Spuds & Duds 2011 

Looking back on the highs and lows of the year that was

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The Three Men and a Baby We Send to Congress

Cut the Crapo

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Now and then, I see signs in Mike Crapo's job performance--he's one of our senators, remember?--that hint he may not be quite as cravenly partisan, thoughtless and self-serving as the rest of our congressional rat pack. We don't know exactly what part he played in the Gang of Six, that bipartisan group that tried to find an answer to the debt ceiling hell the tea bagger Republicans put the nation through. But at least Crapo was part of a potential solution--no matter that it failed--while virtually everyone else in his party were parts of the problem.

A Mouth Bigger than the Head It's On?

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Nobody should be shocked that Sen. Jim Risch, Idaho's most diminutive member of our congressional delegation, likened the Environmental Protection Agency to the Nazi Gestapo. After all, the EPA has become a favorite dog to kick by Republicans hoping to get some attention. And we Idahoans all know how desperately Li'l Jimmy craves attention, don't we? Besides, as we review the history of the civilization, we often find it is the smallest of men who tell the tallest of tales.

But then Risch claimed he couldn't remember saying such a wild and douchy thing. He promised to ask his staff if the absurd comparison had indeed come from his mouth. His explanation: "I'm not going to deny [I said it]. They were taking notes. I wasn't."

That's right. Risch ain't getting paid to take no stinking notes, and who do we think we are, expecting an important dude like him to know what's coming out of his own mouth?

Raul Labrador

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

When news came that Rep. Raul Labrador's immigration bill contained language he lifted word-for-word from a California Democrat's hiring bill, it didn't come as much of a surprise. After all, this Tea Party parrot head wasn't exactly elected for his original thinking, was he?

But then, we heard about the $34,000 that he paid his wife for the at-home, part-time job of keeping the books for his re-election campaign. In other words, if you've donated any money to keep Labrador in his $174,000-a-year congressional gig--where for the past year his only apparent function was to be a cog in the obstructionist wheel that has kept Obama from cooking up jobs for Americans, maybe even you--then you'll be happy to know (or not) that some fraction of that donation went into Mrs. Labrador's purse.

But as we contemplate just how much money Labrador requires to carry on as he does, let us not overlook the accomplishments he's racked up in his mere year among the Beltwayers. Aside from voting lock-step with the John Boehner/Eric Cantor gang, he was also one of the first to demand that Attorney General Eric Holder resign over the Drug Enforcement Agency policy of allowing guns to pass into the hands of Mexican murderers so they could be traced. Never mind that the policy came into being during the Bush administration. As with most of the yapping Tea Partiers all of history began for Labrador the day Obama took the oath of office. So anything that happened prior to that day couldn't have really happened, get it? Understand? If you do, it's a pretty sure bet you voted for Labrador.

Mike Simpson

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

We mustn't get too enthusiastic about awarding Rep. Mike Simpson a Spud for what seems to be his willingness to consider new taxes in the effort to bring the raging deficit under control. After all, this is the same guy who wouldn't have dreamed of not giving George W. Bush every tax cut for the wealthy and every unfunded war that Texas twit asked for.

So no, let us not get overly gaga that he recently proposed that raising a tax or two may be a necessary part of the ultimate solution. Yet, it is mildly encouraging that our dentist-turned-career politician is one of the handful of Republicans seemingly willing to buck the no-tax pledge Grover Norquist holds over the head of the GOP like a sledge hammer over a slaughterhouse hog. So I give him a Spud, even though I don't expect him to hang onto it for long.

Oops! That didn't take long. I just came across the news that Simpson was not only pushing a bill to hand wolf management entirely over to the states, which would be like putting a pedophile ring in charge of the Boy Scouts, but he was a leader in the effort to cut funding and curtail the authority of the EPA.

Mr. Simpson, we'll have that Spud back, if you please, and in the same shape it was when I gave it to you. Oh, and by the way, I sure hope you were a better dentist than you are a Congressman.

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND


click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Remember that bowl game they throw here in Boise every year? They used to call it the Humanitarian Bowl, I suppose it was because they wanted the world to think that Boise is some kind of winter nesting grounds for humanitarians.

However, maybe it's because the governor and the Legislature stomped any local humanitarianism to death under the cover of balancing a budget on the backs of schoolkids and sick poor people, but the name of that football game has been changed. It is now called the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl. Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

The Idaho Potato Commission is paying $2.5 million for the name, and I wonder if it's only a coincidence it decided to do this to ratchet up the PR a notch in the wake of an immense study of dietary habits, which has found that potatoes in any form--from plain boiled spuds up to Pringles--play an undeniable role in the gross and growing obesity among Americans.

Actually, the potato people only paid to name the bowl game for six years. So if you have something to hype and enough money, maybe you can outbid them for the right to name the 2017 game. Think of the possibilities: The Rotor Rooter Bowl. The Dr. Larry's Garden City Chiropractic Bowl. The AAAA Bail Bonds Bowl.

GBAD ain't getting any GBetter

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

The endless bickering between board members of the Greater Boise Auditorium District leaves me to wonder: How can whatever is causing these people to go after one another like five cats in one gunny sack be so contentious and so boring at the same time? Honestly, it's tough keeping up with whatever they're fighting about from one week to the next, and it's even tougher to find something in it all to give a damn about.

Dream On Spud: The Hole

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

You know The Hole I'm talking about. In fact, that's probably some of your trash littering the bottom of it.

Word came out this year that, supposedly, a developer is finally going to build something there. Something beautiful, I'm sure. An edifice for the ages, that's what I'm hoping for. And then, the same developer is going to go up to Cascade and fix the Tamarack mess, once and for all. That's what I heard, anyway. And after that, he's going to put up a world-class convention center on those rocky lots downtown and donate it to the city. And then ... and then ...

Cronies in Over Their Heads

It's Not Who You Know, But How Lit Up You Are

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

"I thought, boy, here's a young man with a sparkle in his eye who steps right up and takes charge." --Former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, referring to his first meeting Josh Tewalt in 1999.

That sparkle in Josh Tewalt's eye led to a career in elevated political circles, culminating in his landing a job as deputy chief of the Idaho Bureau of Prisons, a position for which Tewalt has next-to-zilch in training or education and for which he gets paid more than $83,000 a year. However, with a few less-influential friends, Tewalt might have done his stint with the Bureau of Prisons on the other side of the bars, having been tagged with three DUIs since 2002.

Might explain how those eyes got so sparkly, ya think?

Labored Logic

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Roger Madsen is one of those longtime Idaho float-abouts who keep showing up in state government positions. For the last 16 years, he has been the director of the Idaho Department of Labor. Under normal conditions, we'd never hear a word out of him, since the Department of Labor's main function in Idaho is to make sure labor understands that nobody in power really gives a good goddamn about them.

But this fall, Madsen made a splash by lobbying our congressional delegation to oppose any extension of unemployment benefits. His argument is familiar conservative labor theory, that common people are so lazy and weak of will that they will choose to sit at home and collect any sort of assistance whatsoever, from food stamps to disability to unemployment, rather than go hunt for a job whether there are any jobs to be had or not.

Luckily for Madsen, he always seems to have a job, and at our expense.

Semanko Semantics

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Gad, these government parasites make me want to just puke. Why don't they go get a job instead of living off the taxpayers. Damn bums!

Oh, excuse me. I imagine you thought I was talking about some welfare queen or the 99 percenters? No, no--I'm talking about these ultra-right tea bagger birds who preach the anti-government line like it's being fed to them on a tape loop, then find one pool of taxpayer money after another in which to dip themselves.

Take Norm Semanko ... puh-leese! He is currently the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, and from that exalted height, he spews a steady stream of "no-taxes/less government" drivel. At the same time, he ran to be mayor of Eagle and tried to explain how he was able to finagle $176,000 worth of loans out of the Idaho Water Users Association, an agency funded in part by state tax dollars and of which he is the executive director.

Semanko didn't become mayor of Eagle, but I have my doubts that means he will go get an honest job. Like so many of his tribe, it's easier hanging around the government tracks, picking up scraps and appointments that fall off passing crony trains.

Time Travel

click to enlarge ADAM ROSENLUND

Stephen "Jay" Olson, an internationally recognized quantum physicist originally from Nampa, has proposed that traveling through time may be possible. Wow! Doesn't that just blow your mind? I mean, who would have thought that somebody from Nampa could turn into a quantum physicist? Sure, it's easier imagining a John Bujak, Wayne Hoffman or Tom Luna coming out of Nampa, but a quantum physicist who's doing ground-breaking work on a global stage? Way to put the 2C on the map in a positive way.

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