Right Wing Stupidity

Idaho Republican Primary Debate for Governor

Wednesday’s Idaho Republican Primary Debate for Governor has received lots on national media attention. The most frequently used term has been “Circus”. If you haven’t seen it already, watch the video above and I imagine you will agree with the characterization. It is hard to watch it and not think you are seeing a classic SNL sketch, particularly because of the eerie resemblance between Russ Fulcher and Dan Aykroyd.

The truth is the debate was a clever political move on the part of current Idaho Gov. CL (Butch) Otter. He is running for a third term and has a serious opponent in the tea party favorite candidate Russ Fulcher. In a move to solidify control of the Idaho Republican Party, the tea party pushed for a closed Republican primary. Otter, and other mainstream Republicans, were against it, but got outmaneuvered. Consequently, Otter insisted that two fringe candidates (leather-clad biker Harley Brown and Bible-thumping mountain man Walt Bates) be included in the debate. Brown and Bates served as comedy relief and were the reason the debate received national notoriety, but, more importantly, they serve the political purpose of making Butch Otter appeared to be the only sane one in the room. Anyone familiar with Otter’s political career knows how far to the right- i.e. libertarian- he really is, but in this debate he seems to be a real moderate.

This debate took place the same week that a federal judge overturned Idaho’s ban on single-sex marriage. In fact, as I write this, LGBT couples are meeting at the Ada County courthouse in Boise to obtain marriage licenses. Although Brown and Bates provide the real entertainment value to the debate, it is worthwhile to hear how Otter and Fulcher respond to the questions about single-sex marriage. Neither seems to understand the constitutional principal that majority wishes do not trump minority rights. Even though Judge Candy Dale refused Otter’s request for a stay, and even though no state ban against single-sex marriage has withstood  judicial scrutiny, there is no doubt that Otter will spend the $1 million he and the legislature has set aside in the current budget to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court. Quite simply, it is a matter of  taxpayer dollars that could be used in a state that ranks near the bottom  in support for education wasted. Ironically, of the four candidates, biker Harley Brown was the only one supporting single-sex marriage.

Here he is around minute 8:35 in the video:

Discrimination! Let me tell you about discrimination. In 1990- uh, bleep that- in 1964, the blacks got the Civil Rights Act passed. We bikers! Discrimination? We are cop magnets, like a Playboy Bunny wearing’ a miniskirt gets hit on all the time! They pull us over without probable cause, and they bring up the sniffin’ dogs and they search us and our bikes, even when we’re not flyin’ our colors. If you’re a leather-clad Harley Davidson driver, you know, the cops are gonna zero in on you like a heat-seeking missile.

Okay. Discrimination. I used to drive taxis in Boise for 20 years. At night! And I’ve picked up my fair share of the gay community. And they have true love for one another. I’m tellin’ you, they love each other more than I love my motorcycle. And you know, they’re just as American as a Medal of Honor Winner. And, uh, liberty and justice for all! Equal protection under the law! I’m glad that judge made that decision, and I’m glad they wanna get married and live like that. I know I’m not really talkin’ like a Republican, but…

After watching the debate, I am tempted to switch to the Republican Party for the Primary just so I can cast my ballot for Harley Brown. Watch and I think you might agree.

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When May I Shoot A Student?

3.26.13-hampikianDr. Greg Hampikian has a dual appointment in the Biology Department and the Department of Criminal Justice at Boise State University. He is best known as the forensic DNA expert and founder of the Idaho Innocence Project.

Dr. Hampikian has worked on hundreds of cases throughout the world and has been responsible for the research leading to more than a dozen exoneration’s.  He has contributed his expertise in DNA evidence to many high profile cases including the that of Amanda Knox. His book, Exit to Freedom, chronicles Calvin Johnson’s 17 year fight to prove his innocence using DNA evidence.

HampikianCNCoopHe has appeared on numerous national television shows including Good Morning America, Nightline, Dateline, and 20-20. He has also appeared as a guest of Ira Flato’s on Science Friday and on CNN with Anderson Cooper.

Dr. Hampikian is in the national news again with a New York Time Op. Ed. piece titled, When May I Shoot a Student. The article, satirizing the “Guns-on-Campus” bill currently being considered by the Idaho State Legislature, has gone viral on social media. Hampikian’s article takes the form of a tongue-in-cheek letter to the chief council of the Idaho Legislature asking for his legal advice. When, Hampikian asks, can I legally shoot a student?

In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?

I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.

I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.

Hampikian proposes specific situations that might arise and wonders what the appropriate response might be.

I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?

If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?

Those who have been following the farce in the statehouse understand his jab at the House Committee who held the initial hearings on the bill.

While our city police chief has expressed grave concerns about allowing guns on campus, I would point out that he already has one. I’m glad that you were not intimidated by him, and did not allow him to speak at the public hearing on the bill (though I really enjoyed the 40 minutes you gave to the National Rifle Association spokesman).

What has been particularly enlightening about Dr. Hampikian’s article is the response. Our illustrious Governor claims that Idaho’s image is not tarnished by the foolish bills the legislature wastes its time (and Idaho taxpayer dollars) on.  Comments on Hampikian’s article would suggest otherwise.

Seriously, does the Idaho State Legislature have nothing better to do? Like get the economy moving? I’m an Idaho native and have a cousin who’s a BSU undergrad. I love him, but trust me, the world is a better place without him lugging a Glock 9mm around in his backpack. And the notion that a kid with a gun could prevent something like Newtown or Va. Tech is unsubstantiated, unresearched nonsense. A 2008 Rand Corporation study analyzed NYC data on police shootings. It showed that highly trained police officers are accurate in hitting the person they’re aiming at 30% of the time. And if they’re being shot at, accuracy drops to 18%. Ergo, if you had a couple students firing back at a school shooter (assuming they could dig through their backpacks and find their guns in the panic and chaos) they’d likely injure or kill one or more classmates by accident. And since it’s doubtful they’ve trained with their weapon as much as a police officer, they’d do well to hit a shooter one-out-of-ten shots. Sadly, Congress in its infinite wisdom has defunded virtually all research into the gun violence epidemic by the NIH and the CDC. Our country badly needs research into what really works and what doesn’t to stem such violence. Perhaps then we as a society wouldn’t be so susceptible to lawmakers who sit around saying, “If only we could send kids to school with guns. What could possibly go wrong?”

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I have a daughter heading to college in a few years, and I’m starting a list of states whose legislatures are stupid enough to encourage gun violence on college campuses. Colleges in those states are no longer worth applying to.

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All credible studies show a direct correlation between the presence of guns and the incidence of deadly violence. If your frat brother gets drunk and angry, he can punch you in the face. Give him a knife, and he can try to stab you, but you may be able to outrun him. Give him a gun, and you’re dead. The math is painfully simple. Unfortunately, so are these lawmakers.

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Some ideas are prima facie so monumentally stupid that they only can be explained by ideology or religion gone wild. Examples: burning witches at the stake, destroying a village in order to save it, outlawing homosexuality, stockpiling enough nuclear weapons to exterminate humanity several times over; and yes, encouraging college students to bring weapons to class. It’s almost beyond belief until you remember it’s Idaho, it’s Republicans, it’s the gun lobby.

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Our son in law just turned down a University teaching job offer in Idaho for just such reasons, even though he has no other offer as yet. Idaho just didn’t measure up as a safe sane place to raise their family.

Some comments took the satire to the next level of absurdity.

As a faculty member myself, I understand Professor Hampikian’s dilemma. I think one solution would be for the instructors to advertise their own lethality by clipping a number of hand grenades to the front of their shirts or blouses (or tweed jackets, as the case may be). Such an array will make students think twice about who has more “freedom” in any confrontation, and it would also nicely enable that old political dictum, “Speak softly and carry a big rack of anti-personnel explosives.”

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I believe the professor has the right idea however I wonder if he has considered tanks? This would make both a perfect defensive tool and an equally excellent ‘stand your ground’ weapon. If he thought perhaps that a student or students had a flame thrower (perhaps a LaCrosse stick might be mistaken for such) then he would be perfectly justified in firing off a round or two. This way he might be able to deal with an entire fraternity chapter on one fell swoop. I’m sure he’d receive a commendation from the NRA.

As I write this, the legislature is hearing testimony about the bill. So far, there has been no support for it, but public opinion doesn’t seem to hold much weight with Republican legislators.

Of all those commenting on Dr Hampikian’s New York Times article, I most empathize with “Todd” of Boise who speaks like a fellow inmate of the crazy state of Idaho reaching out to those in the sane outside world.

We can’t make this stuff up! In addition to this grand piece of legislation our statesman are working on how to make it “legal” to discriminate against the LGBT community (and others?) on religious grounds; how to lower corporate tax rates, in our state that ranks lowest in wages; how we can kill more wolves to boost elk populations so that hunters can then kill more elk; and how we can beat Mississippi to the worst ranked education system in the country. I used to think at some point we’d wake up and change our voting pattern but now I think it just like a bad reality tv show and we can’t change the channel.

Send in the Clowns

Bill-the-Clown There is a pretty simple solution to this problem. The state of Idaho should kick out the Republican Party Bozos currently pretending to be legislators and get them into a clown college as soon as possible. The question at this point is, How many idiotic bills can be stuffed into one legislative session”? The absurd (ALEC created?) Luker “religious freedom” bills have been withdrawn after a “thoughtful pause“. The 2 million dollar Wolf extermination- err- control bill was passed by the House. The “Ag-Gag” bill will undoubtedly pass a full house vote next week. This is so obviously pandering to Idaho farmers who claim filming of animal abuse is terrorism.

The Senate earlier passed the bill on a 23-10 vote; it comes in the wake of a covertly taken video at a southern Idaho dairy that showed workers severely abusing cows and led to five arrests. Commercials featuring the graphic video are being aired during Olympics coverage in the Boise area, urging people to contact their lawmakers and oppose the bill.

The lopsided vote came after a three-and-a-half-hour hearing at which passionate testimony was evenly split for and against the measure, SB 1337; farmers said they need protection from spying, while animal-protection backers said it’ll allow abuse to go undetected.

Cooler heads pointed out that the obvious conclusion consumers would draw is that the dairy industry does have something to hide.

Scott Beckstead, a Humane Society of the United States official who said he was born and raised on a Twin Falls, Idaho farm, said, “I would submit that this bill poses a greater threat to Idaho agriculture than all the video camera-wielding vegans in the world, because what this bill says is that Idaho agriculture does have something to hide.” Consumers will take note, he said.

Kelly Hogan of Boise spoke against the bill. Audio or video evidence, whether taken openly or covertly, “provides the evidence that it doesn’t continue to happen,” he said, “and it’s a public service to both the industry and to people that have a care and concern for the animals that are involved in the situation. I think that the bill goes beyond just security and privacy. … We remove potentially an added resource to be sure that these things are disclosed.” Rep. Paul Romrell asked Hogan, “So you’re all right with trespass?” Hogan responded, “No, I’m not. I don’t see it as trespass. Let’s say that a person is employed by an agricultural facility under normal pretenses. Over time they see … things that are a violation of law, and they record it with their iPhone. … Then if they disclose that, this bill would make them in violation of law.” Asked what should happen if the person isn’t an employee, Hogan said, “If the person is not an employee and they trespass … I think they should be fined for trespassing laws.”

The Republicans ignored the logic because, according to Tony VanderHulst of Westpoint Farms and current chairman of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association,

This is not about hiding anything. This is about exposing the real agenda of these radical groups that are engaged in terrorism.

The Republicans, never ones to consider unintended consequences, had another piece of misguided legislation hit a bump in the road today.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter shared a new wrinkle concerning the guns-on-campus legislation being considered by the Idaho Legislature — it might cost Idaho State University its license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct nuclear research.

Otter told about 30 people attending a Friday meeting with ISU’s College Republicans that ISU President Arthur Vailas had told him about that possibility during a meeting with Otter the day before.

“I had never heard that before,” Otter said about what he learned Thursday.

The governor also expressed surprise at finding out the ISU Meridian campus shares its complex with Renaissance High School. Otter said Idaho law forbids firearms in public elementary, middle and high schools.

“I think there’s going to be some additional consideration given,” Otter said about the House State Affairs Committee, which will hold a hearing next Thursday on a bill that would allow concealed carry of firearms at Idaho’s colleges and universities. The bill passed the Idaho Senate 25-10 despite opposition from all the state’s university and college presidents and the State Board of Education.

Don’t bother to send in the clowns, they are already here.

Dim Bulb Award

dim-bulbIt has become a tradition here at RNWMV to select an illustrious Idaho legislator to win the award of Dim Bulb of the month. The first time the award was handed out was 2007 to Russ Mathews, Republican from Idaho Falls. Just to show how time passes but nothing seems to change, his dim bulb comment was about the Democrat-sponsored measure that would have raised Idaho’s minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Setting the standard for mind numbing stupidity and lack of rational thinking, Mathews said,

If it’s so exciting and neat to raise it, why don’t we just raise it to $17 an hour?” “Would that be a good idea?

As is always the case, there are numerous candidates for the award this month. For sheer stupidity we could choose the tea party’s Rep. Vito Barbieri. Periodically while the legislature is in session, Babieri tries to add up all the spending appropriated on a Post-it Note and report it to the “people of Idaho”. Unfortunately, when someone with the math skills looked at Cousin Vito’s figures, they turn out to have been exaggerated by about eight-fold. Even the leadership in his own party was embarrassed. Here, for example, is how House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Maxine Bell responded to Barbieri’s antics,

Bless his heart. At first I was stunned, then I was a little angry. Then I got to thinking he will be so totally embarrassed when he realizes how far off he is and his math teacher will be flipping in her grave.

l lukerBut the winner this month is Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, who has introduced a number of pernicious bills this session, none worse that his “Defense of Discrimination” bill. More than 500 people showed up at the Capitol for the House State Affairs Committee hearing. Fifty spoke in more than three hours of testimony, 42 against and only two in favor. The two in favor were members of the ultra right wing Cornerstone Family Council.

Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review gives an excellent overview of the testimony. Luker seems taken aback by the response against the bill which he disingenuously describes as “correcting a defect” in Idaho’s current freedom-of-religion law allowing people to claim religion as a defense against government action against them, but not to use it in private-party disputes involving a law or government action.

Russell discusses the Constitutionality of the bill,

Meanwhile, an Idaho Attorney General’s opinion raised questions about the constitutionality of both this and another, related bill that’s still pending.

The opinion concluded that HB 427 conflicts with the Idaho Tort Claims Act and could be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge. The bill, according to the opinion by Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, “could subject employees to personal liability when they are simply doing their job, and a court later decides that the state or local government policy burdened free exercise of religion.”

Kane offered an example: A case in which it was a state prison’s policy not to provide kosher or Halal meals to Jewish or Muslim prisoners, and the prisoners sued. “Then liability could fall upon the employees least responsible for the decisions – those who cook or serve the food,” Kane wrote.

Kane also examined Luker’s other proposal, HB 426, to prevent professional licenses from being suspended or revoked for violations based on the license holders’ “sincerely held religious beliefs.” He concluded that that bill is “likely vulnerable to a constitutional challenge,” and violates both the United States and Idaho constitutions. Luker said he hadn’t yet had a chance to review the opinion, and whether or not HB 426 gets a hearing is up to legislative leaders.

After the recent response to the failure of the Legislature to “add the words” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act, Luker’s feigned surprise over the response to his bills has to be chalked up to sheer dimwittedness, hence, he is this month’s winner

4 Little Words

idaho 4 words For three hours Monday, a group of forty three Civil Rights activists in black T-shirts, with “Add the 4 Words Idaho” stenciled in white, stood outside the three entrances to the Idaho Senate.

In the finest tradition of civil disobedience, they silently protested Idaho lawmakers’ refusal to hold a hearing or even print a bill barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The protesters, who began arriving at 8 a.m., want to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act by adding the four words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. The act currently bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of race, religion, disability and other factors, but not on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The “Add the 4 Words” bill has been proposed for each of the last eight legislative sessions. It has never gotten a full committee hearing. Earlier this session, bill sponsors Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Rep. Grant Burgoyne, both Boise Democrats, announced that were told that they won’t get a hearing this year either.

“Add the Words” isn’t the only controversial issue sidelined because Republicans fear tough primaries.   According to Dan Popkey in the Idaho Statesman,

Not being considered in 2014 are fiscally prudent highway investments and Medicaid expansion — which would provide health care for 100,000 low-income Idahoans and save local and state taxpayers hundreds of millions — because GOP lawmakers have decided they need to pass a budget and get home to campaign.

The Republican Legislators pretended that they were the victims. The protestors had sullied the dignity of the legislature, and the Republican leaders responded much like they did to the “Occupy Boise” protestors during the last legislative session. In what sounded like a veiled threat, Republican Majority Leader Bart Davis said, “Today, it hurt their cause”.

All the protesters were arrested and issued misdemeanor trespass citations. Fortunately, the protestors have plenty of allies including at least a dozen Boise attorneys who have promised to defend them free of charge.

Video here:  Lawyers Donate Their Time To Defend Add The Words Protestors

Dim Bulb Award for March

dim-bulb Sometimes I have to hunt around a bit to find a candidate for the Dim Bulb Award. Other times, it just falls into my lap. Such is the case with The Award for March. One simple criteria for the award is when a particular display of dimness attract national attention.

Brent Crane’s ignorance in using the example of Rosa Parks to champion states rights serves as more evidence to the rest of the country that elected Idaho politicians are a collection of rubes who have recently fallen off the turnip truck. Here, for example, is the response from Wonkette under the headline,  Hero GOP Idaho Legislator Will Sit At Front Of Bus For States Rights and Freedom From Healthcare

Oh, state legislature debates in Idaho must be veritable Lincoln-Douglas dialogues, right? They’re likely all super-erudite and engage in thoughtful research before….fuck, we can’t even keep up this pretense for the rest of this sentence. We are totally gonna generalize and say that on the basis of this one GOP guy in Idaho, their GOP is mindnumbingly dumb. How dumb, you ask breathlessly? Dumb enough to use Rosa Parks as an example of why states rights matter.

The No. 3 Republican leader in the Idaho House says he made a “slight mistake” when he described Rosa Parks as a champion of states’ rights.

“One little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do,” Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane of Nampa said during Wednesday’s debate on Gov. Butch Otter’s bill establishing a state-run health insurance exchange. “I’ve reached that point, Mr. Speaker, that I’m tired of giving in to the federal government.”

What is this we don’t even…Did the number 3 Republican Leader in the Idaho House, a position that no doubt brings with it an unlimited amount of hookers, blow, potatoes, and militias, ever actually, you know, pay attention in school? Did he absorb even the tinest idea about how the civil rights movement worked and that it was actually a challenge to the horror of states’ rights and created a federal superstructure that actually trumped the racist fuckwit ideas of individual states? Nope!

Crane told me he received no feedback about his error until I inquired Thursday. “I had people say, ‘You did a great job in your debate.’ People understood the point I was trying to make. And I’m sorry if it was an oversight. Obviously, I didn’t do my research.”

Did Crane know the historical context before he Googled “Rosa Parks” on the House floor in preparation for his debate?

“I’m sure we went over that in history class in high school and possibly in history in college, possibly,” said Crane, who graduated from Nampa Christian High School and has a bachelor’s in political science from BSU.

Possible in history in college, possibly. Well-spoken AND on top of his facts. We could go on AND ON AND ON about how dumb this is, but seriously? It isn’t like you Wonklanders need an explanation of 8th grade civics to know this is jaw-droppingly dumb. You Wonklanders may, however, appreciate some friendly advice that perhaps political science at BSU should not be your major if you actually would like to learn some political science.

Hats off to you, though, Mr./Ms. Idaho Statesman reporter who has to cover this jerkwad. We’d advise you, in the future, to make good use of the Molly Ivins quote about a Texas legislator in reference this human pile of derp: “If his IQ slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day.”

This was not the first time Crane let loose a jaw-dropping quote making him the object of national derision. In 2011, while debating a bill outlawing abortion after 20 weeks,

The Idaho bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples.”

Focus for a moment on where Crane received his education in civil rights and American history, Nampa Christian High School. Then consider a bill just passed by the Idaho legislature today.

The House is now debating HB 286, the bill to give $10 million in tax credits for donations to scholarships to send Idaho kids to private schools, with the idea that the state would save millions if kids dropped out of public schools to enroll in private schools instead. Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, told the House that his children attend private schools. “This levels the playing field and it’s a great step in the right direction,” he said.

Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, countered, “I think the issue is not whether private schools are good for children in this state, because they are. I think the issue is this is policy that siphons money away from public and charter schools to be used for private schools. … We don’t give tax credits to adults who have no children, nor should we be giving tuition tax credits to those who have chosen an alternative to public education. It is their right and their choice, but the state should not subsidize that choice. We do not have enough money for public schools and public charter schools right now.”

Any question as to how Crane voted on the bill?  I didn’t think so.

crane vote

The Crane/Rosa Parks story gets a bit funnier (in a sad, pathetic way). In the Idaho Statesman article initially pointing out Crane’s flub, Dan Popkey included the photo below.

crane labrador

Who is that somewhat blurry figure in back of Crane, you may ask? Yes, it is Congressman Raul Labrador. According to Popkey, Raul was less than pleased to be connected in any way with Crane.

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador’s spokesman asked that a photo including Labrador alongside Idaho House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, be replaced on the Statesman’s website.

Crane, a top prospect for Labrador’s congressional seat should Labrador decided to run for governor against Otter in the 2014 Republican primary, is among Labrador’s closest friends. The photo was taken when Labrador was in the Idaho House in 2010. Also pictured is then-Rep. and now state Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian.

Shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, Labrador’s spokesman in Washington, D.C., Michael Tate, sent me the following brief email:  “I noticed an article from you today featured a photo of Congressman Labrador in a story not about him. Politely wondering if you are able to use a photo in the story without my boss?”

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.

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.

 

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.

Godwin’s Law- Meet the Idaho State Legislature

dim-bulb Wow! the 2013 Idaho State Legislature is hardly underway and we feel the need to award our second Dim Bulb award of the season. Perhaps we should change the name to the Dim Chandelier award. That way we could include a cluster of Republican Dim Bulbs in just one award.

Most people who are aware of internet memes, have heard of Godwin’s Law. The idea originated with Mike Godwin in 1990. According to the web site, Know Your Meme:

Godwin’s Law is an internet adage that is derived from one of the earliest bits of Usenet wisdoms, which goes “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.”

Which brings us to today’s Dim Bulb.

Nuxoll Senator Sheryl Nuxoll, Republican from Cottonwood. Nuxoll is convinced that Governor Otter’s proposed state health insurance exchange is socialism and sent out a mass e-mail and posted a message on Twitter to warn her constituents of the coming danger.

Never mind that the proposed state health insurance exchange is a boon for private insurers, or that the Idaho health insurance industry supports Otter’s plan, and never mind that the Federal Government will establish a federal based exchange which is certainly closer to dreaded socialism, Nuxoll believes insurance companies are being duped. Just like the Jews (Godwin alert! Godwin alert!) were tricked into boarding the trains taking them to the concentration camps, the insurance companies are being used by Führer Obama to take us down the road to Socialism. According to the Spokesman Review, Nuxoll’s e-mail was headed “Another Reason against the State Health Insurance Exchange” and said in full:

The insurance companies are creating their own tombs. Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange. Several years from now, the federal government will want nothing to do with private insurance companies. The feds will have a national system of health insurance and they will pull the trigger on the insurance companies.

As most Dim Bulbs end up doing, Nuxoll claimed she was misunderstood. She meant no disrespect to the Jews.

Nuxoll said she made the analogy because “I felt badly for the Jews – it wasn’t just Jews, but Jews, and Christians, and Catholics, and priests. My thing was they didn’t know what was going on. The insurance companies are not realizing what’s going to end up in their demise.”

According to Dan Popkey, Nuxoll is just a pawn in anti-Idaho run health care plan. The real leader of the opposition is the Senate Majority Caucus Chair, Senator Russ Fulcher. Fulcher, being a bit more politically savvy than Nuxoll avoids Godwin’s Law. Rather than using Holocaust analogies, Fulcher claims the “evil genius” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is luring the private insurance industry’s support.

Writes Fulcher: “Part of the evil genius of PPACA is that it depends on the private insurance industry to put the exchange mechanism in place. Ironically the organizations pushing hardest to implement state-based exchanges (the insurance carriers) have the most to lose….”

Fulcher’s bottom line: “If you believe in the principles of socialism and turning over an INCREMENTAL 1/6 of the nation-wide GDP to the federal government (via healthcare), then you will want to support the state-based exchange.

“If you believe in the free market, capitalism, personal responsibility and liberty, you will NOT want to cooperate with a state-based exchange.”

Hmmm- at least two bulbs for our Dim Chandelier.