MeAndG's blog

This National Nightmare is Going to End

A few days ago, one of the best and most comprehensive summaries of the current state of the Trump administration was written.

Don’t listen to the people saying this will never end and or Trump will be reelected in 2020. They are wrong. This is going to end. Those negative people are the same people who argued that we would never take the house because of gerrymandering. They are the same people who said we would never stop the ACA repeal. They are the same people who said Trump would declare martial law if the Democrats took the House. They are the same people who said we would never win a senate seat in Alabama. They are people who mistake cynicism for intelligence. They are people who mistake pessimism for realism. They are people who are afraid and think negativity will protect them. They are wrong on all those counts.

And the article does a good job of pointing out other pundits:

Even Fox news has been turning against him recently:

The author goes on to remind us that we are the majority and adds:

"The light of American democracy is bright and strong. And due to our hard work, it is going to shine for much longer. We will not be defeated by this failed reality TV show, lying, bankrupt, grifter."  read more »

Lt. Governor Candidate Janice McGeachin Thanks “Proud to Be White Again” Supporter

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Choose your friends wisely. Will Idaho elect a Lt. Governor who openly accepts white supremacists?

A truly awful conversation was recently on Facebook under this post. It has since been deleted. Fortunately, Seth Ogilvie of Idaho Reports covered the whole incident and has screenshots of the entire deleted conversation.

Check out this screenshot that sums up the problem:

This awful conversation was on Facebook yesterday under this post.

The first objection came from Robbie DeLeon: “Janice McGeachin Why should anyone who isn’t white vote for you after seeing these comments? If you want to represent our state you need to represent everyone, not just white conservatives,” according to idaho Reports.

McGeachin did not respond or thank DeLeon, but Jackson did saying “She clearly doesn’t need your vote OR ANY OF YOUR LIBERSL BUDDIES. THIS IS IDAHO! GO RED WAVE! #MAGA or #GTFO.

The thread played out like this for almost 24 hours. Idaho Reports then contacted McGeachin, asking “Does Janice McGeachin support the sentiment ‘I’m proud to be white again?’”

“I hope the voters in Idaho know that I believe that our country should celebrate diversity,” McGeachin told Idaho Reports in an email. “My ‘thank you’ was in response to his support of Trump and my campaigns.”

If you were a candidate and a Klan member posted support in your page, would you simply say “Thank You?”

The candidate later posted, and then deleted, a video from Eric Parker, a participant in the Bundy ranch standoff. He draws comparisons between the First and Second Amendments and encourages people to be as disciplined with their words as they are with their firearms: “Stop shooting the people around you and start shooting the target.”

Idaho Reports reached out to Jackson and received this statement shortly after the thread was deleted. It was posted without editing:

“I’m so mad I’m shakin. She posts about why Trump is getting support and I thank her, she thanks me, then all hell brakes lose. I ask sone of my millitia buddies to push back on the hate I was getting then next thing u know bitch tells me to watch myself and I’m getting beat up by Eric Parker himself for saying things he says all the time. Check FB him and me are/were friends. Now his goons are telling me I’m not wrong, just whatch where I post. Anyway it looks like its over because the bitch deleted my post and put me in FB jail so I can’t post comments to her stuff. McGeachin has no integrity. Can’t support the second while wiping your feet on the first or something like that.”  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: Why Understanding Student Trauma is More Important Than Teaching “Grit”

Crossposted on Young People's Pavilion

So, what are those challenges? If a hypothetical classroom of 30 children was based on current demographics in the United States, this is how the students in that classroom would live: Seven would live in poverty; 11 would be non-white; six wouldn’t speak English as a first language; six wouldn’t be reared by their biological parents; one would be homeless; and six would be victims of abuse.

... writes Aisha Sultan in the Atlantic.

There are some great children's books that address trauma and help students deal with it.  I found this article 11 Kids’ Books On Dealing With Loss, Grief, Illness And Trauma, particularly helpful.

The author states: "When children experience serious illness, loss, grief or trauma, it’s crucial to allow them to express and cope with emotions while at the same time, helping them understand, as developmentally appropriate as possible, what is happening. As parents and caregivers help children process these often times new and intense emotions."

Sultan continues:

I was reminded of this conversation during a recent presentation by Tyrone C. Howard on how student culture affects learning. Howard, the associate dean for equity and inclusion at UCLA, provided a reality check to the heavy investment in skills such as grit that might help more students succeed. ... We are asking students to change a belief system without changing the situation around them ... It can be irresponsible and unfair to talk about grit without talking about structural challenges, ... referring to the recent interest in interventions tied to the concepts of grit and perseverance.  read more »

How Not to Run a Rebellion


SECOND UPDATE: 2/12/16. Advice: Don't harbor a future felon.

Melissa Cooper told OPB her husband was arrested in front of their two girls.

“It was traumatic for them,” Cooper said. “Then the FBI agents…these guys from Arizona, they let the air out of my tires so I was stuck. I don’t have money for new tires, and I’m trying to get them fixed right now.”

The FBI would not confirm the details of the arrest.

Read: 7 More Militants Charged In Connection With Malheur Occupation

UPDATE: 2/12/16. This entry of the hot new advice column: "How not to run a rebellion," offers wise counsel: If you are in a position to be charged with serious crimes including using a dangerous and deadly weapon to forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, and interfere with federal law enforcement officers; don't put an announcement on your website that says ...

From the Cliven Bundy official site:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

IT'S TIME!!!!!


Ummm ... dudes ... like ... the cops will know exactly where you going and where you will be ... and you will have been disarmed at the perfect time for the arrest.

Read Cliven Bundy's criminal complaint.

STANDOFF: "We're not going to leave unless ... Oh Crap!"

Thanks to Ammon Bundy and his cast, we have a nice list of suggested ways to screw up a protest, or anything like one...

Begin by demanding the release of two "Patriots" from jail. Throw in demands for return of federal lands to "the people."

NOTE: be sure to deprive thousdands of people of the land while you demand its "return" to people you want to have it.

End up with all 16 of your final protestors in jail, charged or otherwise stuck.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Newly released documents show the four remaining occupiers at an Oregon wildlife refuge, including a couple from Idaho, are facing charges.

An indictment unsealed Thursday names a total of 16 defendants, including standoff leader Ammon Bundy and other occupiers who were arrested last week.

A federal grand jury charged all with felony conspiracy, accused of using intimidation to prevent federal officers from doing their work at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The armed holdouts have said they wouldn't leave until receiving assurances they wouldn't be charged. (emphasis ours)


PHOTO Credit: Ammon Bundy in Creative Commons YouTube video posted by Blaine Cooper, January 23, 2016, three days before his arrest.

Ben Carson Speaks the Truth

He also played the tune on the First Thanksgiving ...


SOURCE: Fee Part Hatriots

Voice Your Opinion On The Idaho Freedom Foundation Lawsuit Against Boise Schools

"The lawsuit announced this week against the Boise School District is one worth watching because it will have sweeping consequences throughout Idaho," writes Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. "While the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s complaint is directed at the Boise School District, it’s not the only school in Idaho where taxpayers are being forced to subsidize labor union organizing activities."

VOICE YOUR OPINION: Comment on this topic on Facebook.

Wayne Hoffman, head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, announced this week that his group has filed a lawsuit against the Boise School District, raising constitutional questions about the district’s contract with its local teachers association because itallows paid leave for members who are delegates to attend Idaho Education Association conferences and covers $35,932 toward the salary and benefits of the association president, a teacher who takes leave to fulfill association duties, according to Betsy Russell on her Eye on Boise blog.


Hoffman continues:

In Boise’s case, the school board and the Boise Education Association hatched an agreement long ago that allows a teacher to be excused from teaching to conduct union business but still remain employed by the district, remain on the government payroll and benefit from taxpayer-provided health and retirement benefits. In other words, taxpayers pay for a teacher who doesn’t teach. Instead the money and the resources go to a taxpayer-funded union boss.

This, we’ve alleged in the Boise School District lawsuit, violates the state Constitution. The constitution, borne of the days in which the railroads benefited from super cozy relationships with the government and ill-conceived funding schemes, forbids arrangements in which private organizations benefit from taxpayer support. The school district arrangement violates that covenant.

Click here to read Wayne's full article.

Here’s a statement issued Thursday afternoon by the Boise School District.

“Boise School District administration and board of trustees do not comment about pending litigation.

“However, it’s important for people to remember that for the last 20 years Boise School District has benefited from a longstanding collaborative relationship with the Boise Education Association. This partnership continues to foster a culture of respect and teamwork in the district where our professional educators are valued for their work in ensuring our community’s students are provided every opportunity to succeed in college, career and citizenship. It is due to this positive ongoing working relationship that Boise School District is highly regarded in our state and nation as a high performing comprehensive public school system.”

The Idaho Education Association (IEA), which was not listed as a party in the lawsuit, noted they are looking into the matter, according to the Daily Caller. The union stated they have seen the BEA and the BSD do a lot of good for the schools.

“The Boise Education Association and the Idaho Education Association have been made aware of litigation involving the Boise School District,” Paul Stark, the general counsel for IEA, told TheDCNF in a statement. “While we are investigating the situation further, we have no concerns about the appropriateness of the relationship between the teachers and the school district.”

“The BEA and BSD have developed a strong working relationship over many years, which has made the Boise School District one of the best educational environments for students in the state of Idaho,” Stark continued.

Justice Scalia explains why Kim Davis should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or find a new job and other stories

"Think of it this way. Someone who objects to war due to his religious conscience has a right to be a conscientious objector and not serve in the military, even were there to be a draft. But he does not have the right to serve as a military officer, draw a paycheck from the military and then substitute his own personal views of when war is justified for that of the government. The same applies here." - Jonathan H. Adler in Washington Post

New IDP Chair Bert Marley: Visionary Leader

Idaho is at a tipping point.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Difference,” describes this moment in Idaho’s history very well:

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.”

After so much time under the Idaho GOP’s political yoke, it can take an act of courage to embrace the truth that Idaho is on the precipice of achieving balance. It’s unsurprising that the Lewiston Tribune opinion page dons the emotional armor of skepticism and cynicism.

Here’s IDP Chair Bert Marley’s response to the Lewiston Tribune (paysite):


‪#‎Victory‬ ‪#‎Systemic‬ ‪#‎Institutional‬ ‪#‎Racism‬ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.

The notion of an intractable "culture of poverty" has pushed our country in an especially ugly direction.

White conservatives are quick to tell black folks and other folks of color to 'stop being victims,' and to bash them for adopting a 'victim mindset.' But then they base their entire political existence on the idea that they are victims: of brown immigrants, Muslims, “the gays,” trans folks, secular humanists, atheists, scientists, environmentalists, taxes, government regulations, affirmative action, Hollywood elitists, college professors, political correctness, feminism, anti-Christian bigots, the media, etc. In other words, the biggest professional victims on the planet — whose race, religion, and sexuality are still dominant throughout the society — think its OK to lecture others about the subject…fascinating. – Tim Wise.

Follow and comment on this discussion on Facebook

In Under the Affluence, Wise builds on his fierce critique of racial privilege to discuss a related issue: class disparity and a culture of cruelty that demonizes those in need.

As Wise demonstrates, there was a time when the hardship of fellow Americans stirred feelings of sympathy, civic responsibility, and direct support for policies meant to alleviate poverty. But today, mainstream discourse increasingly blames low-income folks for their own situation, and the notion of an intractable "culture of poverty" has pushed our country in an especially ugly direction. Wise shows how the wealthy elite have commandeered discussions about class, moving the nation toward scorn and disengagement from the marginalized.

With clarity and precision, Wise not only documents growing contempt for the nation's have-nots, but also explores the underlying forces that perpetuate it. In doing so, he demonstrates how classism, racism, and sexism are inextricably linked, and how popular culture contributes to a deepening indifference to those who are struggling. Finally, Wise shows that far from a culture of poverty, it is the culture of affluence and power that deserves the blame for America's simmering economic and social crises.

Victim of Pocatello, Idaho police beating speaks out

They listen to Glenn Beck.

They hate the government ...

That is, except when those public officials in police uniforms are beating up Blacks, Hispanics and the poor.

Then ... #AllLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter

This is a follow up to my previous diary Pocatello police officer charged with assault. What Should Happen Now?

But wait! This case doesn't loan itself to those "Blacks commit more crimes" ... "You're race baiting" ... "This is just another liberal media smear" arguments.

The Idaho State Journal has interviewed the victim:

POCATELLO — James Rutherford said an altercation with police that resulted in Pocatello detective Steven Westfall being charged with assault by an officer and Rutherford being transported to the hospital started when he turned on the video camera on his cellphone.

Rutherford said he went to the IRS office at the Omni Building on 275 S. Fifth on July 10 to pick up a tax form for the financial aid office at Idaho State University. As he waited, a security guard asked him if he was carrying a knife. Rutherford told him he was not.

“He asked what was in my pocket. I told him it was my phone, and he asked if I would submit to a search,” Rutherford said. “I told him that I would not. He told me that I had to leave, and I told him that I was a tax-paying citizen and I had a right to be there.”

An exchange on the Idaho State Journal site encapsulates the dillemma for far-right extremists who want to side with the "good officer" over the "bad guy."

Ray Doe
Yes this young man could have prevented all of this in my opinion, according to what we have heard so far. If he would have allowed the security officer to do a search on him then it would have been a done deal. However the question is, what caused the security officer to question the guy in the first place and what made that security officer want to give him a body search..? I'm not taking sides for the individual that was arrested, but I'm not taking sides for any of the officers involved either. Is quite apparent that there was an officer that overstepped his boundaries on video , and without that evidence the officer wouldn't be facing charges himself!

Adam Stone
Ray Doe You don't have to "allow" an illegal search. At least that's not the America I want to live in.

Thank you, Adam Stone.

Pocatello police officer charged with assault. What Should Happen Now?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

A Pocatello, Idaho police officer is being charged with unnecessary assault by a policeman.

Detective Steven Westfall is being charged in connection to an arrest made on July 10, 2015. According Police Chief Scott Marchand, during the arrest Westfall allegedly used unnecessary force to subdue the suspect.

"What do you think should happen to Westfall for this incident involving a suspect? Should he lose his job? Should he be convicted of assault?" the Idaho State Journal asks.

Watch the video and voice your opinion.

Racism in Boise Idaho

"Please, no justification needed ..."

writes Louis J. Sheppard.

Read about his experience.

Has Donald Trump 'Fired up the Crazies?' Or is This Just Another Day in The Life of The GOP?

A fighter for immigration reform vs. a bored gazillionaire:

Republicans “need to reject this demagoguery. If we don’t, we will lose and we will deserve to lose,” McCain said, telling the New Yorker that he was certain once GOP primary voters learned more about Trump, he’d lose support. “He was a big Democratic supporter,” McCain pointed out. “Some of this stuff is going to come out: he gave more money to Democrats than Republicans, he had Hillary Clinton at his wedding. You know, he’s attacking Hillary Clinton after she was in the front row of his,” McCain recalled, shadily adding “I don’t know which wedding it was.”

Read Has Donald Trump 'Fired up the Crazies?' Or is This Just Another Day in The Life of The GOP?

Idaho House panel risks $246 million in funding to needy families because of Sharia law worries

UPDATE: 11:44 a.m. MST. My orginal blog headline stated $46 million, because I was using the fact that "roughly $16.1 million will immediately stop once Idaho is out of compliance. An additional $30 million is also in jeopardy because compliance is also tied to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families."

But upon further research:

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “This is a bill of immense, immense consequences to the state of Idaho, to the state but mostly to the children of the state of Idaho, those that depend on child support payments for keeping body and soul together.” His voice cracking with fatigue, Rusche told the House, “This bill is required so that we can participate in the federal child support system. Without that participation, it will be very difficult, maybe impossible, to collect the over $200 million in child support payments that our Health & Welfare Department collects and dispenses.

Idaho made ABC News again!

"Republicans have been accused of abandoning the poor. It's the other way around. They never vote for us." - Dan Quayle

Stranger than fiction.

But alas, this is Idaho ...

An Idaho House panel voted 9-8 on Friday to kill legislation to bring the state into compliance with federal child-support collection rules after some lawmakers said they were concerned about Sharia law influencing Idaho's enforcement authority.

SOURCE: Associated Press.

And yet another victory for Idaho's single moms ... (end sarcasm)

Idaho child support program director Kandace Yearsley said the committee's decision has placed Idaho at risk of losing nearly $46 million in federal child-support funding as well as access to the federal enforcement tools used to collect child-support payments from parents living in other states.

And of course ...

But some members of the House committee said they were concerned the bill was tied to an international convention regarding cross-border recovery of child-support payments. Rep. Heather Scott and Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, both Republicans, said they feared the bill could force Idaho to enforce child-support rulings made under Islamic law or foreign tribunals.

However ...

Deputy Attorney General Scott Keim countered during Friday's meeting that none of the countries involved in the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance —which Idaho entered into in 2007— are under Sharia law.

"I don't know of any other state going through this," said Yearsley, visibly shocked minutes after the committee voted. "There's no prior case. We are the first." Yearsley added that the committee's actions not only risk Idaho losing access to state enforcement tools but also risks the United States from being disqualified from the convention. This is because the convention requires that all states agree to be in compliance in order to participate, she said.

And as usual, those Republicans are really looking out for needy families (end sarcasm)

According to a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, roughly $16.1 million will immediately stop once Idaho is out of compliance. An additional $30 million is also in jeopardy because compliance is also tied to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

On the Spokesman Review blog, Sisyphus said:

The party of personal responsibility just let deadbeat parents off the hook and assured all those children will now have to go on government programs for food and health care. Brilliant strategy Napoleon. No hypocrisy there. Fiscally conservative is not fiscally responsible.

"Here's what the right-wing has in, there's no shortage of the natural resources of ignorance, apathy, hate, fear. As long as those things are in the collective conscious and unconscious, the Republicans will have some votes." - Janeane Garofalo  read more »

Clint Stennett Social, Hailey, May 1

Plan on attending the Clint Stennett Social in Hailey for a great evening with great friends. Proceeds will help the Blaine County Democrats grow and hold their rank as an Idaho Democratic stronghold.

What: Clint Stennett Social

When: 6 pm to 8 pm, Friday, May 1

Where: The Valley Club, Hailey

Cost: $50 per person or $30 for Young Democrats under 30

The honored guest will be Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Kenck.

Check here for details and to RSVP or call Janie Davidson at 208-309-0350.

Crony-Contract Collapse Saves Idaho Schools Big Dollars

Gov. Otter's vision for modern schools.
Idaho taxpayers don’t get a good deal when elected leaders let cronies and campaign contributors cash-in on state contracts.
As the Department of Justice investigates the sordid mess surrounding crony-ridden contracts for statewide school internet–commonly known as the Idaho Education Network scandal–Idahoans can glimpse how expensive Gov. Otter’s administration has been to schools and kids.
That illegal IEN contract made schools scramble to keep the internet going. But, once let out of a bloated state contract, Idaho schools and kids saw immediate benefits: better service and less-costly service.
One IT professional said this to the Spokesman Review:
“We’re getting more bandwidth than we did before. We’re definitely paying less.”
One internet provider said this:
“Post Falls is saving over $8,000 per month and is receiving 10 times the bandwidth versus IEN costs. They’re getting a full gigabit of Internet connectivity for a third the price.”
otter mug2Point your fingers at Gov. Otter and his agency heads for wink-and-nod contracts that pay back folks who got him elected.
We don’t have to put up with this. Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, has proposed creating an Inspector General to investigate state contract issues as they arise. We can also stay informed. Let the people in power know that we are watching them. Be vocal about this waste and corruption.
Good government is something every Idahoans deserves. Bad government at the hands of Gov. Otter and his cronies harms us all.

North Idaho school districts say collapse of network contract is actually benefit

Far from leaving them in the dark without service, the demise of Idaho’s multimillion-dollar statewide school broadband network has brought several North Idaho school districts better service at a lower cost.
“We’re getting more bandwidth now than we did before,” said Seth Deniston, technology director for the Coeur d’Alene School District. “We’re definitely paying less.”
“It’s a lot cheaper than I thought,” said Tom Taggart, business manager for the Lakeland School District.
In fact, at least five North Idaho school districts were able to quickly transfer their broadband service from the troubled Idaho Education Network to local Post Falls firm Ednetics at big savings. And they increased their broadband speed.
“It appears we were being overcharged for the services provided,” said Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. “And obviously one of the silver linings in this whole issue is that not only will we reformulate what the IEN looks like, but we’ll have an opportunity for it to be more competitively bid.”
The statewide network, which linked every Idaho high school with broadband service and videoconferencing, collapsed last week after a judge declared the state’s $60 million contract with politically connected firms Education Networks of America and CenturyLink illegal. Lawmakers quickly approved a $3.6 million stopgap funding bill to cover costs for local school districts to find their own vendors for Internet service to replace the IEN.

READ the rest of the story at the Idaho Democratic Party Page.  read more »

IDP Chairman Larry Kenck: Good Ideas Come from Idaho Dems

By IDP Chairman Larry Kenck

Boise, Idaho— Much is riding on a slow, inefficient, and mostly ineffective group that has harmed the prosperity of Idaho workers, families, businesses and cities.

Yes, the GOP-dominated Legislature is in full swing.

A toxic dynamic in the Capitol has GOP politicians bullying each other into rejecting good ideas when they come from Idaho Democrats—and Idaho Democrats find those ideas by listening to We the People!

Recall how Gov. Otter flew to Pocatello during his 2014 campaign to brag about a tax incentive that lured Amy’s Kitchen to town. That program arose from the dogged work of Sen. Roy Lacey (D-Pocatello) and Rep. Donna Pence (D-Gooding). For years, GOP politicians rejected the incentive program until they found a way to claim it was their idea all along.

Most Idahoans agree that it was a good idea to create jobs in Idaho. You are welcome, Gov. Otter.

The lessons:

• Good ideas come from Idaho Democrats.
• GOP politicians put partisan politics ahead of workers, families, businesses and communities.
• Eventually, GOP politicians are forced to advance good ideas.

Here’s the most important part:

• If your good idea goes to a GOP politician first, it will probably take longer to see daylight.

Idaho’s GOP politicians run scared of a small, vocal group in their base that likes to slash and cut and burn. That group doesn’t care that we need a functioning, efficient government to maintain roads, bridges and communication routes. They don’t care that it harms businesses and workers. That small, loud group also disputes the indisputable value that a topnotch education delivers to our kids, our communities, our businesses and our futures.

For this year and next year, this slow, inefficient, mostly ineffective system is our only option.

Don’t take my word for it. Just watch what happens in Boise. As the Majority bangs the drum on divisive social issues, you will see issues important to Idaho’s future swept under the rug.

Watch as the Majority boasts about education investment—hoping we forget how deeply they cut education in the first place. Today, we remain at the bottom of the nation in education investment.

Watch as higher education leaders plead for wiser investment. Did you notice how chilly the Majority was to the University of Idaho president’s suggestion that the state cover workers’ raises so he could stop tuition hikes on students? The Majority isn’t concerned that regular Idahoans are being priced out of opportunity.

What can we do about the Majority’s antipathy toward good ideas that help We the People?

We can keep working hard and smart—which is the Idaho way—and we can assist the media in holding the Majority accountable. Let’s help that news reach every corner of the state.

Then, in 2016, we will have another shot at turning this system into a balanced one that welcomes good ideas—no matter who has them first.

I'm going to see our president again

Crossposted on Daily Kos

I've noticed many more middle aged, fit-looking white males casually riding bikes around Boise State University's campus today. And there are guys squatting and staring at the ground for long periods of time (and they do not have the usual BSU maintenance uniforms on).

I am glad they are working to keep our president safe.

This will be my fourth time seeing a sitting president.

Regardless of who holds the position, it is always a special experience. There is something about watching the White House staff, the White House Press Corps, and whatever glimpses of the presidential motorcade or Air Force One you may receive, that reminds me of the awesome power of the office itself.

Here's my list of being around U.S. presidents in person:

1) As a reporter, I covered Bush the first, speaking in NJ at a fundraiser for Gov. candidate Jim Courter (who lost to Democrat Jim Florio).

2) Pre-Lewinsky and at one of the heights of his popularity, I shook hands with Bill Clinton on Martha's Vineyard at the fair.

3) I waved to Hillary and Bill outside an Oak Bluffs, MA bookstore and they waved back.

4) Nice job Boise State University!

Student tickets sold out. Then I went onto the faculty line, and was informed that my ID, which works for everything else, would need to be updated to get a ticket. I was nervous about missing this, and thought for a bit:

If nothing else, at least my ID will be updated.

This presidential experience is unlike any other. Mostly due to security reasons, details are always sketchy. We just found out today that doors open at noon, but Obama may speak as late as 2:45. I recall Clinton being as many as five hours later than door openings -- of course, with no advance warning.

I recall stories from friends who worked in stores and restaurants on Martha's Vineyard in the 90s. They told of secret service agents marching in to their places, kicking walls, hitting the ceiling with poles, going basically where they wanted -- then leaveing and saying, "Thanks." The president would often arrive minutes later.

At BSU, know one knows very much. Just the raw basics. When the POTUS says he's coming to your place. He is coming. That's the long and short of it. Your job is to adjust.

I also remember watching, outside of that bookstore, some Press Corps members getting pasted by two secret service agents, who took them down like linebackers. They had ignored warnings to "step back."

Clinton was was much more likely to come and work the crowd than either George W. or Barack. But I can't say I blame them. Times have changed.

It is scary in some ways, when I think about so much power in one institution. But part of me is happy that even in the current world of violence that we live in, the president can still come and see us here in Podunk Idaho.

I recall a skit years before Obama was known, sometime in the 1980s. It may have been Eddie Murphy who parodied how things will be for our first Black president. He joked about him having to make any public speeches for less than two minutes with his head bobbing and weaving, and then running away from the audience and back to the armored car.

If nothing else, at least that didn't come true.

If you're in Boise Wednesday, come see me. I'll be the starstruck fan.

My SAT JAN 17, 2015 AT 05:28 AM PST blog is below:  read more »

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 »

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 »

Syndicate content