Writings and observations

The Red State Rebels blog (proprietor, Julie Fanselow) has nominated state Representative Steven Thayn as the best choice, for the moment, as “the most extreme legislator” in Idaho. The farthest out to the edge, that is, on his side of the philosophical divide, which probably would mean the farthest out (on his side of the face) among the northwest’s 347 state legislators.

She has good evidence. Her assessment seems the sounder when you add to the material she already provides.

Which starts with a snippet of committee debate quoted in today’s Idaho Statesman, suggesting taxpayer money could be saved if school hours were cut to four hours a day.

She goes on to a nice find, a website apparently set up for Thayn (nicely designed by a Nampa web company, Impact Design Studios). The Committees of Correspondence site (with the quite different url http://www.reclaimidaho.com/) suggests a larger organization, but Thayn is the only person mentioned. If there’s more to it than the web site, that’s not made clear; and most parts of the web site are empty, apart from several pages of philosophizing and a plea for $25 contributions. A newsletter is on offer, but samples are not. Red State Rebels has links to a number of quotes from it.

To that, we have some additions.

A Laird Maxwell web site quotes “a letter by Steven Thayn of Emmett, Idaho, who has started a group named the “Committees of Correspondence” (www.reclaimidaho.com); a revival of an effective American Revolution group. He is engaging to prevent a bloated school bond from passing in his area.” Part of it says, “A deregulated system would improve education. If they were really interested in the children, they would call for the children to stay home with their parents until they were 10 years old. I am tired of the same old retoric.”

This gets more explicit where he signs on as a supporter of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State!. His statement there says, “I am a school teacher, farmer, lover of freedom. I cannot see how freedom can long exist if the government has the power to determine what the people should know. Why I Signed: Freedom is dependant upon the people telling the government what to do. If the government controls what the people should know, this upsets this relationship and the state becomes all powerful.”

To put in context, you need to know a bit about the Alliance. Wikipedia describes it as “one of the largest U.S. advocacy organizations supporting an end to government schooling. Since the early 1990’s, the group has been gathering signatories to their proclamation, which states ‘I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.'” We reviewed the signatories in Idaho (262), Oregon (654) and Washington (921) and found no other state legislators or major office holders.

Most of them probably don’t want to go on record as advocating the destruction of the public school system.

On its website, its list of lead supporters is headed by Ed Crane, president of the Cato Institute. If he and it sound familiar, they should: They’re involved with a wide range of hard-right organizations, including the Americans for Limited Government, the group that last year tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to foist an array of hard-right initiatives on states across the country. The Alliance is, in other words, part of the network.

The clincher, though, may be this.

From a report on the United Vision for Idaho site: “New District 11 Representative Steven Thayn reacting to the report from the Idaho Summit on Hunger (in an e-mail): ‘Hunger is not always a negative as the report indicates. Without hunger or the threat of hunger probably half of humanity would not get up in the morning and go to work. Hunger is one of the great motivators of humanity. It is one of the tools that I used as a parent to encourage my children to do their choirs [sic] as young children. When used properly, hunger can motivate people so they can experience the joy of work and accomplishment.'”

A take on people and society, we suspect, that may strike even most Idaho legislators as just a bit . . . different.

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Idaho

Kitsap Map/WSDOTFor a time there seemed to be some doubt about where the people of Kitsap County stood on the prospect of a NASCAR track and associated facilities located on their peninsula. Their – it has to be said – transportation-strapped peninsula, where major bridge access is about to get costly, where ferry services seems to be a matter of increasingly intense negotiations.

So maybe the report today in the Tacoma News Tribune about the unveiling of 20 legislative backers of state funding which would be key to development of the track, a group led by Representative Geoff Simpson, D-Covington, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The key point wasn’t that 20 signed on. (Remember, in Washington that’s 20 of 147 – 13%.) It’s that no one from Kitsap County, or anywhere especially close to the proposed track location, is among them.

The paper notes: “Nearly all of the Kitsap County legislators are actively opposed. State representatives from Pierce County have been cautious at best about the idea. Tacoma Rep. Steve Kirby said a lobbyist for the track tried to get his support. He told the lobbyist the proposed site near Bremerton is a bad location because of access problems. Track opponents have said traffic getting to the peninsula racetrack would choke the Tacoma Narrows bridges and Puget Sound ferries.” And, he said, the track doesn’t seem to be locally popular.

Take that as a sign.

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Washington

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

The Northwest has not jumped early or hard into the presidential contest, in either major party, though all indications are that anyone who waits significantly longer to enter (with the theoretical exception of Al Gore, among the Democrat) will probably be shut out. For all that, not many major political figures in the Northwest have hopped anyone’s train as yet.

Idaho Representative Mike Simpson just has, with his endorsement of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (He may be the first major Idaho political figure to endorse. ) In an e-mail sent out today under his campaign logo (sorry, no direct links as yet. Romney’s campaign blog lists Simpson on his “congressional whip team” in a campaign blog post today); he is the only northwesterner among its 22 members.

Simpson: “Mitt Romney has the clear momentum among Republicans and I hope to help him expand his base in the Pacific Northwest. I’m convinced he is our Party’s best candidate and is ideally equipped to be our nation’s next President.”

Romney seems to be developing clear support in Idaho and Oregon; Washington seems a little less clear at the moment.

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Idaho

Our second weekly Wednesday chat is on for tonight at 6 pm Pacific, 7 pm Mountain, accessible off this page. (Scroll down to the right to the “nickname” box, enter your name, click the button, and you’re in.) It lasts about an hour, give or take.

We had a good discussion on a range of topics last week, so we’re off to a good start.

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