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"Who cares if Botch Utter serves a full term. After all, he has not served any as yet." - a commenter on Facebook
We have received an answer (the obvious one):

My SUN NOV 30, 2014 AT 02:56 PM PST diary called Will GOP Gov. Butch Otter Serve His Full Third Term? spoke of:

Brad Little: Sneaking in?
Is somebody trying to tell us something? We just reelected Gov. Otter for four more years earlier this month. Why are we suddenly being reassured that it'll be just fine if he steps down? - Sharon Fisher (who later credited various commenters on Idaho news outlets)
Just three weeks after the election, we receive this report in Idaho news media:

Idaho Lt. Gov. Little prepared to take on role of governor

And I went on to blog about how:

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by Michael Strickland

“Of all the arts in which the wise excel, nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well.” – André Breton, French writer (1896–1996)

Professional writing is writing for reward or as a profession, or writing to a standard and style demanded by a particular profession. It involves the use of clear language to convey information in a way that is easily understood by the intended audience, and may be focused on information, persuasion or to stimulate debate.
Imagine that you are constructing a commercial building, an airplane or even a skyscraper. You might have some complex blueprints. Nonetheless, before construction begins, you need to develop a solid foundation and form a structurally sound framework. Even the most creative and ambitious designs will fail without these two essentials.

Professional writing follows a similar process. Whether you are writing a national address for a CEO or an important memo to colleagues, you will be unable to communicate your message if your style is not structurally sound.

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Children in the Boise area can read for hockey tickets and a chance to go skating! This is a great idea. It is always good to see businesses and sports teams partnering with the community to promote literacy.
CenturyLink, the Idaho Statesman and the Idaho Steelheads are teaming up with several local libraries to reward Treasure Valley children for reading over the winter with the CenturyLink/Idaho Statesman Hat Trick Reading program.
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by Michael Strickland

Constitutional interpretation claims to be faithful to neutral legal principles. However, a definitive original meaning is nonetheless saddled by contemporary politics and views of morality.

“David Waldstreicher’s intriguing book brilliantly shows the founding fathers’ republican constitution to be, in important part, central to their many evasions of slavery’s antirepublican nature.” —William W. Freehling
Black History month and Martin Luther King celebrations will soon be sprouting up, once again, around the country. With race already at the forefront of the dialogue with heated debates about profiling and police brutality, it is a good time to revisit some vital discussions about how our nation took shape.
Famously, the Constitution never mentions slavery. And yet, of its eighty-four clauses, six were directly concerned with slaves and the interests of their owners. Five other clauses had implications for slavery that were considered and debated by the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention and the citizens of the states during ratification.
Some scholars, such as Waldstreicher, place slavery slavery’s place at the heart of the U.S. Constitution.

This “peculiar institution” was not a moral blind spot for America’s otherwise enlightened framers, nor was it the expression of a mere economic interest. Slavery was as important to the making of the Constitution as the Constitution was to the survival of slavery.

By tracing slavery from before the revolution, through the Constitution’s framing, and into the public debate that followed, Waldstreicher rigorously shows that slavery was not only actively discussed behind the closed and locked doors of the Constitutional Convention, but that it was also deftly woven into the Constitution itself. For one thing, slavery was central to the American economy, and since the document set the stage for a national economy, the Constitution could not avoid having implications for slavery. Even more, since the government defined sovereignty over individuals, as well as property in them, discussion of sovereignty led directly to debate over slavery’s place in the new republic.

Finding meaning in silences that have long been ignored, Slavery’s Constitution is a vital and sorely needed contribution to the conversation about the origins, impact, and meaning of our nation’s founding document.While the compromise on representation was a critical turning point at the Constitutional Convention, the issue of slavery was just as important. By the 1830s, slaveowners told opponents of slavery that the Constitution protected slavery, representatives from the slave states would never have signed it otherwise, and everyone at the Constitutional Convention knew it. The discussion of the international slave trade at that convention underscores this reality.

Some historians maintain that Southerners at the convention never really contemplated a separate nation. Indeed, the three South Carolina delegates who voice such threats in this extract supported a strong national government. Nevertheless, the belief that their threats were serious had become dogma by the 1850s. Thus the debate began a pattern of threats by slaveowners that eventually resulted in secession.


Slavery was

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Castilleja christii (Christ's Indian Paintbrush), Idaho.
by Michael Strickland

"The earth laughs in flowers."  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you enjoy our planet's colorful adornments, you'll love this resource.

A wildflower (or wild flower) is a flower that grows in the wild, meaning it was not intentionally seeded or planted. The University of Idaho’s Stillinger Herbarium, the University of Washington’s Herbarium at the Burke Museum and Idaho State University’s Ray J. Davis Herbarium have partnered with High Country Apps to create the “Idaho Wildflowers” app, now available for iOS, Android and Kindle devices, according to a UI press release.

The juice of one makes invisible ink. Another spring-releases it seeds at a force greater than the equivalent lift-off of a rocket launching into space. Some have toxic sap that beggars in old England applied to their skin to make pathetic looking sores. Many plants were/are used by Native Americans in a myriad of interesting ways … including witchcraft and love-medicines! Some plants are toxic in one form yet beneficial in another. We never know when we find a new species what intriguing information there is to learn about it.
The app includes profiles of more than 800 Idaho wildflower species, including close-up photographs and scientifically detailed, up-to-date descriptions of the species’ characteristics and known distributions.
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Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 02:42 PM PST

Idaho winemaking history

by The Book Bear

Wine Vineyard near the Snake River
by Michael Strickland

The Idaho winemaking tale is ripe and ready for picking. It all starts with the grapes, according to the Idaho State Historical Society.

Peppershock Media Productions has developed an outstanding new documentary, not only to promote local business, but to increase economic viability and to highlight Idaho’s vineyards and wineries in the national arena. The feature length Idaho Wine From Bud to Taste Bud will explore from bud to tastebud–including culinary features. It will highlight the past and fruitful future, as well as educate and explore modern agricultural, specifically viticultural, practices by seamlessly blending the voices of those whose lives are impacted by the Idaho wine industry.

Idaho is considered, by some, part of the new frontier of grape-growing areas in the United States. The first grapes planted in Idaho were actually grown in Lewiston in 1864, according to an official state website,

John H. Thorngate Ph.D., formerly a professor at the University of Idaho, now Applications Chemist, Research & Development, Constellation Wines U.S., said:

In Idaho we're the oft-forgotten 'other' state in the Pacific Northwest. Which is rather ironic, considering that the first wineries in the Pacific Northwest were located in Idaho, and that Idaho had a nationally renowned wine industry until Prohibition, as in other regions, closed the industry down.
An article dated September 5, 1865 in the Idaho Statesman reported that a vineyard of Royal Muscadine cuttings had been planted early in the spring of the previous year (1864) and it had survived the winter well and was beginning to produce grapes.


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by Michael Strickland

This is an update of my April 29 diary: Police Called on Student Passing Out Free Copies of Sherman Alexie Book.

From the Boise State University Updates:

Michael Strickland, adjunct instructor of literacy, was interviewed by Channel 6 about his efforts to raise money to buy copies of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. The book recently was removed from the Meridian School District curriculum and Strickland wants to make sure the book is accessible to students because he believes the book addresses subjects teens are already talking about. See the report here.
From April 29, 2014:
Parents in Idaho called the cops last week on junior-high student Brady Kissel when she had the nerve to help distribute a book they’d succeeded in banning from the school curriculum.
Read about how that move predictably backfired.

We need your help here in Idaho.

Now Sherman Alexie is coming to Boise.



Sherman Alexie March 11, 2015 Winner of the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN Malamud Award for Short Fiction, a PEN Hemingway Citation for Best First Fiction, and the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Sherman Alexie is a poet, short story writer, novelist, and performer. He has published 24 books including What I've Stolen, What I've Earned, poetry and the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Smoke Signals, the movie he wrote and co-produced, won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He now lives in Seattle.

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Houston class led by Teach For America corps member;
UPDATE: 12/23/14 8:00 MST

At the same time I was writing this diary yesterday, Judy Ferro was publishing a column in the Idaho Press Tribune called: Concerns over charter schools, Teach for America.

An excerpt from her article offers a brilliant analysis of the fake teacher shortage and how this game is rigged:

The argument that our teacher shortage justifies hiring teachers with little training rankles. The state of Idaho created our teacher shortage by heavy-handed anti-teacher measures. During the downturn we made heavier cuts in teacher numbers than any other state, cuts which forced teachers to carry heavier work loads and heavier guilt for the kids they couldn’t reach. Our state government followed that up with insults to their professionalism and attacks on their rights. This teacher “shortage” was artificially and purposely created.

Ironically, TFA attracts college graduates into teaching by pointing out the professional skills that teaching requires. Their website implies that teaching for two years will give you the leadership ability to conquer the world. Certainly a different view than our Legislature’s, which seems to be that teachers are natural malingerers who must be hounded and controlled.

My original diary is below:
Teach for America takes Ivy League graduates, among others, trains them for five weeks in the summer, then sends them out into schools for two-year stints as “teachers.” Add water, mix and stir — voila — instateacher! - Travis Manning, Is it Teach for America or Teach For A While?
Nampa, Idaho Superintendent David Peterson, and Caldwell, Idaho Superintendent Tim Rosandick called this is one way to address an ongoing issue.

“There is a teacher shortage in Idaho, and for us to not take advantage of this opportunity to consider people that are interested in entering the teaching field would seem contrary to meeting the challenges of a teacher shortage,” Rosandick said.


Teach For America is one of the most controversial school reform organizations operating today. TFA recruits new college graduates, gives them five weeks of summer training and then places them in some of America’s neediest classrooms, presuming that just a little over a month of training is sufficient to do the job. Critics point out that high-needs students, who are the ones who get TFA teachers, are the children who most need veteran teachers. In fact, some veterans are now losing their jobs to TFA corps members, because TFAers are less expensive to hire, and some school teaching communities are becoming less cohesive because TFA members promise only to stay for two years and leave teaching at a greater rate than traditionally trained teachers. - Valerie Strauss, It’s time for Teach For America to fold — former TFAer

Teach For America Is ...

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by Michael Strickland

I became a co-founder for GMO Free Idaho and we have steadily grown. We have formed important relationships with local farmers, food producers, and other activist groups to help raise awareness and create transparency in the food supply. GMO Free Idaho is part of a national coalition, The GMO Action Alliance. We have partnered with national GMO awareness groups, and we are growing our grassroots movement here in Idaho through social media, speaking events, presentations, film screenings and booths at festivals and markets. - Jenny Easley
"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.'s job" - Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Playing God in the Garden" New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.
Almost everyone has an opinion about GMOs. The biotechnology industry says the genetic modification of food crops can increase yields, extend shelf life and reduce food waste. Advocates believe GMOs may be the key to feeding a growing global population.

Yet, genetically modified organisms remain controversial because of conflicts over labeling and the threats they pose to organic and non-GMO food producers. Several nations have required labeling or banned the import of GMO foods. Voters in several U.S. states have defeated GMO-labeling measures.

City Club of Boise and Idaho Environmental Forum are having a forum called: The Effects of GMOs on Idaho Agriculture with Trent Clark, Monsanto and Jenny Easley, GMO Free Idaho.
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Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA)
by Michael Strickland
Many states can no longer afford to support public education, public benefits, public services without doing something about the exorbitant costs that mass incarceration have created. - Bryan Stevenson founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A few years ago, the NAACP released a new report, Misplaced Priorities, that examines America's escalating levels of prison spending and its impact on state budgets and our nation’s children, according to

Misplaced Priorities tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. Researchers have found that over-incarceration most often impacts vulnerable and minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities.

The report includes these startling facts:

• The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.

• The nation’s reliance on incarceration to respond to social and behavioral health issues is evidenced by the large numbers of people who are incarcerated for drug offenses. Among people in federal prisons, people in local jails, and young people held in the nation’s detention centers and local secure facilities, more than 500,000 people— nearly a quarter of all those incarcerated—are incarcerated as the result of a drug conviction.

• During the last two decades, as the criminal justice system came to assume a larger proportion of state discretionary dollars, state spending on prisons grew at six times the rate of state spending on higher education.

Thus, I was pleased to see Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), authors of  H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act, commending the Senate Judiciary Committee for approving S. 1410, the Senate version of the bill.

The Smarter Sentencing Act would reform criminal sentencing laws, empowering judges to make individualized assessments in nonviolent drug cases.  This would ensure that limited resources are focused on the most serious offenders, while maintaining public safety.

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Thu Dec 18, 2014 at 02:02 PM PST

Dear Angry Democrat

by The Book Bear

The Idaho Democratic Party receives some very negative messages from those who call themselves supporters.

Here is a suggested response to these missives:

"Dear Angry Democrat,

We received your reply to our fundraising solicitation. While we appreciate the time it took for you pen a handwritten note, it still lacked specifics that we can use to better evaluate our progress and make adjustments.

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by Michael Strickland

Anyone interested in the world generally can't help being interested in young adult culture - in the music, the bands, the books, the fashions, and the way in which the young adult community develops its own language. - Margaret Mahy

Romantic and bittersweet, Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay captures one girl's experience with family, friends, and love.

Dragged to New Hampshire for the summer, Marcie soon realizes that her mom has no plans for them to return to Marcie's father in Idaho. As Marcie starts at a new school, without her ragtag group of friends called the Leftovers, a new romance heats up, but she struggles to understand what love really means.

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