Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jim Hansen & Campaign Finance Reform

**Editor's Note: Out of excitement for the upcoming campaign of Jim Hansen, who in an announcement yesterday at the Ada County JFK Banquet threw his hat into the congressional race for Idaho's 2nd District, I am posting this article that I originally wrote for the ISU Bengal (an article that somehow mysteriously disappeared into thin air without ever being printed...) Originally I had prepared to debate this topic in the College Republican/College Democrat debate during Political Awareness Week at ISU that was a flop. I then wrote a letter to the editor of The Bengal expressing my disappointment in the debate and the College Republicans conceded and asked me for a debate article on the topic which they didn't counter. Long story short I've waited too long to share this and I find it more than appropriate to post today. Good luck, Jim!

The National Democratic Party Platform states: "It is the priority of the Democratic Party to fulfill the promise of election reform." What does this mean? Not only does this include voting system technology, it includes campaign finance reform. The Idaho Democratic Party Platform (adopted 6/19/04) states: "We endorse full public financing of political campaigns modeled on other states' Clean Money-Clean Elections reforms." What are Clean Money-Clean Election reforms?

The Clean Money- Clean Elections (CMCE) reform approach is a positive alternative to the current system of fundraising and spending in political campaigns. Currently fundraising and spending centers around large amounts of special-interest money. The CMCE approach gives qualified candidates the opportunity to run for public office while maintaining their independence from special-interest groups' obvious strong interest in public policy.

Clean Money- Clean Elections reform is completely voluntary. Candidates do not have to participate and are allowed to continue campaigning under the current system of raising and spending private money. There are four essential components of the CMCE approach: qualifications, primary funding, general election funding, and independent expenditures relating to non-participating candidates.

For a candidate to be qualified, he/she must meet ballot access requirements and the "eligibility threshold" for Clean Money funding. Most CMCE proposals require candidates to collect a certain number of signatures and $5 qualifying contributions from registered voters in their state or respective district during a specified qualifying period. Seed money (money from private contributors not to exceed $100 per contributor) may be used during the qualifying period to cover start-up costs.

Primary funding for candidates who meet CMCE qualifications and requirements that have agreed to not raise or spend private money post-qualifying period includes a set monetary amount from the Clean Money fund.

General election funding from the CMCE fund is given in a set monetary amount to candidates who win their party primaries as well as to independent candidates who agree to the voluntary restrictions on spending.

In regard to non-participating candidates and independent expenditures, in an attempt to keep it a financially level playing field, Clean Money candidates that have been out-spent by those privately financed opponents may be allowed limited amounts of matching funds.

Clean Money- Clean Elections campaign reform exists and is effective in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont. On a national scale it has the support of several senators and representatives including the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, Rep. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. John Tierney, and Rep. John Conyers. On the state level, the CMCE reforms are endorsed by and supported by Jim Hansen of the United Vision for Idaho.

The problems of campaigns that are too expensive, amid ridiculous amounts of special-interest influence, by means of candidates spending too much time "chasing" money, lacking fairness and the chance to compete, and current campaign finance laws that have far too many loopholes, are solved by the CMCE approach of providing acceptable spending limits, denying candidates the opportunity to take special-interest money, eliminating the need for fundraising, providing a financially level playing field, and providing a comprehensive package that tightens loopholes. Clean Money- Clean Elections campaign reform is a smart and positive alternative to a weak and outdated current system.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Endless Nights, Endless Forks In The Road

Suffering from insomnia for as long as I can remember, there are times when I lay in bed for hours staring at the ceiling, thinking of things only I could think about at such an ungodly hour. Last night I was laying there, having just finished this book called Kennedy and Khrushchev: The Crisis Years 1960-63, wondering how drastically different the world would be had certain circumstances ended in dire consequence. I thought about the relationship between President Kennedy and Secretary Khrushchev. I thought about the friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. I thought about these larger than life images in my head like these great leaders and how wisely they acted under enormous pressure and strain.

Eventually as time wore on and I was still not sleeping I thought about how each of those men must have looked back on those times, times like the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and wondered if decisions they had made some time earlier in their lives led to those exact moments. A quote came to mind:

Time passes in moments...moments which rushing past define the path of a life just as surely as they lead toward its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen, to consider whether the path we take in life is our own making or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed. But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And seeing those choices, choose another path?

Believe it or not that quote comes from an X-Files episode titled "All Things." There are often times that I surprise myself with things that somewhere along the line I have memorized. That one especially. I wondered about Kennedy and if he had "drifted" into the presidency because he was a Kennedy or if somewhere he chose that path as it was set before him like a fork in the road. I wondered about FDR and whether or not he understood those decisions, even the smallest ones, that had shaped his life and made him the remarkable leader that he was. I found myself wondering about Lyndon Johnson and how he may have been thrust into his position rather unexpectedly without having chose any certain path other than the path to Capitol Hill.

Of course in the insomnia I became introverted and wondered if I had ever acknowledged the endless forks in the road that have shaped my life. I came from a rather disjointed and non-political family to feel this strongly at four in the morning about Kennedy, Johnson, and FDR. I chose a rather mediocre program of study in my last-option school for having so much knowledge about Nikita Khrushchev. I've passed up opportunities to go elsewhere, to study topics that keep me awake at night like the Kennedy assassination, because I feel so strongly about being close to home, when in all reality I don't know what home is anymore.

If I had taken the time to notice each moment as it passed me by, seeing the forks in the road that have shaped my life, would I have seen the choices before me and chosen a different path? Probably not. I am a firm believer that every path we take lends a lesson to us that will further shape our character and our destiny. I know that as one of my close friends once told me, the wrong turns are often just as important as the right ones. I once got on an airplane to Kent, Ohio, only to find that home was just as good for me. That wrong turn became something amazing and will forever be a lesson I cherish. I wonder if eventually I will find myself at peace with the decisions I've made today. And I'm sure eventually I'll share with you all my plans, but for the moment know that big changes are in my near future.

In my insomnia I wondered if at the Kennedy inauguration when Robert Frost recited his own work, if John Kennedy thought about "The Road Not Taken." Last night as I lay in bed unable to will myself to sleep the words of Frost echoed in my mind:

Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"The Wind Done Gone"

A few things must be clearly understood in order to grasp the purpose behind this post:
  1. The South has come a long way since 1955.
  2. My hero of all heroes is Rosa Parks.
  3. I was named after a plantation in a 1939 film.

I had heard yesterday about this request, but didn't until about 4 am today realize the story behind it. The people in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia have requested that Tara Boulevard be renamed after Rosa Parks, the black civil rights icon.

There are about a million reasons why this is important to me, but the number one reason why this is important to the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro is that it reflects a demographic shift. Tara Blvd. is only one of many roadways with names reflecting an appreciation for the old South. Tara, the plantation which was home to the family of Scarlet O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's classic Gone With the Wind, represents an old plantation mentality that some feel is degrading to the image of women and most certainly African-Americans. This request to rename it after Rosa Parks proves that Clayton County, Georgia has a better understanding, respect, and admiration for women, blacks, and civil rights in general than they did when the street was originally named Tara.

Because I was named Tara for the stability, strength, and grounded consistency of Ms. Scarlet's plantation, I of course am attached to the Gone With the Wind sentiment, but because I am also the biggest fan of Rosa Parks, I can think of nothing more appropriate than the renaming of Tara Boulevard for the recently deceased civil rights icon.

If Parks were alive, her humility would request no renaming happen, but in her passing I believe the South, the country at large, and a movement to honor her, will allow that the street be renamed. In my mind there are two types of strength, the type of strength that is always present, a stable force always recognizable, like the plantation Tara, and the type of strength that steps up in moments of turmoil. It is only fitting that one strength be replaced by another.

As Bill Perry said in the artilce, "the Wind done gone."

Friday, November 25, 2005

TDIH: Burial at Arlington

**Editor's Note: At 6:18 p.m. I made the decision that I can't pass up an opportunity to post on the burial of John F. Kennedy. I realize I've posted three times in the last week on a Kennedy, but I also realize my post yesterday gives me a great deal of freedom in my TDIH posts, so here goes the topic really on my mind.

November 22, 1963 brought an unparalleled grief to this nation. Americans had known the feeling of loss that April day in 1945 when FDR died at Warm Springs. Americans had known the feeling of shock that December day in 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. But never had America felt as if a hope was a lost, a flame extinguished, like they did November 22nd when the announcement came that President Kennedy had died from gunshot wounds sustained in Dallas, Texas.

The days that followed the horrific trip to Dallas were distinguished by sorrow, grief, and a collective pain the nation had not felt in decades. Lyndon Johnson was sworn in on Air Force One, the same plane returning the slain President Kennedy and his widow Jackie. The United States Military was put on high alert. The nation watched as the first family was devastated. World leaders mourned the youth and courage of John Kennedy, United States congressmen moved to pass legislation important to President Kennedy, and the nation's youth were for a moment defeated.

Many times I have read the quote about Camelot and it being a brief shining moment, whenever I refer to the nation's youth being defeated, I realize that defeat was also a brief shining moment, they continued on to fight a war, protest a war, and to defend each other.

The nation watched carefully as their president was laid to rest at Arlington. Below the Lee Mansion, in a place where a time before Jack had expressed his love for that spot to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a man was buried, a mystery began, and a hope remains. So many will say that the death of Kennedy was a blow to American politics and truly a defeat, but as Robert Dallek states in his book An Unfinished Life and as I believe, "Kennedy's death was initially a triumph of the worst in human relations over the promise of better times...the grief over his loss became a compelling drive for the enactment of legislative and international gains that remain living memorials to his vision of a fairer, more prosperous, and peaceful world."

I rarely look at the burial of Kennedy in the same light as the assassination for one simple reason, the assassination was the end of a life, the burial was the beginning of a legacy.

The Most She Will Do Is Throw Shadows At You...

Recently I was told that it is not a wise idea to have a blog if you ever hope to hold public office or aspire to serve on the Supreme Court. Honestly I don't know if that is because people have access to all of your positions, positive or negative, or if it is unwise because of how much people will have to weed through to figure you out. I know it isn't because you're going to possibly reveal some illegal activity you've had a hand in. Really, who does that? On a political blog, unlike an online journal, those just aren't the types of things that come out. In my case, I'm relatively harmless. When something political is happening that I think everyone needs to know about, I shout it. When something historical is on my mind and no one wants to listen to me, the blog is a great place to project it. When something personal is happening, very rarely do I share it with my closest friends, let alone strangers in cyberspace. I can't even think of anything to send to Postsecret. See? I'm not going to reveal any state secrets here. I won't even tell you my favorite color and I've ceased to inform the world of what I'm listening to. Pretty harmless if you ask me. Ergo, the title of this post.

Someone asked me the other day if I was aware that people could get on a website that would tell them all the trivial crap like this day in history. Did I know that? Sure. I look at the Brainy History site every morning to see what random thing happened every day in history. Today I could tell you was the day President Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington. I think the intention of the conversation was to really ask me why I am so dead-set on posting TDIH stuff. Well, here's the simple answer....it makes me happy. Some events in history are a huge part of who I am. Some events in history I feel should be important to everyone. Some events in history are just a personal obsession of mine. Get over it. I'll post TDIH posts if I want to, you can choose whether or not you want to read them. Same goes for West Wing posts. TWW appears at the title of those posts. See it, choose to read, or just walk away.

My irritation stems from Thanksgiving. I hate holidays. And I guess I am getting tired of people telling me who I am, who I'm not, what I can post about, what I shouldn't post about, who I can be, who I can't, who I can like, and who I can't. Get over it. I'm going to be who I want to be, I'm going to like who I like, I'm going to post about whatever the hell I want to. Deal with it. I have. There comes a point when a person gets pretty tired of others saying things about them that aren't true. I doubt there is anything one person can do to prevent that, other than just to carry on being the person they know they are and forget what everyone else thinks. Life is too short to spend beating up on people who in no way deserve it.

Okay, I'm off the soapbox now. Enjoy Black Friday and I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Marley Announces Run

It is official, Idaho State Senator Bert Marley has announced he will seek the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. On the lawn of the capitol in Boise yesterday, Marley was introduced by Senator Elliot Werk as a candidate for the statewide office being vacated by Dr. Marilyn Howard. Marley is a former small business owner and farmer. He has taught in the public education system for 23 years and has served for almost a decade in the Idaho State Senate.

In an announcement speech to legislators, the press, and others in attendance, Marley said:

You may hear people in this campaign say that Idaho's education system is broken. I am in the classroom every day, and I can tell you Idaho's students are not broken. As a whole, they are bright and motivated and ambitious. Idaho's teachers are not broken. As a whole, they are qualified and dedicated and think of their students' needs first. Idaho's education system can, and should be celebrated for the amazing things we are accomplishing each day. As we celebrate these successes, let us look for every opportunity for continued improvement.


As an ISU college Democrat I was excited to be at the announcement, but more importantly as a former student of Senator Marley's, I was honored. Idaho needs strong, dedicated candidates like Marley. Let's win back our state!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

TDIH: Assassination in Dallas

In a space no larger than the ISU Quad, on a pedestal large enough only for one person to stand, in a time that has long been forgotten, Abraham Zapruder stood with an 8mm camera awaiting the arrival of the presidential motorcade. What he didn't know was he would soon witness one of the most publicized murders of the 20th century.

This day in history, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

For me it is always slightly awkward to preach the outcomes of the Kennedy assassination. Mostly because I wasn't there. An event that happened twenty-two years before I was born consumes my every thought on a fairly regular basis. I often wonder had he survived the Dallas trip what would have become of his presidency and of this nation. I often wonder about Vietnam, Cuba, and the USSR. I often wonder how he may have reacted to the coming events such as the Gulf of Tonkin, Tet, and the '68 Democratic Convention. I often wonder if those events ever would have occurred had he lived.

I once sat for over three hours in the place where Zapruder filmed the assassination. It was the first time in my life that I understood the phrase "view to a kill" and the first time in my life I understood the intimacy of Dealey Plaza. I've studied the assassination for so long now that Dealey had become engraved in my mind, but it wasn't until I was there that it became a part of me. Now when I think of that fateful day in Dallas, I see the flag lowered as it was while I was there (following the death of President Reagan) and I can hear trains and smell the fear in the air. The sound of car backfiring makes your heart stop. The thought of a woman climbing on the back of a car to reach for a piece of her husband's brain makes your stomach churn. It is an unreal feeling there in Dealey Plaza and one that makes me appreciate this day in history more than any other.

I've studied that day for years. I've studied his presidency for years. I don't know if Vietnam would have ended sooner. I don't know if the Cold War would have continued into the first Bush administration. I don't know if his younger brother would have ever run for president. But I do know we still would have landed on the moon. We still would have seen the passage of Civil Rights legislation. We still would have the Peace Corps. And we would still be hear having not seen a nuclear war in October of 1962. We may not know what would have happened had he lived, but we know what did happen. 1,000 days in office seems so few, yet so much we have today depended on 1,000 days.

Several weeks ago I posted the lyrics to a song that means something to me for many reasons, but one very important reason: "There was never any mystery of who shot John F. Kennedy. It was just a man with something to prove slightly bored and severely confused; he steadied his rifle with his target in the center and became famous on that day in November." This day in history is a part of every day of my life. If there weren't a mystery I'd certainly not be a History major at Idaho State University today.

There is no other day of the year that I love more than this one. Not because a great man was killed, but because a a great nation recognized an enormous loss. Had I been alive in 1963 I would have realized the passing of greatness and the passing of the torch. When I stood at Arlington and saw the eternal flame for the first time, I was overcome. As I stood there and as I stood in the historic place of Abraham Zapruder I was reminded of my responsibility to a man who passed the torch to a new generation of Americans, who protected this nation in the dark hours of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and who, in his death, united us.

We in this country, in this generation, are-- by destiny rather than choice-- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility-- that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint-- and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal-- and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. "

(Undelivered Speech, November 22, 1963)


Sunday, November 20, 2005

TDIH: Robert F. Kennedy

From the moment I knew who the Kennedys were, I have always believed that Jack was the voice, the candidate, and the charisma. I have always known that Teddy was the hardliner, the cement left to hold the family together, and the senator every young Democrat aspires to be. From the moment I knew they were, I have held a respect for Bobby Kennedy that no other member of that family is given. He wasn't the image Jack portrayed, nor was he wasn't blessed with the longevity of Teddy. Jack was the candidate, Teddy the politician, and Bobby the genius.

Today, on what would have been his 80th birthday, I know more than ever the influence of Robert F. Kennedy. Most Americans remember JFK, most love or despise Senator Kennedy (D-MA), and most Americans don't know much about RFK. I guess I'm not most Americans.

Robert Francis Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on November 20, 1925. He was the seventh child of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Patrick Kennedy. Having a Harvard education, experience in the Navy, a law degree, the title of Attorney General of the United States, and the Kennedy name, it must have been no surprise when in 1968 he announced his candidacy for President.

But as Emerson once said, "Great men, great nations, have not been boasters and buffoons, but perceivers of the terror of life, and have manned themselves to face it." Bobby Kennedy, more so than his brother before him, knew the dangers of such a campaign.

In 1968 when Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election after the surprising New Hampshire primary, there was not just hope for peace in Vietnam, but hope for a whole new generation of Americans as there had once been in 1960.

Just as that hope was defeated November 22, 1963 in Dallas, hope was again defeated on June 6, 1968 in Los Angeles. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy was a blow to the Democratic Party and the nation. The influence, however, of Robert F. Kennedy remains.

You can use your enormous privilege and opportunity to seek purely private pleasure and gain. But history will judge you-- and, as the years pass, you will ultimately judge yourself-- on the extent to which you have used your gifts to lighten and enrich the lives of your fellow man. In your hands-- not with presidents or leaders-- is the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit.
I wish I had been there that October day at Berkeley when he spoke those words. Even now, over thirty years later, having never heard those words in person, they ring in my mind. When I was at Arlington National Cemetery I spent a moment at the grave of RFK and as I stood there, humbled by the magnitude of his legacy and yet the simplicity of a white cross secluded from the shrine to his assassinated brother, the belief in me was stronger than ever that had Bobby Kennedy survived that fateful night in the Ambassador Hotel, we would all be living in a much different world.

This day in history the lesser known Kennedy brother was born. This day in history saw the birth of one of the greatest minds in politics.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

TDIH: Gettysburg

These next two weeks are great for This Day In History (TDIH) posts. Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. In 1863 President Lincoln gave his most famous address at the dedication of the national cemetery on the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
There are few speeches I hold as high in standard and reverence as I do the Gettysburg Address. Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps on the Lincoln Memorial, is the only speech that automatically comes to mind. I almost believe we have lost the rhetoric in modern American politics and culture that existed in 1863 and even in 1963. We've lost that aspect, but will forever have that example set before us by the "Great Emancipator."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Reid To Speak in Pocatello

I know I am mentioning this for the second time, but I just can't contain my excitement! Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will be in Pocatello the evening of January 11, 2006 to speak at the 3rd Annual Richard Stallings Dinner.

With the recent comments from Rep. Murtha on pulling out of Iraq, I have been watching more C-SPAN lately. This afternoon I turned on C-SPAN 2 and there he was, Sen. Reid, quoting Galatians! It will certainly be a January to remember!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Announcements!

I'm really not so sure if I should be announcing this here and now, but Tuesday night at the National Organizing Kickoff event sponsored by the College Dems that the speaker for the 3rd Annual Richard Stallings Banquet January 11, 2006 will be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid!!! There will be a press conference tomorrow at Idaho State University at noon to announce the plan.

This is big news for Pocatello and wonderful news for Democrats across the state. And for me personally it is very exciting since I just recently came around to recognizing the "political rockstar" status of Senator Reid. As I get more details on the banquet I will let you all know.

Also, by way of announcements, Tuesday there will be a breakfast here in Pocatello (Little Wood River room of the PSUB) to announce Sen. Bert Marley's candidacy for state superintendent. He will then go on Boise to announce. I don't have the details exactly, but I believe the breakfast will be around 7 am here in Pocatello and the announcement in Boise will be around 1:30 pm.

Now, again attempting to not flunk out of school before tomorrow at noon, I need to get back to some serious paper writing, but before Thanksgiving look for a series of posts to the tone of "This Day in History." Some significant events in U.S. History occurred over the next several days and they are events that deserve my time and attention as well as a thoughtful post.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Assistant Managing Editor In the Thick of It...Again

**Editor's Note: In an attempt to not flunk out of school before Thanksgiving Break, I'm taking a few days off from the blog. When I return I'll have news on the announcement last night regarding the speaker for the Richard Stallings Dinner and information on another announcement that will be taking place on Tuesday.

Not surprisingly, Bob Woodward is in the thick of the CIA leak that outed Valerie Plame. The Washington Post is reporting that Woodward testified Monday under oath that a senior administration official told him about Plame's status as a CIA operative.

And he's not citing his source...sound familiar? Looks like Bob Woodward is at it again. I've said many times that after Armageddon there will be destruction, cockroaches, and Cher, well now I'm adding Bob Woodward to that list. The guy never gives up and goes away. You have to admire his propensity for the drama of Washington politics.

Since I already have my Christmas request in for Woodward's book The Secret Man, identifying and explaining his relationship with Mark Felt (aka Deep Throat), I won't take any stabs at Woodward because I obviously like him, but I will let you all read the Post story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Housecleaning & Reminders

Just a few housecleaning matters...As you can see the blog is drastically different this morning. A couple of reasons, but the only really important reason is that I had messed around with the color scheme last night in my insomnia so much that I couldn't get back to original colors or see some of the links! Instead of just keeping on task and getting things back to normal I decided to go with a whole new (and much easier) template for the time being until I have extra time to put it all back together. That extra time may not come until next week since Idaho State is out for an entire week for Thanksgiving Break. And I am VERY excited to have a week off!!

Now for the reminders. First, if any of you are in southeast Idaho tonight there is a National Organizing Kickoff event being sponsored by the College Democrats at ISU. The event begins around 7:15 and will include a conference call with DNC Chairman Howard Dean and the announcement of the Richard Stallings Dinner speaker. Both of which are very exciting for us Dems in the red state. If you'd like to attend it is the North Fork room of the Salmon River Suites (3rd floor of the Pond Student Union Building right off of 5th street). Let me know if you need directions.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The "A" Word

Abortion has become the dirty word of American politics. Just as easily as a Democrat may cringe at its entrance into a seemingly effortless campaign, a Republican will hide from the issue when arising in any potential legislation. Abortion is no longer merely a wedge issue, but a driving force behind domestic policy in this country.

Over the weekend in The Idaho State Journal, research was cited on the topic of abortion and public opinion.

Abortion and Public Opinion
A look at the issue of abortion and public opinion:
- 1 in 4 pregnancies is terminated by abortion.
- 1/2 of pregnancies are unintended.
- 1/2 of unintended pregnancies are ended by abortion.
- 1/3 of women will have an abortion by the age of 45, at current abortion rates.
- 6 in 10 women who have an abortion are already mothers.
- More than 9 in 10 women at rick of unintended pregnancy use contraceptives.
- Nearly 1/2 of unintended pregnancies occur among the small percentage of women who don't use contraceptives.
- 6 in 10 women who have an abortion want to get pregnant in the future.
A look at the issue of abortion in the polls:
- The public opposed overturning Roe v. Wade by a more than 2-to-1 margin.
- There is broad public support for restrictions on abortion, including majorities for mandatory waiting periods, parental and spousal notification and a prohibition on late-term abortion.
- Men and women oppose overturning Roe by about equal margins.
- Younger women attach greater personal importance to abortion as an issue than do older men or women.

Source: the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

First and foremost, some women should not be mothers. There are undoubtedly children who should not come into this world at the times they do to the people they do. There are circumstances that require an abortion and circumstances that at least require the option present. Granted, abortion is not the only avenue for family planning and one that should be least used, but it should be available, something Roe provides. Until there are no longer children coming into this world under circumstances of poverty, neglect, irresponsible parenting, and abuse, in a country with a poorly funded foster care system and a even more poorly executed adoption program (whether that be church-based or not), there will always be a reason for and use for abortion.

The research suggests two objectionable things. First, by "younger women" what does the study mean? If by younger women it is suggesting 18-24 year olds, what accounts for the role of abortion and pro-life/pro-choice influence on political campaigns, domestic policy, and judicial nominations if 18-24 year old females are some of the least likely Americans to vote or participate in the political process? It is hard to believe that the attitudes of this "younger" female population have any bearing on the more traditional older generations that are in fact driving domestic policy. It may be more important and personal to younger women, but it certainly isn't far from the minds of older men and women.

Abortion is never commendable, but circumstances do require respected use. Personally, I feel that abortion is appropriate in certain circumstances. It would not be logical to ban abortion by the overturning of Roe v. Wade simply because irresponsible women use abortion as a last resort. A ban on abortion for that reason would punish other women who use abortion responsibly in cases of incest, rape, danger to their own health, and other reasonable situations. I would never support the overturning of Roe for privacy reasons and because I adamantly support a woman's right to choose.

There are women who do not deserve children. There are women who will never recognize the blessing of motherhood. There are women who should never be within one hundred feet of a child, much less have their own children. As long as there are irresponsible women not worth the air they breath, as long as there are children who live with the consequences of irresponsible mothers, and as long as there are men (from 42-87 years old in the United States Senate) legislating what a woman can or cannot do with her own body, there is reason for abortion.

Friday, November 11, 2005

11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

Last weekend I attended the dedication of the Southeast Idaho Veteran's Memorial at Upper Ross Park in Pocatello. The crowd was amazing, even in freezing weather, and was impressed at how important that day was for so many, including me. This morning, already running late for school, and in an odd mood, I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to stop over at the Memorial before I started my day. As I pulled up to the Memorial which is set on the hill right off of 4th avenue in south Pocatello, I wasn't going to stop until I saw a little man standing out on the bricks (an inset of bricks engraved with the names of those who died in service to this nation).

I usually make an effort to thank a veteran every Veteran's Day. My first year at ISU I was so privileged to be in the classroom of Herr Mussler who as a German-American served in the United States Navy. That Veteran's Day I was only brave enough to give him a thank you card as it is a strange concept to me to walk up to people I barely know to thank them for things they did before I was even alive. Today I thanked a man I work with who served and was injured in Vietnam. Also, today as I got out of my car at the Veteran's Memorial I quickly saw the hat of this older gentleman who served in both Korea and Vietnam. He shook my hand and I thanked him. I've never seen that man before in my life and right now I can't even remember his name, but I know as I stood there with him this morning I was so thankful that there are men and women in this country who have the ability and desire to serve, defend, and protect the rights I hold so dear and often take for granted.

Veteran's Day for me can often be very emotional for several reasons. First, the holidays get to me and as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas the harder it is for me. Second, eleven years ago today someone very close to me passed away. Someone who I know has played a huge part in molding the person that I am today. There are people in our lives that we just know are looking out for us and guiding us even though they aren't here with us to hold our hand and lead us on the path we must travel. There are also those who effect us in immeasurable ways when we are young and impressionable. And of course every Veteran's Day is filled with a patriotism that is only matched maybe one or two times the rest of the year. Today I know that I live in the greatest country in the entire world and have been blessed with opportunities that are not present anywhere else. I know that millions have died defending and protecting future generations of Americans who may not appreciate that sacrifice. I refuse to be one of those who does not recognize or appreciate the sacrifice made on my behalf.

To every veteran who may read this, thank you for your service, thank you for your selflessness, and thank you for your sacrifice. I, for one, will never forget it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

39...Miers...38...Libby...37...Secret Prisons...

Not to overshadow the great victories for Democrats in Pocatello, the entire state, and even throughout the country...I just wanted to mention this developing story about supposed CIA "secret prisons" for terrorists. The Bush administration, with approval ratings around 37%, can't possibly afford another blow right now. (Ironically, I believe that's what they said about the Nixon administration right before the Watergate break-in.)

If the CIA does in fact have these secret prisons the Bush administration is going to have to take the heat instead of pointing fingers elsewhere. The executive branch can't point its finger at executive agencies (ex. the CIA, FEMA, etc.) without taking a bit of the blame.

Neo-conservatives and the evangelical right wouldn't stand for Ms. Miers, neo-cons and the Republican leadership under direction from Denny Hastert won't stand for secret prisons, what's next? It's time to start listening to the base, Mr. Bush. Your village called, their idiot is missing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Election 2005 Results

WOW! What a crazy election night! 8 votes...that is all that separates Roger Bray and Incumbent Harry Neuhardt in the Pocatello City Council race for seat #5. 8 votes...I just can't get over it! The results are in with all 17 precincts reporting and they are:


BANNOCK COUNTY
POCATELLO MUNICIPAL ELECTION
11/08/2005


Total Number Voting
9,693
Precincts Reporting
17 of 17

POCATELLO CITY MAYOR
**ROGER CHASE
5,508 (57.17 %)
SHARON NILSON
4,127 (42.83 %)

POCATELLO CITY COUNCIL SEAT 4
BRIAN SPENCER
1,188 (12.56 %)
**RICHARD STALLINGS
6,234 (65.93 %)
JENNIFER TRAYLOR
2,034 (21.51 %)

POCATELLO CITY COUNCIL SEAT 5
**ROGER BRAY
3,715 (39.88 %)
EDMUND A. COOK
1,894 (20.33 %)
HARRY NEUHARDT
3,707 (39.79 %)

POCATELLO CITY COUNCIL SEAT 6
PAUL GREGERSEN
1,798 (19.18 %)
MARJANNA HULET
3,475 (37.07 %)
**GARY MOORE
4,100 (43.74 %)

Congratulations to the Mayor, Richard, Roger, and Gary tonight, but also a big congratulations to Marjanna Hulet who fought a hard fight and came far closer to winning than most expected her to. When the Democratic candidates split the ticket it's always going to hurt one or both. Marjanna ran a good positive combing and applaud her!

...And on a personal note, my candidates in Burley didn't do too bad. Congrats to Gordie Hansen and Doug Manning. Sadly, Jon Anderson was re-elected, but let me just say Curtis Mendenhall is a great Democrat and an awesome candidate. He'll get his chance.

Of and we can't forget politics on a national level...New Jersey and Virginia? Am I dreaming?
In Virginia, Kaine (D) has beat Kilgore (R). The numbers are as follows:

Kaine (D)
1,008,445 (52%)
Kilgore (R)
902,680 (46%)

And in New Jersey, the dirtiest, most negative campaign I have seen in my mere 20 years, about 15 of which I've actually known what a campaign is, was won by none other than Senator John Corzine. Corzine has beaten Forrester by approximately 10%. Wow. (That wow almost equals the Roger Bray "wow," okay, not really Roger Bray has my vote for biggest "wow" of the year!)

It's looking good for Democrats again. I'd also in the midst of my congratulations like to personally thank President Bush for getting out and supporting Mr. Kilgore in Virginia. For me, and probably many Democrats across the state (since Brandi Swindell got her head handed to her on a platter), as Toby of The West Wing would say, tomorrow is the day of jubilee!

Live Debate (TWW)

**Editor's Note: I apologize for just finishing this post now (12:15 pm). I have been working on it, but I've had internet issues at home and haven't been feeling too well. Thus a work-in-progress for those of you regular readers that have noticed.

There are few things I will criticize when it comes to The West Wing, but one of them has been in the past and even now the inability for the writers to include traditionally more conservative audiences. Realizing that not every viewer keeps watching for the historical references, the Latin lessons, and the crash course in American Government 101, I came to the conclusion last night that some viewers keep watching because they adamantly oppose the Democratic Party or they adamantly support it. For those of you who watched the Live debate on NBC last night you probably saw this comment coming...Ellen? I personally have nothing against Ellen Degeneres, but I know those more conservative viewers and those radical types (like the ones who truly believe Hurricane Katrina hit because the Emmy's chose Ellen as host) have serious trouble with the gay icon. Granted, Ellen is the spokeswoman for American Express who allowed for the limited commercial interruption, and NBC probably had no say over that, her participation in the show didn't help NBC with broadened viewership.

You've got to wonder if the writers wrote a script for a debate they were disappointed not to see in 2004 between Senator Kerry and President Bush. I find it ironic that in regard to CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), Santos voted for it before he voted against it. Sound familiar? And what about "I will not go to war for oil"? Interesting, isn't it?

Judging by the performance of Alda (Sen. Vinick) and Smits (Santos) and you could see the obvious experience behind Alda, but Smits held his own. When the word "liberal" came up and Santos came out swinging with the statement "a liberal president freed the slaves," that's when I knew it was time for hardball. I was impressed to say the least. I didn't think the writers were capable of mirroring a real presidential debate the way they had so perfectly mirrored the Democratic National Convention, but they pulled it off. Sure, it was no Kennedy/Nixon debate, but it was real issues, real concerns, real debate.

We don't see a lot of real debate these days. I recently wrote an editorial on the lack of healthy debate during ISU's Political Awareness Week and over the weekend watched a debate between Corzine and Forrester, candidates for Governor of New Jersey. That's not real debate. Real debate is when two men (or women) take the stage, hammer out the issues, and inform the public of their honest stand/platform. There were of course a few moments where the Vinick/Santos debate lacked breadth, but all in all it was a great night for NBC, a great night for The West Wing, and a great night for the Santos campaign. Yes...I am declaring Congressman Matt Santos the winner!

Sunday, November 6, 2005

City of Pocatello Races 2005

Having spent the last two years of high school in a conservative county, there were few opportunities for me to really get out and campaign for anyone. The only candidate I ever had the opportunity to support was Dan Ralphs (D-Rockland) when he ran against State Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). Running against Bedke is, sadly, a waste of time. Running against anyone in Cassia County if you have that "D" behind your name tends to be a waste of time. A well wasted amount of time, though. I'd do it in a heartbeat if someone would let me take on Denton Darrington! Anyway, I did have a point, let me get to it. Now that I've moved up in the world and have moved to Bannock County, I have the wonderful opportunity to actually campaign for some Democrats. And well-deserving Democrats, to boot.

Since Tuesday is election day, I thought it was about time for me to throw out some information on the Pocatello city-wide candidates, even the ones I don't like. Simple as that. Here it goes:

Mayor

Roger Chase-- The record of the current city council under the leadership of Mayor Chase speaks for itself. Unemployment is down and jobs have increased. There are many who oppose Mayor Chase and the current councilmen based on the City Creek issue. I would remind those opponents that the council followed the law. Mayor Chase is a good guy, I know that in politics that often doesn't matter, but in local politics should. It should matter that we as community members know that our mayor is down-to-earth and really cares about Pocatello. I as the writer/editor of this site endorse Mayor Chase.

Sharon Nilson-- Sharon Nilson's campaign signs say "restoring public trust." Call me stupid, but I'm not exactly sure what she thinks the current mayor and council is hiding from the public. All city council meetings are open-door and I would guess that any one of those council members would be more than happy to sit down and address the issues if asked. Nilson was the voice behind the storm water fee opposition. If I were sitting with Sharon Nilson my question for her would be how a rise in property tax is better than a monthly fee. In cases of large businesses they pay thousands more in property taxes versus what they would have paid, at most $600 a year in storm water fees. She would answer something along the lines of Portneuf River issues need to be better reflected in council policy than through one storm water fee. There are certain people who you wonder why they run for public office, for me Sharon Nilson is one of them.

City Council (Seat 4)

Brian Spencer-- On the City's website there is no information on Spencer. I do know, however, that he has several degrees and yet his job is pizza delivery man for Papa John's here in town. Spencer is on the bandwagon with Nilson in regard to the Portneuf River and he's concerned about the price of playing golf on Pocatello's golf courses. In the Idaho State Journal he was quoted in response to a question about growth in Southeast Idaho and what he will do to adequately prepare for future growth at the local and regional level as saying: "The growth rate for the area needs to be calculated appropriately so that we can plan for the future." I don't Brian Spencer, but I know if you're going to run against a former Congressman, you're going to need a better answer than that.

Jennifer Traylor-- A current manager at Samuel Jewelers in the Pine Ridge Mall, Ms. Traylor was recruited by Ed Cook to run for the 5th seat. The two issues I hear most in Traylor's campaign are the negative feelings about Pocatello and the comprehensive plan and how it should be implemented. The thing is people don't feel as negatively about Pocatello as Traylor or whom ever Traylor has been speaking to. For the most part Pocatelloans are proud of Pocatello. If they weren't they wouldn't be here for years, families even for centuries. Traylor wants the voters to think that there is a great deal of negativity out there, but there isn't. If you want public trust as Mayoral Candidate Nilson refers to, you've got to start with the campaign. Tell the voters the truth outright and they'll like you better. I am very biased in the 5th seat race, but I know Traylor doesn't have either the plan or the backing to beat Mr. Stallings.

Richard Stallings-- I have said on this blog many times the phrase "you gotta dance with the ones who brung ya," everytime I think of that phrase I think of Richard. He understands that he has an obligation to the citizens, the voters, and Idahoans at large. He has been this way since before he served in the United States Congress and I think even as a city councilman he is always aware of his constituency. Stallings' background and experience is what he brings to the table. Not only as congressman, but as a former director of Pocatello Neighborhood Housing, he brings both a political and personal understanding to the council that in my opinion benefits the city. He understands the role of ISU in this community. He understands that our greatest obligation in this state should be to our children and their education. The current council's record, as I've said before, is amazing. They have balances the budget after many of them, including Stallings, came into it facing a large amount of city debt. They have lowered unemployment and brought jobs to Pocatello. Not only do I endorse Richard for this record and his service, he has been for me and unbelievable strength and support in my own education here at Idaho State.

City Council (Seat 5)

Roger Bray-- I hadn't met Roger until just recently. I had seen Roger many times as he is the pastor of the Central Christian Church which is next door to where a good friend of mine used to live. When I met Roger, after all the stuff I had said about him coming out of nowhere to run for a seat that I thought belonged to Marjanna Hulet, I wasn't at all annoyed any longer at his campaign. Roger, like Richard, understands the role of ISU in this community. He supports education at all level. He also understands the importance of the INL (Idaho National Laboratory) in this community. I thought it was kind of funny that his campaign signs say "Aim High" since he's a pastor and all, but the more I've interacted with Mr. Bray and the more I've read about him, the more I have realized he really just wants what's best for Pocatello. He wants to aim for the best Pocatello possible. I think Harry Neuhardt has been an undeniable force on the current council and I admire the way he isn't afraid to put his neck on the line and tell people what he really thinks about them or any specific issue, but I also know Roger is much more receptive to concerned citizens. And...even though city council races are non-partisan, Harry's the Republican and Roger is the Democrat. For me that matters.

Ed Cook-- In Pocatello there is the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the Party of Ed Cook. Simple as that. Ed Cook will hammer a Democrat just as often as he will a Republican and he isn't afraid to do so. Cook considers his community service to be his "watchdog" approach. He feels he informs the community of the ills, the threats, and the lies. I doubt that's really true as I've never had a run in with Mr. Cook and I'm a pretty well-informed citizen of this community. If this race were run on community service alone, the only candidate in this race that stands out from the crowd is Roger Bray. Cook is running with Nilson on the idea of restoring public trust. In a statement to The Idaho State Journal, Cook said he is running on the premise that "lowering taxes and setting fair policies in the City opens many doors for removing the clouds that hang over the hearts within this community." To tell the honest truth, I'm not sure exactly what it is Ed Cook proposes we do for the City of Pocatello.

Harry Neuhardt-- Once last summer I was at a rally at Lower Ross Park. Harry Neuhardt was there and in his short interactions with a few in the disabled community I realized the reason I've never liked Harry is exactly that. He won't take the time with them that I feel they are well due. They're voters, they're just as much a member of this community as I am, and yet if it came down to it, Harry would give me five minutes of his time long before he's give them five seconds. That may sound like a very ludicrous reason to not endorse someone, but for me it's the only reason that matters. I think Mr. Neuhardt has very good arguments for expanding the economic base in Pocatello and he does do the dirty work of the council. But when all is said and done, I am the kind of person that would not hesitate to lay down my life for any member of the disabled community, forgive the biblical reference, and any one person who can't give them the respect they have more than earned and deserve, can't have my respect or my vote. It's a very non-political reason, but nonetheless the reason I throw my endorsement to Bray.

City Council (Seat 6)

Paul Gregerson-- The most interesting thing I found while reading the city's election 2005 guide was that Mr. Gregerson did not provide his phone number. I don't know if he has a phone of if he simply just chose not to provide the number to the community. Either way I find it very essential in a representative democracy that we have access to our elected officials. I could have said that I am not endorsing Gregerson because he is running for a seat I have a hard enough time picking a candidate for or because he's part of that crazy Ed Cook party, but today as I sat down the best reason I had for not endorsing him was lack of access. I can't call Paul Gregerson right now and ask him how he's going to strength the ties between the city government at the state university located here.

Marjanna Hulet-- Opposite the reason for which I will not endorse Harry Neuhardt, I would endorse Marjanna. But that is not the only reason I would endorse her. Just like the mayor being a nice guy, Marjanna is so down-to-earth and friendly. There aren't many politicians like that and I know Marjanna wouldn't yet consider herself a politician, but she has proven that she has what it takes. I've heard a million times in the last several days that Marjanna is a one-issue candidate. She is not. I thought at first that she was solidly behind the comprehensive plan, which she is, but it is not the only thing she is solidly behind. Of all of the candidates this year, she is the one I find the most steadfast, the most determined, and the most deserving.

Gary Moore-- Yesterday I had lunch with Councilman Moore. I serve on the Fort Hall Replica Commission, in which Gary is the council's representative and I've never before sat down with the guy. Moore has campaigned on the same facts and figures that Stallings and Chase have, but for some reason (a reason named Marjanna Hulet) it isn't working out as well for him as it is for them. This also may be due in part to the fact that neither Stallings or Chase have strong, qualified competition. If I were to choose a single race this year to keep my undivided attention on, it is this one.

As you can see I am more than involved with this year's city council race. After several Saturdays of campaigning and several random hours of door-to-door on lunch breaks and between classes, I can honestly say I will be more than happy for election day to come and go.

Don't forget to vote November 8th!

Friday, November 4, 2005

Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), United States Senate Minority Leader

I loved Tom Daschle. That is no surprise to anyone who knows me or was in high school with me when learning about the twenty-fifth amendment I contemplated what kind of catastrophe would have to occur to thrust Senator Daschle into the oval office. Yes, I loved him that much. I say loved in the past tense for two reasons: 1) Where are you Mr. Daschle and why aren't you fighting for your place in the Senate? and 2) Harry Reid has finally proven himself...to me at least.

For the record, this is the first time since Daschle was unseated that I have called Harry Reid by his title. This is the first time his title has ever appeared in anything I've written as respectfully as it does in the title of this post. So the story goes, I'm sitting in my apartment, half studying, half watching CSPAN. For a Tuesday that is pretty productive for me. Well, out of nowhere this unassuming, clean cut senator from Nevada, who for many reasons has never been my favorite, stopped looking to me like this spineless grandfather type and took on the persona of a man I've always wanted him to be. Harry Reid isn't this unassuming grandpa, he's the Minority Leader of the United States Senate. It's about damn time he acted like it!

As I sat there listening to the quite calm and collected voice of Harry Reid I began to notice a certain amount of animosity and agitation growing in his demeanor. An amount of energy in him that I never have seen before and a determination that I didn't see leading to Senate Rule 21. Senate Rule 21-- allowance of a closed session of congress. I'm not sure anyone really understands the magnitude of this. It means not even CSPAN is allowed.

In this unbelievably unusual circumstance, the Democrats, mostly out of protest for not being given the intelligence that led us into the war in Iraq, shut down congress. And I'm just sitting there wondering if this was a joke or if Mr. Reid had really spawned a backbone and was finally standing up for something, essentially putting his foot down.

"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions." (From Reid's Tuesday floor speech)

And just like that this quiet unassuming man, who never in my eyes could fill the shoes of his predecessor, put it all on the line. His message is, and the first message Sen. Reid has sent that I have supported 100%, Mr. President, leaders of the Republican Party (except for you Mr. DeLay, you seem to be a little busy), and intelligence gatherers everywhere, it's time to lay all the cards down. It's time to come clean with the American public. We want to know why we're in a war in Iraq, a war that we were brought into blindly and with false intelligence.

Yes, it's Friday, three days since I heard Senator Reid invoke the Rule 21 of the United States Senate, but even on Friday it's still worth a moment. Unfortunately until after election day next week the only other moment-worthy items may be some endorsements for the Pocatello City Council races and The West Wing. But...for the first time since Senator Thune took that coveted seat in South Dakota and Senator Harry Reid stepped up to the plate, something from the Minority Leader has been moment-worthy. On a week like this, that's pretty good.