D&J’s excellent adventures: Idaho State Capitol

I have never before lived in a state’s capital city. For me, it has never been a casual errand to visit a capitol. Now it is–and it’s more casual than I imagined it could be.

In Boise, the Capitol is laid out at the end of a very long, straight arterial that crosses the Boise River. Unshockingly, it is called Capitol Boulevard. Few capitols are easy to miss (Colorado’s gold-leaf dome is more like impossible to miss), but Idaho’s takes the visibility cake.

It also eats your accessibility cake, at least in terms of parking. We parked at a meter one block away. From the outside, it looks like an unremarkable American capitol with the traditional central dome. Given Idaho’s mining history, I’m surprised they didn’t gold-leaf this one. Maybe they thought it was too flashy. We climbed the high stairs. The only evidence of exterior security was an Idaho State Police cruiser pulled up outside, far enough away that I couldn’t see if it was occupied. If it was, its occupant showed no interest in us. I prepared for the metal detectors, interrogation, grim-looking State Police officers demanding ID, asking our business and making sure we went nowhere unescorted by an armed peace officer.

Nothing. No one. Silence.

Not just no police; no hired security. No one. We could have stripped to the skin and reclothed ourselves at some leisure without being interrupted (although I’ll bet there’s a security cam that would have thwarted that). Just a sign letting you know that this was the Idaho State Capitol, for those incapable of figuring that out on their own, and ‘please be respectful.’ (At least they did address the issue of nudity, however obliquely.) A map placard showed you how to find whichever office you sought: Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, House Chamber, etc.

“So we can just wander around?” asked Deb.

“Yeah, evidently no one cares, but obviously we can’t go in any offices.”

“Screw that. I want to see ’em.”

“Not this again.” Deb is unshy and unprone to embarrassment. I am shy and very easily embarrassed in some ways, especially by excessive forwardness. I was in no way dressed to walk into any official office. Deb simply does not care.

A person or two happened by as we ogled the striated scagliola (a form of synthetic marble) Corinthian columns supporting the dome, the interior top of which we could see. Something up in the top looked like R2-D2, and I said so. She didn’t even call me a ‘nutburger.’ There was a lot of natural marble as well: some greyish with charcoal veining, some crimson with cream veins (Oklahoma fans might say that’s the only thing would like to remember about Boise, heh).  Credit to the designers, builders and recent remodelers: it was majestic, exquisite without being gaudy. They let the marble speak for itself.

We wandered down the east wing, then the west, where the door to the Governor’s office reception was open. No one attempted to prevent our entrance. A fiftyish bleach-blonde receptionist smiled at us while on a phone call. Immediately to our left was the Governor’s office, no one present. Farther away and to the right was a desk with a State Police officer doing something on a computer. Minesweeper, perhaps, maybe Candy Crush. Deb wandered back to his doorway and pointed to a shadow box full of bullets (not rounds) on the wall behind him. “Are those bullets that were used in action?” she asked as I winced. He said it was just a display of various calibers.

Now the receptionist was off the phone. “So is the Governor a Republican?” asked my bride. Oh, good lord. I shrank away and took intense interest in a map of Idaho by counties, made of various forms of polished stone.

It was like Deb had asked ‘Did Jesus really exist?’ The receptionist looked aghast at the question, almost drew herself up a bit. “Yes, definitely.” The Capitol needs a trap door exit capable of rescuing up hefty, bearded visiting husbands at times like this.

“You’re in Idaho now,” added a suited baldhead awaiting some form of audience, opening stigmata on the hands of Captain Obvious.

These days, you can’t get elected janitor in most of Idaho without the letter ‘R’ after your name. A dead Republican would beat a live anything else; even a Republican dog (live or dead) would beat a human from another party. If he ran as a Republican in Idaho, Charles Manson would beat Mother Teresa (unless the latter were also a Republican, or unless Charlie came out on a platform of forcible gun confiscation and raising the minimum wage). Nothing factors but the party, and the only valid platform question is the candidate’s degree of passionate gun love. The challenger who boasts about having actual sex with his or her forty-five firearms has a big advantage over the incumbent who owns and adores a mere forty boomsticks, and only uses them for boring, lukewarm, lefty stuff like hunting, fishing, biking, militiaing, self-defense and making donuts.

“Is that his office?” Deb asked, pointing. Somewhere, Captain Obvious wept.

“Yes, he’s not in right now.” So one could determine by the lack of a vaguely georgewbushian presence named ‘Butch’ behind the desk.

“What part of the state is he from?” I asked.

“Right here. Caldwell, actually,” answered the receptionist. (Only later did I read that, when popped for DWI, his earlier varioush excshuses to the nyshe offisher included a claim that he had soaked his chew with Jack Daniels. Evidently time heals these sorts of political wounds in Idaho.)

Deb’s curiosity satisfied, we wandered back down to the east wing. The Lieutenant Governor’s office had a keycard entry, making it evident that one had to have a reason for entry beyond simple sightseeing. Considering how little most lieutenant governors actually do, that seems pretentious. In Washington, we had a former Husky football coach as Lieutenant Governor for so many years that he was not so much an official, but a habit. One year, the Libertarian candidate’s platform was that if elected Lieutenant Governor, she would immediately move to abolish the office and save the state several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Delighted, I voted for her.

On our way back around the rotunda, a police officer stepped out of an elevator. “I wonder why they don’t have any security,” said Deb. “Maybe I can ask that guy.”

Oh, good lord. I whispered, “Deb, that’s not a ‘that guy.’ That’s an Idaho State Police officer.”

“I don’t care.” She means that. Over she went. “Excuse me. How come there isn’t any security at the entrance?”

The officer, a tall, close-cropped young blond, replied without missing a beat. “Because the Governor believes that this is the people’s house.” We thanked him and left. Far out in front of the building is a statue of Lincoln containing the Gettysburg Address. Abraham Lincoln is important to Idahoans. In 1863, he signed the act proclaiming Idaho a Territory. The day he was assassinated, he had considered issues related to Idaho. There’s also a statue of someone I’d never heard of, cited for ‘reimposing the rule of law.’ I’ll bet that if I looked it up, that was code for ‘busted unions by force.’ Some things don’t much change, some places. Trying to start a union in Idaho is like trying to start a gun show in England, or a pork barbecue place in Saudi Arabia.

And that was our trip to the Idaho State Capitol.

I wonder, in how many states, one can do just as we did without anyone even seeming to consider it odd.


I’m including a bonus section here. I rarely talk about the spam I get, because WP catches most of it. I just have to push the flush handle once a day or so. The need to approve the first post from a new commenter eliminates nearly all spam. The typical spam is either a page of Chinese characters, or a short note in bizarre English that says something like ‘I very much to appreciate your web page which is the helpfulmost and fastest of its type.’ Some are borderline gibberish. If a character gets left out, or something else screws up, one gets an illustrative view. Here’s one such that I saved:

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hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough ffor me. {In my opinion|Personally|In myy view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web
owners} and bloggers made good content as yyou did, the {internet|net|web} will bbe {much
more|a loot more} useful thazn ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or
{newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?
{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in order that} I{may just|may|could} subscribe.


You probably drew the same conclusion I did: someone’s got a spam generator, and it’s set up to vary the text just enough to elude some Googling. Somehow, the sender left off a character and it sent the template rather than the letter the template was meant to generate. The English will seem almost right, but not quite be. And now you can see how it ends up that way.


2 thoughts on “D&J’s excellent adventures: Idaho State Capitol”

  1. The Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City is much the same. No security but the place is always packed with school children October through May.
    I half expected Deb to get past the secretary and actually meet the Governor. I hoped anyway.


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