Idaho Legislature

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 Luker “religious freedom” bills have been withdrawn after a “thoughtful pause“.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.

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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

The Death Spiral (or, why is this man smiling?)

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It didn’t occur to me until I happened to watch Idaho Governor Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter delivered a speech with the audio off. Suddenly it became crystal clear that Otter had the look and all the mannerisms of the televangelist, or one of those marketing/motivational gurus like Tony Robbins who want to convince you that success is all about having a positive attitude.

The resemblance is more than just looks.  Otter is a classic snake oil salesman trying to sell Idaho’s citizens that, thanks to his administration, the Idaho economy is in good shape.

Here are the facts:  Governor Otter has presided over the tanking of the economy in Idaho. The state is currently 50th – dead last – in wages and personal income. Idaho is tied for last with Utah in educational investment. The state does lead the nation in one area, however, minimum wage jobs. Yes, after 20 years of uninterrupted GOP rule Idaho’s families earn less than in any other state, 50th, the bottom.

The unwillingness to adequately fund education has put Idaho into what Bob Lokken, CEO of WhiteCloud Analytics, calls a “Death Spiral“.

“I would contend that puts us in a little bit of a death spiral,” said Lokken, whose company specializes in health-care software. He spoke at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon for legislators.

Idaho ranks at the bottom of the states in per-capita income and leads the nation in the percentage of its workforce earning the minimum wage.

“This is the death spiral: I am trying to grow a knowledge-era business in the state of Idaho, and I can’t find the critical knowledge workers I need,” he said.

Fortunately, there are other voices willing to counter Otter’s “bubble boy” budget with some realism that would put a check on the Death Spiral. Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy Director Michael Ferguson has released a counter, alternative budget that comes closer to adequately funding education, although it doesn’t get the state back to pre-recession figures. Ferguson, who served as the chief economist for the state of Idaho for twenty five years, until 2011, Ferguson outlined

an alternative budget to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s executive budget that would put more funding into the public school system and restore $35 million in cuts to the state’s Department of Health and Welfare budget.

According to Ferguson,

It is intended to show that Idaho does have the resources in fiscal year 2015 to provide meaningful funding increases to Idaho’s public schools, to restore significant cuts that were made to health and human services … and to provide a long overdue boost to employee compensation for thousands of hard working state and school district employees.

 
The alternative budget:
 

– Does not transfer $71 million to the state’s “rainy day” stabilization funds, as outlined in Otter’s budget. Under this scenario, more money could fund state services while Idaho would still have about $291 million in reserve funds, Ferguson said. Otter said in his State of the State address that money is needed in reserves to prepare for future economic downturns.

– Removes $30 million in unspecified tax relief as proposed in Otter’s budget.

– Gives a 4 percent increase in employee compensation. Otter’s budget marks the sixth consecutive year without proposed raise for state employees from the governor, Ferguson said. That increase would cost $21.5 million for state employees and $36.8 million for school employees.

– Restores the $34.5 million in one-time spending for public schools for teacher pay and operational costs from Fiscal Year 2014 and makes that money a permanent allocation.

– Expands Medicaid for a net savings of $42.4 million to the state’s general fund. That figure does not include an additional savings of $34.7 million to at the county level, Ferguson said.

Anyone familiar with Idaho politics understands that the likelihood of Ferguson’s budget actually begin enacted into law by the intransigent Republican dominated Idaho legislature is slim-to-none. But, hope springs eternal.

 

Friday Comedy Relief

cleese

All and all, this has been a pretty depressing week. Continuing stupidity from the State Legislature- see here, here, here, and here. Continuing bad news like this. Never ending evidence that big banks are corrupt- that Catholic clergy are corrupt- and that wingnut Republicans are both corrupt and jaw-dropping stupid.

So, given that it is Friday and the great world keeps spinning no matter what we do or say, we might as well have a laugh.

I received the following in an email from a friend. A quick Google search shows that it has been popping up all over the internet so, if you have not yet seen it, I can claim you saw it here first. It is attributed to John Cleese, that former Monty Pithon and self described “British writer, actor and tall person”

Because I don’t like to post anything if I can’t verify the source, I tried to determine if John Cleese was, in fact, the author and it appears that he was not according to the John Cleese Forum and Snopes.com.

So, by John Cleese or not, jam packed with every possible stereotype, it is still pretty funny and a good way to end the week.

ALERTS TO THREATS IN EUROPE

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

A final thought -“ Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.”

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Dim Bulb Award 2013

lightbulbAha! The Idaho Legislature is back in session, so it is time to dust off the Dim Bulb Award. The Dim Bulb Award is an RNWMV tradition. It is an award that I give out to any worthy member of the Legislature who has, through word or action, reached the acceptable level of abject stupidity. What is my standard for stupidity? Well, as I said in 2009, ” . . . to win the award run-of-the-mill dimness won’t do. Winners must not only display jaw dropping ignorance, but they must also have such a complete lack the self-awareness they have no sense of shame, and, in fact, revel in their dimness”.

So, our first Dim Bulb of the 2013 legislative session is Rep. Ron Mendive, Republican from Coeur d’Alene. Mendive keeps the Republican winning streak alive. Since the first Dim Bulb was awarded in 2007, every honoree has been a Republican.

RMendive

What did Mendive do to deserve this honor? Boise Television station KTVB’s Capitol Watch has an article today entitled “N. Idaho lawmaker compares abortion and prostitution”. The headline alone tells you that what follows will be dim bulb worthy.

The stupidity came Wednesday during a legislative breakfast on criminal justice reform sponsored by the Idaho branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the Article,

[Mendive] drew audible gasps when he asked representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union-Idaho if their pro-abortion rights stance also means that they support prostitution.

Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, made the comparison Wednesday morning during a legislative breakfast presentation held by the ACLU on criminal justice reform and other issues.

Mendive asked the organization’s executive director, Monica Hopkins, if she felt the ALCU should support prostitution since it supports a woman’s right to choose abortion. Mendive then said that prostitution is also “a woman’s choice.”

Hopkins said a woman’s right to reproductive health care is constitutionally protected, while prostitution is illegal. She also reminded Mendive that prostitution is not always a choice, noting that legislation targeting human trafficking may be presented during the legislative session.

Every time a Republican decides to pontificate about abortion or a “woman’s right to choose”, you can rest assured the results will be cringe worthy and likely to catch the attention of the national media. Consider, for example, the 2010 legislative session when Idaho State Senator Chuck Winder (Republican, of course) introduced one more doomed-to-be-unconstitutional piece of legislation. His remarks on the Senate floor got the immediate attention of The Huffington Post, resulting in him becoming a national laughing stock. The chances are high that Dim Bulb Mendive’s comments will also go “national”.

Rep. Mike Moyle is Mad

It is a good thing Dan Popkey is willing to interview the childish, petulant members of the Idaho Legislature for the rest of us. I don’t think I could resist laughing in their face.

The latest to throw a tantrum is Majority Leader Mike Moyle.

Things were supposed to be different this year. Facing a budget crisis and united against raising taxes, Republicans running the Idaho House and Senate would set aside bad blood built over a decade and get the job done. Swiftly.

A month ago, the House’s dominant personality, that affable hothead, Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star, said all was forgiven: “The House and Senate leadership are more on line than we ever have been before because we have a common enemy, a common problem.”

But on Tuesday, Moyle was so mad he wouldn’t speak, telling me twice to turn off my tape recorder. His beef: The Senate caved to state- and local-government retirees and didn’t have the spine to follow through on a leadership plan to kill a 1 percent cost-of-living increase in their pensions.

Ahh- that “affable hothead” Mike Moyle- all upset because the Senate refused to follow the ultra-right wing cabal in the House who were determined to deny Idaho retirees their 1% cost of living increase.  He was joined by baby number two, Rep. Tom Loertscher,

This sets the stage for a budget wreck,” Loertscher said. “You have a few retirees show up out here on the steps of the Capitol and all of a sudden they get their way. It sends a signal that the way you ply the Legislature is go stand on the steps and holler a little bit and we’ll fold up.”

Fortunately, there were a few adults in the Senate who were unwilling to listen to Moyle, Loertscher and the other babies following the lead of the impostor Captain America.  I wonder if the House babies really understand how much they have upset the adults that elected them.

[the] 48 House Republicans who thought the Senate had their backs are subject to being called anti-retiree. Among the critics is Boise City Councilman Vern Bisterfeldt, a longtime Republican who says he’s “mad as hell” and wants to tell “every retiree in Idaho so they won’t vote for those jerks again.”

Vern Bisterfeldt is also a former police officer and not someone I would want mad at me. I hope he is serious about heading a movement to give the House babies a permanent “time out”.