Sisyphus's blog

Senator Goedde Bullies the Education Debate

Betsy Russell/SR photo

Last week the Idaho legislature scheduled three days of hearings to get feedback from the public about Superintendent Tom Luna's surprising proposal to completely overhaul Idaho's education system. Senator John Goedde is a Republican from Coeur d'Alene and chairman of the senate education committee before which the hearings were held. Goedde stacked the deck. He manipulated the process from the beginning of the debate. Despite the fact that overhaul opponents overwhelmed the proponents at the hearing, Chairman Goedde granted equal time to each group, as if there were an equal number of contentions. And when one speaker, who identified himself as a proponent, failed to speak in favor, Goedde blew a gasket.

Goedde further exercised the "chairman's prerogative" and summoned a lobbyist from Intel to share her expertise. Intel would, of course, be very interested in Luna's proposal to buy a laptop for every high school student. And then, when participants began to complain about the chair's bias, Goedde damn near busts a gavel. Goedde should have recused himself from the chair since he's a co-sponsor of the legislation. Goedde's apparent bias and desire for control have tainted this process. The fact that neither Goedde or Luna contacted stakeholders in the legislation for input ahead of time exacerbated this problem and unnecessarily raised tensions.  read more »

Republican Lawmaker Decides Idaho Is NOT Too Great to Hate


Since 2007, state lawmakers have rejected legislation to ban discrimination in Idaho against people who are gay, lesbian or transgender. And Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie says this year will be no different. McKenzie chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee and says he doesn't plan to schedule a hearing on a bill introduced in the 2011 session to ban workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Idaho's Human Rights Act now forbids discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin and mental or physical disabilities. Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, introduced a measure to include people who are gay, lesbian and transgender and feel they are victims of discrimination. But McKenzie told the Idaho Press Tribune there's not enough support among Idaho's conservative lawmakers to move the bill forward.

Update 2/16: Senator Nicole Lefavour says nobody is giving up.  read more »

Nullification Protects Bad Insurance Company Practices

The Idaho Statesman editorial board lambasted the decision by House State Affairs Committee to send Idaho's "nullification" bill to the House with a "do pass" recommendation, calling it "unnecessary", "legally flawed", and lots of other colorful adjectives that appear restrained under the circumstances. The "nullification" bill is feel good tea bagger legislation which has significant real world consequences.

Let’s take a moment to process the hypocrisy.

Many Idaho lawmakers are most upset at health care reform’s “individual mandate:” the requirement that Americans purchase insurance. Yet these same lawmakers believe their oath of office allows them to summarily tell nearly a quarter of a million Idahoans to go without health coverage. The folly is exceeded only by the sheer arrogance of it all.

Arrogance is never pretty, especially in politics. And it was in full display Thursday as the House State Affairs Committee gave its recommendation to the “nullification” bill.  read more »

Mechanical Anatomy Animation

This is cool. I post it because the whole digestive tract portion reminds me very much of what's going on in the statehouse right now. H/T Boing Boing

Insider Proof Fox is Just Propaganda

From Media Matters

Asked what most viewers and observers of Fox News would be surprised to learn about the controversial cable channel, a former insider from the world of Rupert Murdoch was quick with a response: “I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up.”  read more »

Church Banquet Speaker Continues Pattern of Self Loathing

The Idaho Democratic Party selected blue dog Congressman Heath Shuler as keynote speaker for the Feb. 26, 2011 Frank and Bethine Church Gala. As one of the few surviving blue dogs after the 2010 elections, Congressman Shuler made headlines by challenging Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader after Republicans ran a national campaign against Pelosi, branding her as an extreme liberal by making her the poster child for health care reform. Shuler lost handily. Yet Shuler continues to assist the Republican campaign against Pelosi and helping Republicans demonize Democrats.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who challenged Pelosi for the leadership spot, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “there’s been really no communication whatsoever” between his group and the California Democrat. “We still have not had the connection between the Blue Dog members and the leadership.”

... Shuler also said he was more ideologically similar to former President Ronald Reagan than he was to Pelosi.

Pelosi, he said, doesn’t go to the Blue Dogs’ meetings and “it’s very rare that she would come to our meetings and have conversation.”

Pelosi wouldn’t be welcome in his or other centrists’ districts, he said. [...]

“We’re not about the ideologues of either political party. We’re talking about how we can bring our country back to the middle where we need to be and start with compromise,” Schuler said. “I think the Blue Dogs represent 80 percent of America. You look at the political structure on both sides — they only represent 10 percent on each side of the American people. Blue Dogs represent 80 percent of America.”  read more »

Idaho's Flirtation With Nullification Creates an Incubator for Sedition

Updated 2/6: I changed this substantially from when I first posted it, including the title.

Idaho Republicans proudly campaigned on the slogan that "regressive is the new progressive." The oxymoronic catch-phrase was a method of engaging the teabagging wingnuts, who have steadily infiltrated into the power structure of the Idaho Republican Party, riddling its platform with anachronistic mandates, like a return to the gold standard or repealing the seventeenth amendment allowing for the direct election of senators. In the center of such efforts one can often find political opportunist, Wayne Hoffman, and his camouflobbying Idaho Freedom Foundation which continues to refuse to identify the source of its financial support.

Wayne and company are no strangers to mainstreaming extreme political ideology into Republican politics. Last year they entertained assistance from hate groups in drafting legislation to mirror Arizona's ethnic cleansing immigration reform. This year, Wayne and the IFF seek to hitch a ride on the Idaho Health Freedom Act by amending it to assert that Idaho has the power to nullify federal law, specifically to void any compliance with the Affordable Care Act. The proposed legislation states that:

The Idaho Legislature hereby declares that the state of Idaho, on behalf of its citizens, is the final arbiter of whether an act of Congress is unconstitutional and therefore declares that the federal laws known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Public Law 111-148, and the "Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010," Public Law 111-152, are not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violate its meaning and intent, and further, are null, void and of no effect regarding any Idaho citizen residing within the borders of the state of Idaho.  read more »

Egypt's Peaceful Revolution Met With Violent Response

I love the quote at the end of this great video: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Remember how Muslims in Egypt made a human shield to protect Christians? Here are Christians in Egypt returning the favor. Makes you ashamed of recent events in this country encouraging Christian Muslim strife.  read more »

Suburban Bobcat

I often extol the virtues of Idaho, Boise, and my neighborhood, which happens to be at the wildlife crossroads of the Boise Front and the Boise River. On Groundhog Day I hit the greenbelt on my way to work and saw this critter walking casually towards me. She saw me coming and scooted across the dry ditch bed to see if anyone left some goodies on their back porch. It was about 15 degrees and this looked to be part of her regular route which I assume she usually takes at night. She stayed clear of me but never rushed away from my presence, which was odd, since bobcats tend to be very shy. I chalked that up to her being cold and hungry. More photos below the fold. Sorry they're blurry.  read more »

Critical Communique to Mubarak

Updated 2/5: Here's a report from some detained NYT journalists. This is a digest from 2/4.

Wasn't Mubarak bragging that he was instituting democratic reforms? Alas it all appears to be a well orchestrated ruse.

The threat to the military's control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak. The only possible civilian candidate, Gamal Mubarak, has been chased into exile, thereby clearing the path for the new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman. The military high command, which under no circumstances would submit to rule by civilians rooted in a representative system, can now breathe much more easily than a few days ago. It can neutralize any further political pressure from below by organizing Hosni Mubarak's exile, but that may well be unnecessary.  read more »

"A Family...Comes From the Love that Binds Us"

Like Idaho did several years ago, Iowa is in the throes of determining whether to ensconce discrimination into its constitution by prohibiting same sex marriage. Zach Wahls—a 19-year-old Iowa college student and the son of two mothers—is one of the many Iowans who thinks it's wrong to grant special privileges to some families, and deny them to others, based solely on sexual orientation. In a passionate speech to the House Committee, he told legislators that their decision won't change his family and their love for one another, but codifying discrimination will change Iowa—in ways that harm everyone.

The Idaho legislature killed efforts last year to provide basic civil rights by amending Idaho's Human Rights Act to include gay and transgendered people and protect them from discrimination in the workplace. Senator Malapei of Pocatello has sponsored another effort this year. Boise State's 2009 public policy survey found that 63% of Idahoans believed that it should be illegal to fire an employee because they were perceived to be gay or lesbian. Here's the FAQ page on the need.  read more »

The Egyptian Tightrope

Updated 2/1: Another reason to love this man.

we stand for universal values, including the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the freedom to access information. Once more, we’ve seen the incredible potential for technology to empower citizens and the dignity of those who stand up for a better future. And going forward, the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Egypt and around the world.

This is skillful mediation as well as statecraft. In the foreign policy context, the president is committing himself to one of the protesters' rallying cries. Then, Obama throws Mubarak a bone by not calling for his immediate resignation giving him some time to solve it himself. The ramifications of this declared "value/right" to freedom to access information are vast, but its interesting he didn't say they had a right to exchange information. In this context, its not just another speech. Its the president of the United States speaking in his capacity of leader of the free world. I'm not aware of another such declaration. The right wing will source it to the UN and all hell will break forth from the nostrils of Glenn Beck oblivious of the fact that he directly benefits from such a right.

Updated 2/1: Obama reiterates a request for an "orderly transition". Mubarak sez he might not run again but he ain't a going nowhere. Trouble is, the million man crowd doesn't trust Mubarak to keep his promises. Perhaps they're cognizant of what happened to these rebels by Henry VIII, who also gave assurances if they'd just go home.

Its a conundrum. The west probably needs Mubarak to keep stability and get that election, but the crowd's goal is to get rid of him. With oil climbing above $100/barrel because of threat posed to the 2 million barrels going through Suez daily, the pressure mounts. The good news is that other countries are taking steps to stem the rebellion tide lest it spill over. Democracy is breaking out everywhere.
America and its western allies have seemingly acknowledged they have a Mubarak problem. After Mubarak's speech to the nation last week, you could have predicted the outcome. Protesters won't settle for anything less than declaring free and fair elections for which Mubarak would not stand as a candidate. His removal is job one. And western leaders have good cause to be concerned. Egypt, as the most populous Arab nation, is at the center of the west's entire Middle East policy. The west doesn't want to be seen as condoning an authoritarian regime. Given the billions in aid Egypt receives to keep peace with Israel, we've got plenty to be concerned about. Beyond that, we have a human rights issue.

Egypt has a torture problem.

A report released by Human Rights Watch documents how Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government effectively condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officers who are accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted. HRW describes torture as "an endemic problem in Egypt." According to HRW, ending police abuse—and the cycle of impunity for those crimes—is a driving element behind the massive popular demonstrations in Egypt this past week.

Unfortunately it gets much stickier. A few days ago, Mubarak appointed Egypt's first new vice president in thirty years, Omar Suleiman, in an effort to accede to demands for him to go bye-bye, setting Suleiman up to succeed. Who is he?  read more »

Repeal This!

Updated 1/31: As Tara comments, a carefully selected judge in Florida became the second, out of about two dozen challenges to the Affordable Care Act, to find that insurance mandates are unconstitutional. But this judge invalidated every bit of the Affordable Care Act overruling all of these benefits. I was kind of hoping that the Republican idea of mandates would bite it, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater seems extraordinarily mean spirited. Fortunately it may be a bridge too far, in invalidating the entire act. The court's opinion is laced with politically incendiary rhetoric and even references the Boston Tea Party. These factors may help get the judge a Fox News gig, but they won't help his opinion survive the inevitable appeal.

This is a radio spot to be run in Republican districts as a result of their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act yet hypocritically signing up for their very affordable government sponsored health care. I'd add that the Idaho legislature's effort to "nullify" the Affordable Care Act also applies. Those boneheads get government health care as well, yet will run rough shod over the constitution to play petty politics while providing NO solutions to the health care crisis.  read more »

Hypocrisy Shrugged

If you're not familiar with Ayn Rand, you should be. I enjoyed reading her book, the Fountainhead, a delightful piece of fiction about an architect whose life extolled the virtues of individualism and rejected the restrictions of "statism" and any form of government interference which might inhibit the goals of an individual.  read more »

Egypt Erupts

After a constant rain of tear gas, the internet has been shut down, the army, including the presidential guard, was called out to support the police, a curfew has been imposed and is being ignored, looting occurring, the ruling party HQ has been ransacked and torched, police HQs attacked and prisoners freed, and ElBaradei detained. Cairo is burning. History is happening. Al Jazeera has excellent coverage. TPM has put up a wire.

This could be horrible news. Mubarak is a bastard and unfortunately he was our bastard. If he fails to facilitate a transition of power to moderate influences (which ironically started this revolt), the very populous Muslim Brotherhood will fill the power vacuum. This will fundamentally alter the balance of power in the Middle East and destroy any chance for a resolution in Palestine. It could end up being the Sunni version of the Iranian revolution. Since we backed Mubarak, Obama will have to walk a tightrope. The demonization of all Muslims in this country ain't gonna help us much in that regard.

This spread from Tunisia. Other similar demonstrations are reported in Yemen and some rumblings in Jordan. These governments are also western allied governments.  read more »

Full Metal Idiots

So what do you raffle off at a fundraiser for a cop shot in the face in the line of duty? I'd chalk this up to only in Idaho but I don't think that'd be accurate.

And what does the Idaho legislature do when its proposed Republican legislation is unconstitutional according to the attorney general, every judge ever to hear the challenge including SCOTUS, the overwhelming weight of history, and even members of of their own party. Well you print that sumbitch anyway.

Updated: 1/26; Let's face it. Sedition is the goal, whether they realize it or not.

Randy Stapilus has the juice. And Wayne Hoffman is right in the middle of all this bullshit. Its damn difficult sitting in the bosom of my home, in a state my family has given their heart to for six generations, knowing that astroturfed motherfucker from Arkansas is driving policy in this state, seditious policy for patently partisan pecuniary purposes. I never thought I'd long for the days of Laird Maxwell but this is a whole new kind of carpetbagger. Its not that these efforts will accomplish anything. It only brings Idaho embarrassment.

Updated 1/27: Marc Johnson explores the Civil War angle which I would have seen sooner if I'd gone to Fort Boise more often.  read more »

We Have Seen the Enemy

and they is us. For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why have a stupid debate about deficits and debt when everything can be resolved by ending the wars. Now. Earn that Peace Prize.

Quit Wasting Time

I'm amused at the irony of a viral internet video suggesting ways we can save time. But these are pretty cool. It'll teach you how to render a potato nekkid in seconds. And no, I don't know how to speed up the video.

Idaho Republicans are wasting lots of time. They wanna "nullify" federal laws passed by Democrats. Seems they're blissfully unaware of this Civil War thingy a while back. Trouble is they got blasted by the Idaho Attorney General and the Idaho Statesman editorial board.

Here's a time saver for caramelizing onions.

You wanna know what's wrong with America? This is what's wrong with America. Last I checked freedom is the ability to make choices. And the only choice I see on that list is to turn it off. Stop the spoon feeding. Make good choices. Don't accept the choices completely in the control of another. Its a waste of time.

If you buy a house in the upper snake river valley, you might get snakes with that. Here's a local video that went national on one family's tribulations with snake infestations. They're not wasting any time getting the hell out of there.

How's this for timely oversight? The Office of Special Counsel just issued a report accusing the Bush administration of numerous violations of the Hatch Act by staffers in 2006 in the White House Office of Political Affairs. The report concludes that federal taxpayers footed the bill for improper activities that were intended to advance Republican political candidates. Color me shocked. Its about time.  read more »

Egypt's Social Media Inspired Revolution?

Updated 1/26: Lots of interesting stuff coming out constantly on teh twitter. More at the Awl.

Updated 1/25: They shut the twitter down in Egypt but not before this photo outside the Egyptian Parliament went round the world. More here.

There's a Tienanmen Square moment in this video at 1:21. There are major concerns over whether the Tunisia revolt was the tip of the revolution iceberg in the Islamic world. Egypt has been a powder keg waiting for a spark for a long time. Egypt is the second biggest recipient of US aid just behind Israel, in part because of the Camp David Accord. Unfortunately our aid has propped up a corrupt regime whose greed overrules any desire for enacting policies to buttress their shrinking middle class. A huge lower class makes for a fertile environment for recruitment by extremist Imams. If Mubarek falls after his sorry three decade rule, Egypt has one of the most active and popular Islamic extremist movements in the world which has been biding its time and will eagerly fill the power void. This might become the Sunni version of the Iranian revolution. This might become Obama's first major foreign policy crisis. Or it might be a ruthlessly arrested rebellion.

More footage here and here.

Sandy River Flood Footage

From sister of Sisyphus. What makes this special is the excellent video editing. Its from the Sandy River outside of Portland from over a week ago. This isn't the epic Biblical flooding going on in Australia and which could be interpreted as an extreme weather event as a consequence of climate change. Nevertheless I'll use the occasion to link in this Economist article suggesting that George Will connect some dots on his global warming theories.  read more »

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