Thursday, December 28, 2006

On Resignation

Someone I deeply respect sent me an email yesterday with the following definition:

res·ig·na·tion (rĕz'ĭg-nā'shən) n. The act of admitting defeat in a game like chess.

Perhaps the intention was to convince me that resigning my seat on the ASISU Student Senate was not the greatest of decisions, but I assure you, it is the greatest decision I have made with only myself and my well-being in mind in quite some time.

Long before the Reed Gym expansion issue came to a vote and long before I fought the hard fight over the compromised election and somewhat shady proposed constitution, I had thought seriously of resigning.

Several months ago I was sitting in a meeting with the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and I remember telling him that I felt that student government had quit representing the true needs of students quite some time ago. I told him I felt student leaders were in it for the money--the monthly stipend they receive for their service and for a chance at being a part of the most inclusive group on campus. I still believe that.

However, something changed with me. I started doing my job for the stipend alone. My heart used to be in it. I used to eat, sleep, think student government and I didn't care that I received a check for $325 a month. It's $325 and to me that sum of money doesn't matter. I've done more difficult jobs for less. The amount still doesn't matter to me, but in the last month or so the only reason I continued to be a senator and didn't resign was because my check for $325 was being donated to a good cause--Idaho Yesterdays.

The Monday night before the campus-wide referendum began at ISU, I assumed I was sitting in the last Senate meeting of my student leadership career. It was until Mark Bolinger, a fellow senator from the College of Arts & Sciences, asked me at the break if what we were doing with our new constitution was legal, that I realized my service wasn't yet complete. That following Thursday morning I filed two cases with the ASISU Supreme Court questioning the credibility of the election and openly criticizing the power-grab that both the executive and legislative branches of student government had participated in with the new constitution. I fought the good fight knowing my days on the Senate were numbered regardless of the outcome of either cases.

Sure, there were great victories; the most expensive Reed Gym expansion option failed, the proposed constitution will have to be revisited, and student government as a whole had to take a moment to reflect on its true purpose.

What did I learn from my time on the Senate? More than I probably realize. I learned that politics does ruin friendships no matter how hard you try to maintain those friendships. I learned that that on dissenting voice does matter. And I learned that I don't "fall in line" well. Conscience matters most to me.

What did I accomplish while a member of the Senate? Caucus is now an open meeting, I was a part of a movement that ended a $22 million gym expansion--a bill that would have been footed solely by students, and hopefully now student leaders will really attempt to define their roles. And it doesn't hurt anything that Idaho Yesterday received $1300.

My decision to resign is just that--mine. And I don't feel I need to justify it. But for what it's worth, my number priority right now is the Stallings Collection. In one year it will open for researchers and every last day of that time is needed to establish this collection as the wonderful source of Idaho history material that it is. Time is something I've been short of and leaving the Senate will afford me time to take a class I really have wanted to take and will allow me to concentrate on the Stallings papers.

Last January I was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Senate and then campaigned for the seat. My sincere hope is that my exit now will allow another student to have the same wonderful opportunity I have had.

I don't regret my decision to resign at all and my feeling on this particular resignation can best be illustrated by Ambrose Bierce from The Devil's Dictionary:

RESIGN, v. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.


I have read several horrible reviews of Bobby and have wondered if I am just so engrossed in the Kennedys that I missed it and went into the film blind and came out blind to its faults and shortcomings, but after three viewings and a great deal of contemplation, I just can't put into words how highly I recommend this film.
The greatest films are made by men and women who have a deep interest in a particular subject, event, or tragedy. Never is this more true than with Emilio Estevez. As both writer and director he has created biopic worthy of notice.
Kennedy movies are either fantastic or mediocre. The key to creating a great Kennedy flick is to not overestimate, over dramatize, or aggrandize the Kennedy. There are limits to how far the Kennedy myth can be stretched. The greatest films have involved and centered on the talents of Martin Sheen or Kevin Costner--but those are JFK films, not RFK.
Bobby opens with real footage of Robert F. Kennedy. This element of the film in addition to numerous sections that have an audio overlay of a Bobby Kennedy's speeches lend to it's brilliance. I began with chills and when I left the theater I had chills.
The film follows several characters within the Ambassador Hotel the day and night Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Each of the characters bring to the screen a broader picture of America in the 60s. Their stories are not irrelevant as some reviews have said, but illustrate the issues prevalent in 1968--Vietnam, civil rights, and women's rights. The characters are outstanding and the talent behind them deserves mentioning.
At the helm of a stellar ensemble cast, Sir Anthony Hopkins plays a minor role as a retired doorman who practically lives at the Ambassador and has greeted a laundry list of leaders and dignitaries. His sidekick, if you will, is played by Harry Belafonte. Casey and Nelson bring to the screen an element that is in itself a beautifully written friendship. And they play chess. Every minute of every day they are playing chess--that wonderful game that President Kennedy once compared politics to. Casey plays chess with several characters and one of my favorite quotes from the film came about during a philosophical discussion carried on during a match: "I think chess is a lot like life--it scares people, it intimidates them. That's why they invented chess...and you're still in checkmate."
Time does not allow an in-depth discussion of the entire cast as there are so many. I was particularly struck by the story line involving Lindsey Lohan and Elijah Wood. I've never liked Lohan until this film. She plays a young woman who agrees to marry a classmate in effort to keep him out of Vietnam. It is a truly heartbreaking storyline that brings to the surface the fear Vietnam instilled in young Americans.
Another very interesting aspect of the film revolves around the relationship of husbands and wives. Paul informing Miriam of how she should vote, Jack (Martin Sheen) discussing his depression with his wife Samantha (Helen Hunt), and Tim (Estevez) following around his drunk wife Virginia (Demi Moore) are all relationships within this film that illustrate the struggle of women in the 1960s. It wasn't until this film and Helen Hunt's performance that I truly understand the term "desperate housewife." She lacks confidence and is doing everything to please those around her with no respect for herself. It is another heartbreaking story that lends to the overall tone and theme of the film. All of the relationships in the film serve to bring out this theme of hope and faith in something that can save all Americans, a hope and faith symbolized by Bobby Kennedy.
There is so much anger in these characters. They're angry over the death of Martin Luther King. They're angry with the war. They're angry with these expectations that have been set for them. One of the greater scenes in the film involves Edward, Jose, and Miguel sitting around the kitchen talking about anger and the assassination of Dr. King. I'd give you the play-by-play, but I can't do it justice. The scenes that have the most power, speak the loudest, bring out the greater truths happen in that kitchen, the kitchen where Bobby Kennedy was killed.

My only criticism of the show, though time period appropriate, is a sub-storyline involving two campaign workers and a drug dealer in the hotel. The dealer is played by Ashton Kutcher who I just can't take seriously and placing him in this role didn't help. He is his usual silly, obnoxious self, and I didn't feel it added to the film. There is an entire scene that is basically an acid trip--with reference to LBJ and the youth of American on LSD. It bothered me. Not because it was a disgraceful act, a fairly typical action in the late 60s, but because it lacked the depth and seriousness that the other story lines contained.
I saw this film three times, not because I didn't want to miss anything, but because I was so deeply touched by the individual stories that added to the overall tragedy of losing Bobby Kennedy. In one film you realize what Bobby Kennedy was, what he represented, and what his death cost this nation. President Ford's passing and all the news coverage reflecting on the turmoil his administration faced has really brought this "cost" to light for me. Each time I saw the film I walked away with the same feeling of loss. Each of those characters looked to Bobby with the same amount of faith, hope, and complete trust. Each of those stories brought to the surface an emotional response in me, not the response of an individual that has studied the Kennedys for years, the response of a human being that feels right now similar to those individuals in the film that were looking to Bobby to pull them out of an unjustified war. American needs a Bobby now.
Ignore the reviews and go see this film. When it comes out on DVD, buy it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I have spent a year of my life getting up every morning, turning on the news, and checking the status of President Ford. It is unbelievably strange to me that I, a Democrat, respected President Ford more than any other man who has held that office.

I was up all night watching the coverage. Took extensive notes, even. This is something I knew was coming, yet I'm still a bit numb. America has lost a patriot.

There are so many things I would like to say, but I can't quite put them together. Soon. My head is muddled this morning as I grapple with a newspaper article I am writing to run on Sunday, a letter of resignation that needs to be submitted to the ASISU Senate today, and then of course the sleep deprivation adds to the haze.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Awkward Christmas Moment

My 14 year old brother (early this morning, after opening Guitar Hero for the Sony Playstation): "Do groupies have sex with the band?"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Not mine to claim, but that's certainly not stopping me from claiming it!


This evening as I was catching up on the Idaho blogs, I smiled at Julie's "full-tilt-boogie" commentary here. Julie, I totally understand what you mean! This has been an unusually busy few months and it seems like when one project is over, it's full speed ahead on the next.

Case in point, I have been "processing" casework files from the Stallings Collection for the last 18 weeks. "Processing" is an all encompassing term I use that pretty much means sorting, sampling, separating, organizing, deciphering, and well, it's much like wrestling a grizzly bear. Yesterday I completed the processing of the Pocatello office casework. This is a HUGE accomplishment knowing that I spent 3 entire weeks on box 198 alone. With the Boise/Washington office casework done, the Idaho Falls casework done, and now the Pocatello office casework complete, a break? Never. Today I dove right into the Twin Falls casework. I need to get a life!

My schedule has been this crazy since the first part of August. It's ridiculous. It has come down to me heading off to the archives at 7:30 in the morning, working my guts out, going to class, going back to the archives, staying way too late, going home to sleep for a couple hours, and then starting all over again. I have a new found appreciation for my job. If I wasn't a houseparent and required to be at home from 10pm to 7am, I'd probably never come home, rarely sleep, and live forever in nerdville.

But man, I love the Stallings Collection.

I won't be going back to campus until Wednesday, quite possibly the longest break I have taken from campus in at least a year. Of course, I brought my work home--well sort of, I have some research to do on an EPA case that I find fascinating. Maybe the next few days can be mellow. At least I am no longer completely freaking out about Christmas; I was until about noon today. I'm sure by Sunday night I'll be again a little nervous, but for the moment, I'm good. I get to go watch fourteen of my closest friends open their Christmas presents, something they (and I) have been excited about all day and I think I'll go to bed early. How wild and crazy of me.

Does anyone know...

...where Ovid, Idaho is?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

12/20/06 Non-political lyrics

**Editor's Note: Yeah, yeah...politics, I know. Soon. I promise.

I started to type out the lyrics of a song to post today and realized that I'm not particularly fond of any full song, as I have been listening to all sorts of music (mostly country, strangely enough), so I've decided to share my favorite lyrics of the week.

There's nothing we can do about
The things we have to do without
The only way to feel again
Is let love in
There's nothing we can do about
The things we have to live without
The only way to see again
Is let love in

From "Let Love In" performed by the Goo Goo Dolls; Written by Johnny Rzeznik, Glen Ballard, and Greg Wattenberg.

Call me close once again
Call me teacher call me friend
Just like the first time
Call my name
It echoes in the halls around this room
It's all you
I don't know if you hear me there
When it's darkest and no one cares
I will hear you
And I wanted you to be
Everything to me
And now I've got to learn to carry on
And I know I cannot hide
This emptiness inside
But nothing is the same since you're gone

From "Forever" written and performed by Vertical Horizon

Somewhere there's a stolen halo
I used to watch her wear it well
Every thing would shine wherever she would go
But looking at it now you'd never tell
Someone ran away with her innocence
A memory she can't get out of her head
I can only imagine what she's feeling when she's praying
Kneeling at the edge of her bed
When she says take me away
And take me Father
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me
Like holy water

She just needs a little help
To wash away the pain she has felt

From "Holy Water" by Big & Rich.

In my silence I would love to forget
But restitution hasn't come quite yet
And with one accord I keep moving forth
I stretch my heart to heal some more

From "Forgiveness" performed by Collective Soul; Written by Ed Roland.

Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the
Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me

From "Easy Silence" performed and written by the Dixie Chicks.

Thank God for those who make it,
Let them be the light
Here's to the strong; thanks to the brave
Don't give up hope: Some people change
Against all odds, Against the grain
Love finds a way: Some people change

From "Some People Change" by Montgomery Gentry.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My Least Favorite Day of the Year

I hate Christmas break. I hate it more than I hate just about anything. So, as you can imagine the Friday of finals week in the fall semester is my least favorite day of the year.

I finished finals yesterday so today was mostly used to tie up loose ends. I went to the bank. Returned a stack of library books. Started to clean my apartment, but gave up knowing I'd spend much of the break cleaning and re-cleaning anyway. Had a mighty fine nap. And tonight I've started a list of things I need to accomplish over the break.

What's on my list? Funny you should ask.

I am going to read A Time to Heal again as Gerald Ford has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I need to finish reading Cross, the latest installment in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. I will of course clean my apartment and probably rearrange the furniture. I have a stack of newspaper clippings that need to be filed somewhere. My desk at home is a complete disaster and needs to be tackled. On the other hand, my desk at work needs to be a mess--I have a lot to accomplish where the Stallings Collection is concerned. And last, but certainly not least, I need to post on Bobby.

Almost a month. I have to entertain myself for almost a month. Ugh.

What do you all have planned for Christmas?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Does anyone have a child I can borrow?

I would really like to go see the new Charlotte's Web, but I have a feeling I might look pretty ridiculous without a child in tow...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Passing of Ambassador Kirkpatrick

I just wanted to take a second to at the very least recognize the passing of someone I have greatly admired. Ambassador Kirkpatrick was the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and in addition to this tidbit, was a great admirer of Mr. Adlai Stevenson.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, a political science professor whose support for Ronald Reagan conversatism catapulted her into the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has died at 80. She was the first woman to hold the post.

Initially, a liberal Democrat, Kirkpatrick championed human rights, opposed Soviet Union communism and supported Israel.

"She defended the cause of freedom at a pivotal time in world history," President Bush said Friday. "Jeane's powerful intellect helped American win the Cold War."

Kirkpatrick's son, Stuart, said she died Thursday at her home in Bethesda, Md., where she was under hospice care.

I can't say I totally agree with President Bush (I'm assuming the AP was referring to the current Bush), but I can agree that she was instrumental in continuing a strong bond between the United States and the United Nations.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Quote of the Day: From Another TR

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -- Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Election Compromises

Can anyone answer this question?
How is changing the wording on the ballots legal? That absentee voters and poll
voters voted different versions of the ballot indicates that the electoral
process in our state has been compromised.

Surely we can't answer the legality question here on the Idaho State University campus as to whether changing a ballot language is legal; why should be expect an answer from the Attorney General in regard to the Idaho general election?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.'' --Mr. Abrose Bierce from The Devil's Dictionary

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Referendum Results Annulled

Tonight the ASISU Senate ruled the recent referendum results null and void. This is a huge victory for those of us who absolutely doubted the validity of the results based on the election being compromised and the ballot language being blatantly biased. Though I am highly disappointed in five senators who wanted to hide the Association's monumental mistake by certifying the election results, I think we are on track to have a serious discussion about our constitutional role as student leaders and are well on our way to fixing the problems that exist within ASISU. There is more to be said on the night, but I'm still recovering and know an ASISU Supreme Court case lies in my near future.

A Minority of One

Often I have refrained from commenting on student politics at Idaho State University in this medium, but now that I have taken the heat for an article that appeared Sunday in the Idaho State Journal, I don't see an ill in voicing my concerns here.

Prior to being appointed to the ASISU Senate, I had an interview with then ASISU Vice President Will Sharp and two members of the student senate. Among other questions, I was asked what I felt was the significance of the dissenting minority. Fresh in my mind from the night before was an example from the Pocatello City Council of one councilman voting alone, but surely with his conscience. I explained to those in the room when I interviewed that the dissenting voice is essential for a wise majority--my point being that without the dissenting voice, many things would easily pass governing bodies and those who voted yes would never have taken a second to think about and consider why they were voting in favor.

Following that interview I was appointed the Senate and began my campaign for election within the month. I was successfully elected to the ASISU Senate from the College of Arts & Sciences and have now served a total of twelve months. In eleven months I had never encountered a situation where I truly understood the significance of the dissenting minority. It has been this month of service that has opened my eyes to the importance of the dissenting voice.

Eight members of the ASISU Senate voted no on a proposition to expand student recreational facilities here on campus. The proposal to expand Reed Gym came with a price tag of $22 million. The price of this expansion would have been placed solely on the backs of students, increasing their student fees by a minimum of $74 per semester ($74 is generous). Eight senators stepped up and said no. Eight senators were unwilling to waiver in their belief that this project would not increase enrollment at ISU and would not be of benefit to students who would foot the cost. With a vote of 12-8, the Reed Gym expansion was sent to the students as a referendum for their approval. The referendum itself gave very little power to students--meaning it was much the same as the advisory vote Idaho voters had placed in front of them regarding the Idaho Legislature's Special Session and the resulting changes made to property taxes, but unlike the advisory vote, the collective opinion of ASISU has changed regarding the $22 million project as they have seen that the student body (or at least the 14.7% of it that voted) does not support a fee increase of this size for this project. Those eight senators, myself included, were able to expand their dissenting voice and the student's solidly rejected the fee increase.

In contrast, opposition to another ballot measure has a far different history. Included on the referendum was a proposal to ratify and adopt a new constitution for the student association, thereby rejecting and throwing out the document ASISU has been governed by since 1977. When the constitution came to the student senate for a vote of approval, the senators voted heavily in favor of adopting the new constitution and placing it on the ballot for student approval. The vote on this issue was 18-1, with one abstention.

With this issue I found the better illustration of the importance of minority dissent. Perhaps because like the vote on Reed Gym I found myself in the minority, though in this case, I was the only person in the minority. From early summer when the hope of revising the constitution was brought to my attention by the student body president, I was a little hesitant to jump on board with the idea. I never felt as if it were legitimate or ethical to allow the executive branch to author the new document and felt even less comfortable with the senate's consent of this action, but I was the only one. Never in any of the constitutional debates (and I say "debate" loosely, the discussions of the constitution were limited to short periods of senate meetings, individual and casual conversations among members of the Association, and round table discussions with the student body president held on Friday afternoons) did the question come forth regarding the legality of throwing out an entire constitution in favor of a new one--the major problem with this being the referendum, election, or whatever we chose to call the vote, would not be governed by our current, standing constitution. Again, I was the only person who was at all concerned with this.

The question arises as to my role as a representative of the students. Was I elected to represent their interests? If so, none of them were expressing an interest in this constitutional matter. Was I elected to represent my own opinion? I surely hope not and I also hope none of the 155 students who voted for me did so hoping I would represent my own opinion all of the time. Regardless, what do I do if I am not supported in my concerns by any members of the senate or by my own constituents? What do I do about my conscience that is eating me up?

I have had many things in my life outside of my control and many responsibilities extending far beyond my responsibilities as either a student or student leader, all of which have limited the time and energy I can spend on governance issues, so I will freely admit to being largely absent from campus this semester. Time constraints and lack of support largely stifled my concerns and I was not able to facilitate a healthy debate on this issue. Though I may not have been the most vocal in my opposition to the constitution, I was consistent in my votes. I voted against both Reed Gym and the constitutiton. I voted against sending either measure to the students through a referedum. I voted against the dates for which to hold the referendum. I voted against changes to our current by-laws in regard to how elections are handled. I voted against the language presented to the senate for our approval before it was placed on the ballot. I truly feel my voting record speaks volumes to my disappointment with this entire process.

Despite my votes and concerns, both issues were placed on the ballot and went to the students for approval. The only action within my means and rights was to take the issue up with the ASISU Supreme Court. Last week I filed two cases with the Court and now am facing scrutiny from every direction within ASISU. When I look at this I don't see it as a poor timing on my part. I suppose I hoped that senators would come around and realize that it is not within our constitutional duty to pass language for a ballot if it has not been written by a neutral party, namely a member of the Court. I suppose I hoped that senators would see the flaws in the argument of how we could legally ignore our current constitution in effort to pass a new one. I suppose I placed far more hope and faith in the senate as a whole than I should have.

There is a lot to be said for an organization whose most vocal opponent is from within that organization, but there is also a lot to be said for the person who can step up and say, 'hey, this isn't right.' I haven't slept in two nights, am living on Alkaseltzer, and don't know that I have more than three friends left within student government, but I now understand the importance of the dissenting minority. Historically without a dissenting voice many injustices may have been carried out against the American people. In this particular situation, without a dissenting voice there would be no limit to the injustices that can be enacted against a student body through complete ignorance toward the ASISU Constitution.

A Note on Television

The least agonizing post I could think to write for the day is a commentary on television. You'll have to forgive my lack of commentary on ISU politics and the ever put off movie review of Bobby.

Sunday night I was watching ABC's Brothers & Sisters. It was a re-run, but like all good shows I caught on late to the brilliance of the writing and just started watching (9 or so episodes in). While I was watching, I couldn't help but marvel at Sally Field. This woman is one of the greatest actresses around. She can play a stable mom just as effectively as she can play an unstable mom (i.e. Abby's mom on ER). Her range of emotions are present on the small screen always and she has remained true to herself, picking even small roles, and her talents.

The entire cast of Brothers & Sisters is stunning. Calista Flockhart returns as the highly conservative sister who has begun to question her own politics post-9/11. I watched Ally McBeal every now and then as it for awhile ran in front of The X-Files, but never really got into it and this had nothing to do with Calista. In addition to Sally and Calista as strong female roles, Rachael Griffith (of Six Feet Under fame) joins them as the stressed out executive, the sister who took over her father's business. The father was originally played by Tom Skerritt, a throwback to Steel Magnolias.

In addition to strong female roles, the brothers and uncle add a nice touch. The openly gay brother who at times presents the "holier than thou" attitude is a riot to watch. And Justin, oh Justin. If every show has to meet a quota of sex appeal here is where ABC struck it rich. His character is remarkable as well. After a recent return from Iraq, Justin is the messenger delivering the horrible news of his father's infidelity to his siblings. With a drug problem in tote, Justin is not free of baggage.

If you haven't watched a single episode of this great drama, I would recommend watching the upcoming episode (airs on the 10th of December). Rob Lowe is joing the cast!! I despised Rob Lowe for a very long time--that is until Sam Seaborn walked on the screen with the rest of the amazing ensemble cast of The West Wing. And the segway...

The writers of The West Wing never really left television. They transitioned beautifully into writing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The original TWW writer, Aaron Sorkin, is back. Sorkin had disappeared for several seasons of TWW leaving a few of those seasons barely watchable. His wit, intelligence, and creativeness had been the greatest aspect of TWW. Now, with Thomas Schlamme, they have written a wonderful show with great characters. This, too, I didn't catch right away. I'm of the mindset that all spin-offs bomb, but I guess this isn't really a spin off. It's about two television producers and their executive (played by Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, and Amanda Peet) trying to keep a studio afloat. NBS, the fictional National Broadcast System, is not without turmoil and each week a new facet of the turmoil comes to light.

It is not only smart and funny, it is dramatic with political undertones. And in addition to the already mentioned members of the cast, D.L. Hughey, Timothy Busfield, Steven Weber, and a multitude of others round out this fine cast.

Like Brothers & Sisters, Studio 60 is brilliant and well-cast. You can catch Brothers & Sisters on ABC Sunday nights and Studio 60 Monday nights on NBC.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

Last night I had a dream I was at President Ford's funeral. But it couldn't have been President Ford's funeral because I was in Philly at Independence Hall and the person in charge was from the National Park Service. All in all it wasn't strange to me to be dreaming about Ford's funeral since every morning when I wake up the first thing I do is turn on the news to make sure Gerald Ford is still with us, but wow, what a strange funeral.

Hopefully in tomorrow's edition of the Idaho State Journal there will be a piece I wrote on the Articles of Confederation. Well, it isn't really on the Articles, but it talks about the Articles. The piece refers to an argument being made regarding the proposed Constititution for the Associated Students of Idaho State University. The article is only one piece of the puzzle--the puzzle that is ISU's student government at the current time.

On a related note, this week I filed two cases with the ASISU Supreme Court against the exectuive branch of student government. This should prove an interesting case study in separation of power. Government 101 here we come.

You know how they say people have theme songs? I don't know who these people are that came up with the idea, but I've heard the argument a time or two that each person has a theme song. I don't where they come up with such silly arguments nor do I know where people come up with the time to think all this out, but if these people are right, I think my theme song should be "Standing Outside the Fire" by Garth Brooks.

Yesterday I mentioned that I don't like Steny Hoyer--let me add to that statement--I have never liked Steny Hoyer since I knew who Steny Hoyer was, but it was during the Terri Schaivo debate that I decided I could never like Steny Hoyer. That experience made me loathe Bill Frist as well.

I know you're all wondering, okay maybe you're not, but I am wondering, when I will post on the movie Bobby. Soon my friends, soon. I've been swamped and that kind of post is going to take some serious thought. I can't just issue a blanket statement like the big papers do (i.e. "...a powerful, poignant movie..." the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one of the kinder reviews of the film). I know the critics haven't been kind to this film, but there are many aspects of it to be appreciated and hopefully I can touch on those points soon.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to throw in a This Day in History tidbit--it was on this day 50 years ago that Fidel Castro landed in Cuba to launch the Cuban Revolution. From what I'm hearing, Fidel was not present at today's parade (yes, they really do have parades for this sort of thing), but Ortega is in town...

Friday, December 1, 2006

My Minor Dislikes

I'm irritated with my schedule. Monday I didn't get home until 9, Tuesday about the same, Wednesday 9:30, Thursday 10, and tonight even though I planned on leaving campus at 5 and going straight home, I didn't walk in the door until just now. And every day this week I've been on campus by 8am.

I've decided I really don't like Paula Cole. There are certain artists I've just ignored. Tonight I realized that if there was anything I didn't like about Dawson's Creek it was the original theme song--I blame Paula Cole.

Steny Hoyer. I don't like him. I've tried to be happy about all aspects of the Democrats control of Congress, but this is just not something I can get on board with.

Have I ever mentioned that the last time I wore actual boots was the same period of time in which I was in love with Adam West? Yeah, I haven't worn boots since I was about six years old. I can't stand boots. Something about them just bothers me. I don't know if it is because I feel constrained or what my problem is. The reason this is bothering me is because it is freakin' cold in Pocatello, slick as hell, and I should get over my problem with boots. I can't.

You know that "Call Me When You're Sober" song by Evanesence? It bugs me. I really like the part where it mellows down, I guess it's the chorus, and Amy Lee is singing all by herself. The rest of the song just sucks. It's too bad, really. Amy Lee with Seether, now there's another story...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

ISU Referendum

Referendum results are in at Idaho State University--the Reed Gym measure proposing a $22 million recreational facility expansion failed miserably and the proposed ASISU Constitution was passed. Official results tomorrow, but for now, the vote against Reed Gym was about 2-1 and the vote in favor of the constitution was 2-1.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quote of the Day: Are You Kidding Me?

"I'm not in favor of providing an education for everybody who wants one." --Idaho Legislator Ken Andrus (R-Bannock County)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation." --Herbert Spencer

Silence & Shoes

It is quiet in my office (or cubby-hole) and I have on my favorite shoes. Everything positive I have to say about ISU, ASISU, or life in general is pretty well wrapped up in that statement.

If you're on the campus of Idaho State University today you surely know we are currently involved in a referendum. Students will be voting on two proposed measures for the next two days--a $22 million expansion to Reed Gym and a new constitution for the Associated Students.

In my cubby hole the phone is not ringing because there isn't a phone. If I were anywhere else right now the phone would be ringing off the hook. I have been the lone voice against throwing out our standing governing document to replace it with a new constitution written by the Executive Branch. I've also been adamantly opposed to the Reed Gym project because it raises student fees a minimum of $75 a semester for the next several years. $75 is not just being generous, it is a blatant lie. It's more like $100+ maintenance and operation costs.

I just got done writing an article for the Idaho State Journal regarding the new constitution. The vote in the Student Senate, in case you were wondering, was 19-1. Betcha can't guess who the dissenter was...

Favorite shoes are a necessity. My little brother recently informed me that even in the most difficult circumstances, if you have on your favorite shoes you can at least manage. Smart boy. I have on my favorite shoes and I'm still here. Still kicking. Still speaking out. Okay, not really kicking or speaking out, but I'm awake.

Friday, November 24, 2006

On the Road

This has officially been the longest day of my life. I got home from Rupert around 10pm last night. Around 3 this morning I was sweeping my kitchen. At approximately 7:30 am I rolled out of bed. At some point I got on the road to Salt Lake to pick someone up from the airport. I was quite early to Salt Lake so I spent some time in this little coffee shop (mostly to use the wi-fi) and then all of the sudden decided I had enough time to go to a movie before having to be at the airport. I saw Bobby and it is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. More on this later. After the airport I was back on the road and headed toward Pocatello. My phone rang a grand total of 18 times on the wya home. I just got back to Pocatello, by way of Blackfoot (it is better not to ask), knowing that at 7 am tomorrow I'll be headed out again. This time to Burley. Next week I'm not leaving town--not even to Chubbuck. I absolutely refuse.

Instead of birthday presents...

...I get presents from my grandparents marking the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Here is this year's addition that I received tonight.

Mr. Melville

There is absolutely no reasonable explanation for why I was sweeping my kitchen floor just now or why I was thinking of Herman Melville, but this quote caught my eye:
"We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results."
I'm not sure I completely understand Melville's meaning here (or anywhere else for that matter, Melville confuses me), but I'm beginning to grasp the idea of those invisible threads.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I am thankful for the Idaho blogging community; Especially thankful for Jill and Julie, who I look up to in many respects and truly look to as wonderful writers and more importantly wonderful moms.

I am thankful for my own good health, but more importantly for the good health of those I care about and modern medicine that keeps them in my life.

I am thankful for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean who have reminded me that the Democratic Party is still very much alive.

I am thankful for the 14 residents, my friends, at the assisted living center where I am the houseparent, who love me no matter what. When I walk in the door they're happy to see me whether or not I have only a few seconds to say hi or if I have time to lounge on the couch and watch Jeopardy! with them.

I am thankful I have the ability to recognize that even in the most difficult of circumstances, there are great opportunities, doors being opened along the way.

I am thankful the Democrats now control both houses of Congress.

I am thankful for my younger brother who reminds me every single day of what children are capable of and what we as adults are capable of overcoming. His friendship is something I wouldn't trade the world for and has made me understand that line in Train's "Drops of Jupiter" about your best friend sticking up for you even when he knows you were wrong.

I am thankful for the Stallings Collection, my saving grace. The heartbreaking stories I've been reading in the casework files lately have reminded me of how much I truly have to be thankful for.

I am thankful we only have 2 years left of the Bush administration.

I am thankful for my grandparents. For my grandmother who made me a Democrat and taught me to love reading, even intense reading about the Kennedy assassination. For my grandfather who makes me laugh until my sides ache and who has taught me about true love because after fifty years of marriage he continues to love my grandmother deeper than any love I've ever known.

I am thankful for Jim Hansen, Jerry Brady, and Larry Grant for putting their lives on hold to run the toughest races of their lives and for showing Idahoans that politics in this state won't always be so one-sided.

I am thankful for Idaho State University, mostly the History Department.

I am thankful for a handful of friends who have had to answer their phones more times in the last two weeks than they ever cared to.
I am thankful President Ford is still with us.

I am thankful for a box from Arkansas that arrived when I needed it most. Even more thankful for the sender.

I am thankful for Joyce Carol Oates.

I am thankful for the two greatest pieces of advice I've received this year and perhaps in my entire life, one of which came from a 14 year old boy who is wise beyond his years and believes wholeheartedly that some people can change and the other from a very strong woman who I admire greatly. Their advice could not be nearly as useful to anyone else, but will forever live in my memory.

I am particularly thankful on this Thanksgiving to have somewhere to be.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

TDIH: You Knew This Was Coming...

I have a great deal to say about the Kennedy family today--mostly because Bobby opens in select cities today and tomorrow and today marks the 43rd anniversary of the JFK assassination in Dallas, but I can't give this the attention it needs right now, so instead I will share with you some JFK quotes that I've often thought about over the last few weeks:

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

If you were at Idaho State University right now, viewing the Meldrum saga from a distance, you would understand why this quote has been on my mind. (This quote I believe comes from an address at Yale the summer before the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I could be wrong.)

"A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality."

Perhaps my favorite Kennedy quote from one of the greatest books ever written--Profiles in Courage.

"The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough — more than enough — of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success."

The summer before his assassination, gave the infamous speech at American University and said this. Congressman Murtha reminded me of this statement when he lost his bid to be second-string to Ms. Pelosi.

And last, but certainly not least, a quote on the life and work of Robert Frost. Framed on my wall at home is a portion of this quote and when I think of the legacy of Kennedy I often think of how overlooked his deep love for the arts/humanities truly was.

"When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover's quarrel with the world. In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role. If Robert Frost was much honored in his lifetime, it was because a good many preferred to ignore his darker truths."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Spellings for $400, Alex

Perhaps the most bizarre thing I have seen on Jeopardy! happened today--Ms. Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, participated in the celebrity edition of the long-running game show.

Now, by just saying it was the most bizarre show I've seen is not enough, because who I am I? Well, I am a longtime dedicated viewer of Jeopardy! and have been since I was about four. My only memories of daycare have to do with television: The Munsters, General Hospital, and Jeopardy!

Secretary Spellings didn't do so hot, but that has less to do with her and more to do with her opponent Michael McKean. And maybe she was distracted by the good-looking Hill Harper from CSI:NY...who knows.

To her credit, Ms. Spellings, like any person so worthy of a Bush appointment can tout, was able to answer a question about the oil business. She knew for certain the stock abbreviation for Exxon-Mobil. She also knew a little something about vodka, but hey, that's another story altogether, not isn't it?

Her participation on today's show gave a literacy charity $25,000--more than other secretaries have given (in time, support, progress, or monetarily) to literacy and the furthering of education--I'm trying really hard not to name names here.

Though bizarre, it was highly entertaining and I commend Ms. Spellings for her brave effort.

Gephardt Fellowship

*Editor's Note: Thanks to Julie for bringing this to my attention. Every which way I try to swing it, it is just not a possibility for me to leave the Stallings Papers for the summer to to do this, but really how awesome would it be?!?!

Richard A. Gephardt Fellowship

The Missouri Historical Society is now accepting applications for the 2007 Richard A. Gephardt Fellowship. This fellowship is intended to advance research and disseminate knowledge about the Congressional career of Richard A. Gephardt and The Gephardt Congressional Papers collection. Research proposals from graduate students in the fields of History and Political Science, as well as other disciplines, will be given consideration.

Richard A. Gephardt served as the Representative to Missouri’s 4th Congressional District from 1977-2004. He served as the House Majority Leader from 1989-1995 and House Minority Leader from 1995-2003. Gephardt was particularly active in issues concerning labor and trade. He was a Democratic runner for the presidential nomination in 1988 and 2004.

The Gephardt papers were given to the Missouri Historical Society in 2005. The collection is composed of the papers from Gephardt’s St. Louis office, his Washington D.C. office and his campaign office. Of particular interest to researchers will be the files kept by Gephardt’s legislative assistants, his speeches and press releases, a large newspaper clipping file and congressional correspondence. The collection also includes thousands of pieces of audio/visual materials.

The Fellow will be given the opportunity to conduct research in the collection before it is open to the public in 2008. Special consideration will be given to those who demonstrate through their proposals the potential to attract further attention to the Richard A. Gephardt Papers.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yusuf Islam: An Other Cup

It's here:
Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, has finished his first pop album since 1978's "Back to Earth," sources tell The artist has narrowed his choice for a record label to three companies; the as-yet-untitled set is expected to be out by the fall. Islam wrote all the songs for the project, which was produced by Rick Nowels (Dido, Rod Stewart). Sources say some selections are highly reminiscent of Stevens' 1971 album "Teaser & the Firecat," which sports such enduring tracks as "Moonshadow," "Peace Train" and "Morning Has Broken."

And I must say, after downloading the album off iTunes, it is WONDERFUL!


I've often caught myself saying "when I grow up I want to be..." and each time wonder what constitutes actually "growing up." One could assume that growing up came with it some sort of age stipulation or knowledge base, but I know plenty of adults who with age have not grown up at all; These are the types of people who, in their immaturity, have no respect for the feelings of others.

Over the weekend I spent a great deal of time with my brothers (notice the plural here) and have a new found understanding for what it means to say "when I grow up." My older brother, the one I don't speak of all that often, but honestly should, said while we were in the car that when he grows up he's going to play the guitar. This is the brother who can't tie his own shoes, can't brush his own teeth, and certainly wouldn't know what to do with a guitar if it were sitting right in front of him--never mind the fact that due to an aneurysm at the age of two lost 90% usage of his left hand. This spawned a new game among the Rowe siblings (thankfully we've moved on from 20 questions) and we spent quite some time discussing what he would like to do when he grows up.

After his junior high band concert this week, my little brother stated that when he grows up he wants to have a garage band. He wants to play bass. Like most things that come out of his mouth I realized this garage band wasn't going anywhere because he'd have to actually clean out the garage. In addition to the garage issue, when he was five he said he wanted a rabbit, got a rabbit, and within a week forgot he ever wanted that rabbit. To this day I'm not entirely sure where the poor rabbit went, but I'm willing to wager a guess that it met an untimely fate. The Rowe children are notorious for their inability to keep pets alive...

Both of my brothers brought to my attention the concept of what growing up means to kids (and I include my older brother in this category despite him being nine years older than I am because he is at heart a very content two year old)--as children we have this idea that being a grown up means you can do what you want and have little else to worry about other than your garage band practicing schedule and what song you'll learn next on your guitar.

More than anything I hope for the happiness of my brothers and in their own skewed view of growing up, I think they'll reach that happiness (my older brother, I think, already has). While discussing my little brother's report card, he said something that I think I'll treasure for the rest of my life, though I know without a doubt it reflects my complete nerdiness--he said he hopes when he grows up he can be a little more like me. I am the uncool sister who would rather read a book than watch a football game, the one who obsessively cleans her apartment when he comes to stay, and yet, when he grows up he wouldn't mind being a little more like me. Awesome.

As I was driving home yesterday I was thinking about who I want to be when I grow up (yes, I still consider myself a kid and wonder at what point a person stops thinking about what they want to be when they grow up) and my first conclusion was a particular person. Then I thought about where I want to be when I grow up and the only thing that matters to me is if my brothers are close by. Who I want to be when I grow up in all reality has less to do with me and more to do with the people who remain in my life when I've grown up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Detours on Dirt Roads

When I was a kid I would ride around with my grandpa in this little Mazda pickup and we'd pass the time listening to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings in the tape deck. Now that I'm older I find myself passing the time while driving in a similar fashion, though modern technology has blessed us with the CD player.

I've made many trips through southern Idaho recently and subsequently have a few comments on music.

First, I have a renewed appreciation for angry female music. What is angry female music? Alanis, Etheridge, Meredith (Brooks, that is), Avril, Tori Amos, and the list could continue. I've never put Sheryl Crow in this category, though "If It Makes You Happy" is easily five minutes and twenty-seven seconds of pure anger... And every now and again Sarah McLachlan counts in this category. But true female anger is best represented in the first five listed. I've been thinking about what makes these women so angry and though I can only pinpoint a few reasons, I would like to thank their Disneyland Dads, crazy ex-lovers, and/or screwed up mothers for instilling in them the anger that makes my driving experience memorable.

Without question, my little brother finds angry female music disturbing and the only song he'll even listen to is Sk8ter Boi by Avril Lavigne (for typical 14 year old boy reasons). We should take his opinion with a grain of salt. After all, he is the child that climbs into my car and insists we listen to 2 tracks on the Little Mermaid soundtrack--"Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl." I'm sure he'll kill me when he realizes I've divulged this secret to the world, but he has to remember, I'm equally guilty because I own the soundtrack.

While driving my older brother to dinner the other night, I was intrigued by his choice of music. Though I don't talk about this brother too often, I should because the kid cracks me up! He chose The Beach Boys and despite his inability to finish a sentence, knew every last word to "Surfin' Safari."

Back on the topic of angry females--the latest Dixie Chicks CD is one of those that you think could be somewhere down the road labeled "groundbreaking." I purchased the CD when it came out last summer and hadn't really listened to it in several months. Today I found it to be incredibly subtle and meaningful. Speaking of meaningful, I was listening to Sarah McLachlan and for the first time ever actually paid attention to "Angel." Wow. Powerful lyrics. How had I never paid attention to that unbelievably moving song?

There's a new Bowling for Soup CD. I can't even blame my younger brother for my love of this completely bizarre group. I think I am drawn to them for the same reason I love country's Big & Rich--completely random, bizarre lyrics. I'm sure you've heard their latest single, "High School Never Ends," which has some very memorable lyrics (i.e. "Katie had a baby so I guess Tom's straight" and something about Bill Gates being captain of the chess team). Anyway, though not as hilarious as Drunk Enough to Dance, the newest CD is pretty awesome.

As you can see, I have had more than my fair share of time in the car, but have been quite entertained by music. If you're trying to keep clear of the tear-jerker type music (if you're plagued by the waterworks as I am) I would definitely recommend Bowling for Soup or even the Little Mermaid soundtrack. If you're looking for a really good laugh, I have in my possession a great duet...Big Bird and Waylon Jennings.

The Legacy of Harding

In the middle of mid-term election hubbub, while Idaho residents weighed their options, many overlooked the loss of a champion—a champion of Idaho interests—former Congressman Ralph Harding.

I had often heard the story of Congressman Harding admonishing prominent LDS official and then Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson on the floor of Congress for his affiliation with the John Birch Society, accusing him of touting the agenda of the “radical right,” but my first encounter with Congressman Harding came last May while attending the Truman Banquet hosted by the Bonneville County Democrats. As the night wore on and as each candidate took a moment to speak to the audience, the husband of Jackie Groves-Twileger stood at the podium for an unbearable amount of time—after a quite lengthy period, Congressman Harding hollered from his seat for Mr. Twileger to sit down because there were candidates to hear. The audience quickly responded in laughter and I quickly realized that Congressman Harding, like many Idaho politicians, was a straight-shooter.

Congressman Harding served Idaho during a time when Democrats in Idaho were incredibly strong and well-represented. He served along side brilliant leaders like Congressman Compton White and the legendary Senator Frank Church. He, as the youngest elected member of Congress in 1961, served during the tumultuous and dark days of the Kennedy assassination, the uncertain thirteen days in October of 1962 when the United States was closest to nuclear war, when the steps were just being taken toward Vietnam, and long before our “long national nightmare” began and ended. His congressional service spanned an era that many young Democrats can hardly imagine.

In a campaign speech at the Boise airport on October 12, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson quoted Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn: “We have a little formula down home that we follow for our Congressmen. We pick them young, we pick them honest.” Ralph Harding embodied Rayburn’s formula. President Johnson went on to acknowledge the youth, experience, and strength of Harding.

Idaho has changed quite drastically since Harding served. Only one other Democrat has held that 2nd Congressional District seat since Harding and the very thought of a Democratic president swinging through Idaho to campaign for a congressional delegation made up of three Democrats is almost unfathomable.

What has not changed in Idaho is our appreciation for politicians like Ralph Harding, who through their straight-shooting tactics have been wise and successful champions of Idaho interests.

Harding, though most often remembered for that infamous encounter with Secretary Benson, will forever be remembered for his support of Idaho agriculture, serving on the Agriculture Committee in Congress, his unwavering support for civil rights legislation, and his role in passing legislation that in conjunction with an executive order established the Peace Corps. The New Frontier may not have been as successful without the support and ambition of Congressman Harding and Idaho history would be incomplete without the bold leadership and unfaltering dedication Harding provided.

"Growing the Hell Up"

While reading a blog this millennium (and I say millennium because it is the term I have chosen to encompass this unbelievably long, defeating week) I ran across a woman who spoke of blogging and how the things she has removed from her archives have a lot to do with "growing the hell up." I've not deleted anything from my blog archive, but I can certainly identify with her.

It wasn't long ago that I posted daily lyrics--lyrics that were in my head and in my CD player on repeat for the day. I wouldn't say that it was entirely immature to do such a thing, but more than anything too personal for a blog of this nature. Quite a bit of what I have to say is too personal for a blog like this, but let's face it, this is my blog. I can write about whatever the hell I want to and if on some random day all I have to say is reflected in lyrics, so be it.

Despite the occasional lyrics, I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that I've done a great deal of growing up lately. Tonight I had tickets for the Taste of France at ISU and I didn't make it. Why didn't I make it? Because I didn't make it back to town from Declo in time to go. Bad time management on my part. And I'm the only one to blame. Growing up, isn't it great?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." --Dan Rather

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Special Smorgasbord Saturday

© Tara Rowe, Gettysburg 2003
"However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind." --General MacArthur

© Tara Rowe, 2005
"All of us who served in one war or another know very well that all wars are the glory and the agony of the young." -- Gerald Ford

© Tara Rowe, Arlington National Cemetery 2003
"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." -- Jeannette Rankin

© Tara Rowe, 2005
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." --John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 9, 2006

We Were the Mulvaneys

Editor's Note: As happy as I am for Democrats on a national level, I'm not sure I've recovered from the initial sting of a certain loss in District 29 and complete lack of sanity Idaho voters have exhibited--no more election talk today.

While in Boise I had the time and wisdom to sit down and read. Not a book for school, not a book about Idaho anything. I read We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates.

Every now and again we must read books that remind us that everyone has to face extraordinary adversity and conflict. Every now and again we need to read about a family even more screwed up than our own. That is exactly what I found with this book. A Catholic family, successful and by all outside appearances completely perfect, falls apart at the seams. The book, written from the perspective of Judd, the youngest son, follows the breakdown of a family that once was the Mulvaneys.

I often find that movies made of beautifully written books fail in every respect, but when I watched the Hallmark made for tv version of this book, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie at times followed the book, even word for word, and at times in which it ventured from the path the book provided, it was done so with creative genius and respect for the overall story.

When I finished the book I couldn't help but wonder if all of Oates' work reflected that level of deep storytelling or if this book was unique. When I finished the movie I couldn't help but wonder if any other movie had been so accurate in its portrayal of the book. Both were powerful in ways the academic books I've been reading lately have not been and it was a much needed and welcome reading experience.

If you are highly sensitive to family conflict and moral issues I would not recommend this book, but if you want to see a true representation of family and the conflict they are willing to endure for one another, often ripping them apart indefinitely, this is the book.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The Day After II

Having an unusual sense of Idaho political history without having lived through much of it, I can't help but think of George Hansen today. The man had four felony convictions when he narrowly lost to Richard Stallings in 1984. Nearly half of Idaho voters still cast their vote for a felon.

Evidently not much has changed in Idaho. In the 1st Congressional District, voters turned out for a man who was called an idiot by the Idaho Speaker of the House. When a highly conservative politician from Cassia County recognizes the complete insanity of Bill Sali, that is saying something! For governor the people of Idaho elected a man with a history of driving under the influence--not to mention serious family baggage. For controller Idaho chose an undereducated woman who I wouldn't trust with my own checkbook. All because they had one particular letter behind their name.

It seems a majority of Idahoans are bigots, idiots, and not at all concerned with funding public education.

And in Bannock County, what the hell are they thinking voting for Ken Andrus? He was the lone dissenting voice on raising the home owner's exemption and has not represented the needs of Bannock County citizens. Though once a member of a local school board, he shows no concern for funding education, much less protecting students, teachers, and school districts.

The only thing keeping me from complete discouragment with today's results is the constant reminder that Ms. Nancy Pelosi will soon be the leader in the U.S. House, Robert Byrd is returning for an 8th term, Bernie Sanders can now entertain the Senate, and thank all that is holy, Donald Rumsfeld has resigned.

My Vote for 2008...


The Day After

I've decided worse than knowing your team lost is not knowing your team lost. Here in Bannock County we have no results--at least none that are reliable due to a machine-counting error. Regardless, I'd like to post some post-election day cheers and jeers.

Cheers to Bannock County Clerk Dale Hatch for handling a tough situation in the best way possible--slowly and with great patience.

A special Cheers to Senator Robert Byrd for continuing his tenure in the Senate and for just the commentary by political pundits about the possibility of him potentially becoming President Pro-Tempore again. It atleast entertained me!

Jeers to the citizens of Cassia County (and parts of Minidoka) that can't seem to find anyone to replace the likes of Denton Darrington, Dean Cameron, and Scott Bedke.

Cheers to soon-to-be Speaker of the House Pelosi!!!

Cheers to Ned Lamont in Connecticut for running a decent, clean campaign and for challenging the thinking of Democrats across the country as well as one Joe Leiberman.

Jeers to Joe Leiberman. Do I even need to state a reason?

Cheers to Chris Matthews for not having a clue who Butch Otter was when his face flashed on the screen at MSNBC. Maybe that will take Otter's ego down a notch...

That's all I've got for now...stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

How awesome would it be if...

...Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House?

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

For the last four days I have been in Boise. On the eve of my return home to Pocatello, here is a wrap-up of my trip.

Every trip I have taken to Boise by myself has begun with an audio book. Over the summer when I visited Boise for the IHC Conference at Albertson College of Idaho, I listened to My Life by former President Clinton. On my trip here for the Frank Church Banquet I listened to A Reporter's Life by Mr. Cronkite. Another book that comes to mind is In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike, a book I have read, listened to, and absorbed on many occasions. This trip I listened to Maya Angelou read A Song Flung Up to Heaven. There are many reasons for which I picked this book--being so close to election day, I didn't want something too political, but being a purely academic-type trip I couldn't escape the idea of a book with some history involved. And Maya reminds me of someone in Arkansas that I miss horribly. I was not at all surprised by how much I enjoyed the book and given the chance wouldn't mind reading it again.

As I am sure I have mentioned, I have no sense of direction. The compass that most people have embedded in them is missing in me. Always has been. Needless to say I get lost easily. And it probably doesn't help matters that I at times don't know my left from my right. While in Boise this caused me more in-the-car time than was needed, but I had the opportunity to listen to some great music. First of all, while in a parking garage of all places, I happened to stumble across a country station that was playing a new song by Kenny Rogers--The Last Ten Years. The song itself isn't incredibly clever (in comparison to songs like "The Gambler"), but I enjoyed the reference to losing Superman, Ray Charles, and George Harrison. No surprise there. Before I speak to the issue of a particular song--Allysa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll--I will just say that songs you've heard a million times before have an interesting impact on you at moments in your life when you were meant to hear them again--Journey to the Past by Aaliyah and The Difference by Matchbox made their way into the CD player numerous times and are engraved in my mind right now for the message one sends and the images the other invokes.

The song "Alyssa Lies" receives its own paragraph for highly personal reasons. When I was a senior in high school, Martina McBride released "Concrete Angel." When the music video came out the end of it had a child abuse hotline to call and the video was somewhat controversial in its startling, yet honest depiction of a little girl's battle with an abusive parent. Even now I get choked up when I hear that song and there are days I can't even listen to it, but I had never seen the music video (by my own choice) until Tuesday. Surely avoiding something else, I turned on CMT and was watching music videos when "Concrete Angel" came on. My first reaction was to shut it off, but I didn't. I watched that music video for the first time Tuesday and find it ironic that within the week I also heard the Alyssa song. There aren't too many things on television these days I can't handle--I've watched people eat quite disturbing things on reality shows, have seen more blood and guts on the crime scene shows lately than ever before in my life, and though I hate them can even watch scary movies--but that video for "Concrete Angel" about did me in and hearing "Alyssa Lies" for the first time was equally dramatic.

It's funny to me that I can talk about all of these non-political, mostly personal matters without flinching, but when it comes to talking about what I've done here in Boise--as far as what I've learned from the numerous political manuscript collections I've looked at--I can't find words. I don't know if its my whacky sense of history that prevents me from really expressing my thoughts on these collections for fear of revealing how truly nerdy I am or if I just don't think anyone but an historian could understand the magnitude of what I have just experienced. In my mind I thought I would deduct certain things from looking at these collections, but I can assure you that nothing I thought would happen actually happened and what I have learned in four days is truly remarkable.

Though this trip has opened my eyes to many things and has left me annoyed with campaign advertisements, I am ready to go home to my fourteen roommates. Now more than ever I am ready to plug right along on processing the Stallings papers. Now more than ever I can see where this is going and it is a wonderful sight.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Congressman Harding

At the Truman Banquet held in Idaho Falls this past May, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with former Congressman Ralph Harding (D-Idaho).

I was sad to learn this morning that Congressman Harding has passed away.

My thoughts are with his family and I can say for certainty he will be missed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Omens We Heed"

**Editor's Note: I ran across this last night as I was reading Assorted Prose by John Updike. Having never even seen it before, I was particularly intrigued by the concluding statement and quite glad I ran across it when I did.

The Assassination--November 1963
By John Updike

It was as if we slept from Friday to Monday and dreamed an oppressive, unsearchably significant dream, which, we discovered on awaking, millions of others had dreamed also. Furniture, family, the streets, and the sky dissolved; only the dream on television was real. The faces of the world's great mingled with the faces of landladies who had happened to house an unhappy ex-Marine; cathedrals alternated with warehouses, temples of government with suburban garages; anonymous men tugged at a casket in a glaring airport; a murder was committed before our eyes; a Dallas strip-tease artist drawled amiably of her employer's quick temper; the heads of state of the Western world strode down a sunlit street like a grim village rabble; and Jacqueline Kennedy became Persephone, the Queen of Hades and the beautiful bride of grief. All human possiblities, of magnificence and courage, of meanness and confusion, seemed to find an image in this long montage, and a stack of cardboard boxes in Dallas, a tawdry movie house, a tiny rented room where some shaving cream still clung to the underside of a washbasin, a row of parking meters that had witnessed panicked flight all acquired the opaque and dreadful importance that innocent objects acquire in nightmares.

What did it mean? Can we hope for a meaning? "It's the fashing to hate people in the United States." This quotation might be from one of a hundred admonitory sermons delivered after President Kennedy's death. In actuality, it occurs in an interview granted in 1959 to a United Press reporter, Aline Mosby, by a young American defector then living in Moscow, Lee Harvey Oswald. The presumed assassin did not seem to be a violent man. "He was too quiet, too reserved," his ex-landlord told reporters. "He certainly had the intelligence and he looked like he could be efficient at doing almost anything." In his room, the police found a map on which was marked the precise path that three bullets in fact took. The mind that might have unlocked this puzzle perfectly aimed, perfectly aimless murder has been itself forever sealed by murder. The second assassination augmented the first, expanded our sense of potential violence. In these cruel events, democracy seemed caricatured; a gun voted, and a drab Dallas neighborhood was hoisted into history. None of our country's four slain Presidents were victims of any distinct idea of opposition or hope of gain; they were sacrificed, rather, to the blind tides of criminality and insanity that make civilization percarious. Between Friday and Monday, three men died: a President, a policeman, and a prisoner. May their deaths be symbols, clues to our deep unease, and omens we heed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


This morning in my head I began to compose the introduction to a book I hope someday to write. This morning I also walked into a very familiar building, down the stairs to a familiar hallway, only to be reminded that what was once familiar at the end of that hall no longer was there. Something I used to do every weekday morning of my life, I wanted to do again today. Autumn has an unusual influence on my thinking. I suppose it always has. It is my favorite time of year and October is my favorite month, but something about the fall this year is distinct. I feel as if a part of me is departing from the past and embracing the future. I wish I could explain it in more concrete terms.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a lecture at Idaho State University given by a man whose impact on my academic career I have often ignored. Prior to the lecture I spoke briefly with Senators Marley—and I say “Senators” because my first conversation was with the former History professor Bert Marley who served in the statehouse and the second conversation was with my former teacher Bert Marley who also served in the statehouse. In that same audience sat a man who has also had an unbelievable impact on my academic career, a Political Science professor. The only man that wasn’t in the room who has had and continues to have that sort of influence on my academic career was Richard Stallings…the topic of the book I will one day write.

Recently I wrote an article for the local paper on my “insight” into the Stallings Collection. The Stallings Collection is an assortment of legislative files, casework, and correspondence from the career of Richard Stallings spanning 4 congressional terms and filling 266 boxes. The 1600 word article I wrote did not do justice to my feelings on the collection or even Stallings himself. I have come to admire Richard Stallings in a way that I can only compare to my admiration of one other politician—Adlai Stevenson. If you know me, you know the magnitude of that statement.

I’ve also come to deeply respect archivists. It is no easy task cataloguing a congressional collection and in learning the process I have learned how truly gifted archivists are. This project has given me direction academically that I suppose I’ve lacked for most of my time at Idaho State. Never really wanting to teach, I always wondered what I would do with a slew of degrees in History. I now know. I know that after ISU there is graduate school. A master’s degree in some sort of history or archiving and maybe even a PhD await me. I will one day write a book on what I am working on now and maybe even a biography of Stallings. Hence the reason this morning I was contemplating the introduction to a book.

I have come a very long way from being a Special Education major.

The second part of this is my adventure into familiar territory this morning on the path to an office that no longer belongs to a familiar face. As I think about how far I have come from my original academic goals, I can identify the people who have led me down this path. I had an English teacher who spoke to me prior to me walking out of the College of Education and out of the field of Special Education. Her influence is immeasurable. I have had one exceptional History professor who has taught me more about myself than about her respective field. And I had the reminder of two teachers prior to these that gave me hope, strength, encouragement, and support when I needed it most. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am either.

I have come a long way from believing I could do everything on my own.

This evening instead of recomposing the introduction to a book in my head, I was composing the acknowledgments page. If and when I ever do write a book I will have many people to thank—people that today don’t even know how appreciative of them I am.

Postseason Heartbreak

Three postseason related matters: 1) Molina is now in the category of Kirby Puckett as far as postseason heartbreaks go for me; have I mentioned I despise the Cardinals? 2) Endy Chavez can catch! and 3) It occurred to me for the first time this evening that the Yankees/Tigers matchup this year is the same matchup portrayed in one of the greatest baseball/sappy romance movies ever--For Love of the Game, with Kevin Costner.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

October is my favorite month. As they say, I live for this!

You have to wonder if Frank Thomas is done now. The A's lost today to the Detroit Tigers which means the Tigers are moving on to the World Series and perhaps the Big Hurt is headed for retirement. You really can't be sure with these guys, though. Case in point--Julio Franco. I assumed he would retire, hell, the man is 48 (that's not just old for a baseball player, but for any pro-athlete), but he's still around these days pinch hitting for the New York Mets. Maybe there's hope for Thomas afterall and the money is always there for guys like Frank and Julio. So many GM's have a bigger sense of baseball history and love these guys for who they were--not who they are now. If I were a GM, there's no telling how much money I'd spend to have the older guys around--guys like Smoltz, Piazza, Thomas, and if Ryan and Ripken were still around I'd probably snag them too.

I get pretty crazy about baseball when the postseason rolls around. What? You hadn't noticed? Really? So the other night I was trying to think up a list of my top 10 favorite players. Do you know how hard that is? I can tell you for certain that Hank Aaron is #1. No question there. The more I thought about it the more I thought I had to pick Ozzie Smith, but then I thought about Johnny Bench. Finally I just decided I could only make a list of my top 5 catchers: #5 Javy Lopez, #4 The Pudges (Ivan Rodriguez and Carlton Fisk), #3 Mike Piazza, #2 Roy Campanella, #1 Johnny Bench. Honorable mentions go out to Estrada, Lo Duca, and Varitek, but none of whom I consider old enough to count, yet.

Thursday night I attended a lecture at ISU by Dr. Ron Hatzenbuehler--it was awesome! And I say this not only from my nerd perspective, but from the position of someone who firmly believes one of the greatest things about campus communities is the opportunity to attend these sorts of events. Keep an eye out for great happenings on campus and I highly encourage you all to attend.

There was something else I wanted to add to my usual Saturday randomness, but I can't seem to remember what it was--didn't have to do with baseball, this much I know. Hmm...oh well. I'm sure there will be another post soon. Until then, catch some baseball.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just Because I Love Boston

by Augustana
In the light of the sun, is there anyone? Oh it has begun...
Oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
This world you must've crossed... you said...
You don't know me, you don't even care,
She said
You don't know me, you don't wear my chains...
Essential yet appealed, carry all your thoughts across
An open field,
When flowers gaze at you...they're not the only ones who cry
When they see you
You said...
You don't know me, you don't even care,
She said
You don't know me, you don't wear my chains...
She said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California, I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly em out to Spain...
I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice...
Boston... where no one knows my name...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Postseason Paradise

I'm not a Detroit Tigers fan, or let's say I wasn't until recently, but I am sure gloating over their series win defeating the Yankees. Evidently many are in this boat. Afterall, isn't the postseason the greatest time to hate the Yankees? As far as the ALCS I now am no longer rooting for the Tigers, but the A's. Yes, me, I'm hoping for the A's. How strange is that? The greatest part about this postseason is the unexpected.

I'm not an Oakland fan--never have been, but if you can bring Frank Thomas back to a winning team and let him strut his stuff at his age (yes, he is old for a baseball player) then more power to you. Detroit brought Kenny Rogers back, showed off his softer side, but he's not Frank Thomas. And in addition to Frank Thomas, the A's have Jason Kendall who is undoubtedly one of the greatest catchers of our time and he has never been to a World Series. Maybe this is his chance. Though as far as catchers go I really like Pudge as well... I had Barry Zito and Eric Chavez on my fantasy team last year and they secured me a spot in the top 3 (so what if there were only 4 teams, just kidding).

I'm not a Cardinals fan--I hate the Cardinals. So as you can imagine I won't be hoping for the NLCS to be in favor of St. Louis. And I loved the Mets once upon a time--back when Piazza played for them. And as I have said before of that division there is only one team I can't stand and that is Florida. To a certain extent I have always been a Mets fan, not in the same way that I am a Braves fan or in the way I loved the Expos, but a fan nonetheless. David Wright is just adorable, as far as cocky baseball players go, and Paul Lo Duca is a damn fine catcher. Any Braves fan can be excited to see Glavine on a winning team again, though anyone who trades to a New York team from Atlanta is a traitor in every sense. But the Mets are not the Yankees, thank the Lord!

I'm not a Dodgers fan--Dodgers fans are nearly as bad as Yankees fans, but I sure loved the Dodgers this year. When the Braves are having a losing year, which mind you, doesn't happen that often, or at least it hasn't in the last 17 seasons, it is refreshing to see a ton of ex-Braves on one team. The only thing that could have rounded out the Maddux, Furcal, Lofton, and Drew lineup would have been the appearance of Javy Lopez. Count this as the first and possibly only year I cared at all that the Dodgers were the Wild Card.

Tonight on Fox you can catch the Detroit/Oakland game and tomorrow night the St. Louis/New York game.