Toward Dismantling America's Incarceration Fixation

Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA)

Many states can no longer afford to support public education, public benefits, public services without doing something about the exorbitant costs that mass incarceration have created.
- Bryan Stevenson founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A few years ago, the NAACP released a new report, Misplaced Priorities, that examines America's escalating levels of prison spending and its impact on state budgets and our nation’s children, according to

Misplaced Priorities tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. Researchers have found that over-incarceration most often impacts vulnerable and minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities.

The report includes these startling facts:

• The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.

• The nation’s reliance on incarceration to respond to social and behavioral health issues is evidenced by the large numbers of people who are incarcerated for drug offenses. Among people in federal prisons, people in local jails, and young people held in the nation’s detention centers and local secure facilities, more than 500,000 people— nearly a quarter of all those incarcerated—are incarcerated as the result of a drug conviction.

• During the last two decades, as the criminal justice system came to assume a larger proportion of state discretionary dollars, state spending on prisons grew at six times the rate of state spending on higher education.

Thus, I was pleased to see Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), authors of H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act, commending the Senate Judiciary Committee for approving S. 1410, the Senate version of the bill.

The Smarter Sentencing Act would reform criminal sentencing laws, empowering judges to make individualized assessments in nonviolent drug cases. This would ensure that limited resources are focused on the most serious offenders, while maintaining public safety.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of the bill today is a step forward on this important legislation," said Scott.

“Granting federal judges more discretion in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses is the right thing to do. Studies of mandatory minimums conclude that they fail to reduce crime, they waste the taxpayers’ money, and they often require the imposition of sentences that violate common sense. This bipartisan, bicameral bill targets particularly egregious mandatory minimums and returns discretion to federal judges in an incremental manner," Scott continued.

"While the Senate Judiciary Committee's action today is an important step in updating sentencing policies that are not working, the amended bill, unfortunately, includes three new mandatory minimums," Scott added.

"If this amended bill passes, we will end up with more mandatory minimums than we started with. The primary purpose of this legislation was to reduce the negative impact of mandatory minimums since they cost taxpayers too much and do nothing to make our families and communities safer. I hope the House Judiciary Committee will act on the original version of the bill."

Raul Labrador (R-ID)

Labrador said he was pleased that momentum continues to build for this common-sense bipartisan legislation.

“There is a growing realization that the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ to criminal sentencing has tied the hands of judges, hurt the cause of justice, and increased the burden on taxpayers, without making us safer. I appreciate the Senate Judiciary Committee for acting quickly and effectively, and I will keep working with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to get this bill passed through Congress and become the law of the land.”

During the past 30 years, the number of inmates in federal custody has grown by 500 percent, with nearly half of them serving sentences for drug offenses. Spending on federal incarceration has grown by more than 1100 percent. Today, it costs about $29,000 per year to house just one federal inmate. The Smarter Sentencing Act could save up to $1 billion in incarceration costs.

The House-version of the Smarter Sentencing Act would do the following:

Increase individualized review for certain drug sentences

It would lower certain drug mandatory sentences, allowing judges to determine, based on individual circumstances, when the harshest penalties should apply (while not repealing any mandatory minimum sentences or lowering the maximum sentences for these offenses).

Promote sentencing consistent with the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act

It would allow certain inmates sentenced under the pre-Fair Sentencing Act sentencing regime to petition for sentence reductions consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act and current law, while not automatically reducing a single sentence.

Expand the existing federal “safety valve”

The legislative “safety valve” has been effective in allowing federal judges to appropriately sentence certain non-violent drug offenders below existing mandatory minimums. Today’s bill would modestly broaden criteria for eligibility.

The Smarter Sentencing Act is endorsed by Heritage Action; Justice Fellowship of Prison Fellowship Ministries; ACLU; American Correctional Association; American Bar Association; NAACP; Constitution Project; and other organizations across the ideological spectrum.

SOURCE: Official Website of Robert C. "Bobby" Scott.

Dear Angry Democrat

Crossposted on Daily Kos

The Idaho Democratic Party receives some very negative messages from those who call themselves supporters.

Here is a suggested response to these missives:

Dear Angry Democrat,

We received your reply to our fundraising solicitation. While we appreciate the time it took for you pen a handwritten note, it still lacked specifics that we can use to better evaluate our progress and make adjustments

You said you would be willing to donate if “we got off our dead asses, and started doing something.” In fact, we have been running an aggressive program to recruit excellent candidates, raise the funding needed to assist them in their campaigns, and help grow local Idaho Democratic parties.

You saw this work at play with very competitive candidates we fielded for statewide seats this past year. Though we are also dissatisfied with the results of the election, we in fact weathered a national pro-Republican wave that hurt candidates in every state.

Idaho is one of only seven states NOT to lose seats in the Legislature—in fact, we bucked that trend by gaining a seat. We also expanded, by 15, the number of county seats now held by Idaho Democrats.

Yes. It is extremely disappointing to see that close race for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction go to a demonstrably unqualified Republican politician. But we are well on our way to becoming far more competitive in the years to come with a consistent, smart, data-based effort.

We are pleased that you have not entirely ruled out the possibility of helping fund our organization, which works to put families, small businesses and communities first in Idaho. We are also encouraged that you care enough to send an angry note. We hope that you will engage with us more fully to learn that we are in fact growing the Idaho Democratic Party and are growing stronger.

We invite you to work with us to make Idaho a better, balanced place.


Positive Idaho Democrats  read more »

Immigration- Marisela's Story

Marisela was just 8 years old when she was dropped off in the desert, late at night. She doesn't remember what month it was, but she remembers how cold it was. They had a sandwich, from which she was given a few bites, and she had some bottled water which had frozen solid in the cold desert air. Her mother, father and three of her siblings had ridden a bus, and she doesn't quite recall how they went from the bus to the desert, but there they were, and they were going to have to walk all night long. Her father was carrying a younger brother, but Marisela was walking, and crying.  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: 'Death Coming Up the Hill' tackles racism, war, family through verse


Here is my latest review in Deseret News:

"DEATH COMING UP THE HILL," by Chris Crowe, HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 208 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

This gritty tale in Haiku-like poetry takes place in 1968 — a year that saw the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and many other legacies of fear and violence.

Read the full review here.

Chris Crowe, a professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published award-winning fiction and nonfiction for teenagers, poetry, essays, books, and many articles for academic and popular magazines. He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth, and they are the parents of four children and grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters. They live in Provo, Utah.

From the publisher:

It’s 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple, like the situation in Vietnam, has been engaged in a “senseless war that could have been prevented.”

When his high school history teacher dares to teach the political realities of the war, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents’ marriage, Ashe finds himself trapped, with no options before him but to enter the fray.

Chris Crowe was born in Danville, Illinois, and attended schools in Illinois, New Mexico, and California before his parents settled down in Tempe, Arizona, where he graduated from McKemy Junior High and McClintock High School. He attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship (and played in the 1974 Fiesta Bowl) and earned a BA in English. He taught English at McClintock High for 10 years while attending Arizona State University part-time, earning his masters and doctorate degrees.

He is the author of several books, most notably MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955, which won several awards, including the 2003 International Reading Association's Young Adult Novel Award. His nonfiction book, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE, was an Jane Addams Honor book. His first children's book, JUST AS GOOD: HOW LARRY DOBY CHANGED AMERICA'S GAME, appeared in 2012. His newest book is a historical novel DEATH COMING UP THE HILL, scheduled to be released in October 2014.

Chris married his high school sweetheart, and they live in Provo, Utah, where he works in the English department at BYU. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of two lovely girls and three handsome boys.  read more »

Will GOP Gov. Butch Otter Serve His Full Third Term?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Brad Little: Sneaking in?

Is somebody trying to tell us something? We just reelected Gov. Otter for four more years earlier this month. Why are we suddenly being reassured that it'll be just fine if he steps down? - Sharon Fisher

Why thank you, Sharon.

Just three weeks after the eloection, we receive this report in Idaho news media:

Idaho Lt. Gov. Little prepared to take on role of governor



Why aren't we being reassured, at this time, that one of the Boise State University assistant football coaches is ready to take over for head coach Bryan Harsin, just in case he can't coach?

Or ... isn't that supposed to be obvious?

The report, by Betsy Russel of the Spokesman Review, goes on to, somewhat arbitrarily, pound what should be obvious and already understood ...

BOISE – If newly re-elected 72-year-old Idaho Gov. Butch Otter didn’t complete his full third term, Idaho’s new governor would be Brad Little, the second-term lieutenant governor, rancher and former state senator who’s been toiling full-time in the part-time, low-paid post since Otter appointed him to it in 2009.

... That call already has come on a short-term basis: Little has served as acting governor on 247 days since he took office on Jan. 6, 2009, with the days per year sharply increasing over his time in office. In addition to serving as acting governor when the governor is out of state or incapacitated, Idaho’s lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, where he breaks ties, and takes on other duties as assigned by the governor.

Certainly, there is as much, if not more interest in the Broncos high paid state officials, as there is in Butch.

So what Fisher pointed out is something that had popped in my mind when reading this, too.

In journalism terms, there is a classic -- Grand Canyon-sized -- "hole in the story."

There are lots of newly elected and appointed, very important officials around Idaho and the nation at this time.

The stable and well established Little, replacing the Otter in his equally comfortable position, seems to be one of the least worrisome scenarios.

Why this official?

Why now?

Talk of Butch stepping aside to allow Brad his turn at Governor has been around since the affable cowboy first became Idaho's chief executive.

In politics, timing is critical. Congressman Raul Labrador is in a great position to run from the right against Otter's Main Street establishment Republicans next time around.

Wouldn't it be great to give Little a year or two as a sitting Governor for organizing, name-recognition, and the many benefits of running as an incumbent?

Is somebody trying to tell us something?  read more »

Fuck That Sexist Shit

Election 2014: Ybarra skipped at least 15 of 17 state elections

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Idaho's Sarah Palin?

Here is another reason why I Support Jana Jones for Idaho state superintendent of public instruction.

As Kevin Wilson wrote in the 123 Vote No group:

"Idaho Education News has already reported that Ybarra did not vote in the 2012 general election, when voters overturned Propositions 1,2 and 3 after a contentious statewide debate over K-12 policy."

Any self-proclaimed educator who failed to vote in 2012 cannot continue to claim that title, must less declare herself "passionate about education." Ms. Ybarra's failure to vote in that election is an insult to those who worked hard to see the democratic process through to its end, with many of them putting their jobs and professional reputations on the line while doing so.


Below is Clark Corbin's story from yesterday's Idaho Education News:

If state superintendent hopeful Sherri Ybarra votes on Election Day, it will be the first time the Republican has cast a ballot in a November general election while living in Mountain Home.

According to Elmore County election records, Ybarra has not voted for a governor, a state superintendent, a president or a state legislator in a general election since moving to Mountain Home in 1996.  read more »

Election 2014: Richard Stallings is the Right Choice For Congress

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Richard Stallings

" ... when I go into some rural counties, I hear people say they just hate Congress, yet they'll still vote for [his opponent]," writes Richard Stallings.

I fist met Richard Stallings during a dinner/talk at the Unitarian Fellowship in Pocatello, Idaho about 10 years ago. I have positive memories of his warm style and profound grasp of the issues that matter.

Former U.S. Representative Stallings has devoted much of his career to public service and to improving the lives and prosperity of Idaho families. He served in Congress from 1984 to 1992.

Stallings is a candidate for the 2014 election. to again represent Idaho's Idaho's 2nd congressional district. Stallings also served in several other state and local political offices over the course of his 22-years of public service. To make a contribution please see this link.

When asked by Boise Weekly what he learned about his opponent from this latest GOP primary, Stallings said:

He's a coward. Even his supporters say he's a better legislator than what his voting record reflects. He's just afraid. He was terrified of [Bryan] Smith and, as a result, he was forced into some very bad decisions.

His refusal to deal with the minimum wage. That refusal keeps 100,000 Idahoans living in poverty. And it's costing the government more money because we end up providing more food stamps. It's an outrageous indignity, for no other reason than some political nastiness. It's the most inhumane thing I've ever seen done to the most vulnerable people in our society. Even Mitt Romney calls for an increase.

By not standing up to the Tea Party wing of his own party, he's become a lousy, lousy legislator. Another of his vulnerabilities is a lack of immigration reform. About 13 percent of Idaho's population is Hispanic, most of them documented. But they have undocumented friends and family that are hiding in the shadows, yet they're exploited by employers. I agree with Jeb Bush when he said many people had come to the United States illegally as an act of love. But his own party beat the tar out of him.

Your contribution will have an immediate impact on Richard Stallings's campaign.

Here is a useful discussion from his campaign website:

During the time I spent representing the Second District of Idaho in the U.S. Congress, the issue of a pay raise for members of Congress came up for a vote before the house. I had committed to Idaho that I would not take a pay raise for myself and voted against this bill. It passed without my vote. Then it became necessary to make a decision on what to do with said pay raise. A few members (none from Idaho) returned the money to the treasury but, after much contemplation, my wife and I made the decision to try to help people in Idaho.

At that time, many people were hurting financially. Farmers, students and families were struggling. We made the decision to provide scholarship money to non-traditional students. These were people who had been victims of the economy and were struggling for new opportunities in life. It seemed to us that there were lots of funding sources for 18 year-old students but were extremely scarce for older people facing the same life changing experiences. In retrospect, we are grateful we had this opportunity. I wanted to share a letter we received from a young woman at that time. Her full name has not been included because we have not been able to contact her to obtain her permission to do so. She should be extremely proud of her accomplishment, hence reprinting this letter:

Dear Mr. Stallings,

It is very hard for me to put into words how I am feeling at this time. This morning I got up, fed my four children, hurried them off to school and then hurried off to school myself. In my religion class, I received the message that the scholarship office wanted to see me as soon as possible. When I sat in that office, my prayers were answered. I still cannot believe that I was chosen to receive this scholarship.

Read the full discussion at

Does this seem ethical to you?


Is it legal for the Speaker of the Idaho House to push a bill through the State Legislature on behalf of a development company only after that company fires a political opponent and hires a political ally?

The answer is yes.

Is it ethical?  You be the judge.

Back in 2007, a California development company pushed for a bill that would allow it to pay for an interchange on I-90 with the sales tax collected at a yet-to-be-built Cabela’s store located next to the interchange.

The bill appeared to be going nowhere. Then the company asked Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney for advice. Soon after, the company fired its lobbyist, a established moderate Republican who opposed Denney’s run for speaker, and hired Julie Ellsworth, a Denney supporter and former House member who lost her seat four months earlier.

After that, the bill sailed through the legislature.

The appearance of impropriety prompted calls for a “cooling off” period, a mandatory two-year break between legislating and lobbying.

Denney would have none of it. “I have no desire to dictate who can and cannot get a job working as a lobbyist,” he opined.

Days later, Denney changed his mind, announcing that he would co-sponsor a “cooling off” bill. He did so tepidly. ‘‘I’m still not sure it’s necessary, but in this business, perception is reality,’’ he said. 

Unfortunately, the bill came too late in the session. It died in committee without a hearing.

The next year, a similar bill was referred to committee at the beginning of the session where it sat for months before dying without a hearing.

Give Denney credit. He’s right. Perception is reality in the business of government. Idaho’s Secretary of State’s office has a long tradition of honesty and impartiality. The Gem State doesn’t need that tarnished with cronyism and malfeasance.

Idaho needs somebody with the reputation of fairness and honesty.

Idaho needs Holli Woodings for Secretary of State.

Idaho student Jacob Dorsey withdraws from Wisconsin State Assembly race after racist and anti-gay slurs


An Idaho college student withdrew from a political race in Wisconsin after a series of controversial comments.

Jacob Dorsey quit his campaign for the Wisconsin State Assembly after admitting to making offensive comments about gay and black people -- including using the "n word."

Dorsey took a break from BYU Idaho to run for the seat. He also made disparaging remarks about President Obama and President Lincoln. Dorsey was running as a Republican.

CLICK HERE to see images of Dorsey's offensive posts on Youtube and Twitter and for further details.

READ MORE about the Jacob Dorsey scandal.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel elaborated:

The 19-year-old, who was running against Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, issued an apology last week after bloggers discovered a December post on Twitter about a ruling in support of same-sex marriage in Utah that included a derogatory term.

This week, bloggers surfaced comments on YouTube videos that included derogatory statements about black people. Dorsey also used a curse word in a YouTube comment referencing Abraham Lincoln, the nation's first Republican president. ...

Dorsey's name will remain on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Republican Party of Rock County denounced Dorsey's comments and asked him to return a donation to his campaign, according to the Gazette.

Dorsey told news outlets that he plans to return to Idaho to finish school.

Idaho Press Tribune: Hixon's Actions "could be highly scandalous, clearly egregious lawbreaking."

Troubled Lawmaker Hixon

The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office is investigating Rep. Brandon Hixon (R-Caldwell) after questions were raised regarding his use of campaign funds.

Hixon’s campaign contributors and others noticed that Hixon’s Sunshine reports look like he could be spending his campaign dollars on personal expenses, which is against the law. For instance, he charged his campaign for enough fuel to drive 315 times from his Caldwell home to Boise, according to a complaint filed by the Canyon County Democratic Party with the Secretary of State’s Office.

According to the Idaho Press Tribune, Hixon's case:

... could be highly scandalous, clearly egregious lawbreaking. ... State law essentially allows him to use campaign money “in connection with the campaign for public office” ...

HOWEVER: Hixon’s opponents strongly imply his expenses for travel are excessive. He could help reassure skeptics with a detailed log of where he drove, when he drove there and the total mileage taken.

... Could he be operating under a loose interpretation of state law and funneling some of those expenses for non-campaign purposes? It’s possible.

Below is a repost of my 12/28/2013 blog entry on this topic:  read more »

Did You Know There Was An Idaho Statesman Website Archive?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

UPDATE: 9/15/14: An astute commenter on Sisyphus Facebook page added this: "According to a friend who inquired of the Statesman, articles over a year old are archived in a pay-to-view system, accessible by hovering over the search field and then clicking on "Search Print Archives." After doing so, a search for "Tom Luna" (minus the quotes) yields only 26 matches, but displays them on a page at A new search on that page yields 1300+ articles, including those from between 2007 and 2013.

So, no scandal, just another example of the Statesman making itself irrelevant."

Where;s Tom Luna?

We believe that we live in the 'age of information,' that there has been an information 'explosion,' an information 'revolution.' While in a certain narrow sense that is the case, in many more important ways just the opposite is true. We also live at a moment of deep ignorance, when vital knowledge that humans have always possessed about who we are and where we live seems beyond our reach. An unenlightenment. An age of missing information. - Bill McKibben, author of The Age of Missing Information.

It is the age old question: Scandal? ... or just ineptitude?

And does the latter necessarily vindicate responsible parties from the seriousness of the error?

I wonder why the Dan Popkey story, from Sept. 2012, about my blog entry "Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?" is no longer on the Idaho Statesman website.

Tom Luna is the current Superintendent of Public Instruction in Idaho. He is not seeking re-election after a profoundly flawed "Students Come First" initiative was trounced by Idaho voters.

Look at this Boise Weekly reference to the Popkey story. In it, click the hyperlink to the word "column" in the first sentence. Notice how this important story is no longer there.

Betsy Russell, who covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog for the Spokesman Review, had also included a link to the disappearing story. Her link is in the first sentence of the third paragraph.

Boise State Public Radio still has their story available, too ... a curious situation.

The same goes for D.F. Oliveria's Huckleberries Onlinee entry, "Luna Subject Of Wikipedia War," which also includes a link to the now-nonexistent Popkey story.

Luna's bio had been reworked by the Wikipedia editors after the controversy. But the key question here is why the story disappeared from the state's largest media outlet -- which has Popkey links going back as far as 2001 -- but not from other sources.

The story appeared on the front page of the Idaho Statesman print edition on Sept. 7, 2012.

Some concerned Idahoans weighed in:

The great media black out. Idahoans simply will not get the truth. At least we have Betsy. And you. I'll report. -Holly Imamovic

Another person said:

It's pretty stunning. You have to wonder if Luna leaned on the publisher or if Popkey himself had it removed, because of his own new political affiliations.

Popkey, a political reporter and columnist for the Idaho Statesman, left journalism in Late June after 30 years to become the press secretary for 1st District Congressman and Tea Party darling Raul Labrador.

But apparently, disappearing stories from do not represent a new pattern:

Unbelievable but not surprising. They do it all the time. - Boise Weekly Publisher Sally Freeman

and ...

Statesman web archiving is crap. Some of Popkey's pieces on Luna back in 2011 we put on our Common Sense webpage in their entirety, and the same stories have disappeared off the Statesman site.... - Travis Manning

Scandal? Or just a lousy website?

Does either option make you more comfortable?

We have front page story from a state's largest media outlet. It was linked and discussed on multiple other sites. It discussed whether tax dollars should be spent to have the staffer for a statewide elected official clean up his Wikipedia biography.

The story now only exists for those who can get a hard copy of a two year-old newspaper edition.

Please offer your thoughts and suggestions.

Boise School Board - VOTE TODAY

It's an important election for three seats on the Boise School District board. Incumbents Nancy Gregory and Doug Park have done well and deserve to be re-elected. Brian Cronin will make a great addition. The John Hruby-Grant Walden-Travis Jones axis is some weird concept cooked up (or at least simmered) by John Foster. While they're all capable of soft palaver, it's quite suspect. The Boise School District is the best one in the state; let's keep it that way.

Please vote, and please consider choosing Nancy Gregory, Doug Park, and Brian Cronin.  read more »

Heidi Knittel for Senate Dist. 12 Endorsed by Idaho Education Association (IEA)

Nampa, Idaho — Heidi Knittel, Idaho State Senate Candidate, District 12, has been endorsed by the Idaho Education Association (IEA) and Nampa Education Association (NEA). “It is an honor to be recognized by this esteemed, 120-year strong organization.” Knittel said, referring to the Education Association.

Knittel supports IEA’s vision to deliver on their promise of a great public school for every Idaho student. “Public education is the gateway to opportunity. It is vital to prepare our students to succeed in a competitive and diverse world,” Knittel said, concurring with an IEA Core Values.

Knittel understands that, in order to meet their vision, education professionals must be championed at the Legislative level. As State Senator, Knittel plans to do just that. “I will continue to advocate for educator’s rights, including restored education funding, increased teacher base salary and more opportunities for professional development.”

Heidi Knittel is 42 years old, lives and works in Nampa and has a master’s degree in psychology. She is running for Idaho State Senate District 12. Her decision to run was born out of her experience as a program director at a small, Nampa business, where she speaks on behalf of Idaho’s most vulnerable citizens.

As a mental healthcare professional for more than a decade, Heidi has been a passionate advocate in the citizen legislative process to help her clients have better futures. She has navigated Idaho’s sometimes slow-moving bureaucracies to help Idaho’s vulnerable citizens. She has participated in public meetings impacting clients, sponsored by agencies such as Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare.

Heidi is a member of the Mental Health Providers Association of Idaho (MHPAI) and the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH). She serves on the committee of Idaho KIDS COUNT.

For more information, see:

ID Election 2014: Congressman's Press Secretary: "It’s unclear what Labrador will do."

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Rep. Labrador's office has confirmed that he doesn't know what he is doing.

"Ever wonder exactly what our congressman, Raul Labrador, is planning?" says the Idaho Democratic Party.

Does he have an end game?

Raúl Rafael Labrador has been the U.S. Representative for Idaho's 1st congressional district since 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. His district is located in the northern and western portions of the state and includes the southern fourth of Boise as well as the cities of Meridian, Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Sandpoint, Lewiston, Bonners Ferry, McCall, Caldwell, Nampa, Emmett, Parma, Weiser, and Eagle. Labrador previously represented District 14B in the Idaho House of Representatives.

The young Congressman from our district, Rep. Raul Labrador, ran on a very idealistic platform that essentially boiled down to "America was a much better place in the 19th century, and we should return to that" -- basically, straight Tea Party doctrine.

The analysis above is from blogger Joel Kennedy, written in April of 2011: Idealism Meets Reality.

But does Labrador actually believe many of the thigs he says to get ... and to stay ... elected? Funny things can happen when idealism meets reality; and when opportunism runs into our rapidly changing world; especially when one's paycheck is based on a career in the ever-unpredictable Beltway.

Shirley Ringo has one clear goal:

Serve Idaho's people.

Check out this transcript excerpt from the Hugh Hewitt radio show, from June:

HEWITT: Big change in the race to succeed Eric Cantor as Majority Leader. Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho has thrown his hat into the ring to square off against Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California. I’m pleased to welcome Raul Labrador back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Congressman, good to talk to you, thanks for joining me.
LABRADOR: It’s great to be on your show, Hugh.
HEWITT: Are you going to win?
LABRADOR: I am going to win. You know, I’m already getting a lot of calls from people who are telling me that they’re switching their vote, that they’re excited about having a choice in this race, and that they want a different direction for the conference. They want more conservative leadership in the House.

When he challenges Speaker Boehner, the iconoclastic representative guarantees that Idaho will have no clout. When he then runs for the second spot without any support, he reminds other Republicans why they don’t like him.

In an interview with Boise State Public Radio, Labrador’s new press secretary, Dan Popkey, shed light on the baffling maneuvers of Labrador:

Popkey says it’s unclear what Labrador will do in the future; whether it’s run for governor, the U.S. Senate or a higher office. “I think I’m reading him correctly, he does not know what he’s going to do,” Popkey adds. “To suggest that working for Raul Labrador is an assurance of long term professional success, I think he’s a little too unpredictable for that.”

"Yes. Mr. Popkey looks like he’s reading him correctly," according to the IDP. "Labrador has never behaved like a man who knows what he’s going to do. He’s been so unpredictable that none of his constituents or his peers can trust him enough to work with him."

That doesn’t hurt Mr. Labrador. He’s doing fine as the Beltway’s favorite TV lightning rod – it just hurts Idaho.

Let’s send Mr. Labrador back to private life as an immigration lawyer where he can while away the years ineffectively like he did before he fell into Congress.

The IDP website encourages people to "Vote for Rep. Shirley Ringo and get someone in there who will make a plan with the interests of Idaho at heart … and stick to it."

ID Election 2014: Idaho Statesman Affirms Risch’s “Dilettante” Rep

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Sen. Jim Risch thinks "the job is easy."

Well … who wouldn’t like a high-paying job that gave you lots of clout and respect and perks without making you work for them?

That’s the job U.S. Sen. Risch has back in Washington, D.C..

Hard to believe? Well, Risch is the one who said it:

You know, I really enjoy this job. I really like this job,” Risch said last week, saying it’s a breeze compared to the seven months he served as governor in 2006. “Governor will wear you down. You can’t do that job permanently. This you can do ad infinitum.”

Home for a Senate recess that included a visit with the Statesman editorial board, Risch was remarkably passive about the failure of Congress to deal with the country’s problems, starting with a $16 trillion debt.

I can’t explain to you how dysfunctional it is back there,” Risch said, predicting it will take a catastrophe for the national legislature to tackle its responsibilities.”

U.S. Senate candidate Nels Mitchell used the column for an ad that ran this week in the Idaho Statesman. The columnist, Dan Popkey, who wrote the piece, confirmed that it’s accurate:

Democratic Nels Mitchell is using a column I wrote in May 2013 to make the case that Republican Sen. Jim Risch “sees the U.S. Senate as a place to relax, a perch from which to watch dysfunction and gridlock.”

“Idaho can’t afford a senator who thinks the job is easy,” Mitchell says in the ad, which cost $1,200. “Our country needs a working senate, and Idaho needs a working senator. Unlike Jim Risch, I won’t simply be a senator from Idaho; I will be a senator for Idaho.”

Mitchell’s ad reproduces excerpts from my May 6, 2013 column. When Mitchell announced for the job in January, he mentioned the article to me as evidence of Risch’s vulnerability despite the GOP’s strength.

Risch spoke volubly during a meeting with the Statesman editorial board about how much he loves the Washington social scene, his work on the Foreign Relations Committee and the collegiality of the Senate despite the institution’s “dysfunction.” He also said the job was a breeze compared to his seven-month stint as governor in 2006.

Mitchell’s campaign manager, Betty Richardson, said Tuesday that Risch’s comments have “staying power….So, we think more people should see it.”

Mitchell wrote:

Dear Idaho Voter,

I am running for the United States Senate to fulfill a childhood dream of serving others and to further the interests of fairness and justice for all Idahoans, indeed for all Americans.

Crossposted on Daily Kos

When I look at the United States Senate today, I see a body that has become dysfunctional. It is bogged down in gridlock, held hostage to extremist views, and peopled with career politicians who have abandoned the ideal of public service in favor of protecting the perks to which they believe they are entitled.

That kind of broken system is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Instead, they contemplated a Senate in which citizen legislators would step forward for a limited time in order to represent their states and serve the American people, before returning to their private lives. In so doing, they would make way for new leaders.

Surely, they did not conceive of career politicians – the kind of politician which Jim Risch epitomizes.

And our Founding Fathers did not imagine a Congress paralyzed by gridlock and partisan gamesmanship. Rather, they anticipated a true marketplace of ideas, one in which competing views would be deliberated in light of the very purpose of our Constitution:

...

Graphics used with permission.  read more »

It's Like if You Were Trying to Write a Good Haiku and All of a Sudden a Million Ghosts of Dead Haiku Masters Show Up and Laugh

It was so easy for me to unleash thousands of words on my favorite topic: making fun of Idaho. Adjectives flowed like unicorn blooded water over precipices of crystalline squirrel bones ... oh fuck that ... I can't do it. It's gone.

Why? Because these hilarious motherfuckers at the debate. I watch these youtubes and roar with laughter until I am in tears. Tears of joy. It's the funniest shit ever. No way can these guys be satirized. They are satire-proof simply by being such douchebillies. Fucking Idaho.

When I first saw the photo of the four of these guys I thought "hey, two closeted guys in suits being introduced to a leather daddy and something really icky daddy convention, and one can hardly imagine the horror they would experience in the dungeon." But nah. Once I watched the video I realized there's no point in a spin or interpretation trying to be humorous. This is perfect art. This is the superabsurd. This is brilliant. Butch Otter, who I find as appealing as an old saddle shat upon by hundreds of diarrheac cowboys and now boiled into shitty leather jerky, was tactically (if not strategically) possessed of a certain type of genius to insist these crackpots be front and center on the stage with Fulcher. Butch comes out looking like a circus ringmaster.

So, I think I'm done here and anywhere else where I once soaked myself in the blood of squirrels, sister-wives, mutant inbred children with single eyes in the middle of their foreheads capable of staring deep into your soul to find your most hidden place of shameful despair, as well as psycho-conflagrate many combustibles with nothing more than a *mad* thought, old Subaru Brats (the official Car-Truck of North Idaho) and so many more stereotypes of a backasswards frontier state.

Because. Because Harley and Walt. Motherfuckers you are golden.

Good luck Idaho. I fear you've collapsed upon yourself in weirdness, like a massive potato-shaped supernova, forming a black hole which sucks. I'm sorry you suck but it's kind of spectacular.

Groping in the dark for 2016

As an officially affiliated Republican voter (you could look it up), I was privileged to receive an IDAHO VOTER EXPLORATORY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE POLLING BALLOT that was Authorized and Conducted by the Republican National Committee. It's CONFIDENTIAL | NOT TRANSFERRABLE with my name preprinted upon it, by which I guess they mean I'm supposed to keep mum, but they're going to tuck my preferences into their big database in the sky and use it for fundraising and advertising and whatever. All my base are belong to them.  read more »

Idaho GOP Fights for James Brown!


Isn't he the Godfather of Soul?

Regarding the Idaho Republican Party fighting for soul:

“It is a fight, really, for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “Are you out there on that far edge, or are you rational? I certainly hope that the rational message comes forward.

James Brown sang some relevant lyrics:

HEY, fellas!
Sometimes your business is ALL messed up, yeah!
…sometimes you don't have your thing together, yeah, yeah, yeah, YEAH!
…and when your thing is ALL messed up… somebody will take that fire, yeah!

And look at these thoughts from Spokesman Review commenters:

"How could the GOP be fighting for something that doesn't exist?" - slamdunk

And a shot from Joel Kennedy:

"The official "Fulcher for Governor" Fact Check page says it all ..."  read more »

Idaho Legislative Highlights!

Here are my top four:

1. Nullify the US Government and declare Idaho "a lawless frontier of Caucasian cowboys packing heat, killing things and loving Jesus" (died in committee)
2. Renaming "Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Probes" as "Happy baby ticklers" (tabled, feasibility study ordered)
3. $2,000,000 reward to the hunter or trapper who kills the last wolf in Idaho. (reduced to $400,000 and signed by Governor)
4. Legalize "upskirt" photos or films of animal rights activists. Create a website for upskirt and upkilt galleries. (signed by Governor)

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