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30.Apr.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Death in the Family Permalink to this item

Sami at sunset, 2002 Our beloved queen met her maker this week, after a rather sudden decline. We took her to the vet last week, without getting a clear diagnosis of the moderate physical symptoms, and slightly more distressing behavior changes she was going through. On Monday, she went into a convulsion, but seemed to come out of it alright. Restless, sensitive, still affectionate with us, but not quite herself.

She woke us in the night, wanted to go out, Jeanette let her. And that was the last we saw of her. Tuesday was searching the neighborhood, talking to neighbors, slowly giving up the thought of her return.

Wednesday, and today, we haven't broken the habit of watching, hoping... this morning, I kept myself from checking the back door for a bit, then when I looked up, my heart leapt at a silhouette—of one of the neighbor toms.

We miss her little russian-tea colored spirit around the house after these 17+ years. We rescued her a day or so from freezing or starving to death on Boxing Day, 1990, at the Little Salmon River rest stop on U.S. 95, driving up to see Jeanette's mom in Moscow on a bitter cold winter day. We named her "Little Salmon River on Boxing Day," Sami for short, making her part of our Laplander family.

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

Wright: I'm a Describer, not a Divider Permalink to this item

The Book of Jeremiah, the word "jeremiad," and now this powerful preacher out of Chicago: welcome to the prophetic tradition. You would think that more of the Religous Right would recognize and applaud this powerful voice resonating the message of their forebears to his congregation, and now to the wider political sphere.

"The sermon was the most highly developed literary type in colonial literature," a convenient textbook copyrighted from 1946-1957 tells me. "It was designed then, as now, to persuade men to consider honestly the state of their souls."

In the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermon to the NAACP last night, he rejected the accusation of his being "divisive":

"I am not one of the most divisive... tell him the word is descriptive. I describe the conditions in this country. Conditions divide, not my descriptions. Somebody say 'Amen'."


(And a h/t to Jeanette, and her library. [The Literature of the United States, Revised Single Volume Edition, Walter Blair, Theodore Hornberger, Randall Stewart; Scott Foresman and Company, ©1957])

We're a Sound Bite! Permalink to this item

And not just in "the end of the earth" vein for once. NPR tells me that Barack Obama lifted his 2-year+ boycott of Fox "News", and in talking about his electability among plain folks, he said "...I mean we've been winning in places like... Idaho."

Woo hoo!

27.Apr.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Test of Obedience Permalink to this item

At some point, I guess you have to make a stand for common sense. Carl Chew drew the line on one more round of high-stakes testing for his elementary school students, and got suspended for his trouble. His statement is an indictment of the federal program that has provided such a reliable stream of self-promotion from lawmakers who are countless decades from the operating end of a #2 pencil.

"Many [parents] do not realize that they have the right to opt their children out of testing with no consequences."

Meanwhile, the teachers, and schools face continuing mandates to spend precious time, money and opportunity in "churning out students who are trained to answer state-approved questions in a state-approved manner."

"Teachers feel used and depressed when, half a year after the test is given, they are presented with dubious WASL results—amateurish and misleading Power Point charts and graphs telling them next to nothing about their students' real knowledge and talents....

"Most, if not all, teachers will agree that assessment is vital. Wise teachers know that assessments which are also learning experiences for students and teachers are the best. The [Washington Assessment of Student Learning] categorically is not a learning experience."

(h/t to The Royal NW Mounted Valise)

Joie de Vivre Permalink to this item

Copyright 2001 Tom von Alten Have you been to Yosemite yet? Or have you only journeyed there through the iconic images of Ansel Adams? In either case, you'll likely enjoy today's NYT Travel section article, What Adams Saw Through His Lens and especially the multimedia feature Ansel Adams' Yosemite which put the headline in mind, hearing Andrea Stillman, an assistant of his in the 1970's:

"Ansel was kind of like Santa Claus. He had this wonderful laugh, and this smile, and this... charm. When Ansel walked into a room, the whole room kinda lit up, it was like the sun came out. But what set him apart, aside from this wonderful joie de vivre was his nobility of spirit. I think that sense of him as a noble creature comes across in his photograhs, and I think that's why they're so loved."

It was the last time we were living in California that we made our way to this awesome National Park, and the end of Stillman's remark about shooting at sunrise or sunset—"...just killing time, waiting for the light to change..."—brought to mind another (otherwise unrelated) memory from the turn of the century.

Cindy McCain's Valu-Jet Permalink to this item

It ain't easy being squeaky clean on the campaign trail. The big bus and road show is OK for the one-state-at-a-time focus at the beginning of the campaign, but after that, this is a big country, and buses can only cover so much ground in a day. If there's a corporate jet in the family, you're in luck: the Federal Election Commission didn't get around to finishing the rule before they lost their quorum, so you can get away with paying "only" first class rates, instead of the full cost of a charter.

Barry Meier and Margot Williams dug into the accounting, and reported in the NYT. Looks like about a $million or so, paid for by the Joe and Jane Sixpacks downing Mrs. McCain's Anheuser-Busch product line, most of whom will have never seen the inside of a corporate jet, let alone taken a ride in First Class on a commercial jet.

All according to the rules, we're told by the campaign, just as with the non-disclosure of Cindy McCain's useful fortune keeping the effort going through hard times. Straight-talk on the banner, and the usual wheeling and dealing behind it, same old stuff and not about to change anytime soon. Candidates will do what they have to, and get away with what they can.

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

" long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme!" Permalink to this item

That's the end of the sentence that started with "God damn America," grabbing everyone's attention and prompting Barack Obama to explain his membership in Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Apparently we're all supposed to avoid saying disturbing things in public. We need to mute our most popular monosyllables from broadcast television, for example, lest any of our children hear them. They might start repeating them, after all.

This could be comedy, if only it had a catchy tune. And a generous spirit.

No, we're all supposed to dutifully stand and salute, recite our Pledges and our prayers piously, never say Damme!, and feel our bosoms swell with self-righteous pride as we sing God Bless America at baseball games in stadia built with taxpayer support so business geniuses such as George W. Bush can line their pockets with more of spectators' dollars.

Our pedigree as a "Christian nation" is trotted out whenever it's convenient, mostly when needed as justification for self-styled leaders to tell us what moral precepts they think we should genuflect for.

The pundits on the Friday night news shows all figured it was terrible news that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright would be on Bill Moyers' Journal, keeping the controversy alive. I don't suppose that the anti-Obama forces who've forwarded the YouTube video bite a bazillion times had the stamina or attention span (much less the inclination) to actually pay attention for most of an hour to a remarkably thoughtful conversation.

Listen to the whole sentence, at least, and think about what's wrong with a country that lets a couple of megalomaniacal leaders take us to a war on slim, shoddy, or fabricated evidence, calling God over to our side to set up secret prisons, authorize torture, imprison more people than any country we call "repressive," and that has the unmitigated gall to question the patriotism of anyone accessorizing incorrectly.

The Reverend Wright and Barack Obama have nothing to apologize for. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz on down the line have a lot to apologize for, along with a lot to be impeached for. Even John McCain was apologizing for the abject failures of the Bush administration this week, some long overdue straight talk now that the blindingly obvious liability of the current administration's support has flashed upon him. With Bush's support now below that of Richard Nixon's at his nadir, gosh, maybe the country isn't ready for an ersatz third term of staying the course.

If we're going to start in on religious tests for office, we could go back to basics, say the Ten Commandments or something, Thou Shalt Not Kill. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

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

Petra Principle Permalink to this item

Rumors of McCain's interest in yet another blonde of a certain age, Carly Fiorina, for his running mate. "NBC11 political analyst Larry Gerston said a potential McCain-Fiorina ticket could inspire Republicans who think the country may be on the 'precipice of change.'"

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, you find out you're on a precipice, and there's no way to go but down.

The thinking (if I can be so bold) is that because she was once CEO of Hewlett-Packard, she could deliver California. To McCain and the Republicans.

These are not people from the reality-based community.

The Blame Game Permalink to this item

That damned "liberal media trying to put down a conservative guy," again. Chewing up honest-as-the-day-is-long conservatives such as Larry Craig and spitting them out. I tried listening to the KBOI interview with our seamier Senator this week, but I didn't have the heart for it, even after he reassured us he was now listening to his lawyers and wouldn't be going into the details of his extended stay in the Twin Cities airport.

Ignorant, In Fact Permalink to this item

One of those verbal tics that signals the opposite of its literal meaning: "To be perfectly honest," here comes another whopper. "In fact," I'm about to spout nonsense. "With all due respect," you are a mucilaginous roundworm.

John "I know God's mind" Hagee can believe whatever he wants, and we'd be well-advised to ignore pretty much whatever comes out of his mouth prefaced by "I believe," such as, "I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."

A little syntactic condiment with no nutritional value coming from a professional bloviater, still living in the Stone Age where "God controls the heavens" and uses hurricanes to smite the unrighteous.

You know he can't really believe this b.s.; if it were true, Hagee's hateful act would put him at the top of the to-be-smote list. Or is he really stupid enough to believe that he must be righteous because God hasn't smote him yet?

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

Let's Have a Holiday Parade Permalink to this item

Inflation in energy prices leads to inflation in everything, perhaps most noticeably in the price of food. Our food production (and distribution) systems were built in the context of cheap oil, after all, when it made perfect (economic) sense to run energy-intensive operations.

Higher prices at the supermarket are right up there with the threat of foreclosure for focusing one's attention on economics.

John McCain is apparently taking a crash course in the subject, and last week he came up with a brilliant campaign proposal: a "gas tax holiday," from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Let's pack up our troubles, smile, smile, smile, and go on a summer vacation! Punching calculator... 5,000 miles, divide by 12 mpg with the SUV towing the trailer, that's 417 gallons, times, oh, $3.33? $1400, and if we drop that pesky 18.4 cents a gallon (24.4 if you're sucking diesel!), we'd save... $77.

Wow. And here McCain is only asking for contributions of "$50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, or any amount up to the legal limit of $2,300." Where do I sign on?!

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

Ministry of Propaganda Permalink to this item

"The strategic target remains our population."
General James T. Conway

In tomorrow's New York Times, a detailed report of the Pentagon's "message force multipliers", coming out of "8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation." Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, but I'm not sure he could have imagined this sort of metastasis:

Torie Clarke, the former public relations executive who oversaw the Pentagon's dealings with the analysts as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, had come to her job with distinct ideas about achieving what she called 'information dominance.' In a spin-saturated news culture, she argued, opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.

Perceived as. But not, actually.

One retired Green Beret describes the feeling of being used (or "hosed" as former NBC analyst Kenneth Allard, put it): "It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'"

Myers' Law Permalink to this item

"Every creationist argument will be built on false premises that expose the arguer's ignorance." That was induced by the exercise of refuting Bryan Fischer's pitiful attempt to "defeat Darwin."

But then, what else would you expect? Fischer has no knowledge of biology at all. His training is in theology (surprise!), which seems to have only taught him arrogance and pretentiousness, that he thinks expertise in making stuff up from old books means that people with real degrees in the sciences are doing likewise.

Fischer's lament includes the observation that "evolution teaches that everything that exists is the product of the random collision of atoms." Evolution teaches? That's almost as ludicrous as Fischer teaches. Fischer teaches by example. Bad example.

Anyway, if you're a glutton for punishment, you can find the whole of Fischer's opinion via the link on P.Z. Myers' blog; and then from that piece on "renewamerica" you can follow up on "We Need Alan Keyes for President!", WorldNetDaily, Free Republic and Minutemen Message Board.

Losership Permalink to this item

Coincidentally, Gail Collins has an illustration of McDonough's point about the limited virtue of slowing down while you're still going in the wrong direction: the Fat Bush Theory.

Yes, it does come as a surprise that the Bush administration came up with a goal for a response to the "issue" of global warming, but having it be "reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent by 2012" sounds like a new version of the helicopter joke. You don't know where you are, you've set a useless goal, you've put the deadline years past your departure from office, you have no intention of actually doing anything to accomplish the goal, and you're taking credit for an accomplishment that hasn't taken place.

Nature's Design: Cradle to Cradle Permalink to this item

William McDonough was in town Thursday night, featured in the Boise State University's Distinguished Lecture series. He's a little older and more well-rounded than his publicity photo, still showing a preference for the black costume, though. It was a dark suit, black shirt and charcoal bow tie for the lecture at Boise's Morrison Center, very natty, and alone with a podium on the deep stage with black all around him, a little magical, befitting his architectural prestidigitation.

His presentation style is understated, low-key, elegant, efficient. Without fanfare, he prompts careful attention because each slide, each paragraph, each sentence is rich with meaning. I don't know if that was PowerPoint running on his laptop, but he wielded it with the same aplomb as the words he spoke, sketching over slides with a yellow stroke to emphasize, making a quick, extemporaneous graph on a black background when the moment called for it.

"Here's the energy reserves in oil," he said, drawing a little yellow box. "And here's natural gas," drawing another, next to it. "And here's coal," he said, drawing a skyscraper of a bar, and then the horizontal axis to underscore his point.

My re-creation of McDonough's sketched graph

I went looking on the web to see the actual numbers to reproduce a version of his graph, and found plenty... martialed into incomprehensible arrays of "native" units for each one, and tired before tracking down the totals and conversion factors. I'm happy to give McDonough the benefit of the doubt, and amplify his point for the future of our environment: the most important challenge is to make electricity from solar energy cheaper than electricity from coal.

It's apparently not easy doing what he did in his remarkable lecture: boiling down the challenges we face, and describing a new way forward, succinctly. His web properties, and those of the firms he's founded are deep, and rich with information, but too much small text, and too few big pictures, and where is that design statement he kept coming back to, in big letters on a simple slide?

Maybe it came out in John Gardner's New Horizons interview?

"I think at this point in history, our species really has to ask itself, does it intend to destroy the planet? And if we intend to do it, we're doing a great job. I mean, we can cause climate change, ocean rise, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, endocrine disruption, heavy metal contamination, and on and on...

"If we didn't intend for those things to occur, we need another plan....

In the question and answer session after the standing ovation from the thousand people in the audience, one person asked how those of us who don't have two design firms at our disposal could begin to actualize some of the principles he'd described. "A good place to start is with composting," he said, giving me a warm memory of the gigantic and unruly pile in the corner of our backyard.

"How do we love all the children of all species for all time?"

Being "less bad" isn't sufficient: if we're going in the wrong direction, just slowing down isn't good enough, we need to turn around. We need a goal. His proposal:

"Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world with clean air, water, soil and power—economically equitable, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed."

He's got some great ideas, and yes, he's been telling the same stories for years, but such is the nature of teaching.

A couple days later, that question of "ok, what do we little people do next?" is still nagging at me. What about one of those living roofs? We all loved the picture of the big Ford factory under natural cover, leaving the birds-eye view green and attractive. Once upon a time (and place), sod roofs were all the rage, but there aren't any in my neighborhood these days. Roofing is some form of asphalt, most of the time, or wood for those with too much money and no sense of what our desert climate is like, or tile for those with the sense (and money) to think longer term.

How do we get those beautiful pictures off of the copyrighted slides and into our neighborhoods? How do we make sustainable design the obviously correct approach, desirable for its economic reward as well as ecological reward?

That's what "the book" is about, in part. Time to find a copy.

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

Do You Believe in the American Flag? Permalink to this item

Seriously? This is a debate for President of the most powerful nation in the world, and we have time to spend on "belief" in the flag? Surely George Stephanopolous, Charlie Gibson, or someone in the organization they work for could have exercised some editorial judgment and made the debate in Pennsylvania more worthwhile than rehashing inside baseball, and litmus testing for symbol worship. offers highlights, and a form to tell ABC what you think of their work.

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

Lost in Translation Permalink to this item

My anonymous tipster for the reporting in Der Spiegel pointed out what would have been obvious if I'd paid closer attention late last night: the story in German is completely different than the English one. The lead summary of the former, loosely translated:

While it was never said explicitly, Pope Benedict XVI nevertheless spoke his mind clearly to the US President: democracy can only flourish when a political leader lets himself be led by truth—an ear-boxing for warlord Bush.

Don't feel bad if you missed the clear message: the awesome speech sailed right over Bush's head, too. Maybe having ten thousand people on his lawn was a distraction. Der Spiegel's reporters don't sound like they're from around here; they wouldn't be so emphatic about an indirect (if unmistakable) message given to a man who has proven capable of ignoring the starkest reality. We can only hope the Pontiff did not depend on subtlety and nuance during his private audience with our Kriegsherr.

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

The Cowboy and the Shepherd Permalink to this item

The hometown version of the story might be more interesting than the English version, but after viewing the Pope's visit through the lens of The Daily Show, I tried Spiegel Online's view from outside, looking in.

It's a little hard to buy their punchline, that Bush owes his second term to Bendedict XVI injecting his official opinion (then coming from his pre-Papal Joseph Ratzinger persona, as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) into the 2004 Presidential race, but the tipping point in our last two elections has not been far from center. Remember when...

"During the election campaign, Ratzinger sent a letter to the American bishops, in which he said that all Catholic candidates who were not in favor of a ban on abortion should be denied Communion. In addition, anyone who voted for Kerrry 'would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion.'"

The Papal Tour Permalink to this item

Pope Benedict XVI speaks 10 languages, while his host at the White House, George W. Bush tends to struggle with his one (not counting the party Spanish). Bush showed he knows what chutzpah means, at least. "Pax tecum," he quoted from St. Augustine, making the Latin for "peace be with you" sound like a Texas cowboy's curse.

This from our self-proclaimed War President.

The Pope kept things sunny and white, wrapping up his talk with a cordial "God Bless America," knowing how much we like to feel special, then headed out on the town in the Popemobile, that incongruous bubble that speaks to us of attempted assassinations past.

Gleaning the news reports for the highlights, I don't yet know what to make of this state visit by the head of the Catholic Church, but I will say that Ian Fisher's and Sheryl Gay Stolberg's report in the NYT ends with a rather astounding non-sequitur, following the point that the Pope's followers should act on their beliefs during the week, and not just on Sunday (and by "their" beliefs, we mean those beliefs dictated as correct by the Church):

"Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted," he said.

15.Apr.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"Women run the Khumbu" Permalink to this item

On the other side of the world, Alan Arnette is trying to get to the top of Everest again, and today's dispatch was a simple headline notice: "Dispatches will resume in mid-May." We're left to wonder at the reason. Low on battery power? Too busy? Problems already? Mountain climbing, as I've come to understand it from a long way away from ever doing it, involves a lot of non-busy time, but that time isn't "free" in the usual sense of the word. It's all wrapped around the central goal that never seems to make sense by itself, but gives everything around it a reason to be. "Because it's there."

In the minutiae of the experience, the reality comes into focus, ever so faintly. Welcome to Base Camp, with the sound of yak bells, and the smell of hot tea. The mystery of a Puja, too early in a cold morning, with prayer flags strung across the camp, and a light bulb, powered by a generator, lit atop the pole.

And the Khumbu Icefall – 2,000 feet of moving ice. Followed by a month of waiting to hear more...

14.Apr.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Grover Norquist: Disturbed Adolescent Permalink to this item

Don't take my word for it, let him tell you in his own words, prompted by the inimitable Deborah Solomon's Questions.

How Bitter Are You? Permalink to this item

The L.A. Times wants your vote on the question. When I gave my answer, Bitter was ahead of Not Bitter by 2:1 with 2,782 votes cast. Fewer than 1 in 10 of the Bitter group are willing to absolve politicians of blame for their malaise.

Truth be told, I'm in the "feel pretty good" group even though I do plan on voting Bitter. "Embarrassed" applies as well, and apologetic.

Damn Your Elitist Philosophy! Permalink to this item

The latest email from Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, is the usual blah blah blah wrapper for the send money punchline. I'm not sure how these things get through the spam filter, actually. He's trying to make hay off of Obama's comments about bitterness in the left-behind America, rather ham-handedly compared to Karl Rove's adroit manipulation to get and keep George W. Bush in the White House. Right before the link for your contribution is this:

We cannot allow this elitist philosophy to make its way into the White House

McCain's quoted singing the praises of "small towns, rural communities and inner cities," so I guess everything other than the damn suburbs? Republicans don't care for the suburbs, one bit.

They Don't Care for Accurate Representation, Actually Permalink to this item

The press release from Sid Smith, Executive Director of the Idaho GOP makes it sound like the lawsuit was ordained by stone tablets delivered over a burning bush or something:

"Therefore, according to the resolution approved by the party Central Committee in January of this year, the party was required to file suit within 10 days of adjournment of the legislature, thereby making this suit unavoidable."

Apparently our Republican-dominated Legislature didn't take their own party's ultimatum seriously enough? Jill Kuraitis, on NewWest provides some useful background, including the unsuccessful effort by The Common Interest to broker a compromise, with a modified Closed primary system.

"A modified system which produces the most representative elected officials—the most accurate reflection of the voters themselves—would almost certainly not favor Republicans in Idaho, despite their current dominance. Since there is no party registration, it's impossible to know the voting demographics accurately, but Democrats and Independents together make up a larger voting block than Republicans."

Dearth and Taxes Permalink to this item

It has not gone unnoticed that things have been quiet on the blog of late. It's not because I blogged myself to exhaustion. After that work deadline a week ago, it was Tax Time, and my voluntary compliance for Uncle Sam absorbed most of last week. It should be getting easier, I keep thinking, but maybe next year. This year I finally ponied up cash money for TurboTax, and stayed with it through the thick and thin, running my old-fashioned spreadsheet only enough to satisfy myself that Intuit was doing as well as I used to.

Better, even, which is of course the point. They keep track of all the changes year to year so millions of us don't have to fuss with worksheets for worksheets for line items for schedules for forms. And it highlighted one of my gross blunders and allowed me to fix it before April 15, repaying the investment in saved aggravation in trying to correct the mistake after the fact.

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

Wilderness Opportunities Permalink to this item

The Senate approved the Wild Sky Wildernness proposal for Washington State, and it looks like it will become law. With strong bipartisan support, it could bode well for Idaho's Owyhee Wilderness, once again under consideration by Congress. The Statesman reported that Sen. Mike Crapo was confident, especialy since "he said he has received a commitment from Republican Sen. Larry Craig to help get the money and move the bill through the Senate. Craig's support is important because the Senate won't move a wilderness bill forward without the support of both of the state's senators."

Many of us assume the last attempt went nowhere in good measure due to Craig's opposition. But who knows, when Larry won't talk to media? He's still in a snit about being a news item himself, blaming the paper for his own personal problems he wishes they hadn't reported. (Whereas they got... as close as ever to a Pulitzer.)

He didn't return calls from the AP, either.

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

Just Say No Permalink to this item

I am moved by the "Minute" of the Boise Valley Friends Meeting, adopted on November 4, 2007, for its direct, moral clarity.

"We condemn the use of torture for any purpose, either to further the objectives of war or to prevent terrorism. Torture by any means, whether directly or by proxy is immoral."

Is there any reason to be equivocal on this? To be subtle about differentiating persuasion, coercion, enhanced interrogation? To hold oneself out as "Christian," and yet be Commander-in-Chief (or minion) willing to sacrifice righteousness, reputation, moral standing for a misplaced (to say nothing of perversely self-defeating) notion of "safety"?

There are fates worse than death.

"Torture destroys the humanity of the tortured, the torturer and those who have knowledge of it. We must defend the sanctity of life. We believe that torture can never be justified as a means of control or extracting information from those deemed enemies. Torture dehumanizes its victims, obliterating the image of God in those who are tortured, and thus insulting the Creator of us all."

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

The Democrats Made 'em Do It Permalink to this item

The Republican majority in our state is such it no longer finds it to be satisfying to engage in inter-party conflict, and they've added intramural events. Now that the Legislature is done, and didn't pass the closed primary bill that the right wing wanted, they're preparing to sue, if we can take the Central Committee at its word.

I love the reasoning. "They are concerned about Democrats crossing over to elect weak candidates." The Republicans run the state, and their explanation for why they don't do it particulary well is that the Democrats crossed over and got weak candidates elected.

5.Apr.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

What a Great Job "We" Did this Term Permalink to this item

You have to hand it to the Idaho House "leadership" to chip up and take credit for a tax relief bill that they fought every step of the way, until it was time to put up and shut up, and the Democratic proposal to provide small business relief without hammering the rest of Idaho's taxpayers on behalf of the IACI.

Reps. Denney, Moyle, Bedke and Roberts are setting a new standard for chutzpah; will they actually sucker their constituents with this act?

Rep. LeFavour is not pleased, and lacking motivation to kow-tow, since she's off to the Senate (or done, if that doesn't go through in November).

4.4.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

As You Were Permalink to this item

Our Legislature wrapped up their work for the year, such as it was, midweek, and the flurry of activity went unremarked by me, as I got distracted by out of the ordinary: work! Not the half dozen volunteer job task juggling work that I normally stay busy with, but flat out paying work, in 8-hour-a-day chunks. It's been a long time. So long, in fact, that I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

There were a lot of years that only the biggest headlines out of the statehouse caught my eye, but for whatever reasons, I was paying more attention than ever this year. That leaves more questions than answers, such as, what was up with Otter's veto of community-based drug treatment programs that wasted a ton of time and ink, only to have 90% of the original proposal put into the budget?

And the House "leadership" spending all that energy on trying to enact obstacles for local option taxation, proposing to amend our Constitution when they're free to vote down whatever they want, whenever they want, and typically do... only to have the Senate stick a fork in it on the last day.

The Legislative summary from Nicole LeFavour makes me think there are a lot more people in the state who don't pay much attention to what goes on through the winter in Boise. How else could the voters keep yanking the R lever as if they were acting in their own self-interest?

2.Apr.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

But Wait, There's More! Permalink to this item

Hinted at in a footnote to the 2003 Yoo memo was this, as reported on the AP wire:

"Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations," the footnote states, referring to a document titled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States."

Pretty much explains the secret rooms at your local telecomm office, and the pressing "need" for immunity against prosecution for those companies that went along with the martial non-law.

This is Why Secrecy Was So Important Permalink to this item

It seems a hundred years ago, but in the dim mist of memory, we recall that George W. Bush's presidency started with "I - uh - heh - yes" am going to sure as shootin' keep private matters private. Cut down on that e-mail, unless it's on the RNC servers where it can be quietly "lost." Protection extended to President's children, and his or her "representatives," and most especially Vice Presidents, now given "Executive Privilege."

Privilege for what, exactly? It will be years—decades, probably—before we plumb the full enormity of this Unitary Executive theory put into practice by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, and their legal team.

"Our legal advice to the President, in fact, was near boilerplate."
John Yoo

Every so often, we'll see John Yoo's smooth, smug face floating over the latest piece-wise revelation, blandishing a legal excuse for the inexcusable. Today, we learn that a 2003 memorandum asserted "that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes."

The president's ultimate authority. Laws don't apply.

Where is that in the Constitution, again? Mr. Roberts? Alito? Scalia? Thomas?

The ultimate check on an Executive turned dictator is We the People, and our representatives in Congress, through impeachment. Pity the poor high school student of the future struggling to understand the incredible explanation in Civics class as to why Bill Clinton was impeached, and why George W. Bush and Richard B. "Dick" Cheney were not.

April Fools Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bronco Sports To Pack It In Permalink to this item

President of Boise State University, Bob Kustra announced today that the sports program at the school would be phased out over the next couple years. "We've had a good run," he said, "but really, enough is enough. We're never going to top that Tostitas Bowl highlight reel, and besides, the residuals have funded our endowment and allowed us to offer free parking across campus. You never hear about 'Cinderella' any more, it's all 'Boise State!' which is what we wanted from the get-go."

"Let's go out on a high note, and make our Philosophy champs the heroes of campus again. We've been paying the head football coach enough to pay for a dozen professors, and we're going to turn a coaching staff of 14 into a whole new college. We're going to show the community, the state, and the whole country just what a Metropolitan Research University of Distinction can be, and frankly, all the attention on sports in general, and football in particular is a big distraction."

Communication May Have Hurt Otter Permalink to this item

It's not just the paper cuts and carpal tunnel from text messaging, there are the basics, too. "Lori told me I need to polish more than just my boots," the Governor said, telling Heath Druzin of the Statesman that he'd signed up for a mail-order class from Miss Manners. "We have a laid-back attitude here in our state, but that don't excuse rudeness," he said. Reporters were tipped off when his latest veto came back to the House with a fruit basket.

"We talk a lot, but we don't communicate very much," Otter said Monday. "I have to be more assertive and tell them, 'This is where I am and this is where I want to go,'" he said. "I want to be on top, basically, and some of them just aren't gettin' it."

Pastor Fischer, Activist Swindell to Wed Permalink to this item

"It's a match made in heaven," they both said, simultaneously. Invitations featured miniature replicas of the 50's era replica Ten Commandments and a return envelope for contributions to the Idaho Values Alliance. Fischer is to preside at the ceremony, slated for the summer solstice, under the fluorescent cross on Table Rock.

"I've been saving myself for somebody special," Brandi said, "and Bryan is The One. I suspected that, even before the angel came the other night."

President Admits Mistakes Permalink to this item

"Hell yeah, I've made some mistakes," George W. Bush said today. "Some of 'em have been whoppers! That whole 'slam dunk' in the eye-rack war thing that Brother George and Quasimodo sold me on. I mean Chalabbie, what the hell was I thinking? Ha, ha, like I was thinking, really."

Idaho Speaker Apologizes for Flag Flap Permalink to this item

Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives, Lawrence Denney (R-Midvale) said today that he got "carried away" when he wrote that letter to the head of the Idaho Press Club, about reporters not meeting his standards for proper recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. "I mean, everybody knows they're a bunch of radical left-wing Democrats who hate this state, and our country, and I hate the fact that they're always sticking their nose in everbody's business, but they're like cockroaches, and we just have to learn to live with them. That doesn't mean we don't use stuff on 'em to keep the House in order, though."

"But I went too far by showing my hand. We should have just changed the badge setup and then pretended like we didn't know any of 'em so we wouldn't have to let them in."


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Thursday, 01-May-2008 22:33:45 MDT