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

Mood: DEAD

My LiveJournal account was deleted by those bastard sonsuhbitches I HATE SO MUCH today. I am bereft of my dignity and ability to track my emotional states every day and continue a self narrative of my interior landscapes and who is hurting my feelings and who I am silly about.

My LiveJournal tribe, close internet names who share my interests in Disney Princess fan fiction, will be an aching void in my life now.

I don't think I'll start a new one with a new name, it could never be as magical or as sparkly.

Unicorns aren't fucking real. I know that now. I truly do.

Emily Walton Discloses the Idaho Freedom Fallacy

Wayne Hoffman of the so called Idaho Freedom Foundation fired off a missive to Boise City officials asking them to shelf their bond proposal. The proposal asks the people of Boise to approve funding for a variety of things including the securing of open space in the foothills and improving public parks. Noting that democracy and freedom are not mutually exclusive, Emily Walton, of the Idaho Civic Engagement Project, fired back:

Why would someone who runs an organization dedicated to freedom and open government argue against people voting in decisions for their city?

Hoffman’s claim that Boiseans shouldn't get to vote on parks and open spaces because they’re just for “fun” demonstrates a lack of understanding when it comes Boise and the history of this city that we love.

Boiseans have invested in their city for 150 years. From the beautiful parks, foothills and a downtown we enjoy to the good schools and safe neighborhoods we cherish, we all know that a city of Boise’s caliber doesn't just spring up without investment and devotion. Since when did a guy from Nampa have so many opinions on how Boiseans should run their city?

Thereafter, IFF stooge and noted hack, Dusting Hurst threatened: “Emily Walton just picked a fight with Wayne Hoffman? This will not end well for Emily. Not at all.” Wayne Hoffman subsequently issued an ap-hollow-gy. Idaho is too great for bullies.  read more »

The Rumors of My Demise...

Alas, my belligerent ways got the better of me. Facebook deigned to note my existence and takes umbrage at my name, insisting no one would actually name their child "Sisyphus". I'm hurt. Since I doubt very much that the Facebook behemoth has a minion devoted to discovering and deciding worthiness of participants, one must assume that I angered some ideologically rigid, arrested development wingnut with the truth, who then gathered up their negative emotions, ran off to their Facebook mommy, demanded and obtained censorship, thus achieving no victory, but satisfaction in fulfilling their ad hominem, with no one left to point out the fallacy.

At this point I can engage them and launch into yet another defense of pseudonymity and how it filled a vital role in accomplishing change in rigid and dogmatic environments throughout history in enabling the speaking of truth to power without recrimination. Indeed, our country's birth owes much to pseudonymous writers, the right to which was incorporated into the first amendment. Or I could point out that pseudonymous internet users actually improve a site's comment section. But we all know how that will turn out.

Being a Democrat in Idaho, I'm no stranger to quixotic endeavors, but there has to be an end game worthy of achievement. Given the multitude of assumed names which grace Facebook, commercial or otherwise, their stand is little short of hypocritical and certainly randomly erratic. But I'm fond of my subversive persona and loathe the idea of acquiescing to such arbitrary power and control. So I bide my time while mulling whether to die ignobly and permanently or rise like a Phoenix in another guise. I loved my community of friends and hope my existence enabled you to engage each other on a more personal level. Adieu.  read more »

Lori Otter's grade? C-minus. Lacks thesis statement, needs proofread

Wow, apparently Idaho First Lady Lori Otter didn't get taught the First Celebrity Rule of the Internet: DO NOT GO INTO THE COMMENTS!!!

Diana Ravitch posted an article nearly a month ago about the ongoing Republican war on teachers and education. When someone called Guv'ner Skinnyjeans' wife a dilettante, Miss Lori posted a punctuationally-and-grammatically-impaired rant, deploring teachers (shock!), educational blogs, and in trophy tradition, "mean people". She has run-on sentences, a ton of half-ellipses (I really can't complain, I abuse the shit out of three-dot ellipses), misspellings and leaves out the occasional word, all while lamely tooting her own horn as an English teacher. Beleaguered teachers and liberal grammar nazis will absolutely love this post. Be sure to check it out, but here's a taste:

...I am entitled to my opinion- don’t insult me by inferring that I only do what my husband wants me too.. hello- what century are you living in?..I have the right to support things in my profession that I think are good for it. It has always surprised and disappointed me that teachers or educational forums such as this accomplish little except allowing adults to say mean and unfounded comments, things which do not have to be defended or factually supported… Which I might add is something we would not want our students to do. So.. That’s all I have to say -I am a teacher, a very good one I might add, I am qualified to speak on education..just as much as all of you are and will continue to do so.. I am perfectly fine with disagreeing with points of view.. But really? Yes.. Nice matters. . Thanks.

"Yes.. Nice matters." I guess the question is whether it matters more than a systematic campaign of sabotaging the education of half a million of Idaho's kids or more before we re-embrace Idaho's progressive free-public-education origins.

Meanwhile, I suspect someone'll teach her that other little Celebrity Internet rule. It's likely happening today. Hell, even my ten-year-old surfs youtube enough to viscerally know that online comments are Where Intelligent Discussion Goes to Die.

H/T: Sisyphus

Praying for Snow

I don't imagine I can write a better post than this. (But ... hooray! I remembered my password!)

Idaho Education News is the Whore of The Albertson Foundation

Crossposted on Daily Kos

by Travis Manning

Sen. Branden Durst’s recent op-ed critiquing Superintendent Luna’s “end around” the Idaho legislature, and his subsequent analysis of GOP political genealogy, has merit, especially as it relates to a newly minted news organization called Idaho Education News (IEN).

Funded by The Albertson Foundation, IEN started seven months ago in order to advance the school privatization agenda of Chairman Joe Scott. They bought the Boise State University name, where IEN is housed, simply by donating millions of dollars. Strategically, Albertson hired away established reporters Kevin Richert, Jennifer Swindell and Clark Corbin to do its messaging work, under the auspices of their new identity. Albertson uses the B.S.U. trademark as a PR gimmick to expedite credibility within Idaho.

Albertson and IEN blur the arena of ethical journalism, which situation is different from Boise State’s relationship with National Public Radio, where Boise State Public Radio, an NPR affiliate, is housed. In this case, NPR is an already-established news entity with decades-long experience and an international reputation for quality and unbiased reporting. IEN is far from achieving NPR’s status.

While I wouldn’t say IEN produces “pseudo journalism,” as Sen. Durst suggests, I will say they have work to do. If IEN is not careful, they will be seen as the propaganda arm of Scott and Albertson, much like is seen as the propaganda machine of The Idaho Freedom Foundation and Executive Director Wayne Hoffman (and whomever else funds the IFF, as Hoffman refuses to publicly disclose its corporate master).

I queried Betsy Russell, president of the Capitol Correspondents Association, as to why IEN received full press credentials as an upstart news organization and IdahoReporter has not. Her response, that “All three of their reporters are B.S.U. employees. The grant from the Albertson Foundation went to B.S.U. No one involved with the operation is involved in lobbying, which is key to credentialing. That is why doesn’t qualify; it is a lobbying organization headed by a registered lobbyist.”

In a recent IEN article, cross-published by the Idaho Press-Tribune on July 19 titled, “Nampa, Vallivue among districts chosen for Idaho Leads program,” such a disclosure was not placed. Whenever IEN reports on projects associated with The Albertson Foundation it is, essentially, reporting on itself. Not to disclose such a conflict of interest is entirely unethical. The Idaho Press-Tribune, and news outlets statewide, need to be cognizant.

While IEN does a decent job allowing for a diverse cadre of op-eds, they have much work to do regarding selection of news topics and the angle and trajectory from which they report on these topics.

IEN reporters tend to report fairly on education issues occurring within Idaho state government (legislature, Idaho state school board, Idaho Department of Education, and within a handful of school districts). However. Idaho’s public schools, teachers and students are doing amazing things, especially in the current political environment rife with policymakers who despise Idaho’s public school system, its teachers, and its outcomes. IEN needs desperately to broaden its content and reporting to include the many successes occurring within Idaho’s public schools – not just charter schools – both large and small, across the state, especially rural schools, and especially regarding traditionally underserved populations.

This bias towards charter schools and against public schools casts a long shadow across IEN’s early body of work.

Finally, IEN has not examined how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is drafting many of Idaho’s so called education reform laws behind closed doors with legislators, lobbyists and politicians at the table – but not the public – which practice circumvents democracy.

Idaho Education News needs to report on the elephant in the room.

Travis Manning is executive director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho and can be reached at

A Haiku Inspired by Tom Luna

temple pond holds coins
frog guards wish pennies, lazily
fat monk steals wishes, laughs

Rep. Erpelding to Hike Idaho Centennial Trail

Idaho State Rep. Mat Erpelding will raise money for the Idaho Redside Foundation this August. He will attend to hike the nearly 1,000 mile Idaho Centennial Trail in 40 days. He hopes to raise money for a nonprofit cause. He is also attention to Idaho’s rural economies and the value of our public lands.

Did you know that in 2012 the Idaho Outdoor Recreation Industry reported $6.3 billion in sales? That compares to $7.7 billion in sales for Idaho’s crops and livestock. Everyone knows how important agriculture is to Idaho’s rural communities. Few understand that Idaho’s Outdoor Recreation Industry, which is heavily reliant on public lands,
has similar impact.

The Idaho’s Redside Foundation is a new organization that supports Idaho’s guiding and outfitting workers. These workers are often Idaho’s only ambassadors to visitors from out of state. Yet, this working population struggles with the ups and downs of seasonal work. Redside offers health care assistance, financial counseling, and much more to these adventurous, brave, and hearty workers.

Mat believes that Idaho’s rural communities benefit economically and socially from the commercial outdoor recreation industry, and that guiding and outfitting are integral to long-term economic wellbeing in Idaho. Therefore, Mat strongly believes in Redside’s mission to preserve the health and vitality of Idaho’s commercial guiding community.

Donate now to support Mat’s ambitious goal and spread awareness of The Redside Foundation:

A little more about Mat…

Mat Erpelding, an Idaho state representative from District 19Mat Erpelding is a high-altitude climbing guide, an educator, a business owner, and a member of the Idaho House of Representatives. In 1993, Mat moved to Idaho to attend Idaho State University, and now lives in Boise. A vibrant and healthy community with exceptional access to wildlands drew Mat to Boise, and it is why he loves Idaho.

Mat is a co-owner of Experiential Adventures, which he founded in 2004. Experiential Adventures LLC specializes in leadership development, group facilitation, and teaching collaboration using experiential education as its foundation. EA has grown over the years to include clients such as the military, higher education institutions, and corporations seeking to improve their organizational culture.

Until December 2012, Mat was an instructor at the College of Western Idaho Dept. of Physical Education, specializing in training teachers to use experiential education in the classroom. Mat is an adjunct faculty member in the Leadership Studies Minor at Boise State University.Mat has also worked in the Division of Student Affairs at different colleges and universities including Boise State University, California State University, Chico, Evergreen State College, and Texas Tech University. Mat recently co-edited a textbook for outdoor leadership programs called Outdoor Program Administration.

In addition to being elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2012, Mat has served as the Vice Chair of the Ada County Democrats, and was named “Activist of the Year” by the Idaho Democratic Party at the 2012 Frank Church Banquet. Mat understands the challenges faced by Idaho legislators. He worked hard to support the members of both the house and senate by organizing and preparing the 2012 Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint during the legislative
session. He has pledged to devote much of his career to public service to help build sustainable urban and rural communities in Idaho.

Studies Minor at Boise State University. Mat has also worked in the Division of Student Affairs at different colleges and universities including Boise State University, California State University, Chico, Evergreen State College, and Texas Tech University. Mat recently co-edited a textbook for outdoor leadership programs called Outdoor Program Administration.

He is the Past President of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE), and in 2006 was awarded the Jim Rennie Leadership Award for outstanding service and dedication to the Association. In 2010, Mat was awarded the Wilderness Education Association’s Instructor of the year for bringing innovative and substantial curriculum improvements to the organization. He ranks among the Idaho Business Review’s “40 Most Accomplished Under 40.”

As a high-altitude mountain guide, Mat has reached the 20,320 ft summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley) in four out of five attempts while helping more than twenty clients reach the top as well. Mat approaches mountaineering much as Willi Unsoeld did as a member of the first American Everest expedition in 1963. Willi said, “The final test for me of the legitimacy of the [mountaineering] experience is ‘How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?’” Mat’s passion for wilderness has shaped his belief that civic engagement is essential to living in our community.

In addition to being elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2012, Mat has served as the Vice Chair of the Ada County Democrats, and was named “Activist of the Year” by the Idaho Democratic Party at the 2012 Frank Church Banquet. Mat understands the challenges faced by Idaho legislators. He worked hard to support the members of both the house and senate by organizing and preparing the 2012 Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint during the legislative session. He has pledged to devote much of his career to public service to help build sustainable urban and rural communities in Idaho.

New Idaho Blue Book Published and Available

For all the Idaho Political junkies, The Idaho Blue Book, published by the Idaho Secretary of State, is the starting place for any research on state government, with biographical information of all state and county office holders, stats and historical information for all state institutions, and pictures suitable for meme-ing. Of interest in this latest edition is the dedication to three stalwarts in advocacy for Human Rights in Idaho, Bill Wassmuth, Tony Stewart, and Norman Gissel, who organized and confronted the Aryan Nations in North Idaho. Take some time to read this great dedication and kudos to Ben for honoring these great Idahoans while working with a Governor who attempted to dismantle the Idaho Human Rights Commission.  read more »

Chris Hayes parodies Bill O'Reilly

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

An Imaginary Conversation Between Rep Matt Shea (WA-R); Rep Vito Barbieri (ID-R) and Ted Nugent (FKTARD-R)

Shea: Whoa, Ha!
Barbieri: Yeah! Argh!
Nugent: Fuckin' kill a deer and a libtard!
Shea: Ho! Ha!
Barbieri: Grunt!
Nugent: Burp
Shea: Collapse! Society Kill Kill!
Barbieri: Bad! Eat squirrels! YUM
Nugent: Fuck Squirrels with a broadhead dipped in DYNAMITE. WANGO TANGO
Shea: Urp
Barbieri: Fighting the city people! Yeah!
Shea: Hell yeah!
Nugent: Bait 'em with foodstamps HO HO
Shea: HO HO Yeah
Barbieri: HAHAHA and peanuts!
Shea: Peanuts?
Nugent: Penises for the libgays! hahaha Kill Elk Yeah!

(it goes on a lot longer but this was the part with the most elucidated exchange of ideas regarding the pre-apocalyptic visioning and strategic planning of certain Northwest GOP representatives)

Three Days in Idaho

Staying up at the lake to beat the heat draped over Spokane like a thermonuclear blanket on an Ammonia Giant on the hot side of Mercury.

Some random impressions: Every day EVERY FUCKING DAY someone is blasting rounds though their gun either on the other side of the lake or just up the beach. I'm not unused to the gun popping hilarity of the locality. But even for North Idaho this is extreme. IS IT BECAUSE THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR IS ABOUT TO COMMENCE? Scary Obama! It's truly annoying me. I've been tempted to bring out my Mossberg SX 12 gauge auto loaded and arc about 8 fast ones over the lake. But why bother? I'll be gunfighting these microcephalic squirrel eating quilt lovers soon enough.

CURAD CAMO MO-FKNG BANDAIDS - no shit. Bought them in Rathdrum. Perfect for when you got to bandage up the wounds and still BLEND IN WITH THE WOODLANDS. Jesus Christ. This country has gone nuts.

Climate Change weirdness: While North Idaho isn't exactly the canary in the coal mine for climate change (it is, perhaps that for the event horizon of inbred genetics) I was trippin' to watch a bat fly out over the lake eating bugs DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE BLISTERING HOT AFTERNOON. I grabbed a kayak paddle and much impressed the neighbors who were imploring me to get that bat! Lucky for it, it flew a different way. Also - I watched an osprey doing touch and go landings on the lake spraying a sort of osprey rooster tail. WTF was that? Raptors having fun? Dig.

One more day and it's back to civilization and all. I will miss North Idaho. But I will work on my aim!

Hey, Lizzie -- forget Wyoming, run in Idaho!

We get letters...

Open Letter to Liz Cheney

Ms. Cheney:

Pssssstttt! I’m over here... just across the border in Victor, Idaho. Can we talk?

You’re causing quite a ruckus over the pass in your new state of Wyoming. The GOP establishment is not very happy with you at the moment. You’re coming off a bit brash and aggressive.

I've got a suggestion: move over the border to Victor and run against Senator Risch. Why be persona non grata in Wyoming when you could be a hero in Idaho? Seriously.  read more »

Immigration rights marchers begin trek to Labrador’s Meridian office

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WILDER — About 20 people gathered Monday near Chula Vista Acres in Wilder to begin a three-day, 30-mile walk from that spot to Meridian City Hall in the name of immigration reform, today's Idaho Press Tribune reports.

“The walk is symbolic,” said Ruby Menendez, a member of the Idaho Community Action Network. “We are collectively taking a path, current voters and future voters, to recognize that real change, lasting change to our immigration system will build a future together.”

The event is a collaborative effort between the ICAN, the Coalition for Immigrant Rights of Idaho and the Community Council of Idaho. The group walked to Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church on Monday and held a vigil Monday night and will continue walking to Nampa all day today.

On Wednesday, they plan to arrive by 1 p.m. at Meridian City Hall for a press conference and rally, and will deliver “thousands of petitions” to Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador’s office to pressure him to vote in favor of the immigration reform bill.

And Labrador sees any compromise at this time as "pandering to Hispanics."

“In fact, the biggest mistake we can make as conservatives is to pander to the Hispanic community and to think that the only way we’re going to get votes is to vote a certain way on immigration,” Labrador said at the monthly ‘Conversations with Conservatives’ event. “Because what we start doing is, we start pandering and we start giving goodies out to people, then we’re going to get into a bidding war with the Democratic Party.”

Labrador said that inciting a bidding war with Democrats over issues such as immigration would only result in Republicans losing because “Democrats are always more willing to give goodies to a certain group than we are.”.

The congressman went on to say he wishes that Republicans would stop basing legislation and policies off of politics because the American people want immigration legislation based on the principle of a secure border.

A bit of history:

On June 5, Labrador, a former immigration attorney, informed his colleagues that he was leaving the bipartisan group negotiating a House immigration bill because he was not satisfied that taxpayers would not have to foot the bill for immigrants in the country illegally in their legislation.

Rather than agree to detailed language on healthcare, the group decided instead to essentially punt the issue and hew to the contours of the Senate Gang of Eight legislation, which makes clear that undocumented immigrants in a provisional legal status cannot receive federal benefits from the 2010 healthcare law.

We will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth

Last year, 93 percent of the nation's growth was African American, Asian, and Latino. The other seven percent were white immigrants. Republicans are losing every single one of those groups by wide margins.

A party that wants to keep getting elected would do something about this.

And the GOP kinda wants to. But not really:

House Republican leadership’s outreach to the Hispanic community ran smack into a tea party wall on Wednesday.

Outside the Capitol, a tea-party-fueled rally on immigration put the spotlight on the dilemma facing Speaker John A. Boehner. The Ohio Republican met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday and hopes to cure his party’s huge demographic challenge with Hispanics by passing an immigration overhaul this year. But the tea party energy on display outside the Capitol, which catapulted him into power in 2010, has turned on the speaker.

The contrast was on full display at an ill-timed news conference held by GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington outside the Capitol in the House Triangle, competing with the larger, daylong anti-immigration-bill news conference and rally on the East Front.

McMorris Rodgers had gathered faith-based leaders of the Latino community on Capitol Hill to, she said, talk about “our shared goals for America” with a half-dozen of her colleagues as part of a larger outreach effort.

And as Markos points out:

Deaths exceeded births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in at least a century, according to new census data, a benchmark that heralds profound demographic change.

There was still a net increase in non-Hispanic white people because of, ironically, immigration. But by railing against immigrants, Republicans are pissing those white people off too.

These developments were unexpected.

The disparity between deaths and births in the year that ended last July surprised experts. They expected that the aging white population would eventually shrink, as it has done in many European countries, but not for another decade or so.

So we're 10 years ahead of schedule of the extinction of the white race, or the "demographic winter" as the white supremacists see it. Boy will this give them reason to freak out even further! And you want more irony? Demographers speculate that the reason for the accelerated timeline is ... people have no money.

He attributed the precipitous shift in part to the recession [...]

The transition will mean that “today’s racial and ethnic minorities will no longer be dependent on older whites for their economic well-being,” said William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. In fact, the situation may be reversed. “It makes more vivid than ever the fact that we will be reliant on younger minorities and immigrants for our future demographic and economic growth,” he said.

The viability of programs like Social Security and Medicare, Dr. Frey said, “will be reliant on the success of waves of young Hispanics, Asians and blacks who will become the bulwark of our labor force.” The issues of minorities, he added, “will hold greater sway than ever before.”

The Empire Strikes Back: VanderSloot to buy Pocatello TV station?

Word going around the Gate City today is that Frank VanderSloot, CEO of Melaleuca, Inc. and former national finance co-chair of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is preparing to expand his corporate and media empire by buying NBC-affiliate KPVI-TV channel 6 in Pocatello, Idaho. KPVI broadcasts throughout Southeast Idaho.

KPVI is currently owned by Intermountain West Communications Company. IWCC's CEO, James Rogers, bought the station in 1996.

VanderSloot's media arm, Riverbend Communications, owns radio stations KLCE, KCVI (Kbear), KTHK (The Hawk), KBLI and KBLY in Eastern Idaho. VanderSloot also owns businesses involved in ranching, land holdings and construction. His net worth has been estimated at more than a billion dollars.  read more »

Young Peoples Pavilion: Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

Known as Navajo Code Talkers, they were young Navajo men who transmitted secret communications on the battlefields of WWII. At a time when America's best cryptographers were falling short, these modest sheepherders and farmers were able to fashion the most ingenious and successful code in military history. They drew upon their proud warrior tradition to brave the dense jungles of Guadalcanal and the exposed beachheads of Iwo Jima. Serving with distinction in every major engagement of the Pacific theater from 1942-1945, their unbreakable code played a pivotal role in saving countless lives and hastening the war's end.

SOURCE: Official Site of the Navajo Code Talkers

This memorial day, I feel compelled to share Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, by Joseph Bruchac.

This stirring young adult tale recounts how a group of Navajo marines came to become major players in WWII victory in the face of horrendous racially biased treatment.

After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.

In the measured tones of a Native American storyteller, Bruchac assumes the persona of a Navajo grandfather telling his grandchildren about his World War II experiences. Protagonist Ned Begay starts with his early schooling at an Anglo boarding school, where the Navajo language is forbidden, and continues through his Marine career as a "code talker," explaining his long silence until "de-classified" in 1969. Begay's lifelong journey honors the Navajos and other Native Americans in the military, and fosters respect for their culture. Bruchac's gentle prose presents a clear historical picture of young men in wartime, island hopping across the Pacific, waging war in the hells of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima. Nonsensational and accurate, Bruchac's tale is quietly inspiring, even for those who have seen Windtalkers, or who have read such nonfiction works as Nathan Aaseng's Navajo Code Talkers (Walker, 1992), Kenji Kawano's Warriors: Navajo Code Talkers (Northland, 1990), or Deanne Durrett's Unsung Heroes of World War II: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers (Facts On File, 1998). For those who've read none of the above, this is an eye-opener. - School Library Journal

Bruchac is a highly acclaimed Abenaki children's book author, poet, novelist and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. Coauthor with Michael Caduto of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in over 500 publications, from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored more than 50 books for adults and children.

Code talkers were people who used obscure languages as a means of secret communication during wartime. The term is now usually associated with the United States soldiers during the world wars who used their knowledge of Native-American languages as a basis to transmit coded messages. In particular there were approximately 400-500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted these messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formal or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. Their service improved communications in terms of speed of encryption at both ends in front line operations during World War II.

The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by Choctaw Indians serving in the U.S. Army during World War I. These soldiers are referred to as Choctaw code talkers.

Other Native American code talkers were deployed by the United States Army during World War II, including Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota, Meskwaki, and Comanche soldiers. Soldiers of Basque ancestry were used for code talking by the U.S. Marines during World War II in areas where other Basque speakers were not expected to be operating.

Choctaws in training in World War I for coded radio and telephone transmissions

Six-year-old Ned Begay leaves his Navajo home for boarding school, where he learns the English language and American ways. At 16, he enlists in the U.S. Marines during World War II and is trained as a code talker, using his native language to radio battlefield information and commands in a code that was kept secret until 1969. Rooted in his Navajo consciousness and traditions even in dealing with fear, loneliness, and the horrors of the battlefield, Ned tells of his experiences in Hawaii, Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. The book, addressed to Ned's grandchildren, ends with an author's note about the code talkers as well as lengthy acknowledgments and a bibliography. The narrative pulls no punches about war's brutality and never adopts an avuncular tone. Not every section of the book is riveting, but slowly the succession of scenes, impressions, and remarks build to create a solid, memorable portrayal of Ned Begay. Even when facing complex negative forces within his own country, he is able to reach into his traditional culture to find answers that work for him in a modern context. Readers who choose the book for the attraction of Navajo code talking and the heat of battle will come away with more than they ever expected to find. - Booklist

"They were a small band of warriors who created an unbreakable code from the ancient language of their people and changed the course of modern history."  read more »

Sorry State of Local Idaho Journalism on Display in GBAD Election


This weekend, Idaho news outlets were busy congratulating themselves about their self serving awards ceremony, in which everyone seemed to get a prize, while potential corruption brewed under their very noses without so much as a question. After I posted a detailed report on Friday regarding what appeared to be deceptive electioneering practices in the GBAD election, only two local media outlets chose to raise questions regarding the election financial disclosures, and both dropped the ball after getting what they apparently thought was a plausible explanation. Sven Berg's report in the Idaho Statesman buried the lede when it stated:

Tway, Berch and Walker recently questioned reports showing incumbents Peter Oliver, Rob Perez and Stephanie Astorquia had received no contributions and spent no money on their campaigns. That seemed impossible, since the candidates published a joint brochure in early May promoting their candidacies.

But the reports in question, which were due May 14, covered contributions and expenditures between Jan. 1 and May 5. Contributions hadn't started coming in by then, and the candidates hadn't received the bill for the brochure, said Jason Lehosit, who helped the incumbents' campaigns.

"How are you supposed to report something when you don't know what the cost is because you haven't got a bill from the printer yet?" Lehosit said.

Perhaps Mr. Berg is unfamiliar with Mr. Lehosit's checkered past in running Republican campaigns.

In Idaho's inner Republican Party, the name Jason Lehosit is as familiar as any in the past 10 years. A consultant, fundraiser and campaign manager for several high profile Idaho politicians including Gov. Butch Otter in his 2005 campaign and now, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, is in jail after allegations of violating his DUI probation. Court records show that 33-year-old Jason Lehosit's possible probation violation was for his fourth DUI. Attorney David Leroy says, if Lehosit did in fact violate his probation, a judge won't take his sentence lightly.

Lehosit doesn't work for free, so how he can order up a several thousand dollar print job unless he's on the clock. Lehosit's cost to the campaign surely should have shown up in a sunshine disclosure if he's working for them in early May. More importantly, how would Lehosit persuade a printing business to extend him credit for a job costing several thousand dollars, particularly when he had zero in the way of contributions. The fact that Jason Lehosit is involved in this campaign at all is worthy of investigation and reporting.  read more »

Something Smells Bad at GBAD


Recently the Idaho Statesman profiled the May 21st election for the Greater Boise Auditorium District membership on the Board of Directors and what's at stake in this election.

Candidates Steve Berch, Jim Walker (both running for six-year terms) and George Tway (seeking a two-year term) have the same campaign manager and are endorsed by GBAD board chairman and Idaho House member Hy Kloc, who was endorsed by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who endorses a new baseball stadium. Berch-Walker-Tway were the only candidates among the eight to advocate for a multiuse sports facility (not to the exclusion of convention enhancements) during a candidate forum May 9. They did not spell out baseball specifically, but emphasized "multiuse." They claim they are not a "slate," but they espouse a common anti-incumbent message.

Stephanie Astorquia, Rob Perez (running for six-year terms) and Peter Oliver (running for a two-year term) are incumbents, though Perez and Oliver are relatively new appointees (one year ago and four months ago, respectively). These three share a campaign flier and none advocated specifically for a multiuse sports facility at the candidate forum. They see their strength and their future as operating, and perhaps expanding, the district's convention business. Expansion plans could include a 50,000-square-foot exhibition area that consultants recommend.

The remaining two candidates, John May and Noah Bard, both have industry experience. May's is in the hotel business and serving in community development capacities. His parents have both served on the GBAD board - May's late father, Larry, and his mother, Gail, who left the board in January. Oliver was appointed to the seat Gail May left at midterm.

This is a non-partisan race with strong partisan overtones. With cursory mention, the editorial references bad blood in previous GBAD deliberations with prominent local Republican, Judy Peavey Derr, a GBAD Board Director not up for re-election, occupying center stage in the fracas. Local Democrats will remember Judy Peavey Derr's recent effort to unseat Democratic incumbent Senator Eliot Werk making some vicious personal allegations in the campaign. Werk handily defeated her.  read more »

Young Peoples Pavilion: Just Us Books celebrates the diversity of Black history, culture and experiences

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, according to the company's website.

Raising their two children in Northern NJ, Wade and Cheryl 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 children's books. But publisher after publisher turned the couple down, some outwardly doubting the viability of the Black children's book market. After founding their own publishing company, with their signature brand AFRO-BETSR, the company's success quickly proved doubters wrong. This year Just Us Books celebrates its 25th anniversary.

From the start the company was dedicated to ensuring that these books would be available throughout the year—not just during Black History Month; to providing 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.

Over two decades ago Wade and Cheryl Hudson were parents on a desperate search for children's books that reflected the diversity of Black history, heritage and experiences. Disappointed by the limited number and their unreliable availability, the couple embarked upon a mission: to produce the kind of positive, vibrant Black-interest books that they wanted for their own two children. Combining their professional experience in marketing and graphic design, Wade and Cheryl developed a number of manuscripts including the AFRO-BETSR ABC Book, which taught the alphabet using Afrocentric themes and images. They began presenting their ideas to various publishing houses. Although most editors liked the concepts, the Hudsons received rejection after rejection. "There's no market for Black children's books," one editor said.

So in 1987 the Hudsons published the AFRO-BETSR A B C Book themselves. Thanks to targeted marketing and grassroots outreach, orders poured in from parents, teachers and Black bookstores before the book was even printed. In less than three months, 5,000 copies of the title had been sold.
"The response was phenomenal," recalls Wade. "We received so many letters from parents and teachers who said that the book was exactly what they were looking for." Some of the most touching feedback came from children.
We always knew that there was a tremendous need for books that Black children could relate to," says Cheryl. "But when we received letters written in crayon from 3 and 4-year old children who couldn't wait to show us that they could write the alphabet, or share drawings they did of their favorite AFRO-BETS R character, that really validated our belief and inspired us even more."

The Hudsons were so inspired, in fact, that when they published their second title, the AFRO-BETSR 123 Book a year later, they launched along with it their own publishing company. The couple had no prior experience running a company, but they stepped out on faith, believing that God was with them, withdrew all the money from their personal savings and set up shop in their home to start Just Us Books.

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