Friday, April 11, 2014

Don't get fooled again

I was talking with a friend the other day, and he was telling me that a Democratic candidate he supports intends to make education a central issue in the up coming campaign, possibly the key or central issue.  I can see the thinking.  Luna laws where shot down, indicating much support for education in Idaho.  The recent legislative session restored education spending a little, but not really all that much, and seemed to be a back seat to rainy day savings and ideological issues (Kill the Wolves!).  It would look like Idahoans care more about education than the political leaders.

All the above is correct, but running on education as an issue by itself is a loser for Democrats.  When has that not been a or the key issue for Dems?  Running on it yet again is nothing new or exciting.  Besides, look how well that's worked for Dems in Idaho.

The problem is two fold.  Republicans also claim to support education. Have you ever heard any Rep say "Education is stoopid and I don't support it?"  Of course not.  The Reps have framed it as "I love education, and we're spending all we can afford right now."  They've successfully framed is as a fiscal issue, and Idahoans are congenitally predisposed to think the same way.

The second part is that Dems are so closely associated with the teachers union.  That's just undeniable.  And again, Reps have successfully framed it as supporting spending more money on education is just pandering to the teachers union.

It's almost like jujitsu.  As soon as a Dem says s/he supports education, it plugs into the Rep framing and is heard as "I want to spend more money" and "I want to pander to the teachers union."

So, it's a loser issue for Dems, unless it's repackaged to avoid the Rep frames.  Our state economy sucks, which is also undeniable.  Rock bottom, or near it, in wages, % working minimum wage jobs, all that.  I think that if Dems will talk about those issues, and hang them around Reps necks (after all, they've been in total control since forever), they have an opening.  And part of that can be that we have to offer employers a more highly skilled and educated workforce.  The current workforce attracts the crappy low wages jobs we've got here.  If more skilled workers were available, the state would be more attractive to an employer needing those skilled workers, and such jobs pay better.

Don't play into the Republican framing and "support education."  Instead, support offering employers a highly skilled workforce.  That sounds much better the Republican ears.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

More of this, please

Lynn Luke is busy in the legislature these days.  Fresh off a really stupid bill that would allow people to discriminate against, well, pretty much anyone, so long as they have a heart-felt belief or religious conviction or some such silliness motivating them, Luker has now demonstrated that he still has some common sense left.

He's introduced a bill to reduce various misdemeanors to infractions, including land use and building code violations.  Yay, Lynn.  This seems like common-sense conservatism; less government intrusion, fewer crimes, less input into the criminal justice system.  I like it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Awk

I've written about my inability to understand wingers, and what/how they think, and what really motivates them.  As I continue to ponder, I think it could be that I'm giving them too much credit.  For thinking.  Because it might just be that they aren't really thinking the thing through, they're just echoing back what they've heard around them.  This is not limited only to right wingers, leftys succumb to it too, but it does seem much more prevalent among the right wingers.  Maybe because there are so many here in Idaho.  But I digress.

Mike Moyle is demonstrating this tendency with this statement, in response to a proposal to do away with a grocery tax credit:

"You're picking winners and losers,” said Moyle, R-Star.

Gawd how I hate that phrase.  No thought, just slap a label on something you don't like, something that you've hear in your winger echo chamber.  Back in 2007 Moyle "called Otter's original means-adjusted proposal “class warfare.”  Yet another trite phrase, though one favored by both sides of the aisle.

C'mon on, think, Moyle.  Get past Rushbo's diatribes and think for yourself.  You're not a parrot.    "Winners and losers."  Awk.   "Winners and losers."  Awk.   "Winners and losers."  Awk. "Winners and losers."  Awk.  Nice analysis there, Mike.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hyperbole

Okay, I'm guilty of it.  I admit it.  I get carried away.  Saying "Republicans hate state workers" was an over the top generalization.  Such statements don't do much for my credibility.  I usually try to avoid them, but sometimes I get worked up, and sometimes it's just fun to unload.  So there's that.

OTOH, it does reveal my frustration and inability to understand the right-wing mindset.  I truly cannot fathom what they're thinking much of the time.   Part of it is I fail to run the politician's acts through the politics filter, and just assume that what they're doing or saying is sincere.  So that's on me.  Being a politician requires one to do and say stuff that's, well, politically expedient.  That's just part of the whole politics deal.  I get it.

But so many of the choices they make, of the policies they advocate, and of the priorities they set seem so wrong.  Not just wrong because I don't agree, but wrong as an absolute.

Example; those who say expanding Medicaid is bad.  For Idaho, it's (to me) an obvious good.  Poor, sick and suffering people will get some relief.  Children will be helped.  Counties will have a burdensome expense lifted.  Jobs will be created.  Much money will be pumped into Idaho's anemic economy.  Where's the harm?

"Well, we can't trust the federal government to continue to fund it as they say."  Okay; so if they cut back funding, then cut back on Medicaid.  But until they do, help the folks out.

I think it is an example of just knee-jerk reaction to anything proposed by Obama and/or Democrats.  To me, it is an example saying that right-wingers don't care about people, or good policy, or good government, they just want to oppose.  Decades of being the opposition party and lately injected with the steroids of hate radio, like Limbaugh, have led them to just oppose.  Oppose for the sake of opposing.  Obama care is a Republican plan.  We all know that.  But Republicans now oppose it, because Obama.  They seem to think that they can win power simply by stopping any Democratic progress.

And there's the rub.  I actually care about creating a better community, and helping people, even if it helps Republicans.  I don't think Republicans feel that way, if it is a Democratic initiative.  So that leads to my frustration, I guess.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Political courage

Is often in short supply, and this year is no exception.  Gov Otter came into office in, what, 2006 or so, saying that he wanted to run government more like business.  So part of that was to get state employee compensation in line with the private sector.  To his credit, he proposed a decent raise for state employees, and the got a raise that year.  However, he also went along with increases in what employees had to pay for health insurance, so the net raise was there, but small.

Well, the economy tanked and the legislature, with the Gov's acquiescence, stopped all raises.  Since then, 6 years, state employees have received one small raise.  The various oracles of compensation all agree that state pay is way behind the private sector, and so is overall compensation.  That is, even factoring in benefits, state workers are under compensated.

Now comes 2014, and the economy is on the mend, and state revenues are ticking up.  But Gov Otter recommends no pay raise.  Why?  Well, I think it's that he has a primary opponent.  Republicans hate state employees, for the most part.  Worthless, lazy and overpaid, that's how Republicans view state workers.  Of course; it has to be that way.  When you hate government, it's value to you is zero or negative, and therefore any government employee's work is valueless or a drag, and therefore anything you pay them is too much.

You'd think that they'd want workers to be lazy, so they don't actively f things up, since everything they do is bad.  But viewing someone as lazy is a nice way to get your hate on, and that's too tempting to pass up, even if it makes no logical sense.

So, it would be risky for Otter to propose pay raises, given his challenge from the right.  So he didn't.  Lack of courage, in that instance.

I'll credit him with some spine for letting the Dept. of Correction take over the private prison (some, not a lot, not that tough a call), and for allowing Idaho to set up its own health care exchange.  That did take some courage, and is probably what led to his primary opponent.  I'm just afraid he's learned from that and will take no risky stands.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The failed experiment

That is Republican leadership in Idaho. Gov Otter has just conceded that private ownership of prisons doesn't work. Government can actually do something well, or at least better.

What is the price for this lesson? Millions of dollars and untold human suffering and misery. We just have to face facts. Other than the land, which we just happen to be on by happenstance, and decent weather, Idaho is not a nice place to live. We have made it that way by choice.

Really weird choices. We're winning the race to the bottom. That's our goal and we're achieving it.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Dubious distinction, and who gets credit for it.

From Betsy Russell:
Idaho has the worst wages in the nation. The Famous Potatoes state ranks 50th for average annual wage, per-capita income, and for wage increases since 2007. It also has the greatest percentage of minimum-wage workers in America. After hearing those figures Thursday as they reviewed Idaho’s economic outlook, state legislative leaders said it’s time to figure out how to reverse that “dubious distinction” for the state.
“I don’t think anybody’s proud of that No. 1,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. He quizzed the state’s new Labor director, Ken Edmunds, about why the state ranks so poorly. “We need to understand, I think, as a state this phenomenon here, so that we can address this as we shape policy to improve these numbers,” Bedke said; 
 From the Statesman.  
Bedke said he’s concerned that Fulcher’s presence would compromise the effectiveness of the cooperation between Republicans, who have run the Legislature since 1961 and the held the governorship since 1995.
If that doesn't make a voter wonder if keeping Republicans in power is good for the state, then I suppose nothing will. R's have controlled the legislature for 50 years, and the Gov's office for the last 18.  And Idaho is the shitty low wage state.

Until the R's can escape from the "no taxes, ever, for any reason" mentality and start to invest in the state, this is where we'll be.

And there was this:
Some interesting stats from Bob Fick of the Idaho Department of Labor, who’s presenting to lawmakers this afternoon: Idaho saw a big jump in its 55-and-older population from 2010 to 2012, a 59.3 percent increase, compared to a national increase for that age group of 37.9 percent. The percentage of the state’s population that’s 55 and older went up from 19.5 percent in 1990 to 25.3 percent in 2012. At the same time, the state is starting to see some out-migration of younger residents, Fick reported.
So, young adults can't get a decent job here, and are leaving for greener pasture in other states. Idaho will be left with an old population in need of medical care.  Good thing Idaho has refused to expand Medicaid.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Food stamps and poor choices

I was standing in line at WinCo yesterday, and the guy ahead of me was buying some roasted chicken, and some DVDs.  He was working out with the checker to pay for the chicken with his EBT, card, i.e., food stamps, and to pay cash for the DVDs.  He bought 4 movies, for about $16.

  I only saw a couple of the titles, but I didn't recognize them, meaning that they were pretty low budget releases.  Which also told me that the guy would watch pretty much anything.

My first though was, jeez, dude, if you need economic help, perhaps buying DVDs is not your best choice.   I thought, you know, you could go to the library and probably find lots of movies you'd watch, for free.  But then I thought, well, if he's out of work and at home, maybe he'll watch each movie several times, and pass the time a bit.  Even poor people need entertainment, maybe even more than more well off folks, since a poor life can be harsh, and distraction brings relief.

So, maybe that was a rational economic decision.  But then I remembered a saying a fellow I used to work with would say when he'd see a poor person buying cigarettes, or something:  "Poor people have poor ways."  Although that be taken two ways, I always thought he meant that making sub-optimal choices tended to help keep poor people poor.  It's not a good idea to smoke, especially when you're struggling to get by anyway and can't really afford the $5 (or whatever it is) a pack a day.  That's $150 a month, which would really help a poor person.

Anyway, I didn't begrudge the guy the food stamps (I know, SNAP), and I have no deep thoughts on the subject.  Other than, I'm pretty sure this anecdote is NOT evidence of the failure of the SNAP program.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Who wins? The people, or IACI?

To ask the question is to answer it.  Of course it will be IACI.

Testimony heavily in favor of bill that does not let the big property tax payers off the hook.  Mayors, county commissioners, etc., all oppose IACI's bill that lets Pacific Railroad and Idaho Power completely out of paying the personal property tax.

Testimony is that schools are crumbling, if the IACI bill passes the schools will have to go to the local property tax payers. Severe impacts to county budgets.  Idaho already a low tax state, business friendly, and business seeking to locate here don't complain about the business property tax, more worried about infrastructure.

So of course, our legislators will ingore all that and pass the IACI sponsored bill.  Because, like Lola, whatever IACI wants, IACI gets.  Citizens be damned.

How to get extra paid vacation days

Become a Boise policeman or an Ada County Sheriff (or any law enforcement, I think), and then shoot someone.  Presto.  Paid administrative leave.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Astroturf the immigration issue

Astroturf, in the political lexicon as I understand it, is fake grass roots. You know, where some group has an interest in some outcome but disguises its efforts to get that outcome by dressing up as being opposed to that effort. Anyway, that's how I understand it. Here's another definition.

I just read about how John McCain got an earful of anti-immigration reform anger. The Tea Party types and their ilk just hate the idea of giving the Browns a path to citizenship. Some hate "rewarding" people who broke the law. Some think that the Browns will vote Democratic once they gain citizenship, and thus should not be allowed that citizenship. And some are just straight up racist. But whatever the motivation, they don't want any path to citizenship.

Problem is, Republicans have to make some effort toward this, seeings as how the Browns are the fastest growing segment of the population, and they tend to vote Team D. If the Rs keep rejecting and/or pissing off the Browns, they're going to end up on the losing side of demographics. And they know this.

So to defuse the issue, the Rs are trying to talk up reform, and seem somewhat amenable to reform, even to some possible path to citizenship. Which puts them at adds with their base. How to woo the Browns yet not alienate their base, that is the question.

So I say, D activists should go to R town hall meetings, pose as Tea Partiers, and stir up the crowd against reform. Think back to the town hall meetings in which Dems got savaged by idiots thinking that Obamacare included provisions to euthanize seniors. That alone almost killed it. Let's return the favor and harden base sentiment by rabble rousing (respectfully, of course) in the R town hall meetings.
That will work on two levels. One, it will make it harder for the R politician to vote for meaningful reform, and two, reports of the meetings will resonate with the Browns and reinforce their antipathy for the R party. It's a win-win for Democrats.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What are we going to do about this?


http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/boise/2013/jan/18/idahos-fast-growing-hispanic-population-shows-education-gains/

Given that hispanics favor Democrats by substantial margins nationally, it seems likely that this fast growing sector of Idaho's population is fertile ground of growing Idaho's Democratic Party.  I wonder what the IDP is doing about this.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

That's a bummer, man

I see that Governor Otter is proposing  a 0% raise for state employees, and yet he's also proposing a $141 million tax cut for businesses and to stash some dough in the rainy day fund.  That's got to be demoralizing for state workers.  In the last few years they've gotten only one raise, last year's 2%.

Monday, December 17, 2012

On deadly selfishness

I can't add much to the conversation about the massacre in Connecticut, but I've a couple of thoughts about the gun control issue.

First off, it seems obvious that we need to do something to restrict the ability of lunatics to kill people in mass quantities.  Someone suggested that instead of talking about gun control, we need to focus on massacre control.  Things like banning 30 round magazines, and assault rifles, and Teflon-coated bullets, that kind of thing.

Gun ownership in America is, as I understand it, founded on two basic ideas.  One, that hunting is legal, and for some people even necessary, and therefore weapons suitable for hunting should be allowed.  I agree with this.

Two, it is necessary for the populace to be armed in order to prevent a tyrannical government from trampling citizens and enslaving them.  Well, that was important in the revolutionary period, and I think it is a reasonable idea even now, though it seems pretty far fetched.

For point one, it is obvious that you don't need a 30 round clip for a pistol.  Nothing you hunt needs that.  And you don't need an assault weapon for hunting.  The normal rifle is just fine for hunting.

Now I suppose that if you're arming yourself for an armed insurrection then you might need assault weapons and extremely deadly pistols and bullets, but do we really think we ought to let our population gear up for an armed insurrection?  Really?  Isn't it enough to have a populace armed with normal rifles and pistols?  As far as I know, there were no 30 round magazines or assault rifles in the revolutionary war period.

I hear gun nuts say stuff like, "yeah the massacre was horrible, but why blame people who didn't do it and take away their guns."  In other words, lip service tothe tragedy, to the suffering of the victims and their families, then an immediate pivot to me me me me.  Don't even think about something that might affect me me me me.  I didn't do it.  I should get to own all the firepower I want, and be as irresponsible with it as I please.  It's all about me me me me.  Don't make me me me suffer.  I want to contribute NOTHING to a safer society.  There IS NO REASONABLE RESTRICTION if it affects me me me me.

Selfish jerks.

Update:  Oh, and I think the blood of those murdered children is on Wayne LaPierre's hands.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A red letter day

Today is a great day, and I can't wait to get home tonight and watch TV.  Here's why:  the CALM act.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Good job, Guv

Governor Otter made the right decision on the health care exchanges.  Quite sane, indeed.

I'm still uncertain how the legislature plays in here, but I've no doubt that some legislators will engage in mischief on the subject.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chumming, baiting, whatever

An article in the Statesmen tells how Charles D. Steele of Hagerman, a former volunteer president of the Hagerman chapter of Ducks Unlimited, was caught baiting ducks and geese onto his property by sprinkling corn in his fields.  He has been sentenced to a year of supervised probation, a $2,000 fine and 25 hours of community service in U.S. District Court, and he can't hunt in the US for a year.

Okay.  Seems legit.  And then there's this quote:
However, Idaho Ducks Unlimited leaders said their group condemns Steele's hunting tactics, not only as a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act but also the ethics of fair-chase that govern hunting.
Mond Warren, the group's regional director in Nampa, called corn baiting akin to using salt to lure big game such as elk nearer to hunters' scopes.
Okay, this guy says that baiting violates the ethics of fair-chase that govern hunting.  Agreed.  But here's what I don't get; why is bear-baiting okay?  A hunter puts out food for the bears, gets them used to coming to get it, then lays in wait and shoots the bear when it shows up.  Why doesn't that violate the ethics of fair-chase?



Monday, December 03, 2012

Tick tock

States were supposed to decide whether to set up their own medical insurance exchange by November 14th or thereabouts, but got a last minute extension until December 14th.  And by last minute, I mean they came within a day of the deadline.

Since the deadline was at hand, don't you think that most governors had made a decision?  Now, I can see taking advantage of additional time to learn more information or get politics lined up a bit better, but I have to believe they had made their minds up.

So I'm wondering, what is Governor Otter's reason for withholding his decision?  His advisory panels have completed their work and made their recommendations, so what is he waiting for?  Won't it be more likely to become an issue for the legislature if he waits til the bitter end?  Had he decided in mid November, that's 7 weeks for things to settle out.  If he waits until Dec 14, there will be only 3 weeks until the legislators hit town.

My premise is that he knows what he intends to do, and has known since last month.  The question then becomes, what does he gain by waiting to announce his decision?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Online learning

Tom Luna and his supporters sold one of their education reforms by pushing the idea that Idaho needs to prepare its children for online learning.  That's about all that came through to me, though I wasn't following the issue all that closely.

I never did hear why we need to prepare our children for online learning.  Perhaps it's so they can go on to enroll in one of the for profit online colleges.  I hope not, because those colleges are great at lending money and getting their students to go into debt to pay for the online learning, but they're not so great at graduating students.

Some suggest ("some;" Ha!) that Luna was mostly just trying to help his buddies in the online learning world by ensuring that Idaho provided a constant revenue stream.  Some even went so far as to suggest that Joe Scott contributed so heavily to the effort because of his interests in online learning businesses.

I'm not sure about the ostensible reasons, but I do know one thing.  The whole idea that we need to prepare kids for online learning is a crock of shit, and it stinketh.

Kids have taken to technology like a duck to water, so using a computer isn't a new, additional skill that we need to start up.  And one you can use a computer, the online learning is just another website or DVD, like any other.  There are no secret and arcane rituals or incantations that kids must know to drink of the well of knowledge online, other than perhaps "YouTube."

It's just silly.  Either Luna has no clue about the interests and abilities of kids, or he's got some hidden agenda.  Mandating that kids must take online learning courses to ensure that they can later take online learning courses is just a waste of time.  Why don't we mandate that kids must take breathing lessons to ensure that later on, they can breath?  That makes as much sense as Luna's laws.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

HP

Years ago I used to like Hewlett Packard.  Had (in fact, still have) an HP 12C calculator, and an HP computer or two.  But once HP got greedy and started grossly overcharging for the ink in their printers, well, they lost my good will.

They're struggling these days, trying to recover from serial blunders by a series of CEOs.   And now I see that HP is alleging that a company it acquired, Autonomy, defrauded it by hiding the true amount of its sales history.  In other words, those geniuses on th board of directors approved a fraudulent deal.

So, just for grins, I checked out how much the directors get paid.  Turns out, an obscene amount, between $300,000 and $400,000 a year.  For 34 meetings a year.  Roughly $10,000 per meeting.  I know, I know, they do work outside the meetings.  Right.

There are 10 directors, so that's a bill of about $3,500,000 a year.  And for that they get the kind of advice that hires a succession of loser CEOs, and enters into multiple bad, or even fraudulent, transactions.

What's really going on is just rich guys logrolling, helping each other out, tossing each other lots of unearned cash.  Cronyism.  Disgusting.  Serves them right.  I'm just sorry for the employees who will take a hit.