Month: February 2013

Is the Sequester a Kabuki Dance?

kabuki-lrg

For the last few weeks conventional wisdom has said that the sequester is not going to happen.  After all, the whole point of the sequester was to make cuts so onerous both sides would come to the conclusion that compromise was a necessity.

Beltway pundits have assured us both sides were involved in political posturing, another example of a political kabuki dance. Well, here we are one day away from the sequester going into effect, and there won’t even be meetings until Friday. Is there really any doubt that we are going over the sequester cliff?  And,  is there really any doubt which party is to blame?  The Republican Party has stated time and time again that they are unwilling to compromise. They have stated time and time again that they will not accept any revenue increases.  They have been trying to deflect the blame towards President Obama with a laughable claims that he has not shown “leadership” on the issue.

So, hang onto your hats as we dive into the unknown and make sure you are placing blame squarely where it belongs.

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Idaho leads the Nation in Minimum Wage Workers

Three out of four jobs the Idaho economy created last year were in the service sector. And, guess what, that is where the majority of minimum wages are. So, it should come as no surprise that Idaho leads the nation in minimum wage workers.

The share of Idaho’s hourly workers making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – or less – jumped to 7.7 percent in 2012, the highest percentage in the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimated that 31,000 of Idaho’s 404,000 hourly workers were paid the minimum wage last year, an increase of 12,000 from 2011, when 5 percent of the state’s hourly workforce made the minimum wage or less. That ranked the state 30th in 2011. At 7.7 percent, it was the highest percentage of minimum wage workers the state has recorded in the decade that the bureau has been making estimates.

Idaho has one of the lowest minimum wages in the West. The hourly wage hasn’t changed in Idaho since 2009. As of January 1, the minimum hourly wage in neighboring Montana is $7.80.  In Washington it’s $9.19, and in Oregon it’s $8.95.

2013-Minimum-Wage-Rates-e1357145685867-620x449

At the same time we learned about the minimum wage, it was reported that the very elected officials who are dead set against raising the minimum wage are getting their own pay raise. Honest to God, what is wrong with Idaho (Republican) voters?

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee set budgets this morning for the governor’s office and the legislative branch, and due to statutory requirements, both of those include salary boosts for elected officials. Specifically, the governor’s salary was required by law to rise from $115,348 to $117,000 on Jan. 1, 2013, and to rise another 1.7 percent on Jan. 1, 2014 to $119,000. The approved budget covers that increase. For state legislators, a citizens committee voted in June to recommend a 2 percent raise, from $16,116 a year to $16,438. That raise took effect in December, and became permanent when the Legislature hadn’t acted to reject it by the 25thday of this year’s legislative session; today is the 52nd day.

He’s Number One!

Jimmy R

Do you recognize him? If you are from Idaho you probably do. Yes, it is the Angry Gnome himself, Jim Risch. If you are from anywhere else in the country, you probably have no idea who he is. That is why the National Journal described him as “…a senator so obscure that he might as well be dubbed the Ann Veal of the Senate.”

Why is the National Journal talking about Risch at all? It is because they have ranked him “the most conservative member of the Senate“.

When people think about conservative “all stars” in the Senate (if people ever actually think about such a thing), a few names probably come to mind. There’s Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who before leaving the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation—a conservative Think Tank—was the godfather of the tea party in the upper chamber. Then of course there is Rand Paul, son of Ron, libertarian champion from Kentucky. A little less known, but still with some name recognition, are Mike Lee of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, former head of the Club for Growth.

All of these guys rank on National Journal’s most conservative list, but none of them hold the top spot. That honor goes to James Risch of Idaho, a senator so obscure that he might as well be dubbed the Ann Veal of the Senate.

Risch, a former governor, entered the Senate in 2009 at the age of 65. While not a figure with much national press since then, Risch has been a true stalwart when it comes to his conservative voting record, most recently being one of just eight Republican senators to vote against the Violence Against Women Act.

Being the most conservative Senator is not the Angry Gnome’s only claim to fame. He is also the fifth most wealthy Senator with an estimated net worth of $109,034,052

Risch

The question all Idahoans ought to ask is, “What sort of leader, representing Idaho’s interests, is Senator Risch”? According to Govtrak.us, who tracks this sort of thing.

Risch legislationYes, the Angry, but lonely, Gnome is the ultimate outlier, first in ineptitude.

Cosmic Coincidence

In a cosmic coincidence, the Russian meteorite that has reportedly injured more than 1,000 people is completely unrelated to the DA14 asteroid, which NASA says will pass close to the Earth later today.

A decade ago, we would have known about the Russian meteorite only by the results of the impact. Today, there are few places on earth without a witness with a video camera. Below is a video showing the flight of the meteorite from a number of different locations just before it smashed into the Ural Mountains.

The Madness Of Wayne LaPierre

WayneLatoon The madness of Wayne LaPierre. I stole that from Forbes Magazine. That’s right. Forbes Magazine thinks Wayne LaPierre has gone mad. Note to Wayne- when a conservative business magazine like Forbes thinks you are crazy, you have a problem.

LaPierre’s bazaar response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was enough to convince me he was crazy, but it turns out that was only the first chapter in a month of looniness. Today, in his “response” to Obama’s state of the union speech, LaPierre accused the President with “fraud” and claimed,

They only care about their decades-long, decades-old gun control agenda: Ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold and register every American gun owner.

Wayne LaPierre repeats the crazy paranoia every chance he has, even though he knows that no matter how many times he says it, there is not a shred of evidence that President Obama, or anyone else in the federal government who has anything to say about it, has any interest in ‘taking away the guns’.

Who exactly does LaPierre represent when he lashed out with this inflammatory rhetoric? It is certainly not the American people, not even the membership of the NRA. In fact, polls show that Americans favor the measures proposed by the President with large majorities.

A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 92 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, including 91 percent of those living in homes with a gun.  The January, 2013 Pew survey reports 85 percent of Americans—and 85 percent of gun owners—want all private gun sales and sales at gun shows to be subject to background checks. The CBS/New York Times poll conducted in January, 2013 had similar results, showing that 92 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of those living in a household with an NRA member, are in favor of universal background checks.

Below is a sample of insane LaPierre quotes from an Op-Ed piece he wrote last week. They show a man living in a “Hellish” world filled with Hurricanes, Kidnappers, drug gangs and other mortal threats that can only be combatted by more guns.

Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.

The president flagrantly defies the 2006 federal law ordering the construction of a secure border fence along the entire Mexican border. So the border today remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.

Ominously, the border also remains open to agents of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Numerous intelligence sources have confirmed that foreign terrorists have identified the southern U.S. border as their path of entry into the country.

A heinous act of mass murder—either by terrorists or by some psychotic who should have been locked up long ago—will be the pretext to unleash a tsunami of gun control.

After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.

Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster.

And finally, in an outrageous example of Orwellian double speak,

We [the NRA] are the largest civil rights organization in the world.

 

Rethinking the Secretary of the Interior

47I have been a member of REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) since the 1980s. REI began in Seattle during the depression as a cooperative for outdoor enthusiasts. Since then, it has grown to become the nation’s largest consumer co-op, and continues to return the majority of profits to members through annual member refunds based on their purchases.

I bring this up because President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, is CEO of REI. Timothy Egan has an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times arguing that Jewell represents the majority of Americans who are impacted by Interior Department decisions about public land use.

The emperor of the American outdoors usually wears a cowboy hat, for the lashing dust and searing sun in the domain of the Interior Department, one-fifth of the United States. James Watt, the most small-minded head of that agency in modern times, wore one. So did Ken Salazar, the outgoing secretary.

Don’t expect to see Sally Jewell, who is President Obama’s nominee for Interior secretary, in a showy Stetson. Running shoes, yes. Climbing helmet, of course. Cycling tights, no doubt. If confirmed, Jewell would be one of the few directors of that vast department to actually share the passions of the majority of people who use the 500 million acres of public land under Interior’s control.

It’s not just that Jewell has climbed Mount Rainier, kayaked innumerable frothy waterways, skied and snowboarded double-diamond runs. Nor that, as chief executive of the nation’s largest consumer cooperative — Recreational Equipment Inc., the retailer known as REI — she knows that Americans spend more money on outdoor equipment than they do on pharmaceuticals or gasoline.

But Jewell — a city-dweller, educated, articulate about the importance of nature in a modern life — is a prototypical citizen of the 21st century American West, still the geography of hope, in Wallace Stegner’s timeless phrase.

Egan sees Jewell as giving a voice to that 21st Century citizen of the American West.

For all the ranchers and wildcatters, the loggers and right-wing county commissioners who clamor for control of the nation’s public lands, the dominant user is an urbanite, who bikes, skis, rafts, climbs, hunts, fishes, watches birds, waits for sunsets with a camera or finds an antidote for “nature deficit disorder” in a weekend on a high plateau.

Every time gas prices go up, some demagogue will say it’s because we aren’t sucking enough oil out of our shared setting, when in fact there is no connection between the global price of oil and annual output from government leases. But Obama has been afraid to rally the larger conservation and recreational-user coalition because he fears the wrath of the fossil-fuel crowd.

In part, this is because those who value the prairies, canyons, mountains and grasslands of Interior for something other than extraction have been largely missing from the debate. They let buffoonish politicians from rural Western areas drone on about the need to put even more public lands under control of the oil industry. They allow corporate interests who are more at home on a Saudi golf course than in a slick-rock canyon in southern Utah to speak for the West.

Just recently, that has started to change. The outdoor recreational industry directly supports three times more jobs than the oil and gas sector. People who play in the American outdoors spend $646 billion a year, responsible for 6.1 million jobs.

While Obama seems to be aware of the need for a different type of stewardship for public lands, the same cannot be said for members of the Idaho Legislature. They rejected Governor Otter’s nominee for Fish and Game Director, Joan Hurlock.

For the first time since 1974, the Idaho Senate has rejected the governor’s nominee for a slot on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, voting 19-16 against confirming Joan Hurlock, only the second woman ever to serve on the panel.

“This lady is not qualified,” Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, told the Senate. He said she lacked the necessary “passion” for hunting and fishing.

Hurlock, of Buhl, held Idaho hunting and fishing licenses several times, but not every year, and didn’t hold one for a nine-year stretch prior to last year. She’s an advocate of youth access to hunting and fishing and an active volunteer.

After the Senate vote, she told the Associated Press, “I have fished throughout my life. … I didn’t know I needed to keep an attendance record.”

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, who led the opposition to the appointment, told the Senate, “If you haven’t shared the experiences, I don’t think you can make the correct decisions.”

Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman had an interesting piece about the Hurlock rejection that reinforces Egan’s claim about a shift in thinking about public lands.

It’s no surprise that the rejection of Joan Hurlock, Republican Gov. Butch Otter’s nominee to the Idaho Fish & Game Commission, included a hint of the urban-rural divisions that have long defined Idaho politics.

Of the nine Senate Republicans who supported Hurlock in a losing 19-16 vote Monday, seven represent significant urban constituencies: Dan Johnson of Lewiston, Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, Todd Lakey of Nampa, Patti Anne Lodge of Huston, Fred Martin of Boise, Jim Patrick of Twin Falls and Jim Rice of Caldwell. Keough represents a largely rural district, but Sandpoint is a fashionable resort and retirement town.

They backed the leader of their party’s appointee, despite her casual relationship with hunting and fishing. Nineteen Republicans opposed Hurlock. All seven Democrats, who represent city-dominated districts, voted for her.

The two Republicans who supported Hurlock and represent largely rural districts were her floor manager, Bert Brackett of Rogerson, who ranches in Southern Idaho and Nevada, and John Tippets of Montpelier.

Popkey uses Sen. Patty Lodge as an case study of how things may be changing in Idaho.

The Hurlock nomination became a proxy for a cultural shift that can seem threatening to rural interests that have long held sway.

“They’re not a hunting family,” said Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, capsulizing the us-vs.-them sentiment on Hurlock, who moved to Buhl a decade ago from California, where her father was a game warden.

Though Hurlock lost, Otter’s decision to fight for her nomination is yet another sign of change in a state where cities are growing far faster than rural precincts and folks born outside Idaho outnumber the native-born.

Perhaps the best example in the Senate is Lodge, a seven-term lawmaker who moved to Idaho at age 4 from Pennsylvania, when her father won a football scholarship at the College of Idaho.

Lodge is deeply connected to the GOP establishment. Her husband, Edward, also played at C of I and was a state court judge for 26 years. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush nominated him as a federal judge, a post he continues to hold. Their son, Ed, is a lobbyist for CenturyLink.

Sen. Lodge grew up in one of those hunting families. “There was a shotgun in every corner,” she said during debate. “My brother had a gun in his hands from the time he could just barely walk.”

But Lodge then made what might seem a dangerous admission: She’s given up hunting. She likes to see deer, quail, pheasants, ducks and geese roaming her land on Sunny-slope near the Snake River – without wanting to shoot them.

Lodge’s brother, former Liquor Dispensary Director Dyke Nally, chaired Otter’s eight-member committee that interviewed seven commissioner candidates. The panel ranked Hurlock in a tie for first. Nally, Lodge said, raised 150 chukar chicks last year, releasing them in an orchard owned by the siblings.

Lodge had a reminder for those she called the “great white hunters”: Many citizens see critters as more than meat on the run.

“Remember, that wildlife belongs to all of Idaho,” she said.

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, who led the opposition to Hurlock’s appointment, told the Senate, “If you haven’t shared the experiences, I don’t think you can make the correct decisions.” It would be nice if Heider took his own advice. He has had no experience in education, yet felt qualified to propose a bill that reflected his ignorance. Today, after hearing from many who know better about the “unintended consequences” of the legislation, he withdrew it.

The State of the Union

SOTU

The take away for me was the call for a $9.00 minimum wage.

We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages.  But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year.  Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line.  That’s wrong.  That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.  This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.  It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead.  For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets.  In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher.  So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.

Brennan Objects to the Use of Waterboarding in CIA Confirmation Hearing

NPR O.K. Don’t explain to me what the NPR headline writer “really” meant just yet. Let me spend a few more minutes with that lovely image. Yes, I see it! Idaho Senator Jim Risch laid out while water is poured over a cloth covering his face until he confesses that he has no business being on the Senate Intelligence Committee. From the sidelines, John Brennan objects, claiming that, based upon his experience, water boarding is not an effective interrogation technique.

Back to reality. Here, according to Charlie Pierce, is what really happened.

They never laid a glove on him — not, I suspect, that many of them wanted to do so — and John Brennan looked very comfortable in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee during his extended job interview to become the head of the CIA. After all, they were all members of the national-security priesthood, one way or the other, and if they had to discuss their deadly private liturgies (in however cursory a fashion) in public (however briefly), well, that’s just the price of doing business. And if Senator Jim Risch felt the need to bluster about a leak, Brennan got to bluster back, so the call-and-response ritual of the liturgies was adhered to in public as it would have been in private. But there was about the hearing a feeling of pure show, because both sides were operating under a tacit agreement that there are things that the American people must not, and should not, know about what it being done in their name. Once that agreement is struck, once that private communion is joined, the fundamentals of self-government are left behind.

One More Gun Statistic

US-gun-deaths-war-casualties

 

More Americans have been killed in domestic gun incidents since 1960 than Americans killed in wars, ever. Evidently, that statistic has been floating around the internet since the Sandy Hook incident, but I didn’t run into it until today.

To be honest, I didn’t believe it. Surely, more Americans have died in all wars than in domestic gun incidents. It turns out that Mark Shields first made the claim in answer to a question from Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour.

You know, Judy, the reality is — and it’s a terrible reality — since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in all the — all the wars, all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years.

We have half the guns that are in the world are in the United States. I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.

Was Shields correct?  According to PolitiFact.com, he was.  Here is what they found.

We found a comprehensive study of war-related deaths published by the Congressional Research Service on Feb. 26, 2010, and we supplemented that with data for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan using the website icasualties.org. Where possible, we’ve used the broadest definition of “death” — that is, all war-related deaths, not just those that occurred in combat.

War Deaths

The number of deaths from gunfire is a bit more complicated to total. Two Internet-accessible data sets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allow us to pin down the number of deaths from 1981 to 1998 and from 1999 to 2010. We’ve added FBI figures for 2011, and we offer a number for 1968 to 1980 using a conservative estimate of data we found in a graph in this 1994 paper published by the CDC.

Gunfire Deaths

We should note that these figures refer to all gun-fire related deaths — not just homicides, but also suicides and accidental deaths. In 2011, about one-quarter of firearm-related deaths were homicides, according to FBI and CDC data. Using total firearm-related deaths makes the case against guns more dramatic than just using homicides alone.

Our ruling

Since Shields’ comparison was otherwise accurate, with about 1.4 million firearm deaths to 1.2 million in war, we rated his claim True.

If that jaw dropping statistic doesn’t convince you that we have a gun problem in this country, you aren’t really interested in the facts.

 

Senator Goedde Go Galt- Please!

Goedde The Idaho Legislature is filled with fools. Fortunately most have little or no power. Not true when it comes to the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, John Goedde. Education is the biggest item in the state budget and Goedde is sure he knows how to spend that money. Like Tom Luna, Goedde believes that Public Education ought to be privatized. Short of that, he favors “market solutions” when it comes to education reform.

It should surprise no one that Goedde is a big fan of Tea Party ideology. In fact, he has a great idea- force every high school student to read Ayn Rand’s Tea Party bible, Atlas Shrugged.

 

According to The Spokesman Review:

Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.

When Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked Goedde why he chose that particular book, Goedde said to laughter, “That book made my son a Republican.”

Goedde said he doesn’t plan to press forward with the bill, but it was formally introduced in his committee Tuesday on a voice vote. He said he was sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

Ed Kilgore points out an awkward fact about Rand that Goedde’s constituents might not be entirely happy with,

I don’t normally think it useful to focus on the random utterances or actions of random wingnuts, particularly at the state legislative level. But occasionally you just have to call them on distinctive forms of folly or hypocrisy.

Idaho solon allowed as how he wasn’t serious about pursuing this legislation. But he needs to be held accountable for it, anyway, and by that I mean his constituents should be abundantly aware their senator is robustly endorsing for consumption by children a book that preaches atheism as relentlessly (and no one in the history of literature has been more relentless than Ayn Rand) as capitalism—indeed, the author thought the two were indivisible.

I don’t have a copy of Atlas handy (like most people, I read it as an adolescent, though not as a school requirement), but here’s one quote from John Galt’s famous radio address:

[I]f devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking…. the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.

“Faith is a short-circuit destroying the mind” is probably not a motto Goedde’s going to put on his bumper stickers next time he runs for re-election. But if you know any God-fearing conservative folk in Coeur d’Alene, be sure to share with them the news their senator thinks that’s an important lesson for their kids.

As knowledge of Goedde’s bill spread throughout the internet, blog comments grew increasingly entertaining. Here are a couple from Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire.

drzaius says,

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy
that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable
to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Northcountry gives us the lowdown on Ms Rand.

Why are we still calling Alice (or Alicia) Rosenbaum by that ridiculous name? Rosenbaum was the only child of upper middle class Jewish Muscuvites who were rabid backers of the Czar. When all was lost they sent little Alice off to America where, like Jethro in the Beverly Hillbillies not being able to decide whether to become a neurosurgeon or a fry cook, she couldn’t decide between a future as a Hollywood movie star or a famous philosopher. Her ‘philosophy’ was her love of the Russion Czar and a burning hatred for communism. She grew up on the silent movies of German actress Leni Reivenstahl. Reivenstahl went on to be an inner circle member Hitler’s party and director of Triumph of the Will. Alice Rosenbaum loved the Fascist movement and those adorable black uniforms worn by the Italian military. These are the roots from which her novels sprung. The writing itself is just plain awful and the plots are worse than silly. She was put into play by the panicked one percenters of the day when Wall Street crashed during the Great Depression and their successors over at the Rand Institute have kept this cult barely alive ever since.

No surprise the GOP teaparty bunch would think she represents intellectual maturity.

Wonkette points out the hypocrisy of the bill.

Goedde also explained that he doesn’t really intend to move the bill forward through the Senate; rather, he wanted to send a message to the State Board of Education that he was very, very displeased with the board’s decision to repeal a rule requiring students to take two online classes in order to graduate.

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

So if the board doesn’t keep an arbitrary graduation rule that was widely opposed by voters, the legislature can respond by passing arbitrary graduation requirements of its own. That’s a heck of a good message, and an excellent lesson to students about how state government really works.

Goedde, who is just a middle initial away from having a wicked cool name (we checked — it’s W, not B), responded to another senator’s concern that Atlas Shrugged might be a poor choice to impose on all students by saying, “I don’t plan on moving this forward – it was a statement.” He did, however, praise the novel for its influence on his own worldview:

“When I read Atlas Shrugged, and it’s been probably 30 years since I read it, but it certainly gives one a sense of personal responsibility,” Goedde said.

Efforts to tease out whether “personal responsibility” normally includes introducing dickish bills to make a passive-aggressive “statement,” or whether proposing a state mandate to read a novel about the evils of “statism” might irreparably harm kids’ sense of irony, were ultimately unsuccessful. We will keep Sen. Goedde in mind for Wonkette’s coveted Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year Award, but must point out that several other state legislators have already been far bigger assholes this year, so he’ll need to step up his game.

Goedde has already won my Dim Bulb award, but in the running for the “Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year Award”? That is a whole different league. I am impressed.

Now if only Goedde would follow John Galt’s advice and drop out of society. At least he could go back to the only occupation he is actually trained for, Hotel & Restaurant Administration.