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

Not all A's on report card for Charter Schools

Quality education is essential for Idaho's kids. Whether you send your children to public, private, or charter schools is a decision every family has to make for themselves.

But for those who believe charter schools are a major improvement over the public education system, your bubble's just been burst.

Of course, as per their usual M.O., the Bush administration hid this report card under their mattress and hoped no one would ask to see it.

The first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools shows charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools.

The findings, buried in mountains of data the Education Department released without public announcement, dealt a blow to supporters of the charter school movement, including the Bush administration.  read more »

HEY! Where'd we go?

If you found your way back here -- congratulations! The reason this site has been down for a few days is because we've moved to a new server.

Our upgrade gives us more space and bandwidth, which is a good thing (as Martha used to say). The not-so-good thing is that when our server company did the switch, they performed it a heck of a lot quicker than we anticipated, while at the same time completely eliminating our old location. It's not stunned, it's not sleeping, it's not even pinin' for the fjords -- it's an ex-server.

Thanks to the brilliance of d2, the co-administrator here at 43SB, we've re-installed our back-up data and, as you can see, the site is up. But in making the change, we dropped the old '' URL and switched permanently to ''. Due to the arcane and mystical rules of the Internet world, the name change takes a few days to go into effect.

You're welcome to keep your old bookmarks and blogrolls, as we've set things up so they will re-direct to the new address, though I certainly wouldn't mind if you took a minute to update your link. It's brighter, removes stains better, and smells springtime fresh.

God willin' and the creek don't rise, our blog's warp engines should be back to full power in a couple of days. It may be another day or two after that before we get all the links -- photos, websites, ads, etc. -- re-established. Then we can go back to promoting true Democracy in Idaho, and gnawing at the ankles of the right-wing Rethuglican overlords in our fair state.

John Kerry rally in Twin Falls!

Just got this in the email -- anybody who can get to the airport in Twin Falls, get yourself a piece of that John Kerry rally mojo!


What: John Kerry Send-off

Where: Twin Falls Airport

When: Tuesday, August 17th at 2:45 p.m.

This is an historic event! John Kerry is rested from his weekend in Idaho and ready to hit the campaign trail. This is our chance as Democrats to send him out in style and show him how committed Idaho Democrats really are.

Please join us on the tarmac!

If I didn't have a ton of work, I'd drive up to Twin Falls and join in on the event. If you can make some free time, and happen to be anywhere from Boise to Rexburg, head over to the Magic Valley and show our next President that he made the right choice to select Idaho for his rest and relaxation.

"The Western White House" -- it has a nice ring to it, don'cha think?

Right-wing country music fans: "He's a registered WHAT?"

There's an interesting article in The Tennessean headlined "Should singers strike a political note?" But here's the quote that surprised the hell out of me:

Toby Keith, whose Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue song became a military rallying cry, is often assumed to be a Republican, though in a recent Tennessean interview he expressed mixed feelings about the Iraq war and said he was actually a registered Democrat.

Well, dip me in batter and call me a hush puppy -- life is stranger than fiction. Read the full article here.

Ideas for publicizing my upcoming fundraiser?

We're going to be putting on an awesome fundraiser event at Curly's in Hauser either on Sept. 18th, or Oct. 2nd, but probably the 18th... There'll be a couple of bands, food, drink, family fun, raffles, etc, to raise money for my campaign... Curly's is an AWESOME venue - it's nice, it's got an outdoor stage and beer garden, and it's HUGE. We could/would like to have somewhere between 200-600 people there no problem... so I'm trying to figure out any and every way to publicize the event. So if you have any ideas, or if you know any friends, colleagues, contacts, etc in media in the north idaho/ spokane area, let me know. I don't want this to be just the usual north idaho democrat suspects,(though I'm always glad to see em!) I'd like this to be a big fun event and really put butts in seats... so let me know if ya got any bright idears!

"Real Man of Genius"

Let's see Budweiser run this radio ad:

"Hey there, Mr. Right-Wing Fundamentalist Neo-Con Raging Tank of Testosterone -- Yes, You!! You stole an American presidential election right out from under the nose of those mamby-pampy sensitive Democrats. What genius! Then you used a terrorist attack on our country as an excuse to push through your oppressive political policies, and lied to get us into a war with an opponent who couldn't have harmed us if he wanted to, while letting the one who killed 3,000 of our people get away!"

(chorus) "Chickenhawks of geeeeenius!"  read more »

From Red, to White, then Blue!

From Red, to White, then Blue! is a new Idaho-based blog by Kerry for President Idaho campaign director and renaissance man Jim Grossman. Anything you ever wanted to know about Senator Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, the campaign, and the ties our future 44th President has to Idaho, just go to Jim's new website and ask him.

And if you want to broaden your conversation, ask Jim about television, marketing, kayaking, paragliding, photography, dogs, or eleventeen other varied and sundry topics.

The Prayer of Dubyaz

From Bill in Portland Maine's "Cheers & Jeers FRIDAY" diary on Daily Kos:

Your Morning Prayer (author unknown):

Bush is my shepherd, I shall be in want.

He maketh me to lie down on park benches.

He leadeth me beside the still factories.

He restoreth my doubts about the Republican Party.

He leadeth me onto the paths of unemployment for His cronies' sake.

Yea, though no weapons of mass destruction have been found, He makest me continue to fear Evil.

His tax cuts for the rich and His deficit spending discomfort me.

He anointest me with never-ending debt;

Verily my days of savings and assets are kaput.

Surely poverty and hard living shall follow me all the days of His administration,

And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

Amen. And...Amen.

Swift Chokers for Truth

John Kerry wants to save our country from George Dubya Bush and his misadministration. And why shouldn't he? After all, he's already saved the lives of a soldier in Viet Nam, his daughter's hamster, and back in 1988 a Republican Senator from Nevada:

Former U.S. Sen. Chic Hecht of Nevada is a staunch Republican, but he thanks his lucky stars for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

On July 12, 1988, Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat.

Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway.

Just then, Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times.

The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life.

"This man gave me my life," the 75-year-old Hecht said Thursday.

Kaus Hackula, from the comment section at Eschaton, sums up what will undoubtedly be the Rethug's spin:

Clearly, in such a situation, someone at your table gets up and stumbles out of the room choking, the correct response, the response of a strong leader, would be to maintain calm, continue eating for 5-7 minutes, then very calmy and discreetly go out into the hallway and discuss resuscitation efforts with your staff.

Kerry's sort of wild sensationalistic 'maneuvers' would only serve to spread panic. He is unfit to lead.

"Ha ha ha ha ha!" Ahhh, ==whew== -- sometimes the irony is just too damn funny!

Is Big Brother -- with the help of Wal-Mart and other businesses -- watching you?

Are chain stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and others turning their lists of customers over to the FBI? According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, they may be doing just that. KBCI 2 Boise reports:

"These are just some of the national chain stores we're concerned about," said Marty Durand, with the ACLU of Idaho. "Some retailers, rental car companies, airlines and banks are handing over private information the federal government says is needed for the War on Terror. But this is a big violation of people's privacy."

The government is rapidly increasing its ability to monitor average Americans by tapping into the growing amount of consumer data being collected by the private sector, according to a major report released Monday by the ACLU.

Click here to read entire article. The ACLUI is asking Idahoans to contact these retailers to let them know they don't want their personal or shopping info turned over to the government. They also want Gem Staters to request these companies take a "no spy" pledge to make sure this info stays private.

And for the right-wingdings: yes, everyone realizes the U.S. is in a constant struggle with terrorists, but that doesn't mean we should just hand over our hard-fought rights to privacy. To do that would be to admit we've already lost.

Want to keep your private issues private, and strengthen our battle against terrorism? There's only one way to do it:

Vote for Democrats in November.

Stickin' it and kickin' it

So I'm driving home tonight, and I pull up for a red light. In front of me is a big, older 4x4 pickup truck, and as I pull up I see there are two bumper stickers right in the upper middle of the tailgate.

From the size and age of the truck, I immediately assumed they were Bush/Cheney or "happiness is a warm gun" or at least "cat: the other white meat" stickers.

As I got close enough to read them, I found myself pleasantly surprised to see the one on the left read "John Kerry for President," and the other something like "Repair America, Replace Bush!"

I couldn't get a clear look at the driver, but he appeared to be in his early 20s. If this is in any way indicative of the upcoming generation of Idaho Democrats, I'm all for it.

The Most Liberal Senator?

Scoobie reports, you decide. Click below -- Googlebombs, away!

most liberal senator

What's going on in Ada

Busy few days in Ada County.

This past weekend was Kuna Days, out in the wilds of District 21, where our representatives are Bill Sali and Jack Noble. I staffed the Democrats booth for part of Saturday, and it went well -- we got a total of six volunteers, I think, sold out of our meager supply of bumper stickers and buttons within the first hour, and had a number of people stop by to chat.

I heard that the Soul Food Extravaganza in Boise was pretty interesting -- that a number of people registered to vote saying they hadn't voted since the 1970s, but it seemed time to start, and one 65-year-old guy who had *never* voted.  read more »

Bush's base ain't ace

Wherever John Kerry or John Edwards go, they're drawing huge, cheering crowds. And folks don't have to sign a loyalty oath to get in, either. Kerry/Edwards are hitting the swing states, and finding a more-than-welcome reception.

Georgie Dubya, on the other hand, should have a lock on states like Virginia. It's been reliably red for a long time (like another state we're familiar with), and he shouldn't have any pressing reason to campaign there.

Yet, there he is. And only drawing crowds of around 600. Hell, the lines at the Job Service offices in Virginia probably have more people than that. Bush and his autobots have got to be going through antiperspirant and antacids the way a pig goes through slop.

The wide base that they've been counting on for the last year is rapidly evaporating, turned away by this administration's ineptitude and rapacity. Every week, the list of states coming into play grows larger.

And, right on cue, Bush goes out on the stump and steps on his tongue:

Bush criticized Kerry's plan to eliminate the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year, saying that "the rich in America happen to be the small business owners" who put people to work.

Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Asked about that comment, Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Kerry's campaign in Virginia, said "George Bush can speak with authority about really rich people. ... That's his base, so I'm sure he knows what he's talking about. But that doesn't make it right."

George W. Bush is rich, as is Dick "there is no pacemaker for the soul" Cheney. John Kerry and John Edwards are both wealthy. Yet Kerry/Edwards believe those who have the most, like themselves, should pay the most. Why? Because they can most afford it.

Bush/Cheney and their ilk would prefer to never pay their share -- to "dodge taxes anyway," as Bush admitted. George and Dick order the goodies and leave the bill for the middle and lower income folks to pay -- you and me, in other words.

In the last few days, Bush has copped to the fact -- unintentionally, I'm sure -- that "(our enemies) never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we," and that the rich under his administration don't have to pay taxes because they can afford accountants and skip out on their fiscal responsibilities. I can't wait to hear what he'll let slip next. The upcoming weeks should be very interesting.

Howard Dean guest-hosts "Topic [A] with Tina Brown" on CNBC

Coming up at 6PM Mountain Time, Governor Dean guest-hosts the program "Topic (A) with Tina Brown." Check your cable or satellite schedule for channel.

His guests will be Jon Stewart, Margaret Cho, Tavis Smiley, e-voting activist Bev Harris and others. I don't know whether they're all on tonight, or spread over the week. We'll have to watch and find out.

It looks like it'll be replayed again at 9PM MDT. It'll be good to see the Guv again.

Yo, right-wingers -- shove it!

From the Philadelphia Weekly:

The Truth Behind Shove-It-Gate

There was a whole unreported history behind Teresa Heinz Kerry's intemperate remark.

by Steve Volk

Colin McNickle, the man Heinz Kerry told to "shove it," makes his living offering up mind-numbing editorials for Trib owner Richard Mellon Scaife, the 65-year-old billionaire great-grandnephew of Andrew Mellon and the leader of what Hillary Clinton dubbed the "vast right-wing conspiracy."

McNickle's greatest hits include assertions that Rick Santorum isn't conservative enough, FDR's New Deal hampered the nation's emergence from the Great Depression and Democratic filibusters are acts of "war."

Republicans have portrayed Heinz Kerry's "shove it" quote as a sign of volatility, the aggressive act of a woman too impolitic to be first lady. The national media have replayed the exchange with McNickle almost as much as they did Dean's overhyped scream--without once putting the moment in full context.

So here goes: Colin McNickle writes for perhaps the most strident and myopic editorial page in the country--the product of one man's blurry vision. And that paper--Richard Mellon Scaife's paper--has a long history with Heinz Kerry.

Read the full article here. And the next time some far-right goober tells you our next first lady has anger-management problems, tell them they can shove it up their Santorum, and are welcome to go Cheney themselves in the middle of traffic.

Of course, let them know you mean it in a positive way...

Speech I gave at the Democratic Luncheon in CdA

My name is Ian Stenseng, I’m 24 years old, and I’m running for the Idaho State Senate, District 5 in Post Falls. I’m a college graduate, a graphic and web designer by trade. I grew up in Olympia Washington and attended college there.

My Mom’s side of the family were miners, lumbermen, teachers, farmers, legislators, and citizens of the great state of Idaho, dating back five generations. My Dad’s family were Norwegian immigrants who came to America after the second world war seeking a chance at a better future.

My great grandfather, Alfred Lee was a Lutheran minister in occupied Norway who kept a radio in the tower of his church, which he used to relay Nazi troop movements to the Allies.  read more »

NA na na na Na na na na -- Bateman!

Timeline of Terror Alerts

A collected list of political events over the last two years and the action from the Department of Homeland Security that occured within 24 hours of each event. Readers have even submitted more examples in the comments. Partisan exploitation of numerous coincidences? Or a developing pattern?

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