Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Welcome To Wherever This Is

Caspar Weinberger died today. Why am I mentioning this on a liberal blog? Because for the last several days I have been completely disillusioned with this blog. I am so tired of it being labeled strictly a "liberal" blog when it is to me, so much more. This is the place where I can say Caspar Weinberger died and without some immense amount of liberal cynicism. I can say that the former Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Secretary of both the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare and Department of Defense died today for the sake of history, not simply for the sake of politics.

I set myself up for this. I titled my blog "The Political Game" and should have expected that the politics would come quickly and without hesitation. But the title is essentially more about history than it is about politics. The title does afterall refer to one of my favorite quotes from President Kennedy and refers to a period of history that holds a special place in my heart. It refers to chess, President Bartlet on The West Wing, and so much more.

Blogging is an enormous responsibility at times. I have to be factual at times, calm at times, and there are times I have to stifle my liberal anger. There are days when I can't post the meaningless song lyrics I would like to and there are days when I can only post on strictly news-related matters for fear of divulging far too much information about my personal life. Blogging is an attempt at juggling, when I don't know how to juggle. It is a responsibility that I don't often have time for. It is an aspect of my life that I once wanted to quit and recently have thought countless times about quitting. This blog has been an outlet so many times and yet today, even with the death of Caspar Weinberger, a topic I couldn't even begin to discuss with my 20-year old college friends, it is a great irritation. I get irritated with myself, irritated with a lack of comments, and irritated with the routine of it all.

Sunday night I couldn't explain how much I love Leo and hate to see him leave The West Wing even though I know it has to happen and how much I admire CJ because she is a beautifully brilliant woman with an amazing job. I couldn't go into detail why I think I am the most like Toby. An episode of my favorite show and I didn't dare touch it. There is something missing these days and so if I was going anywhere with this it was to the place where I tell you all that I need a break.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Welcome To Wherever You Are (TWW)

No one really wants to hear my commentary on this beautiful episode. It was good to see Toby back, I've decided I'm a lot like Toby. And next week we will finally know the fate of Leo McGarry. Fitting title.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Admiration, Courage, Convictions & Faith

Let me begin with a quote by Adlai E. Stevenson: "What counts now is not just what we are against, but what we are for. Who leads us is less important than what leads us--what convictions, what courage, what faith--win or lose. A man [does not] save a century, or a civilization, but a militant party wedded to a principle can."

As I sit here in P-Town tonight, while the greatest political strategists in the state converge at the Camp Wellstone campaign training, I can't seem to redirect myself from thinking quite deeply about the men and women I admire. This may be in part due to the presentation I will give tomorrow at the Biennial Idaho History Conference on the obstacles I have encountered in the Stallings Collection or because last night I had the honor of sitting in a room with the Bannock County Democratic Central Committee, people I am honored to know and interact with, I sat in a room with former Congressman Stallings, former state representative Allen Andersen, my fellow blogger Serephin from 43rd State Blues, and two women I have grown to greatly appreciate and admire -- Diane Bilyeu and Sallee Gasser. So here I sit, thinking about the Democratic party and history. The greatest passion I will ever know is the passion that resides within me for history. History seems to occupy a great deal of my time.

Since I began my Kennedy research I was always less fascinated with the Curtis LeMays and the Maxwell Taylors. I have always thought that Bobby Kennedy was a man of ambition and high ideals, a man cut down in his prime with the possibilities of presidential greatness watching nearby, and that Jack Kennedy was merely an entrance for his younger brothers...the real politicians. Never was I too terribly impressed with the politicos or the career military. I found my inspiration in men like Adlai Stevenson, Pierre Salinger, Kenny O'Donnell. I found my interest revolving around the fallibility of human leadership. And of course the assassination.

For as long as I can remember I have held a significant interest in the untimely deaths of mortal men. Mortal men behind extraordinary causes. Men like John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and the list continues. Men who carried on their shoulders the weight of a plight not since forgotten. On a non-political level, I could add Percy Shelley to this list. A man who carried on his shoulders the weight of genius.

These men gave their lives in pursuit of the cause. The cost of their lives cannot be measured by what they did, but what they may have done. John Kennedy may have ended Vietnam before the Gulf of Tonkin. Bobby Kennedy may have been the greatest president this nation had ever known. I often wonder how much different the United States would be today had King, Malcolm X, and Evers lived on to continue the battle for civil rights. I wonder if the brilliance of the Great Society would have eventually emerged or if Johnson would have ever sat behind the desk in the Oval Office. I question what may have been knowing that these men held the courage, conviction, strength, and faith to carry out their duties as servants of the American public.

One man alone cannot bring about change on a national level. On a national level it takes a party, strong in not only its membership, but strong in it's principles, values, and beliefs, to force the change we need.

Tonight my message is to Republicans and Democrats alike. We can no longer shout from the highest roofs the errors and misjudgments of our opponents, we must shout our ideals, our goals, our plans. The American people deserve to hear our clear message.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dance Along the Light of Day

Editor's Note: Before reading my very random and bizarre post, please head on over and check out Students for Grant. Thanks!

Do you ever have one of those days when you just don't think you could be any more happy? I've had two in a row. Yesterday was awesome. Cuba didn't win, but awesome nonetheless. Today was awesome, classes were unusually long, but still awesome. It's days like these that I call "Drops of Jupiter" kind of days. Let me explain...

Last night in the ASISU Senate meeting I had the opportunity to do two things: 1) Be a Democrat and 2) Share some Idaho history with my fellow senators. I'll share with you the story I shared with them-- In the first part of the twentieth century, Senator Heyburn voted against a preservation program that would protect Idaho state parks. Today we have Heyburn State Park which is interestingly named after our former senator. I say interestingly, because Senator Heyburn voted against the bill and he also lost funding for the forest service. So, when in 1910 a forest fire swept Idaho, 1/2 of Idaho forests burned because there was no funding to fight the fire. I find it ironic that we have a state park named after our fine Senator Heyburn.

There is more to the story than that, but when I left the Senate office last night, I had a pretty big grin on my face. I love Idaho history. And I got in my car and in my CD player was Train's "Drops of Jupiter."

I was asked to speak this weekend at the Idaho History Conference being held at ISU. I am going to talk about research methods and the obstacles I have encountered in my work with the Stallings' Collection. When I learned about this I was a little hesitant, mostly because of the prep time, but by the end of the day, on my way home I was stoked! I get to talk about something I love almost as much as Kennedy. And I got in my car and "Drops of Jupiter" was still in the CD player.

There's an independent vibe that I get from that song that is motivating in ways I can't even begin to explain. On the worst of days it lifts me up and on the best of days it lets me soar. We all need a song that hits as hard as "Drops of Jupiter" or maybe we all need a good ole lesson in Idaho history.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cheers to Cuba!

Cuba didn't win the World Baseball Classic. But they got to play. And I don't say that like your mother used to say to you when you lost horribly to a much better team and she had to say something that appeared to be at least a bit positive. I say that because had the United States government had their way, Cuba would not have been allowed to play. And, big and, Cuba was awesome! No one expected Cuba to get past Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. No one expected the U.S. to lose to Mexico and Canada. No one, not even me in my wildest dreams, thought Cuba would be in the final game. Not only were they in the final game, they proved that they deserved to be there.

I got home from an awesome ASISU Senate meeting last night and watched the end of the World Baseball Classic. Getting home to find Cuba, who had been down 4-1 in the 4th inning, actually standing up to team Japan made it all the better.

Congratulations to Japan for proving they truly are the best in the world and a special congratulations to Cuba for proving that sanctions or not, they can play hardball with the best of 'em!

Monday, March 20, 2006

2nd CD Candidate Forum: A Call For Questions

On April 8, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. in the Salmon River Suites of the Idaho State University Student Union Building, the ISU College Democrats are sponsoring a candidate forum for Craig Cooper and Jim Hansen, the two Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The forum will be moderated by former State Senator, 2nd District Congressional Candidate, and current candidate for Bannock County Commissioner, Lin Whitworth.

The ISU College Democrats have requested that we spread the message to Idahoans and ask them for questions they would like to be asked of the candidates at the forum. I invite you all to submit your questions on the issues important to you and to all Idahoans to me at thepoliticalgame@fastmail.us and I will present them to the College Democrats at the March 30th meeting.

Please submit your questions and mark April 8th on your calendars. The forum is free to the public.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Two Weeks Out (TWW)

Several U.S. presidents have suffered from arthritis. Eisenhower had it, Reagan, and Herbert Hoover had a condition that would often leave his hand too swollen to even write with it for weeks at a time. Just because Vinick's hand is mangled and he can't shake hands doesn't mean the Vinick campaign is done. Hey, President McKinley was killed by a man who, when attempting to shake his hand, had a gun wrapped in what appeared to be a wounded hand. Not shaking hands could be a good thing.

A missing briefcase-- not a good thing. And I really don't like Bruno. I never have. Not when he came into the Bartlet campaign to deal with the MS, not when he gave Margaret the stupid necklace, and not when he started on the Vinick campaign. He's not a very nice man. But then again politics isn't a very nice game. Bruno stole the briefcase. Okay, he didn't steal the briefcase, he found the briefcase. And Vinick didn't want anything to do with the briefcase until everything about that briefcase could place him in the Oval Office. The political game, is a nasty, cruel game. Who keeps a checkbook, wallet, and personal journal in a briefcase? I have a checkbook, no wallet or personal journal, but if I did have all three of those things I wouldn't keep them in a briefcase that I carried around with me everyday everywhere I went. Only paranoid people keep those sorts of things at their side. I don't even take my checkbook with me when I leave the house. I guess the question isn't really about Santos' checkbook, it's about the fact that it's only in his name, without his wife, and he writes only one check a month to a woman with a child that may or may not be his. Not a good thing, just ask Mr. Kempthorne.

But you know what cracks me up? Anita Morales, the woman in question, was the girlfriend of Matt Santos' brother. Why in politics do we always assume the worst? We all automatically assumed this meant Santos had a girlfriend and child somewhere that his wife nor the country knew anything about. Why don't we ever give politicians the benefit of the doubt?

The last few episodes are still ahead. And Bon Jovi will be on next week. Doesn't get much better than that!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

Update: 11:42p.m., It's the bottom of the 9th and Japan is up 6-0. Looks like Ichiro and team Japan will be headed to the World Baseball Classic Final. I would have liked to see Hee-Seop Chio and the errorless team Korea in the final, but I get Cuba, what more could I ask for? Catch the Cubans Monday night at 9pm (Eastern) on ESPN.

Here it is Saturday of Spring Break and I am still wrapping up the loose ends of the first draft of my research paper on Stallings. Come to think of it, this has been the most nerdy Spring Break for me yet...but hey, I still have one more Spring Break to try and top it, right?

Despite the very political happenings in this state right now, I've taken a break from it all. Today I didn't look at the Idaho Secretary of State's website once. Hooray! Well, I can't really say I've taken a break from it all, just the recent happenings. Today I did spend a great deal of time watching Stallings' campaign commercials. Geez, I need to get a life!

Last night I went and saw V for Vendetta. It wasn't my favorite, certainly not as enjoyable as Failure to Launch the week before, but it was interesting. V centers, well sort of, around one of my favorite Dumas novels, so it was cool...Just not my favorite, a little too bloody maybe. And also this week, one of the days I was sick with the flu and couldn't do much else but watch movies, I caught Good Night, and Good Luck. If you haven't already seen it, PLEASE do. It is amazing. I might even buy it, I liked it that much. I saw it once in the theater and watched it two or three times while I was sick. It's simply brilliant. And the dude from Sneakers is in it and let's just admit it, George Clooney is the man!

So, I now have a 200 disc stereo system. It's a long story really and don't worry, I didn't spend the rest of my life savings since my shopping spree earlier in the week. I am a music freak. I can't even sugarcoat it. I'm obsessed. Needless to say this is a great new addition to my apartment and one I am very excited about! It has six speakers, don't ask me any technical questions it took FOREVER to hook up, and can be hooked up to the TV and DVD player for surround sound. At the moment I just have the CD function lined out mostly because I have far more important things to be doing, but eventually I could have quite the setup. I know you're wondering why I even felt this was blog-worthy, but if you understand my CD collection you would be just as excited. I have a bazillion CDs and with just a 1-disc player and then the CD player in the car, I never get around to listening to all the CDs I have. This way I can just put it on shuffle and have a much better chance of listening to all of the CDs I own, rather than just a few that seem to never make it back into the CD ooks. And...my former CD player, which is still very functional, has migrated into the kitchen in the event that I don't want to listen to the new system, which I can easily hear in the kitchen anyway, I still have the option of using that old Memorex player that I am quite attached to.

Something I wanted to mention, but never got the chance to Thursday night or at all yesterday was the World Baseball Classic. The U.S. team is out, if anyone didn't know that, which honestly I find pretty funny, though the team did wisely choose Francoeur and Chipper this time around, yet what did they really expect to get out of Clemens? You'll never believe who has a damn fine chance of winning the Classic...Cuba. Yeah, Cuba. In your face President Bush and whatever remaining Americans still think sanctions on Cuba are accomplishing anything. Cuba will be in the final and they will play the winner of the Japan/Korea matchup. In ESPN Magazine this week, there is a two page spread of one of the Cuban players diving for a ball. I just might frame it. I was mad when Cuba was told they couldn't play in the Classic and stoked when I learned they were going to play. Now all I can say is if Cuba wins the Classic I may just name my first born Gourriel.

Well, that was far more information that y'all wanted and far more than I had planned on sharing, but it is afterall the Saturday following the filing deadline, a weird and unusually nerdy Spring Break, and my political brain is worn out!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Risch NOT Running

The Idaho Statesman has a very odd article-- "check back for details."

No really, they got it together and have an article up that says in a press conference this morning Lt. Governor Jim Risch announced that he won't be running for the higher office and will continue his campaign for lt. gov. He will carry out the duties of Kempthorne if Kempthorne is in fact confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

This is it, the last best hope for a serious Republican blood bath for that prestigious seat in Boise (that evidently leads to a cabinet seat in D.C.) and Risch isn't taking the chance. Is this Risch talking or the GOP?

Idaho History reminds us of Lt. Governor Arnold Williams who, after appointing Governor Charles Gossett to the United States Senate, became Governor and never could win the seat for himself. The road certainly isn't going to lead Mr. Risch to the Governor's mansion after January this way.

Larry Grant where's that big ole "House cleaning" broom you've been haulin' around? I'm going to hit Risch over the head with it!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

TDIH: "I Cannot Stand Aside From the Contest"

Regardless of the history being made in Idaho today, I must at least comment on the far more important history on my mind. On this day in 1968, Robert Francis Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America.

I am today announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all that I can.

I run to seek new policies - policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old, in this country and around the rest of the world.

I run for the presidency because I want the Democratic Party and the
United States of America to stand for hope instead of despair, for reconciliation of men instead of the growing risk of world war.

I run because it is now unmistakably clear that we can change these
disastrous, divisive policies only by changing the men who are now making
them. For the reality of recent events in Vietnam has been glossed over with illusions.

The Report of the Riot Commission has been largely ignored.

The crisis in gold, the crisis in our cities, the crisis in our farms and in our ghettos have all been met with too little and too late.


No one knows what I know about the extraordinary demands of the presidency can be certain that any mortal can adequately fill that position.

But my service in the National Security Council during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin crisis of 1961 and 1962, and later the negotiations on Laos and on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty have taught me something about both the uses and limitations of military power, about the opportunities and the dangers which await our nation in many corners of the globe in which I have traveled.

As a member of the cabinet and member of the Senate I have seen the
inexcusable and ugly deprivation which causes children to starve in Mississippi,
black citizens to riot in Watts; young Indians to commit suicide on their reservations because they've lacked all hope and they feel they have no future, and proud and able-bodied families to wait our their lives in empty idleness in eastern Kentucky.

I have traveled and I have listened to the young people of our nation and felt their anger about the war that they are sent to fight and about the world they are about to inherit.


In private talks and in public, I have tried in vain to alter our course in Vietnam before it further saps our spirit and our manpower, further raises the risks of wider war, and further destroys the country and the people it was meant to save.

I cannot stand aside from the contest that will decide our nation's future and our children's future.

The remarkable New Hampshire campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy has
proven how deep are the present divisions within our party and within our country. Until that was publicly clear, my presence in the race would have been seen as a clash of personalities rather than issues.

But now that the fight is on and over policies which I have long been challenging, I must enter the race. The fight is just beginning and I believe that I can win...

Finally, my decision reflects no personal animosity or disrespect toward President Johnson. He served President Kennedy with the utmost loyalty and was extremely kind to me and members of my family in the difficult months which followed the events of November of 1963.

I have often commended his efforts in health, in education, and in many other areas, and I have the deepest sympathy for the burden that he carries today.

But the issue is not personal. It is our profound differences over where we are heading and what we want to accomplish.

I do not lightly dismiss the dangers and the difficulties of challenging an incumbent President. But these are not ordinary times and this is not an ordinary election.

At stake is not simply the leadership of our party and even our country. It is our right to moral leadership of this planet.


There are three men that hold my highest level of political respect and admiration: Adlai E. Stevenson, Robert F. Kennedy, and Richard H. Stallings. Digest that, Dirk.

Secretary Kempthorne?

A year ago I wrote a post called "Shades of the Forties," never knowing that the events of today would unfold. Granted, my original post was hopeful of a Stennett for Governor race and predicted Crapo's exit, but nonetheless addressed the issue of what happens to Idaho when the governor resigns to take another post.

Well here it is, Governor Dirk Kempthorne will be leaving the governor's office to become the Secretary of the Interior. President Bush has nominated Kempthorne to the office being vacated by Gale Norton.

Kempthorne is on the top of most despicable Republicans. Come on a supposed environmentalist --or so is said of his Experience Idaho proposal--who used to work for FMC? And he beat Stallings in 1992, see where I'm going with that one?

There are two things about this nomination that bother me-- First, is anyone else irritated that Dirk Kempthorne, someone please hold his eyebrow down, is going to go down in history as doing something that was already done and done right the first time? Please Mr. Kempthorne don't forget that you are the second not first Idahoan to serve in the president's cabinet. And in no way, shape, or form are you comparable to the first. Cece, because of your brilliance, service, and dedication I am irritated today. Second, is anyone scared to death that soon-to-be Governor Risch will appoint Bruce Newcomb to be the new lieutenant governor?

Having just read file after file on Hulls Gulch in former Congressman Richard Stallings' papers, I just can't believe Kempthorne's headed back to Washington. The only thing I see positive in this situation is that we may now have Risch running for governor, paving the way for the future governor of Idaho, Jerry Brady.

Wal-Mart

I've had the flu since some time late Tuesday night. If I remember correctly I was sick much of Christmas break with bronchitis and this last Thanksgiving was one of the first I can remember that I wasn't sick with some bug or another. It's the curse of school breaks.

So long story short, I had to go out to Wal-Mart this morning to purchase a new garbage can for my bathroom. I guess I didn't have to go to Wal-Mart, but I did. And amazingly enough I ran into the last person on earth I ever thought would shop at Wal-Mart. I can't tell you who it was...we made an oath in the store to never reveal our identities, though in telling this story I realize I am revealing the fact that I was in fact in Wal-Mart.

For the record, I hate Wal-Mart. I've only been to the place maybe a half-dozen times by myself, I hate shopping and I especially hate shopping alone. One of my many trips out to Wal-Mart left me accused of purchasing questionable items, items that my Wal-Mart shopping partner had put in the basket and was surely across the store looking for more...come to think of it, she's a questionable friend. Needless to say, I avoid Wal-Mart.

This person I ran into happens to be one of the most die-hard Democrats I know. So, as I was pulling out of the parking lot, which if possible, I hate more than the store itself, I was thinking -- what if all the Democrats in the United States stopped shopping at Wal-Mart? Couldn't we put them out of business?

As soon as I find another store in P-Town that sells Diet IBC Root Beer, I'm breaking loose of the Wal-Mart bond.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Spring Break

Does anyone watch Boston Legal? I caught it tonight, mostly because it is Spring Break and as I was rearranging the apartment I needed something to watch...BUT it was an awesome episode! Melissa, I believe that is her name, was on trial for tax evasion based on her disappointment with America -- James Spader gave a moving closing argument on the unbelievable screw-ups of the current Administration and how the American people have sat idly by. Not only did he hit on each of the major executive power questions, he quoted Adlai Stevenson! He quoted: "It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." I'm a new Boston Legal fan tonight!

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I have taken on quite the project in the Special Collections department of the ISU Library working in Richard Stallings' congressional papers. For Spring Break I am spending my time at the library wrapping up loose ends and writing an enormous paper...nerdy, I know.

Every spring I say I'm going to do something exciting for Spring Break, but I never do. I would have gone to Boston in a heart beat had there been any openings for the conference on Vietnam and the Presidency.

I did go out of town yesterday, but only to attend to personal health matters. Nothing exciting, though I now own my very own copy of Leaves of Grass by Whitman and picked up a copy of A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. I also picked up a new television. I have used the same 13" television since I was twelve. It's about time I upgrade! And now, instead of having to locate a larger television at 4:30 when Jeopardy! comes on, I can watch my favorite program in my own apartment on my very own 27" TV and actually be able to read the questions! Two new books, a relatively new TV, and don't worry, my shopping spree doesn't end there...I bought new socks and this morning I bought two new tires at Big O. You'd think I had won the lottery or something!

As far as plans for the rest of Spring Break-- tomorrow is my first meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission. I'm slightly nervous, but excited. I'm going to watch Million Dollar Baby again to see if I take out the assisted-suicide aspect if I'll like the movie any better...it is Morg after all. For Saint Patrick's Day I'll be having dinner with my frequent Friday night, or any other night of the week, cohort and his family and then Saturday I'm NOT going to the rodeo.

And Sunday I'll be watching another new episode of The West Wing and I'm sure I will still be writing my paper...

The Honorable Elmer Martinez

Each of the Bannock Six have had an enormous impact on my life. And yes, I still refer to them as the Bannock Six, even though now there are only 5 Democratic legislators out of Bannock County. In my mind Allen Andersen remains just as essential to Democratic politics in this area as he did while he was serving in the legislature. From Elaine and Donna to Bert, Allen, and Edgar, they have been shining examples for me and most recently the most shining example for me has been Representative Elmer Martinez.

Several months ago while filming our Bannock County Democrats Show, Allen and I invited Elaine Smith and Elmer Martinez on the show to discuss the upcoming legislative session and the issues they felt they would be facing. Elmer said something on that show that he has repeated to me since, that has been the driving force behind several of my "crusades" lately. He said that you have to get the discussion started to get the issues rolling.

Counting how many times that has echoed in my mind as I've undertaken a particular task is impossible. Something so simple from such a humble and admirable state representative has been a motto of mine for the last several months and will continue to be a driving force in the decisions I make regarding issues I feel deeply about.

Today in the Idaho State Journal, it has been announced that Elmer will not seek re-election. I heard about this yesterday, but was out of town and wanted to give it some time to sink in. I really admire Elmer for his decision and wish to personally thank him for his work, his dedication, and the for the shining example he has been for me.

James Ruchti, the current chairman of the Bannock County Democrats will run for Elmer's seat.

Thank you, Representative Martinez.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Cold (TWW)

It has been exactly 49 days since the last episode of The West Wing aired. And let me just say the last 49 days of anticipation were worth it in just the few seconds of previews for the next episodes. Not only will Danny, the redheaded reporter that just could 't reign CJ in, Joey, the deaf, brilliant pollster, and Amy, oh Amy, the fiery feminist who knows Van Morrison better than I do, return for the final episodes of the greatest political drama ever written, Sam is returning! Yes, Sam Seaborn in all his glory. I can hardly wait.

Tonight's episode was more of the soap-opera type, the kind of episode we don't see all too often in this series. But to quote Donna, "It's bound to happen sometime." Will and Kate couldn't have made me laugh harder. The thing is, after 49 days I'd forgotten that there even was a "Will and Kate." They're cute, in a quirky, nerdy kind of way. Which, coming from me is really saying something. And Josh and Donna. They've always been "Josh and Donna," problem is no one ever told them. For those of you who actually watch The West Wing, you'll understand what I mean.

I love Alan Alda. I always have. But let's face it, he's going to lose. After the nuclear disaster, the cold, and what is soon to come, he's going down in flames. Can a cold really do that much damage to a campaign? Yes. Just ask Richard Nixon. Had it not been for his appearance, due to a cold, in the debates against Kennedy he most likely would have won in 1960. And what is soon to come? We all know Leo has to go. I highly doubt they filmed the entirety of the season before John Spencer's passing. Tonight I kept looking at Martin Sheen, wondering when President Bartlet got so old. It's only a show, fiction at its best, and I sit here worrying about how the President will take news that his most loyal friend has died of a heart attack, or whatever it is they write into the script.

"Why are we sitting here while the Democratic VP candidate is being ushered into the Oval Office?" Well, to answer your question Mr. Alda, because he's Leo McGarry, the trusted friend and loyal companion of the most powerful man in the world. As Leo was sitting there in that chair next to the President's desk, I couldn't help but remember that episode when Leo sat in that very place and told the President that the one place he wishes he could have been, the one thing he wishes he could have said, was in that cabinet room the night President Johnson decided to act following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, he would have asked Johnson not to do it. I spent a great deal of the episode reflecting on how much I loved the late John Spencer and how as Leo McGarry his is a prominent and irreplaceable role. I wonder if this weren't the last season of the show if I could continue to watch without Leo or if, like the final two seasons of The X-Files without David Duchovny's consistent presence, I would have stopped watching.

Tonight's episode was one of those wonderful examples of the writers reflecting current events and stating their political agenda. The idea of going into Kazakhstan, committing 150,000 troops, in a struggle for democracy that will take generations to establish, with no clear exit strategy sounds awfully familiar. Where is the positive in situating the United States on an oil field between two nuclear powers? Every so often I can't help but notice the similarities between the Bartlet administration and the Kennedy administration. This certainly could have a lot to do with Sheen's background portraying President Kennedy, but do you see the resemblance? President Bartlet hesitates to send troops into a battle we may not be able to win. President Kennedy feared sending American soldiers into Southeast Asia to fight a war we hadn't defined. And the relationship between Leo and the President is in my mind a mirror of the relationship between Jack and Bobby.

The final episodes of the show are going to be amazing. My predictions? Leo of course will die unexpectedly, Amy will return causing some sort of confusion for Josh who will ultimately realize the "Josh and Donna" concept, CJ in her talent and brilliance will reconnect with Danny, Toby will remind us of how important his passion was to the administration, the First Lady will return from where ever she has been, Sam will return to remind us all of why we fell in love with the show in the first place, and Santos will win the election.

In the end it won't be about who won or lost the election, but how we got to this remarkable end. It will be about a powerful friendship between two men, a dream that became a successful administration, and the lessons of history they taught us along the way.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Leaders of Oppression

"The Butcher of the Balkans" has died today at the age of 64.

I just turned on the computer and to my surprise one of the headlines on MSN is that former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, was found dead in his prison cell this morning.

As a forceful Serbian nationalist, his brutal attacks on the Albanians in Kosovo led to the struggle in that region with NATO forces in 1999. He was on trial for war crimes at the Hague. Strangely enough both his father and mother committed suicide, but it appears Milosevic died of natural causes.

Coincidentally, today in the mail I received a long-awaited copy of Khrushchev Remembers, the memoir written by the Soviet premier.

I thought it was slightly odd that I would receive the book on the same day as I learned another oppressive leader had died.

Immediately the quote, "Someday history will tell the whole profound truth about what is happening today," came to mind and just as when I posted Khrushchev's words here before I realized that we do not know nor can we comprehend the magnitude of the lives and evil actions of either of these two men.

For me Khrushchev was one of the more admirable men of the Cold War, though he is often underestimated and spoken poorly of by Americans and Russians alike. Communist, yes. Human, yes. And yet, you have to love a man pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations. Milosevic represented the last of the hard-line communists and his imprisonment was one of many actions that truly reflected a definite end to the Cold War. His methods of ethnic cleansing and brutal aggression toward the people he presided over are despicable, intiquitous acts of inhumanity.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

A Lesson In Blogging

Pamela Turnure, the press secretary for Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, was once told by the First Lady: "I want minimum information given with maximum politeness." Thankfully, Pierre Salinger, the press secretary for President Kennedy, was never told this or we may have thought the U.S.S.R. was installing a theme park on the island of Cuba and the United States was aiding the Soviet navy with the installation in October of 1962. As a blogger I have often wondered if readers come to me looking for the least amount of information provided and expect the maximum amount of politeness I can muster or if they want me to honestly tell them that in those tense thirteen days of October '62 we were eyeball-to-eyeball with the Soviet Union and had it not been for the wisdom of courageous men like President Kennedy and the Honorable Adlai Stevenson, we would have seen total annihilation.

As a writer I pride myself on two things: 1) My ability to address a wide array of issues on a "political" blog, and 2) My consistent consideration of the "rules."

Blogging, like any other form of writing, requires the writer to play by the rules. Unlike MLA or APA, there is no handbook for how to write appropriately for a worldwide audience. The rules of blogging can be clearly defined in three simple rules:

  1. Control Your Tone. Tone is the underlying factor of successful blogging. If in your tone you can convey your disappointment, excitement, or anger without blatant disregard and disrespect for others, you have accomplished something amazing. For example, as frequently as I disagree with the Bush administration, you will never catch me referring to President Bush as anything less than that-- President. This is not only an example of controlled tone, but an example of respect. Give mature and thoughtful consideration to everything you post, poor consideration and immaturity will be reflected in your tone. Also, in regard to profanity, remember a warning on Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's campaign blog, "Just because Dick Cheney said it on the floor of the U.S. Senate doesn't mean you can say it here." This pertains to not only the posts you personally write, but the comments you leave on other blogs. Remember that the things you say on the world wide web will not be quickly forgotten. They will exist in blog archives and directories for years.
  2. Proofread. I often read over old posts and wonder how I could have missed such significant errors. Take a break, walk around the house, get a glass of water. Never hit publish until you have double-checked your spelling, double-checked your grammar, and double-checked your sources. No one wants to read lies. Make sure your posts are accurate and well-supported or if they are simply a "rant," clarify to your audience that this is merely your opinion.
  3. Be Yourself. You will never be as honest with yourself as the moment you realize you are who you are. Spending time on your blog trying to justify yourself is time wasted. Personally, I have come to the conclusion that if people have decided not to like me, I am not going to convince them otherwise. My best hope is to continue on with my "This Day In History" additions, my commentary on The West Wing, and my otherwise random musings knowing that I have not offended anyone intentionally. Along these lines-- accept responsibility for your words. You will be judged by your readers and there will be consequences for the things you say. In my own experience, there have been times that I wish I would not have said a word on certain issues. Now, before I publish, I always think about how my opinion could potentially change over time and how my readers may receive me.

Always remember that those who read your blog may not be as open to your ideas as your friends are. There will be those who misconstrue your words and there will be those who will use your words against you. Putting yourself out there in an open forum is bound to bring both positive and negative attention. Be prepared for it. Be prepared for the discouragement, disgust, and anger that accompanies every hateful comment you receive. Remember those comments when you are commenting on other blogs. Personal attacks will not get you anywhere.

It is a privilege to have the opportunity to blog. With this wonderful opportunity is a great responsibility to speak openly, honestly, and respectfully. The words a blogger writes reflect far more than an opinion. The words a blogger writes reflect the blogger's character, maturity, and intelligence.

Dana Reeve: Her Own Kind of Superhero

There are people whom I have never met, that, though I don't know them on a personal level, I appreciate, respect, and admire on a deeply personal level.

I've always loved Christopher Reeve. Since I was a kid, watching him in the Superman movies and then watching Noises Off! with my grandparents. After his accident, I still loved him, but grew to love his wife for her strength and loyalty. She was in my mind your "common man superhero."

This morning, the AP is reporting that Dana Reeve has died of lung cancer at the age of 44.

Today my thoughts and prayers are with Will Reeve, the son of the late Christopher and Dana Reeve.

Please take a moment to visit the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation or Lungcancer.org.

_________
Dana Reeve
1961 - 2006

Monday, March 6, 2006

Okay, Not a Very Enlightening or Thoughtful Post

This is what I originally said...

This eventually, sometime late tonight, will turn into a very thoughtful post... for the moment you'll just have to settle with me sending you over to Ridenbaugh Press to read what Randy Stapilus has to say about the departure of Bruce Newcomb and his unknown successor. I had not given it a thought...Scott Bedke for Speaker...somebody shoot me please.

This is what I am saying now...

I just walked in the door from the longest ASISU Senate meeting ever! Okay, not really, but certainly the longest I've taken part in. I sat in my lovely (not so comfortable) Senate seat from 6 until 10:50. Ugh!

And to top it all off, I turned on my computer and there on the MSN homepage is the announcement that Kirby Puckett has died of a stroke.

Kirby Puckett was not only a six-time Gold Glove center fielder, a 10-time All-Star, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, he's one very important factor in why my Atlanta Braves didn't win the World Series in 1991. I was six and I can remember Kirby Puckett's leaping catch past the running track and his game-ending homer in the 11th inning. And it wasn't even game 7! It was game 6 and it ended right there for the Braves with that one hit by Kirby.

I could barely remember what John Smoltz had to say about it, but I remember him being humble. Tonight as I read the article from Fox Sports, I re-read that quote from '91:

"If we had to lose and if one person basically was the reason - you never want to lose - but you didn't mind it being Kirby Puckett. When he made the catch and when he hit the home run you could tell the whole thing had turned," Smoltz said.

As a lifelong Braves fan, I can agree with Smoltz. There was just something magical about that Kirby Puckett smirk.

And don't anybody start cracking steroids jokes...

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Schedule, Announcements, and New to the Bulletin Board

The week prior to Spring Break is generally the craziest week of the entire Spring semester. I'm not sure if that will be the case this week or not, but in any event I felt I should post the schedule in case ya'll don't hear from me in a few days.

Tonight is the 78th Annual Academy Awards. I am a freak about awards shows! They could have an awards show for just about anything and I'd watch. I missed the Grammys this year so you can count on the fact that I'll be watching the Oscars tonight. For a list of the nominees and your own printable ballot, yep I have one, you can visit the Oscars homepage. I'd almost put money on Joaquin Phoenix winning best actor for Walk the Line not only because he did an amazing job of playing Johnny Cash (in what I felt was an overly long movie), but because we all know the Oscars are about the heart-strings and Phoenix's recent accident will play well with the voters. I wouldn't be surprised if Brokeback Mountain wins for both best picture and best director, though in both categories I'm pulling for Good Night, and Good Luck. And my last hope is that Batman Begins will take home an Oscar for best cinematography. It was the best Batman film I've seen since the Michael Keaton Batman and I loved it especially because my man Morg was in it. By the way, Morgan Freeman will be presenting as a winner from last year. Another one of those wins based on the heart-strings...You just can't snub an amazing and brilliant actor like Morg for too long before the Academy starts to feel bad for the guy!

Monday afternoon in the History Department library (LA 324), Dr. Benigna Zimba, head of the History Department of the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, will present a preliminary version of a video about the way that the stories of the peoples in southeastern Africa have preserved records of the slave trade. "Slave Routes and Oral Tradition in Southeastern Africa: History in Images," I believe is open to history majors at Idaho State, but I'm sure if you show up at 4pm they won't turn you away. Dr. Zimba will also be presenting at 7pm Wednesday for International Women's Day in the Salmon River Suites of the Student Union.

Tuesday I have a test in my U.S. History class. It isn't technically a midterm. All my midterms were last week (with the exception of one online midterm that for some reason has been extended til after Spring Break) and this test frankly doesn't worry me. We're past the colonial period of U.S. History which is honestly where I'm the least knowledgeable. We're through the Revolution. I think I'm gonna be just fine. I was the only one in our group discussion last Tuesday who knew who Crispus Attucks was...I really wish my brain didn't remember such unimportant historical information!

Friday I am giving an argumentative speech against euthanasia. If anyone has any pointers or information for me I would greatly appreciate it. I didn't pick the topic, so I am not too gung-ho about it, but you do what ya gotta do.

By way of announcements, Better Than Ezra will be here March 31st at the Performing Arts Center. I will, along with other bloggers, be calling for question submissions for the candidate forum the College Democrats are sponsoring for Jim Hansen and Craig Cooper near the end of the month, and Tuesday I was appointed by Mayor Chase and confirmed by the Pocatello City Council to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Pocatello. I'm pretty stoked--even though I didn't know this was happening until I watched this week's city council meeting on Channel 11 last night. I got 12 hours of sleep last night. And over at Students for Grant we have a new student writing. I'm really excited about this, so please check it out!

And last, but not least, last month I informed you all of my motivating bulletin board that hangs right above my computer desk-- today I added a few things to it. Added to the pictures of men who give me inspiration (Frost, Sandburg, Faulkner, and my younger brother) now hang the pictures of Tom Daschle and Rosa Parks. I used to have a picture of Ms. Parks sitting on that bus in Montgomery, I'm not really sure what happened to it, but most likely it got filed away as I rearranged the bulletin board months ago. Now I have a picture of Ms. Parks in her older years, an ever present reminder of what one voice or action can accomplish. The Tom Daschle picture really just makes me laugh--I am afterall a Daschle Democrat if there is such a thing. Hopefully over Spring Break I will have the opportunity to post my thoughts on a speech Daschle recently gave at the University of Iowa. I'm not sure if I will post that here or over at Students for Grant...even more reason for you all to check out a student's blog devoted to getting Larry Grant elected to Congress! Also added to the "I voted" and John Kerry stickers from the 2004 Presidential election are two new campaign stickers-- one Bert Marley for Superintendent of Public Instruction sticker and one Jim Hansen for Congress sticker.

That's all I've got for today. Watch the Oscars, volunteer on a campaign, any campaign, and HAVE A GREAT WEEK!

Saturday, March 4, 2006

The American Dream

When I was a kid I always thought of the American dream in terms of two things, a family sitting down to dinner together and baseball. As I've grown older my perception of what the American dream is has shifted and yet remained in some ways the same. The American dream is not a six figure salary, two cars in the garage, and a television in every room. The American dream is knowing where you are, where you have come from, and where you are going with all the opportunities and routes to get you there. I believe the American dream to be a state of stability, happiness, and appreciation for the subtle things, not necessarily the big things.

There is more to the American dream than sitting down to dinner with your family. The American dream is sitting down with a group of people that you have chosen, that love you, that you consider your family. There is more to the American dream than baseball. The American dream is playing baseball until you cannot move. It's that feeling in about mid-April (or the last week here in Southeast Idaho before the snow fell) when ignoring the smell of the air is not an option and you find yourself out, often in the cold, playing ball until you can no longer see it soaring toward your face. The American dream is children singing their national anthem whether or not they grasp the true meaning of the words. The American dream is the feeling in grown children when the goosebumps overtake them as they hear their national anthem in a classroom, a stadium, anywhere.

There is no separation between a liberal's American dream and a conservative's dream. In the dream we are all one and the same. It is walking into a home during the Depression with FDR on the wall next only to Christ or the Pope. It is walking into a home after the Challenger disaster to see a photo of Reagan in a cowboy hat. The American dream for me is walking into my home and seeing a picture of John Kennedy with a quote about a man he thought so highly of, a quote that echoes in my mind, a quote about Robert Frost.

The American dream is what we make it.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Speaker of the House NOT Seeking Re-election

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! I just read in the Times-News that Speaker of the House Bruce Newcomb (R-Burley) will not be seeking re-election. Could I possibly be any happier? I seriously doubt it.

When you spend substantial time in Bannock County, moving to Cassia County is a shock to one's system. I spent two years in Declo, Idaho wondering where the Democrats were and with representation in that area consisting of Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), Denton Darrington (R-Declo), Dean Cameron (R-Rupert), and Newcomb, moving back to Bannock County was awesome!

The Times-News says:

Newcomb, R-Burley, said he won't seek re-election after serving 20 years in the Idaho House, eight of them as the leader of that body. Newcomb has served the longest of any Idaho House speaker.

"This place and these people are like home and family to me. I met my wife here, and some of my best friends in the world," Newcomb said. "It's going to be hard to go, but it's time to get back to the ranch and leave the heavy lifting to younger backs."

Newcomb, 66, is married to Celia Gould, a former state representative from Buhl. He is a farmer and rancher who was chosen as speaker in 1998 after his predecessor, Mike Simpson, was elected to Congress.

Well, good riddance Speaker Newcomb. And thanks for never responding to any of my letters and emails!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A Reporter's Life

I have only written what would be considered a "fan letter" three times in my life. Once to a wide receiver by the name of John Taylor who used to play for the 49ers, once recently to an amazing poet who studied under Frost, Philip Booth, and then once to Mr. Walter Cronkite care of CBS News.

All my life I have admired Walter Cronkite. I've said many times that the only voice I remember hearing on 9/11 was that of Peter Jennings, the voice I hear when I think of the Kennedy assassination, though I certainly was not there, is and will forever be the voice of Walter Cronkite.

Hence the reason I highly recommend this book.

On my way to Boise for the Frank Church Banquet I listened to Walter read his own work on CD. It was fabulous! I'm sure that had I read the book myself I would never have appreciated it nor taken so much from it. It is a biography of Cronkite and a wonderful historical reference.

Of course my favorite part was when Cronkite, it a strong, forceful voice read the AP wire announcing that Kennedy had died in Dallas. It's an unbelievable thing to hear him read that without faltering. Burned into my memory is the voice of someone clearly shaken and just as saddened by the loss of a great president, but the audio book is not that voice.

So, if you're headed out of town, pick up the audio (you can get it at the Marshall Public Library here in Pocatello) or grab a copy of the book at your local bookstore. It is more than worth the time it takes to read it or listen to it.

300 Posts...300 Reasons to Continue

Unlike my acknowledgement of the 200-post mark, today as The Political Game reaches the 300-entries mark, I thought I would take a moment to review some of the lessons I have learned since August 4, 2004 when this all began.

This evening I was on the phone with a young man whom I love and respect more than anyone I have ever met and he told me that you fight the battles that are worth fighting, not always the battles that can be won. Since the beginning of The Political Game I have fought battle upon battle, some that were 1) never mine to fight or, 2) pointless. I have put off battles that I should have been first in line for. There are of course battles I regret, battles I wish I would have approached differently, and battles I should have taken head-on. There are things I wish I would have approached, things I wish I would have pursued, things I should have for every reason said. There were fights I should have realized were neither my problem, nor my responsibility to win. There are fights that, though now over, remain in my memory as moments of either tremendous personal strength or incredible stupidity. My memory is both a blessing and a curse, an ever present running total of my successes and failures.

Just as easily as I can say I wish the battles that came my way were in a different shape or form, I can easily say I know that the battles that are ours come our way for a purpose. I know that the battles I have fought throughout my time here at The Political Game have only reaffirmed for me who I am, what I am and am not capable of, and who I want more than anything to be. There were those posts that illustrated a change in the entire direction my life was taking, posts that reflected my complete love and appreciation for history, and posts that have clearly proven that at times I can be just as random and far removed from politics as possible.

Through this medium I have announced my candidacy for the ASISU Senate, as well as my win. I informed the world of my declared major -- History. In this medium I dealt with the news of Deep Throat's identity, the death of William Rehnquist, and the Schiavo case. It has always been here that I post my favorite song lyrics, plug the newest books I've read, and it will always be here and only here that I tell you what's in my CD player.

Today as I look back over what I've learned and how I've changed over the course of the last 300 posts, I realize there are still a great number of things I want to accomplish. Today I don't just want to know everything Kennedy, I want to be Kennedy's Sandburg. Today I don't just want to be a student, I want to be a great student. I don't want to be one of those kids that walks into a classroom and leaves no impression whatsoever on the instructor. Today I don't want to be just another blogger, I want to be the blogger that is yes, "JFK-centric", posts on The West Wing episodes, and values more than anything a well-written This Day in History post. I want to blog with the best of them, with amazing individuals like Julie, Steve, and Chris, even on days when I can't seem to formulate anything political to say. Today it isn't about pride, strength, weakness, or stubbornness, today is all about fighting the battle that is worth fighting. And for me no matter how many irate emails I get regarding the blog or how many posts I receive no comments on, the battle is worth it.

I have often wondered since that completely discouraged post announcing, at the 200 mark, that I was giving up the blog, how I kept going. Tonight as I think of my great friends who I rely on, my fellow bloggers who I admire and respect, and the wisdom of one young man who knows me better than any other person on the face of the planet, I realize that me still being here is a credit to the entire group of us.

Thank you all for sticking with me and sharing with me this wonderful opportunity.