Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Still Away

With all the talk about Senator Kennedy's seat and a quick replacement in time for the vote on health care reform, news today about an ambulance ride brings up a question the Democratic leadership doesn't seem to be taking too seriously (at least not publicly)--what to do if Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) can't vote.
Be back soon...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Deafening Roar

In a world full of chaos
Shut out this deafening roar
For just one minute more
-- Howie Day, "Undressed"

A year ago today I had spinal surgery. I suspect at some point in my life I will look at this day and what it represents as something I survived, merely a bump in the road, but for the time being it continues to represent the biggest health battle I've fought in my young life.

It is awfully discouraging to be my age with so many academic and personal goals that I simply can't attempt much less accomplish because my body prevents me from doing so. Immobility creates far too many limitations.

On top of the health battle I'm waging, the political discourse is disheartening and I keep it at a distance wherever possible. Sometimes it is easier to keep the hate at bay than take it on. Sometimes it is easier to leave the lies in the news and the blogosphere unchecked. That oft repeated line about silence equaling consent is not lost on me, I just can't write about all of the issues I would like to right now. My body and mind need a rest.

So, for an hour, a day, a week or more, I am going to take some time away from the responsibilities of this blog. There are great voices in the Idaho blogosphere who constantly challenge the irrational voices and hold the progressives' feet to the fire. I trust their dedication and trust that some time away from the constant research, piling up of materials, taking screenshots of everything, and mental toll of feeling I need to post something every day will be the respite I greatly need. A break did wonders for the MountainGoat Report. She's back at it and speaking truth to power routinely.

Maybe I just need "a minute or more."

Longest Night

Longest Night
by Howie Day

Is it dark, where you are?
Can you count the stars where you are?
Do you feel like you are a thousand miles from home?

Are you lost, where you are?
Can you find your way when you're so far?
Do you fear, where you are?
A thousand nights alone

So here we are set into motion
We'll steal a car and crash in the ocean
You and I, caught in a fading light
On the longest night

It's enough, just to find love
It's the only thing to be sure of
So hard, to let go of
A thousand times or more
I was close to a fault line
Heaven knows, you showed up in time
Was it real?
Now I feel, like I'm never coming down

So here we are, set into motion
Steal a car, crash in the ocean
You and I, caught in a fading light
On the longest night

I recall when we were together
Even now it seems like forever
So alive caught in a fading light
On the longest night

Can we go too far to find, what is waiting here?
A little fall from grace
On the longest night

Did we go too far to find, what is waiting here?
We'll take a little time, to open again

Is it dark where you are?
Can you count the stars where you are?

Wingnut Roundup

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Ignoring danger is like having a picnic on a railroad track."

-- Eniko Jordan in today's Idaho State Journal on why the fear motivating teabagger protesting is a good thing. Riiiight.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teabaggers In Pocatello's Optimist Park (Video & Final Thoughts)

As I wrap up my coverage of the teabagger event that took place here over the weekend, I wanted to share one more video. This clip is again of Chris Stevens, the state coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, discussing the IRS and the Federal Reserve. This portion of the speech came prior to the mention of Congressman Barney Frank that was noted in my initial post. Had I not found myself feeling as if I were reading a book by former Congressman George Hansen, I would have still had the camera rolling when the Barney Frank commentary occurred. Here is the clip:

The argument presented here is not new. Since the Federal Reserve was first created, many on the far right have pointed to it as the beginning of big government. Stevens is merely one step removed from becoming part of the Patriot movement, a group of people that constantly have run-ins with the law because they choose to print, issue, and circulate their own money, money not recognized by the United States.

This portion of Saturday's rally inspired one man to take to the stage during the open mic segment to praise Mr. Stevens and to ask a question that was very well received by the crowd: "Where are our reparations?" What? This man informed the crowd that during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (I wouldn't think this fellow was even alive during FDR's administration) when public welfare was created, FDR "enslaved" an entire population of Americans.

I spent much of my time at this event scratching my head, wondering how these people came to these conclusions. There is no rational explanation for most of them. Occasionally, I found myself refraining from laughter--especially when Mr. Stevens, a man who ran for the state legislature as a Republican this past cycle, called the Idaho Legislature "socialist" because they've forced licensing of midwives. The Idaho Legislature is a lot of things, socialist though?

When these people shout about ideologies they do not understand and simply can't explain the difference between, when they write poems called "An Homage to Joe Wilson" and refer to President Obama as a "black nationalist," I find it scary. It goes from being funny to being scary when they show up with guns strapped to their backs, completely enraged and serious about their accusations, and with children in tow.

Teabaggers In Pocatello's Optimist Park (Video)

As promised, the following is a short video clip taken at the teabagger event Saturday in Pocatello. The clip opens with praise of the late Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho) and a comparison of Chenoweth to our sitting congressman. The speaker, I believe, is Chris Stevens, the Idaho state coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty.

I apologize for the poor quality of the video. I had no intention of recording any of the speeches, but did with a camera that isn't ideal for such recording. A tripod would have been nice as well since standing with my back is problematic. Anyway, this goes along nicely with what I said yesterday about Congressman Simpson and it is also worth noting that the woman who crossed in front of me at the end of the video had a handgun strapped to her hip.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Teabaggers In Pocatello's Optimist Park

(*Editor's Note: Because the text of this post grew in ways I didn't expect it to, I have decided to post photos and possibly video separately. The photos appear below.)

Yesterday a reported 300 people, according to the Idaho State Journal, gathered in Optimist Park in Pocatello as part of the national 9-12 Project and TEA Party protest against health care reform. Optimist Park sits adjacent to the federal courthouse, the Pocatello Police Department and Pocatello City Hall. There were a lot of rowdy teabaggers, a lot of angry conservatives, and even a handful of teabaggers packing heat, but I wouldn't say there were actual optimists in 'Optimist' Park yesterday.

What was I doing in a park full of teabaggers? Both research for this blog and attempting to prove myself wrong. Back when Congressman Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) gladly accepted an invitation to speak to TEA Party Boise, in response to my anger and frustration with Minnick's now chronicled pandering, a Minnick supporter challenged me to actually attend a TEA Party event. I was told that these teabaggers were not who I thought and were more aligned with libertarian-leaning western Democrats than socially conservative Republicans. I had been to a few Republican Party events in the past, more than once to the Lincoln dinner sponsored by some of the most conservative Republicans I've ever seen in Cassia County, but never an actual meeting organized by teabaggers. It turns out, teabaggers are exactly who I thought they'd be.

First, before I comment on the more shocking moments for me, let me share this bit of information with those who think Minnick is gaining votes in the coming election rather than losing them and who took pride in Congressman Minnick's appearance before TEA Party Boise, likening it to Daniel going into the lion's den. As has been said before, no matter how Walt Minnick votes, these people are never going to love him or vote for him. Of course these teabaggers in Pocatello can't vote for the 1st district congressman, but if they could, they wouldn't. At the end of the day, Walt Minnick still caucuses with Nancy Pelosi and shares at least party identification with a man they don't believe is legitimately the President of the United States. Why isn't Minnick's pandering winning these fringe conservative voters over? Because they don't even like Mike Simpson.

That's right, Pocatello TEA Party and the Campaign for Liberty do not support the Republican congressman in their district. Why would they support a Democrat? Minnick might be wise to rethink who he hopes to "emulate" in Congress because these folks who rail against the Federal Reserve, continue to scream about Obama's birth certificate, and claim that the 10th amendment allows the States complete sovereignty don't like their Republican congressman who votes with the Republican Party 85% of the time, they sure as hell aren't going to support a Democrat who votes with Democratic Party even the minuscule 64% of the time that Minnick does. They may never vote for Minnick, but they certainly thanked him from the stage--thanked him for "going against the Democrat Party plan" and that it "doesn't matter what they bribe you with, no compromise!"

The fact that none of these people can bring themselves to referring to it as the 'Democratic Party' was the least of my concerns in this crowd. It should have come as no surprise to me upon arrival at the teabagger event that they'd open and close their protest with prayer. Several things should not have surprised me, but they did. The guy who offered the invocation is a former Republican Party county chairman. In the crows and part of the program of speakers were two guys who have run for the Idaho legislature, one against Diane Bilyeu this past cycle. Both guys ran as Republicans and were given the full support of both the Bannock County Republican Party and the Idaho Republican Party. That they were so involved shouldn't have shocked me, but it did. I should have known from their letters-to-the-editor alone that they'd be deeply entrenched in this movement. I was surprised by the sheer number of people there, I suspect more than the 300 reported by the Idaho State Journal that I mentioned earlier. And I was both shocked and concerned by the number of children in the crowd. Minivan after minivan pulled up and out popped numerous young families spending their Saturday afternoon with the kids at the park--the park full of protesters.

Among the many calls for taking back the government, the countless and tiresome references to "we the people," cries for repealing the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators) and 14th Amendment (equal protection under the law), assertions that the 10th Amendment protects Idaho from the "socialistic power grab" that is health care reform, the guns (and there were many), and the praise of Congressman Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) for calling the President of the United States a liar, what I found most disconcerting was a single word hollered from the crowd.

While Chris Stevens was discussing the 'evil' that is the Federal Reserve and questioned why the government can print as much money as they want, but we as American citizens can't print our own money, he mentioned the promised audit of the Federal Reserve. He noted that Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, promised legislation that would demand an audit of the Federal Reserve and one incredibly angry, older fellow in the middle of the crowd yelled it: "Faggot!" I was stunned.

Had I been in a crowd of Democrats had anyone stooped to the low of shouting such a derogatory word, there would have been stunned silence if not outright chastising of the guilty party. Not the case with the teabaggers. And I knew that going in, but was nonetheless shocked by what I heard. The speaker carried on, some folks cheered and the man guilty of using such a horrible word to describe a member of the U.S. House of Representatives was patted on the back. I am sure Barney Frank has heard this in his life, but as I stood there still reeling from a hatred I've never been able to understand and a word I have never uttered in my entire life, I wanted to apologize to Barney Frank personally. Nobody countered this man for his despicable choice of words and as the only Democrat in the park, I certainly couldn't. But I wanted to and I continue to feel guilty for not standing up to that sort of filth.

I left Optimist Park feeling anything but optimistic. I, like my fellow blogger Nemesis, worry about this country, the hate that exists here, and the highly volatile political discourse taking place. I left Optimist Park angry at a lot of parents for letting their children listen to hate spewing from that stage, the lies flowing freely in that park. I left Optimist Park yesterday wondering how everyday Pocatello citizens that I've encountered in the grocery store, throughout town, and on the editorial page of the local paper could be so hateful and so enraged. I left Optimist Park, but the events there haven't left me.

Teabaggers In Pocatello's Optimist Park (Photos)

A Sunday Thought

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange -- my youth.
-- Sara Teasdale

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday

Drove by the TEA Party event here in Pocatello early this afternoon--quite a crowd. Pictures and video hopefully to come tomorrow.

I've been thinking about the coming fall tv lineup (most of the premieres are this coming week or next) and I can't decide what shows I'll be tuning in for. CBS canceled Without A Trace which was my favorite and since both Leverage and Saving Grace (also canceled) are off-season shows, I'm at a loss as to what to watch. Admittedly, I watch more television on network websites, Hulu or Netflix, but some nights I want to turn on the tv for something other than news. Since I don't get the movie channels, I have to wait for Weeds and Dexter to hit DVD to watch. So...that leaves NCIS which I do enjoy and Fringe which I highly recommend and my pick from the CSI franchise, CSI: Miami. All of which doesn't much matter if baseball happens to be on!

Janice Stevenor Dale has a guest piece over at New West that is really worth a few minutes. I have always been fascinated with some of Idaho's more historic school buildings, particularly the Greenwood School near Hazelton, Idaho, that has been mostly abandoned and left to fall apart much of the last decade. It's really unfortunate that all Idahoans don't think like Dale who points out both the importance and history of these types of structures. This past week, Preservation Idaho held a "Rally to Save Our Historic Schools" in Boise. Check out their petition here.

A couple of Kennedy related happenings in the news. The city of Fort Worth is considering placing an eight-foot statue of President John F. Kennedy in Grand Worth Square in downtown Fort Worth. We tend to connect Kennedy with Dallas because of the awful events there, but it is often forgotten that Kennedy spoke in Fort Worth just prior to the motorcade through Dealey Plaza. Also, the current Vanity Fair cover story is about Jackie Kennedy and the shaping of the Kennedy legacy known as Camelot. It is nearly impossible to find a copy of Vanity Fair in this town, but Sam Kashner's cover story is available on VF's website.

Every now and again a movie sneaks by without any fanfare and turns out to be a real winner. I just caught a movie called Sugar about the youth baseball academies in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball has been largely influenced by Dominicans and there are plenty of young phenoms still coming out of the country, but this film pointed out something that goes largely unrecognized--young baseball players are learning English as they learn the game of baseball. It's brilliant really, teaching English through the process of explaining the game. It also speaks volumes to something that is noted quite often in baseball here in the States and that is that Spanish-speaking players have few language barriers when it comes to learning and playing the game with English-speaking players, but they often display their poor grasp of English when on camera discussing more than simply the fundamentals of the game. Sugar is certainly worth a look if you're a fan of the game. I found myself wondering, despite the sacrifices these kids make to grow in the game and move to the States, do they see it as a great opportunity to play without having to defect like their Cuban counterparts? Cuban players don't have the same opportunities that Dominican players have and are just as good at the game. I highly recommend the film.

As somewhat of a precursor to the post I hope to complete tomorrow on the things I saw and heard at the 9-12 event here in town today, please read the great piece over at Nemesis Today. I don't think Nemesis is completely off-base, the sky may in fact be falling. I, like a lot of Americans, was watching President Obama addressing Congress Wednesday night as was completely shocked by Congressman Wilson's enraged heckling of Obama. It wasn't that Obama happens to be a black man and Wilson from the state that seceded from the Union first, thus beginning the Civil War (this did provide context), it was that a member of the United States House of Representatives disrespected the President of the United States during a fairly rare address. I bet Congressman Wilson doesn't even know which president first used this particular type of address. It was John Adams about France and the entanglement the United States found themselves in with France given their relationship during the Revolutionary War and thereafter. I've listened to Congressman Wilson's poor excuses for apologies and to tell you the truth, he strikes me as a southern football coach kind of guy, not a U.S. Congressman.

Believe it or not, I don't have any music suggestions today. Listened to one song very early this morning and haven't listened to any other tunes since. Maybe tomorrow. It has been an awfully long day, thankfully, tomorrow is a new one.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mad As Hell Doctors In Pocatello

Time: 8:30 am
Location: Northeast Corner of Holt Arena
Idaho State University

Mad as Hell Doctors will be in Pocatello tomorrow. They are a traveling group of physicians who support better health care, specifically single-payer health care, and they will be stopping off in Pocatello on Saturday morning for a public rally.

That September Morning

"Eight Septembers have come and gone. Nearly 3,000 days have passed -- almost one for each of those taken from us. But no turning of the seasons can diminish the pain and the loss of that day. No passage of time and no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment.

"...Let us renew the true spirit of that day. Not the human capacity for evil, but the human capacity for good. Not the desire to destroy, but the impulse to save, and to serve, and to build...

"For through their own lives –- and through you, the loved ones that they left behind –- the men and women who lost their lives eight years ago today leave a legacy that still shines brightly in the darkness, and that calls on all of us to be strong and firm and united. That is our calling today and in all the Septembers still to come."
-- Remarks of President Obama at Pentagon memorial

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Still Not Supporting A Public Option

Whatever hopes I had for Congressman Minnick (D-ID) having a change of heart when Obama spoke in the congressional chamber this evening were short lived. Minnick sent out the following statement almost immediately following Obama's speech:

Tonight’s address was a positive step forward toward returning the health-care debate to a collaborative process focused on consensus. Idahoans expect Congress and the president to pull back from the disagreements, cut the partisan bickering, focus on the basics and be willing to listen to the voices we’ve heard over the last six weeks.

“I was encouraged tonight to hear the president speak about the issues which came up again and again in discussions with my constituents: Disallowing the use of pre-existing conditions to cut coverage or increase costs. Limits on out-of-pocket expenses. No caps on coverage. And a requirement that basic preventative care and education be provided as part of every insurance policy. I am also intrigued by the president’s call for a new insurance exchange, the kind of private-sector concept so many of my constituents support.

“However, although the president spoke forcefully and eloquently, concerns remain. These reforms will not help our nation if they bankrupt our government and burden taxpayers. I also believe that a so called ‘public option’ is not the best way to hold insurance companies accountable, and would only create a new, expensive government bureaucracy. I hope these concerns can be addressed, and I hope we can move forward in a bipartisan manner toward a bill all Americans will support.”

I'm sure these concerns were exactly those voiced at Minnick's TEA Party townhall. The Republican Party should have recruited Walt to give their response. Walt might as well have rounded up his TEA Party buddies and joined Congressman Joe "You Lie" Wilson (R-SC) in the peanut gallery.

His Heroes Have Always Been... Conservatives?

Tonight when President Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress, legislators from every state in the union will have the opportunity to listen to the administration's plan for reforming health care. Members of Congress will have the opportunity to listen to the unadulterated truth, truth that has largely been missing as they have listened to Tea Party protesters, anti-reform activists, and astro turfing at town hall meetings throughout the month of August. One member, Congressman Walt Minnick (D-Idaho), will have one last chance to take the Democratic message to heart, a message he has largely opposed and ignored throughout the congressional recess and in the months preceding it.

This morning as President Obama offered his own remarks at the memorial service for former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite who passed away in July, two thoughts came to mind about Obama and heroes.

Remember last year when then candidate Obama made a campaign stop in Boise, speaking to some 14,000 in attendance? Remember how then candidate Minnick strategically placed himself in the crowd behind Obama so nearly every camera in the place caught Minnick's smiling face in the crowd? Was Minnick smiling because he was truly excited about Obama's campaign or was he simply pleased to see his political mentor, Cecil Andrus, introduce Obama that day to a crowd of potential Democratic voters? Tonight in that congressional chamber as President Obama takes to the podium, will Minnick get excited about Democratic politics and real progressive reform as so many progressives did that day when Obama flew to Boise to give a stump speech? Probably not.

Just after Congressman Minnick took office in January 2009, he gave an interview to Idaho Public Television's Idaho Reports wherein he spoke about partisan politics and his political heroes in the House.

Immediately Minnick pointed out in the interview that he "was never involved in Idaho politics, [he] was a businessman." Whether this was a way of distancing himself from the traditional political fray or a way of saying, as he often does, that he was bringing a certain political independence to the office is unclear. What was clear in that interview was that Minnick had absolutely no qualms when it came to associating himself with the other members of the Idaho delegation:
"We feel strongly that most things are not partisan... The fact that we have representation in both parties allows us to work both sides of the political street and work the administration."
Minnick has certainly been "working" both sides of the aisle. Within the span of a month, Minnick spoke to faithful Democrats in Blaine County and Boise's North End to explain his conservative voting record and then turned around and spoke to TEA Party Boise, certainly a fringe group of conservatives who of course cheered when Minnick referred to North End Democrats as "crazy." The "working" of the administration that Minnick appears to be guilty of resides in the campaign enthusiasm for Obama and progressive policies and the disconnect he exhibits daily in his anti-reform statements and anti-Obama votes. Keep in mind Minnick has voted against Obama's stimulus bill, cap and trade and the Pay for Performance Act, while promising he will vote against health care reform (what he terms "socialized medicine"), even if it turns out to be something penned by Max Baucus. Where's the Obama love now, Walt?

Not only did Minnick say he's willing to work whichever side he needs to work to accomplish his own political objectives, he did something that is becoming Minnickesque--he sang the praises of his colleague and fellow member of the House, Congressman Mike Simpson. His first mention of Simpson in the Idaho Reports interview on January 23, 2009, went as follows (with Minnick's added chuckle):
"It turned out [Simpson and I] voted 100% the same on all the issues that had come before Congress the first two weeks... It won't always be that way...It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat, and we all feel that way."
As of today, Open Congress lists Minnick as having voted with his party 64% of the time, Mike Simpson is listed as having voted with the Republican Party 85% of the time, Senator Crapo 93% with the Republicans, and Senator Risch 94%. By numbers alone it would appear that while Congressman Minnick may say that partisanship doesn't matter to the Idaho congressional delegation, it would appear that the only member partisanship, or even loyalty to one's party, doesn't matter to is Minnick himself.

Now, backing up to the two ideas that stemmed from listening to Obama's remarks at the memorial service for "the most trusted man in America," the concept of heroes is now at the forefront.

The death of Walter Cronkite reminded us that it was President Kennedy, a liberal hero in his own right, who promised we would send a man to the moon and we did, something we celebrated the 40th anniversary of just last month. However, we didn't send a man to the moon while President Kennedy was alive to see it, it was Walter Cronkite who came into American homes to break the news that the young, inspiring president was fatally shot in Dallas. Cronkite brought us news of our heroes, while serving as a hero for many who would be a part of the news media in the future.

Today Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric spoke of their hero, Walter Cronkite, today and tonight President Obama, a hero to many in this country and throughout the world, will speak to a chamber full of potential heroes--congressmen and women who have the opportunity to speak up now to make access to adequate and affordable health care a reality for Americans who have for too long dreamed about the day when health care would be attainable. Hopefully Congressman Minnick will take this opportunity to let the message resonate, but it is doubtful that Congressman Minnick will step up and be the kind of congressman he stated in his interview on Idaho Reports he hoped to be:
Idaho Reports: Do you have any role models in the House of Representatives? Anybody you would like to maybe model your leadership style or decision-making style after?

Minnick: "I'm a Blue Dog Democrat... Congressman Ross from Florida, Congressman Tanner from Tennessee... They are role models for me and frankly, Congressman Simpson is as well. He's been very responsible. He's been pragmatic. He's willing to work across the aisle... Those kinds of congressmen that I hope to both emulate while I am in the Congress and be remembered as that kind of congressman who wants to get things done. Not particularly partisan and willing to solve problems whether the idea originates with Republicans or Democrats."
Congressman Minnick could not be more indecisive in his choice of role models. He points to Congressmen Ross and Tanner because they, like him, are Blue Dog Democrats. As we all know, the Blue Dog Democrats are largely responsible for the breakdown of discussion about health care reform prior to the August recess. Though Ross and Tanner are more supportive of Democratic ideals and progressive policy initiatives, they share the responsibility with other Blue Dogs when it comes to losing support and legislative momentum for the passage of health care legislation that would include a public option. Blue Dog Democrats claim to be fiscal conservatives, but in all reality, they are Democrats who were elected from districts that would not elect them should they bow to all the forces of their designated party affiliations.

The difference between Ross, Tanner and Minnick is that Ross and Tanner are fiscally conservative Democrats and Minnick is simply a fiscal conservative hindered in his district by the (D) behind his name.

Ross and Tanner have some allegiance to their party whereas Minnick only needed his party prior to getting elected and has since abandoned his party, especially Blaine County Dems and North End Boise Dems who gave liberally to his campaign, in governance. Congressman Tanner votes with the Democratic Party 95%, at 66% similarity with Minnick. Ross votes with the Democrats 95% of the time, with a 65% similarity to Minnick. Closest to Minnick of them all is Congressman Simpson, voting with his party 85% of the time and Minnick 68% of the time.

Is Minnick tossing the 'hero' label at Mike Simpson's feet because he sees independence in Simpson or because Simpson really deserves to be a role model of any sort? Or does Minnick admire Simpson because of Simpson's ability to vote with the other side from time to time without losing the support of hard-line Republicans?

In a state that has been greatly served by elected Democrats like Frank Church, Cecil Andrus, John Evans and Richard Stallings, Walt Minnick would appear to have a great pool of potential role models, but even if the question were opened up to include role models outside of the House, Minnick may have continued with praise for Congressman Simpson or maybe would have branched out to praise Senator Crapo as he did at the TEA Party event last month at the Owyhee Plaza. In a legislative body of many distinguished public servants, he isn't impressed with a single Western Democrat or lifelong progressive? There are true American heroes serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, but Congressman Minnick would rather look to obstructionists. That alone speaks volumes to Walt Minnick's character.

Tonight when that historic chamber is filled with the nation's leaders, let's hope they are listening. Let's hope Congressman Minnick listens to the message of our president and let's hope he remembers that once upon a time he paraded as a progressive Democrat who was going to support President Obama's policies. Let's hope Congressman Minnick realizes that pandering to the conservative base is not going to secure him the Democratic base that strongly supports health care reform and the public option. Congressman Minnick can praise Mike Simpson all he wants, but at the end of the day it is the Democratic base he needs to be re-elected and those voters couldn't care less about Mike Simpson.

(H/T: The MountainGoat Report)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Monopoly On Misinformation

Apparently the Idaho State Journal doesn't have a monopoly on the printing of misinformation in this state. The Magic Valley Times-News seems to print plenty of misinformed trash of their own.

A snippet of a LTE by one Jon Baker of Twin Falls:

"The Marxists are in [Obama's] corner and the so-called Blue Dogs and moderates will go along. Oh, you hear that it will be political suicide for them because of the 2010 election, but think about this: The Republicans are frozen out and that's probably not going to change. Even if a number of Dems are voted out, what if Pelosi and Reid declare a "national emergency" and render the election null and void?

"We need to be ever vigilant and prepared to protect our freedom and liberty from these Marxist/socialist/statist saurians. If the supreme court does not stop his wicked agenda, the military must take over or we will have Civil War 2."

Another opinion submitted by a Twin Falls resident points to the work of Dr. Jack Wheeler, Reagan's point man on the Star Wars program:

"In April of 1964, Dr. Jack Wheeler wrote a report to Congress under the auspices of the Freedom Research Foundation, titled "Health Freedom vs. Health Fascism." None of these means for improving health care have been implemented, and we now have another "liberal" president determined to use this "crisis" to further his fascist agenda."

These snippets are nothing compared to the Times-run blog by Tom Young. His latest post refers to attempts at health care reform as "National Socialized Medicine Healthcare Insurance" and says President Obama and Vice President Biden are "two jokers [who] don’t know doodoo about the economy." Yes, doodoo. Isn't that professional and mature.

And these gems are proudly signed by their authors. Makes you wonder what is being printed online that former Times-News publisher and now state legislator Steve Hartgen (R-Twin Falls) finds so objectionable. It seems to me that he is all for the printing of lies as long as they are lies he believes in and agrees with.

Maybe the Times-News will give the Idaho State Journal a run for its money in the truth, or lack thereof, department.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hate, Lies, and the ISJ

For some time now, the comments on the Idaho State Journal "blogs" have been filled with filth, hatred and outright lies.

Long before Barack Obama was elected president, the far right wingnuts that congregate on the politics page of the ISJ especially were littering the site with their vitriol. They said Obama was a Muslim, a terrorist, and sometimes both. They called him a leftist, Nazi, fascist, communist, and/or socialist, never quite grasping the differences in these ideologies. Some went so far as to call Obama a black nationalist and a member of the Black Panther Party.

If the regulars on the site were countered by outsiders, they would go into attack mode and make quick use of ad hominem argument. They can be and often are cruel to those who disagree and they have gone so far as to run off community opinion writers from the Idaho State Journal. They are like a pack of rabid dogs and they consider anything remotely progressive or liberal in thought to be fresh meat.

Like many on the far right, the wingnuts I speak of have come unhinged with the news that President Obama would be addressing American school children tomorrow. They have reacted similarly to the talking heads at Fox News who have done nothing to stem the racial hatred and campaign of misinformation in this country of late. As if they hadn't caused enough distress by spreading the steady stream of truthless talking points about health care reform, they started talking about how the President of the United States wants to brainwash our children. It's ridiculous and it needs to stop, but by damn the Idaho State Journal is going to feed it until it becomes dangerous because they, like so many other papers in this country, need the site hits or whatever it is their running of blogs brings the paper.

The motives of the Idaho State Journal aside, two recent posts on the politics "blog" have brought to light the true beliefs of at least one of the ISJ regulars--beliefs that aren't all that surprising to anyone who has read Eugene Sant's letters to the editor and his other comments on the site. The exchange:

When you hear those on the far right say that opposition to Obama has nothing to do with race, look at this exchange on the ISJ site as case in point. This exchange with Eugene Sant, easily the most extreme of the group of far right regulars who comment online and in print, is proof that there are pockets of extreme hatred toward Obama, his administration, and his supporters driven strictly by race. Unfortunately, Idaho is one of them.

Tomorrow the President of the United States is going to speak to American school kids. President Obama is going to urge them to take responsibility for their lives, their academic goals, and their long term goals. Obama, like George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, will attempt to instill in our children the desire to learn and be successful. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this scenario and yet those on the far right will pull their children out of school tomorrow and continue to spout this line of complete nonsense about Obama using this speech as a way of "indoctrinating" our kids. Tomorrow the President of the United States is reaching out to kids who are impressionable while making no attempt to introduce politics or ideology into their young lives and minds.

It scares me that the young kids I know in southern Idaho are far more likely to be influenced by their own parents who may share the hatred of Eugene Sant, rather than being influenced by a guy with an inspiring life story like Obama. Unfortunately, the Idaho State Journal is harboring all that hatred and feeding all those lies by continuing to print the filth submitted to them online and in print. It's about time they start standing up for the truth. Correcting misinformation and stifling racial prejudice would go a long way toward erasing the hatred in this community, hatred toward President Obama and hatred toward minorities.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Another Baseball Sunday

With less than a month of play left, it was an interesting week in baseball. Here's a round-up of some of the key trades and transactions:
  • Jose Contreras traded from White Sox to the NL Wild Card chasing Rockies, adding to an earlier pick up of Jason Giambi after the A's released the slugger.
  • Yankees released Kevin Cash, which I am assuming means Jose Molina is healthy and we're back to having all three Molina brothers everyday in the bigs.
  • Braves brought Jordan Schafer back up in the absence of a solid-hitting center fielder and activated TIm Hudson after nearly a year away from the game.
  • The NL Wild Card chasing Marlins activated Nick Johnson from the DL, his immediate impact is unknown because of Jorge Cantu place in the lineup.
  • The runaway NL Central St. Louis Cardinals got Troy Glaus back from the disabled list.
  • The Dodgers activated pitcher Jon Garland further solidifying their place in the post season.
  • The other Wild Card chasing team in the NL West, the San Francisco Giants, picked up free agent Brad Penny after he was released by the Red Sox. Penny adds to the already deep and successful starting pitching staff in SanFran.
Among the baseball headlines this week unrelated to trades, activations and transactions are these stories:
  • Ichiro is one hit away from having 2,000 hits in the Majors (since his move from the Japanese big leagues). The hit could happen this afternoon with the Mariners playing at 1:05 (PST).
  • Derek Jeter is approaching Lou "Iron Horse" Gehrig's mark as the man with the most hits in a Yankee uniform
  • Keith Olbermann made the best observation in all of baseball this week when he likened the look of Mets third baseman David Wright (recently activated from the DL after being nailed in the head by a fastball) in the new Rawlings S100 batting helmet to the Great Gazoo.
  • The longtime voice of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell, was diagnosed with cancer this week. His voice has been missed in baseball for some time and surely baseball fans across the country are wishing him well.
  • Roger Clemens' lawsuit against former trainer and steroid-use whistle blower Brian McNamee has been dismissed.
Last, but not least, there are a couple of votes to cast if you're a fan of the game. Each of the following awards require input from the fans:
  • The Roberto Clemente Award (I'll be voting for Albert Pujols)
  • Continued voting on the 20th Year All-star Team for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball is currently asking for fans to vote on the best right fielder (Sammy Sosa, Vladimir Guerrero or Tony Gwynn). The winner will be announced tonight.
Predictions for the 2009 baseball awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, gold gloves)? Soon...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Traficant's Style

Former Congressman Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) was released from prison yesterday after serving seven years on charges of bribery and racketeering. A lot has changed in the political universe since Traficant entered prison. One thing hasn't changed: Traficant's style. Granted, you don't have the best clothing available to you while sitting in federal prison, but still--this is what he wears out of prison? Yes, I'm talking clothes and no, I never talk about what someone's wearing. I guess we can be thankful his hair is a little more tame than when he went in...
(Image property of the Associated Press)

Deep Pockets

The Hill's Rich List was published yesterday and Idaho's junior senator made the list. That's right, Jim Risch made the list of wealthiest members of congress with a reported $19.3m net worth. The short blurb accompanied by a large head shot of Risch notes land owned in Twin Falls and Arapahoe County. Stumped me for a bit given there isn't an Arapahoe County in Idaho! What wasn't surprising is that The Hill made note of Risch's ability to bankroll his own campaigns (for Lt. Gov. and Senate). Perhaps Risch should start putting that money to good use and bank roll a few hundred Idahoans who are without health care...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Quote of the Day

"The greatest weariness comes from work not done."

-- Eric Hoffer