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30.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

We may be slow, but we're not stupid Permalink to this item

In this last bastion of red-state support for the miserable presidency of George W. Bush, Idaho's poll numbers have gone over the hump: 54% of 500 likely voters polled said they disapproved of the job President Bush is doing.

Goldilocks Planet Permalink to this item

It's been just a few short decades since we were able to step "outside," as it were, and look back upon the planet we inhabit, and to see how incredible it is that we should be sitting on a watery oasis in the empty vastness of space. There may be others, but time and distance make them more about speculation than observation. We thrill to know there's water on Mars, that perhaps it rained there, once upon a time. Maybe a moon of Saturn has a hint of conditions that could support life, if not life itself, or a remnant of it.

Sami, sleeping, healthy again Whatever there may be in the distant reaches of our galaxy or in the wider universe we can visit only in our imagination, the exploration of our own vast solar system makes one thing abundantly clear: there's no place like home.

Having been fruitful and multiplied, and having had some success with technology, we now confront the potential problem of fouling our nest, with no hospitable neighborhood for us to fledge to. Our home has been no stranger to cataclysm, "natural" and man-made, and it's a matter of what and when rather than whether for the next one. Will it be global climactic disruption triggered by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions? Or something else? We dodged annihilation at our own hand through the near-madness of developing the means for "mutually assured" destruction last century. It remains to be seen whether such a balance can be maintained in a world populated by unbalanced actors, some of whom welcome their own death for "religious" (or, "insane") reasons, and by extension have no reason to fear wider destruction.

I'm thinking of how flammable things on the surface of our planet are, with our 21% oxygen atmosphere, as family news from California rolls in. The Shasta-Trinity complex, $9 million spent, more than 2,000 people in 18 fire crews, with 263 engines, 9 helicopters, 61 bulldozers, 75 square miles burned and only 10% contained. Our family's safe, the evacuation order lifted for their area, but the smoke still thick.

A little higher greenhouse gas concentration, a little hotter, a little dryer could be a lot worse. Seems like an experiment we might want to avoid if we can.

28.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Stimulating Circuitry Permalink to this item

Two interesting shows on NPR this week with Jill Bolte Taylor, more about what she learned about her brain from the experience of having a stroke and eight years of recovering from it: on on Fresh Air with Terry Gross and on Talk of the Nation Science Friday.

Not Available for Comment Permalink to this item

The footnote at the bottom of Brian Rich's take on the Senate race in Idaho made me think of that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the gatekeeper laughs off Dorothy and her friends' request to see the Great and Powerful Oz.

You want to talk to Jim Risch? How droll.

27.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

More Fire in the Family Permalink to this item

California's a lot like paradise, except when the rain runs out, and it starts to burn. News from family in northern California is that they had to clear out, under a mandatory evacuation order yesterday. My brother writes:

"There is a large fire camp (fire fighters from the Forest Service and CDF, California Dept of Forestry) in Junction City... When we left yesterday afternoon smoke was very thick with lots of ash fallout but winds were relatively calm. Visibility was maybe a quarter to a half mile.

"Getting information is difficult. Most of northern California is blanketed with smoke, there are hundreds of fires, and personnel to deal with them are spread thin. Usually, the fire season doesn't get going until August. And rain here is very unusual between June and October–or at least September, if we're lucky. Although last summer it actually rained three or four times and there were no fires here. Fire is a natural part of the California ecosystem. I've heard that historically every five hundred years every square inch of California has burned. So now, humans have moved in, and of course we have houses, etc. Fire is not so convenient. Humans vs. nature. Wait - humans are part of nature..."

Voting Your Conscience Permalink to this item

I don't pretend to understand the inside baseball involved in Congressional votes, but I do know there's a lot more than just totalling up the "ayes" and "nays" to see if a bill has passed. There's the counting before the bill is even introduced, for example, the political calculations and recalculations for amendments and procedure, and eventually, some legislative sausage that might be tasty, or tainted. And then there will be the analysis and answering for the vote afterwards. Lawyers generally want to know the answer before they ask the question.

Who can vote aye? Who needs to vote nay? And which rare bird wants to make a principled stand for something?

If you're about to retire, you might have nothing left to answer for (but then again, you might be planning to cash your elected position with its modest 6-figure salary from something bigger, in the lobbying field).

I don't know whose ax Politico might be grinding, but the stories of retiring Republicans bucking their leadership are entertaining nonetheless.

26.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

One Frivolous Lawsuit to be Paid For, Maybe Permalink to this item

Sisyphus reports that social conservatives must pay to play, at least in the case of losing their defense of keeping a movie advertisement on public property in Generation Life, et al. v. City of Boise, et al.

Bryan Fischer unrolls a remarkable litany of excuses for why they shouldn't have to pay, on the way to begging for other people to donate money to him.

What Were They Thinking? Permalink to this item

Back in the 18th century when white men had established themselves on the edge of the great American wilderness (with significant help from the "savages" who had been here for quite some time already, and from their imported slaves), and they felt the oppressive weight of distant autocratic rulers, having the general populace well armed seemed like a good thing.

There were well less than a billion humans on the earth, but things were looking up, population-wise. Warfare was still very much a retail phenomenon, although gunpowder, artillery and various other instruments of modest-scale mayhem were familiar enough.

Our Founding Amenders wrote: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" and we've been trying to figure out exactly what they meant ever since.

Many feel that that stuff about a Militia is just preambulatory window-dressing, and Antonin Scalia and four of his activist buddies made it clear that they feel that part of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is superfluous. The message that matters is just the last 14 words.

The decision strikes down the outright ban on handguns in Washington D.C., but it leaves plenty of other decisions about what, exactly, shall not be infringed, and what else shall be infringed. The right to bear full-auto assault weapons, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and backpack nuclear weapons are presumably still disallowed, along with the rights for non-law-abiding, irresponsible citizens of unsound mind who find themseleves in sensitive places such as schools, government buildings, airplanes or non-shooting sporting events.

President Bush let us know that he "applauds" the decision. The leading candidates to take over the job likewise were in favor. The new leader of Idaho's Republican Party praised the affirmation of the "God-given Second Amendment rights that Idahoans hold dear," but wasn't content to stop with invoking a Supreme Being to his side. Norm Semanko found Barack Obama's response to the Supreme Court decision insufficiently enthusiastic.

The Democratic candidate for Idaho's 1st Congressional District House seat, Walt Minnick, was enthusiastic enough, saying "it's about damn time."

Other than the 4 Supremes dissenting, is anyone prepared to speak against the decision? There is BinkyBoy's alphabetic inquiry, WWJS? but those who like to pack iron don't seem to carry irony as lightly.

25.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

See No Email Permalink to this item

Gee, if we just pretend we never got the message, do you think it will go away? The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the Administration was required to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the E.P.A. did their job, and... George Bush and pals figured they wouldn't like the answer so they'll leave it sealed.

Same as for the war he started, Bush is real big on planning for the future: someone else's future, in cleaning up the mess he's leaving us in. We'll see to stopping the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025?


Obscenity Permalink to this item

Years and years ago, I got a taste of one of those immersive, shoot-'em-up video games. At the time, the new PC's graphics and audio, and the software's design was just good enough to absorb all the attention you could give it, and pull for more. The "game" involved a lot of twitching, shooting at monsters and what-not, the occasional penalty for taking out a friendly apparition.

Interesting, and effective I guess, if the desired effect is to suck you into more and more of the same. Fortunately for me, the machine had a nominal business purpose, and in spite of it being parked in the cube adjacent to mine, after one try I decided that I preferred getting my heart rate up with soccer over simulated killing, and spending my in-office time on work rather than play.

In the more than decade since, I'm certain the sound, and graphics, and immersion have gotten much, much "better."

The dominant culture has decided that sex is a bigger threat to civilization than violence, such a curious idea. "Social conservatives" seem more concerned with committed homosexual couples than with war and torture. 2,676 of them who bought Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and took the trouble to get third-party software to uncover sex scenes that were supposed to have been deleted (as the story goes), and found themselves offended can be assuaged by $5 to $35, thanks to a settlement agreement for the class action lawsuit.

How about having 10 law firms involved in this? And their lawyers asking for 40 times as much as all those offended users?

But that's not the depth of obscenity here. The game itself, the part people were happy to pay for and give to their children, features rewards for stomping pedestrians to death and then robbing them, and for killing policeman.

Perhaps it's just seen as job training.

Solstice Permanent URL to this day's entry

Confirmation Hearing Permalink to this item

Scott McClellan's testimony to Congress today had more verisimilitude than most of what he had to say from the podium in the press room. Nice to hear him speaking his own mind instead of playing a puppet reading a made-up script.

And yet, there was reportedly little new information in his testimony beyond what (little) he put in his tell-some tales from "inside the Bush White House and Washington's culture of deception." It was evident that "senior White House officials (were misleading) the nation about the reasons for invading Iraq" not quite 6 years ago; and we had the first confirmation 5 years ago. As the 2004 election showed however, a large proportion of the American public wasn't ready for the news quite so soon.

C-SPAN was the next best thing to being there at today's hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. After Chairman Conyers' introduction to the hearing, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) got the first word, joking that they were having a "Book of the Month Club" hearing, and then saying that "it's hard to take Mr. McClellan or this hearing too seriously." He went on to accuse McClellan of not having any facts to report, and of not reporting them for money. (Nice work if you can get it. But then Smith is making most of $500 a day, and what does he have to say that's worthwhile?) He wrapped up his mini-dudgeon by opining that opining that "Scott McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether it was worth selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver."

Confession is good for the soul, they say, so I'm guessing it was a win-win for Scott McClellan, even though he won't be on any Republican guest lists for the summer's parties. Even Judas Iscariot's role in history has been reconsidered and realistically, George W. Bush is no Jesus Christ, regardless of how he (or his fellow Texas politicians) may see himself.

Perhaps Bush will come clean himself some day, and we can learn whether his assurances to McClellan were the same sort of facile lies that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby fed him to parrot to the White House press corps.

In the meantime, we can consider the incisive wit and wisdom of Lamar Smith's questions: "Who was it that suggested the title for your book?" "You're aware that every book that sells means more money to you as well?"

Or when he tried to punch the fall-guy, and asked one of his lawyerly leading questions, "is it true that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has admitted that he was the source of the Valerie Plame leak?" That didn't go so well, as McClellan gave more than the "yes" answer Smith was looking for.

"Well, to Robert Novak, but there were other reporters that that information was revealed to prior to it being public and there was a report in The Washington Post that at least 6 reporters were told about her identity..."

Smith gamely kept trying to get McClellan to agree that everything had been pinned on Armitage, and Scotty wouldn't stop, even after being interrupted by his lawyer for a private sidebar.

"He was the initial source for Robert Novak, Karl Rove was the confirming, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Ari Fleischer also—can I finish my response? [as Smith kept interrupting] They also revealed her identity to other reporters prior to it being published publicly."

Fresh-faced Representative Ric Keller (R-Fla.) offered McClellan the chance to take back or reword of any of his book, but Scotty wasn't interested. How about that stuff about how the Administration "shaded the truth, used innuendo and engaged in a propaganda campaign?" McClellan stands by all that. When Keller tried to pin the former Press Secretary down on whether President Bush had ever done any of those things explicitly, was he expecting to demonstrate that McClellan was just waving his arms and talking in general terms with nothing to back him up?

Q: Did the President ever mislead you or withhold information from you?

A: "Well, I think that one episode that I recount in the book is when I learned that the President had secretly authorized the Vice-president to get out some information of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to reporters, and do it anonymously. We had decried the selective leaking of classified information for years, the President and myself as his spokesman, ah, and so that was certainly something that caught me by surprise and was a very disillusioning moment for me, to say the least."

I trust some of the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee were able to gain some greater respect for the Washington press corps, in regard to their inability to get satisfaction from sessions with McClellan. Let's just say he's pretty good at thinking on his feet and sticking to the message he wants to stick to. By the time Keller's time expired, I was feeling sorry for the guy, he'd made such a mess of his effort to discredit the witness.

19.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Power Play Permalink to this item

We've got the Elmore County Sheriff, the Glenns Ferry Mayor and... Boise City Councilman Jim Tibbs?! Not sure how he got into the moderating moonlighting business, but thank goodness there was enough combined political power to quash the disturbance at the "public" meeting for AEHI to tout its business plans for a commercial nuclear reactor in sourthern Idaho on Monday night.

They'd already announced that only people from Elmore Co. would be allowed to speak (excepting Mr. Tibbs, we presume), thus momentarily silencing the anti-nuclear forces of the Boise and Ketchum ilk. A charge of battery and one of trespass were added on to try to slow down the most strident of their opposing forces.

War Profits Permalink to this item

Whether it's the newfangled electronic commodities trading method, or the old school colonial powers approach of sending in the corporate behemoths after the shooting has (kind of) died down, the comment down the thread under Carl Pope's essay, "The Unbearable Arrogance of Oil" pretty much sums it up:

"The Cheney energy policy is working exactly as planned. Remember his closed door meetings with energy companies to make policy? They're making all the oil guys rich, all the people Bush/Cheney care about are benefitting. What's the fuss? It's working."

War Crimes Permalink to this item

If Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (ret.) were using Dick Cheney's speechwriter, he might have said "Simply stated, there is no doubt that the current administration has committed war crimes." What he did say is pretty much just that:

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Kids Say the Darnedest Things Permalink to this item

Up close and personal with one of our irises Rich Rammell's kid, speaking of of the GOP nominee to take over Larry Craig's Senate seat, "I think he's a weasel." Leave it to The Wall Street Journal to dig up some good mudslinging for a color piece on the yokels out in Idaho. They lead with "the mud pit and the monster trucks," and "would-be supporters too drunk to think about the election." The only tough decision was which way to juxtapose the "sex-sting operation" that caught Larry Craig and the Moyie Mud Bog in the 2nd paragraph. (Sadly, only a few seconds of video of the Mud Bog.)

They make us wait more than half the article before they reveal that Dr. Rammell's daughter's comment was on the occasion of her refusing to have her picture taken with Mr. Risch (during his short stint as Governor, presumably) after she was crowned Miss Idaho USA. (As opposed to Miss Idaho Non-USA?)

And a nice touch at the very end, when we learn that Dr. Rammell's lawyer "will depose Mr. Risch this summer." Some Idahoans have been looking forward to Risch's being deposed for some time.

Sadly, only a few snippets of the Mud Bog in the accompanying video, but it's fun none the less. (h/t to Kevin Richert)

NewWest provides a thorough rundown with links to stories over the years, as well as to the whole baboon butt-picking ad that Rammell's team came up with for the Super Bowl.

17.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fiddle dee dee Permalink to this item

Welcome to the other GOP, the one with a permanent chip on its shoulder. Dennis Mansfield still feels the sting of rejection from 32 years ago: "Those scars just never healed... Never."

I don't know about the "less bark" end of his site slogan, but he sure has "more wag" with "Norm Semanko backed by Bill Sali, Tom Luna, Rod Beck" leading the Party. "Just who's the crazy aunt now?" he asks, as he warns against "warming up to" the old-fashioned GOP-ites, those RINOs responsible for Rockefeller, Ford and Kempthorne.

Holy cow. Who's the crazy aunt?! Somebody put the crazy aunts in charge! Let's see how well they get along with the crazy uncles who are the other half of the coalition that succeeded in unseating at least the top of the old guard ticket at last week's convention.

Going to the Moon Permalink to this item

The headline drew me in, as intended, "NASA wants to send average Americans to the moon." I'm figuring it's too late for the promise of one of my childhood books to come true for me personally, and while this really isn't the next best thing, it's a start: my name (and Jeanette's) will be on its way ("no earlier than Nov. 24, 2008"), courtesy of the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's promotion

16.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Thanks for calling together the historians Permalink to this item

You could try to make this sort of thing up, but it couldn't possibly be as comedic, or pathetic. Ann Treneman, on George Bush unplugged. Or unhinged.

Looking for a Summer Job Permalink to this item

It'll be interesting to see how Robert Wexler's constituents feel about his strident opinions come November. Reward him with another term? Throw the bum out? I don't know if he has a serious challenger, but he continues to make waves as one of the very few voices in Congress calling for impeachment of Bush and/or Cheney.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (from his Florida neighborhood) is in the "get over it" school, opining that impeachment is "not worth another minute of anybody's time."

"This is a president so unpopular, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain won't make many public appearances with him. This is a president who is such a non-entity, peace activists didn't even bother to protest his appearance in Berlin this week."

Not surprisingly, Wexler has a rebuttal, which the Sun-Sentinel ran today.

"Sadly, the war is only the beginning. We now know that this administration illegally ordered the torture of prisoners, obstructed justice by lying about the outing of a covert CIA agent and authorizing warrantless spying on U.S. citizens.

"No one can deny that, if proven, these allegations amount to high crimes. Our failure to act sets an awful precedent and enables future presidents to break the law and violate our Constitution without sanctions from Congress...."

Our local McClatchy paper had the 2nd of five articles in the GUANTANAMO: BEYOND THE LAW series today. They describe their work as "an eight-month investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," finding that "the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad."

Meanwhile, that presumptive Republican nominee who would prefer not to be seen in public with George W. Bush is interested in stacking our Supreme Court with more judges like Alito and Roberts, to preclude any more of the "worst decisions in history," as he characterized last week's affirmation of habeus corpus.

(Andrew Cohen provides useful back story on McCain's response, citing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that McCain helped broker, after his unequivocal anti-torture stance was equivocated for the benefit of the Bush administration. H/t to Juan Cole. "Without McCain's pander, there would have been no bad law for the Court to strike down last week. Without McCain's grandiloquent appeal to Democrats and moderates during that lame-duck session, there quite possibly might have been a better law that just might have passed its constitutional test this term.")

Impeachment would certainly be a distraction from some important work. Still, it's hard to make a really convincing argument that it isn't the most important work that Congress might undertake this session.

15.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Party Diversity Permalink to this item

Planted in loving memory of Dale Oliver Hall While the Republicans were sorting out their new-found anti-establishment (!) coalition of fundamentalists, Ron Paul libertarians and Rod "sour grapes" Beck to depose their good old state party chair, the Democrats arranged to send what can only be called a wildly diverse delegation to the national convention in Denver.

Norm Semanko's victory, against the tide of endorsements that included our Governor's (not so much the Party leader one would expect?), was not quite the landslide Rod Beck had predicted (70/30), but at 57/43 was certainly enough to show that Kirk Sullivan had lost his vote-counting mojo.

My expectation is that we'll look back at the period from 2004-2008 or so and mark it as the high-water mark for the Republican Party in Idaho, conveniently coinciding with Boise State football's high-water mark of their Cinderella Fiesta Bowl win. There may be a mighty edifice or two erected in glorious celebration, but these will be more for the benefit of anthropologists than those currently living.

The Democrats, at least in my memory here, have always had the task of coordinating diverse factions as job #1, and it seems like we may actually be starting to get good at it. Compare the almost 50-50 split in the Republican's internal dispute about closing their primaries with the Democrats approving their platform with only 4 dissenting votes. Supporting "national immigration reform that is visionary, practical and humane" leaves quite a bit of work to be done to actually make something happen, but it points to the future, unlike, say, abolishing the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard, a mythological Holy Grail which has not yet lost its luster for some. Then there was the (almost very) secret ballot the Republicans had...

14.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

How many times does he have to lose... Permalink to this item

before he goes off and starts his own party or something? It was a close vote, but the 491 Republican delegates came out narrowly in favor of keeping their primary open, 199-192.

Rod Beck, who quit the race for party chair after the more electable Norm "White Knight" Semanko stepped up and declared himself the unity candidate, and who is the loudest voice in favor of closed primaries now cries foul! He blames "the most manipulative delegate process the Republican Party has ever had." Not counting the 192 who voted his way, presumably.

Maybe he could sue or something.

13.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Party Unity Permalink to this item

I have no idea where exactly Norm Semanko falls in the political spectrum, but I'm guessing on the right (so to speak) half of the Idaho Republican party, and somewhere in the vast distance between Rod Beck and Kirk Sullivan. In the Age of Incumbents, and the convocation of an unquestionably successful party, it seems strange for a "unity candidate" to show up and suggest that the other contestants stand aside. But that's where we are on this Convention weekend.

You can bounce around Erica Curless' posts, fragmented in Huckleberries Online, or go see how Adam's keeping up with his whirlwind daze.

"Finally, [Bill Sali] reminded us that no matter who wins the Chairmanship race, we need to unite after the convention’s over. On that point, I’m totally agreement."

Among the many important resolutions to come forward was the one to abolish the Federal Reserve, and get us back to the gold (or maybe silver? Could just be pandering up there in silver and lead country) standard.

Then there's the fishing for sympathy for how tough it is to make it in the oil business. I'm sure the rank and file can unify behind that one, as they bust their wallets to buy the gas to drive all the way up to Sandpoint for their convention. Our nearest "cheap" gas station finally put up the big 4 on unleaded overnight. Not like $3.959 was much different than $4 a gallon, but it's psychological, don't you know.

Lest we forget, ExxonMobil is making tons of money on the current bloat in oil prices. In just one quarter, they made the highest profit ever for a U.S. corporation, $11.66 billion. (Year ago, "only" $10.25B.)

Rule of Law on the Comeback Trail Permalink to this item

When I heard about the Supreme Court decision yesterday, my first thought was it was good news for the rule of law. My second thought was 5-4? We were just one Justice away from affirming the Bush administration's attempt to (and the Congress' complicity for) resetting jurisprudence 800 years.

Rather than continue to have an offshore prison where "detainees" picked up from anywhere in the world can be held indefinitely, without charges, and with no recourse beyond cocked-up military tribunals, they will at least have "the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus."

You know, that King John, Magna Charta sort of protection?

John McCain apparently thinks this was "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country."

"We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called ... habeas corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases," he said at a town hall meeting in New Jersey.

Can we simply disqualify a Presidential candidate on the basis that he is too ignorant of history to actually defend our Constitution? I'll stipulate that there may be some "bad people" at Gitmo, but then there are some bad people in Washington, D.C., too. Given how easy it is to fabricate lies, just hearing from the Emporer or Darth Vader or a Senator about how bad these people are is not enough. Three branches of government, John. With good reason.

This issue is sufficient to determine my vote for President. I choose Obama:

"The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo... This is an important step toward re-establishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus."

11.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Springtime in the Rockies Permalink to this item

We were burning natural gas to stay warm this morning. Mid-June and the high thirties?! News is, there was 3 inches of snow on the Boise front, 10" in the Blues above Pendleton.

Coldest, rainiest, windiest June I can remember. I'm not complaining, understand. We don't have flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, cyclones. Just a little chilly. And windy, which the local sailors like just fine. And this evening, it was sunny and 60, and couldn't have been more pleasant.

10.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

And then there were two Permalink to this item

Beck bailed, throwing his weight behind Semanko. We'll see who knows how to count votes. Rod Beck thinks Norm Semanko will win the race for state GOP chairman by more than 2:1; the establishment pick, Kirk Sullivan, thinks it's close enough to stay in the race.

All this because Rod Beck thinks Democrats voting in the Republican primary are responsible for his truncated career. If only they could close the primaries, their vision of a more extreme Party could reach fruition. The Idaho Republican Party, with an overwhelming majority in both houses of the Legislature, and all the statewide offices in one of the reddest states in the nation, is not extreme enough for Beck. Go figure.

Resolved, Permalink to this item

That President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors...






And 30 more charges, spelled out in detail in pages H5088–H5107 of the Congressional Record of our House of Representatives, June 9, 2008.

Which charges will be voted first, Cheney's, Bush's, or Musharraf's?

But Does He Have a White Horse? Permalink to this item

It's been a cloudy, rainy spring here in the desert Norm Semanko is stepping up for the Good Of the Party, and invites Kirk Sullivan and Rod Beck to just step aside and let him be in charge. "With great reluctance."

It's a bit mind-boggling to imagine Sullivan taking his suggestion, after garnering the endorsement of the Governor, the Ex/Lt-Governor, the Ex-Governor, at least half the Congressional delegation and the complete set of our state's constitutional officers. It'll be interesting to see if this week's GOP convention works on the simple winner-take-all majority rules principle, or if compromise wins the day.

Thank goodness it's a closed convention, and I won't have to make up my mind which of the three to vote for, choosing between the infiltrating spoiler approach, "the best candidate for Idaho," or the goodest of the good old boys (much less which is which).

Maybe they could just agree to disagree and reinvigorate the Libertarian Party (potluck BBQ in Caldwell on Saturday!) so that we could have a three-way in state politics?

8.6.8 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Chattering Classes Permalink to this item

I was struck by the bold History. above the fold in the Statesman's SundayInsight, and wondered if there would be some "other voices," or just the name brand newspaper opinion. Looks like the mainstream, but wait! Jonah Goldberg weighs in as alternative, useless, buffoon. Does this man actualy have nothing worthwhile to say at a historical turning point?

But Jeanette noted the "dog whistle" message in Goldberg's seemingly random blather. The question is not "is he the Messiah?" nor is the point "aren't some people daft?" but rather Is he the devil?

Satan, too, works in mysterious ways; perhaps Goldberg is unaware of what a tool he is, or thinks his tabulated hit counts of idiocy are insight in some form. Perhaps our local excerpt didn't do justice to the original? No, that's not it. Apart from his either witting or unwitting amplification of the Obama demonization theme, Goldberg's central point is that we don't need a Messiah, thankyouverymuch, because things are really Just Fine.

"Now Jesus don't like killing no matter what the reasons for, and your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore."
– John Prine

The Second Amendment keeps government from fixing your soul, plenty of us have all the health care we need, and jobs, and the sea level isn't changing that he can see.

Goldberg is happy to ridicule Obama's personal answer to the question of what sin is, pretending it foreshadows more liberal government intrusion into our perfectly good lives. You can see the succinct response Obama gave to a direct question for yourself (in Cathleen Falsani's 2004 interview), and wonder what moral expression Goldberg may have ever made for us to assess in comparison.

If the personal is too personal, we can look at the bigger picture. The war in Iraq, that was sin. Bearing false witness. Torture. Killing.

Some of us are not looking for a Messiah, but rather a thoughtful, inspiring, self-aware, honest leader who can admit mistakes, and who is willing to listen, and talk. We can dismiss the infatuation of "apostles" as easily as the hissing of the Pharisees.

7.June.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

What Were They Thinking? Permalink to this item

The little men behind the curtain are standing in unaccustomed scrutiny, blinking. Gee, they used to run things so well, and now we see them backing a California émigré nutjob

Outline map of Idaho district 22 Idaho's District 22 sprawls over two counties and the Congressional district line to the right of Ada Co., includes Mountain Home Air Force Base and our old territorial capital, Idaho City as well as Cramer's adopted Horseshoe Bend. According to Popkey, the reason Clayton ran against the incumbent State Senator was because Corder "co-sponsored a failed bill to make workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians illegal."

The IACI President's take on Corder: "He's an honest guy and everything, but his philosophy doesn't line up well with the business community." Honesty is nice and all, but really, we need legislators who will do our bidding, and stay out of our way.

The 3,000-some voters in the Republican primary preferred Corder by a 24% margin.

6.6.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Softer Side that Sears Permalink to this item

I think those were a couple nice words for Carly Fiorina from Tom Perkins in Elisabeth Bumiller's piece about the high-profile feminine face in McCain's campaign, imagine that. Maybe he's feeling generous after having his way with Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes.

Bumiller reports that "a number of Republicans" "say it is hard to see why a woman widely criticized for mismanaging one of Silicon Valley’s legendary companies is advising and representing a candidate who acknowledged last year that he did not understand the economy as well as he should."

Uh, maybe because he doesn't understand the economy as well as he should? Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management gets the prize for summary dismissal:

"What a blind spot this is in the McCain campaign to have elevated her stature and centrality in this way. You couldn't pick a worse, non-imprisoned C.E.O. to be your standard-bearer."

"Simply stated, there is no doubt..." Permalink to this item

That statement by Vice-president Richard B. Cheney in late August, 2002, when the Bush Adminstration was rolling out its new "product" with a storm of marketing that culminated with the U.S. raising its more than a decade-long war in Iraq from simmer back to boil keeps echoing in my mind, his bared teeth showing how much business he meant.

When the latest headline about mistakes, misconceptions and outright deceptions crossed my table, I confess I just rolled my eyes and didn't read the story. As if, this is news? Of course it isn't, but yet it is. The truths about the war in Iraq are going to matter for decades to come. The President "should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers." My emphasis.

"Over all, the report makes it clear that top officials, especially Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew they were not giving a full and honest account of their justifications for going to war."

This is the NYT Editorial Board being careful, given that they "cannot say with certainty whether Mr. Bush lied about Iraq" (again my emphasis). Perhaps there remains some uncertainty in particulars, but in the Big Picture, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and a long list of members of their administration obviously lied to escalate this misbegotten war.

It's late, but still not too late to bring them to account. Our country, and the world would be better for it.

May We Live in Interesting Times Permalink to this item

It's been a quiet week here in Lake Woebegon... oh wait, not my schtick (and for that matter, Boise's not my home town). Seems strange to go almost 7 days without posting anything, but I don't suppose I was much missed. Pulled my finger out of the ocean, and left no hole behind.

I've been working, of all things. And working on a computer for 5, 6, 8 hours a day (and keeping up with volunteer commitments that involve email, and website maintenance) reduces the attraction of computer-based hobbies.

But what a week! The Democratic primary series finally came to an end, with the same result that was pretty clear, what was it, 2 months ago? There was more suspense than Huckabee's refusal to get off the stage, but maybe not so much as whether the Ronulans would be able to hijack a state Republican convention or two.

Oil rocketing up $11 a barrel today, to a record $138, $4 a gallon gasoline feeling like it might seem cheap by the end of the summer, the stock market plunging, those stimulus checks feeling like barely an inflation adjustment to what we're paying at the grocery store, and now California's water shortage is throttling development in the Golden State.

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

Measuring Patriotism Permalink to this item

Given the flappage over whether or not your least favorite politician is sporting a flag lapel pin, imagine the hue and cry if a candidate were to stomp on a real-live American flag.

Etiquette is nice, but it's only symbolic, after all. We honor the symbols because of what they stand for. What they stand for depends on us, what we stand for, and what we do.

That—and the likely duration of the damage—is what makes the Bush/Cheney adminstration such a profound injury to the Republic for which it stands. Abrogating treaties, ignoring obligations to the rest of the world, and so many other failures in leadership will haunt us for years to come. Sometimes the best leadership is following, as well; such as folowing the lead of 111 other nations that have repudiated cluster bombs. Certainly being the "number 1" producer, stockpiler and user of cluster munitions is nothing to be proud of. They're the weapon that keeps taking—limbs, and lives—after the war is over.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Thursday, 10-Jul-2008 18:26:57 MDT