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

One year ago, but seems like yesterday

year ago today
, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont formally announced his candidacy
for president. Though no longer in the race, the movement he began continues to
grow and thrive.

The reason so many people across this country have become active in national,
regional and local politics is due, in large part, to the message and the challenge
Dr. Dean laid out before the American public.

The right-wing in power have done their utmost to drag this country into a
pit of despair, to defile and divide a nation acclaimed as a beacon of light and hope
for over 200 years. But as Howard Dean reminded us, we have a choice. We, as
Americans, can do better.

We have the power.

We can take our country back.

131 days until the election. Let's not waste a minute.

Rosie for Whitworth!

Great T-shirt design being sold to raise money for the Whitworth for Congress
campaign. Rosie never spoke truer words.

Boston bound

From an email sent out today by the Idaho Democratic Party, here are the folks headed to Boston in July to represent Idaho:

Pledged Delegates:

Edwards (all under the age of 32!): Braden Lang, Dani Diaz, Mark Echohawk, Amanda Brown, and Thomas Broz (alt)

Kerry 1st CD: James Jeffrey, Joyce Baird, Burke Hays, Kathy Ellis, James Ramsey (alt)

Kerry 2nd CD: Alan Blinken, Donna Boe, Dan Williams, Bethine Church, Amy Wynn (alt)  read more »

Preston throws her hat back into the ring

Untitled Document

Naomi Preston, who recently dropped from the race for U.S. House against Republican
representative Butch Otter, has formally announced she has re-entered the

With no Democratic challenger, Preston walked away with over 13,000 votes in
the Democratic primary in May, only to drop out when her mother became injured
in an accident a short time after.

Stopping her campaign, then starting it back up is only going to make it that
much more difficult to put up a strong race against Butch "Please Mr. Rove,
don't beat me, I'll vote for the Medicare bill"
Otter. But there's still
a lot of time until November 2nd, and if she puts her all into winning this
thing, she could still turn it around.

  • Democrat Preston resumes congressional race (
  • Preston Heads Back in the Race (KBCI-2)

Fun Dean rumors

For those of us who are fans of Howard Dean, "J" over at Value Judgement has some enjoyable rumors to pass on. Click here to soak in 'em.

Rumors are just that — rumors. But, man, if it were true, it would seriously stupor a lot of folks' mundi, I guarantee!

Let them eat Republican excuses

Let's see...a Republican is president, the House and Senate majority is Republican, and the controlling party in Idaho is Republican. So when 13,000 Idahoans are shafted of the foodstamps necessary to help keep body and soul together, who needs to shoulder the blame?

Must be the fault of those damn Democrats, somehow...

Error Distributing Idaho Food Stamps

Thousands of families went without food stamps last year. Why? Legislative auditors say the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare messed up. It's a problem that may cost the State of Idaho $1-million in federal matching funds. Jeremy Couch talked with local health and welfare employees today. They say they are aware of the problem, but they're not the only ones to blame.

According to legislative auditors, over 13,000 Idahoans should have been given food stamps last year, but they were denied, while others received too much. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's margin of error for food stamps is currently at 15% — double the national average. Area Supervisor Terry Higbee is aware of the problem.

"The error rate is totally unacceptable to us. We know we've got a problem, we've known we got a problem."

Higbee believes the errors are a result of cuts in funding and employees.

"From 1998 to this date, we've lost approximately 60 people statewide that were servicing families in Idaho. And when we lost the positions, it was due to poor economy and the lawmakers making some decisions we needed to tighten our belt."

A state government is like a machine — it needs enough parts inside to keep everything running smoothly. You start arbitrarily yanking out a piece here, knocking out some parts there, and pretty soon things start sputtering, smoking and grinding to a halt. Unfortunately, our Republican-controlled government is to a garage mechanic as the Three Stooges are to brain surgeons.

Anybody got the number for a good towing service?

Laughing all the way to the bank

The next time one of our distinguished Idaho Republican politicians tells you to tighten your belt and make do with less, you let 'em know exactly where on your anatomy they can pucker up and smooch...

Idaho Congressman Butch Otter has a net worth of about $12 million, far more than any other member of the state's congressional delegation.
His personal financial disclosure statement shows he unloaded dozens of stocks at losses last year.


But Otter is still the richest of the state's congressional delegation.

His assets are worth up to nearly 12 million dollars.

Congressman Michael Simpson reports assets valued at no more than one-point-seven million dollars.

Records show that Senator Michael Crapo is in at less than one-point-eight million dollars and Senator Larry Craig was worth no more than 460-thousand dollars.

Salaries for rank and file senators and representatives start at $158,100 a year. I've been told that these guys work, on average, about two-and-a-half days a week. You do the math.

Convention STILL in progress

The selection of which delegates will go to Boston is still going on as I write this. This was supposed to have been completed by 5PM so the hotel staff could get the room ready for the banquet, but now that's been pushed back. Apparently, for every half-hour the convention goes past 5, the banquet gets pushed by by the same amount.

Gonna be some hungry Democrats tonight...

Bethine Church: matriarch of Idaho's Democratic Party


Bethine Church at the Idaho Democratic Party state convention in Pocatello, holding a copy of her book, "A Lifelong Affair: My Passion for People and Politics."

Slow blogging during the Convention

I had hoped to post a lot more on the Idaho Democratic Party State Convention, but due to working the covention I haven't had very much time to blog. The slow-as-molassas wireless internet connection here at the hotel doesn't improve the situation, either. I've taken dozens of digital photos, and will try to get them up here next week as I find time.

As soon as I can get ahold of a copy of the final platform I'll get it posted here on the site.

Right now, they're still hammering out the platform, and hope to be completely finished by 5PM. The banquet tonight begins at 7:30PM, and there are so many delegates here at the convention that they can't hold them all in the ballroom. They're going to open up an overflow room to try and hold the rest.  read more »

Covention works on adopting platform

The delegates are in the main convention hall right now, working on adopting the various planks for the Idaho Democrat platform. It's supposed to end by noon, but I think it will go somewhat longer. Delegates are lined up to speak to their particular bailywick. With a few exceptions, things have been moving along pretty well. At times, they get mired down in rules, but all in all it's going well.

platform_stennett.jpgState Senator Clint Stennett speaks at the platform convention

12:23PM UPDATE: Lunch Break.  read more »

MoveOn seeks U.S. House & Senate candidates to endorse

From's website:

Tell us about your favorite candidate for U.S. House or U.S. Senate. Make your nomination by providing us with the information below.

Personal nominations and stories are far more helpful than information directly from the campaign or the campaign website. We are especially interested in unique, on the ground stories and observations about the candidate. Some types of examples of useful information include: a story about policy issue or cause the candidate spearheaded, an interaction you had with the candidate, or your opinion on why your candidate would be (or IS) a good leader in Congress.

You may continue to nominate your favorite candidates through November, but to be considered for the first round of MoveOn PAC candidates we need your nomination by Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004 at midnight.

June 22nd is coming up fast. Kos over at DailyKos guesstimates a MoveOn endorsement is worth at least $5,000. Democrats in Idaho have Lin Whitworth as a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, and Scott McClure is conducting a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate. Don't wait — get those nominations in to MoveOn ASAP!

Idaho Progressives fighting for delegate to National

I spoke this morning with Matt Ganz, a Kucinich delegate from Valley County and a member of the Idaho Progressive Platform, a group made up of Kucinich/Dean/Uncommitted delegates. The IPP met earlier today with the By-laws and Rules committee to request that their delegates be allowed to merge together, in order to garner 15% total state support and allow them to send one national delegate to Boston.

At yesterday’s initial meeting they were told that only delegates for Kerry and Edwards would be sent to the Democratic National Convention. The By-laws and Rules committee were reminded that, at eight other Democratic state conventions, delegates from different candidates had been allowed to merge. They were also reminded that Kerry and Edwards delegates had also been allowed to switch their candidate selections in order to increase the diversity of the discussion at the national convention.

The By-laws committee is meeting this morning on other issues, and this issue as well. They’ll be making their decision and will give their answer by the opening of the convention this afternoon.

UPDATE: The By-laws & Rules committee hath spoken — and the answer is no.

I'm sure the committee has their reasons, but I think they should re-consider — a large section of the progressives group is new, active and young democrats. I'd like to see the higher-ups in the party find a way to compromise and encourage this segment of our party.  read more »

Broadcasting, Narrowcasting & 'Netcasting

I just finished doing a live phone-in with Dave and Rick on the TV show "News & Views," a political program on community access station Pocatello-Vision 12, talking about the convention and getting in a good plug for this weblog.

Tonight at 9PM (MDT) Boise's KGEM-1140AM will be broadcasting "Government Connection with Dr. Ralph Smith" live from the Idaho Democratic Convention. If you're not in the Boise area, you can listen to it on the web here.

Tonight's guests (subject to change) are former U.S. Congresman Richard Stallings, former state senator and U.S. Congessional candidate Lin Whitworth, and state Representative Mary Lou Shepherd.

I'll be sitting here in the Press Room during the interview, so if anyone has any comments, you can send them in or, if you've registered here on 43SB, you can use the ChatBox feature and communicate with others in realtime.

UPDATE: The show went great! Dr. Smith's guests were Richard Stallings, Lin Whitworth, Carolyn Boyce, James Ruchti, Clint Stennett and Wendy Jaquet. If you'd like to hear a RealAudio archive of the show, go to and click on the "Alpine.06.17.04" link.  read more »

Set your alarm clock for 2007

Here I sit in the Idaho Convention's 'new delegate orientation', wearing my uncommitted delegate badge. We're going on 20 minutes out of the 40 having been spent on the leftover candidates.

In a nutshell, since all the non-kerry, non-edwards candidates STATEWIDE didn't jump into the same pool (pick a name, or uncommitted), we're all shuttered out.

Heh, except for 5 national delegates that'll be selected tomorrow that can go as 'uncommitted'. 5 out of 27. Problem is, 4 of those 5 are superdelegates (long-standing leadership dems like Cecil Andrus that are on the National Committee) and a fifth one that is admittedly usually aimed at improving the minority spread of candidates.  read more »

It's high-level nuclear waste! No, it's a floor wax! No, it's a dessert topping!

Looks like the comedy team of Senators Craig and Crapo have come up with another knee-slapper.

Earlier this month, Sen. Larry Craig and Sen. Mike Crapo embraced $350 million in nuclear cleanup funds from the U.S. Department of Energy in exchange for their votes to allow the department to reclassify high-level nuclear waste so it could remain on site at Savannah River in South Carolina.

DOE had threatened to withhold the funds from South Carolina, Idaho and Washington if its move to reclassify waste was not approved.

Both Idaho senators voted "No" on a motion that would have struck down the DOE’s move. The motion failed on a 48-48 vote.

The two ignored the advice of Idaho’s present governor and two former governors who warned publicly and loudly that reclassification will endanger the state’s 1995 agreement with the DOE. The agreement requires high-level waste to be removed from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab to other, safer, storage facilities outside the state.

Yeah, who cares what's best for Idahoans, anyway? As long as our state's senatorial lapdogs remember to roll over when the Bush Administration snaps their fingers, everything's okey-doke in Wingnut World.

The DOE now knows that when it threatens, Idaho will fold in the face of blackmail. It knows it can have its way in the state for puny amounts of money. It knows that if it makes senators look like they are bringing home the bacon in the short term, it doesn’t have to worry about the long-term effects of nuclear waste on a sparsely populated state a long way from the corridors of power.

That pretty much nails it. Keee-ripes.

Kerry thumps Bush in fundraising

On top of all the other troubles piling up on Bush, now his vaunted reputation as a master fundraiser is taking a major hit:

Democratic candidate for President John Kerry today announced he has raised over $100 million in the three months since the Super Tuesday primaries on March 2nd. Kerry raised at least $26 million in May, bringing his total for the three months to over $100 million and reaching the campaign's 2004 goal of $100 million nearly 2 months early.

Shattering all grassroots fundraising records, 75 percent of the funds Kerry has raised since Super Tuesday have been from grassroots fundraising - online $44 million, direct mail and phones $31 million. The average grassroots contribution at was $108, the average via direct mail and phones was about $70.

For the third straight month, Kerry out raised Bush. May's Kerry Campaign total was more than double the Bush-Cheney campaign's May total of $13 million. Kerry beat Bush's total by $15 million in April ($31 million to $16 million) and by over $17 million in March, when the Kerry campaign raised $43.4 million. The Kerry Campaign has receipts for well over $140 million for the presidential primary cycle, breaking Bush's 2000 record for a non- incumbent, according to the FEC report Kerry will file on June 20th.

After the Boston convention in July, Kerry won't be allowed to raise any more money, so he's got to keep raking it in while the getting's good. If you've got some bucks to donate, click the Kerry link on the upper right sidebar here on 43SB and put a few more dollars toward sending Dubya a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas.

Friday's Convention Schedule

Click "read more" below post to see entire schedule.

Untitled Document

Open (Jade Room)

7AM – 5PM: Registration (Lobby)  read more »

Thursday's Convention Schedule

Click "read more" below post to see entire schedule.

Untitled Document

12PM – 6PM: IDP Office
Open (Jade Room)

1PM – 2PM: New Delegates
Orientation (Amethyst/Onyx)  read more »

Feds classify french fries as fresh veggies

Well — at least we’ll sell more spuds!

WASHINGTON · Anyone trying to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet may have just gotten an unlikely assist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Based on a little-noticed change to obscure federal rules, the USDA defines frozen french fries as “fresh vegetables.”


The Frozen Potato Products Institute appealed to the USDA in 2000 to change its definition of fresh produce under PACA to include batter-coated, frozen french fries, arguing that rolling potato slices in a starch coating, frying them and freezing them is the equivalent of waxing a cucumber or sweetening a strawberry.

The USDA agreed and, on June 2, 2003, the agency amended its PACA rules to include what is described in court documents as the “Batter-Coating Rule.”


The french fry rule calls to mind the USDA’s attempt in 1981 to classify ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables, an idea that was dropped amid public protests.

If the “Batter-Coating Rule” doesn’t have a “Deep-Frying” codicil, it oughta. Now if we can just get the USDA to decree beer as bread and chocolate as fruit, I can finally start eating healthy.

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