Sisyphus's blog

Links Clearinghouse

I got too many pages open in my browser which I wanted to share. These are deserving of more of a write up but a guy's gotta eat and no one's paying me to do this. In no particular order.

Lots going on that the legislature. A new, but eminently foreseeable, controversy arose regarding Idaho's conscience clause enacted last year allowing any professional to refuse to provide services if they find their professional participation immoral. A pharmacist refused to provide a morning after pill to a woman who had a miscarriage. Randy has a good write up.

In 2010, Tom Luna ran successfully for re-election for school superintendent campaigning on his (questionable) accomplishments and achievements as head of Idaho's "excellent" educational system. Now he says the system is broken and must be overhauled. He has a plan and here's a synopsis. Teachers are appalled and, oddly enough, the legislature seems skeptical. An unprecedented JFAC hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning Friday January 21 from 8-11 to take public commentary. Betsy has the scoop for submitting oral or written testimony and how to be successful doing so.  read more »

Alarming Rise in White Supremacist Activity in North Idaho Region

Its becoming a full time job tracking incidents of racism in Idaho since Obama was elected. Some on the right prematurely declared racism dead as a result of Obama's victory. Governor Otter even sought to permanently get rid of the Idaho Human Rights Commission and the Hispanic Commission on the grounds that these agencies were not fulfilling the proper role of government. Otter is apparently oblivious to the role government played in providing equality for all regardless of race in the Civil Rights Act, desegregation, the Voting Rights Act, and the Civil War. Worse, Otter's mindset, which permeates Republican politics in Idaho, signaled tolerance for the intolerant, assisting Idaho in achieving the rank as the the 45th most intolerant state. White supremacists have clearly been quite busy.

In the last week in Coeur d'Alene, white supremacists picketed two taco stands and protested across from the Human Rights Institute on MLK day. On Tuesday night, someone burned a cross in the park in Kellogg. This past winter the residents of 9656 Hillview Drive in Hayden, Idaho built a KKK snowman complete with noose, which they toppled when cops asserted it could be viewed as threatening by their neighbors. These same residents have a habit of yelling "white power" when entering and leaving the residence to taunt and annoy their neighbors. And the coup de grace of this activity was the placement of a sophisticated bomb capable of inflicting many casualties on the MLK Day parade route in Spokane, Washington, just forty miles away. Contrary to media assertions this should not be considered an isolated incident. Interesting that their public protests seem to give this group an alibi for the failed bombing attempt.  read more »

The Consequences of the Citizen United Case

Summer has sponsored an attack ad on winter.


Nailin' Palin

Colbert's mocking the media fascination of $arah took on an exquisite quality last night.


The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mika Brzezinski Experiences Palin Fatigue
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> Video Archive

 read more »

Your MLK Day Way to Fiesta

I woke up today with this comment from Atrios, observing that we don't have an eating/partying tradition around this holiday. I was struck by a remedy. Last week, white supremacists associated with the Aryan Nations decided to picket two Mexican restaurants in Coeur d'Alene with signs which encouraged passerby's to "Honk if you want Idaho White.”.

The organizer, Shaun Winkler, is an odious little toadie well known to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He opted to join the ever popular Phelps family when they protested against teh gay last October in Coeur d'Alene.

Now I dunno why Winkler decided to target Messicans with his hate. Perhaps Winkler was encouraged from the open hostility shown Hispanics by one of the local Republican parties who objected to the word "Fiesta" used by the Bonner County Fair committee during the contentious debate surrounding Arizona's race baiting immigration reform attempt. Maybe it was the thinly veiled dog whistle race baiting ads in our last congressional election. Regardless, this fool now thinks he's on to a popular political movement apparently encouraged by what he sees in the media.

Clearly Winkler wanted to disrupt these businesses and drive the brown people away. And the best way to oppose assholes like Winkler and their hate is to deprive them of what they want. So I'm encouraging everyone to patronize both restaurants,Chiludo's (at 3000 Government Way) and Taco Works (at 5th & Best). Protest for equality and vote with your dollar. And for those not in the vicinity, choose the locally owned ethnic food of your taste. Sit at the counter.  read more »

I Am Jack's Calvin and Hobbes



A mashup of two of my favorite things on the planet. Talk amongst yourselves. But don't break rule number one.

What Climate Change?

UPDATE 1/13: Meteor Blades noted NOAA's announcement yesterday that 2010 tied the record for the hottest year and set the record for the wettest. That doesn't include the event depicted below.


Here's flash flood footage from Queensland, Australia which happened January 10. This comment was left over on Balloon Juice.

[M]y state of Queensland is pretty much underwater. We’ve exceeded our 40 days and 40 nights by a pretty wide margin and more rain is expected.

The town of Toowoomba, about 80 miles west of Brisbane, was hit by flash floods last night, so far 8 dead and more than 70 missing. The Brisbane River has topped its banks and parts of the city is flooding as I write, whether it will reach the record 1974 levels is an open question. The main dam on the Brisbane River has reached 154% capacity and is releasing 170 gigalitres per day.

This is on top of the floods in the north of the state last week, which left an area larger than Texas underwater.  read more »

There's No More Sure Way to Start a Flame War

than looking for responsibility for starting the flame war. Keep your powder dry and be rational when talking about the assassination attempt and the deaths in Tuscon. But as this New Yorker article asserts it doesn't matter why he did it.

But even so, the tragedy wouldn't change this basic fact: for the past two years, many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale. Instead of “soft on defense,” one routinely hears the words “treason” and “traitor.” The President isn't a big-government liberal—he's a socialist who wants to impose tyranny. He's also, according to a minority of Republicans, including elected officials, an impostor. Even the reading of the Constitution on the first day of the 112th Congress was conceived as an assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic Administration and Congress.

This relentlessly hostile rhetoric has become standard issue on the right. (On the left it appears in anonymous comment threads, not congressional speeches and national T.V. programs.) And it has gone almost entirely uncriticized by Republican leaders. Partisan media encourages it, while the mainstream media finds it titillating and airs it, often without comment, so that the gradual effect is to desensitize even people to whom the rhetoric is repellent. We’ve all grown so used to it over the past couple of years that it took the shock of an assassination attempt to show us the ugliness to which our politics has sunk.

The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America's political frequencies are full of violent static.

The rhetoric is happening, we all know it, and nobody likes it. But no one wants to take responsibility for it. I see the liberal hunting tag is still available. And watch out for those false equivalencies.  read more »

The Cost of Repeal

I had forty gazillion links to share on the opening of the Republican congress yesterday but Jon Stewart wrapped it all up in a nice little segment (Thanks Fort Boise). Of relevance to Idahoans is that Congressman Mike Simpson wielded the gavel to silence the birther freak in the gallery which you can watch in more detail here. Note that he's handed cards on what to say and who to address so any credit he deserves for attacking the subject matter is dubious at best.

The media continues to be led by their noses with all the loudness from the Republican noise machine. Usually a choice piece of hypocrisy like increasing the deficit would be fodder eagerly disseminated, yet the villagers seem rather silent on publishing the CBO scores on the cost of repeal. Hell, Republicans broke their newly developed "cut go" rules to get this baby on the agenda. Recall that Senator Crapo asked for CBO scores on the effect of repeal just a few months ago. Funny he's not touting them now.  read more »

Illustrating Historical Economic Disparity in the World



Great graphics. Professor Rosling has an informative documentary which takes viewers on a roller coaster ride through the wonderful world of statistics to explore the remarkable power they have to change our understanding of the world.  read more »

An Industrial Corridor Through the Heart of Idaho's Wilderness


A tip of the hat to Randy Stapilus who located this video giving some additional perspective on the megaloads which a subsidiary of Exxon has requested to be hauled over Highway 12. What this video makes clear is that the request is no one shot deal. The request encompasses over 200 loads which, alone, would compromise one of Idaho greatest assets, our wilderness, and a chief sector of our economy, tourism. But worse, it would create the precedent for future loads, loads which have no end in sight to enable Canadians to drill, baby, drill. Idaho would gain nothing, few jobs, little income, no tax basis, only the additional burden these loads would place on the highway itself. As a commentator states, honoring the megaload request would make this historically rich wilderness access corridor a "sacrifice zone for foreign jobs". This is one of the most significant land use issues raised in Idaho in years.  read more »

Skepticism and Critical Thought

It ain't just for science.

Ben Goldacre Talks Bad Science from PopTech on Vimeo.

Christmas Link-o-rama

Alrighty my little pinkos, Sisyphus has some shopping to do. Here's some links to tide you over the holidays when it is highly likely my yuletide will be free from electronic intrusion.

Boing Boing has posted some toys that never quite took off. Don't know why I think of the untamedshrew when seeing the game 'Ball Buster'.

Here's Barney Frank schooling a homophobe posing as a journalist who asks really stupid questions. Were you aware that congress has now mandated we shower with teh gay?

Here's the top 14 astronomical photos of the year.

A tutorial on what to do in the event of the zombie apocalypse over the holidays. You can never be too prepared.

Cue the Angry Gnome to ruin Christmas. Senator Jim Risch jeopardizes the planet in an attempt to derail the wildly popular START treaty with an amendment that made peace on earth contingent upon the Russians returning four Humvees. Maybe if they resurrected Rasputin he'd be happy.

And speaking of ruining Christmas, the Westboro Baptist Church goes a-caroling.

Here's a contest for awkward family Christmas photos. You're in there. You know you are.

And lastly, to the dogged persistence of Obama and congress to get things done, I say God bless and thank you. We've had a fantastically productive congress despite unprecedented obstructionism to benefit a tiny minority, breaking a record for beating filibusters, and achieving great things for the American people.

We are, after all, talking about a two-year span in which Democratic policymakers approved the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan reform, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, a critically important nuclear arms treaty with Russia, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the biggest overhaul of our food-safety laws in 70 years, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, net neutrality, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, health care for 9/11 rescue workers, and some other accomplishments I'm probably forgetting.

All of this was accomplished in the midst of multiple crises here and around the world, and for the first time in American history, with mandatory supermajorities in the U.S. Senate. And don't get me started on the disaster Dems inherited -- Great Recession, two deadly wars, a jobs crisis, a massive deficit and budget mess, crushing debt, etc. -- after the spectacular Republican failures of the Bush/Cheney era.

And for y'all grumbling about the executive and his unpalatable bargain, John Cole sums it up.

God bless us every one. Do you have any links to share?  read more »

Are You Smarter Than a Fox News Viewer?

Here's a quiz brought to you from that bastion of liberalism, the Christian Science Monitor, to check and see if you are as misinformed as your ordinary tea bagger. This is derived from a recent academic study demonstrating that the 2010 election was based upon a series of lies, plugged into the Republican Noise Machine, and amplified with private interest money from camouflobbyists.

The survey found that "substantial levels of misinformation were present in the daily consumers of all news sources." But Fox News viewers were significantly more likely to be misinformed than those who get their news from other sources. And, greater exposure to Fox News increased the degree to which viewers were misinformed.

This is not simply a matter of partisan bias. People who vote Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to be misinformed than those who did not watch it – though by a lesser margin than those who vote Republican.

How'd ya do?  read more »

O Holy Night

Tonight we get a rare confluence of a total lunar eclipse occurring precisely during the winter solstice and which will enable a better view of the Ursid meteor shower. While it may come as a shock to note that this is the first day of winter, you should also know that any astronomical observations may be hampered by the earth's weather in your location.  read more »

2010 Lie of the Year

Politifact has chosen "government takeover of health care" as its lie of the year when fact checking political representations. It was a target rich environment.

In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."

"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.

PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.

It should come as no surprise which media outlet was the largest purveyor of disinformation.  read more »

Conservative Idaho Loves Them Some Food Stamps

That the use of food stamps has increased nationwide during the recession comes as no surprise. But Idaho's use of them hasn't increased proportionally, its skyrocketed 40%, ten points more than any other state.

The benefits are hardly generous—working out to about $1 per meal per member of household. And the qualification standards are strict. In many states, families cannot have more than a few thousand dollars' worth of saleable assets. In most, they need to be within 130 percent of the poverty line, or $28,665 for a family of four.

Still, the food safety net does not come cheap: The government spends about $70 billion a year on the program. Most of that money goes straight into cash-strapped families' pockets and then straight to a grocer. That's why, from a broader economic perspective, food stamps are the single best form of government stimulus: Economists estimate that every $1 the government borrows to spend on food stamps generates about $1.80 in economic activity.

One reason for the skyrocketing rate in Idaho may be that the state dropped the $2,000 asset test requirement in order to qualify, but so did 22 other states. Its even more likely that Idaho is hurting worse than we think we are and Idaho Republicans Hoovering our economy ain't pulling the state out of recession. Despite its stimulative effects look for the kooks in the legislature to cut off this program, like this dipshit wants to do:  read more »

Idaho Pols Set to Rubber Stamp a Fraudulent Nuclear Scheme

On December 16, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed suit alleging that a promoter of a merchant nuclear plant, to be built in Payette County, duped their investors and lined their own pockets by manipulating the stock price when raising funds for the project.

The SEC alleges that Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI) has raised millions of dollars from investors in Idaho and throughout the U.S. and Asia while fraudulently manipulating its stock price through misleading public statements that conceal the secret profits reaped by its CEO Donald L. Gillispie and Senior Vice President Jennifer Ransom. Gillispie has touted the company as a tremendous investment opportunity that could rival Exxon Mobil in profitability, despite the fact that AEHI has essentially no revenue and minimal operations.  read more »

Don't Try This at Home

Fifteen Year Old Vows to Fight Back

More of this please. Please show this to every teen you know.


H/T Boing Boing.

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