget, late-night commercials for shady car dealers and real estate infomercials, but the practice went mainstream. Last year, according to the National Association of Realtors (don't forget their ®!), 29% of buyers put no money down. "For first-time home buyers, the median (down payment) was 2 percent."

28.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A Lesson in Cognitive Dissonance Permalink to this item

If you're in the fundraising business, and someone calls you and says "I'd like to make a donation!" it tends to make your day. Right up until that someone turns out to be a representative of an apparently despicable and mendacious publication with an agenda, trying to trick you into agreeing to something that will make you look like a fool, at least, or a racist baby-killer at worst.

So wow, Advocate, aren't you the cats pyjamas, embarrassing a non-profit organization with a mission of helping people by "investigating" what your twisted mind imagines their hidden agenda to be.

That's almost as bold a statement in support of "the unborn" as blowing up clinics or killing doctors.

Moral Principles We Didn't Expect to Revise Permalink to this item

Andrew Sullivan's visual memento, From FDR to GWB, is a chilling reminder of just how much damage we've done to ourselves, responding out of the fear of being attacked.

It's Official Then Permalink to this item

Bush says US not headed into recession.

Freedom For Firearms Permalink to this item

Our state legislature is working on a bill to make sure no smaller governments try to regulate guns. The one concession the NRA is willing to make for us is to let our cities and counties decide about discharging guns, but as for the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying or storage, that would be up to the state and Federal government alone.

Private corporations such as the large one I used to work for are not sanguine about employees bringing their guns to work, and typically have rules against it. If you don't like them, you can work somewhere else. City and county governments would not be able to do that (unless the Legislature allowed the restriction for them).

I forget where I saw it now, but one wag responded to the move to specifically allow firearms at universities (so that we could have shootouts, instead of just shootings) by suggesting the Legislature would be a safer place too, if only more of the folks in attendance were armed. Funny, no one thought that was a good idea.

News is, the House passed it, and the Senate acts next.

26.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Another Inside View of Our Legislature Permalink to this item

As Nicole LeFavour works to improve our state's protection for victims of domestic violence, her reflection on the importance of personal experience is something I'd hope some of her fellows might read.

I wouldn't wish the experience of learning why this is so important on anyone, but I'm sure that understanding comes from just that.

Yes there may be false accusations (an offense that would have its own redress), and yes, somebody might even use a protection order to get custody of the kids, and yes, there are too many people in jail, and yes, there are more than enough people in the Legislature and in law enforcement agencies who are prepared to dismiss the complaints of victims. Right up until the perpetrator finally loses it.

You go, girls!

This Just In Permalink to this item

From the Onion News Network, the report that Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early. Talk about anticlimactic! We haven't even eliminated Mike Huckabee yet, or had any conventions.

Door-to-door Meat Salesman Permalink to this item

I must start by assuring you, I Am Not Making This Up.

A meat salesman came to the door today. His wife stayed in the van, which was running, at the end of our driveway. I was a little distracted between the pitch and the fact that there was this full-sized van idling over there. Idling is just stupid. He noticed my distraction at some point, felt compelled to reassure me that that was his wife there, and she was a little tired, but he was going to make somebody a great deal today. On meat.

He started by asking me if I've ever heard of (whatever the company's name is, which I've forgotten already), and I say "ah, no." "Well how about Omaha Steaks?!" "Ah, maybe." He's somewhat amazed, I'm thinking "how can I make this person go away as rapidly as possible?" and he asks me about whether I enjoy a good steak now and then.

I think back to the three or four steaks I've eaten in the last 25? years. "We don't eat much meat, actually," I said, smiling pleasantly.

"Well if you don't eat much meat, this isn't for you."

Just what I was thinking.

24.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

On Plagiarism Permalink to this item

After hearing Obama deliver "the line," and the guy who said it first, and then seeing Hillary deliver one of Bill's lines, and then one of John Edwards', David Brooks weighed in on Meet the Press today, with this little riff embedded, making me laugh out loud:

"I mean if Mitt Romney had to not borrow lines, his rallies would have been silent, they would have been like Friends meetings, or something like that..."

Shame On You! Permalink to this item

Hillary and that guy. Who is that guy? I have this problem of being distracted by the unfortunate bystander who wants attention enough to have got up there on the stage, but really has no business still being in the picture. Here's Hillary Clinton at Cincinnati State (an institution which has learned the importance of backdrops, by the way), calling down Shame! on her competition for the nomination, and who is that guy nodding and muttering "that's right!" and rocking from one foot to the other while she carries on?

Here We Go Again Permalink to this item

So, who do you like better for President, Fred Thompson, or Ralph Nader? Their charisma seems about on a par. Are you going to run, Ralph? "Let me put it in context, to make it a little more palatable to people who have closed minds..."

He's got a poll that tells him 80% of the electorate—4 out of 5!—"would consider voting for an independent this year." It's going to be Ralph Nader by a landslide!

Ya think?

"Wow, thatís really unfortunate. I remember when he did this before. Itís not good for anybody, especially our country."
–Hillary's reaction

Bush's administrations have been an unmitigated disaster, we can agree on that. And the Democrats deserve criticism for their complicity in (or at least their failed resistance to) what the Republican administration has wrought.

"One feels an obligation," he said. He owes it to all of us.

Dissent is the mother of assent? Or did he mean ascent? Bit tricky as the stirring rhetoric leading up to... "I've decided to run for President." Tim Russert must have felt chills after that speech.

Ralph Nader is an unfortunate victim of "political bigotry," and he wants us all to feel his pain, to agree with his victimhood. So, here are the choices: from the right, think about terror; be very afraid, and vote for strongman leadership. From the far left, think about how the rule of corporations and how weak we are to stand against it.

Oh wait, there's one more option...

The sad thing about the Don Quixote act is that in spite of how appropriate the list of issues currently off the table may be, Nader's candidacy is not likely to move any of them forward.

23.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Nation Building Permalink to this item

The status quo argument for the Homeland is that a decisive strongman in charge of the military and spy agencies, given the authority to override the most basic civil liberties, and moral principles as needed is a Good Thing. For Iraq, it was such a Bad Thing that we had to invade and depose.

We have the democratic institutions to survive and prosper either way, as well as to mitigate the worst of the damage over time. And the put-together country that we took apart?

"The militias are like a smoldering fire. They can explode at any time."

As the latest Iraq war and occupation approach the conclusion of their 5th year, at least one of the city-states that Iraq comprises has realized a certain autonomy, but the news from Basra is not hopeful for the restoration of civil society.

"Two dozen Shiite political parties and their respective militias compete, often violently, over control of the oil sector, seaport profits, smuggling operations across the nearby Iranian border and political authority over Iraqís economic nerve center. So while the sectarian tension that has marred life elsewhere is missing here, the strife itself is not."

22.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Check Was in the Mail! Permalink to this item

It looked like Owhyee County's bill for $50,000 was going to be the end of AEHI's bid to build a nuclear power plant in SW Idaho, but no! Idaho Samizdat updates his coverage to note that they did come up with the fee for their conditional use permit application after all, more than half a year after the county first asked for the payment to cover their costs of evaluating their proposal.

In addition to the story of some real estate developers deciding that gee, wouldn't nuclear power make a good investment? there's the interesting "local color" that anyone appearing to be against such a development invites "obscenity laden email" from someone who's already made up his (I'm guessing) mind.

One Man Who Put His Life on the Line Permalink to this item

I first heard of Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania thanks to the On Point episode last night. He has unique experience as the only Iraq War veteran in Congress, and with that experience, he's been working to bring the troops home.

The show covered a lot of ground, including questions from callers, but Murphy's straightforward conclusion stuck we me. Paraphrasing, we had three objectives in Iraq: (1) Take out Saddam Hussein; we did that. (2) Get rid of the Weapons of Mass Destruction; "that was easy, because it turns out there weren't any." (3) Establish the conditions for Iraq to establish its own government; we've done that, they've had several elections, set up Parliament, and so on.

They don't want an occupying army, we don't want (and can't afford) to maintain one, whether your concern is for lives lost, resources squandered, moral authority dissipated, or homeland security eroded.

Dick?! Permalink to this item

There I was, watching Maria Hinojosa on NOW pick apart the latest contention between logging and mining interests, and conservationists (and at least one rancher), over what will happen next with the Roadless Rule, and the next round of resource extraction in our state, and she gets to mentioning our current governor, and our former governor, now Secretary of Interior, Dick Kempthorne. Whoopsie. (Mom and Pop Kempthorne name him Dirk.)

21.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Our Own Private Idaho Permalink to this item

Rob's Idaho perspective feels like what my blog might have been in my first decade here, about the time I was reading A Sand County Almanac. If there had been blogs back then. He's taking better bird (and other wildlife) pictures than I am.

God's Problem: Why We Suffer Permalink to this item

I enjoyed Terry Gross' interview with Bart Ehrman, and it sounds like I'd enjoy his books, too, after he's taken "Bible study" to much greater lengths than I ever will.

"I began to realize that rather than being an inerrant revelation from God, inspired in its very words (the view I had at Moody Bible Institute), the Bible was a very human book with all the marks of having come from human hands: discrepancies, contradictions, errors, and different perspectives of different authors living at different times in different countries and writing for different reasons to different audiences with different needs...."

The People Have Spoken: Get Your Own Beverage Permalink to this item

Turns out the comments on the proposal to name "milk" (the bill didn't specify which species' we were talking about) were pretty much all negative, and Rep. Durst pulled the bill. Maybe he could've enlisted the support of the La Leche League, at least until the Legislature figured out they were talking Spanish.

Look, Up in the Sky! Permalink to this item

There's unwavering trust, the benefit of the doubt, quiet acquiescence, vague misgivings, mild criticism and then there's plain old ridicule, served up in Gail Collins' inimitable style. (There goes that liberal media filter again.)

Some people think the whole poison-gas story is just an excuse to give the Pentagon a chance to test its hardware. This is only conceivable if you can imagine that the people who are in charge of intelligence-gathering might attempt to mislead the American public.

Missing In Action Permalink to this item

We understand that campaigning might take you away from the office from time to time, but missing every single key environmental vote scored by the League of Conservation Voters last year? That takes some planning.

Eminent domain, oil subsidies repeal, subsidy caps and reform for the Farm Bill, CAFE, clean energy, energy efficiency, population, biofuels, liquid coal, Virginia offshore drilling, undermining renewable electricity, oil refineries, project prioritization for water resources, nothing to say on any of those?!

Something's wrong when you're looking for a promotion and you're getting an incomplete in your previous term.

What's Your Beef This Time, Mike? Permalink to this item

I think the RNC leadership must be getting tired; they didn't even bother citing an example from the "shameless liberal media" in the latest fundraising email. Just "liberal media blah blah blah send money." Are Republicans really so stupid that they would respond with their urgent secure online contributions for something as lame as that?

Unless he's talking in code; I suppose we're all supposed to be hot and bothered about the vague insinuations of impropriety constrasted with McCain's self-confidence that he's cleaned up all his ethical problems, but better not to actually bring up The Subject so that we don't reinforce the frame.

"Since it was in The New York Times, I donít take it at face value."
– John McCain

Given there weren't any risable accuations, the story hadn't yet acquired legs, beyond prompting McCain's denial of everything implied. And now the RNC chimping at the usual MSM suspects to try to jumpstart their fundraising for the candidate they're still trying to warm up to.

Let's see, last two times we went with the candidate of the "fairly unbalanced" backwater media, maybe it is time for something more mainstream.

Fire in the Hole Permalink to this item

The standard blast warning used to be heard more often here in Idaho than it is these days, but it came back to life for a moment on the play field next to Cecil D. Andrus Elementary school this week, apropos of I have no idea what. The phrase jumped out of the cacophony of two hundred children shouting at lunchtime play, none of them realizing they were supposed to duck and cover when they heard it.

Maybe dad's into rocketry, but probably not in the way that Fire Controlman 2nd Class Andrew Jackson is in this local color piece from The Kansas City Star, on the (apparently) successful satellite shooting. Local boy makes good, presses Button. Just imagine the command being relayed done from the Commander in Chief over the last 5? days: Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! And so on. Until finally, petty officer Jackson, from Raytown, Kansas makes it so.

We're In the Ratings! Permalink to this item

We wrapped up our week as a Nielsen family yesterday, put the finishing touches on our diary of viewing. The invitation came via telephone, and Jeanette's curiosity and willingness to play along made the difference; if they'd ask me, I'm pretty sure I would have just said no, thanks. My nature is such that I ended up doing at least have the journaling though, taking the time to read the directions and fill out their form as accurately as reasonably possible.

They haven't fully caught up with the DVR concept, it seems; they acknowledge the technology's existence, and provide a half-page to list things recorded but not simultaneously watched... with no place to make a note of when you do watch them. When we shifted by minutes or hours (rather than days), I just pretended we watched it "live."

As with most journal-keeping, the big picture is what you may have expected, but surprising details come out of the woodwork, like an octopus found hiding in the algae. For example, we get 100-some channels via satellite, but watch... about 4. "What's on PBS?" is the default opening question before we watch, and the answer covers about 95% of our non-sports viewing. (60 Minutes and The Simpsons covers most of the other 5%.)

20.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Right On Schedule Permalink to this item

My crummy shot of the total lunar eclipse today We had some hazy clouds most of the day that made me worry we'd miss the show, but the layer was thin enough that it wasn't completely knocked out. Turns out you can't get the moon to hold still for a 16 sec. exposure, so its portrait came out a little fuzzy, but you get the idea. Total eclipse!

High Seas Hinder Satellite Shoot Permalink to this item

Contrary to Edward Teller's, Ronald Reagan's and now Mr. Bush's happy talk about a missile shield night-light to protect us against our Cold War nightmares, it is not so easy to shoot things down. Today's challenge, so amply flogged in the MSM, seemed like it should be easy, at least when we heard about our bold Commander commanding the military to "shoot it down!" We know exactly where this thing is, whizzing around the planet every hour and a half, it's the size of a bus, and it's not hostile. (Which is not to say it's not dangerous: call it "passive hostility.")

Now that we have the shuttle Atlantis safely out of the way, today's problem is... the Pacific Ocean is not as peaceful as we'd like.

Sorry, Can't Save Your Data Permalink to this item

While looking up some tax forms I'll be filling out this year, I see that Wisconsin is serving up the same sort of defective PDF fill-in forms as Idaho. You can type in all your information, conveniently, and you can print the filled-in form, but you can not save the data you type in. Print it and lose it, sorry.

Unlike Idaho, Wisconsin provides further explanation, in two places. The first is a pop-up comment over the forms, blaming the defect on the supplier: "Acrobat does not allow you to save your completed form."

But they know we know that there is a difference between the IRS's forms and (Wis. Dept. of) Revenue forms, as they emphasize.

"The IRS purchased additional software which gives them the ability to have their forms save data. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue has not purchased this software and thus, data cannot be saved with our forms."

So Wisconsin wants you—each and every one of you—who would prefer to have an electronic copy, and not just a paper copy of your data to go purchase and install additional software. I sent them a question: COULD THE STATE OF WISCONSIN PLEASE PROVIDE THE OBVIOUSLY NEEDED SERVICE OF PURCHASING THE "EXTRA" SOFTWARE FROM ADOBE SO THAT EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO OWE THE STATE TAXES ARE NOT FORCED TO USE DEFECTIVE SOFTWARE OR INCUR GREATER INDIVIDUAL EXPENSE TO FIX THIS PROBLEM?

Of course, I had the same question for the state of Idaho, and I'm reasonably sure the answer in both cases will be "go away and do not bother us. But do send us your money, or we will send the police after you."

I see that most states have refused to buy into Adobe's money-making scheme. North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, West Virginia, and New Hampshire come up on the first page of search results with explanations about not being able to save what you type in their forms.

Just how egregious is the volume licensing, I wondered? Does Adobe have some kind of parasitic, Pitney-Bowes business model where they infect an organization and then tax it forever? I called Adobe sales, using the menu option for "ready to buy!" and had a nice chat with one of their salespeople. Was there some sort of egregious, per-copy fee for doing this the obviously right way? Mmm, no. A state could buy ONE copy of the whizziest version of Acrobat (or even cheaper, UPGRADE one of the copies of an earlier version that they already have) to enable hundreds of thousands (in Idaho's case) or millions of taxpayers (Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, etc.) to enjoy this small convenience.

19.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Here's the First One Permalink to this item

It was a couple ski seasons ago, when we were trying out our newest resort that a friend observed that the central Idaho real estate boondoogle was just two or three bankruptcies away from being a good business. So, it's on its way. Along with the general bust going around in real estate at the moment, it seems that one of their big funders, Société Générale, is a bit short of walking around money at the moment, their $7 billion trading blow-up making a measly $118M hard to find.

Block the Vote! Permalink to this item

Idahogie's got a modest proposal for the coming election season.

Americans through history have undertaken bold national programs to recover from terrible events. Reconstruction helped the South recover from the devastation of the Civil War. The Works Progress Administration pulled us out of the Great Depression. The Apollo project jump-started our competitiveness during the depths of the cold war. Likewise, a concerted program to cull the clueless would rejuvenate our national pride and restore our standing within the fellowship of nations following the Shrub era....

Got Beverage? Permalink to this item

One has to wonder why our whiny Legislature starts talking about how soon they can adjourn about, oh, February, every year, when they spend their time on such business as deciding what our "state beverage" ought to be.

Here I just finish trying to clean up the mess from an errant slogan (even though I could not find any evidence of its existence, I'm prepared to believe some tourism "official" did in fact utter the fateful words "tasty destinations" while trying to sell our state at some point), and I have to get after a bunch of burbling, kowtowing lawmakers trying to fill an unexpectedly idle moment. What else was in those cute little plastic bottles and baubles that "set the stage" for the jolly pandering?

18.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Permalink to this item

Bob Novak, preparing to slap Larry Craig around Maybe when Bob Novak gives the keynote address at the Ada County Lincoln Day Banquet on Thursday, he'll tell droll stories about how the Grand Old Party should get Larry Craig in a room and slap him around and say 'get outta here', or maybe he'll expose another covert agent whose spouse leans too far to the left, or perhaps work up some alliterative dudgeon about how Torts Trumped Terrorism, as he put it, when the Democratic House leadership decided to sleep on reconsideration of the Bush/Cheney administration's insistence that only by giving up our civil liberties (and protecting the corporations who follow their directions, whether lawful or not) can we be safe from axes of Evil.

It's the damnable trial lawyers, don't you know! Big money, he says! Obeisance! 66 contributed $1.5 million to Democratic senators and causes! (Never mind that the Senate actually capitulated to Bush/Cheney demands; the vote wasn't unanimous!)

That'll be safer territory than digging into gossip about John McCain's occasional strayings from conservative Gospel, given that the race for the Republican nomination is all but run, and red meat Idaho will be expected to be leading the charge for the GOP pick, in spite of his shortcomings.

Deflating Technology Obesity Permalink to this item

Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the One Laptop Per Child effort thinks that will soon deliver at the $100 price point goal... and then down to $50 by 2011. Quite possibly, but who knows what 2011 will bring? I'm thinking most "laptop" will be as quaint to children in a couple years as email seems now, but "general obesity" in the form of feature creep is not likely to stop. In the world of for-profits, which drives the technology that can trickle down to non-profits, products have to scream for attention in an increasingly noisy marketplace.

Great technology metaphor, though: "Most laptops are like SUVs. You're using most of the energy to move the car, not the person." At least when laptops crash and burn, there are not so many fatalities.

17.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Small Potatoes Permalink to this item

I like California well enough; it's a lovely place to visit, or live for a while. Maybe a bit crowded, but industrious. And lots of food, sunshine, surfing, all that stuff. And they pride themselves on being ahead of the curve in most things, so I can understand Dave Eggers' frustration at having our lowly state show them up with our progressive caucus results, and using it as an excuse to try to regain some feeling of superiority by making fun of us.

But please, get your insults correct. We have never had a slogan "Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations." (And no, you are not 71 points more conservative than we are, either.)

We have a motto, Esto perpetua ("let it be forever"). We have a beautiful state song (if not a beautiful electronic rendition of it), a good looking state insect, fish, bird, horse, tree, gem stone, flower, fossil, flag, folk dance, fruit, raptor and yes, that famous state vegetable, the potato, as of 2002.

Just because someone put something on a sticker and is trying to sell it on e-bay, or some competing state thought it would be cute to accuse us of this slogan does not make it so.

You want funny, made-up state slogans, you go see Tina.

A Way to Banish Trolls Permalink to this item

Patent trolls, that is, courtesy of a Slashdot comment suggesting that we apply the equitable principle of adverse possession to the realm of intellectual property, solving the problem of "abandonware" for good measure. Read on in my Patentwatch blog...

16.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

New Kids on the Block Permalink to this item

I got another (or maybe it was the first for this) note forwarded about getting blogging credentials for the Democratic National Convention. Sounds like it might be fun, but filling out a form? (And what's up with throwing a PDF at us?) Feh. Nevertheless, I looked a bit further, and see that I need to have been in existence for 6 months (check), have "at least 120 politically related blog posts" (check :-), and I'd need to "submit (my) daily audience and list (my) authority based on Technorati stats."

I think they mean submit some statistics about my daily audience, rather than make you all go somewhere and get in line? And Technorati stats, what's up with those?

In my homegrown blogging software, I have inserted Technorati tags, and I have tried to get my ping on, but it may well be that it's not working, or that I don't have enough thousand page views per day, or something. But I have to admit to being a little sanded by seeing that what's returned by a search for fortboise.org on Technorati is a bunch of other people who reference stuff that I say, somehow with greater "authority" than me, the horse's mouth.

The worst of it was a local pissant conservative blogger who shall remain nameless who took it upon himself to pontificate that, and I quote,

"a key requirement of a blog is the presence of an RSS feed. Without that, you donít have the key advantages Blogs enjoy on Google or the ability for readers to subscribe, so I would not consider the liberal FT. Boise Weblog to be a valid blog."

Never mind that this guy can't proofread (let along argue) his way out of a paper bag, or that he started some years after I did, or that the link from Technorati back to his site goes to a page with a heading Ooops - something went wrong because the technology someone else handed him is beyond his ability to manage, or that what's left of the post doesn't have the most essential feature of a date on it... he came up with that little snark more than a month after I had, in fact, implemented an RSS feed for my blog, and most of 6 years after I'd registered my periodical with an ISSN.

Hmm, must be past my bedtime or something.

I'll think about whether or not I want to go to Denver in late August tomorrow.

♥ + 1 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This is Huge Permalink to this item

A solar system, much like ours (if scaled down a bit), and only 5,000 light-years away. It's got a Jupiter-sized planet, and a Saturn-sized planet, and room between them and its half-Sol star for something that's "just right," like our Earth.

They don't know about us yet, but in a little while, maybe they will.

A Smoking Gun in the Form of A Mushroom Permalink to this item

Wexler: Madame Secretary, can you please tell us, isn't it true that you had intelligence that cast doubt on your repeated claims that Iraq did not [sic] have weapons of mass destruction? (He meant the claims that Iraq did have WMD.)

Condi Rice, baring her teeth at Wexler Rice: No it's not true. With all due respect (she said, shaking her head and sneering disrespectfully), I think if you look back (nodding) at the key judgments of the Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, you will see that those judgments support the views of many intelligence agencies worldwide, the views of the United Nations, uh, inspectors, that Iraq must have been hiding something, uh, our own own intelligence estimate said that Iraq had reconstituted its biological weapons program, its chemical weapons program, and the only disagreement is whether or not they had reconstituted their nuclear, uh, weapons program, although uh, there were certainly uh, elements, including the CIA that believed that they uh were in the process of doing so.

Now, uh, Congressman, I take my integrity very seriously and I did not at any time make a statement that I knew to be false, or that I thought to be false, in order to "pump up" anything.

Nobody wants to go to war....

I want to jump up into the photographers gutter between them, stop the insanity, and cross-examine her myself.

Aren't you lying now, Madame Secretary? Telling us you did not have intelligence that cast doubt on your claims? Everything you saw was unanimous? Or your "best judgment"? You realize how ludicrous that sounds, I'm sure, with all due respect.

Hadn't the Bush administration already determined to go to war, and wasn't the manipulation of the intelligence, and the body of this stack of 935 false statements repeatedly employed to convince the American public to go along with a decision that had already made?

And how can you seriously expect us to believe, Madame Secretary, with all due respect, that you "take your integrity very seriously"? Sneering will not make it so. Integrity is not about what you say, it's about what you do, and what you did was to repeatedly paint a false picture for the American public, in order to serve a foregone conclusion you and the administration had already reached, isn't that the truth of the matter?

After her own high dudgeon, Wexler came back, saying "I simply asked if you had intelligence that was contrary to the intelligence that you reported repeatedly to the American people..."

Rice interrupts him, wagging her head dismissively, "Congressman, I would suggest you go back and read the key judgments of 2002 and that will answer your question."

Just like Ahmed Chalabi, a hero in error.

Big Brother in the 'hood Permalink to this item

Google's Streetview of our house Google Street View is now in our neighborhood, all those blue-lined streets and highways the tendrils of up-close-and-personal views of where we live. Oh, that's nice... but a little creepy to "walk" down your street, and stand in front of your house, and (almost) look through the windows!

Not that it's a live view of course, as you might gather from the summer foliage and sun angle. And our County's Assessor has had a better picture available for some time. But still. A little creepy. Google's got that "don't be evil" policy, but not everyone using Google is signed up.

All-American Eclipse: Feb. 20 Permalink to this item

Excerpt of map on sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov Here in Idaho, the penumbral phase will start before moonrise next Wednesday (6:12pm), but we've got a good seat for the main event, running from 6:43 to 10:09pm MST, with totality from 8:01 to 8:51pm. This my kind of night sky viewing event, where you don't have to wake up in the middle and go out and freeze your butt off.

Jack Horkheimer's video is a nice preview and explanation, and his over-the-top style is starting to grow on me.

House Finds Miers and Bolton Contemptible Permalink to this item

The White House Counsel, and the Chief of Staff are found to be in Contempt of Congress, anyway.

"The contempt resolution was approved by an overwhelming margin of 223 to 32. But Republicans boycotted the vote and heaped scorn on the majority for not using the time to take up Senate-passed revisions to the foreign intelligence surveillance law that expires this weekend."

When you know you're going to lose, you heap scorn and boycott, I guess. And here's a shocker: Bush's latest Attorney General won't pursue the matter. (Congressman Robert Wexler provides video of Mukasey's testimony, saying that the President telling Bolton not to answer Congress' subpoena provides him immunity against Congress.) Donna Perino's whithering accusations of the action being "silly," "outrageous," and "a waste of time," are not so much of a shock. She can read from the Bush/Cheney script with aplomb, and she knows something about wasting time.

As for that FISA revision, given that the Senate has already rolled over for our Great White Father, good on the Democrats in the House for putting up some resistance to the "give us your civil liberties and we'll protect you better" program.

With Congress recessed, and the last extension to excuse illegal spying set to expire on Saturday, the administration will be faced with... going back to breaking the laws they've demonstrated they're more than willing to break as they see fit. I wonder how that'll turn out.

13.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Huckabee and Republicans Pro-Choice! Permalink to this item

You gotta love this guy, he's down and going nowhere, but he is not going to get off the stage until he gets the hook. If the Republican primaries were apportioning their delegates, the way most of the Democratic state contests are doing, there could be a faint, faint hope, but the GOP likes winner-take-all, and for all his running, Huckabee isn't winning. His glass is still one third full, though:

"What it does show, though, is that there's still a real sense in the Republican Party of a desire to have a choice, a desire to make sure that the voters who want a solid conservative, absolutely pro-life candidate still exists. And I think that's what the results in Virginia clearly indicate."

All Your Telecomm Are Belong To Us Permalink to this item

Chalk up another win for our Great White Fathers, George W. Bush and Richard B. "Dick" Cheney, as the Senate rolls over for the "Protect America Act." I called my House member to tell him I wanted his "No" vote for any amendments that provided retroactive immunity for criminal acts. Is that too much to ask? The rule of law?

One by one, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the governmentís surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve legislation that the White House had been pushing for months.

We'll see whether the House has the sisu to stand up to our Snoops in Chief. I called my Congressman telling him I wanted him to vote against any amendment providing retroactive immunity, and fired off an email via TrueMajority for good measure. The House stood up last August, but 6 months closer to election day for all of them, they may not be so upstanding.

Happy Birthday, Abe Permanent URL to this day's entry

Another Penny for Your Letter Permalink to this item

Postal rates are going up again, to 42 cents for a first class letter. Ok, a penny more is not a big deal, and an even number is a bit more convenient than an odd one, but don't get too used to this nexus between the USPS and Douglas Adams. A law passed in 2006 will have the rates being "reviewed" every year.

Unveiling the 'Forever' stamp They can't go up more than the inflation rate... which runs about 3%, give or take, and 3% of 40-some cents is more than 1 cent, which means that you can pretty much bet that first-class stamps will go up in price every year from here on out. Unless you invest in the Post Office via their inflation protected stamps. (These will be a very good buy on May 11, if you can find them. Your local P.O. will of course run out on about May 3rd or April 24th.)

A relative of a friend forwarded an interesting story about being offered a job with the Post Service. It was in a category I hadn't heard of: "Casual." The way it was told to me, the job comes with "one week vacation a year," but the actual specifications are not quite so generous. The longest possible stint sounds like 359 days, followed by a "6-day break" (undoubtedly unpaid), and then another 359 days. No examination required, but you will have to pee in a cup for them.

And here's the "informal understanding" as I heard it, regarding anything bad that might happen to you while Casually lifting 35 or 70 pound parcels all day long: you can fill out a Worker's Compensation report if you get hurt, but if you do, "don't bother showing up to work the next day."

Hmm, do you suppose that's legal? Maybe Elaine Chao knows. Either way, it sort of makes you want to pay a little more for your postage, doesn't it?

11.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A Crushing Defeat Permalink to this item

Now that we've got a DVR, we can queue up crazy stuff like the Sunday morning talk shows, which I haven't seen in two dogs' ages. Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation this past Sunday, kicking off his interview with Mike Huckabee, says "you literally crushed John McCain in Kansas!"

Literally! You don't say?

I heard Huckabee on the radio today, too, continuing to run his "I'm not mathematically eliminated yet!" schtick. It's good for McCain to have him as a foil, but the Democrats are eating each other up? Huh.

Karl Rove signed on to McCain's campaign?! "Ah no," but he did write a check. Maybe a little tiny bit of what Fox News is paying him to be a pundit these days. Asked if Huckabee had a chance, Rove said he thought it was "very unlikely, completely implausible." Duh. How much did he get for that brilliant insight, I wonder?

10.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

One More Mike Huckabee Show Permalink to this item

I'll miss Huckabee when he's gone. He defines affability, from what I've seen, and he's got a twinkling sense of humor. But like most conservatives these days, he's got this problem with speaking in code, and thinking that the rest of us will of course understand, or else we simply don't matter. To Tim Russert on Meet the Press today:

"The 'Life Issue' is a very sensitive issue for me, Tim. I think that that's a defining issue for me personally, and I think it is for many conservatives... because we think if you are wrong on the Life Question, it reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of our nation and the equality of human beings, that there is intrinsic worth and value in each of us, that that individual power and freedom that our Founding Fathers so believed in that they put their lives on the line for it begins to deteriorate at the point when you say that some lives are worth more than others."

"Tastes like... squirrel."
–Mike Huckabee, on the "Southern delicacy" of fried squirrel

Who knew, the Founding Fathers were all about the Pro-Life thing? Not only are the Democrats surrender monkeys, they also don't understand the nature of our nation. Now, does the Life Question concern itself with living human eggs? And sperm? Or is it only after the sperm wriggles in, and we get to the fertilized egg? And we're talking about bringing back slavery, right? A woman with a blastocyst inside that finds the uterine wall, she must be coerced to carry that new life to term, that's what you're saying, right? And every miscarriage would need to be investigated to make sure it wasn't homicide.

He likes McCain, he likes Rush ("keeping the movement thoughtful"), he likes "all those guys who were up on the stage" with him way better than any of the Democrats. (And he liked saying neener, neener, neener to Rush, too: "I will make this observation, Tim: you know, he did everything he could to knock McCain, and me, out of the process, and unfortunately–for him–we're still the two that are on our feet." Twinkle, twinkle, dimple, dimple.)

John Harms, Activist, and Friend Permalink to this item

A trio of geese by the Boise River on a snowy morning Kristi Coffman's "Remembrance" of John Harms in today's paper came with a lovely photo of him and one of the children of our Fellowship, which was unfortunately not included in the web version of the obituary. I imagine the paper's feature-naming is to make sure readers don't confuse the obituaries they write with the ones others write for their family members, and have to pay to put in the paper. John didn't want one of those; he saw it as a foolish extravagance.

Coffman also glossed over John's "involvement" with the funeral consumers movement; he was a founding member of the Idaho Memorial Association, which is now called the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Idaho, and affiliated with the national FCA.

I'm proud to have known him, to carry on the work of the IMA, and happy to continue enjoying the friendship of his daughters and granddaughter.

His memorial service will be this coming Saturday, Feb. 16, 1pm, at the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

"Pleased as a Possum in a Pea Patch" Permalink to this item

That's how pleased Bob Huntley is with U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill for rebuking the Idaho Supreme Court for its attempt to render a non-decision in Idaho's version of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce by agreeing that our school funding is unconstitutional, but directing no remedy.

The case goes on, in Federal Court.

The Most Exciting Race We Know Permalink to this item

I'm not sure what's up with the headline for Timothy Egan's Super Tuesday rundown in his NYT blog, and the Aryan Nations story has been over for years in North Idaho (thanks in large measure to the Southern Poverty Law Center), but the tales of support for this upstart Democrat from around Red America are interesting all the same, and since it ends so sweetly, we accept framing the story with Idaho anecdotes. How nice to have Dwight Eisenhower's granddaughter Susan planning to work for a Democrat, too.

Add victories in Maine, Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska (with "surprising" margins) to the Obama-mentum. That would vouch for the geography of hope, it seems.

We had family in the Washington caucuses, where the better part of a quarter million people turned out, and our boy "asserted" himself well enough to get elected to his county caucus. Afterwards, he wrote:

"I have been angry and frustrated for too many years over the direction (big picture) we have been going, yet did nothing about it except vent to those who would listen. We both felt invigorated after the caucus."

You go, boy!

The light bulbs that politics does matter are popping on around the country by the millions, and only one of the three-and-a-two-thirds campaigns remaining is providing electricity to bring a new generation into the action. The story can go different directions from here, however, and Frank Rich's column describing one of the bleaker possibilities was sitting on New York doorsteps about the same time the thoughts about how far the Clinton campaign was willing to go were occurring to me.

9.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Kansas Miracles Permalink to this item

The folks who profess belief in a 6,000-year-old earth were no doubt in the vanguard voting for Huckabee's Saturday win in the heartland.

Not that it matters a whole lot for the nomination at this point, but you have to admire his affable spirit.

"I didn't major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them, too," (Huckabee said).

Asked if he saw any cost to staying in the race, Mr. Huckabee thought for a moment before answering: no.

"I have nothing else to do," he said with a smile.

The third Republican candidate in the race, Ron Paul, isn't ready to fully suspend his campaign, opting instead for torpor. Wake me up when the Convention's on, he seems to say, or else he's recognized his responsibility for domestic tranquility, and doesn't want to turn all his supporters over to their own devices all at once.

This Just In Permalink to this item

Wow, two hits of Fox News in one morning, I feel a bit woozy, and not just because of the whoosh header on this segment of "George W. Bush / Fighting to the Finish."

"It's a bit of a paradox that (Bush) is now credited with some of the most eloquent and visionary speeches ever delivered by an American President."

Riiiiiight.

For Love of Country Permalink to this item

Mitt Romney, waving farewell to his campaign Mitt Romney's bombshell dropped on the CPAC: "Frankly, in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

There must be some kind of award the advertising industry can present to Mitt Romney, after he spent $86 million (through Dec. 31) on a failed product launch. That works out to about $20 per vote for the "more than 4 million votes" he got (or $300,000-something per delegate, by Gail Collins' estimate), and the latest report shows his campaign in debt to the tune of $35.4 million of his own money.

This from our leading economic conservative. The explanation for the "suspending" by the also-rans is helpfully provided by Faux News: "By suspending rather than quitting he will be able to continue to collect donations from contributors." Talk about your tough sell, imagine your enthusiasm when this fundraising call comes at dinnertime: "Hello, Mr. John Q. Public, I'm calling on behalf of the Mitt Romney No Longer for President campaign, and I'd like to ask for your help in re-lining our courageous candidate's pockets."

It's all about the money for the economic wing of the Right, after all. That was what made Romney such an attractive candidate: you can trust a man with his own $200-some million to look after yours, right? As compared to a guy who can't make it to 6 figures in assets unless you count his wife's beer distributorship and stuff. "Size matters," as Mitt reminded us.

That leaves the Republicans with a "choice" between McCain, Huckabee, and Ron Paul, and the unhappy prospect of holding their noses and filling in the little circle for "D" this time. Pat Robertson's problem with McCain is not economic, but temperamental: "You never know when heís going to explode.... If you've got a guy who's the commander in chief with his hand on the red button, I just don't know, I wouldn't like to be in WWIII, and I just have a feeling he wants to show how macho he is and we might just get ourselves in something we don't want." (So Robertson doesn't want WW III, that's mildly comforting.)

"Everybody has a McCain story.... He hasn't built up a lot of goodwill."
Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)

Senator Thad Chochran (R-Miss.) gets a "cold chill down his spine" when he contemplates the "erratic" and "hotheaded" McCain as Commander-in-Chief. (h/t DownWithTyranny!)

I stumbled on the annoying MSN video collection, and found Ann Coulter telling Matt Lauer why she'd support Clinton over McCain as the more conservative choice for President:

"Hillary has not hysterically denounced waterboarding, Hillary has not denounced the Swift Boat Veterans as dishonorable and dishonest..."

Anything else we need to add to the litmus test? Steady thumb on the Big Red Button, ready to green-light torture, and endorses the Swift Boat Veterans as honorable and honest.

8.Feb.8 Permanent URL to this day's entry

How Retro Is This Permalink to this item

Former Bush-buddy Vlad wants to start a new arms race, apparently not able to keep and hold the attention of his constituency back home? Or is he feeling left out in the cold by the GWOT that doesn't involve Russia (other than for their war-without-end, in Chechnya)?

If the forecasters predicting a tri-polar world ahead of us, with the U.S. fading to sub-hegemon and the E.U. and China rising to parity are correct, Russia's the odd man out, up there across the top of Asia, and right of Europe. Seems like brokering an alliance either to the West or the South would be a better strategy. None of us are interested in a four-way deal. Just keep the oil and gas flowing, would you? We'll keep sending grocery money.

Lt Jim Risch Got Himself a Website! Permalink to this item

Second-hand h/t to Idablue for news that one of our Lieutenant Governor's helpers has figured out the Intertubes well enough to put up his very own website, to further his campaign for Larry Craig's seat. So to speak.

I loaded the page in a background tab, not intending to interrupt my reading, but the video splash is wired in such a way that Jim took over my left-hand monitor, in full-screen 1280x1024 pixel glory, quite a bit more close and personal than I prefer him to be.

Mom told us articulation was a good thing, but his level of facial flexibility and crispitude seems rather George Orwell-creepy, but it could be just that he was too close for comfort.

Jim Risch at School Once he had played out, that monitor ("half my world") went black. And over on the right side, bringing his page up top shows me a blue background with a large, rectangular black hole in the middle. There's an invitation below the hole, "ENTER WEBSITE," but the helper forgot to add the requisite disclaimer, "IF YOU DARE!!!!"

It's not clear what Risch's connection with the military might be, but the campaign staff is clear that they like the look of him surrounded by uniforms there on the home page. Over on "multimedia," there's a rather bizarre picture of The Lt Guv and some kids, with a cookie monster staring daggers at him. With friends like these...

Kiss of Death? Permalink to this item

Headline: Bush Urges Conservatives to Rally Behind 2008 Nominee, whoever that might turn out to be. On the Republican side, I assume he was meaning, in spite of the fact that all the Republicans have been avoiding saying his name just as much as he's avoiding saying theirs.

"Listen, the stakes in November are high. This is an important election. Prosperity and peace are in the balance."

So, there are some things George W. Bush and I can agree on.

Bush did his urging before an even more hand-picked audience than usual, the Conservative Political Action Conference, which has been meeting its brains out this week. This is a group that's willing to chant "Four More Years!" for both Dick Cheney and George Bush, and to jeer and boo for the presumptive nominee from their party, John McCain. (And it was the group before which Mitt Romney announced he was not a quitter, but was quitting.)

"It's a real cross-section of the American privileged class, the rich and angry from A to B."

Since my blog's readers are presumably not invited to CPAC, the next best thing to being there comes from an infiltrator, disguised as "Leonard Pierce, lobbyist for the Texas-based American Milk Solids Council, who only reads books with the word 'management' or 'Bible' in the title," and serializing a Hunter Thompson-esque report on Sadly, No!, as "The Beast is Red." From Chapter 1:

"For eight years I have been lectured about the pure moral good of the heartland and the values it is said to embrace, contra my own apparently horrid set of cultural preferences. And this time, I will listen. I will shed my pretentious, intellectually hostile beliefs and attend the Conservative Political Action Conference as the paragon of red-state values I am forever urged to become....

And Chapter 4:

"Weirdly enough – or maybe not so much – (Cheney's) defense of torture gets a standing ovation, but his praising of our fighting men in uniform does not. It takes a man to fight, but it takes a train to waterboard."

Chapter 7 has pictures. Chapter 8 has an extra dose of foul language, in honor of a foul President. And Chapter 9 brings us up to date, with charming cameos of Wayne LaPierre's race-baiting video and T-shirts for the "Waterboarding Team."

Gee, how did THAT happen? Permalink to this item

SecDef Gates is worried "that for many Europeans the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are confused." Which one was it that was the central front in the Global War on Terror again? Something about Al Qaeda and the terrorists responsible for 9/11?

Personally, I would expect that confusion remains higher here at home, thanks to our closer proximity to the Bush/Cheney disinformation campaign that was so successful in diverting our attention from Afghanistan, where it belonged, to Iraq, where it did not. Folks in Europe have the benefit of greater distance from us, and they have some media outlets, at least, who don't just follow the script handed to them.

7.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Swan Song Permalink to this item

What's up with "suspending" the campaign? Stick a fork in it, it is DONE.

I suppose it has something to do with the legal allowance for managing the buckets of advertising money that they've collected, and may find other uses for? Or the conceit that having some delegates gives you leverage at the convention? Not giving up completely allows for a few die-hard supporters to give stirring speeches (such as the one Kurt Holzer gave for John Edwards at the Ada Co. caucus Tuesday night), although I'm having a hard time imagining one of those being delivered for Mitt Romney.

I agree with Kurt that John Edwards kept the Democrats paying attention to important ideas and issues, and now that the field has been whittled to two a side, the races seem to be more about personality.

That may have been Romney's short suit, oddly enough. Tall, white, handsome, affable, good-natured, clean-living, flexible to a fault, leading contender for a sitcom remake of "My Five Sons," willing to take whatever position is necessary to get the job done, even quit the race for the good of the Party. What's not to like?

The "increasingly bitter attacks" on his front-running competition, for one. John McCain may well be "outside the mainstream of conservative political thought," as Romney claims, but it seems every candidate on the Republican side was equally an outsider. Nobody wants to swim in the cesspool where George Bush and Dick Cheney have diverted the mainstream of the Party. Fred Thompson was perhaps the most "mainstream" guy running; quiet to a fault, flannel, willing to be the movie star President we all knew and loved in our matinee fantasy, just a little too pre-wrinkled to pull it off.

6.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Awesome Lucky Shot Permalink to this item

Brian Plonka was driving down a snowy road on the Rathdrum Prairie, and spotted a hawk... (Flash required for the video journal.)

Must Be Present To Win Permalink to this item

I've heard a couple of good people complain about being "disenfranchised" by the caucus process, had one friend talk to me last night with concern about the oversight of counting ballots (worried that the Corporate Machine was eliminating John Edwards), and now another wants to know whether I enjoyed the caucus more than "regular voting" (yes, very much so, thank you), because it seems like "an inconvenience" that "discourages voter turn-out" to him.

The Hillary section, before the first tally Well, it's damn inconvenient compared to trooping to a polling place, and even more so compared to requesting an absentee ballot sent to your house and mailing it in. But then with "regular voting," you only get one shot, in secret. Caucusing is incovenient in the same way that going to a football stadium to watch a game is more trouble than staying home and watching it on TV by yourself.

At a caucus, you get to feel the energy of the other participants, and yes, you get to wait in line, and be a little confused about the process, and then wait (maybe a long time) to see how the votes tallied up. I can't communicate in a blog entry what Dave Bieter did last night when he started his speech by saying "Isn't it nice be among friends?!"

For one of many times, the crowd roared in response; Yeah!

We got to see each other, talk to each other, ask each other for support, say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, check to see if we're registered to vote, make a donation, talk to reporters, be on TV, stump for candidates we believe in, find out more about candidates we don't know, see our local legislators, shake hands, share hugs, and, if you can wait out the process, vote again for your second choice, if your candidate (or Uncommitted!) didn't have enough support from the group. You could also run for election on the spot, and become a delegate to the state convention this summer.

It's a political party, don't you know.

But that would have been about 10pm, and you would have been there for well over 3 hours, maybe 4 or even 5 by then. A very inconvenient process. And if you were elected as a delegate, it would be days more inconvenience later on.

14 min. until the 2nd ballot closes When I went to my first Idaho caucus (and I'm struggling to remember which one it was; 1976 would have been my first chance, in Latah Co.), I looked at that little slip of paper that I had to fill out, saying I was a member of the Democratic Party... and made that same choice we all make with End User License Agreements these days, which is to check the box labeled "I understand that in order to proceed, I must check this box."

I have no doubt that a few thousand independent voters and some goodly number of Republicans showed up last night and chose to claim themselves Democrats for a Day, in order to express their preference on a day when it might really matter.

I'm OK with that. If you wrote down your correct address, or phone number, or email, someone will be contacting you. You'll be free to say "no thank you, I've changed my mind," or to say "maybe later," or "put me on your Do Not Call list, would you?" or to get more involved, and to be present to win in the days to come. (If you didn't play by the rules, well shame on you, and we won't be contacting you.)

As noted in the headline yesterday, the Ada County Democratic caucus was something special, the biggest such gathering in the entire nation. The Party has final caucus results posted for all 44 counties. Look through the numbers, and consider that Clark Co. (6 Democrats showed up!) had a slightly different sort of party than we here in Ada Co. Twenty-six county caucuses had fewer than 100 people attending; thirteen had between one and three hundred; and only ten were "big" events, with the two combined in Ada Co. beyond comparison. (Ada Co. is the only one with the Congressional District boundary running through it, and so the only one needing two caucuses.)

Julie's got a couple fun scenes from last night. The Statesman's photo gallery is stocked with their inexplicably small online versions, and a raft of ad links for each pageload. ("Enlarge" will get you all the way to 400 x 300-ish, wowser!)

The MountainGoat Report has a nice word-picture from Canyon Co., "electrifying." IdahoRocks reports from Boundary Co., RMV has Canyon Co. Caucus Pix, Betsy's got multiple entries from last night, and an Obama landslide story in "the paper."

Super Tuesday Permanent URL to this day's entry

Biggest Caucus in the Country: Ada Co., Idaho Permalink to this item

Ada Co. Democrats Caucus, 2008 The Republicans tried to divide us, gerrymandered the Congressional District line through the county, through the middle of Boise. But here we are, stronger than ever, all in one, big house. CD1 and CD2 split the Qw*st Arena, surrounded Mayor Dave Bieter who was given the honor of speaking for Obama, turned to savor the crowd and said, "Isn't it nice be among friends?"

"The Republicans want to close their primary; but I have to say – you're all welcome here!"

There were a lot of first time caucus-goers, from 18 to 88, and many didn't realize they were Democrats until they had to put their name on their pledge cards saying they were. "I'm independent," more than one of them said, wondering if it was OK to put their name down. There's the form, you can read what it says, and you have to decide what you're going to do.

But you showed up two hours ahead of time to stand in a long line on a cold day... we've got a little more than a wink, wink, nudge, nudge in common now, don't we?

Jeanette and I volunteered, and were assigned to work the lines offering voter registration cards. At first we stood and waited while new (and relocated) voters filled out the cards, walking backwards as the line slowly made its way inside, but by the end, as the light faded, we were handing them out, offering to collect them later, or have them just mail in the postcards.

Later, after we'd turned away the stragglers who hadn't been able to get a place inside by shortly after 7:00pm (still collecting their pledge cards if they wanted to get in on the first ballot), and found our own way to the Voter Registration station, I made rounds of the arena, handing out still more, collecting some that had been filled out. A rough count showed we collected more than a thousand registration cards.

A great day for democracy, if you ask me; well worth getting seriously chilled by two hours outside, and spending another two and a half inside.

It took two hours to count the 8,290 votes, and find out that 82% of the 3,000+ in CD1, and 85% of the 5,000+ in CD2 were cast for Barack Obama. Clinton got 12% and 10% from the two sides, Edwards and Uncommitted got less than 6% together on either side. The rules allowed 30 minutes for friendly persuasion, but Hillary's supporters were not prepared to swim that far upstream against that strong a current. It was time to concede and call it a day, well past 9:00, after the party had started at 7. Nine out of ten caucus goers were done, and it looked like about half of the stalwarts had on white volunteer t-shirts.

We didn't stick around to hear (or give) delegate stump speeches, or to elect (or be elected) delegates to the State Convention. Just skipped into the winter night with a very warm glow.

4.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Things to See from the Weekend Permalink to this item

Tell Me Again Why Impeachment is Off the Table? Permalink to this item

You would think Congress might be mad enough to do something, the way Bush is thumbing his nose at them. After the filibusters and veto threats are overcome and they actually send a bill to the White House... Bush does his line-item veto act on it, "signing statements" enumerating which parts he'll ignore.

Prohibition of funding for permanent military bases in Iraq? Investigating waste and fraud in military contracts? Protections for whistle-blowers? Sorry, our President doesn't care to obey those laws.

Don't look to the Justice Department for any leadership, either: the latest tool in the Attorney General's office is barely better than the last one.

3.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Which is Worse: Looking Weak, or Stupid? Permalink to this item

Bush and Cheney have played the "fear of weakness" card almost as well as the regular old Fear card, and the Democrats in Congress have allowed themselves to be swept along, manipulated in supporting the War Without End, the disposal of civil liberties, the inside job of dismantling most all that is effective in government.

Dan Froomkin quotes Bush, before the usual hand-picked crowd, stumping for his place in history:

"Failure in Iraq would cause people to doubt the sincerity of the United States when it comes to keeping commitments. Failure in Iraq would embolden the extremists. Failure in Iraq would say to thugs and killers, the United States is a paper tiger. Failure in Iraq would embolden other extremists in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq would embolden Iran...."

As if our sincerity is not in doubt now? As if Iran hasn't been emboldend? Come on.

Obama in Boise Permalink to this item

More takes, from Jill Kuraitis, Betsy Russell, Blogmother.

Motivated! Permalink to this item

Barack Obama in Boise, February 2 2008, Jeanette Ross (I show quotation marks where I'm relatively confident of what he said, but inevitably paraphrase here and there.)

After Idaho's largest-ever political event, as we left BSU's arena on salt-crunchy sidewalks I heard one woman's voice above others. "I'm so excited!" she said, and I turned to see the speaker animatedly address her friends. She was an attractive woman in her 50s, workout-trim, dressed to walk back into a downtown office. She described an earlier interaction with a naysayer at work. "I don't know who's going to pay for it, he said, and I told him, I know who is paying for it. We are, all of us, you and me!" And with one thrown gesture she embraced me and hundreds more around her.

Two hours earlier, surrounded by neat lines of others who managed to reach parking, I found a seat by inquiring at each heap of coats. "Taken? Taken?" and so was 3rd tier from the top of the ring of seats 2nd from the top, with what could provide a straight side view of the candidate's profile from his right. At 8:30 the Borah high school band music ended as our two local volunteers, Kassie Cerammi and T.J.Thomsen, encouraged neophytes to vote:

"The caucus is the opposite of a primary. You aren't voting behind a curtain. At a caucus you hang out with your team, you vote in front of your community... This is your only chance to vote to pick a candidate. Anyone who will be 18 by the general election can caucus. In Iowa, students made the difference..."

They called for the audience to pull out their cell phones and text message campaign hq: put in ID62262, he said, and thousands fumbled out their cell phones and did so. "We'll send updates of everything in the campaign. Still need volunteers."

In the short break before Cecil Andrus came to the microphone I chatted with my seat mates. Two young women in their twenties on my right, Hispanic, sisters, haven't voted yet. I asked the one next to me, with long black hair, red hoodie and jeans, if she was in college. "Oh, no, I'm 27." Young, I said, and she smiled. On my other side a man on the losing side of fifty said "I don't know" when I asked why he came.

Cece bounced up to the stage, pointing at and greeting friends before him and on the big back stage packed with Democrat candidates, legislators, county chairs and officials. "The beauty of this is all the people not familiar to me... These are difficult times... I've seen a lot of candidates come and go; not since JFK have I seen someone to excite and inspire like Barack Obama. He is custodian of the dreams of millions who want to see needed change in the economy, in our fiscal insanity, the tragic war."

Barack Obama provided a kaleidoscopic hour, an experience of a leader illuminating the qualities that convinced more than 13,000 people that they could make the sacrifices needed for enormous, essential change. His words were memorable, his manner more so. His optimism and confidence in ordinary people were expressed gracefully, easily, slipping through his discourse on America as he strolled a few paces, paused, reflected, turned to another quadrant of the arena. Sometimes he sounded like the best preacher I ever heard, and other times he seemed to be directly before me, in a living room of my mind. I was not the only one- the responses throughout were amazing, ecstatic roars over thunderous applause- and then, most tellingly, outbursts hushed into absolute silence, without any cues, as everyone was simultaneously ready for what he would say next. No matter how grand and distant the visions he summoned, he managed to collapse the space between himself and the audience, sharing what felt like confidences in a way that implied that this was really a conversation and he would gladly take his turn listening.

Like a good mother's son, he began with graceful appreciations, of all those listening from outside, of the two young volunteers, Kassie Cerami and TJ Thomson, who organized the Idaho office for Obama and urged him to come meet the progressives in the nation's reddest state. Obama also thanked the "member of the other party," Bob Kustra, who made the arena possible... then the state chairs of his campaign, Wendy Jacquet and Jerry Brady. And the Borah high school marching band that kept spirits high in the time needed to assemble us.

Obama strolled on stage with a hand mic in his right hand, left hand momentarily resting in his pocket. "Some were skeptical of my prospects, the way they were about Boise State at one time," he said, a passing reference to his relative youthfulness and inexperience in public office. "But I ran for what Martin Luther King called the 'fierce urgency of man.' There's such a thing as being too late."

He offered the list of places where change is urgently needed: our nation at war, our planet in peril, our health care system broken, education situation desperate, people working harder to keep up. The slogans we hear ignore the reality: our schools are not preparing our children to compete. We cannot wait to fix our schools, bring this war to an end, fix our health system. [especially loud whistles and cheers for this, then an enormous silence as he continued.] We want politics that's not about tearing each other down but lifting each other up, politics not based on spin or PR but honest talk about how to secure the future."

In Illinois, "I worked for an organization sponsored by a number of churches, for those who lost jobs in the decline of the steel industry. I learned that ordinary folks can do extraordinary things. That work taught me that change isn't top down, change happens bottom up. And most people are decent and willing to sacrifice for future generations, if we bring our voices together and challenge our leaders and ourselves to do better.

"I was told that I couldn't win in Iowa. Pundits said, 'the state doesn't look like him.' [He chuckled at this and so did the younger members of the audience. Older people around me were less likely to respond to the joke.] When I was shaking hands I could tell the Republicans, they'd lean forward and whisper in my ear, 'I'm a Republican.' I'd say, thanks for supporting me, and why are we whispering?"

We do know that George W Bush won't be on the ballot and "my cousin Dick Cheney" won't be on the ballot [joking about the not-all-welcome connections coming with DNA analysis], the era of Scooter Libby justice, of Karl Rove politics, of Brownie incompetence will be over.

It's easy to be against something. People see the problems around them, every day, those who worked to make a profit for someone else see their pensions shredded by CEOs who get big bonuses. And with the cost of a college education, young people end up with a mortgage before they graduate. Vets who perform magnificently for their country [don't have support when they come out of service.] Spending all that money and blood have not made us safe. Patriots don't understand why we argue about why the US should torture or not. We want our cherished ideals restored. I say, if you are ready for change we can change this country. I tell the lobbyists who don't fund my campaign they are done. I will do something about 47 million without health care. This is personal for me; I saw my mother die of cancer at age 53. She'd just changed to a new job and the insurance companies said maybe it was a pre-existing condition. I ask for every one to get health care as good as that I get as a member of Congress. And we will emphasize prevention. I will do this by the end of my first term. [This was the first time that the dour man on my left applauded, a shred of recognition showing on his face, hands coming together like hopes barely remembered.]

We're gonna give tax breaks that invest here, in our country, put the Bush tax breaks in hands of the low-paid employed, to seniors earning less than $50,000. We'll help people with modest homes, support labor standards, raise the minimum wage to keep pace. If you work you should have a LIVING wage. [Huge applause] We can close the learning gap. I want to pay teachers better, give them more support. Tests are okay, but one test can't measure the highest standards for our children. They should learn more, music, poetry, all things that make life worthwhile. Make college affordable with a $4000 tuition credit; this won't be a gift. Students will do community work in return. We will invest in America.

We need energy that makes sense. We're sending our money to foreign countries for oil that contributes to our planetary crisis. If we cap greenhouse gases we can invest in green energy that creates jobs. If we raise fuel efficiency to 40 mpg we could end our dependence on foreign oil.

There's no contradiction between safety and security and our standing in the world. We want a strong military with proper equipment and proper rotation, with adequate disability payments and the GI bill. We can provide help for homeless vets.

The war in Iraq was unwise. Two trillion dollars could rebuild every road and bridge in America. Instead we lost more than 4 thousand lives and many more lives will not be the same again. We've been distracted by this war and have never finished in Afghanistan, with those who brought down the twin towers. I'll bring our troops home by 2009. I want to end the mindset that got us into this war. We can meet with leaders we like and those we don't like, observing [the injunction] "Never negotiate in fear." Strong countries talk to their strong adversaries. If we do that, we can go to other countries and lead on climate change, on ending genocide, on gaining human rights. Some say I'm not ready to do this, say 'he needs more experience to season him, stew him in Washington, boil the hope out of him. But we know that doing the same things over and over doesn't work.

Some have said, 'Maybe he's too nice, reaching out to Republicans.' I say, if you know who you are, you can talk to everybody and not just those in your own party.

You may know about the smear campaigns. I've been going to the same church for 20 years, praising Jesus. I know who I am. People are tired of the politics of fear, want the politics of hope. I was raised by a single mom and grandparents. That led to the title of my book, the Audacity of Hope. Not blind optimism or ignorance of the work needed to change policies. I've fought on the streets as an organizer, seen good legislation die. I know how a tragedy like 9/11 can be used to scare up fear. But our nation was founded on hope. Slaves and abolitionists resisted a wicked system. Pioneers and immigrants came with hope, workers won the right to organize, we got women's rights. Hope is imagining and then struggling for it. The futures of our great grandchildren are at stake. This is our moment, our time, if you believe we need to keep the dream alive for all those who hunger for justice....

We all bounced out on that hope, a grandmother, beamish barely maintaining a grip on the hand of her prancing grandson, parents keeping visual contact of two grinning adolescent boys, a father absorbed in explaining how a caucus works to his mid teen daughter. As the sidewalk ended in a construction and we stumbled through crusty, rutted snow the woman next to me said, into her cell phone, "Yeah, I'm heading for the boat show next." I thought that's it, we're all on this ship and ready to set sail.

1.Feb.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Falling iStars Permalink to this item

It's not a huge surprise that there might have been some glossing over and hand-waving involved in Tom Luna's "iStars" plan for revamping teacher compensation in this state. Fortunately, one of our alert legislators was able to do some fact-checking, in consultation with the Attorney General.

Republican Religion Permalink to this item

That would be the kind where someone dependable was in charge, say a House Chaplain who could be relied upon to deliver a consistently Christian message. Whatever the heck that means. Nicole seems to favor a more Democratic approach, and even better, participatory. Speaker Denney disagreed.

raveling

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Sunday, 21-Dec-2008 09:44:06 MST
http://www.fortboise.org/blog/200802.html