Sisyphus's blog

Fuck That Sexist Shit

Emily Walton Discloses the Idaho Freedom Fallacy

Wayne Hoffman of the so called Idaho Freedom Foundation fired off a missive to Boise City officials asking them to shelf their bond proposal. The proposal asks the people of Boise to approve funding for a variety of things including the securing of open space in the foothills and improving public parks. Noting that democracy and freedom are not mutually exclusive, Emily Walton, of the Idaho Civic Engagement Project, fired back:

Why would someone who runs an organization dedicated to freedom and open government argue against people voting in decisions for their city?

Hoffman’s claim that Boiseans shouldn't get to vote on parks and open spaces because they’re just for “fun” demonstrates a lack of understanding when it comes Boise and the history of this city that we love.

Boiseans have invested in their city for 150 years. From the beautiful parks, foothills and a downtown we enjoy to the good schools and safe neighborhoods we cherish, we all know that a city of Boise’s caliber doesn't just spring up without investment and devotion. Since when did a guy from Nampa have so many opinions on how Boiseans should run their city?

Thereafter, IFF stooge and noted hack, Dusting Hurst threatened: “Emily Walton just picked a fight with Wayne Hoffman? This will not end well for Emily. Not at all.” Wayne Hoffman subsequently issued an ap-hollow-gy. Idaho is too great for bullies.  read more »

The Rumors of My Demise...

Alas, my belligerent ways got the better of me. Facebook deigned to note my existence and takes umbrage at my name, insisting no one would actually name their child "Sisyphus". I'm hurt. Since I doubt very much that the Facebook behemoth has a minion devoted to discovering and deciding worthiness of participants, one must assume that I angered some ideologically rigid, arrested development wingnut with the truth, who then gathered up their negative emotions, ran off to their Facebook mommy, demanded and obtained censorship, thus achieving no victory, but satisfaction in fulfilling their ad hominem, with no one left to point out the fallacy.

At this point I can engage them and launch into yet another defense of pseudonymity and how it filled a vital role in accomplishing change in rigid and dogmatic environments throughout history in enabling the speaking of truth to power without recrimination. Indeed, our country's birth owes much to pseudonymous writers, the right to which was incorporated into the first amendment. Or I could point out that pseudonymous internet users actually improve a site's comment section. But we all know how that will turn out.

Being a Democrat in Idaho, I'm no stranger to quixotic endeavors, but there has to be an end game worthy of achievement. Given the multitude of assumed names which grace Facebook, commercial or otherwise, their stand is little short of hypocritical and certainly randomly erratic. But I'm fond of my subversive persona and loathe the idea of acquiescing to such arbitrary power and control. So I bide my time while mulling whether to die ignobly and permanently or rise like a Phoenix in another guise. I loved my community of friends and hope my existence enabled you to engage each other on a more personal level. Adieu.  read more »

New Idaho Blue Book Published and Available

For all the Idaho Political junkies, The Idaho Blue Book, published by the Idaho Secretary of State, is the starting place for any research on state government, with biographical information of all state and county office holders, stats and historical information for all state institutions, and pictures suitable for meme-ing. Of interest in this latest edition is the dedication to three stalwarts in advocacy for Human Rights in Idaho, Bill Wassmuth, Tony Stewart, and Norman Gissel, who organized and confronted the Aryan Nations in North Idaho. Take some time to read this great dedication and kudos to Ben for honoring these great Idahoans while working with a Governor who attempted to dismantle the Idaho Human Rights Commission.  read more »

Chris Hayes parodies Bill O'Reilly

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Sorry State of Local Idaho Journalism on Display in GBAD Election


This weekend, Idaho news outlets were busy congratulating themselves about their self serving awards ceremony, in which everyone seemed to get a prize, while potential corruption brewed under their very noses without so much as a question. After I posted a detailed report on Friday regarding what appeared to be deceptive electioneering practices in the GBAD election, only two local media outlets chose to raise questions regarding the election financial disclosures, and both dropped the ball after getting what they apparently thought was a plausible explanation. Sven Berg's report in the Idaho Statesman buried the lede when it stated:

Tway, Berch and Walker recently questioned reports showing incumbents Peter Oliver, Rob Perez and Stephanie Astorquia had received no contributions and spent no money on their campaigns. That seemed impossible, since the candidates published a joint brochure in early May promoting their candidacies.

But the reports in question, which were due May 14, covered contributions and expenditures between Jan. 1 and May 5. Contributions hadn't started coming in by then, and the candidates hadn't received the bill for the brochure, said Jason Lehosit, who helped the incumbents' campaigns.

"How are you supposed to report something when you don't know what the cost is because you haven't got a bill from the printer yet?" Lehosit said.

Perhaps Mr. Berg is unfamiliar with Mr. Lehosit's checkered past in running Republican campaigns.

In Idaho's inner Republican Party, the name Jason Lehosit is as familiar as any in the past 10 years. A consultant, fundraiser and campaign manager for several high profile Idaho politicians including Gov. Butch Otter in his 2005 campaign and now, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, is in jail after allegations of violating his DUI probation. Court records show that 33-year-old Jason Lehosit's possible probation violation was for his fourth DUI. Attorney David Leroy says, if Lehosit did in fact violate his probation, a judge won't take his sentence lightly.

Lehosit doesn't work for free, so how he can order up a several thousand dollar print job unless he's on the clock. Lehosit's cost to the campaign surely should have shown up in a sunshine disclosure if he's working for them in early May. More importantly, how would Lehosit persuade a printing business to extend him credit for a job costing several thousand dollars, particularly when he had zero in the way of contributions. The fact that Jason Lehosit is involved in this campaign at all is worthy of investigation and reporting.  read more »

Something Smells Bad at GBAD


Recently the Idaho Statesman profiled the May 21st election for the Greater Boise Auditorium District membership on the Board of Directors and what's at stake in this election.

Candidates Steve Berch, Jim Walker (both running for six-year terms) and George Tway (seeking a two-year term) have the same campaign manager and are endorsed by GBAD board chairman and Idaho House member Hy Kloc, who was endorsed by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who endorses a new baseball stadium. Berch-Walker-Tway were the only candidates among the eight to advocate for a multiuse sports facility (not to the exclusion of convention enhancements) during a candidate forum May 9. They did not spell out baseball specifically, but emphasized "multiuse." They claim they are not a "slate," but they espouse a common anti-incumbent message.

Stephanie Astorquia, Rob Perez (running for six-year terms) and Peter Oliver (running for a two-year term) are incumbents, though Perez and Oliver are relatively new appointees (one year ago and four months ago, respectively). These three share a campaign flier and none advocated specifically for a multiuse sports facility at the candidate forum. They see their strength and their future as operating, and perhaps expanding, the district's convention business. Expansion plans could include a 50,000-square-foot exhibition area that consultants recommend.

The remaining two candidates, John May and Noah Bard, both have industry experience. May's is in the hotel business and serving in community development capacities. His parents have both served on the GBAD board - May's late father, Larry, and his mother, Gail, who left the board in January. Oliver was appointed to the seat Gail May left at midterm.

This is a non-partisan race with strong partisan overtones. With cursory mention, the editorial references bad blood in previous GBAD deliberations with prominent local Republican, Judy Peavey Derr, a GBAD Board Director not up for re-election, occupying center stage in the fracas. Local Democrats will remember Judy Peavey Derr's recent effort to unseat Democratic incumbent Senator Eliot Werk making some vicious personal allegations in the campaign. Werk handily defeated her.  read more »

The Idaho Senate's New Right Wing

The Idaho State Senate changed control last election. The change did not manifest itself overtly or immediately. The change evolved with the session, with a couple self serving factions coming together for mutual gain in tapping majority power. The change happened recently by way of a a turf battle championed by Senator John Goedde, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and joined by Idaho's extreme wing of the Republican Party. And to celebrate the event, many of them gathered at a downtown Boise bar on the eve of a delayed sine die.

When the secretary took the roll, Senators Hagedorn, Bayer, Goedde, and Nuxoll were in attendance plus Rep. Anderson from Priest Lake. Each of these senators voted nay on the education budget forcing the extended session. The connection between Goedde and Anderson is well known, but Goedde and Hagedorn don't often hang, yet shared a private conversation at the arrival of Goedde and Anderson. Like Anderson, Goedde is reviewed typically as a moderate but no stranger to ideological extremism, especially when education is concerned. Of major interest was Taliban Barbie who dominated the center of the group. Yet the ring leader appeared to be Phil Hardy, who once famously said that "regressive is the new progressive". Mr. Hardy was recently let go after an unfortunate tweet on his boss's twitter account (Congressman Raul Labrador) which stated "Me likey Broke Girls" during the Super Bowl which was airing a risque ad.  read more »

Vandersloot Sues Mother Jones in State Court

As was widely anticipated, news broke that Frank and Belinda Vandersloot, together with Melaleuca, Inc. filed suit for defamation regarding a February, 2012 article which Plaintiffs allege depicted them as "gay bashing". Apparently Plaintiffs are confining their claims to Mother Jones and the individual writers and editors. But for context you need to read the Salon piece (first link above) by Glenn Greenwald. Idaho Agenda has some background links and my pieces on the subject are here, here, here,and here. So far I've not heard of any Defendants outside of Mother Jones.

The action is filed in Bonneville County, in the seventh judicial district for the State of Idaho and caps the damage claim at $74,999, despite Vandersloot's assertion in the press that Plaintiffs lost millions. Vandersloot asserts that: “It’s not about (money). It’s about clearing my reputation.” Questionable, but clearly Vandersloot likes his chances in state court in Idaho Falls rather than risking have it removed to federal court and a less friendly venue. $75,000 just happens to be the required amount in controversy which must be pleaded in order to remove a case to federal court for diversity jurisdiction. The pleaded amount was no accident. Vandersloot doesn't want the case anywhere but Idaho Falls.

The jury pool in Idaho Falls is a stacked deck for Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs reside there, employ thousands in call centers, are name throwing philanthropists, routinely buy full page ads in the region's largest newspaper,and finance multiple causes sympathetic to the right wing politics of the area. When pitted in a court room against the liberal Mother Jones, Defendants will have an uphill battle, or as the legal profession puts it, they'll be home towned. Just as significant is a sympathetic judiciary. Vandersloot's history is set forth in this well sourced Wiki entry:

VanderSloot has generally been a major donor to Idaho Republicans,according to Popkey, who described him as the state's "most boisterous conservative financier” and by America Online’s Eamon Murphy, who called him "perhaps the single most influential campaign donor" in the state of Idaho.  read more »

Obama Tearfully Thanks Volunteers.

And I couldn't say it better.

Idaho Democrats Play Key Roles in Obama Victory

Nobody in Idaho suffered any delusion to whom the state's four electoral votes were going, but few are aware that two of Idaho's prodigal sons were influential in achieving victory for Obama.

Jim Messina, who grew up in Boise and graduated from Boise High School led Obama’s reelection campaign that observers said used a mix of behavioral science and technology to identify and get out to vote a new crop of voters to the coalition. He has now kept his election victory record intact since he ran a campaign for former Missoula Mayor Dan Kemmis in 1993. The sky seems to be the limit for his future.

Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff Bruce Reed grew up in Coeur D’ Alene, the son of environmental attorney Scott Reed and former Democratic Senator Mary Lou Reed. He was credited by former President Bill Clinton as co-author of his powerful convention speech that energized Democratic activists.

Jim Messina's star couldn't be higher right now given this quote from last week: "We have the math. They have the myth." And to underscore the ludicrous nature of Obama's liberal/socialist tag of which the right wing media is so fond, Messina was formerly the chief of staff to blue dog Senator Baucus of Montana. Even with these conservative credentials, Messina's fact based pragmatism who helped shepherd Obamacare through his senate committee and eventually the full congress before Obama brought him on board in the White House. I cannot think of anyone who has been a more influential force in this administration and thus the country in the last four years.

Bruce Reed formerly headed what's left of the DLC, a centrist Democratic organization, before being asked to be Vice President Biden's Chief of Staff. His efforts at assembling persuasive facts for Clinton's convention speech earned Clinton the internet title of "Secretary of Explaining Shit", a sanitized version of which later became his preferred title by the Obama campaign in later speeches. If Republicans can't find common ground with these two Idahoans, then it's the Republican party playing politics. Or they have become so ideologically extreme in their epistemic bubble, they can't be reasoned with.  read more »

And Indeed He Was

This guy opted for some last minute electioneering in front of the Idaho Statehouse on election day. A facebook capture shows him walking away from Mitt Romney's Idaho co-chairs, Governor Butch Otter and Senator Jim Risch (I can't confirm if that's the angry little gnome but it looks like his bald spot). I chatted with the man as I asked for his picture. He stated he wanted to exercise his civil rights before they disappeared. He was still shaking from a confrontation with the Idaho State Police just twenty minutes before who threatened him with a felony. They strongly encouraged him to leave the area, the most visible and politically, if not socially, appropriate one in the state. I shared with him my concerns regarding the backfiring of his methods of political persuasion but have no doubt that the first amendment protected him where he was. Despite the police confrontation, he laughed getting flipped off by nearly every grey haired white guy who drove by.

Vote No on Hunting/Fishing Amendment to Save Hunting and Fishing

Growing up in Idaho, parents engendered a love for the outdoors often through sharing productive past times of hunting and fishing. If parents didn't, exposure came through friends, other relatives or simple proximity to the outdoors. Many received hunter safety classes in seventh grade and a hunting trip with dad might be an excuse to miss a day of school. Pickup trucks with gun racks were for the rifle and/or a fishing rod, in case you crossed a stream around sundown with a cloud of caddis descending on the water's surface dimpled with fish rising. The walls of many an Idaho household are adorned with photos of a mess of fish or a prized buck, if not the animals themselves.

So I view with no small amount of amused perplexity anyone who would politically posture constitutional protection for activities under zero threat of majority vote restricting them. As usual when the skeptical hackles rise, the devil is in the details. The text of the amendment will likely be dismissed by the ordinary Idaho voter in favor of its statement of purpose, to protect hunting, fishing and trapping. However, the proposed amendment may actually harm the ability for successful hunts, would protect some inhumane methods of take, and actually takes aim at killing fish, not protecting them.  read more »

It's the Deception, Stupid

We are the recipients of an email which attaches an Americans for Prosperity flyer, Serephin posted below, soliciting students of Madison and Rigby High Schools to man a Melaleuca call center in order to campaign against Obama in swing states prior to election day. The email is from concerned parents of a Madison High School student who confirmed the flyer is being distributed to school students as well as being discussed in school. The parents expressed concern that the flyer is deceptive in advancing Americans for Prosperity as a "non-partisan" group. Indeed their student indicates that "kids have been instructed to say it doesn't matter what your politics are--come join the non-partisan fun of making phone calls." The flyer promotes a contest between two high schools in closest proximity to the Melaleuca Call Center where the electioneering is to be conducted.

Superficially the flyer encourages students into political activity which many would agree is laudable. A cause for skepticism regarding the parent's complaints is that we are deep in the election silly season where passions run high and often trump better judgement and rational thought. As a result many tend to view campaigning complaints more cynically than at other times of the year. So what is it about this right wing solicitation effort to Idaho high school students which causes concerned parents to react as if a laws were broken? The answer lies in Americans for Prosperity utilizing deception and money to entice children to do their bidding. Worse, ASP asks those children to also participate in further deception.  read more »

Luna Cronin City Club Debate Video Discloses Battery

Update 10/5: Thanks to swingitjack, we have an edited version disclosing the actual physical altercation at the debate. I've placed it up top and bumped the whole debate below the jump and encourage everyone to watch when they get time.

Here's the first half of [edited segment disclosing the physical altercation between the advocates at] the Luna Cronin City Club debate regarding the controversial Luna school reform legislation. Please observe the 28:20 0:44 mark and the Luna Cronin exchange that the media was anxious to question them about afterwards. At 28:29 0:48 Luna's second grab was clearly done with animosity. Popkey chronicles the event as follows.  read more »

Otter Extolls Freedom in Constitution/ Plans Police Action on Occupy Boise

Our governor was a speechifying this week, going all high and mighty on the constitution and it's guarantee of freedom.

...and then use that in the spirit of living that freedom under our constitution because its ONLY if we obey that constitution, if we know the constitution, if we're so familiar with it, as we can challenge any political theater, that would violate that constitution, and their contract to hold that office, then and there is our duty, and our responsibility, and it is exactly what our founders expected of us...

Granted these words are the flowery, fact free, tea bagger version of the constitution and designed to give Otter the very political cover, he cravenly rails against, for his ill fated decision to challenge Obamacare. But Otter must have forgotten a mirror, because his hypocrisy was not as tightly coiffed as his hair on a windy day. This week, plans were disclosed regarding Idaho State Police's "Operation De-Occupy Boise" which was a coordinated law enforcement enterprise to take the very constitutional rights Otter claims to protect.  read more »

Idaho Republicans: Reverse Robin Hoods Bad for Idaho's Economy

Listen to the TED talk by Nick Hanauer, Seattle venture capitalist and member of the 1%, skewer the conventional wisdom that the rich are job creators.

Hanauer underscores and illustrates the painfully apparent fact that in our consumer driven society, it's demand that creates jobs. Tax cuts for the rich just means that savings is hoarded in tax sheltered off shore accounts until demand arises. Demand is created by the middle class with disposable income. Nick's editorial and the transcript are both available. This talk was briefly censored by TED which created a bit of a tempest. TED's rationale for refusing to publish a talk that received a standing ovation doesn't hold water as the comments indicate.

Idaho Republicans certainly utilized the economic recession, with its resulting decline in tax revenue, as an excuse to cut Idaho programs long on their ideological chopping block such as Medicaid. Yet, in doing so, Republicans eschewed the 2:1 matching federal funds and left Idaho's sick and infirm as a burden of other state funded programs, like the CAT fund, the judiciary and the the Correction Department. Republicans actually cost the state money demonstrating unequivocally that fiscal conservatism is NOT fiscally responsible.  read more »

Vandersloot Plays the Victim Card


And he does it to make Romney more money. Vader argues:'the scary Chicago black man has me on a hit list.' Drudge sirens. Fox News going apeshit about ACORN representatives hiring actual Canadian gay wolves to make the dead vote for the scary black man, basically compelling the tea baggers into their most convincing nightmare that you wanna steal their guns and tri cornered hats to engage in some scientific orgy of secular bestiality that might lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.

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The Idaho Statesman published two items on Vandersloot in the wake of Vandersloot's multi media launch of his victim status on the right wing noise machine. Both items view the matter superficially, do not investigate the underlying facts supporting the truth, and merely report on "the controversy". This stab in reporting by the traditional media completely glosses over Maddow's expose on his self serving artifice in making pleas for additional cash with a fabricated controversy. By merely approaching this as a 'he said, she said,' both sides do it, false dichotomy, they feign objectivity to become participants in Vandersloot's plea for financial assistance.  read more »

Legislative District 19 Endorsements: Yes to Erpelding, No to Gudgell

Idaho's District 19 is comprised of Boise's north and east ends, the old neighborhoods of the capitol city with quaint tree lined boulevards, small cottage like houses mixed in with relatively new foothills and riverside development. The biggest issues here are education, quality of life, and whether deer and fox are considered pests or amenities. It's a mixture of Idaho's young urban tech crowd and relatively affluent middle class families. And judging from home sale prices, a highly desirable place to live. Its also what I refer to as Idaho's Democratic ghetto, in that its the rare place in the state where Democrats are so highly concentrated. A Democratic candidate from 19 can get 60% of the vote in the general election merely by turning left at its myriad stop signs. As a result it's the district in Idaho where an Idaho legislator can most proudly and loudly demonstrate how progressive policies can be popular politics without fear of political/ideological retribution at the polls.

This year all three seats are open and as expected District 19 has a wealth of of riches in qualified candidates, with one exception. Representative Cheri Buckner Webb chose to advance (unopposed) to the senate seat being vacated by Nicole LeFavour who surprised many by leaving her safe seat to attempt to dislodge Congressman Mike Simpson. In State Representative, Position A, Mat Erpelding, Tony Rohn, and Dallas Gudgell have filed, and are actively running campaigns. In State Representative, Position B, Brad Goodsell, Holli High Woodings, and Andy C. Edstram have filed, but Mr. Edstram is making no pretense at a campaign and I have seen nothing to speak for his candidacy.

With the exception of Andy and Dallas I have personally spoken to each of these candidates. I have also listened to each of their interviews, including Dallas', with the Idaho Statesman editorial board. The board recently made endorsements to which I don't necessarily disagree. But their recommendations come with a dearth of analysis and a Republican perspective. The Board consists of editor Kevin Richert, former Republican representative Hal Bunderson, Republican operative Lindy High, and former IACI head Steve Ahrens. As a result the Statesman endorsements didn't come with the best interests of Idaho Democrats in mind. The purpose of this post is not to replace their analysis, neither is it an ideology purity test, but to broaden the perspective and allow the Democratic voters in 19 to make an informed choice on Tuesday.

State Representative, Position A  read more »

Rachel Maddow Calls Out Frank Vandersloot


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The unflappable Rachel Maddow doubles down on her exposure of Frank Vandersloot, his conservative politics, his hostility to homosexual causes, and his litigious confrontational methods utilized in Idaho. She addresses concerns those methods may have for the nation due to Vandersloot's close ties to the Mitt Romney campaign. She also observes the close relationship between Frank Vandersloot and Senator James Risch. She further interviews Peter Zuckerman, the award winning Post Register reporter about the personal and professional consequences he suffered as a result of Vandersloot outing him. Vandersloot declined Maddow's open invitation to speak about this on the record.*

This comes on the heels of this report from Mother Jones on Romney's fundraising ties to multi-level marketing (MLM) organizations like Vandersloot owned Melaleuca largely based in Utah and Idaho. For those who aren't familiar with MLM:  read more »

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