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

Overtime Pay in Danger

Here's an alert we received from Working Families e-Activist Network:

The Bush administration's overtime pay take-away will be a huge windfall to Big Business and employers‹and a pay cut for millions of working families.

In fact, a new study from the Economic Policy Institute predicts that 6 million workers stand to lose their right to overtime pay beginning Aug. 23, when the Bush Fair Labor Standards Act changes are scheduled to take effect. The Bush Administration went forward with the new rules despite widespread concern over its impact from Republicans as well as  read more »

New campaign video up at www.ianstenseng.com

short video introducing my candidacy, and a bit about my background. Check it out!

www.ianstenseng.com

A Berger, Shake and Fried...

As the 9/11 commission releases its report today, the Republican party is trying a smear campaign on former Clinton national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger.

Back on October 2nd, Berger was reviewing papers at the National Archives. He had previously been there in September, but little did Berger realize that on his return the staff was having him watched. They had even coded the papers he had requested. Employees contacted Berger on October 4th and said some of the papers, concerning Clinton’s fight on terrorism, were missing. Berger searched his files, found the papers, then called the National Archives and returned them the next day.

So if all this happened back last October, then why is it a big deal now, and why two days before the 9/11 report? This is a smoke screen for the bad review of the Bush administration's handling of terrorism. This stinks all the way to the top. How can you not see it?! I had a really hard time watching the Republican goons line up and demand an investigation on Berger, but I did laugh as Hatchet Man Tom Delay was out there. Here is one of the biggest crooks in the nation, under investigation himself for far worse -- talk about calling the kettle black.

Here we have one of the most important reports of our time and the Republican radicals are trying to downplay it with slander and cheap politics. It shows how desperate and how low their party is. As you scroll down 43rd State Blues, you see blog by blog how deceitful, abusive, and down-right foul the GOP right-wing is, both local and national. They will do anything, illegal or no, to hold on to power!

Important times are ahead, bloggers. We must keep up the fight against this suppression of facts by Bush and his administration.

Also, its pretty darn fun...

Latino Voters go to Kerry, Democrats

Bush was really counting on the Latino vote this coming November to help pull him over the finish line. According to the Washington Post, it's not going to happen.

Kerry Has Strong Advantage Among Latino Voters

Majority of Hispanics Surveyed Disapprove of Bush's Handling of Economy and Iraq War

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) holds a strong lead over President Bush among the nation's Hispanic voters, with a majority rejecting the president's handling of the economy and the war in Iraq, according to a survey by The Washington Post, Univision and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.

At a time when Bush and Kerry are running about even among all registered voters, Kerry enjoys a 2 to 1 advantage over Bush among Latino registered voters. Hispanics give Bush lower approval ratings than the overall population does, and the poll shows that the bulk of the Latino community continues to identify with the Democratic Party.

The findings suggest that, at this point in the campaign, Bush is falling short of his goal of notably improving on the 35 percent share of the Hispanic vote he received four years ago, although his advisers said they believe he is still on track to do so. Kerry advisers, in contrast, said they are determined to keep Bush from winning as much of the Hispanic vote as he did in 2000.

Latinos understand what so many who call themselves Republicans don't -- unless you're already in a high income class, when you vote for Bush and the right-wing agenda he leads, you're voting against your own best interests. The Bush/Cheney crowd want your vote and the power it confers, but other than mouthing platitudes, they really don't give a damn about you. They've got theirs, and lots of it, and if you don't, well, too bad.

The American way isn't about giving those who need help a handout, it's about giving folks a hand up. Democrats and moderate Republicans understand this, and the Bush administration never will. That's why, come November 2nd, they're gone.

On being a conservative – or not

Here's a great letter to the editor by Stephen Watts, a former Democratic candidate for the Idaho Legislature and Bonneville County Sheriff.

Hey, you Dems in Bonneville County -- get this guy back on a ballot.

Bush Admin goes after Migrant Children

In Idaho, if your livelihood is agriculture, you'd probably have an even tougher time getting by if not for the use of migrant workers. And lots of these workers have families and children traveling with them.

Rather than having these kids work in the fields to help out their families economically -- to the detriment of their own education -- the U.S. has for years funded a federal program that pays these children minimum wage if they stay in school. But, yet again, George Bush has chosen to yank needed assistance away from those who can least afford it.

School Funds Cut for Migrant Workers' Kids

Funding is being eliminated for a federal program that pays the children of migrant workers across the country to stay in school instead of working in fields.

The Department of Labor program pays some young people minimum wage to stay in school while migrating with their parents, who travel across the country looking for seasonal farm work.

Coordinators in 31 states and Puerto Rico were told there was no money to operate the program this year, leaving them to find alternate sources, petition Congress or drop the program.

"This is a remarkable abandonment of the most vulnerable youth," said David Strauss, executive director of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs. "I don't know what's going to happen to those kids."

Repeated telephone messages left this week for Labor Department officials weren't returned.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Idaho agriculture relies on migrant workers to survive, yet Bush and the radical right have no qualms telling those whose labor is so necessary to us that the education of their kids is of no regard.

Republican politicians constantly profess their concern for children, yet when it comes time to put their money where their mouths are, they habitually claim poverty. Strange, when it's one of their pet pork projects, they can always find the dough they need, but when it come to the needs of children -- especially dark-skinned ones -- they're unable to come up with a lousy $10 million for funding.

I hope the next time one of the radical right sits down to a meal harvested with the sweat and effort of migrant labor, they think about those kids toiling in the hot sun instead of getting the education they need. Maybe, if they have even a modicum of feeling, they'll find it difficult to swallow.

Ozzy! Ozzy!

At a concert on July 14th as Ozzy Osbourne sang the song War Pigs, a projected image of President Bush and Adolf Hitler side by side was shown. After some complaints, it was dropped from the show.

Linda Ronstandt was actually ran out of Las Vegas, not from lack of talent, but because she dedicated the song Desperado to Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11. It seems some folks did not agree with her and threw drinks and stomped out.

Why is it ok for the right wingnuts to have fits, whine and complain if someone disagrees with them? Ask them about what Whoppi Goldberg said about Bush, literally, and they’ll tell you how sinful it was. Ask about what Cheney said to Congressman Leahy and well, he deserved it.

What is wrong with us liberals having fits, whining and complaining? I once ask a friend why don’t we? Her response was “we really don’t organize, liberals just deal with it.” Well here is a way we can be organized (kinda) and still deal with it. I urge all of us to get involved! When you see a 43rd State Blues request to email, write or act on something, let’s just do it! Really, it’s not that hard, a click here and there and we can make a difference.

As November draws closer, it is time to get moving! Time to take it up another notch, time for a strangle hold on the Republicans! (No, its not a death threat.) So grab that mouse, (I like cheese) and lets start having fits, whining (or wine) and complaining, and make the right as miserable as they make us.... remember it's not from JOHN 3:16 it’s from MIKE F:911.

IAI warns churches in Idaho against Bush/Cheney initiative

The Bush C.RE.E.P.'s want churches to turn over their membership lists so Bush's GOP minions can go after non-registered members and harass them for their vote. The Interfaith Alliance of Idaho wants churches in the state to realize that if they do this -- among other unpleasant possibilities -- their tax-exempt status could go bye-bye:

The Interfaith Alliance and The Interfaith Alliance of Idaho are issuing a strong warning to churches and other religious organizations that an initiative by the Bush-Cheney campaign could possibly lure them into jeopardizing their tax-exempt status, violating privacy laws, diminishing the positive role of religion and dividing congregations along political lines.

Among the 22 "duties" of religious volunteers listed by the Bush-Cheney document, volunteers are expected to send church directories to the Bush-Cheney campaign, which would then compare the names on the church directory with county voter registration rolls so that any non-registered church members could be contacted by "pro-Bush conservatives" and encouraged to register and vote for Bush-Cheney.

"As the pastor of a local congregation, if I found out that my church membership directory was shared with a campaign or political party, I would begin immediate legal action against the campaign or political party," said the Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, national President of The Interfaith Alliance, who also serves as Pastor for Preaching and Worship at Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, LA. "This is totally inappropriate."

...

The Interfaith Alliance of Idaho's president, Louard Crumbaugh of Nampa, shares the concern, "One of the privileges of living in a democracy is the right and duty to participate in the electoral process, but not to politicize religion by endorsing candidates or political parties."

I swear, if you gave the Bush administration a magic wand, they'd manage to poke their own eyes out. Everything these yahoos do is either offensive, incompetant, or criminal. Usually a combination of the three. And yet, I can imagine a bunch of the nutters in the Idaho GOP giddy as schoolgirls over the idea of handing over the names of their fellow churchgoers -- whether their brethren like it or not.

Kill This Bill!

First it was the wingnut dunderheads in the U.S. Senate, now the twinks in the House want their shot at writing bigotry and hatred into law. The good folks at MoveOn.org are on top of it:

Dear MoveOn Member,

You'd think President Bush and the right-wing leadership in Congress
would feel chastened after the resounding defeat last week of their
Constitutional amendment denying marriage equality to same-sex couples.

But you'd be wrong. They're now pushing a bill that would prevent
same-sex couples from going to federal court to challenge laws that
discriminate against them. The House is about to vote on this bill.

Your Representatives, Michael K. Simpson and C.L. "Butch" Otter, are key swing votes.

Please call now:

Representative Michael K. Simpson

Office Phone: 202-225-5531

Representative C.L. "Butch" Otter

Office Phone: 202-225-6611

Be sure the staff members know you're a constituent, then urge your
Representatives to:

"Vote NO on the Marriage Protection Act - H.R. 3313."

Please let us know you're calling, by clicking here.

H.R. 3313 would prevent federal courts from ruling on challenges to the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a bill passed in 1996 which allows
states to deny recognition to same-sex couples legally married in other
states.

For the first time in U.S. history, the Bill of Rights would be defined
by state borders. "Equal Protection Under the Law" might mean one
thing in Pennsylvania, and another in California.

Checks and balances are a fundamental part of our Constitution --
federal courts protect individual rights from overreaching by Congress
or the president.

Now, President Bush and some in Congress want to set this principle
aside to score political points in an election year. Don't let them --
call your Representative today.

Thanks for all you're doing.

Sincerely,

--Lee Bodner and Peter Schurman

MoveOn.org

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

What more can I add, except to encourage you to call Simpson and Otter today. We stopped this foolishness once, let's do it again!

More Than A Feeling

Idaho Democratic delegates are ready and rarin' to go to Boston next week for the Democratic National Convention.

(Tom) Broz says the election is critical to his generation. "Many of us think George W. Bush will start another war if he's re-elected and then there will be a draft," he said.

But do national conventions really matter anymore? There will hardly be any suspense as to the outcome. The phrase "presumptive Democratic nominee" will surely be removed from John Kerry's title. But (Carolyn) Boyce says there is a lot going on at the convention people will not see on national television.

"There are training sessions and those will be important for Idaho Democrats," she said. "We'll be learning more ways to get the vote out. It's informative."

The article focuses quite a bit on security, but the energy and enthusiasm of our Gem State Democratic delegates shines through.

The big TV networks won't spend much time covering the convention, but C-SPAN should help pick up the slack.

Greetings Bechtel BWXT INEEL right-wingers

I see a number of you have visited here today, and done so from your computers at the INEEL during work hours. Tsk.

If you folks can spend the day searching your names in Google and coming here, I'm guessing you still don't have enough work to keep you busy. 'Zat about right?

Broken down, at an hourly rate, how much did it cost the taxpayers for you to play around on your computers today? And did you put off anything important to, let's say, national security while you were goofing off?

Just wondering...

Positive news for Idaho right-wingers


FDA OKs Botox to Curb Underarm Sweating

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's now official: Wrinkle-smoothing Botox can be injected in the armpits to curb excessive sweating.

...

Side effects include injection site pain and bleeding, sweating in other parts of the body, flu-like symptoms, headache, fever, itching and anxiety, FDA said.

At this very moment, nearly the entire Idaho GOP legislature are phoning their physicians, desperate for an appointment. With the exception of Senator Craig, who only sweats through the palms of his hands and bottom of his feet, and tends to pant heavily to cool down.

And people say we never have any good news for our sweaty Idaho wingers...

"I am a conservative"

From last February's Oregonian, via comments at Orcinus:

IN MY OPINION

Mark Oberzil

I am a conservative. I believe in staying solvent and out of debt.

I am a conservative. I believe in keeping my nose out of other people's business, their nations and their bedrooms.

I am a conservative. I believe in conserving our assets and our resources -- our air, our land, our water. Accordingly, I don't support or engage in wastefulness, inefficiency or lavish excesses.

I am a conservative. I think an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Therefore I support appropriate government spending on such things as infrastructure, schools, social welfare and crime prevention, because in the long run it's cheaper and more effective.

I am a conservative. I don't sign on to risky schemes. I think if you give Bob a dollar, it helps Bob, but it may not necessarily help Oscar, Fred or Maria.

I am a conservative. If I am attacked, I respond appropriately and conservatively. I do not swat mosquitoes with dynamite.

I am a conservative. I don't deal falsely or prematurely with facts.

I am a conservative. I understand the purposes of various institutions. It is the job of government to govern, the job of religion to address spiritual needs, and the job of business to secure profits by producing needed goods and services. I do not confuse these institutions.

I am a conservative. I understand my position in the world and that my opinions are not the only valid ones.

I do not have an exclusive claim on what is right, good or patriotic, and those who disagree with me are not automatically evil traitors.

What's really weird, though, is that I've always thought these things, but now everyone calls me a "liberal"!

State GOP Attempting to Usurp School Supt.'s Authority

Del Bunce, District 14B Democratic candidate for State House of Representatives, sends out a terrific newsletter via e-mail every week. His latest issue highlights a new plot by Governor Dirk Kempthorne, his handpicked State Board of Education and the GOP legislature to appropriate the authority of Dr. Marilyn Howard, State Superintendent of Public Instruction (and, of course, an elected Democrat). Del writes:

The State Board of Education (Governor's appointees) are advertising for a
"Chief Academic Officer" and a "Elementary - Secondary Academic Officer." The Chief Academic Officer's duties and the Elementary - Secondary Academic Officer's duties closely parallel the duties of your elected Superintendent of Schools and her existing staff.

"The Chief Academic Officer reports to the Executive Director of the Office
of the State Board of Education and will work directly with the State Board
of Education and our many education stakeholders.
This position assists the State Board of Education with the Board's responsibility for the general supervision, governance and control of Idaho's college and professional technical education."  read more »

Idaho Progressive Caucus seeks web honcho

The Idaho Progressive Caucus has an immediate need for a volunteer web expert to improve our web site at www.idahoprogressives.org. Must have experience with CSS, PHP, MySQL and technologies to enable the following features:

  • Multiple-user blog with comments
  • Sign up, volunteer, and contribution forms
  • Mailing list management
  • Event calendar and event search tool based on zip code

If you have these skills and are available to help for at least several hours a week this summer on a volunteer basis, please contact Chris Struble at cstruble@ctcweb.net or 208-229-6427.

Bush chisels divisions ever deeper across country

Found this Grand Forks Herald letter to the editor:

MINTO, N.D. In his recent "Fahrenheit 9/11" column, Leonard Pitts equates the 1960s "liberal smugness" with today's conservative "self-righteous anger".

I just can't see it. The "smugness" only hurt the Democrats, while the "anger" is a cancer that will harm the whole country. Pitts certainly is correct in his observation that anger is an infectious disease.

It would seem Michael Moore's movie and the many critical books are a sign that conservative anger already has split our nation, but we still can hope they are just a protest against the tide that is dragging America into the realm of radical right-wing extremism.

To those who think to restore happiness and harmony by urging Democrats to discard their principals and quietly go along with the neo-con philosophy: Forget it. My firsthand experience when they turned Idaho into a one-party state was that when it no longer was necessary to be "nice" or to even give lip service to civility, the hatred and animosity only increased.

Actually, you can see it in the country at large. The neo-cons control the presidency, the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court. They should be grinning from ear to ear, but if you think they're happy, just tune in to the right-wing radio talk shows some day.

When President Bush came to Washington, the right hailed him as the "great consensus builder." Instead, he is on the brink of dividing the country as it hasn't been since the Civil War. A "hate-filled, angry, genie" has been freed from his bottle, and I, like Pitts, don't have a clue as to getting him back inside.

Thomas Osowski

True Conservative Liberalism

David Neiwert at Orcinus has a new posting on his weblog about Bush and his administration trying to attack Kerry and Edwards for being "liberal, liberal, liberal!" Then Dubya and his minions get their panties all in a twist when John Kerry states, "I actually represent the conservative values that they feel."

So many right-wingers across the country claim to be "conservatives," but as David writes, we should judge them by their actions, not their words:

Bush, after all, lays claim to the mantle of conservatism, at least leadership of the movement that has seized control of all layers of the federal government. But how really conservative is it?

Is it conservative to rack up the largest national deficit in history, with only the vaguest outlines of a plan for putting the national budget back in the black?

Is it conservative to ignore warnings of imminent terrorist threats merely because a preoccupation with terrorism is seen as too similar to your predecessor's presidency?

Is it conservative to jettison a half-century's worth of mulitlateral diplomacy and cooperation to pursue a radical vision of a unilateralist America supposedly capable of imposing its will on the rest of the world?

Is it conservative to attack another nation under false pretenses?

Is it conservative to allow torture, rape and killing of civilians under the purview of interrogating prisoners in the nation we now occupy as a result of that vision?

Is it really conservative to adopt the legal position that the president's wartime powers allow him to supersede international law and the Geneva Conventions, and to argue before the Supreme Court that those powers allow the government to imprison American citizens at will without right to trial indefinitely?

And finally, is it really, really conservative to relentlessly and dishonestly attack your opponent, to smear and distort his words and his positions at every turn, to ultimately demonize him and, by extension all of liberalism?

Is that what conservatism is all about now? Hating liberals?

Because, you know, I grew up in a pretty conservative environment. Rural, like the people John Kerry was talking to. And I don't recall those kinds of people having anything to do with this kind of "conservatism."

If I remember correctly (I'll have to double check -- the email I received from David last year is on a computer I haven't access to at the moment), the conservative environment he grew up in was right here in Idaho.

As U.S. Senate candidate Scott McClure says, he used to be a moderate Republican here in Idaho, but those who now call themselves "conservative Republicans" in this state are anything but. Those here in the Gem State who truly believe in "compassionate conservatism" should most assuredly not continue to vote-in the wingnut wierdos of the past. If they really do believe in the classic definition of "conservative," they should be voting for Democrats.

As I've said here before, to realize the full potential of our great state, we need to reach a balance, between fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. Right now, that balance has been tossed into a cocked hat by the wingers running Idaho. Moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats (who I believe are the vast majority in Idaho) can and should work together. We just need to get rid of the jerkweed right-wingers to make it happen.

UPDATE: Yep, I remembered correctly -- Dave Neiwert is a 4th generation Idahoan, from Idaho Falls. Nice to know such a talent hails from Southeast Idaho.

Which former Republican would rather switch AND fight?

And the answer to the question we posted last week is --

Scott McClure, Idaho Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Mr. McClure was a former moderate Republican until he realized the right-wingers in this state had hijacked the GOP and no longer believed in anything that being a Republican used to stand for.

As Scott says on his website, "I realized that their policies ignore what used to be considered the cornerstones of the Republicanism that I grew up with as a child: 1) Fiscal responsibility, 2) Maintenance of a strong position of moral leadership in the world community, 3) Support of a strong military, and 4) Staunch defense of personal freedoms. On every point, the Democratic Party has taken the position of leadership. Therefore, changing title from Republican to Democrat allows me to defend those principles I held so dear throughout my life." Mr. McClure, we Democrats are proud and honored to have you working beside us.

Folks have been making guesses about this for a week. Some of the names bandied about were:

  • Former Idaho Governor Phil Batt (who has apparently taken some heat from right-wingers lately. Come on over, Phil -- nothin' but love here, bud...).
  • Butch Otter (In his younger day ol' Butch could have been a Dem, but he's pretty much lost to the dark side).
  • Former Idaho state legislator Vern Ravenscroft (now there's a name from when dinosaurs walked the earth. Last I'd heard of him, it was when wicked witch of the West Helen Chenoweth admitted to knockin' boots with him for six years -- unbeknownst to Mrs. Ravenscroft.)
  • Bruce Willis (I believe Bruno is a supporter of Commander Bunnypants Dubya -- I guess they both enjoy pretending to be military men).

To go to the Scott McClure for U.S. Senate website, click here.

Panic in the Idaho Pachyderm Party?

Sniff-sniff -- ahhhhh, can you smell it? It's the tangy scent of Gem State GOoPer desperation wafting on the breeze...

From: China Veldhouse-Gum

''

To: (someone who sure as hell isn't a Republican)

Sent: Friday, July 16, 2004 4:08 PM

Subject: (Dem recipiant), the Idaho GOP needs your help

Dear (amused Democrat),

There are just 109 days left until election day, and the Idaho Republican Party needs your help! We are busy planning the re-election of targeted legislators and the election of key races across the state and we need to know if we can count on you.

The Democrats are out in full force, registering voters at a record rate. We need to register two Republicans for every Democrat they register. We are in desperate need of people who can help walk precincts to identify voters, make phone calls, help with voter registration events, and assist with data entry in the state headquarters.

(Democratic recipiant who is now laughing his/her ass off), because the state party knows how important volunteers are to winning a campaign, a training program has been created that will get you up to speed on exactly what you can do to get out the Republican message and get your friends, family, and neighbors to vote Republican.

The training is called 72-hour training -- referring to the huge get out the vote push in the last 72 hours before the election. Training sessions take place at the State Headquarters:

1111 S. Orchard #230

(208) 343-6405

Tuesdays at 7pm

Saturdays at 10 am

The 72-Hour program training will go on until election day, but we need your help now!

Best Regards,

China Veldhouse

It appears China Veldhouse-Gum (now there's a name that rolls off the tongue) is in need of volunteers. Since China's been kind enough to send out an invitation to one Democrat, I have to assume it goes out to us all.

I suggest all you Boise-area Democrats head over to the Repubs meeting this Tuesday evening and next Saturday and see what you can do to assist them in any way you can.

No thanks necessary, China -- always glad to help.

Failure is not an option, it's mandatory.

http://tinyurl.com/49sh6

"For more than three decades, the Republican Party has relied on the "culture war" to rescue their chances every four years, from Richard Nixon's campaign against the liberal news media to George H. W. Bush's campaign against the liberal flag-burners. In this culture war, the real divide is between "regular people" and an endlessly scheming "liberal elite." This strategy allows them to depict themselves as friends of the common people even as they gut workplace safety rules and lay plans to turn Social Security over to Wall Street. Most important, it has allowed Republicans to speak the language of populism."

An opinion about how the surety of losing wins votes for the Republican party.

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