MeAndG's blog

Labrador speaks out both sides of his mouth

By Larry Grant

Idahoans do not need politicians who say one thing and do another. Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador wants credit for negotiating a compromise on raising the debt ceiling of the United States but when it came time to vote, he was ready to let the country default on its obligations for the first time in history. This would have been a disaster. But when coupled with his other actions, it is clear that the congressman is more interested in his own political career than he is in doing what is right for Idahoans.

Last week, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner praised Labrador for his help in working on an agreement in Congress to raise the debt limit. But when it came time to actually vote Mr. Labrador voted no on the very legislation he helped put together.

Congressman Labrador’s explanation for his action leaves more questions than answers. He says he didn’t vote for the legislation because the final bill did not include a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Republicans have talked about a balanced-budget amendment every year except those years when they could have actually acted on it. During the six years that Republicans held majorities in both the House and the Senate and had a Republican president in the White House, they failed to pass their beloved amendment. In other words, when it came time to put up or shut up, they shut up.  read more »

Should food stamp choices be regulated? A dialogue with Senator Mike Crapo

Crossposted on Daily Kos

I regularly have my community college students contact public officials with questions. Here is an interesting exchange between a student and Senator Mike Crapo, regarding an issue I have been following for many months.

Student Question: I think millions of dollars are wasted, by families spending food stamp money on chips, pop, candy and other unhealthy food. What do you think of the idea of running the food stamp program similarly to the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program? Vouchers could be issued for specific healthy food, based on nutritional requirements of each family member - so many pounds of protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and so on. I think this would save the government a lot of money in food stamps, and in health care, as people would have healthy food to eat, and not so much junk food.

Senator Crapo: I appreciate you sharing your suggestions for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as the federal food stamp program.  read more »

Gov. Otter, Sept. 1, 2010: "There are brighter economic times and more career opportunities ahead in Idaho."

Crossposted on Daily Kos

It is always healthy to look back on predictions, promises and "expert" forecasts a year later.

From the Facebook page of Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter on September 1, 2010:

There are brighter economic times and more career opportunities ahead in Idaho. Good news from the Department of Labor:

The link goes to a pdf. file that was on the state of Idaho website. Apparently, the official document was a press release that said: "Idaho Long term job growth to outpace the nation."

But it now comes up as "file not found."

Note to Butch: I'm also having a hard time finding the brighter economic times.

Labrador Can't Make Up His Mind

Courtesy: Idaho Democratic Party

Crossposted on Daily Kos

This week Congressman Raul Labrador voted to let America default on its debt for the first time in history, an act that would have plunged us back into recession. He has worked all week to find additional votes for the bill to ensure its passage and then turned around and voted against it.

This vote is consistent with his history of flip flopping. At a recent interview on Meet the Press, Representative Raúl Labrador falsely claimed he supports closing loopholes saying, “I am for getting rid of the loopholes.”

In reality, House Republicans — including Raúl Labrador — have already repeatedly voted to protect loopholes and passed the Republican budget that would protect taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil and tax breaks for billionaires, while ending Medicare. Labrador and Republicans also voted to protect corporate loopholes for companies shipping jobs overseas.


Labrador Voted to End Medicare. Raúl Labrador voted for the House Republican budget. “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. [H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277,4/15/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11

Labrador Prioritized Subsidies for Big Oil Over Education. On July 29, 2011, Raúl Labrador voted against
directing a bipartisan committee tasked with reducing $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction created under Speaker Boehner’s debt ceiling plan to prioritize cutting subsidies for major oil and gas companies and corporate aircraft before cutting funding for education. [S 627, Vote #676, 7/29/11
Labrador Voted to Protect Taxpayer Subsidies for Big Oil. Raúl Labrador voted to bypass consideration of the Big Oil Welfare Repeal Act of 2011 (H.R. 1689) which would repeal key taxpayer funded subsidies for oil and gas companies. [H Res 245, Vote #293, 5/5/11; The Hill, 5/4/11; CBS News, 5/4/11

Labrador Voted to Protect Taxpayer Subsidies to Oil Companies that Pollute. In March 2011, Raúl Labrador voted against “a motion to recommit the joint resolution to the Appropriations Committee with instructions that it be reported back immediately with an amendment that would prohibit any major integrated oil company from being eligible for any tax benefit or relief under related provisions of the tax code.” [HJRes 44, Vote #153, 3/1/11
Labrador Voted Against Preventing The Government From Contracting With Companies that Ship Jobs Overseas. On January 25, 2011, Raúl Labrador voted against a motion that would have added language to a budget bill preventing the U.S. government from contracting with companies deemed to have outsourced American jobs. [H Res 38, Vote #19, 1/25/11

Reposted with Permission

Click here for the original article

Young People's Pavilion: Picture Books (Part One)

Reposted from Daily Kos Readers and Book Lovers and Daily Kos Education Alternatives

The sites Teach with Picture Books and Picture This: Teaching With Picture Books offer several great tips.

Below are some of my favorite books in this genre and suggestions for thematic classroom units.

Please share some of your favorite picture books and experiences sharing them with children.

The Girl Who Wore Snakes
Author: Angela Johnson
Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Ali is a young girl who falls in love with snakes when the zoo man visits her school. She buys her own at the pet store, draping them around her neck and arms. Her parents, friends, teachers, and most of her extended family do not understand her connection to these orange, yellow, and brown creatures that remind Ali of “…the sun and the earth and everything in between,” (Johnson). However, Ali stays true to her passion, and later discovers that one of her aunts shares the same love for snakes.
Artwork: Bold paintbrush strokes
Possible topics: coming of age, connection to nature/animals, personal identity/discovery, familial bonds (aunt and Ali), story board  read more »

Welcome to your first edition of The Blue Review!

The Blue Review is The Idaho Democratic Party's new monthly newsletter. We hope this will be an effective and fun way to connect with our members. Feedback is encouraged and appreciated. If you see something you like or would like to submit an article for publication please email We look forward to your thoughts and opinions and hope you enjoy
your first edition of The Blue Review.

Message from the Chair

As we dust ourselves off from the tornado that hit the Democratic Party in 2010, one of my primary goals as your new Chair is to get the Party organized, not only at the state level but also down to as many counties and precincts in Idaho as possible.

Although it has only been four months since I became Chair, I have taken the time to travel around the state, attending the Howard Dean event in Worley, the Truman Banquet in Idaho Falls, the Stallings Banquet in Pocatello, and the AFL-CIO convention in Lewiston, as well as a number of local party meetings and events. Not to mention a lot of telephone time talking to
Democrats all over the state. It is great to talk to so many friends and supporters, both new and old.  read more »

McCain erupts: Conservatives are lying to America

From the Washington Post:

So the debt limit debate has come to this: John McCain, who you may recall was the GOP’s 2008 standard bearer, is now openly accusing conservatives of actively misleading America with their completely unrealistic demands, which he labeled “deceiving” and “bizarro.”

But won't they take over if you learn 'em how?

A better educated population ...

What a novel idea (snark).

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) is reporting that the California "Dream Act" has been approved.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Monday a bill allowing illegal immigrants to receive privately funded scholarships to attend the state's public colleges and universities. The bill, dubbed the California Dream Act, passed the state Legislature earlier this month and aims at helping illegal immigrants who earned a diploma after attending at least three years of high school in the state.

Enactment of the California measure came three days after opponents of a similar law in Maryland collected enough signatures to force a state referendum seeking its repeal. "At the end of the day, if we're going to continue as a powerful, equal-opportunity society, we're going to have to invest in our people," Brown, a Democrat, said at the signing ceremony in the library of a Los Angeles community college.

The California law is named after national legislation in Congress to give young, undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years a pathway to citizenship through college or military service.

The Republican-controlled legislature in Idaho will follow (in my dreams).

Young People's Pavillion: Bright, Talented, & Black

Reposted from Daily Kos

To be young, gifted and black,
Oh what a lovely precious dream
To be young, gifted and black,
Open your heart to what I mean
- Nina Simone/Weldon Irvine

In 1970, Nina Simone sang those lyrics, written by Weldon Irvine. "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" was written in memory of Simone's late friend Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play A Raisin in the Sun. The song was originally recorded by Simone for her 1970 album Black Gold; released as a single, it became a Top Ten R&B hit and a Civil Rights anthem.

What are the implications for these ideas today?

With Black parents and children now in the White House, has the notion of race finally been neutralized enough for "colorblind" educational theory and practice?

One friend asked me: "why can't we stop talking about children as black or white, and just talk about children?"

Joy Lawson Davis offers a set of answers and solutions. She begins Bright, Talented, & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners with the poem "Genius Child" by Langston Hughes.

"Her book is indeed, in Hughes's phrase, 'a song for the genius child,' comprehensive in scope and unfailingly friendly in tone," writes reviewer Lisa M. Rivero.

Unlike so many books about giftedness that read as dry textbooks or choppy advice manuals, Bright, Talented & Black finds the sweet spot where we come away better informed, newly motivated, and touched by the words of a gifted writer.

The book's chapters tell the story of what it means to be young, Black, and gifted in the United States, and how families can help gifted children to understand their differences, navigate complex peer relationships, find their rightful place in community, and make best use of the school system. Parents who are new to the idea of giftedness will learn valuable knowledge and vocabulary to advocate for their children, and parents who are well-versed in gifted literature will gain fresh insight into the challenges specific to gifted Black children.

.  read more »

How Obama could win the GOP primaries

Crossposted on Daily Kos

I want to just take a moment to thank the Teabaggers. Thank you so much for helping us pass health care, for resurrecting the Obama presidency. I know they're saying, "Why are you thanking me? I was so against it, I marched on Washington with tea bags hanging off my Founding Fathers costume, with a gun on my hip and a picture of Obama dressed as Hitler, screaming about his birth certificate."

... And America saw that and said, "I think I'll go with the calm black man." — Bill Maher


In this video, two of Washington's top political reporters John Harris of Politico and Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post spoke with Bob Schiffer on the ironic state of Washington with President Obama having trouble with liberals while Republicans are dealing with their conservative wing.


Stranger than fiction: there is a very real chance that these ironies could play into Obama's favor.

Tea Party firebrand Michele Bachmann is soaring in the polls — alarming the GOP establishment, and greatly aiding the president's campaign, according to an article in The Week.

Showing that it's not only Democrats who can be "swiftboated," The Daily Caller, the conservative alternative to The Huffington Post, launched an anonymity-fuelled hit piece on Michele Bachmann's migraine headaches this week. Now, there are plenty of reasons to doubt Bachmann's fitness to be president; however, they don't involve her headaches, but a head filled with fantasies about economics, history, homosexuality, the biology of evolution, and the science of climate change. Of course, this isn't the first recent campaign smear by Republicans against Republicans — for example, the Rove-orchestrated personal assault against John McCain during the 2000 South Carolina primary.  read more »

Obama's Race

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Barack Obama’s presidential victory naturally led people to believe that the United States might finally be moving into a post-racial era. Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America paints a dramatically different picture.

Authors Michael Tesler and David O. Sears argue that the 2008 election was more polarized by racial attitudes than any other presidential election on record—and perhaps more significantly, that there were two sides to this racialization: resentful opposition to and racially liberal support for Obama.

Obama’s Race asserts that:

as Obama’s campaign was given a boost in the primaries from racial liberals that extended well beyond that usually offered to ideologically similar white candidates, Hillary Clinton lost much of her longstanding support and instead became the preferred candidate of Democratic racial conservatives.

Time and again, voters’ racial predispositions trumped their ideological preferences as John McCain—seldom described as conservative in matters of race—became the darling of racial conservatives from both parties.

‎It is racism. It's a deeply-held, core belief that the R party, and individual Rs, refuse to acknowledge, but it is. So many things President Obama has tried to do were more conservative than the presidents mentioned above, and he is opposed with fierce, insulting opposition. Racist signs and public displays of racism are ignored by Republicans. I believe, and I don't mean this insultingly, that it is naive to think it's not about race. - Columnist Jill Kuraitis on the Facebook page of Idaho Rep. Brian Cronin.

-  read more »

Appropriate and Traditional? Are voices being squashed in the Canyon County Republican Party?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Many people, from both sides of the political aisle, who watched the video showing the final minutes of the Canyon County Republican Central committee meeting on 7-12-2011, reacted with shock and dismay.

Here is some background:

After an impassioned speech asking for forgiveness for his transgressions, Sen. John McGee Tuesday helped block an immediate vote on a resolution for a Canyon County Republican Central Committee group to investigate his DUI. The resolution also called for a vote by the entire committee, after the smaller group’s report, on whether or not to keep McGee as its chairman. About 70 people filled the meeting that normally draws a smaller crowd.

The speech failed to sway state legislative District 13 GOP chairwoman Ronalee Linsenmann from her mission. She took the rostrum after McGee’s statements and brought a resolution for voting members of the committee to form a group of five to seven members “to report back to the Central Committee … with any medical records or other information relevant to the issue.” McGee declared that it was appropriate and traditional (emphasis mine) to take the resolution to the Central Committee’s executive committee for it to take action on.

Linsenmann asked McGee where such a ruling was in the committee’s bylaws. She wanted the resolution put to a vote at the meeting. McGee responded by saying it was the tradition of the central committee (emphasis mine) to respond to such resolutions that way. Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, then at 8:30 p.m. moved that the meeting be adjourned. He suggested that some members may have to get back to their children at home. McGee called for a voice vote and committee members voted unanimously to end the meeting.  read more »

Another View of the Holocaust

This is the latest entry in my weekly series on Daily Kos, Young People's Pavillion, which appears in the Readers and Book Lovers Group.

Republished by Daily Kos Education Alternatives


Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex, but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?

On July 13, 1942, 15-year-old Peter van Pels and his parents entered the attic that became their home for two years. Peter is angry that he is hiding and not fighting Nazis. He is also not happy to be sharing cramped living quarters with the Franks, especially know-it-all Anne. In this novel, Sharon Dogar "reimagines" what happened between the families who lived in the secret annex immortalized in Anne Frank's diary. In doing so, she creates a captivating historical novel and fully fleshes out the character of Peter, a boy whom teens will easily relate to. He agonizes over whether he will ever make love to a girl, fights with his parents, sulks, and questions God and religion before finally maturing into a man. While this novel focuses on his adolescent struggles in the face of unthinkable adversity, the most compelling dilemma he faces is figuring out who he is. When Anne accuses him of deserting his people, Peter laments, "I want so many things, but what I need is to know who I am. Because if I don't know that, I can only ever be what they say I am. A Jew." Even in the concentration camp, he fights against being treated as an animal, is angered at being stripped of his name, and regrets that he may not be able to tell his story. But he does, and readers are enlightened and deeply moved as a result. Annexed is a superb addition to the Holocaust literature, and should not be missed. - from School Library Journal

Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter's point of view. What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her? Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together. To know you're being written about in Anne's diary, day after day? What's it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution? Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.  read more »

A boon to Idaho’s children, families

Crossposted on Daily Kos

A new approach to training child welfare workers in Idaho, which features onsite trainers at locations throughout the state, has been implemented by the Idaho State University Department of Social Work, Sociology and Criminal Justice in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

I feel like this contract will make a difference for children and families in Idaho," said Staci Jensen-Hart, ISU assistant professor of social work. "Child welfare workers have such an important and hard, hard job, and their burn-out rates our high because they're working with high-risk children and that is difficult. We want to give them the best training and support we can.

The new program is based on current best practices as determined by evidenced-based research. The new program, in the first of three years, takes an overall approach to training child welfare workers. The onsite trainers in Department of Health and Welfare Regional offices offer a variety of services.  read more »

Young People's Pavillion: Horse Power

Here is my weekly diary on children's and young adult literature published on Daily Kos for Readers and Book Lovers.

Also republished in the Daily Kos Community Spotlight

"Why can't all children's books be like this?" my wife asked while reading a copy of Working Horses, by Mary Packard, to our seven year-old daughter. The narrative details how these muscular animals have played a role in almost every part of our work lives, from hauling logs and heavy farm machinery to performing for audiences.  read more »

Help is Available

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Controversy and sometimes wild speculation continue to surround the story of State Senator John McGee, who was arrested for Grand Theft, DUI and who later pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement.

In the wake of many unanswered questions, voices from various camps have included sentiments such as:

... anyone can make a mistake.

... and anyone can be redeemed.

... we need to show compassion during times of personal tragedy.

and of course: ... McGee deserves to have his say.

A culture of alcohol at the Idaho Statehouse has been widely documented.

Fortunately, various resources are available:

Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman wrote:

"Senator, when your head clears, please give me a call."

And another thing has been in the back of many minds, including mine.

Thanks to conservative blogger Adam Graham for raising this:

The big question I think voters have to have is whether Senator McGee has dealt with the underlying issues in this situation. As McGee is holding on to every single office he has, that's what concerns me. And if I were a voter in his district I'd want to know he could handle his responsibilities without another incident.

Here is another resource:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

More info:

Idaho's Republican Party: the last step before the 12 steps.

Idaho State University African Student Association seeks new shoe donations for children of Uganda

Crossposted on Daily Kos

The Idaho State University African Students Association is trying to collect 130 pairs of new shoes for children attending the Rock of Ages school in village of Mbiiko, Uganda.

"We need shoes or money for shoes no later than Monday, July 11, so they can be hand-delivered to the children of Mbiiko," said Sylvia Suh, president of the ISU African Student Association.  read more »

They Called Themselves the K. K. K.

Originally posted to Daily Kos, Readers and Book Lovers.

Also republished by Daily Kos: Education Alternatives; Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter; and Three Star Kossacks.

Boys, let us get up a club. With those seemingly innocuous words, six restless young men raided the linens at a friend’s mansion, pulled pillowcases over their heads, hopped on horses, and cavorted through the streets of Pulaski, Tennessee. They named their club the Ku Klux Klan and began patterning their initiations after fraternity rites, with secret passwords and mysterious handshakes. All too soon, this self-proclaimed Invisible Empire with across the South.

My years in middle and secondary classrooms have been filled with discussions in teacher's circles, about how to find non-fiction materials that address important, hot-button topics. I've often been asked to help facilitate discussions about racism. Effective literature is crucial to producing outcomes that educators can measure and in developing teaching strategies to utilize and improve upon. A theoretical framework is key, as well as academic "meat" for young learners to sink themselves into.  read more »

He sure deserves it

The Idaho Press Tribune has an editorial from Sunday, June 26 called:

McGee deserves to have his say.

Yesterday, Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman wrote:

"Senator, when your head clears, please give me a call."

Is the Media Drinking the Party Line on John McGee?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

This morning Senator John McGee pleaded guilty to DUI as part of plea agreement.

McGee's defense attorney said the senator was celebrating with friends after a day of golf when he fell. He injured his knee, hip, and suffered a concussion, which impaired his judgment.

During McGee's arraignment on June 20, his lawyer claimed medical conditions are the reason for the senator's behavior.

"Senator McGee did not intend to drive drunk, and he did not intend to steal anybody's car. I think there are medical explanations for what occurred that night. This is a specific intent crime that he's charged with, and I think the medical explanations that may very well exist in this case, would negate any criminal liability on the part of Senator McGee," said Scott McKay, McGee's lawyer.

KTVB is reporting that the senator will spend 3 more days in jail. The vehicle related charge was dropped as part of the plea. He has already paid restitution to the victims. In court, he said that he is truly sorry and takes full responsibility for his actions that evening. McGee will probably move on from this.

But who else was involved?

While there was no coverup, it is obvious, that the Repubs are still is big time damage control mode.

Common sense is screaming at the public right now: there is More to the McGee Story.

Years ago, my friend Mike was bartending and someone in the room had a few too many. The drunk got into legal trouble due to his state, after leaving the bar.

The police arrived and all of the bartenders were arrested, cuffed, and brought down to the police station.  read more »

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