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

Mitt Romney's Dangerous Advisor

Crossposted on Daily Kos

In No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Mitt Romney asserts that American strength is essential—not just for our own well-being, but for the world’s. Governments such as China and a newly-robust Russia threaten to overtake us on many fronts, and radical Islam continues its dangerous rise.

Ever wonder what Mitt Romney's foreign policy would be like if he made it to the White House?

An interesting article in the Daily Star points to a dangerous connection:

When it comes to the Middle East, alarms have been raised in some corners over his decision to appoint as his top adviser on the region Walid Phares, a leading figure in right-wing Christian militias during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War and a former adviser to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

Critics have also focused on Phares' subsequent roles in the United States, where he has served as a “terrorism expert” for Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network. During these shows, he has warned that jihadists are the enemy, and that the U.S. must act preemptively to defeat them.

“An adviser on the Middle East should be more sensitive and neutral. Walid Phares is very extreme. He leans toward being an Islamo-phobe,” Warren David, president of the Arab-American civil rights group, the Anti-Discrimination Committee told The Daily Star. “I would think that most Lebanese Christians don’t agree with his viewpoints.

One of my friends summarized the problem: "Advising from the skewed perspective of ancient texts that advocate genocide and plunder and the believe in an eventual Armageddon rather than genuine history with a humane approach to real live people seems dangerous to me."  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: The Poetry of Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Originally posted to Daily Kos Readers and Book Lovers. Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter


"I soar / and fly, but have no wing / I dip / and dive / from a trail / of string." - Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I first met Rebecca Kai Dotlich in the early 90s and had the good fortune of collaborating with here on a few projects.

Her poem "Fiddler from Sassilli Street" appears in my anthology: My Own Song and Other Poems to Groove To.

I love Rebecca's poetry. The language is spontaneous and energetic. It is accessible and musical. Children love it. I rarely leave a language arts classroom experience or staff development session without sharing at least one of her works.

Lemonade Sun

Here are some of Rebecca's collections:

About her work Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems, Booklist said:

Gilchrist's bright, sturdy acrylics work well with these child-friendly poems, simple but graced with the occasional fabulous image: sunflowers as "garden kings / with chocolate eyes" or a firefly as a "Rhinestone in / a jelly jar." Some poems on walking barefoot, dragonflies and bumblebees, and selling lemonade might be more accessible to country children than to city ones, but the joys of jump rope and jacks seem to be universal. The racially diverse cast of children who inhabit these sidewalks and meadows have individual charm; some, such as the titian-haired moppet who peers from behind a sunflower, could be portraits.

One of my favorites is In the Spin of Things: Poetry of Motion. In this book, Rebecca pays poetic tribute to things that shake or slap, whoosh or whirl, swirl or spill in this captivating book of verse. With delightful illustrations by Karen Dugan, these twenty-three poems sparkle with clever imagery and crackle with dazzling wordplay. This is a remarkable collection by a gifted poet to set young imaginations spinning.

When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder includes presents 29 short, descriptive, rhyming poems about everyday ideas and objects such as a telephone, soup, fireworks, a hula hoop, and an octopus, ending with a poet. "Readers must guess what each poem is about and are helped by the realistic pictures that provide a two-inch border around each one. In addition to the riddle element, each picture also contains jumbled alphabet letters that spell out the poem's subject," according to School Library Journal. Karen Dugan's illustrations help readers to ponder the solutions. Finally, answers appear in fine print at the bottom of the copyright page. Children can enjoy these riddle poems either one-on-one or in a group setting.

Also check out Bella & Bean:

Bella wants to write poems.

Bean wants to go for a walk.

Bella wants to write poems.

Bean wants Bella to look at her cute toes.

Could these two best friends be more different? But as Bean's attempt to coax Bella away from her notepad become ever more over the top, Bella finds her poetry taking unexpected twists.

You might be a Bella or you could be a Bean - either way, this sweet, clever tale will remind you there is perfect poetry to mismatched friends.

Booklist said:

Little Bella is a poetry-writing rat. Bean is a fashion-conscious rat. It’s hard to see how they can be best friends when one wants to think about rivers and moons, and the other wants to think about hats. Words like flow, gurgle, and silver are put down on Bella’s pages of poems, but even as she demands peace and quiet to write, she knows she’s missing out on fun with her friend. But Bean’s not one to hold a grudge, and when invited by Bella to sit under the stars and listen to poems, she’s happy to oblige—and thrilled when one of the verses is about her.

This rodent duo is a good example of how opposites attract and can improve each other’s lives. The artwork uses rich shades of gold, teal, and sea green as backgrounds for the very personable rats. Bella & Bean is a nice starting point for a discussion of friendship.

Immersing children in great poetry is an ideal way to start the new year. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your song with us all!

Will Congress for Food

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Dan Popkey shared a report from The Washington Post, which is:

... running a photo gallery of the 25 members of Congress with the lowest net worth in 2010 and Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador is No. 25 on the low list. Labrador's net worth is between a negative $130,993 and a maximum of $66,997, averaging out at minus $31,998 according to the Center For Responsive Politics, which tracks personal financial disclosure statements filed by members of Congress and offers a free, searchable database. The statements require reporting assets, within broad ranges, so exact figures are not available.

Labrador was faced with a "move up or move out" of politics situation before the Republican Congressional primary, in which he won a surprise victory. The word around the statehouse was that he couldn't afford to live on the legislator's paltry salary, perform his work as an Idaho legislator at the time; and still maintain his law practice.

For Raul's sake, I hope he's making some good friends in Washington now (the kind who can help him be a high paid lobbyist in the future). He has already reported how frustrating things are for him in DC.

Congress is not the greatest career path for men of color in the Republican Party. As one of his predecessors, Rep. J.C. Watts, a black conservative from Oklahoma, is famous for saying:

"If I ever find out that I have six years to live, I hope that they are in Congress ... because my time here has been the longest six years of my life."

Monday Morning Coffee at the Flying M.....A Reminant of my Congressional Campaign!

In 2008 I won my parties nomination for Candidate for the House of Representatives in CD2 of Idaho….I was my parties sacrificial lamb against a 5 term incumbent… Mike Simpson…I ran mostly so the people in the second district would have a choice…I also felt that no one should be able to run for federal office unopposed. So I spent from March to November traveling my huge Congressional District….  read more »

Merry Christmas, Blue Idaho

And deep, heartfelt thanks to everyone for your writing here at 43sb. Words can't convey how much I appreciate your efforts and this site.

A musician and song came to mind this morning, which I've shared if you click the link below.

More than 20 years ago, a friend booked an amazing acoustic guitarist named Billy McLaughlin for a performance at ISU. Billy and his band showed up in a big van crammed full of sound gear, instruments, speakers and people; they'd driven 1000 miles nonstop out from Minneapolis. They played an amazing show to a good crowd here in southeast Idaho, then we hung out (possibly at the Hindenberg?) for a while. Then they turned around and headed back to MN. Turns out, despite the gig being booked many months in advance, their agent hadn't found *any* gigs between there and here in either direction. Even on 1988 prices, I doubt they covered the gas money to get here.

I saw Billy again when we had him play at Mac's in Pocatello, around 1998 or '99. He'd been on the road for months, alternating between partnering with another musician and solo gigs like ours, traveling this time in a wicked-beautiful retro 1960's motor coach -- That coach was gorgeous. It must have had an acre of chrome in the coolest art-deco lines, and was powered by Detroit's finest in drivetrains and engines. I think Billy said he'd paid $60k for it and if he ever stopped touring, it'd resell for the same amount. If you've gotta tour, that's the mode of travel I'd recommend.

Around that time, Billy's career was quietly taking a tragic turn. He started having difficulty playing his trademark frenetic two-handed fretwork. He'd suddenly have hand spasms, play wrong notes, and ruin his own performances. In interviews, Billy said it was terrifying because there wasn't initially a diagnosis and he was left wondering if he was subconsciously sabotaging his playing or quite literally going insane. These muscle spasms literally destroyed his career, and it took him years to track down the obscure neurological cause, Focal Dystonia.

Since then, unable to undo this localized rebellion against focussed repetitive muscular activity, Billy has found a narrow way through. Starting in 2006, he's worked to relearn guitar left-handed. He's again pretty amazing, and he's garnering attention as an inspirational speaker, an advocate for Focal Dystonia victims, and he also arranges and coordinates musical projects. Still, it's his Wintersongs that jump to my mind each Christmas morning.

(>Billy McLaughlin, Carol of the Bells)


Again, a cool yule to you all.  read more »

The help and my story of living in the deep south...

I am a Navy brat.... My dad joined the Navy when I was 13 in 1974 and we started a whirlwind tour that started in Pensecola, Florida....By the time I got off the "boat" I had been to four different high schools... One of them twice...

aircraft carrier  read more »

Why Raul Labrador (R-ID) Does Not Deserve Re-Election

“I didn’t come here to be re-elected.” - Congressman Raul Labrador, on his frustrating first year in Washington.

That is good news.

See: Why Raul Labrador (R-ID) Does Not Deserve Re-Election

Becoming an American

On December 1, 2011 I had the privilage of watching 30 people from 11 nations become American Citizens.... It was quite an honor. I usually find out after the fact that someone became a citizen...  read more »

Stop Internet Censorship

Seriously, they're going to censor the internet. Moneyed interests are again trying to fix it in Congress by getting a law enabling them to dictate content on the internet so they can line their pockets. They have a fleet of lobbyists in Congress right now whispering in your Senator's ear. Give three minutes of this day to fill out this form and they'll guide you on how to do the rest.

Do it!

To learn more, watch the video after the jump.  read more »

The Origins of AIDS

Today is World AIDS Day and here is my latest column. I talk about an essential new perspective on HIV/AIDS and on the lessons that must be learned if we are to avoid provoking another pandemic in the future.

The Origin of AIDS by Jacques Pepin presents and develops an elegant hypothesis and is nicely documented. The theories are thoughtfully stated without finger-pointing or shame. Just brilliant!

This book is a must read for anyone who cares about humanity. Thank you, Jacques Pepin.  read more »

Should Smoking be a Civil Right?

Debate continues to rage as Boise smoking ban passes

Crossposted on Daily Kos

After several months of rancourous and rigorous debate, Boise’s city council approved two smoke-free ordinances last night, the Idaho Press Tribune reports.

The first, which passed unanimously, will ban smoking in bars, private clubs, near transit areas, on commercial outdoor patios accessible to children or on public property, at the Grove Plaza, on 8th Street from Bannock to Main Street, within 20 feet of any city-owned building, in outdoor ticket and service lines, and other public locations.

Echoing the sentiment of many conservatives, among others: "Yay for people losing freedoms!" wrote Omar Banat on Facebook.

"Or gaining the freedom from breathing others smoke," responded Deb Spindler.

Can the government tell someone not to smoke in a private business? How about in a public park. Since ordinances such of this have passed and are enforced in other places, such as Oregon, the simple answer is yes.

Critics of the ordinance include Tim Krahmer, who wrote:

Anyone that cares for individual rights should disagree with this. Our City decided for us what's best. No vote of the people. Just a unilateral decision on how businesses can operate. This is no victory for the people.

on the facebook page of Boise Councilman TJ Thomson.

And Tim Cerami wrote:

As a nonsmoker, I think this is lame! If cigarettes are still legal to smoke, there need to be legal places to smoke them

But aren't there still lots of legal places to smoke, such as private homes, designated "smoking huts" as well as Idaho's vast wilderness?

On Thomson's page, the discussion is raging. Material reposted by permission of TJ Thomson:  read more »

New Member Video for Occupy Boise

This is the beta. Any comments and criticisms will be delivered to the Working group who produced this.

'Yellow Woman': Leslie Marmon Silko (Women Writers : Texts and Contexts)

“I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.” Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

"Within one story there are many other stories coming together," Leslie Silko has said of the cultural traditions of her tribe, the Laguna Pueblo Indians. To borrow an image from another culture, "Yellow Woman is a Chinese box: story within story within story. The Yellow Woman stories the narrator has heard construct her sense of self and her actions. In turn, she makes them on her own. When she decides at the stories end that she will tell her family a story about how "some Navajo had kidnapped" her, she claims the cultural inheritance the story explores. She becomes the storyteller, passing on the stories in her own voice. As the stories have shaped her, so will she shape them; they must evolve to respond to her particular experience and point of view. The story "Yellow Woman," yet another telling of her abduction by a mountain spirit, constructed from many Yellow Woman stories, becomes only the most recent telling in an ongoing tradition.

-from the introduction to 'Yellow Woman': Leslie Marmon Silko (Women Writers : Texts and Contexts) by Melody Graulich of Utah State University.

Graulich follows Marmon's invigorating literary contributions in this substantial and exciting anthology. Women’s writing has been closely allied with the quest for not only women’s rights but also universal human rights and justice, as well as literary exploration and excellence. Graulich’s book takes measure of the great reach and splendid variety of Marmon’s writing; how it has illuminated America’s continuing transformation; and how such literature helped shape the dialogue on literature as a whole.

“He watched her face, and her eyes never shifted; they were with him while she moved out of her clothes and while she slipped his jeans down his legs, stroking his thighs. She unbuttoned his shirt, and all he was aware of was the heat of his own breathing and the warmth radiating from his belly, pulsing between his legs. He was afraid of being lost, so he repeated trail marks to himself: this is my mouth tasting the salt of her brown breasts; this is my voice calling out to her. He eased himself deeper within her and felt the warmth close around him like river sand, softly giving way under foot, then closing firmly around the ankle in cloudy warm water. But he did not get lost, and he smiled at her as she held his hips and pulled him closer. He let the motion carry him, and he could feel the momentum within, at first almost imperceptible, gathering in his belly. When it came, it was the edge of a steep riverbank crumbling under the downpour until suddenly it all broke loose and collapsed into itself.”
Leslie Marmon Silko

Melody Graulich is a Professor of English and serves as the American Studies Graduate Director at Utah State University. She is editor of the journal Western American Literature and teaches a variety of courses focusing on interdisciplinary approaches to the literature and culture of the US West, including graduate courses such as Introduction to the Theory and Practice of American Studies and Seminar in the American West, and undergraduate courses such as Western American Literature and US Nature Writers. Particular interests include gender studies, visual culture, US art and photography, film, borderlands. She is a member of the Western Literature Association, American Studies Association, Rocky Mountain American Studies Association (Vice-President), and the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.

A Tribute to Rep. Allen Andersen

[Cross-posted at The Political Game.]

Allen Andersen's parents were buried in Arbon Valley, Idaho where they spent most of their lives farming. As a young man, Allen spent a great deal of time in Arbon Valley as well, though he attended school in Pocatello. It's fitting that Allen, the former state representative, will be laid to rest in the city to which he devoted so much of his life.

For those of us who knew Allen, it came as a great shock when he passed away last week of a sudden heart attack. If others who knew Allen were at all like me, the shock of it all left us struggling to put into words what Allen meant to us. One word that consistently came up when I spoke to others who knew Allen was kind. Allen was one of the kindest people I ever had the privilege of knowing. His sincere kindness was a constant, as was his sense of humor.  read more »

I won’t shop on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4 th….. And I am Jewish….Some of these holidays aren’t mine…..

I won’t shop on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4 th….. And I am Jewish….Some of these holidays aren’t mine…..

I know that people need to shop. The economy needs to recover. But…..  read more »

Occupy Boise Solidarity Rally

Even though the ink wasn't dry on the Seattle City Council's resolution in support of the Occupy Movement, the Seattle Police pepper sprayed Occupy protesters in downtown Seattle, including the 84 year old woman above. The photos of the incident are astonishing. The police action reportedly also incapacitated a priest and a pregnant woman.

This isn't an isolated incident with evictions starting in Wall Street's Zucotti Park and occurring nationwide in what some are saying are a coordinated effort. After the jump I post a video with Rachel Maddow providing some important historical context for the Occupy Movement and the free speech rationale for the 'occupy' tactic. Tomorrow, November 17, Occupy Boise will hold a solidarity march with the other Occupy movements worldwide.

The significance of this action is now amplified and the timing critical, with many Occupations around the country being wrongfully evicted and brutalized in the last couple of days. Occupy Boise stands in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in calling for JUSTICE. Join us on Nov 17 to raise our voices for all to hear!

PEOPLE OF BOISE: Rise up with the Occupy movement on this international day of action to RESIST austerity, RECLAIM the economy, and RECREATE our democracy.

11:00 Meet at the Occupy Boise Encampment to eat, make signs, talk, and prepare
12:00 Mass March begins
12:30 Rally at Main St and Capitol Blvd

If you want to keep the country talking about the corruption of money in politics, or are simply outraged by the police action against peaceful protesters, make your lunch time tomorrow extra special.  read more »

'SNL,' Penn State scandal offends even Satan

On "Saturday Night Live," even the devil was offended by the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. "SNL" cast member Jason Sudeikis reprised his role as Satan, appearing with red horns and pitchfork. The devil was informed by "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers of sex charges against a former defensive coordinator and allegations that university officials failed to report the abuse.

Even he was disturbed by the news. Addressing Penn State students who protested football coach Joe Paterno's firing, the devil spoke directly into the camera, asking, "Do you know how bad that made you look?"

And other judgements are already being handed down. Tangible impacts of scandal starting to become clear.

First, A standout high school offensive lineman from Colorado has turned his back on his verbal commitment to attend Penn State, becoming the  read more »

Super Congress: Super Deception

In a commentary today I discuss how Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner reached a deal to solve the debt ceiling crisis back in August. But the rest of the cutting will be done by a "Super Congress" made up of six Republicans and six Democrats.

We are being asked to believe that a committee of 12 will, effectively, run our nation.

How does that sound?

Read the full story from Yahoo! News.

The Republican Party's Race Dilemma

Crossposted on Daily Kos

There is a reason that so many of them need to support a Pizza guy, with no political experience, for President of the United States

"MeandG, I don't know if you've seen this or not. But I was interested in what your perspective was on it." Idaho State Journal Columnist and bannock County-based Republican Richard Larsen messaged me.

He was referring to:

Racist Bake Sale Organizers at UC Berkeley Are Totally On to Something

A club of College Republicans at the University of California-Berkeley is making a lot of enemies this week for its plan to hold a bake sale in which customers will be charged based on race and gender. Prices of baked goods are as follows: $2 for white men, $1.50 for Asian men, $1 for Latino men, $0.75 for black men, and $0.25 for Native American men; all women will get $0.25 off those prices.

The bake sale is a form of satirical protest against pending affirmative action legislation that would allow California universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin during the admissions process. Minority students get "preferential treatment" at the bake sale just as they do during the admissions process.

Here is my response:

When I served on the faculty at Utah State University in 2003 - 2004, the College Republicans had a table doing this. They said that their purpose was to spur a debate about Affirmative Action. I'm all for debate, but there are better ways to create them, such as publicizing a formal debate and inviting voices from both sides. Granted, it is acceptable and desirable on college campuses to create tension and even confusion on controversial topics, and it is a common practice for professors to dress up to appear as something they are not (punk rockers, homeless people, etc.) to provoke student thought and conversation about stereotypes.

However, I didn't walk over to their table to debate, because I sensed a certain hostility, and Utah State College Republican's strategy that afternoon did nothing to dissuade that perception.

Simply put, the Republican Party, as a whole, has a problem:

Words from Congressman Raul Labrador sum it up:

He told the Wall Street Journal that his party's immigration rhetoric is a turn-off for many Latino voters who might otherwise be inclined to vote Republican on social and fiscal issues.

"They don't feel welcome in the party, and I think that's a shame," he said. "I think we can change this."

Labrador said that if the party wants to remain relevant, it needs to welcome people of different backgrounds.

"I think it's happening nationally," he said. "We need to continue to have this conversation."

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