Blue-shifting the Gem State, one blog entry at a time.

My One Interview w DFO

DFO: I'm cure-hee!-((us)) why you pick so man-he fights?

Me: I totally don't get the "cure-hee!-((us)) for "curious"

DFO: How about an ap-hollow-gee once in awhile?

Me: That's your fkn favorite isn't it? You gotta re-TIRE it, man.

DFO: re-TIRE is great! The seasoned citizens will love that!

Me: Seasoned citizens sounds like some depraved cannibalistic act involving spices and meat tenderizer. Dave, are you a cannibal?

DFO: You are itch-ZING for a trip to the cooler, sport

Me: WTF is the zing about? You're forcing it all the time.

DFO: That's it, buddy.

Me: You can't cooler me, I'm sitting in your fkn cubicle.

DFO: Cube-ick-hell!

Me: I taught you that one.

DFO: Hat Tip to you!

Me: Yeah. You're well-cum.

DFO: ???

Me: I have a thing for swarth.

DFO: !!!

Me: Thought I should let you no.


I am filled with a molten outrage over the banning of Sisyphus from a mid-sized city newspaper blog representing and pandering to the Homo Neanderthalenus-Drosophila Melanogaster hybrids of North Idaho.

It isn't because I actually read the grinding scroll of that hideous newspaper forum, although Sisyphus certainly cracks open their rickety outhouse door of pungent, gaseous diatribes and echo chambering with his reality-based commentary and gentle nudging of the resident Lord of the Outhouse People, but I have many more important endeavors to engage in during the day, e.g. memorizing the entire Joe Jackson catalog for "New Wave Brit Invasion Karaoke Night" down at the Dew Drop Wagon Wheel Inn.

But it just flaps my forward gunwales to imagine an America where the free exchange of ideas, even if they contradict or are too logical and humane for the Outhouse People to absorb or even allow to rattle around in their severely sloped and carbuncle covered heads like ball bearings in a gumball machine in the back of an 86 Subaru Brat (the official Car-Truck of North Idaho), is stifled by a tinpot internet Dictator presiding over his swampy banana republic of morons, jethros, hillbillies, wingnuts, assholes, teabaggers, snowballers, pukes, birthers, bible slapping Jesus monkeys, bikers, hellions, scofflaws, and rubes.

Seriously, compare Boise to Coeur D'Alene? My God, that is like comparing a fish with lungs learning to motate on muddy land with an intestinal flatworm clinging with a gaping starving maw for bits of semi-digested squirrel and beans.

Be that as it may, since I don't read it anyway and have been myself banned for over a year I don't suspect a boycott by me will be of any import.


Language and Racism: Cross Talk in Composition Theory

Crossposted on Daily Kos

A teacher is always a Utopian - Victor Villanueva

In this video, Victor Villanueva discusses structural racism and its implications for language education. I love his work, ideas, and approach, and how they weave seamlessly into the third edition of Cross-Talk in Comp Theory.

I first met Victor while teaching and doing research at Washington State University in 1997. I became enamored of his classic, Bootstraps, a work which helped broaden my vision and eventually reshape my paradigm as an academic of color. The memorable conversations include his mention of the many scholars he knew who considered themselves experts in Marx -- but who'd never had a cup of coffee in a working-class home -- as well as other insights.

That is why I was delighted when he published the third edition of Cross-Talk. The book maintains the historical perspective of previous editions while continuing to provide insights on the relatively new discipline of composition studies. Villanueva recruited the expertise of Kristin L. Arola to flesh out the discussion on composition and technology. According to the scholars, "the quick movement of the paradigm--from the personal computer to local-area networks to the rise of social networking--suggests the need to recall the talk and the cross-talk concerning computers and their products for composition."

The challenges of dealing with basic writers can sometimes seem overwhelming. English faculty meetings can be mind-numbing, and departmental administrative toil can leave little time or energy for sharing a vibrant intellectual life with colleagues. So the concept and practice of Cross-Talk gives me access to an empowering social dialogue. There is strength in numbers, and with the book in hand and ideas in mind, I am no longer alone in front of that classroom, or when grading papers. Instead, I am part of a larger, dynamic conversation with the brightest minds in the field (past and present), as well as students and scores of other instructors.

The joy of continually returning to this text brings me close to colleagues from around the world in this discourse community. The landmark articles in the book, by major figures such as Donald Murray, Janet Emig, Walter Ong, Sondra Perl, Mike Rose, and Patricia Bizzell have been a great influence on my teaching, as well as on the field itself. They are joined by the works of other trailblazing scholars such as Peter Elbow and Richard Ohmann. Villanueva also incorporates texts by key names within comp's conversations on technology, including Adam Banks, Cynthia Selfe, and Kathleen Blake Yancey.

Villanueva, now chair of the English Department at Auburn University, writes.

In a very real sense, Cross-Talk is intended as a historical artifact, a way of tracking theoretical discussions in a field that continues to find itself forming its theoretical foundations. Even the givens of comp—writing as process—are contending with cross-talk, like post-process theory. It’s hard to track the history we’re in.

Finally, another trend speaks to my soul:

The other big change in composition studies—at least in our journals—has been the increased presence of writers of color and the greater acceptance of critical pedagogy. As I point out in the final essay to this volume, writers of color are still not present in this profession in the kinds of numbers that would affect our discussions on racism in truly meaningful ways, but something did happen in the second half of the 1990s: the beginnings of rich discussion on racism clearly centered on the concerns of this profession (a somewhat different set of discussions on racism from those which took place in journals like College English at the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century).

Cross-Talk is a collection that continues to provide new and experienced teachers and scholars with avenues for problem solving. It has been a core text in my library as I face the challenges, controversies, and ever-shifting currents within this rich and ever-evolving field: the teaching and learning of composition.

Senator Crapo, GMOs, and the realization that the food system has some gaping holes.

I am new to this forum so I hope I don't violate established etiquette. If I do, just let me know!I wrote this blog entry originally for my group GMO Free Idaho. But, because of the content, I thought it would be good to share here as well. Please bear with me in the length. Who knew Senator Crapo could be so long winded? LOL
I would appreciate feedback you might have!  read more »

Sad that no one has stepped up yet in CD2... Rant against uncontested election

Politically I am very disappointed that no one has taken up the cause of CD2 in the Democratic Party. We do not know what the future holds. With closed primaries Congressman Simpson could fall. Plus fate is strange look at Phil Hart. If we had a candidate in the race we might hold his seat in the statehouse. Plus I truly feel that no federal candidate should run unopposed. If no one is running on my side I feel that there is no hope for a brighter future. By running the race our views our spoken. Our opinions sought. There is no news in an uncontested race.  read more »

John McGee Has Resigned Over Sexual Harrassment Allegations

UPDATED 8:50 a.m. 12/24/12

Crossposted on Daily Kos

At about 3:00 p.m. I received a note from an offical at the statehouse with the words above.

He told me that a press conference was coming shortly.

Dustin Hurst of the Idaho Reporter is "reporting that Senator JOHN McGEE is resigning." A Press Conference was called at 3:30 p.m.

I had written blogs including Is the Media Drinking the Party Line on John McGee? last July.

And Boise's Channel 2 confirmed that the sexual harrassment allegations were by a female staffer.

Here is the story on KTVB.

BOISE -- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says Senator John McGee has submitted a letter to resign from the Idaho Legislature. Otter told The Associated Press that McGee, a four-term senator from Caldwell, submitted the letter Wednesday morning.

McGee had been the caucus chairman, the fourth ranking post in the Senate.

The resignation caps a difficult year for McGee. He was arrested in June and a month later pleaded guilty to drunken driving in a deal that erased accompanying auto theft charges. He served jail time and paid restitution for damaging the vehicle. At the start of the 2012 session, McGee apologized to his colleagues for his actions and survived efforts calling for him to step down from his leadership post.

According to the Idaho Statesman:

McGee resigned Wednesday after allegations of sexual harassment involving a Senate attache who is not a minor, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill said. The attorney general is reviewing the case, Hill said.

On Saturday, Hill said he received a confidential allegation of sexual harassment from a female Senate employee. He said he asked the Senate secretary to investigate the allegation. The employee is on paid leave. Hill did not say what the alleged harassment was or when it occurred.

Hill said his first priority is providing, “a safe, secure and professional environment for Senate employees.”

Since the Idaho GOP chose to "Stand by Their Man" after he got drunk, stole a car, and wrecked it -- the story now reads like a tragic comedy. And it was a woman, after all, who finally took him out!  read more »

Maddow Highlights Greenwald's Vandersloot Story and Connects Citizens United


Just last night I was discussing the Greenwald story with a friend and colleague, making the connection to the Citizens United decision and the corrupting power of money in politics. My friend didn't really get the connection. Lo and behold a few hours later, as Serephin notes below, Rachel Maddow makes the case for me.

Jody May-Chang has the transcript. Not all corporations are happy with the decision in Citizens United.

The iconic ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s sure is not. The founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield launched their “Get the Dough Out of Politics” campaign on February 13 on the MSNBC show, the Dylan Ratigan Show.

Ben & Jerry’s is using its considerable clout as a beloved ice cream company to raise awareness about the Citizen’s United decision, a Supreme Court decision that, in my opinion, guts democracy. While appearing on the Dylan Ratigan Show, Greenfield said, “We have to get massive grass roots activation.”

The campaign is definitely doing what it can to get massive grassroots activation. The campaign has a website,, which asks people to sign up to campaign against Citizen’s United. Information about the campaign appears on the Ben & Jerry’s website. The campaign will have Scoop Trucks this summer at the Bonaroo Music Festival, which in addition to serving ice cream, will ask people to sign postcards.

Glenn Greenwald reports that, contrary to my earlier speculation, they have received no contact from legal representatives for Frank Vandersloot and/or Melaleuca, Inc. All's quiet on the Idaho Agenda front as well, and further notes that the story is underscores the need for Idaho to Add the Words. Recall that Idaho Agenda author James Tidmarsh was scolded for referring to Frank Vandersloot for being anti-gay. I think Frank's record of being "anti-gay" might be overblown. After the jump is a video of Frank Vandersloot and Mitt Romney with Idaho's "I'm Not Gay" Senator Larry Craig at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls a few years ago.  read more »

Rachel Maddow discusses Melaleuca Inc. CEO Frank VanderSloot on his silencing of critics

From the Monday, February 20th episode of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. And the blackout curtains open just that much wider:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Glenn Greenwald Takes On Frank Vandersloot


Salon author Glenn Greenwald exposes Frank Vandersloot's pattern of using his wealth to insinuate himself politically and to hire lawyers for purposes of intimidation of anyone daring to criticize him, his company, or his practices. If you don't know Glenn:

Glenn Greenwald [] is a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator and is the author of two New York Times Bestselling books on the Bush administration’s executive power and foreign policy abuses. His just-released book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, is an indictment of America’s two-tiered system of justice, which vests political and financial elites with immunity even for egregious crimes while subjecting ordinary Americans to the world’s largest and most merciless penal state. Greenwald was named by The Atlantic as one of the 25 most influential political commentators in the nation. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and is the winner of the 2010 Online Journalism Association Award for his investigative work on the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning.

Of course, publishing such an article will be inviting the very thing he's exposing, legal confrontation with Frank Vandersloot, and his company Melaleuca, Inc. As a result, one can safely assume that this has been already carefully scrutinized for accuracy by Salon's legal department, in addition to Greenwald's own experience as an attorney. As a national publication, Salon has the resources necessary to take on such threats, and be insulated from such intimidation. I expect communication among attorneys has already commenced.

The entire article is a must read for any observer of Idaho politics, but this section is no small amount of vindication for us here at

These national magazines are encountering what small local journalists and bloggers in Idaho have confronted for years. The website 43rdStateBlues is written by a collection of Idaho Democrats and they all write under pseudonyms. In 2007, one of them (“TomPaine”) wrote a critical post about VanderSloot, and then quickly received a letter from Melaleuca’s in-house General Counsel at the time, Ken Sheppard, threatening a lawsuit if the post was not removed within 24 hours. The website complied by removing the post, but wanted their readers to know why the post was removed. So another poster (“d2″) explained that they had received a letter from Melaleuca’s lawyers demanding its removal, and then posted the lawyer’s letter.  read more »

Idaho Republicans Refuse to "Add the Words"

On Friday, February 10, 2012 the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee refused to even print legislation which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Dan Popkey wrote a observant column documenting the drama and the emotional plea of Senator Edgar Malapeai begging the committee to have the bill printed.

Midway through his pitch, the Pocatello Democrat stopped speaking for 25 seconds to collect himself, to the discomfort of the seven committee Republicans. Custom holds that lawmakers’ bills, especially those brought by members of leadership like Malepeai, are printed as a courtesy. This was an exception, in significant part because Republicans fear right-wing reprisals.

What Malepeai finally finished saying was this: “In my opinion, it would be profoundly disrespectful not to afford those tens of thousands of families affected by this legislation to give at least — at least — a printing of the bill ... (and) allow them to speak of the harm that’s been done.”

Five minutes later, the bill was dead on a party line vote. After the hearing, recently retained Senate Republican Caucus Chairman John McGee addressed reporters.

“This is not a new issue,” McGee said. “Nobody here believes in discrimination or discriminating against anybody.” But, he said, “I don't think we want to continue to create separate groups and separate categories for this.” He said, “I don't think that the piece of legislation that was brought before us today … changes whether or not somebody is going to discriminate. … The fact is we don't think that bill is the right thing to do.”

Idaho's existing Human Rights Act bans employment and housing discrimination on the basis of race, religion or disability. The “Add The Words” bill would have added sexual orientation and gender identity. “There's lots of groups who don't have that ability as well, so the issue becomes, where does it stop? Where do those special categories end?” McGee asked.

Ironically Senator McGee received ignoble attention last June when he got piss drunk at a Hillcrest Country Club Golf Tournament, wandered six miles barefoot, commandeered a stranger's truck, and jackknifed the truck and trailer in a neighboring driveway.  read more »

The Occupy Boise Double Standard in the Idaho Senate

::Crucial update below 2/10::

So this happened.

Boise Weekly was there.

The Idaho State Senate leadership today pulled a dozen members of Occupy Boise out of the Senate Gallery to discuss cloth, dollar-store American flags pinned to each individual's shirt. In the Minority Caucus room on the fourth floor of the Capitol, Idaho Falls Sen. Bart Davis asked them to remove the flags.

"We have asked many people over the years, people I have agreed with and I have disagreed with," said Sen. Davis. "To not wear buttons, and to not wear hats, and we're asking you please to be similarly sympathetic to allow us to do our business in that fashion."

Ten minutes prior to the meeting of the full Senate, a dozen members of Occupy Boise entered the public gallery, checking in with security to comply with increased security proceedings related to bags. At the desk outside the doors, they safety-pinned American flags to their chests, a protest against the proposed amendments to House Bill 404, which sits on the 14th order awaiting consideration.

What was that Senator Davis? You've consistently applied this rule to friend and foe alike? Well certainly the House hasn't. A large group of hostile hot headed nullification advocates, interested in fighting the Civil War all over again, entered the House hearing room wearing "yellow stickers to show their support of the "nullification bill." There's even video depicting lots of protesters wearing badges.  read more »

Conservative Students Threaten UI Law School Accreditation


Several days ago I received reports of a flap brewing on the University of Idaho College of Law campus about conservative students outraged at the mandatory attendance requirement for a diversity training seminar. Diversity training is often required by employers and schools to help avoid liability in discrimination litigation, such as happened to the law school in George v. University of Idaho. Thereafter I received a copy of a letter dated February 3, 2012 addressed to Dean Burnett, a former Idaho appellate judge, signed by 21 Idaho lawmakers, including, Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle. The scolding letter acknowledges the importance of diversity training but takes issue with the mandatory attendance requirement and the consequences of failing to attend, a memo noting lack of attendance to be placed in the student's permanent file. The letter is silent with regard to the the underlying reasons for the training or the attendance requirement, only that the consequence of failure implies that the student might be characterized as a bigot which is "unacceptable".

On February 6, Dean Burnett responded acknowledging that the legislators lacked the underlying information regarding the necessity of the training. Burnett cited to the rules applicable to law schools one of which requires, through "concrete action", that the school provide an opportunity for education for all, particularly for those underrepresented. For accreditation, the law school must promote a diverse legal profession representative of the population. Moreover the rules of professional conduct preclude attorneys from manifesting through words and conduct bias or prejudice towards people on the basis of race, sex, religion and the classes of people historically disadvantaged and protected by law. Then Burnett proceeds to diplomatically inform the legislators that these rules were violated.

In October, 2011, a joint team from the ABA and AALS visited the UI College of Law as part of a review process that occurs every seven years. The team included lawyers as well as academics; three of its members were or had been law school deans. Several of them had conducted site review visits at up to ten or more law schools. During a four-day visit to Moscow and Boise, they had many scheduled and casual interactions with students, staff, and faculty. During their exit briefings with me and with University administrators, the team referred to these interactions and stated emphatically that the College of Law needed to focus additional attention upon professionalism and diversity.

Emphasis mine. I've conversed with two students who confirm that the "interactions with students" included one who expressed the opinion that women should not be enrolled in law school. At one of the meetings, when the suggestion of diversity training came up, several 'conservative' students objected to having that "diversity shit" shoved down their throats.

Dean Burnett continued his schooling of the legislators with information about the "training" he had scheduled:  read more »

Travis Manning to Run for Idaho Legislature in Canyon County

Crossposted on

Travis Manning, author of the article below Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White? announced his candidacy for the open legislative seat in District 10, Canyon County. Speaking last night at a gathering of Democrats at the Caldwell Public Library, he detailed his reasons for stepping into the fray, including the fact that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," referring to the antics of the Idaho GOP.

Travis Manning pic (2)"

Travis' platform also includes strategic action against the regressive policies of State Superintendent of Education Tom Luna. He would fill the seat left by the late Pat Takasugi.

Travis Manning is currently an English teacher at Vallivue High School. He is executive director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho grassroots think tank formed in June 2011 in response to radical education reform measures in Idaho. He is a member of the Idaho Council of Teachers of English and active participant with the Boise State Writing Project. Travis is active in his local teacher’s union where he has led and been engaged in numerous committees. In 2011 he spoke out at the Idaho House and Senate Education Committee hearings in support of Idaho public schools, and has since published a number of editorials across the great state of Idaho supporting the voices of all Idaho citizens. He supports the needs of all learners in public schools and works hard in his teaching to reach out to help struggling students. He is an advocate for parents and teachers, believing that they are critical stakeholders in the success of Idaho’s children, despite being largely ignored by the Idaho legislature in 2011. Travis has taught high school English and Journalism for seven years in Caldwell, Idaho, and two years of middle school before that in Salt Lake City. Most recently, Travis gave up coaching high school wrestling, one of his great loves, in order to advocate for parents, teachers and students in Idaho governmental affairs.  read more »

Of Smoking and Freedom

On February 5, John Miller had an interesting article published in the Idaho Statesman that led with fact that Representative Bob Nonini, chairman of the House Education Committee, is the last 'open' tobacco smoker in the legislature, a fact he tries to conceal. The article examines the juxtaposition of lawmakers who have incorporated the message that tobacco is a dangerous product, yet have such an ideologically entrenched aversion to raising taxes, they won't consider it as a method to discourage people from smoking.

Most Idaho conservatives have a stronger aversion to government overreach and tax hikes than they have to cigarettes, even ex-smokers such as Challis Republican Rep. Lenore Barrett.

"What we're doing is whipping on folks who are making stupid choices," Barrett says. "They have a right to make those stupid choices."

Highlighting how deeply those sentiments run, Democrats last year failed to win even a hearing when they proposed raising cigarette taxes from 57 cents to $1.25 per pack.

This sentiment was echoed in a recent debate in Boise when it passed additional restrictions on areas where smoking is allowed than the state restrictions already in place. Opponents of the ban bleated that such restrictions were an encroachment on their freedom to using a "legal" product, while utilizing the lofty, yet ignorance based, terminology reminiscent of the the Tea Party movement. This isn't about freedom. Its a defense of a toxic product heavily marketed by a powerful industry.  read more »

Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White?

By Travis Manning

On Monday, January 16, our nation celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a charismatic albeit imperfect human being.

Born on January 15, 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression, King was a man vested in freedom for all Americans, especially Blacks: freedom from segregation, freedom from bigotry, freedom from racism.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, in Brown v. the Board of Education, that establishing separate public schools for Black and White students was unconstitutional. This historic, unanimous decision (9 – 0), declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Brown overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed for state-sponsored segregation, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white woman. King, a Baptist minister and growing force in the South, led the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, sparked by Parks. In 1957 he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a powerful, grassroots force that fought for Black freedom and civil rights.

In the 1960’s, the term “colored” still had an entirely different meaning from now. If you were “colored,” it meant you drank from a different water fountain, ate in a different part of the restaurant, and watched a picture show from the nosebleed section of the theater.

Today, surprisingly, there is a movement afoot to allow for “separate educational facilities” in our schools. And it’s important that Idaho citizens are reminded, more than 50 years after Brown, of the potential ramifications of “separate educational facilities.”

King understood the importance of freedom and desegregated schools and the value of communities and ethnicities assimilated into one, beautiful melting pot.

Idaho does not have many Blacks, only .6 percent of the state’s population – but, Idaho does have many Brown. The 2010 Census reports the Hispanic population in Canyon County, for example, is 23.9 percent.


One component of “separate educational facilities” could be charter schools. Inadvertently, charter schools could undo gains made for minorities, if charters are not totally, operationally transparent.

The Idaho State Department of Education cites that in 2007 state charter public schools had 3.78% Hispanic students and 92.82% White students. Whereas, their public school counterparts had 13.78% Hispanic students and 81.9% White students.

Why do Idaho charter schools have 10% fewer Brown students than White?

Is this “White flight” from Idaho’s public schools?

Couched in the option of so called “school choice,” there is potential to regress into a political and cultural status once held decades ago.

Segregation was once legal, a conviction that celebrated oneness and sameness in the name of so called freedom and opportunity.

Segregation was, however, choice gone awry.

So what is really meant by “school choice”?

Are our Brown brothers and sisters as aware of the same “school choice” options as our White brothers and sisters?

What would Dr. King say about so called “school choice”?

Travis Manning is Executive Director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho citizen think tank, and can be reached at

Idaho Dance Theatre's Winter Show is a True Delight

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Also republished by DKOMA.

A bunch of cute gals chase a guy to the left, screaming. The same bunch of fiesty women then chase a guy to the right, screaming and waving their arms. The guys dance, skillfully moving like Elvis in his prime. The gals dance, twisting and turning artfully, as if in a scene from Grease. The scene is tasteful, anachronistic, and warmly inviting. So began an evening of exciting, innovative choreography featuring the work of Carl Rowe and Marla Hansen, Co-Artistic Directors of the Idaho Dance Theatre and guest choreographer, Lauren Edson.

Idaho Dance Poster

It was a delighful opening to the IDT’s winter show, which I caught this weekend at Boise State University. The performance includes dance with poetry, music and film weaved through, as if it were a tapestry. The program demonstrates stunning virtuosity in works that effectively utilize the the considerable abilities of the dancers. Good dancers look best in good choreography, and Hansen and Rowe provide that. The show also relies on an underexposed music score by excellent composers. An artistic balance is wisely struck, and the audience is allowed to remain engaged since the myriad of profound and complex ideas presented are never taken past tolerance.

The first piece, “Love Hurts”, is built around love themes, punctuated by somewhat minimalist background stage art. The opening set, "Gone, Gone, Gone" - Teeny Bopper Love, featured dancers Gonzalo Valdez and Eric Glenn. The second scene, "Sister Rosetta Goes Before U"– Lost Love, is graced by the poise and authenticity of dancers Shantyl Betty, Elizabeth Henscheid, Sayoko Knode, Lia Mrazek, and Caitlin Stanley. The group achieves a cohesiveness that compliments the music and each individual dancer’s style, forming a holistic visual experience.

Two pieces, “Nothin” -Angry Love and Trampled Rose, by themselves are worth whatever you pay to see this show. In the first, we are treated with Yurek Hansen’s amazing dance abilities in movement choices that constantly ebb and flow with the music score. Hansen is at times totally still, at times en adagio. Then within a microsecond he explodes across the stage with exceptional movement choices and skill. Nothin-Angry Love, requires significant virtuosity and timing. IDT dancers Yurek Hansen, Elizabeth Henscheld, Sayoko Knode, and Lia Mrazek literally nailed it. Intensely kinetic, the work consists of non-stop energy with stunning duets and a compelling storyline.

The subsequent works, “Silent Past”, choreographed by guest Lauren Edson, and “How Things Are” choreographed by Carl Rowe contain the requisite level of development to maintain performace life. They feature wonderful music, diverse costumes, and unpredictable choreography. Timing is crisp and the variations are nuanced.

The IDT dancers owned the afternoon. Read more on the Idaho Dance Theater at  read more »

John Foster to Lead Efforts to Defeat Education Reform Referendum


At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, Idaho Education Superintendent Tom Luna surprised the state by unveiling legislation designed to accomplish a draconian overhaul of public education, by diverting a significant portion of students' school time to online course from private entities, in essence swapping live teachers for one on a laptop. While vociferous opposition to the so called "Students Come First" legislation was prompt, education stakeholders had little time to mobilize against a coordinated Republican effort to shepherd the legislation to Governor Otter's desk. Realizing the fix was in, opponents concerted their efforts into an initiative putting the Students Come First legislation to a public referendum. Both Otter and Luna have vowed to fight these efforts.

The money behind Idaho education reform is prodigious, with at least two lengthy expensive newsletters already sent to every Idahoan via mail and/or newspaper outlet extolling the virtues of the legislation. Some of Idaho's wealthiest and most powerful business interests are behind education reform, notably Albertsons heir Joe Scott, who has significant ownership interest in K-9, Inc., a private education outlet. In contrast, one prong of the Students Come First legislation was designed to gut the primary loser in the legislation, Idaho's public educators, and their union the Idaho Education Association, mirroring Republican efforts in other states.

The referendum on Students Comes First will take place on the date of the general election, the first Tuesday of November, 2012. Word on the street is that John Foster has been tapped to lead the political efforts for Republicans against the initiatives, and in favor of leaving intact the draconian education reform legislation. John Foster is the former executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party. Foster is most notorious for his role as a staffer for Idaho's blue dog Congressman Walt Minnick, and leading Minnick's 2010 re-election campaign to an ignoble defeat. Since then, Foster has headed the office for a lobbying group. Foster's move makes this passage look almost prophetic:  read more »

Busy Leg

Idaho legislators propose allowing quad trailer semi trucks hauling toxic waste to use decommissioned Soviet submarine reactors as "supplemental engines on low density highways" to travel at sub-sonic speeds.

Idaho legislators propose tattooing "Jesus Saves" or "Jesus Saved Me" on the foreheads of all Idaho DOC prisoners convicted of malicious mischief or theft charges involving churches or temples.

Idaho legislators propose elimination of all public benefits for anyone who refuses to take polygraph examinations to monitor their use of food and medical benefits.

Idaho legislators propose issuing a State of Idaho Warrant and Detainer for the arrest of President Barack Obama as a foreign agent/provocateur.

Idaho legislators propose a proclamation which states Governor Brewer of Arizona is Idaho's "Official Soul Sister!"

Idaho legislators propose a "Free State Timber" day in honor of their esteemed member, Phil Hart, where one day each summer Idaho residents can cut trees on Idaho state land for their personal use only.

Idaho legislators propose a new public education system in which all K-12 students will be issued inexpensive smart phones with three basic educational applications and be sent home to "do God's will and some phone learnin'"

Idaho legislators propose a proclamation declaring the Caterpillar D5 as the official Idaho bulldozer.  read more »

Football as an Allegory for the Economy

Bill Maher - Irritable Bowl Syndrome from Fraser Davidson on Vimeo.

Bill Maher makes an excellent point regarding wealth disparity that should actually connect with people who spend most of their time pouring over the latest fantasy football stats.  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: High Quality Black Children's Books

Originally posted to Daily Kos Readers and Book Lovers.
Also republished by Black Kos community and Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

Studies like The All White World of Children's Books and African American Children's Literature chronicle how it was not until fairly recent history that a positive Black presence was seen in children's literature.

In the past, when Black or African ideas and people were found, the depictions were often stereotypical. The expressions of Black culture in supposedly innocent children's books perpetuated prejudicial attitudes. For example, the story of Babar the elephant smacked of colonialism. An African elephant was civilized under the custodial leadership of a French caregiver in the wake of the murder of his mother by the "hunter." The elephant in turn favors Egyptian (Arab, Coptic) culture and civilizes his jungle kingdom. His African (Black) rival is bestial.

But my years of writing and literary travels have found me fortunate enough to meet and work with two pioneers who have done a great deal toward solving this problem. I first met Wade and Cheryl Hudson in the early 1990s at conferences such as the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.

If you’re familiar with Black children’s book publishing, then you might know why Just Us Books was founded. Parents Wade and Cheryl Hudson were tired of searching for books that featured little brown boys and girls, and coming up with the same handful of titles. So they combined their experience in writing, marketing and art direction and launched Just Us Books in 1988 to publish children’s books that celebrate the diversity of Black history, culture and experiences.

Raising their two children in Northern NJ, the Hudsons found it difficult to find quality Black-interest books for children outside of Black History month. The couple decided to fill the void themselves, and went to work developing their own. But publisher after publisher turned the couple down, some outwardly doubting the viability of the Black children's book market. So the Hudsons founded their own publishing company. The success of Just Us Books and their signature brand AFRO-BETS quickly proved doubters wrong.

From the start the company was dedicated to ensuring that high quality books with blacks as the main characters would be available throughout the year—not just during Black History Month. They also worked to provide a creative venue for talented Black writers, illustrators, designers and other professionals; and most importantly to inspiring, encouraging and educating young people through reading by offering books with characters, stories and themes that reflected their lives as young Black people.

In addition to their roles as publishers, both Wade and Cheryl have cultivated dual careers as children's book authors. Wade's books include Jamal's Busy Day; Book of Black Heroes from A to Z; and Powerful Words. Cheryl's titles include Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Hands Can and My Friend Maya Loves to Dance.

The Hudsons are also partners, with their children Katura and Stephan, in Hudson Publishing LLC, which recently founded Marimba Books, a new multicultural children's book imprint.

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