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31.Aug.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Is she qualified? "Idaho, Alaska!" Permalink to this item

To me, saying something is (or was) "wise" is one of the highest compliments possible. It presupposes knowledge of consequences over the long-term. It's almost always the better part of wisdom to wait and see before deciding if what seems smart (or foolish) really does turn out to be wise.

"Having been born and educated in Idaho is a great bonus for us, as it was for her!"
–C.L. "Butch" Otter

In the meantime, we do have to get on with life, and make decisions without having all the information we'd like, and pay attention to see what might need reconsideration as we go.

So, hearing that Idaho's Governor thinks McCain's choice of Alaska's Governor for his running mate was "wise and inspired," well, let's just say that doesn't sound like an actual assessment of the situation. Nothing wrong with a certain amount of boosterism, even if "born in Idaho" is a perfectly ridiculous reason to vote for (or against) someone. There should be more qualifications than questions to talk about, for example.

Our Governor Otter waxed poetic about Palin "understanding the government's role in our lives," for example, but ruling a vast and mostly unpopulated state funded by revenue skimmed from resource extraction does not begin to cover the range of government roles at issue in the states, let along the Federal government.

(H/t to the Blogmother, with two good posts on this subject.)

We got ourselves a Ronvoy Permalink to this item

Looks like a possible contest between anarchists and riot police in the Twin Cities for the Republican National Convention this week? The Austin American-Statesman compiles it this way:

"There's no room at the Xcel Energy Center for maverick Ron Paul, so his acolytes have packed their cars, hitched rides on 'Ronvoys' and will pitch tents at Ronstock '08 in defiance of this week's GOP convention.

"Almost 9,800 tickets had been sold for the Rally for the Republic, being held in Minneapolis, which seeks to bring together activists who oppose war, government regulation, immigration, taxes, the Federal Reserve and outsourcing but support individual liberty, civil liberties and Paul."

Sounds like good clean fun, but if we can believe the Ramsey County Sheriff, St. Paul police, the FBI, and the informants planted in the left-wing groups, not all of the protest planning is for well-behaved dissent. The inventory of contraband sounds like standard stuff for an Idaho household, at least until you get to the last item:

"On Saturday afternoon, (Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher) displayed a number of the confiscated items: a gun, throwing knives, a bow and arrows, flammable liquids, paint, slingshots, rocks and buckets of urine."

The Star-Tribune's story left some question about said buckets:

"The alleged urine, Nestor maintained, was actually three buckets, two of which contained dirty water used to flush toilets while conserving water. The third was seized from an illegal apartment occupied by someone not connected to the RNC protests. There was no bathroom in the illegal apartment and urine was collected in a bucket, Nestor said."

29.Aug.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Here Comes Another Bubble Permalink to this item

In the credits of that This American Life episode (below), I first heard of the outstanding Calculated Risk blog and add my second to that recommendation. (Not safe if you're prone to depression, however.) Fishing around turned up a link to this outstanding video from The Richter Scales:

"I wouldn't have loaned me the money" Permalink to this item

Ira Glass explains the "imprudent partnerships" at the heart of the banking meltdown, in a This American Life episode, The Giant Pool of Money.

"...and he made all this money making very large loans to very poor people with bad credit."

If you've got an hour to listen, you can learn everything you need to know to understand the denouement of the subprime mortgage meltdown at the end of the real estate bubble. Jay Rosen spells it out (on PRESSthink).

Native daughter Permalink to this item

Our state GOP is claiming McCain's running mate as an "Idahoan," which, having been born here, she is, technically. Alaska is claiming her because her parents brought her to the state when she was 3 months old. She grew up in the little ("now-sprawling small") town where she later became mayor, after she'd come back to her "native" state to get a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho. (Dan Popkey is looking for anyone who might have seen her when she was most recently passing through, leaving only "light footprints," according to the head of the School of Journalism.)

I like that her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin, "expands the family biography considerably. He is a commercial fisherman, an oil field worker, a member of the United Steelworkers and an Alaska Native." And I have to like her, because she was Miss Congeniality! (I don't have to like her as a choice for Vice-President, of course.)

Alaskans like her for having raised taxes on oil, and giving them some of the money.

Cute as Can Be Permalink to this item

And perky! She's not Miss Buffalo Chip, but she knows her way around a beauty pageant. And inexperienced? The GOP is all over inexperienced. She was mayor of a little village in Alaska (population: five figures some day) before making her way to the big house in Alaska last election.

Ralph Reed (with endorsements from a plagiarist, embezzler and duplicitous lobbyist, who needs enemies?) says "this is a home run" since she's "a reformer governor who is solidly pro-life and a person of deep Christian faith." I mean, what else would you need to be Vice-President?

Well... you could be a proponent of teaching Creationism in science class, eh? That would be over the fence and out of the park for Christian fundamentalists, at least.

The nice part about the announcement coming on Friday is that the Sunday Op-Ed pundits will have time to write about more than whether God sent Gustav to delay the GOP convention. Should be entertaining.

Our website had a facelift! Permalink to this item

Screen shot of the Google partner page I do enough editing of other people's copy that I'm very prone to exclamation fatigue. I have no doubt you are really excited about what you have to say, and that's sort of charming, but really, are your readers going to share your enthusiasm?

Here's the big tip of the day: Exclamation points won't make it so. Norm Semanko, the newest chairman of the Idaho Republican Party wants me to know that The IDGOP website has been updated! He says "the address is still the same," but both the URL in his text ( and the URL in the HTML-formatted email's hyperlink (on redirect to a template for a "Google Partner page" for NS12, whatever that is.

This is not quite as embarrassing as making a big stink about someone's supposed tax fraud and exposing the fact that you don't know what you're talking about, but it does add to the evidence that the Idaho GOP is in increasing disarray.

Back to the breathless message. The most important thing Norm wants you to know is... "First, you can now make donations directly from our website." (Supposing you did work around the link error and got there... gee, you've no doubt been eagerly waiting for a new way to send more money to the Republicans? Actually it's easy: since they raised the sales tax under short-term Governor Jim Risch, every time you go shopping, you're helping them out.) You'll be happy to know that your "contribution funds" will

"(allow) us to send out direct mailers; identify Republican voters; train candidates in effective campaign methods; pay for staff; carry the Republican message to the media and the voters and much more.

"Also the Idaho Republican Party is on Facebook!"

"I have also started a blog on the website. This will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back often. The first one is up now!"


Update: Oh I see, their site is at, not what Semanko had in the email he sent out. (In the "irony ore" department, given the stumbling roll-out, and McCain's Veep choice, one of their anti-Obama themes is "not ready.")

Update #2: Norm did email the correction, at 10:59am on this date. But his 2nd message got redirected as spam. I guess my filter software knows something I don't.

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

Barack Obama Permalink to this item

And finally, the acceptance speech. Four years and a month ago tonight, I saw Barack Obama for the first time, at the Democratic National Convention, and was impressed with what I saw. Could he be President some day? Sure he could. But in just four years? I didn't imagine that.

Best political point:

"Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but, really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?"

Best altar call, reprising the closing theme from Hillary's speech on Tuesday (as well as Al Gore's closer):

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

"America, we cannot turn back not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend."

Al Gore Permalink to this item

The last good Vice-president we had (and the last Democrat that we elected President) is stronger than ever, it seems. His Thursday night speech was bracketed with "Let the Sunshine In" as the sunset over the Rockies was lighting the upper deck at Mile-High Stadium.

"Late this evening, our convention will end with a benediction. As we bow in reverence, remember the words of the old proverb, 'When you pray, move your feet.' And then let us leave here tonight and take that message of hope from Denver to every corner of our land, and do everything we can to serve our nation, our world, and our children and their future, by electing Barack Obama president of the United States of America."

John Kerry revisited Permalink to this item

Michael Cohen's review of John Kerry's speech is enthusiastic, and made me pay more attention to some of the words than I did while multitasking last night.

"Never in modern history has an administration squandered American power so recklessly. Never has strategy been so replaced by ideology. Never has extremism so crowded out common sense and fundamental American values. Never has short-term partisan politics so depleted the strength of America's bipartisan foreign policy."

Oh yeah, that. Here's the challenge for John McCain's candidacy: he has to run as a Republican, against the results his party (largely) produced under George Bush's administration.

A class act, for just a moment? Permalink to this item

Credit where it's due, for a fine sentiment expressed by John McCain on the occasion of Barack Obama's nomination. Perhaps we can relive the moment in the months to come, when an anodyne will no doubt be needed.

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

This is a sick mind Permalink to this item

The behavior of our one-man "Values Alliance" and perpetual embarrasment, Bryan Fischer continues to amaze. At the end of a relatively benign fire season in our dry part of the intermountain West, luck ran out for one subdivision in SE Boise, with a blaze driven by high winds destroying 10 homes and killing one person in the process.

At least Fischer didn't imagine that this was retribution for some imagined slight against his Deity, and the Values he wants to impose on everyone within earshot. But he did find a way to blame it on liberals. Fire? A left-wing conspiracy?

That's right, "the contemporary fascination with open space policy"! (He did cover his weasely tracks with "likely that... may be at least partly to blame.")

If only we could do away "undeveloped BLM property," we wouldn't have to worry about fire in our subdivisions. "Were the BLM property not off-limits to development, it is likely that homes would have been built some time ago in the area where the fire began," Fischer writes.

Who knew? All that undeveloped desert around the dozens of Ada and Canyon County subdivisions that have been slapped up in the last couple of decades, it's just "trendy open space," waiting to lash out and smite liberals and conservatives alike.

Idaho has almost 12 million acres of BLM land. And a population of about a million and a half, with housing for most of them. Go figure.

(H/t to Bubblehead, since I couldn't bear to actually keep track of Fischer's blog.)

Missed it by that much Permalink to this item

I got distracted and forgot to set the DVR... and I missed the nomination! Dadgummit. The way Matt Bai describes it makes it sound pretty exciting. Another great performance by Hillary Clinton, moving to suspend the rules and nominate Obama by acclamation! (I trust I'll be able to relive the moment via YouTube, though.)

There is nothing a convention can do quite as well as acclaim.

And nice touch from the cover band, the O'Jay's "Love Train" to add to the acclamation.

From the other side of the aisle Permalink to this item

The Sweaty Ladies Lunch, at the DNC with Jill Kuraitis.

Dennis Kucinich's Wake-up call Permalink to this item

Ok, here's some good moments I missed in yesterday's coverage (but praise the web, it's not too late: RSR has the links to video highlights). Parked in the middle of the afternoon, Dennis Kucinich had to deliver his speech to a slightly sleepy house, and after the recitation of the results of the two Bush administrations, there must have been some people feeling like they were at a funeral or something:

"In 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neo-con artists seized the economy and have added 4 trillion dollars of unproductive spending to the national debt. We now pay four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil and twice what we paid for health care.

"The oil administration wants to drill more, into your wallet."

"Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, their health care, their pensions. Trillions of dollars for an unnecessary war paid with borrowed money. Tens of billions of dollars in cash and weapons disappeared into thin air, at the cost of the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis, while all the president's oilmen are maneuvering to grab Iraq’s oil.

"Borrowed money to bomb bridges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. No money to rebuild bridges in America. Money to start a hot war with Iran. Now we have another cold war with Russia, while the American economy has become a game of Russian roulette."

But before his not-quite 6 minutes were up, he had everyone in the house on their feet and cheering for the opportunity we've got in November:

"This is not a call for you to take a new direction from right to left. This is call for you to go from down to up. Up with the rights of workers. Up with wages. Up with fair trade. Up with creating millions of good paying jobs, rebuilding our bridges, ports and water systems. Up with creating millions of sustainable energy jobs to lower the cost of energy, lower carbon emissions and protect the environment.

"Up with health care for all. Up with education for all. Up with home ownership. Up with guaranteed retirement benefits. Up with peace. Up with prosperity. Up with the Democratic Party. Up with Obama-Biden.

"Wake up, America. Wake up, America. Wake up, America!"

Clinton delivers Permalink to this item

I confess, I didn't watch all day on C-SPAN, and didn't even see all 3+ hours' coverage on PBS. But I did see Montana's Governor, Brian Schweitzer ("get on your feet!"), and the nice video of Hillary, and Chelsea's poignant (and succinct!) introduction, and Hillary Rodham Clinton's electrifying 23 minutes.

"We don't need four more years ... of the last eight years."

The jaded punditocracy is sniffing around public opinion like dogs in the park, but whether or not you saw her deliver the message, go read the speech, and consider the historical gems she brought together: The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the 88th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

"I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come election day. And think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your life and on the life of our nation.

"We've got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us, and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.

"That is our duty, to build that bright future, and to teach our children that in America there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great—and no ceiling too high—for all who work hard, never back down, always keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and in each other."

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

Risch is digging deep Permalink to this item

And like every other politician in fund-raising season (that's Jan. 1 through Dec. 31), he wants you to dig deep, too. {Please, "a gift of $2,300, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or even $35 will go a long way toward helping me reach my fundraising goals." Obviously, start on the left end if you want to go longer.)

The fundraising letter is pretty breathless. Is it really this bad? Is Larry LaRocco actually running "the most blatantly negative campaign ads (Jim Risch has) ever faced"? Or is that the same brand of hot air as Risch continuing to harp on his "largest tax cut of any kind in state history" without ever mentioning that he connected the property tax reduction with a 20% hike in the sales tax to effect a massive tax shift?

I didn't see the letter from George H.W. Bush (that's right, #41. No one wants to include a fund raising letter from #43), but I did see the Emergency Personal Reply to GHWB, "C/O Lt. Governor Jim Risch for U.S. Senate (ID)." I guess if you're a Republican, a filled out form is considered personal? Do make out the check to Risch. And mail it to him, too.

LaRocco's take on Risch's fundraising letter:

"This is the language of a man who peddles fear. We need a change from the politics of fear and division. I represent change and will be a champion of Idaho working families. Jim Risch is stuck in the past and represents the style of politics Idahoans want to abandon. I will bring Idahoans together and work in the US Senate across party lines to solve our state and nation's problems. Jim Risch should be embarrassed by his intemperate approach. This letter reeks of desperation."

25.Aug.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Blogging from Denver Permalink to this item

Screen-scraped from Serephin's vid Not me, I'm among the stayed behind, but d2's there and Serephin got that l'il video camera to rock and roll.

Thrill to the experience of the Registration Desk, the Schwag Review, meeting the Executive Director of the IDP, and more!

Jill Kuraitis is on her way, albeit as Press (ta-da!) rather than b-team.

And the Blogmother will no doubt do a better job of keeping you up to date on DNC week from remote control than I will.

Update: Nicole LeFavour has revived her legislative blog for her Denver trip.

Back to school shopping Permalink to this item

Overheard in an office supply store near you:

Mom: "Oh look, 1 cent! Folders. You should get some of these."

Daughter: "I don't need any of those."

Mom: "Yes you do..."

Daughter: "Mom, those suck. They really suck.

American Prayer Permalink to this item

If you get to the top of the mountain, will you tell me what you see?

If you get to the top of the mountain, remember me.

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

Where faith and science clash Permalink to this item

New library under construction, and virga at midday That would be the dividing line between ignorance and knowledge, would it not? If you know something, you don't have to believe in it. As Will Rogers so cannily pointed out, not everything we "know" is so, but human history is replete with articles of faith that have been cast aside as knowledge renders them obsolete. We no longer sacrifice virgins to the Sun god to ensure good crop yields, for example.

If your reason for preferring an "alternative" theory to the best thing science has come up with is that the subject "can be especially fraught for young people taught to believe that the basis for moral conduct lies in God's having created man uniquely in his own image," you are positioning faith as a bulwhark on the side of ignorance. If your reason for being "good" is that someone is watching you, you live in a police state. If you can't muster good behavior without supervision, you apparently need to live in a police state.

Here's the way Florida science teacher David Campbell put it:

"Faith is not based on science, and science is not based on faith. I don’t expect you to 'believe' the scientific explanation of evolution... But I do expect you to understand it."

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

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Permalink to this item

Hard not to have some fascination for the subject, especially when it's about the secretive (we say "very private" in polite company) wife of a presidential candidate who has charged his opponent with being too much of an elite.

The part of the long story on the NYT that slapped me upside the head was how Cindy married a guy just like the guy who married dear old mom, finding a more interesting one after a while. Nothing wrong with that story of course, but this:

(I)n his will, Mr. Hensley left Mrs. Portalski just $10,000 and her offspring nothing. "It's so disappointing, just being pushed aside," she said. Mrs. Portalski said Mrs. McCain added insult to that injury by referring to herself, in her eulogy for her father, as his only child—while her half-sister sat in a front pew.

That's cold.

Environmentalist makes good Permalink to this item

While reading the story of Yukon-Nevada Gold Corp. folding up its tent, and its Jerrit Canyon mine I was struck by the obvious conclusion: one person can make a difference, a big difference. Of course if the head of company had been done the right thing instead of just pretending to, there wouldn't have been the need for personal heroism. Or nearly as much mercury spread out over Nevada and Idaho.

When does nil credibility edge into scam? Permalink to this item

Dan Yurman's reporting of the flap between propsective nuke developer Alternate Energy Holdings and the anti-nuke Snake River Alliance is worth reading. AEHI's defamation suit responding to SRA Executive Director's use of the s-word may or may not amount to much, but it isn't as though Andrea Shipley's possibly poor choice of words was without foundation.

Perhaps AEHI is sincere and credible and just hasn't found any way to show the people of southern Idao (or investors) the latter. (Note to company spokesman: AEHI is losing money just like Ford, GM and Micron? Let's rethink this tack.) Or perhaps, as the SRA quotes Shipley,

"AEHI's latest pronouncement of financial support for this power plant should be treated with the credibility it deserves – none. In fact, Powered Corporation’s financial health seems to be on par with that of AEHI, which is now under an investor warning from the penny stock market where its stock trades. The fact is, there is still no money behind this project, and for good reason."

Yurman hasn't tossed out any barbs himself, but his 2007 article on baloney detection remains relevant.

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

It's the (what's the opposite of visionary?) thing Permalink to this item

David Weinberger on the McCain tech policy:

"In sum, our Internet policy should be the same as our energy policy: Hand a key resource off to big corporations whose interests are fundamentally out of alignment with ours as citizens.

"Let's assume that this is not because McCain is a tool. Let's assume he has the best intentions and that his policy accurately reflects how he thinks about the Internet.

"To McCain, the Internet is all about business. It's about people working and buying stuff. There is nothing — nothing — in his policy statement that acknowledges that maybe the Net is also a new way we citizens are connecting with one another. The phrase 'free speech' does not show up in it. The term 'democracy' does not show up in it...."

Fairly unbalanced Permalink to this item

Penstemons reaching for the sky Branching off from the mainstream media these days is the "hatestream media," operating under the banner of "correcting" the ills of the supposed liberal bias in the MSM. Your telltale indicators may vary, but having an interviewer prone to saying "just shut up" works for me. I have no way to measure how much they hate this or that, but they do spew forth steady accusations of hate on the part of others.

Jenna Kern-Rugile provided a few examples of right wing commentators that apparently played a role in "inspiring" Jim Adkisson to shoot up the Knoxville UU Church, and made herself a target for some genuinely hateful people as a result.

That's "we" as in who? Permalink to this item

Eons ago, at the dawn of the new millennium, we ran this movie about the good old boy, non-elitist running for President, and we got ourselves a "rancher" "from" Texas.

See how well that worked out.

We can all enjoy sitting and having a beer with him and cry about how the country's off track and in a ditch.

Oh wait, he's a dry drunk now, so we can't even do that.

But the marketing pitch isn't going away, since half the country is below average, and most of us are in the broad middle of the road. Which brings us to the absurdity of the two campaigns of the leading elites—you don't really get to run for President if you're a regular guy, duh—battling over how the other guy is more unlike the rest of us.

McCain really stuck his foot in it by not remembering how many houses he has. Not that his popping off the correct answer ("Seven. What, how many do you have?") would have been more like you and me. Either way, the plan is Never Surrender! and Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! New McCain ad, with an earnest, breathy female voiceover:

"Celebrities don't have to worry about family budgets." (SFX: Pop pop pop of flash bulbs. Nice. When's the last time you heard a flash "pop"?) "But we sure do. We're paying more for food, and gas, making it harder to save for college, retirement...."

And then the punch line, about how your taxes will be higher if Obama gets elected. Dear friends, as McCain is wont to address us, your taxes are going to be higher no matter who gets elected in 2008, and 2010 and 2012, because you're just winding up a fairly insane shopping spree built on a housing bubble fueled by unscrupulous (and mostly unregulated) lending while George Bush and Dick Cheney put a war on to provide their oil buddies everything they wanted and more. (Which they got sure enough, but all we got was this shaft in a dry hole. Which means we should... Drill now! Drill everywhere!)

But anyway, since you approved the message John, who is this "we" that gal is talking about, anyway?

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

One, Two, Many Permalink to this item

When Rick Warren asked John McCain to define "rich," after he reminded us that wealth doesn't necessarily make you happy, he proposed "how about five million," coincidentally just a little less than his wife's income in 2006.

In the long run, rich is more about the difference between income, and outgo, whether the latter is to taxes, campaigns, or luxury yachts. The McCains are sitting on something in 9 figures, although we don't know how much of that Cindy has kept for herself rather than sharing.

And maybe what she's keeping to herself explains why John McCain wasn't sure how many houses he has. Seven is a lot to keep track of, after all.

Get Rich Quick Permalink to this item

In case you were wondering who should really be in charge, Ann Coulter has the answer: Dr. ("that's 'Dr.' as in 'Ph.D. in Economics and Monetary History'") Mark Skousen, who has predicted everything perfectly, and who will share his sure-fire investment secrets for FREE! (That's "free" as in "only $77 for the first year!" Or get two years for "just $147. You'll save $351 off the regular rate of $498.")

Imagine, right from the get-go, you can save $351 with this guy.

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

Whose side are we on? Permalink to this item

We saw this movie before, didn't we? Ahmed Chalabi, playing Washington insiders off each other to get what he wanted, eventually dragging us into the Mother of all Quagmires. Now the Georgia lobbying contingent inserted into McCain's campaign while frontman Saakashvili was working our supposedly expert Secretary of State for special favors.

Mikhail Gorbachev's take on the war in Georgia is a bit different than the version we've been fed domestically:

"The news coverage has been far from fair and balanced, especially during the first days of the crisis. Tskhinvali was in smoking ruins and thousands of people were fleeing — before any Russian troops arrived. Yet Russia was already being accused of aggression; news reports were often an embarrassing recitation of the Georgian leader's deceptive statements."

It's not just about what happened, but also about what's going to happen next. Are Bush and Cheney trying to start up a golden oldies Cold War on their way out of power?

"There is much talk now in the United States about rethinking relations with Russia. One thing that should definitely be rethought: the habit of talking to Russia in a condescending way, without regard for its positions and interests.

"Our two countries could develop a serious agenda for genuine, rather than token, cooperation. Many Americans, as well as Russians, understand the need for this. But is the same true of the political leaders?"

A Small Businessman Permalink to this item

Speaking of our Lieutenant Governor, one of those Atomz-sold, Bannock County parasitic ads for his campaing points to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and has a business-card sized blurb about him. (It also has a link to a "register to vote" form on, where you can tell the Republican National Committee what your birthday and social security number are if you like.)

"Currently serving as Lieutenant Governor of Idaho, Jim Risch has worked to provide tax relief to Idahoans," it says, apparently without space to describe his mixed results in that realm. "Jim is a small business owner, successfully running his own ranch and farm. He understands the needs and risks it takes to run a business. When elected to the U.S. Senate, Risch will be a strong conservative that will fight for Idaho values at the national level."

They ran out of room before mentioning that he's been an attorney for 30-odd years, obtaining more than enough millions of dollars to finance his hobby ranch in perpetuity, as well as much of his campaign for the U.S. Senate. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Service with a smile Permalink to this item

The Boise Guardian turned up an interesting "feature" of Bannock County having employed the Atomz site search capability for their official website: search "sponsors" in the form of ads returned along with your search.

Unlike the quality of results you're used to with Google (none or a few sponsored links at the top of the page, and a clearly marked sidebar that you usually ignore, but probably found relevant when you paid attention to it), Atomz' ad blast is ham-handed. You get NO matches for "absentee ballot", but you'll have to scroll past the 7 "Sponsored Results," starting with you-know-who for Senate, and continuing through "Sample HR Policies," a McCain ad, more on absenteeism and absenteeism management, secure e-Voting, and an AARP campaign watch link to find out.

The search for "voter registration" has a red-letter notice to Note: The first three results of your search are sponsored ads, but it doesn't also note that the last 5 "results" are also sponsored ads. Searching for "risch" on the site turns up one actual result—2006 primary results that had his name on the ballot—and more ads. The first three include one for LaRocco (Defeat Jim Risch!), two for Risch, and the offer for Frisch Bird Prints. Excellent condition, large selection.

I don't use Atomz here, but I have used it on another site I work on; starting back when it didn't have the gross pollution from advertising. The only reason it's still there is inertia, a business model that supports a lot of bottom-feeding. Make something useful, give it away for a while, then insert advertising.

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

Cindy McCain topless? Permalink to this item

Ok, we're not really interested in any of that, but we do want to know why the MSM pretty much buried the story about John McCain visiting Sturgis and offering up his wife for the Miss Buffalo Chip "beauty" contest. MSNBC didn't get around to mentioning the topless part. Huh.

It was blogged on the NYT, and the L.A Times anyway, and there's Cindy going along with the gag on YouTube. Guess we missed the hoopla on our way out of town for 9 days.

But just imagine, if you will, that Barack Obama suggested that Michelle enter a contest involving gratuitous nudity and simulated sex acts with various fruits and vegetables. Do you think it would have passed with scant notice, and disappeared in a day or two?

Training Terrorists Permalink to this item

Taliban in Afghanistan Heavy fighting by the Taliban in Afghanistan is "a sharp escalation in insurgent operations in what is already Afghanistan’s deadliest year since the American invasion in 2001. Insurgents have increased their use of roadside bombs and suicide bombs but have also shown a growing sophistication with several well-organized, complex operations employing multiple attackers and different types of weapons systems, NATO officials say...."

You remember Afghanistan, the training ground for terrorists who attacked us on 9/11? In the opening round, we routed the country's fundamentalist leadership, but didn't get around to actually cleaning up the enclaves... or the fundies, for that matter. We were off to Iraq for some reason. More targets there, Rumsfeld said.

McCain is still fighting the battle of the surge, doggedly. As an actual veteran of a foreign war, McCain had a headstart talking to the VFW, but Obama had the advantage of going second and being able to bat away the personal attacks. Obama gets the points for making the discussion more about the actual issues than about "ambition over patriotism" nonsense.

As for who's got more credibility... let's talk about Georgia and Russia. It's well more complicated than the 40s and 50s Cold War version. But McCain's contribution (speaking for all Americans? Excuse me? "We are all Georgians"?!) displays the simplistic, black-and-white thinking that has dug so much of the foreign policy hole that we're in.

And the winner of the Purpose-drive debate was... Permalink to this item

Rick Warren, according to Dana Parsons.

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

What is Bill Sali afraid of? Permalink to this item

Checking in on the new Bill Sali blog, I see he's given himself some face time, flogging the House Republicans publicity action for their "drill now" publicity efforts, and the ever-popular castigation of Nancy Pelosi.

It's an easy sell in Idaho, where gas prices are showing downward inelasticity, far from any possible drilling, and a light-year or two away from the political climate of Nancy Pelosi's district.

But as I was listening, I was thinking about how I'd submitted a comment a couple days ago on the "How much do you spend on gas?" thread. It was to the point, civil, responsive, and signed. I remarked that we'd been out of town, but did spend some money on the MBTA, and enjoyed the high-quality public transportation available in Boston.

No sign of that comment, just a useless Anonymous ditto-snark against the Speaker of the House.

Meet John McCain Permalink to this item

Frank Rich fills in some gaps in our knowledge of the candidate we still don't know, with a generous collection of hyperlinks back to original stories. Among other counter-myth trends, and rather incredibly, "on Monday McCain is scheduled to appear at an Atlanta fund-raiser being promoted by Ralph Reed, who is not only the former aide de camp to one of the agents of intolerance McCain once vilified (Pat Robertson) but is also the former Abramoff acolyte showcased in McCain's own Senate investigation of Indian casino lobbying."

For me, the more I know, the more I think a McCain presidency would add a new chapter to the nightmare of Republican leadership that has the country recognizably "off-track" to more than two-thirds of the population. Which Supreme Court Judges would he not have appointed? All the moderates. His preference is for a fat right thumb on the scales of justice.

And the pro-egg position. Warren asked, "At what point is a baby [sic] entitled to human rights?" and McCain responded without hestitation, "at the moment of conception." (Not having to think about answers is deemed "decisiveness" by some, especially those who like the answer McCain has already decided.) If this were a serious position, it would have significant consequences. IUDs (and several other forms of contraception, if the HHS gives the radical right its way would be murder weapons. The state would need to keep much closer track of women's bodies, starting with pre-pregnancy testing after any sexual activity.

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

Reaping the whirlwind Permalink to this item

When I wrote down my top reasons for opposing the war in Iraq in February, 2003, the first one was that "pre-emptive war" is immoral and illegal. "Such a doctrine is an invitation to anarchy," I wrote. "Other nations will have our example to follow, to the extent that we do not oppose their intentions, or to the extent that they are strong enough to act in spite of our approbation."

And so here we are, with John McCain mouthing the absurdity that "in the twenty-first century, nations don't invade other nations," while George W. Bush decries bullying and intimidation. By others.

Actions speak louder than words.

Beyond increasingly absurd sound bites, Juan Cole digs into the particulars of the conflict without having a Georgian lobbyist whispering in his ear.

Now, more than ever Permalink to this item

"...and each year, he votes with Bush by ever-increasing percentages. 77% of the time in 2005; 89% in 2006, 95% in 2007, and 100% in 2008. As time finally runs out on this presidency, ask yourself this: do you support Bush today more than you did four years ago?"

H/t to Juan Cole for the link to the video from CartwrightDale.

Standing on the side of love Permalink to this item

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations took out a full page ad in last Sunday's New York Times. Under the headline "Our Doors and Our Hearts Will Remain Open," it read in part:

"...We are called by our faith to help heal our world. And we thank people of all faiths who have reached out with support. Inspired by the Unitarian Universalists of Knoxville, Unitarian Universalists everywhere have rededicated themselves to our religious mission: to welcome the stranger, to love our neighbor, to work for justice, to nurture the spirits of all who seek a liberal religious home, and to help heal this wounded world.

"We will not give in to fear. We will meet hatred with love. We will continue to work for justice. Our hearts, and the doors of our more than 1,000 Unitarian Universalist congregations nationwide, remain open. Unitarian Universalists stand on the side of love. We invite you to stand with us."


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

Who Knew? Permalink to this item

George W. Bush: "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."

You mean we can't just steal music? Permalink to this item

Not only is Jackson Browne not a John McCain fan, he's looking for a contribution from the campaign... for their theft of his tune (and the endorsement it implied, from someone who doesn't sell his music to be used as advertising).

Running on Empty, indeed.

On Being Liberal Permalink to this item

It helps to have a sense of humor. Like this guy, how come I'm just hearing about him after all these years?

You can see Roy Zimmerman in Idaho Falls, 7pm Thursday, August 21st at the Unitarian Universalist Church (555 E St). It's a fundraiser for the Snake River Freedom Coalition. Tickets are $15, but they say "nobody will be turned away for lack of ability to pay."

Wayne, Wayne, Wayne Permalink to this item

I'm worried about Bill Sali's spokesman giving himself a strain or something the way he's spinning around, firing at anything that moves. His old employer was happy to let him run with a rebuttal to their recent castigation, handing him a shovel to dig the hole he's in even deeper.

Hoffman wants to insist that the IPT has "vilified" him, a word I've certainly heard of but had to go check my dictionary to see what it denotes. The Idaho Press Tribune said nothing vicious or defamatory. They stated their opinion of the appearance of impropriety in Hoffman holding a "regular" staff job for Congressman Sali at the same time as he does a job for Sali's re-election campaign. They did "correct" and then "scold" him for coming back with the "borders on libel" nonsense.

I'm getting sick and tired of the "hatemongering" epithet, which is itself hateful. I, for one, have never mongered hate in this blog, nor is it an emotion I have felt much, let alone wallowed in. I assume that those who trot out the accusation must experience it more than I do. The all-too-easy ad hominem attack is a sure sign that someone has no real substance to back up their position.

For the pièce de résistance, Hoffman empties his magazine against the IPT joining "the chorus of shrill news lemmings all marching willingly to a sea of liberalism, filth and innuendo."

This is simply too much. The guy is off his nut.

News lemmings? Filth? Innuendo? There's no need for innuendo with all the material he's dishing out. Filth?! What on earth is he talking about?

(Just so you know: there's nothing insulting about "liberalism." Being liberal means being tolerant, accepting, generous, kind, at least until given cause to be defensive. It's not a state of perfection; it's possible to be too much of any or all of those things, just as one can take conservatism too far and become ossified rather than protective of the positive values of our past.)

If, as he claims, important details were left off in the Press-Tribune's treatment of him, whether in its editorial, blog entries or news coverage, it's a pity he didn't use some of the space they gave him to tell us what those details are and why they should assure us that there is not actual impropriety behind the appearance of it. Instead, it's more of his own accusations, attacks and hateful language.

H/t to the calm, deliberate, thoughtful and liberal Ridenbaugh Press for Hoffman's "quote ready to go viral." The Blogmother has a thoughtful response to "Wayne Hoffman, unhinged" as well.

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

More right-wing lies Permalink to this item

One of the men (the one who wasn't fit to command credit for co-authorship, because of his bigoted statements) who brought "Swiftboat" into the political lexicon is making another run at torpedoing a Democratic Presidential candidate. The book's argument, that an Obama presidency would "weaken the U.S. militarily and economically" seems ever so slightly disingenuous coming from the Right. What President can match the record of George W. Bush for weakening this country, after all?

We assume the apparent lack of "fact checking" was not just sloppiness, but intentional. Melissa Block tells us that "the editor of the imprint that published this book is Mary Matalin, the former Republican operative, and she calls the book 'scholarship'."

Former? Scholarship? Don Gonyea gives Freeper Jerome Corsi's book the charitable assessment of "political tract," but it sounds like another libelous screed. (Corsi's greatest hits includes a revelatory tome about the secret move to make a North American Union out of Canada, Mexico and the U.S.)

Welcome to the Blogosphere Permalink to this item

The snit of Bill Sali's multi-hatted Boy Blunder (tft, Serephin) has already had one salutory result: he motivated the editors of the Idaho Press-Tribune to start their own blog in response, including a smackdown of what bordered on an accusation from Hoffman.

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

Borders on Incompetence Permalink to this item

From Bill Sali's reading list I'm actually entertaining the possibility that there is a legitimate problem between Bill Sali's campaign and the FEC, and that they're trying to do the right thing but between the two organizations can't figure it out. I mean, it's possible. Something gets buggered at the get-go, and no one who knows how to straighten it out is involved in the discussion. These things can happen with software, and just because 430-some other Members of Congress don't have a problem doesn't mean that it's all Sali's fault.

From there, it just gets ugly though. The press wizardry of Wayne Hoffman has a lot to do with it. The Idaho Press-Tribune "borders on libel"? Feh. Hoffman isn't any better at the snappy comeback than he is at dismissive sarcasm. Let's start with the basics. What exactly in the IPT editorial was not true?

Corporate blogging Permalink to this item

Something oxymoronic about that, but HP's marketing newsletter blurp about their online community of bloggers piqued my curiosity. I started blogging while I worked for HP, before I (or most anyone else) knew what to call what it was I was doing. It was intranet-only, although some of the semi-work-related content (such as this, this and this) eventually made its way out into the wild.

I wonder how they decide whose voice gets to penetrate the firewall, for example? Is there a vetting process, auditions, portfolio review? There must certainly be some Rules about what's permitted and forbidden.

And in a telling sign of the times, the first two that caught my eye, Stan Garfield's and Vince Ferraro's were both topped with their "I'm leaving the company" last entry. Plus ça change.

Stan Garfield's public property includes an entry about an intranet social networking push within the corporation, which also makes me think about the good old days of my first web server in the cube farm; in addition to promoting what was then a new medium, and publishing the work I was doing, my site provided this "way of letting others see what you look like, what you are interested in and what you would like to share with others."

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

Higher Road Permalink to this item

Good for Dennis Mansfield, calling on Idaho politicians of all stripes to move beyond high school. I guess when the voters make the people who promote this kind of stuff pay for it, that'll be the end of it.

Unfortunately, thoughtful policy proposals and measured compromise do not attract near as much attention as a sex scandal, even one that had a fork stuck in it more than a decade ago. And politics is nothing if not vying for attention.

Laughingstock Permalink to this item

For much of my time here, Idaho's seemed to enjoy politicians that would poke a finger in the eye of the Federal government, even if he or she couldn't actually get things done. (We do rely on some of our 4-person Congressional delegation to be effective; we need pork barrel projects every bit as much as the next state, maybe even more, given our disproportionate share of the nation's public land.)

So having one of our Congressman be a buffoon isn't necessarily seen as a bad thing. But I do have to wonder what the limit might be in the 1st Congressional District, given Bill Sali and his staff (and/or campaign staff) flouting basic rules for reporting and such. Is Wayne Hoffman laughing with his boss' constiuents, or at them?

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

Must not be feeling well Permalink to this item

A pilot joined us for the elevator ride down to the lobby today. Jeanette asked "when's your flight?" in a conversational sort of way, and also curious about how much leadtime you needed when you're driving the plane. He looked at his watch, said "2:15," just a few minutes before 1 o'clock.

"I don't suppose you have to stand in line and take off you shoes and everything," she said, slightly rhetorically.

"That's the biggest waste of time," he said, starting into what sounded like it must be a familiar tirade about the TSA before ending it abruptly and disgustedly with "and this is the government that wants to provide everyone with health care."

Lordy, lordy, Brandi in China Permalink to this item

This gal knows how to get her some publicity. Unfurling a banner in Tianamen Square just before the Olympics kick in? Focusing on "China's repressive policies and practices," the banner read... Jesus Christ is King.

Glory hallelujah, and whatever He is there, He is here too, and don't we have enough of our own repressive policies and practices to focus on? She could've gone to Guantánamo Bay for heaven's sake. That would have earned her more long-lasting publicity than just a whisked deportation.

I guess those collection baskets for the Bryan Fischer and Brandi Swindell Legal Defense Fund were full to overflowing, enough left over to fund the international junket?

The Chinese officials have a delicate sense of irony it seems, given the report that they were "asked to pay $10,000 before government officials forced them onto a plane to Los Angeles," the same amount the City of Boise had dunned her.

$10,000 here, $10,000 there, after a while it starts to add up to real money.

Pride goeth before the fall Permalink to this item

Odd juxtaposition in the mailbag from Friday, Norm Semanko unable to contain himself at how proud he is to be a Republican, with "strong, principled stands that we have taken on the issues."


"The platform serves as a great reminder of just what distinguishes us from the failed policies of the Democrats and why it is so important to take our message directly to the voters this fall."

I wonder what "failed policies of the Democrats" he could possibly be talking about as the chairman of a state party that has been in control of all the policies at the state level for quite some time now.

But the message that caught my eye, not 1 hour later in my Inbox, was from Sid Smith, a press release worked up to take advantage of John Edwards' tabloid affair and remind everyone who might have forgot about an over-and-done-with scandal from 14 years ago. (You remember, the one that Helen Chenoweth rode to Congress? While she was able to keep her own illicit affair secret?)

Smith's slimy little press feed cited Republican "nostalgia" at digging up the old dirt, something they've been sorely lacking while the late night comedy shows have been flogging our state over Larry Craig's sorry affair in an airport bathroom.

Norm—"proud to be a Republican"—Semanko is "quoted" in the press release, with a closing dig. What a fine, upstanding politician our state Republicans have leading them.

8.8.8 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Inshallah Permalink to this item

So, after going all the way to the Supreme Court and back, we finally made it through our first post-9/11 terrorism tribunal, start to finish. The verdict was "guilty" of "providing material support" (rather like we used to do for, oh Osama bin Laden when he was fighting the Commies, and Saddam Hussein, when he was fighting Iran), and not guilty of downright being a terrorist. The sentence is another half year on top of the 5 he's already "served," which would be happy news for bin Laden's former chauffeur were it not for the fact that the United States of America might not actually let him go back to Yemen in December.

"Mr. Hamdan," Judge Allred said, "I hope the day comes that you are able to return to your wife and daughters and your country."

"Inshallah," Mr. Hamdan said in Arabic, before an interpreter gave the English translation of "God willing."

"Inshallah," Judge Allred responded.

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

I see why people ask him for cash up front Permalink to this item

Eye on Boise's report on Bill Sali's difficulty with meeting his obligations to the Federal Election Commission is just about astounding. It's a problem with the software?!

"Sali, a first-term GOP congressman, has now filed 11 amended reports with the FEC since June 1, and 43 amendments since 2005."

That's like more than one amendment per month for all of three years. boisepoet's reponse on Betsy's blog is spot on:

If Sali was a true fiscal conservative, he'd fire himself. Paying wages to such an incompetent legislator is a waste of taxpayer money.

Runs in the family?! Permalink to this item

We understand why Jim Risch hasn't bothered to learn about the interwebs, as he's been fabulously successful as one of those trial lawyers (that the Republicans so love to criticize as a category), and in working the good old boy network in the state, but usually the next generation learns how to work the new-fangled stuff and can teach their old coot parents.

Junior Risch doesn't fit the pattern though. He's happy to follow in his angry gnome dad's footsteps and tar everyone with a blog as a "hatemonger." Maybe if father and son would catch a clue they wouldn't catch so much ridicule?

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

Liar, liar, pants on fire Permalink to this item

This is how we decide who's fit to be our President? Things are worse than we thought. You don't need to watch any Sunday morning talk shows to know that race is an issue in the campaign. For the McCain camp to play the aggrieved party after their latest round of advertisting supposedly intended just to show that Obama's nothing but a celebrity is over the top. What may not be so plain to a genteel Senator from South Carolina is clear enough to Bob Herbert:

"Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama....

"Whatever you think about Barack Obama, he does not want the race issue to be front and center in this campaign. Every day that the campaign is about race is a good day for John McCain. So I guess we understand Mr. McCain's motivation.

"Nevertheless, it's frustrating to watch John McCain calling out Barack Obama on race. Senator Obama has spoken more honestly and thoughtfully about race than any other politician in many years. Senator McCain is the head of a party that has viciously exploited race for political gain for decades."

Updates: McCain surrogate Joe Lieberman thinks the ad was "cute." Kathy Hilton is apparently having second thoughts about her campaign contributions being used on "a complete waste of the country's time and attention."

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

Caveat Emptor Permalink to this item

I'm not much for shopping, but by the end of our 2003 trip to China I did have the bug to get a copywatch. I don't wear a watch very often, but when I do, I've always liked the minimalist style of Movado. (I like a watch with "hands," digital just isn't the same.) I didn't imagine I was getting a real Movado, although I did have the expectation of it being a real watch, keeping time and all that stuff. Quartz movements are being whacked out by automated factories by the zillions, after all; precision comes cheap these days.

I forget what the start-of-negotiation price was, probably $20, but my top price was $5, and I eventually made a deal for not much more than the cost of a replacement battery. The remarkably thin nickel flash on the band (imitating stainless steel) has worn through, leaving nice copper highlights, but the watch still hums along, keeping quartz-good time.

That's more than you get from your internet college degree, and I have to admit to being shocked at how much they're getting for bogosity. Four figures?! I mean, you're buying a phony degree, it should be the cost of a nice piece of paper, the printing, and shipping and handling, shouldn't it? $20 tops. But I guess it feels more real if you pay more real money.

The Spokesman-Review's research highlights the champ chump, Anthony McGugan, of Barnegat, N.J, who managed to spend more than $24,000 on "16 different degrees and certificates between 1983 and 2002, including a doctor of theology, a masters of theology in systematic theology, a Master of Social Work in addiction counseling, bachelor's degrees in human services and biblical studies, and certificates in addiction therapy, family and youth counseling, ministry education, Christian education, interpersonal relationships, addiction counseling, professional counseling, substance abuse counseling and social development."

Just think what he could've done if he'd actually applied himself to studying some of that stuff. For the almost 10,000 people on the list, and especially those who've already lost their jobs, and who may face prosecution, it's been an education, alright.

(H/t to

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

The inverse of reputation Permalink to this item

At the Boise Watershed, July 2008 Mattathias Schwartz files it under Malwebolence in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

"Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent. /b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand."

I was around the interwebs when the word "troll" first came up, and those days seem oh-so-quaint by comparison, a mild twitch of my right middle finger over the [K] reminding me what it took to dispatch a usenet thread gone bad.

"Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling—for provoking strangers online—have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt."

Perhaps it's too simple to dump the problem on the doorstep of anonymous (not to be confused with Anonymous, the Scientology protesters), but it occurs to me that anonymity is the root of much of this evil. That and the magic ingredient provided as the punch line to the article, which I won't spoil for you.

"All this feels very Roveian to me." Permalink to this item

The L.A. Times parses the the finer points of celebrity on behalf of the McCain campaign, currently standing behind its tin ear and pathetic personal attack on Obama.

"Just for a start, industry types say the ad is wrong: In the Hollywood lexicon, Obama is not a celebrity. He's a rock star. (Note to McCain strategists: That's the difference between Jessica Simpson and Bono.)"

And Paris Hilton's parents are McCain supporters, so go figure.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Wednesday, 24-Sep-2008 14:37:44 MDT