Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dems Introduce Jobs Legislation

Editor's Note: The Idaho Democrats have announced several measures to help create jobs for Idahoans. It's a good first step. Here's hoping the Idaho GOP gives it some consideration.

Press Release from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus

Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Contact: Representative John Rusche (208) 750-6048 or Senator Edgar Malepeai (208) 251-9517

Idaho Democratic Legislators’ #1 Priority is Job Creation

BOISE – Today Idaho Democratic Legislators presented common sense, proactive policies they believe will help develop the prosperous communities we all desire and deserve.

IJOBs 2.0 consists of seven proposals that will grow existing companies and attract new companies, enhance our infrastructure, keep money in Idaho, and ensure that our economic development efforts are productive and accountable.

Representative Brian Cronin said, “The Idaho Legislature must play a critical and active role in returning prosperity to our communities. We thought so in 2010, when we first proposed our IJOBs economic development package and today we continue to push for real solutions to our ongoing economic challenges.”

The Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint consists of:

  • Value-Added Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Act
  • Idaho Partnership Bank
  • Business Relocation & Finder’s Fee Tax Credit
  • Idaho Corporate Accountability and Transparency Act
  • Buy Idaho First Contracting Act
  • Micro Enterprise Bridge Loan Program
  • Rural Broadband Service Memorial

These bills hone in on the aspects of economic development that will impact job creation and business growth in Idaho’s communities. Rep. Cronin closed by saying, “Many of these initiatives focus on the long-term task of breaking out of the low-wage trap Idaho is in. We recognize the shared responsibility we have for creating jobs, an educated workforce, and a modern infrastructure. We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues to move forward the only job creation package currently before the Legislature.”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

TDIH: 'High In the Sunlit Silence...'

On this day in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded a mere seventy-three seconds after lift off. It remains a moment that few Americans have forgotten who were alive to witness the event, either in person or as it was being broadcast on television.

In the days that followed the tragedy, Idaho was one of the first states to order the lowering of flags in honor of the six astronauts and one New Hampshire school teacher whose lives were lost. Congressman Richard Stallings, then representing Idaho's second congressional district, had been serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for just over a year and was interviewed by many Idaho-based media outlets about the tragedy. As a freshman representative and throughout his four terms in office, Stallings served on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Many of the oversight responsibilities retained by Congress to investigate what went wrong with Challenger fell to the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Applications, one of two Science, Space and Technology subcommittees that Stallings served on (the other being the Subcommittee on Energy, Research, and Development).

I wasn't quite nine months old when the Challenger exploded moments after lift off. I don't have any of my own memories of watching the tragedy, but I've listened to Congressman Stallings discuss Challenger and the connection between the shuttle and the Idaho National Laboratory (INEL at the time of the explosion) many times. When I ran across the material in the Stallings Papers about the disaster as well as the investigation that ensued, I was in awe. One of the first items I found was this piece that was part of a NASA presentation given to the subcommittee that was investigating the Challenger disaster:

It is one of the many items throughout the Stallings Papers that brought my processing to a halt. It was a sobering moment to consider the pressure on NASA and those conducting the investigation to ensure that such a tragedy was not repeated. We don't tend to think about the magnitude of congressional committee work and how the decisions made by the members of those committees will impact history. Without identifying what went wrong on this day in 1986, the space program itself may have ended.

On the back of the Challenger memorial at Arlington National Cemetery is the famous poem "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. "Put out my hand and touched the face of God" is often quoted in connection with this day, but when I think of this day I think of a less quoted phrase of Magee's: "High in the sunlit silence..." High in the sunlit silence of that January day, from Florida to New Hampshire to even Idaho, Americans from all over this country tuned in to watch an endeavor that the twentieth century will forever be remembered for and instead witnessed tragedy.

The above images are contained in the Richard H. Stallings Papers at Idaho State University and are used with permission of the Department of Special Collections. The photo of Congressman Stallings can be found in Series I: The Washington Papers, Box 20, Folder 1. All material related to the Challenger disaster is contained in Series I, Box 40, Folders 13-15.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Join today's online protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) & the Protect IP Act (PIPA) by signing this petition to join the strike or contact your legislators. For more information on these pieces of legislation, both Google and Wikipedia, who are participating in the strike, have placed SOPA/PIPA on their front pages. You can read the text of SOPA and PIPA, available from OpenCongress. Please contact your legislators on this important issue. Here's a quick way to do so, but remember contacting your legislators individually with a personal message is much more effective. Both Senators Crapo and Risch have reported technical issues in their office this morning, hopefully from all the Stop SOPA/PIPA emails & calls they are receiving, so keep trying.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Smorgasbord Saturday

Editor's Note: Have said it before, but I'm still not happy with the color scheme of the links, followed links and whatnot. I'm also not sure if I want to return to the old way of doing smorgasbords or not. Any thoughts on the new link list for smorgasbords? Would you prefer commentary on each of the links? I'm trying something different today--breaking the links into defined sections. Let me know what you think.

Idaho Politics:
National Politics:

Friday, January 13, 2012

TGIF Tunes

One of the first singles out in 2012 and it could very well end up being one of the best of the year. Here is the ever impressive Jason Mraz with "I Won't Give Up." It is set to be released on the long-awaited new album, hopefully in May.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Idaho Democrats Put Forward Ethics Commission Bill

Editor's Note: The following press release landed in my inbox yesterday from the Idaho Democratic Party. May the governor stick to his guns on the topic of ethics and put some pressure on the legislative majority to support this worthy idea.

Update (1.13.12): Speaker Denney has lashed out at Democrats for using the phrase "culture of corruption" in their portrayal of ethical lapses in governance. House Minority Leader Rusche has responded to Denney's outrage at the Democrats' rhetoric. This issue is bound to get more contentious. It is, after all, only the first week of the legislative session.

News release from the Idaho Democratic Party

Date: January 11, 2012
Contact: Sally Boynton Brown (208) 440-2374 or Shelley Landry (208) 336-1815

The Silence is Deafening

Idaho Democratic legislators have been steadily discussing the need to find solutions to the culture of corruption in our public offices for a week and the Majority Party has yet to respond. Despite a week of discussion with the media on the need for ethics reform from Idaho Democratic leaders neither the Governor nor GOP leadership have stepped forward with a plan or even comments on how best to address this issue.

Shelley Landry, Executive Director with the Idaho Democratic Party said, “Idahoans need to be clear, the only reason the elephant in the room is being discussed is because our Democratic Leadership is leading the charge. Let’s be realistic, the GOP was never going to push this issue on their own. Our Idaho Democratic Caucus has given the Majority Party ample opportunity over the years to make this a bi-partisan issue. We urge them to join us in prioritizing the renewal of confidence and faith in public leaders.”

She went on to say, “We were thrilled to hear Speaker Denney give his vote of support last week for an independent ethics commission and are patiently waiting for Republican lawmakers to express their interest or support of our bill. ”

The Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus announced yesterday that they will be presenting their ethics commission bill to the media tomorrow. The meeting will be open to all that are interested in hearing more about the specifics of the bill.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Best Albums of 2011

It may have been a bad movie year, but the music industry did not disappoint. I actually had a hard time narrowing down this list to fifteen. There are certainly others that were in the running, others that didn't make the list because of one track or another--it was that hard. Here it is:
  1. Tom Waits: Bad As Me
  2. Bon Iver: Bon Iver
  3. Wilco: The Whole Love
  4. Black Keys: El Camino
  5. The Civil Wars: Barton Hollow
  6. Trampled by Turtles: Palomino
  7. The Roots: Undun
  8. Glenn Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas
  9. Foo Fighters: Wasting Light
  10. HARDTOBREATHE: The Reckoning
  11. Bush: Sea of Memories
  12. Miranda Lambert: Four the Record
  13. Lucinda Williams: Blessed
  14. Matt Nathanson: Modern Love
  15. Christina Perri: Lovestrong
Narrowing it down to fifteen may have been difficult, but picking the number one album of 2011 was incredibly easy. After listening to one track of Tom Waits' seventeenth studio album, I was sold. If you haven't listened to it, go. Now! It's that good.

It was a great year for upstarts (Christina Perri and The Civil Wars) and artists that have been around for what seems like ages (Lucinda Williams, Tom Waits and the incomparable Glenn Campbell). And that I can only think of two disappointments (return of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ryan Adams' Ashes & Fire) is saying something. The music industry better get cracking because 2011 is going to be hard to beat.