Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Last Hurrah (TWW)

From the first time I watched The West Wing until now, I have loved every minute of it. The writers are fabulous and know just what to say to draw me in. Tonight I was especially pleased to hear Senator Vinick mention Adlai's two shots at the presidency. I was somewhat disappointed knowing that Vinick on the show is 70 (Alan Alda is 70 in real life as well) and they were comparing the Senator to Adlai Stevenson in age...Adlai was 52 and then 56 when he ran for the presidency. Nowhere comparable to a 70 year old candidate.

Throughout the week I thought about the merits of having Senator Vinick on board as Vice President--let me remind you all that I wholeheartedly support Josh Lyman for the position--and never really could support it, but tonight when Santos offered him the Secretary of State position, that was something I could support. Not that the TV world really needs my support, but hey, it is the only show I watch on a regular basis so I am the viewer they've been targeting all this time.

The American Presidency is an amazing creation; just as amazing is the Presidential cabinet. If you look at various administrations, there is solid proof that presidents don't always nominate strong party loyals to those positions. Take for instance the Kennedy administration--John Kennedy appointed brilliant minds, not necessarily personalities he got along well with or ideologies he respected. This was clearly evident in his disagreement with the military leadership. Another example of a president going head-to-head with his advisors, secretaries, or generals is that of Harry S. Truman and Douglas MacArthur.

The president does not have to agree completely with his advisors or vice-versa, this is how we have in history created strong policy both on the domestic level and overseas. Bringing Arnie Vinick in as Secretary of State may be one of the greatest decisions President-Elect Santos will make.

I am impressed that the Santos' are considering a public school for their children. Why not? And even in D.C.

The closer we get to the end of this phenomenal series the more I wish I would have been on board from the beginning. I came in during last season and then went back and watched the previous seasons. But then again, had I been on board from the beginning I can't imagine how attached I would be at this point. I already talk about these characters as if I know them personally!

Two more episodes. Don't miss them.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

Isn't springtime lovely? The weather in Pocatello has been absolutely beautiful lately. We've turned on the air conditioning that's how nice it is today.

Closed week at ISU begins Monday and finals week begins the following Monday, so needless to say, my time will be much consumed with studying and finishing a research paper.

This coming Monday (May 1st) there will be national protests in respect to immigration rights. A blog that I have been looking at for several days now, Empires Fall, has more about the protests. Please check out Empires Fall. Hopefully in the next few days I will have second to add this blog to the blogroll for those of you who enjoy reading posts that slam the Bush administration. That's not really my area of interest, but I realize for Democrats in Idaho it is certainly something.

This morning as I was sitting at People & Politics with the Bannock County Democrats, I realized that I never announced that I was elected to be president of the ISU College Democrats for the upcoming 2006-2007 academic year. So...when you all read the comments for the last post and see Serephin's congratulatory comment, that's the story.

I'm not sure I mentioned after the filing deadline how excited I am about Larry LaRocco running for lt. governor. It was here that I posted on Dan Romero's bid for that seat and I really like Dan, but if we want experience, if we want success, if we want to beat Jim Risch, Larry is our guy. As I have been working in the congressional collection of Richard Stallings, I have read plenty about LaRocco and have truly grown to appreciate his unique political style. As I said last week I hope to do a Candidate of the Week feature here on this blog--a feature I just didn't have time to start this week--and I hope LaRocco will be one of the first candidates spotlighted. Until then, please visit Larry's virtual brochure at laroccoforidaho.com.

That's about it for today...Don't miss "The Last Hurrah" on TWW tomorrow night.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Not Ready To Back Down

With all the talk about the new Neil Young album, I've thought a lot about musicians and their role in shaping public opinion, especially in regard to war. I have no intention to talk about George W. Bush today, God only knows how very little I even want to bring him up, but I did want to mention another new single by a band that has some serious baggage when it comes to the Bush administration, the Dixie Chicks.

I'm not a die-hard country music fan. I'll listen to Toby Keith now and again for the entertainment value alone and I listen to Garth Brooks quite often when I'm trying to make important decisions, but all in all I wouldn't say that my favorite genre is country...though, it isn't my least favorite either. I like Tim and Faith, miss the good ole days of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, and even miss my junior high days of Blackhawk, Diamond Rio, and Deana Carter.

Anyway, back to the point at hand, the new single "Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks (what a terrible name) is pretty good:

Forgive, sounds good

Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting
I’m through with doubt

There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting


Whether or not this song was written in response to the backlash that came after the Dixie Chicks spoke out against the Bush administration, I don't know. I don't even care. I think this song, on it's own, without the context that has been assigned to it, is beautiful. There aren't many songs lately (with the exception of some of the new songs coming out by Pearl Jam) that actually show any sort of writing talent. I had a rather rough night last night and when I couldn't sleep and was flipping through the channels, this song caught my attention and has been on my mind since. How many songs that have come out in the last year can we honestly say have held our attention?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Transition (TWW)

I won't begin this post with some statement about how solid this episode was, not because the episode lacked strength, stability, and actual writing genius, but because I have been watching Nickelodeon for much of the day and how could anything possibly be genius in comparison?

I find it odd that President Bartlet is looking younger as the final episodes roll out and even more odd that in a post-Cold War world, we hear about Russia so frequently on The West Wing.

The best part of tonight's episode was Josh arriving at Sam's office, walking in on his meeting, to tell him he found "the guy." If you remember, Josh walked in to Gage-Whitney in the same manner to hire Sam as Deputy Communications Director. Prior to the episode I'd done some thinking of my own and was hoping that the previews were misleading, that Josh would offer Sam the vp position and Donna the deputy chief-of-staff. But it didn't work that way. Donna was offered the chief-of-staff position for the first lady. Sam was offered the deputy chief-of-staff position, or as Josh put it, "you're me to my Leo."

Now Josh and Donna are off on vacation, Lou (the new deputy communications director) is running the show with Sam in D.C., and the president-elect is thinking up a plot to propose the vice president position to his opponent--Senator Vinick.

I'd like to think this show is no longer predictable, but it is. I imagine these great story lines that never happen...those curve balls that are never thrown. With three episodes to go I wouldn't imagine we could have a confirmation fight on Oliver Babbish or a real conflict with Russia, China, and that upside down country of Kazakhstan. But who am I to say there won't be a curve ball?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

The people who live on the corner by my house have a Jana Jones for State Superintendent sign in their yard. Now, yard signs themselves don't bother me, and those of you who were at the campaign trainings in Boise for the Frank Church banquet will know of how lengthy the conversation about yard signs was, but yard signs of people I won't be supporting bother me. I can't have yard signs at my house so I can't put a Bert Marley, the candidate I whole heartedly support, for State Superintendent sign out in my yard to counter the sign down the street, so...I've decided that because I can't promote the candidates of my choice by placing yard signs in every visible spot in the yard, I will, from now until the general election have a Candidate of the Week post. You can add this to the other regular posting categories of Smorgasbord Saturday, TWW, and TDIH. TWW posts will be ending on Mother's Day as The West Wing will run for the last time that day.

If you haven't noticed by the spaces of time between my posts, my life is a little bit out of control lately. The calendar is plastered with appointments, events, and other random happenings that I'm engulfed in. And, to add to the chaos, yet again, I am not feeling particularly well. On average I get three sinus infections a year...Generally right before Christmas (and more often than not during fall finals), sometime between Easter & when school gets out, and then once over the summer after I've been quite busy and then have a week or so of down time. I wouldn't consider the bug that inflicts me at the moment a full-blown sinus infection, but it certainly has the potential to be. I went to the doctor last week and he informed me I had what was left of an upper respiratory infection (I had a cough for about a week) and that I should be careful because my immune system wasn't up to par. To tell you the truth I don't know if my immune system is ever up to par, but I suppose I should have taken that as "Tara, don't wear yourself out and steer clear of any potential disasters." What are the chances this is merely a weekend head cold and I'll be cured by Monday?

Monday night is the last meeting of the ASISU Student Senate. Since January 31st when I was sworn in, I have had quite the time on the Senate. It has been a wonderful learning experience and I truly look forward to next year when I can serve out an entire term with some idea of what exactly I am doing. Monday night I will be presenting the first Senate resolution I have ever written. I had previously sponsored a bill and cosponsored a bill, but never was I the author of and sole sponsor of anything. At the risk of sounding nerdy, it was pretty cool to write and I am thoroughly excited for Monday night.

Over at Uncle Orson Reviews Everything, Orson Scott Card has a nice article on Colonial Williamsburg. For those of you who don't know, my first choice for graduate school is the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. As I have been in the thick of graduate school applications, I have read a great deal about Williamsburg and how the school was occupied by Revolutionary troops then again during the Civil War. I would definitely recommend the article and the colonial history program the college has to offer. I am in love with the idea of the College of William and Mary, but will admit I would choose it over another school strictly because I have not had the opportunity to learn very much about U.S. History in my undergrad program. I am also most likely applying to the University of Utah, the University of Idaho, the University of Oregon, Northeastern, UMass-Boston, UT-Dallas, and other seemingly obvious U.S History related programs. Regardless of the places I apply and where I will be accepted, I am amazed by Williamsburg.

One last thing, I finally registered for classes for the fall semester and I just wanted to say, the fall semester may be my best yet. I have an awesome lineup of not just courses, but professors. I will finally take Idaho History and have registered for Senior Seminar in both the History and Political Science Departments. In the spring I'll need to take 12 credits to keep my seat on the Senate, but I imagine they will be fluff...I will have all my requirements and hopefully will just be able to take anything I want (i.e. English courses and I'm sure there will be a few other History courses that for some reason I will believe I just can't live without).

It seems like just yesterday I began at Idaho State. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Don't Wanna Go To Vietnam

Someone I know is taking an intro level American Government class and occasionally asks me for some help with her papers. I really don't mind helping her because I miss the days of those type of papers...the kind that you can enjoy without working too hard. Last week she stopped by and showed me the prompts for her next paper and one of them really caught my eye:

Regarding the 25th amendment, write an alternative history--what might have happened had any of the presidents who died in office continued or pick a president, suppose he died in office and his vice president took over, how would this change history?

These sorts of questions keep me entertained for days on end. Over the last several days I have thought about this question over and over again and the more I examine the vice presidents over the last fifty or so years, the more and more I think my answer to that second question would be Dwight David Eisenhower. Had Ike died in office and Richard Milhous Nixon become president, how would the course of history been altered? Interesting question, isn't it? Would we have had the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon race? Would we have had Kennedy at all? And more importantly would Johnson ever have been president and would Vietnam ever have happened?I keep thinking about how if Nixon would have come earlier how we may have still flubbed with French in Indochina, yet we have seen the crisis before it arose.

The first portion of that question I have answered in great length with two presidents: John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. I've thought long and often about these two men and what there death did to this nation and what their continued lives may have brought to a shattered nation. With Lincoln more so than Kennedy. Yet, since I saw the prompt for the paper, I have been thinking a great deal about William McKinley. No TR? What would the world be like today without Teddy Roosevelt? Wow. Can you see what I have so much trouble sleeping?

I guess I can't entirely blame the Presidents of the United States for that...I have recently fallen in love with John Lee Hooker. It is almost obsessive. Every night of the week I find myself listening to him. He's simply amazing. He's no TR, but hey, not everything has to be political.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Requiem (TWW)

Req·ui·em n. 1: a song or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person 2: a musical setting for a Mass celebrating the dead 3: a Mass celebrated for the dead 4: the title of my favorite episode of The X-Files.

We put on our Sunday best and for what? To honor a man who has given us everything. As I watched the first minutes of tonight's episode, I couldn't help but think how appropriate it was to be airing the episode of Leo's funeral on Easter Sunday.

In a cathedral full of men and women who were not only Leo McGarry's colleagues, but were his friends and allies I noticed a few very humble faces. Nancy McNalley, the former National Security Advisor. Will Bailey, the newest Communications Director and/or Press Secretary. Amy, Joey, Danny, John Hoynes, and Toby with Andie by his side returned to bury a man they've looked up to for seasons now. And not only the faces of those who have long since been absent from the regular cast of The West Wing like Mallory, Joey, Toby with Andy, and Vice President Hoynes, but also the men and women who we see every week were very somber.

The greatest pain we have yet to see on President Bartlet's face was the pain he could not disguise as he carried the casket of his dearest friend out of National Cathedral. President Bartlet's distance throughout the entire episode is clear evidence of how attached Jed and Leo were. He got lost in his head so many times throughout the episode. And I kept thinking about that episode when he couldn't decide to invade a country I can barely remember now and he sat with Leo in the Oval Office:

I fought a jungle war. I'm not doing it again. If I could put myself anywhere in time it would be in the cabinet room on August 4th 1964, when our ships were attacked by North Vietnam in the Tonkin Gulf. I'd say, 'Mr. President, don't do it. You're considering the commitment of a massive number of troops and throwing in our lot with torturers and panderers, leaders without principles and soldiers without conviction, with no clear mission and no end in sight'.

That moment in the Oval Office was one of my favorite in the entire series. I was again reminded of it when CJ said she was thinking about Leo sitting in that chair in the Chief-of-staff's office. "People are here one minute and then they're not."

This episode brought back Charlie, who had in previous episodes taken a back seat to the election. He had recently asked CJ to consider some job offers because he would really like to work with her again. I found it quite impressive that one, he urged Donna to talk to Josh about a job, and two, that he walked with Toby to the burial. This signaled to us that they were both in fear of the Chief-of-Staff being photographed with Toby, the national security leak.

As the episode continued, I couldn't help but agree with President Bartlet's statement on how Leo would have felt about the mourning process...mostly because John Spencer would have felt similarly about the cast dragging their feet in the wake of his untimely death. "He would have hated this, mortified that we'd gone to all this trouble."

When did the Danny and CJ thing happen? I swear this show is turning into a soap opera and I am not enjoying that aspect. Danny was as charming as ever, but come on, Danny and CJ have been sleeping together? When did that happen? "I'll leave the door open?" We've put this off for seven years, this will keep another night? There are reasons why I don't watch soap operas!

Near the end, as President Bartlet was going around and greeting or consoling each of the staff, I kept thinking about the episode after Josh was shot when he was seeing that crisis counselor and Leo told him that he could continue working for the president regardless of the PTSD:

This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, "Hey, you, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up, "Father, I'm down in this hole. Can you help me out?" The priest writes a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey, Joe, it's me. Can you help me Out" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you nuts? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before - and I know the way out."

As President Bartlet spoke to Margaret I'm sure every TWW viewer recalled the numerous times that Leo hollered for her, even when she sat so closely to the door. Or the time he argued with her about why it was not appropriate for her to be practicing the president's signature. Josh loved Leo as a father, just as Leo loved Josh as a son; CJ loved Leo as the man she looked up to in so many ways and the Chief-of-staff she aspired to be; Margaret loved Leo with everything. It was Leo that kept her coming to work every day.

So, the Amy and Josh "hello stranger" segment caught me offguard. I love Mary Louise Parker and her character is awesome, but now isn't the best time to throw a curve ball into Josh Lyman's life and we could clearly see that by Donna getting nervous. Here we are again with the soap opera and I don't like it a bit. What are the writers actually thinking? Or are they thinking at all? I have to admit, the best Amy moment of the entire series was when she was at Josh's house singing at the top of her lungs Van Morisson with only Josh's shirt on...as Josh was on the phone with Donna. Best episode for that quirky love triangle.

There are very good points that Amy brings to the show every time. The questions of who's on the list for Leo's spot is a good one and I am with her on not choosing Baker. A congresswoman from Florida is an intriguing idea, but if you are, as Amy put it, "looking for Leo McGarry Josh, and he isn't available," you have to come up with another amazing individual that will adequately fill those shoes. A woman to hold high constitutional office? Awesome, but why the hell aren't they considering CJ? Civilized. However, Amy for Director of Legislative Affairs is a solid idea. I only wish the show was continuing so we could see these things in place.

Ainsley Hayes was back. One of the best lines ever from a television drama came from this lovely little Republican: "I'm concerned about peeing on your carpet." Priceless. But really, who wouldn't be concerned about peeing on Leo McGarry's carpet when about to meet the President of the United States of America? Evidently Ainsley has been at the Hoover Institute, ironically named, and would like a job. This time she can't be so afraid of a Democratic administration and Leo's not around for her to pee on his carpet.

For a very serious episode, there was certainly enough humor. I found it hilarious when Kristin Chenoweth (Annabeth or whatever her name is on the show) was commenting on Leo's pink shirts and how he would always correct her and say they were apricot. Really, men should not wear pink and not a lot of men can pull that color off-- John Spencer included.

As always, the greatest moment and quote of the show came from President Bartlet near the end when speaking to Josh, clearly stricken with grief: "He loved you like a son you know that don't you. Leo and I are the past, you're the future. It's up to you now. We're counting on you. " This made me believe what I have believed all along and that is that Josh Lyman will be Santos' choice for VP. Or this merely means Josh will aptly fill the shoes of the former Chief-of-Staff Leo McGarry.

And just as he has a hundred times before, Josh walks out the front gate and looks at the White House.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

TDIH: Dedication of Jefferson Memorial

On this day in 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.



I once wrote an article on the definition of democracy and the importance of laws in democracies in which I quoted the fourth panel of the Jefferson Memorial:

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We
might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

If there is any other place in the world that I feel as strongly about at Arlington National Cemetery it is the Jefferson Memorial. I love it. I sat their one spring evening weighing my decision on Kent State and fell in love with the structure as well as the beautiful words of our third president, Thomas Jefferson.

I didn't want to let this day go unnoticed. As Tacitus once said: "This I regard as history's highest function, to let no worthy action be uncommemorated."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another Disappointing Session for Education

This session of the Idaho State Legislature has FINALLY come to a close, but what exactly do we have to show for it?

With each passing session I become even more disappointed with the Legislature in how they deal with education. And I say this to Republicans and Democrats alike. Where are the politicians who really care about education in Idaho? I can think of few and at the moment only one comes to mind.

At some point we are all going to come to the conclusion that we should have done something. I only wish that point would come sooner, rather than later. At some point I hope we realize that paying for our prisons instead of funding school curriculums and school buildings themselves has been a poor policy only encouraging crime and deviance.

I am reminded of Ruskin, something in Unto This Last: "Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons."

My hopes for next year? A governor who understands his role in the session (LEADERSHIP!), a new Speaker (though, Speaker Newcomb your service to this state is appreciated and your strong words against Rep. Sali have not gone unnoticed), and Democrats with a backbone. All of which will benefit education as a whole.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Election Day Part II (TWW)

Before this episode aired, I was completely prepared to be critical of the writers of the show in this post. In fact I wasn't going to watch it at all, as I wasn't actually home tonight, but caught it while I was off doing other things. Before this episode I was ready to say how absolutely absurd it is to have pictures of the funeral of Leo McGarry on the NBC website before even announcing his death on the show. I was ready to say how irritating it is imply a surprise heart attack when Leo McGarry the character, and John Spencer had a history of heart problems. I was prepared to state how poorly I feel this season has been executed by the writers and how the brilliance just isn't there anymore thus justifying the canceling of this amazing series. Before this episode I must not have known or held true appreciation for serious, dramatic writing.

Knowing that Leo's exit was inevitable, I had only thought of the impact of Leo's death on the Santos campaign. I hadn't given any thought to the impact it would have on the White House. We got only a sample of the impact, through the misty eyes of CJ, the pain of President Bartlet, and the shock of Margaret. Next week's episode will cover the funeral and burial of Mr. McGarry.

Now before I go into quotes and memories, ladies and gentlemen of the fictional United States of America currently living under the Bartlett administration, we have a president-elect. Coming down to a matter of 12 electoral votes, Congressman Matthew Santos won the election with the last state in the blue-column being Nevada. Go figure. I guess this is why they call it fiction...

Both Senator Vinick and Congressman Santos won their home states, but it was certainly an electoral battle. Neither wanting a court case, but obviously wanting the coveted job, they did not ask for recounts. One comment that was made regarding contested electoral votes made me pause for a moment: Nobody votes for that guy again...the one who screams at the ump because he didn't like the call at the plate. Hmm. Interesting as we lead up to 2008, don't you think? There was also a comment on how many Hispanics in Nevada were actually legal...quite the thing to say as people around the nation protest immigration reform.

After next week's episode, it will probably be more appropriate to reflect on the tenure of John Spencer on The West Wing, but that last shot in tonight's episode with Josh standing at the cork board staring at a picture of Leo with Matt Santos, as he whispers "thanks, Boss," and President Bartlet's comment that the "first time I ever met Leo we argued" got me thinking about a quote I vaguely remember from seasons ago:
My chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police? (President Bartlet)
Just as Donna said to Josh when he was trying to blame himself for pushing Leo into running on the ticket, Leo never did anything he didn't want to go and there sure wasn't going to be a chance of talking him into it. Whomever becomes Matt Santos' vice president will have some seriously large shoes to fill. I hope it's Josh. And if not Josh, I hope Sam returns.

Over time, as my interest in The West Wing has grown and as I've set out on certain quests of my own and challenges of my own, I've often thought about something Leo McGarry once said to his staff: "If we're gonna walk into walls, I want us running into 'em full speed." Why not? See, there are lessons to learn from television. Lucky for us both, I only watch one show on a somewhat regular basis!

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Cooper Endorses Jim Hansen

Tonight at the 2nd Congressional District Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Idaho State University College Democrats, Craig Cooper officially announced his withdrawal from the race and endorsed Jim Hansen.

Cooper stated that "there is one person here tonight who has proven experience uniting Idaho's families. That man is Jim Hansen, and I am formally announcing my support for Jim for Congress."

Evidently it wasn't news to a single person in the room-- and all week long it has been chaos trying to plan a debate when you don't know who will be there, who is actually running, and whether or not they actually want to debate. But when all was said and done we had a very honest discussion of the issues, the issues that face Idahoans, the issues that face Congress, and the issues that Jim and Craig have taken solid stands on.

After a long week of phone calls to Boise and Idaho Falls the College Democrats settled on a format with Jim and Craig, though the idea of keeping it a secret didn't last long.

Last night at a house party in Pocatello, Richard Stallings
announced that Craig was dropping out of the race...
and just when we thought those calls to the Hansen campaign were covert, everyone in the 2nd CD already knew.

Surprise or not, it was a wonderful forum. The questions submitted to me by the progressive blogs around the state were asked of both candidates prior to Craig's announcement. Lin Whitworth, who did a wonderful job of moderating the forum, kept track of time and added his two-cents as we went. After tonight I certainly have a higher respect for the men who have run in the second congressional district. It is an unbelievable challenge and one that Richard, Lin, Craig, and Jim certainly understand.

On issues ranging from immigration reform to Representative Simpson's White Cloud Wilderness Bill, Hansen and Cooper answered honestly and directly. Hansen, when asked what the major issue facing Idahoans today is, commented that a lack of health insurance for all is a big worry for Idaho families. The idea that a person is one life-threatening illness or injury away from bankruptcy is very real in Idaho and Hansen said he hopes to address this need when elected to the United States House of Representatives. Jim also supports raising the minimum wage, reaching a level that is a livable wage, and adjusting the minimum wage according to inflation. After Craig spoke on corruption in congress, Jim countered by clearly articulating his strong support of campaign finance reform. He will continue to only take $100 from each donor before the general election. Though I was less impressed with Craig's answer to a question on the importance of the Native American community stating he would not be opposed to eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I was impressed with Jim's consistent support of Idaho minorities, both the Native American sovereign nations and the Hispanic community that he showed strong support of in his answer on immigration reform.

Questions from the audience ranged from minimum wage to health care and even Lin Whitworth asked a question on earmarking. The forum was an honest and informative discussion of the issues that turned out to be a wonderful event.

Larry Grant, candidate in the 1st Congressional District, got a plug as well. Who says we have to limit ourselves to the 2nd CD? I spoke for a moment on what an excellent candidate Larry is and mentioned the question asked of Mr. Grant over at Students For Grant in regard to war-making and asked the same question of both Jim Hansen and Craig Cooper. After Craig discussed President Bush's wiretapping of American citizens, Jim's answer was simply summarized with one word. Backbone. Hansen stated that each individual and every member of Congress must have a solid understanding of the United States Constitution and must use good judgment and step up to the responsibility they have as representatives of the American people to keep the executive branch in check. As a student who has read the Constitution numerous times in my life, I was satisfied with this answer and nearly as impressed as I was with Larry Grant's answer. It is time for Congress to assume the powers that are rightfully theirs.

A big thank you, from me personally, goes out to Julie, Jill, Jessica, and Diana Rowe-Pauls for their help with the questions and a big thank you to Lin Whitworth for his continued involvement in the Democratic Party. And of course, thank you Jim Hansen and Craig Cooper for coming to Idaho State University and openly addressing the issues.

Smorgasbord Saturday

When you get an email from a reader, my favorite reader no less, saying she's tired of reading about Caspar you have to admit it is time to return from an almost two-week hiatus.

First, I'll remind you all that tonight is the 2nd Congressional District Candidate Forum for Craig Cooper and Jim Hansen sponsored by the ISU College Democrats. Please be there. The forum will begin at 7pm, with Lin Whitworth as moderator, in the Salmon River Suites of the Pond Student Union Building at Idaho State University.

Let me just say, it is a beautiful day in P-Town. And not just because I get to be political today. I did attend People & Politics this morning at Michelle's City Lights and I do get to be involved with the forum this evening, but really I'm merely speaking about the weather. When I left the house bright and early this morning to sit in on some interviews at ISU, I was concerned that maybe it would rain, but it has turned out to be absolutely wonderful. I got home from P&P (not to be confused with my least favorite book on the planet Pride & Prejudice) and went out and played some basketball. That wasn't necessarily as wonderful as the weather. Just because I am 5'10" without shoes on doesn't mean I actually have any basketball skills. There are reasons I was a damn fine baseball player. I got to stay in one place, most of the time. If in basketball I could stay in one place and be judged strictly on accuracy, I'd say I'm not half-bad, but once there is any sort of dribbling or running involved, we have a problem. My coordination leaves something to be desired.

I never gave proper credit to the beauty of Welcome to Wherever You Are or Election Day. I must say the last several episodes of The West Wing, though strong to a certain point, have not been as enchanting as previous episodes from this season or other seasons. Last week's episode was, well, irritating. We faithful viewers have always known there has been a "Josh and Donna" even though Josh and Donna may not have known. But just as we knew that there had to be a "Mulder and Scully" in the end, we didn't necessarily want to have all the details laid out in front of us. In a recent Slate article, I found it disappointing how intrigued viewers are with the hooking up part of the show. I for one was not at all intrigued by the Josh/Donna dynamic (well let's say it wasn't one of the pulls that got me to watch every week). There are so many finer points of TWW, why waste great political thought on soap opera material? Election Day was truly one of the most poorly written episodes of the show that I can remember. The strongest aspect of the entire episode was Charlie's consistent urging of CJ to look at job applications. His motives? He wants to continue to work with her. The relationship between CJ and Charlie has been one I have always marveled at. He completely respects and admires her and as a mentor figure, she has guided him through the time of the administration into a place where he really fits and finds prominence. Welcome to Wherever You Are however was not poorly written. From the entrance of Kristin Chenoweth singing in that amazing Broadway-like voice to the "you think we're gonna win?" conversation between Santos and Josh, you had to be amazed by the ingenuity. There is one thing about The West Wing that never stops amazing me and that is the writer's sense and inclusion of history. When Toby was face-to-face with the U.S. Attorney and was explaining to him why indicting him for obstruction of justice could potentially derail a presidential election, he quoted one of history's greatest judicial minds, Justice Robert Jackson by saying "you can also afford to be just." Those are the moments in this show that keep me watching. Those are the moments that remind me, though nearing an end, this show will continue on with me because of the things it has taught me historically. The writers have never hesitated to throw in those historical tidbits that love to store themselves permanently in my brain.

We're getting down to the wire with the remaining episodes of this awesome series. We have a beloved chief-of-staff to bury and a new president to elect. More of the Foo Fighters, even. Should be a great wrap-up.

Last night when I couldn't get to sleep I flipped on TBS and caught the last few innings of the Braves/Giants game. I am a diehard Braves fan. I found it particularly fitting that on the anniversary of his 1978 managerial debut with the Braves, Bobby Cox was ejected from the ballgame. Rising to fight the fight of Andruw Jones, Bobby got thrown right out of the game. It was a horribly long and wet game in San Francisco last night, but my Braves were victorious. Even in rain they aren't too shabby. But keep in mind this is coming from someone who would like two goldfish so she can name them Chipper and Andruw...

Is anyone else as disgusted with the Dan Adamson for Governor signs popping up all over hell and creation? Last night on the drive to Malad for a wedding reception I spotted a few and saw even more today as I was driving through town. One guy out by the interstate even has a banner nailed to the side of his barn. Please tell me Idaho voters are more intelligent than this. Granted, Idaho Republicans continued to vote for George Hansen, even after the felony indictments, but come on, is Adamson really proposing free tacos?

And last, but certainly not least of the Saturday Smorgasbord topics, pick up a copy of The Idaho State Journal today and you will find in the 20 Questions feature, Marjanna Hulet. I am really come to appreciate and admire Marjanna since the City Council race of '05 and I was pleased to see her there representing not only ISU, but the City of Pocatello as a member of the CDC. This is one of my favorite features of the ISJ and always love to read about people I interact with on a regular basis.