Sunday, November 30, 2008

TDIH: The Brady Bill

In the state of Idaho, admitting "anti-gun" sentiments is akin to admitting you kick puppies. Fellow residents of this fine state, please begin your accusations, I must be a puppy kicker. I hate guns, I hate everything about guns, I have no desire to own a gun, and I support gun control measures on a state and federal level. With that said, I could never run for office in this state; I may never have a chance to vote for a state-wide candidate that shares my views; and, I am in a very small minority of Idahoans who will actually admit this position.

I was in the third grade when President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill. The only thing I remember about the signing of the bill was a short segment on KMVT focusing on what the new law would mean for Idahoans. There are very few things I remember my father saying in regard to politics, but I do remember him saying, "that man wants to take away my guns." I was too young to understand what he meant and I certainly was too young to understand that what was happening on a national level was not the doing of the President of the United States alone. I knew nothing about James Brady or even the man that shot him, John Hinckley. I knew that somehow Ronald Reagan was involved, but really all I knew about Ronald Reagan was that he was the husband of a woman who had my friends and I all wearing these "Drug Free By '93" sweatshirts.

The Brady Bill, otherwise known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, is now one of the most politicized legislative decisions in modern American history. It is referred to by some with as much disdain as Roe v Wade. Since President Clinton signed it into law on November 30, 1993, flanked by James and Sarah Brady, every politician, Democrat, Republican, or otherwise, has had to publicly acknowledge their own views and positions on gun control.

Since the passage of the Brady Bill, that particular legislation has only been challenged constitutionally once--on tenth amendment grounds--in Printz v United States. Surprisingly, the recent Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v Heller is the first ruling in the history of the Supreme Court that has even attempted to define the rights provided by the second amendment.

Fifteen years ago today, the signing of the Brady Bill symbolized a major effort in the United States to get serious about crime. Fifteen years later it symbolizes the politicizing of protection. The Brady Campaign touts the success of Brady background checks, while continuing to strive for gun control and safety measures nationally. Sarah Brady's role in this continuing effort has been limited by her recent battle with cancer, however her words from that historic signing ceremony live on:
Our critics have said that the Brady Bill was only symbolic. Well, I think there is some symbolism in the Brady Bill -- it's symbolic of teamwork, of people from all over this nation working together to pass something that the people wanted. I think it's symbolic that members of Congress could stand up to a large lobby. I think it's symbolic of a lot of things. But I don't want anyone to feel that that's all it is. The Brady Bill is not just symbolism. It will begin to make a difference. It will begin to save lives. We read in The Post this morning that in four states alone, over 50,000 people were stopped in the last four years from getting weapons illegally -- or over the counter. It will help.

The Brady Bill has helped in ways I doubt Sarah Brady could have conceived.

In this state there are no laws for child access prevention. We lack serious laws for registration, carrying, and licensing. This is a state where we cry foul anytime the government intervenes, yet in the most dangerous situations we would rather fear the encroachment of our rights rather than the safety of our children and families.

I come from a family that is pro-gun. My brothers are all hunters, my mother has been known to go target shooting with a rifle from time to time, and her husband owns more guns than he does socks, none of which are locked up. I never took hunter safety classes, I never was taught how to properly treat a gun, and nobody ever told me that guns were dangerous. I knew, as most of my friends did, that you stayed away from the guns.

Despite what I knew, I still had three friends from elementary school or junior high die or be seriously injured by their own hand with guns. One with a shotgun, on accident, one with a rifle, on purpose, and one with a handgun, also on purpose. The first was in the fifth grade when he died, accidentally shooting himself and being too far from help for it to have reached him in the time. The second was a high school boy, much older than me, who wanted to end his life, but knew nothing about guns or how to use them and ended up causing him brain damage, brain damage that would torment him for nearly fifteen years before it would eventually take his life. The third, a girl I rode the school bus with everyday, who in junior high was so miserable she saw no other way out and used her older brother's handgun to take her own life one day after school.

I have never really cared if being anti-gun was the popular position to take. I have struggled to explain it to those who are far more versed in gun law and even constitutional law than I. And I have read story after story of kids accidentally shooting classmates because they thought the guns were just toys, knowing as I do, that those kids could have been and were my friends.

I personally feel I own a debt of gratitude to James and Sarah Brady, a debt respected and shared by my fellow Idahoans or not.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Stores Tuesday

In celebration of Tuesday's release of The X-Files: I Want To Believe on DVD, I've been watching a few of the better episodes of this groundbreaking show. The new film, despite its shortcomings, is the last installment in my own X-Files collection; all nine seasons, the first feature film Fight the Future, and the spin-off series, The Lone Gunmen, will soon be joined by I Want To Believe.

From a season three episode I caught this afternoon, The Blessing Way:
"I was first struck by the absence of time, having depended on it so completely as a measure of myself and my life. Moving backwards into the perpetual night - it consumes purpose, indeed, all passion and will. I come to you, old friend, with the dull clarity of the dead, not to beckon you but to feel the fire and intensity that still live in you... and the heavy weight of your burdens which I had once borne. There is truth you know, friend, if that's all you seek, but there's no justice or judgment, without which truth is a vast... dead... hollow. Go back. Do not look into the abyss or let the abyss look into you; awaken the sleep of reason and fight the monsters within and without."
Perhaps my opinion of the show was slightly tainted by the failures of the recent film or I simply hadn't spent enough time with some of these episodes in a while to appreciate them, but over the past few days I've found myself remembering how much I loved the wit, the philosophical dialog, and even the conspiracy theories.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe hits stores Tuesday, December 2, 2008. It is available for pre-order at Amazon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I'm taking a vacation from the blog. Until I return:

"Bed of Lies" written by Rob Thomas and Matt Serletic (of Matchbox Twenty and their 2000 release, Mad Season) performed here by ctrlaltrock.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Diminished In Morality" (Pt. 2)

(Editor's Note: This is part two in a series regarding the views of KBAR radio host, Zeb Bell, on abortion. The first installment was published Thursday, November 20, 2008.)

In the introductory post of this series, the background on abortion law, I posed the two-part question of whether or not it is justifiable to fear a reverse in abortion policy on the coattails of Obama alone and whether it is easier for the anti-abortion contingency, from the standpoint of logical argument and conscience, to attack those who oppose abortion and all of their values and standards than it is to attack those who support abortion and every other value and belief they hold.

Perhaps the answer, in part, is the recent diatribe of Zeb Bell regarding recent news surrounding the BLM's wild horse policy. Horses? Yes, I said horses. From November 13, 2008:
The way that we treat the horses in this country, with the saving them and putting them in these holding pens and a million and a half here, big deal. We treat those animals better than we do human beings with a partial birth abortion advocated by the new administration with Obama and it is disgusting and sickening to me.
What Zeb fails to connect for his readers is that the BLM policy regarding the euthanizing of wild horses was reversed by President Bush. The Clinton administration intervened on this issue and it is likely, given his recent staff and cabinet decisions, that President-elect Obama will operate under similar if not identical policies. Why does he fear change under Obama when on issues such as this it is his President who has reversed policy?

Before discussing the link Zeb automatically made between a country up in arms about the status of wild horses, yet ambivalent toward a procedure medically known as D&E (as opposed to the purely political term 'partial birth abortion'), it is important to note that Zeb Bell agrees with George W. Bush 90% of the time (sound familiar?), seeming to disagree with him only on immigration policy. He unabashedly supported George Bush's veto of embryonic stem cell research legislation and more than likely would offer an argument, identical in reasoning to that of President Bush, that opposing abortion is in fact protecting the sanctity of life.

If Zeb is going to make the improbable and illogical jump from the slaughtering of horses to the D&E procedure, how are we not to question his motives in fearing a change in leadership under Obama on abortion grounds and his lack of fear in the leadership of George W. Bush on what Zeb himself admits is an emotional issue? He goes on:
I get really emotional when I think that in a country like ours...that we tend to think about what they did in Chicago with Jill Stanek, the nurse that was on my program and testified at a hearing with Barack Obama when she tried to defeat him on his pushing for partial birth abortion and he wanted to let babies that lived through the surgery of partial birth abortion just pushed into a linen closet and allowed to die. We can't do this with an overpopulous of horses! They'll spend a million and a half a month in a holding facility. There's something wrong with this society!

Yeah, I'm very passionate about this. I've never seen something more ridiculous than the way we treat human life as a baby and yet we're so concerned about equines and bovines and canines, but yet we'll say that with partial birth abortion we will kill an infant that's ready to be born and if he doesn't die during that partial birth abortion process, just put him on a gurney and just push him in a linen closet, I'm not making this up, it happened, and let the infant die in that cold, clammy room. Our whole society needs a get better pill because right now I think we're sick.
Whether or not Jill Stanek has any sense of the truth and is anything close to a truthful depiction of Barack Obama's role in any of this remains to be seen; however, she appears to be aware of the divide among the anti-choice contingency on the wording of anti-choice legislation. Like the arguments in Planned Parenthood v Casey and Gonzalez v Carhart, there remains a certain amount of hesitation in placing any abortion law into practice without sufficient concern and verbiage regarding the health and safety of the mother. As far as I can tell, Zeb Bell does not believe abortion to be an appropriate practice under any circumstances, even the generally accepted cases of rape, incest, or the safety of the mother.

Zeb Bell believes that slaughtering wild horses across this country is a much more humane way of dealing with the cost of these animals than housing them in holding pens on the tax payer's dime. He also believes that allowing a mother to die because of a pregnancy is more humane than allowing that same mother to choose for herself and with the best advice of her doctor to undergo the D&E procedure to terminate a pregnancy that would otherwise be life-ending.

Would it be harder for him to attack Obama if the President-elect were anti-choice? I doubt it. Bell would just resort to instilling fear in his listeners by offering any other number of post-inauguration scenarios, scenarios he would likely offer as evidence of Obama and an accepting public being "diminished in morality." Would it be easier for him to attack President Bush if the President were pro-choice and supported stem cell research? Without a doubt. Seems to be a double standard here. A liberal is a liberal, abortion policy or not, but a conservative is less conservative if he can support abortion on any level?

It makes tons of sense, nearly as much sense as a conversation about wild horses morphing into one about partial birth abortion.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Cowardice

If you don't pay attention to news via the campus of Idaho State University, you might not know the history of infighting that has taken place here over the last several years. As a student I've had a front row seat to the departure of Richard Bowen, the too short tenure of interim President Gallagher, and the current leader Arthur Vailas. Regardless of what you read, the infighting isn't simply among the administration and the faculty. There are plenty of battles between individual members of the faculty, many of whom are featured prominently in the local newspaper, as well as battles between student organizations and the administration.

Recently, Dr. Habib Sadid exposed many of his frustrations with the current administration at ISU in the paper. From what I understand he is now taking his case, whatever that specifically may be, to the courts. His beef is with President Vailas and the goal of making Idaho State University a premier research institution. Sadid's accusations and frustrations come in a long line of public statements along these lines.

Yesterday, Matt Spencer, the current president of the Associated Students of Idaho State University weighed in. His article appears to be a direct response to the recent complaints about Dr. Vailas.

Now, I realize that the Idaho State Journal is responsible for reporting news pertaining to ISU. I realize that news out of ISU, as one of Pocatello's largest employers, is important to those who live here. But at what point should the Journal say enough is enough?

We have now resorted to attacking those who have defended the people originally attacked. It appears to be an unbreakable cycle continuously fed by the next accusation laden article. And as if the attacks of Mr. Sadid for his criticism of the current administration aren't ridiculous enough, they are now calling him a coward for speaking against Vailas publicly. For some reason I can't seem to catch on to how speaking out publicly about someone, in this case a very powerful someone, is an act of cowardice.

Isn't cowardice the unwillingness to speak out against someone? In the revolving door of faculty and students at ISU, it doesn't seem to me that the cowards are the ones who publicly offer reasoning for why this is happening.

Personally, I like Dr. Vailas. I think he is a very nice guy. As a person, I have no qualms with Arthur Vailas. Has he made some poor decisions? Probably. Did he say that the faculty of ISU should take advantage of nights and weekends on campus to get the University ahead in the research game? Absolutely.

Whatever my feelings about Vailas, I am so far removed from the inner workings of the institution that I can't realistically offer my opinion of the status of the University or whether the short comings are indeed the fault of Vailas alone. However, I can say this: The problems at ISU are not the result of one change in leadership. In the time I have been here, just under five years, I have seen more mudslinging, challenges of leadership and policy, actual corruption (I'm referring specifically to the administrative pay raises of the Bowen administration and the unfortunate demise of the ASISU Constitution), and turnover both in students and faculty, than you can possibly imagine. In five years.

Blaming a single individual for this mess is irresponsible and inappropriate, but calling any of the individuals who have spoken publicly about it and even those that have left here in a certain amount of disgrace, cowards is plain stupid. There have been decent men and women who have come and gone in the past five years, men like John Kijinski, the former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Mike Gallagher, the interim president between Bowen and Vailas, that were nothing resembling cowards. In fact, guys like Kijinski and Gallagher were pretty damn brave if you ask me.

If the infighting must continue, if the Journal is going to continue to print anything related to the crisis that is ISU, let's get one thing straight...talking about it isn't cowardice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

TDIH: Dealey

George Bannerman Dealey never knew John Kennedy. At the pinnacle of his career, John Kennedy was but a name unknown to America and a son yet to be born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy. However, the lives and names of these two men, one the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the other a newspaper man who decided that Dallas was the perfect location for what would become the Dallas Morning News, would forever be entwined.

Many have written their own personal accounts and interpretations of what occurred in the section of Dallas named for Dealey. Many have written on the topic despite having not been in Dallas, some having not even been alive in 1963. For forty-five years the Kennedy assassination has flooded the tabloids, the book market, documentaries and debates, but none of that, none of what we see or how often we have seen it commercialized and popularized prepares a mind for what Dealey Plaza holds in person.

Tourists, skeptics, and historians alike visit Dealey Plaza every year. They wander through looking and pointing, speculating and paying their respects. His body may not have been laid to rest there, but his legacy lingers. John Kennedy died on this day forty-five years ago in a small section of Dallas that was once just a development project for one George Bannerman Dealey. It is now one of the most recognizable places in the world.

With Kennedy died so much that day in Dallas. The hopes of a nation rested on the shoulders of that man riding through downtown Dallas, waving at the crowds who came to greet him. With Kennedy died a hope for peace; a hope for civil rights; a hope for a peaceful and decisive end to the war in Vietnam; and as many would say, so died Camelot. The things we do not recognize as having died with Kennedy in Dallas are the hopes that Dealey Plaza would ever be remembered for George Dealey and the mental health and inner calm of Nellie Connally and so many others who witnessed a gruesome murder.

The collective memory of this nation is marred with the images we have been forced to consume over the years. The innocent camera operation of Abraham Zapruder is now a film that is used as evidence to support any number of conspiracy theories. That film, that Zapruder received so little for when he originally sold it, is now a spectacle forced on a public that doesn't even wince while viewing it. We have not only lost historical touch with Kennedy's legacy, apparent in the all too frequent references comparing Kennedy to one politician or another, we have lost touch with historical emotion that will forever be linked to Kennedy and Dealey Plaza.

I have spent enough time in Dealey Plaza to know that the public would rather sensationalize the death of Kennedy than respect the ideals that died that day in Dallas. I have spent enough time in Dealey Plaza to know that it is possible for the generations that did not live through those dark days to not only grasp, but be profoundly moved by those events.

It is a deafeningly silent place, Dealey Plaza. There is a reverent consideration only interrupted by the men hawking their theories and despicable merchandise. It is the reminder of a young man shot down in the prime of his life when he has the most to offer his country. It is the reminder that innocence is neither definite nor abiding.

In the forty-five years that have passed since John Kennedy was killed by a sniper's bullet in Dallas, this nation has never completely healed. We converge on Dealey Plaza seeking closure, searching for answers, pleading for the return of our national innocence, and yet, in the early morning hours before the sun has risen over the streets where our young president was once slain, we continue to mourn a loss, the cost of which cannot be quantified or explained by forensics. It is a loss that continues, forty-five years later, to reach to the very soul of our nation.

On the brightest of days, Dealey Plaza remains a terribly dark place.

Smorgasbord Saturday

Since it happens to be the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, I thought I'd link to a myriad of articles relevant today. I'm doubting that these will make it into my TDIH post that will go up later today. First, a great piece in the new issue of the Smithsonian magazine by Lance Morrow takes on the mystery of Mary Pinchot Meyer's death. [Link not currently available, should be available on Smithsonian website when updated.] Meyer was a personal friend of the Kennedys, more than a friend if you ask some, and the ex-wife of a CIA operative. Morrow tackles the story as he does all of his stories, with intrigue and historical accuracy. There was a documentary, rather gruesome if you ask me, on the Discovery Channel last Sunday. In case you missed it Discovery presented a fairly realistic analysis of the shots fired in Dallas forty-five years ago. Kudos to Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, for a job well done! Other Kennedy-related stories can be found here, here and here.

If there is anything that bothers me more than people who use the Bible to defend their political views, related or not, it is those who use their own interpretation of the Constitution to suit their religious arguments. Unfortunately, and it shouldn't come as a surprise, Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance does both. I'm not even going to dignify his latest with any real analysis.

There have been a few whoppers on the Letter to the Editor page of the Times-News this week. Usually I notice the same names cycling through, these two I didn't recognize. The first, in what I presume is an effort to support adoption (November is National Adoption Month), still makes the huge mistake of referring to adopted children and potential adoptees as "unwanted children." Seriously, the title reads, "Adoption can bless lives of unwanted children." Regardless of being part of the adoption system this country and many in it still refer to them as unwanted. Good Lord! The second letter, playing on the now realized fears of some very fringe members of our population, announces that we have elected a Socialist. I can't help but wonder what the editor of the Times-News is hoping to accomplish with the headings on these letters--assuming that the authors themselves didn't come up with the titles--fear and absurdity seem to have resulted.

If you are a fan of Idaho's Perry Swisher, as I am, one of his most recent articles in the Idaho State Journal deserves reading. Swisher expands on that now famous statement of Vice President elect Joe Biden about Dick Cheney being the most dangerous VP in American history. The nice thing about Swisher's articles that get sent to the ISJ blogs? Like other columnists who will remain nameless, he doesn't argue with those who submit comments for weeks on the internets.

It is now officially Thanksgiving break on the campus of Idaho State University. Having a whole week off from classes isn't much of a change for me, I've been on an extended break from academic productivity since long before by back surgery. Yesterday afternoon I certainly didn't feel the usual dread of having a full week to entertain myself! In fact, it felt like any other day, not the eve of a week's vacation. It won't be a vacation from work, really. A couple days, maybe. It won't be a vacation from school work, a semester's worth of homework awaits me. The only break I'll be getting is an entire week without physical therapy. You know, now that I think about it, vacation it is!!

Maybe someday I will write on Nebraska's safe haven law. Maybe someday pigs will fly. Until that day, last night's news included word that the Nebraska legislature had revised the age specifications in said law. Do all state legislatures roll over so quickly when they're feeling the heat?

A belated congratulations: Adam Graham, the conservative blogger and author of Adam's Blog, has been mentioned in the newly released book penned by former Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Having recently followed Wikipedia to a government website featuring my own writing, I appreciate the excitement in seeing your name and work in print. Adam and I haven't seen eye-to-eye on too many issues, the politics of Huckabee included, but as a fellow Idaho blogger, my congratulations go to him regardless.

In other blogger news, Sisyphus has an excellent post at 43rd State Blues that was also picked up by Huckleberries Online regarding the Idaho Statesman's recent take on news stories centered on racist statements and occurrences in the gem state. If you haven't done so already, please take a look.

No smorgasbord would be complete without a baseball update. This week's news? Mike Mussina is retiring. Yes, Moose is retiring at the top of his game. The tip-top.

Should you be lacking in reading material this fine Saturday and these links have not kept you busy enough, please take a look at the posts I've contributed over at Red State Rebels this week. And then, if you're still reading, plan to take a look at my Kennedy post later today, and you're still lacking entertainment, you need to get a life? Kidding, only kidding.

And don't forget the second installment of "Diminished In Morality" about Zeb Bell and abortion is coming tomorrow. Take a look at part one to gear up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Diminished In Morality" (Pt. 1)

(Editor's Note: This is part one in a two-part post regarding the views of KBAR radio host, Zeb Bell, on abortion. This installment serves as a precursor, an introduction of sorts, to the current status of abortion legislation in this country. The second part will be posted Monday, November 24, 2008.)

It should come as no surprise that Zeb Bell, host of Zeb at the Ranch on KBAR radio, is anti-choice. His conservatism, not his Christianity requires that he be politically opposed to all who support abortion rights on any level. He is adamantly opposed to Roe v Wade, Planned Parenthood and nearly any other organization that supports reproductive rights for women.

The fears of Zeb Bell are no mystery, either. In the days, weeks and months leading up to the presidential election, Zeb Bell spoke often of his distrust and fear of an Obama administration. The fears, too many to list, did not lack the usual argument against any potential support on the part of the White House for the Freedom of Choice Act. On August 20, 2008, Bell stated:
Obama is backed entirely by people and groups like Planned Parenthood, etc. and have we lost all moral compasses in this country to the point where when we have someone like Obama come out and basically back abortion and partial birth abortion, which is a very heinous act, I mean can't the public see through this or is the public today been so diminished in morality and what is right and wrong that they don't care?

Obama's position on abortion aside, Bell continually neglects to attack members of his own party that generally support reproductive rights.

More often than not, Republican senators representing the state of Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, receive a pass. As do Senators Specter, Stevens and Murkowski (all members of the Republicans for Choice PAC). And Joe Lieberman who did more campaigning for John McCain than any other member of the Senate, save perhaps Lindsey Graham, has only been distressing to Zeb Bell when his name was floated as a potential running mate for McCain.

Mr. Bell appears to have associated Obama with those members of the Senate who voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, a vote that took place more than a year prior to Obama's election to the U.S. Senate, and faults Obama for the Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama did cosponsor, but it has not been sent to the floor for a vote.

It appears quite absurd to fault a candidate for things that have yet to happen. As it stands now, any decision on the Freedom of Choice Act would be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court, a Court that would predictably vote 5-4 against any legislation that would in fact legalize all types of abortion.

In fact, should the Court review any matter related to abortion, the Freedom of Choice Act or otherwise, the current makeup of the Court would side in favor of organizations like the National Right to Life Committee. The Court has as recently as 2006 (in Gonzales v Carhart) ruled on par with the hopes of the anti-choice electorate, deciding that even the health and life of the mother is irrelevant in relation to the future of the unborn. In the matter of the 2006 decision I support the dissenting opinion of Justice Ginsberg which states:
Today's decision is alarming it refuses to take Casey and Stenburg seriously. It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It blurs the line firmly drawn in Casey, between previability and postviability abortions. And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health.

Ginsburg's reference to Casey regards Planned Parenthood v Casey, a decision by the Rehnquist court that both affirmed the decision in Roe as well as introduced a standard of undue-burden. Despite some startling opinions expressed in the dissenting opinion by Justices Rehnquist, White, Scalia and Thomas, the 5-4 decision continued to uphold the long held decision by the Burger Court.

Of course the makeup of the Court today is drastically different than the Court of 1973's Roe and even strikingly different than the 1992 Court in Casey. By all predictions the current Court would hand down another 5-4 decision in favor of those adamantly opposed to abortion on all levels.

There are presumably two questions to be asked in regard to the fears of those opposed to an Obama administration solely on the merits of abortion law: First, is it justifiable to fear a reverse in direction from that of the 2006 decision on the coattails of Obama alone? And second, is it really easier, both from the standpoint of logical argument and conscience, to attack those who oppose abortion and all of your values and standards than it is to attack those who support abortion and every other value and belief you hold?

Daschle to Lead HHS & Other News

This started out as a post titled "Daschle to Lead HHS," but since I can't seem to get another post written, here's an updated version of this post with other cabinet/administration appointments:

Best news: Daschle to lead Health and Human Services
Napilatano to head up Department of Homeland Security
Pete Rouse, Jim Messina, and Mona Sutphen added to staff
Former lawyer, part of impeachment hoopla, named
Axelrod earns post

Is anybody else wondering what Dirk Kempthorne is going to do when they boot him out of the Interior?

And don't get me started on what the congressional chairmanships mean for my party. Waxman, ok? Lieberman, but not Byrd?

Monday, November 17, 2008

First and Foremost

President-elect Obama has made mention of his plans to change the direction of the White House and effectively, the course of this country. His philosophical differences with the current administration will ultimately lend a great deal to the conversation that will come as he transitions into the White House and reverses policies implemented in the past eight years. Much has already been said about Obama's plan for utilizing the executive order privilege as a means of overturning Bush's most disastrous unilateral policies.

Last week Linda Feldmann of the Christian Science Monitor pointed out three of the potential issues that the Obama administration may move swiftly in addressing--stem cell research, international family planning, and carbon dioxide emissions. Surely Feldmann is pointing to very serious policy issues that require discussion, however my concern on a professional level as well as personally as a citizen ultimately concerned with how those associated with the Bush administration now may behave after January 20, 2009, is whether the Obama administration will act swiftly in reversing Executive Order 13233.

Executive Order 13233, Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act, states:

Sec. 5. Incumbent President's Right to Obtain Access.

This order does not expand or limit the incumbent President's right to obtain access to the records of a former President pursuant to section 2205(2)(B).

Sec. 6. Right of Congress and Courts to Obtain Access.

This order does not expand or limit the rights of a court, House of Congress, or authorized committee or subcommittee of Congress to obtain access to the records of a former President pursuant to section 2205(2)(A) or section 2205(2)(C). With respect to such requests, the former President shall review the records in question and, within 21 days of receiving notice from the Archivist, indicate to the Archivist his decision with respect to any privilege. The incumbent President shall indicate his decision with respect to any privilege within 21 days after the former President has indicated his decision. Those periods may be extended by the former President or the incumbent President for requests that are burdensome. The Archivist shall not permit access to the records unless and until the incumbent President advises the Archivist that the former President and the incumbent President agree to authorize access to the records or until so ordered by a final and nonappealable court order.

Sec. 7. No Effect on Right to Withhold Records.

This order does not limit the former President's or the incumbent President's right to withhold records on any ground supplied by the Constitution, statute, or regulation.

The number of organization that initially opposed this self-protection by President Bush when the order was signed in 2001 has grown. Those now opposed to his repeal of his own father's previous executive order and portions of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 recognize this Bush order as one destined to protect the Bush administration from investigations into any number of policies, torture coming quickly to mind.

My sincere hope is that President-elect Obama will see this particular order as the National Security Archive, Society of American Archivists, American Historical Association, and the American Library Association have. It is a political maneuver that will serve to protect the Bush administration from any potential investigation. It is as detrimental and devastating to the Constitution of the United States as President Bush's assertion that executive privilege exists after he leaves office.

Yank & Crank

This isn't the post I was hoping for today, but it'll have to do until at least tomorrow when my more thought-provoking post can be completed and I'm not so mentally and physically worn out from physical therapy. One too many pain pills over here and not enough brain power...

Some news via the blogs and elsewhere:
  • d2 is all wound up over Joe Lieberman and rightfully so. If I were a member of the Democratic caucus I'd be saying it is time to kick the guy to the curb. And this coming from a former fan of Lieberman's. I'm with Senator Carper on this one, there need to be consequences and if he opts out of the caucus, so be it.
  • Mark Cuban, owner of nearly the whole world and the Dallas Mavericks, has been charged with insider trading. I'd like to see him go the way of Martha Stewart. And does this mean no big Cubs purchase in the future?
  • Other news, and hat tip to MountainGoat for this news, Ted Kennedy has returned to the Senate today and supposedly looks fairly healthy. As healthy as any man who just had brain surgery. The U.S. Senate just doesn't seem right without Teddy.
  • In baseball news, the National League has awarded Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals with the MVP award. Surprising for a year that sent Ryan Howard to the World Series. Also, there seems to be some speculation over where Rafael Furcal will land before spring training. Both the Giants and the A's seem to be in the mix. If he goes to the Giants that could be the end of Omar Vizquel's career. If he goes to the A's he could shore up the lineup with newly acquired Matt Holliday. Still would have liked to see him return to Atlanta, but then again I'd like everybody to return to Atlanta. I'm looking at you Greg Maddux!
  • The 2009 World Winter Games of Special Olympics will be coming to Idaho in February. There is an online contest where you can submit your story, with a video or picture, depicting one of the Special Olympics values (strength, determination, community, inspiration, or empowerment). Don't have a story to share? Donate anyway, there's a link to do so. My story to share will be coming soon.
To quote that master of nailing exactly what I'm thinking, Wordsmith over at Left Side of the Moon says, "I know how old I feel while sitting here at the computer; it’s when I stand up I start to feel it." I'm not that old, but when I stand up, sit down (fight, fight, fight?) or anything else I'm feeling every movement from the past oh twenty years?

And should anyone wonder, my terminology requires I refer to physical therapy as either torture or yank & crank.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

A week from today will mark the forty-fifth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. Yet another team of scientists, this time assembled by the folks at the Discovery Channel, have recreated the assassination using "modern technology" and concluding that the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository was the "most likely" the point of origin for the gunshot that killed Kennedy in 1963. I honestly don't know why they keep doing these studies, the technology isn't progressing that fast and there certainly hasn't been a break through in the past ten years that warrants such a study. However, for those of you interested, there will be a special tomorrow night, "JFK: Inside the Target Car," revealing the findings of this recent study. The special airs on the Discovery Channel at 7pm (MST).

I'm hoping that in the weeks to come I'll have time to address the new hate crime statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, until then I found this story particularly disturbing. Hate crimes can and do occur in surprising places.

The news has been flooded with speculation surrounding the potential pick of Senator Hillary Clinton as President-elect Obama's leader for the State Department. I find it odd on many levels that Obama is considering her, but I find it irritating on many levels as well. If Obama snubs Clinton again there are going to be a lot of former Clinton supporters who hesitantly offered their support and vote to Obama who will deeply regret they did. For a candidate who did so much to distance himself from the Bush and Clinton administrations, a candidate to promised change and bipartisanship, he doesn't seem to be moving too far away from the long-time political players. I personally have no problem with a Clinton pick for State, but I certainly have a problem with the Rahm Emanuel pick and several others that have revived the Clinton years. One choice I do not have a problem with at all is Ron Klain. This is a guy who has more than paid his dues and certainly deserves to be Biden's chief-of-staff. And with a guy like Joe Biden it helps to have someone familiar with him and with a proven track record of working well with the straight-shooting VP-elect.

As if I haven't reported enough by way of Major League Baseball, it seems there is more to say. First of all, I hate the Yankees. I hate the ego, I hate the payroll, I hate Yankees fans. I am not surprised that the Yankees came out this off-season with open arms to some of MLB's highest paid stars. The Yankees have reportedly reached out to C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, and Jake Peavy. Now, if you haven't noticed around here, I had high hopes for Peavy in Atlanta. It doesn't look like that is going to happen and Peavy may be headed to the Cubs or Yanks. I'd like to see him stay in the National League. Although, it wouldn't be too awfully bad to watch the Yanks dish out bookoo bucks once again and then choke before the post-season... Whatever happens in the coming weeks, I'm hoping I don't have to watch Mark Teixeira or Jake Peavy wearing the pin stripes. For that matter, please no red socks in Beantown, either. Still no word on where Manny Ramirez will land for spring training.

Life without Miles of Music remains crappy, but here is a list of a few of this week's new releases and releases coming to a store near you in the weeks ahead: Taylor Swift, Fearless (11.11.08); Nickelback, Dark Horse (11.18.08); Blake Shelton, Startin' Fires (11.18.08); The Killers, Day & Age (11.25.08); and, Paramore, The Final Riot! (11.15.08). For the benefit of one of my readers, there's a new Tom Jones album coming soon, 24 Hours (11.25.08), and not as new, but worthy of a listen, The Script.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Tis the Season for Baseball News

Here's a little more baseball news for you. My traditional TGIF post has been scheduled and I will be laying low for the weekend...

  • You're going to be hearing "well-deserved" a lot with the AL Cy Young award announcement. Cliff Lee, 2.54 ERA, Indians pitcher wins!
  • The Silver Slugger awards have been announced for both leagues. These awards go to the best offensive player at each position. Naming of Wright at 3B for the National League instead of hitting champ Chipper Jones? Bad idea, fellas. And no mention of Carlos Delgado who seemed to come out of a career slump?
American League
C: Joe Mauer, Minnesota
1B: Justin Morneau, Minnesota
2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston
3B: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
SS: Derek Jeter, NYY
OF: Josh Hamilton, Texas
OF: Carlos Quentin, CWS
OF: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland
DH: Aubrey Huff, Baltimore
National League
C: Brian McCann, Atlanta
1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis
2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia
3B: David Wright, NYM
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Florida
OF: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
OF: Matt Holliday, Colorado
OF: Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis
P: Carlos Zambrano, CHC
  • The Yankees are continuing their bankroll dominance with the choice of Nick Swisher of the Chicago White Sox. They seem to be the only group in the country not at all impacted by the failing economy. For the money the Yanks should stick to looking for guys that actually know how to play first base...

And still no word on Peavy...

Political Cartoon Perfection

©Bruce Tinsley, King Features Syndicate


Please go visit The MountainGoat Report this morning. Brought George Eliot to mind:

"We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves."
~ George Eliot, Adam Bede

MG's post is part one in a series addressing "Zeb at the Ranch" host Zeb Bell's new favorite target--the gay community.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The R-Word: Reprehensible

For all that YouTube offers, it also appears to be an outlet for insulting, offensive commentary on our culture and our people. Where it succeeds as a platform for educating the public, specifically with channels dedicated to political and informational programming, it fails as a representation of culture sensitivity and respect for all members of the human race.

Having utilized YouTube in the past for any number of projects, posts, and distractions, I would consider myself a fairly up-to-date user of the service. However, I was surprised to find that entire series are being created for publication on YouTube alone.

One such series and the catalyst for this observation is a creation of Greg Benson of Mediocre Films*, yes, the name says it all. "The Retardid Policeman," found with both the correct 'ed' spelling and the spelling that appears on their merchandise (yes, they have an online store), stars a young Down Syndrome man as the lead character. Following the premiere of this distasteful show, the young man, Josh Perry, and his sister appear in a video post where they clarify that Josh is an actor and he wants to act for a living. Josh, with his sister's approval and urging, goes on to say about those who are offended by this series, "I may have Down Syndrome, but you people are f*****g retarded!"

This is a show that proudly announces an opening tag line that I find beyond repulsive: "He is a cop and he is learning impaired. He's the retarded policeman!"

There are so many problems with what is being portrayed in this creation of Greg Benson's amateur film studio. Obviously, I, and many others, have a genuine problem with and objection to the use of the r-word in casual conversation. I have written about this in the past and Special Olympics on a national level has asked for pledges of support to take the r-word out of daily conversation.

Beyond the offensive use of the r-word to portray this young man, supposedly supported by he and his family, "The Retardid Policeman" also represents an entirely different argument, the argument of our personal responsibility to those most vulnerable to encouragement of this nature. Just because Down Syndrome people are fun-loving, gentle, generally witty, and people-pleasers does not mean we, as their friends, siblings, or simply as bystanders, should take advantage of their personalities. It is, as some have pointed out in discussion surrounding this series, exploitation in every sense.

Surely a few of you are asking why it matters so much if Josh and his sister apparently approve of this series and his behavior in front of the camera. Why it matters is something deeply personal to me. What Josh and his sister find funny may not be in the best interest of Josh. As I may have mentioned in my last post on this issue, my developmentally disabled brother had a roommate, a beautiful and sweet Down Syndrome man who I considered to be nothing less than a brother to me. To his credit, he had the trademark fun-loving Down Syndrome personality and was quite funny. He would do nearly anything for a laugh and unfortunately some took advantage of that. His own brothers, as teenagers and young adults, took advantage of his people-pleasing behavior and often took him on camp outs as well as to parties where they would get him drunk and proceed to laugh at his inebriated antics. This young man was taught to think these things were funny. He started smoking at a young age, something horribly detrimental to what many Down Syndrome individuals inherit, heart and lung problems. Aside from the health risks of drinking as he did, he was often put in situations that compromised his personal safety, compromises that left him with many scars. Unfortunately, he was like so many individuals with Down Syndrome, he died shortly after his thirtieth birthday, a life certainly shortened by the life he had been taught to lead.

While some debate the cultural acceptability of shows like "The Retardid Policeman," concluding that funny is funny regardless of who is presenting it, they neglect to realize they are supporting an entirely dysfunctional and irresponsible trend in a population all too susceptible to exploitation. And for those who say that we should let people like Josh Perry do what makes them happy, I say, should we let you run naked and screaming through traffic with your physical well-being in jeopardy as well as the well-being of those on the road just because some might find it funny and worthy of posting on YouTube? No, because most of us have common sense.

Please join me in pledging to take the r-word out of the conversation and help me flag these horrendous videos* for the disgusting content they display.


*This content is reprehensibly offensive, strong caution advised.

Trades, Rumors, & Awards

In baseball news:

And, please, please, please let Jake Peavy go to the Braves...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quote for Veteran's Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Pulling a Stallings"

(Full disclosure: For the past three years I have been responsible for the processing, indexing, and cataloging of the Richard H. Stallings Congressional Collection at Idaho State University. By my own definition and admission, I am the 'keeper of the papers' and hold obvious biases.)

It was not so long ago that Idahoans sent with their congressional delegation a young Democratic congressmen. In fact, at one time, from 1990 to 1992, Idaho sent two Democratic congressmen to represent them in the United States House of Representatives. That young congressman, forty-five when first elected, was Richard Stallings.

Randy Stapilus, writing for Ridenbaugh Press and no stranger to the career of Congressman Stallings, in addressing the question of whether Congressman-elect Walt Minnick will be a one term congressman, writes:
"...any anticipation Minnick will be a pushover would be misplaced. When Democrat Richard Stallings defeated Republican incumbent George Hansen in 1984 (just after Hansen’s felony convictions), a long line of Idaho Republicans figured he’d be easy pickings in 1986. Stallings went on to win that year decisively, and twice more after that in landslides. Could as easily be that Minnick is in this seat for a spell."
Stapilus notes two things that are of high importance in the equation that is keeping a Democratic congressman in office: Stallings was elected under circumstances that may have been the ultimate factor in the 1984 election and Idaho Republicans have the most to lose in situations where their overconfidence misjudges their opponent. To this day, Richard Stallings contends that his narrow victory, fewer than seventy votes the night of the election and fewer than two hundred votes when all was said and done, would not have been possible had his opponent not been afflicted with four felony convictions. After all, Stallings had lost to Hansen in 1982, just as future congressman and fellow Democrat Larry LaRocco had. Stallings' election was about timing.

Last week's election of Walt Minnick in Idaho's 1st Congressional District does offer some similarities to the initial election of Richard Stallings. Idahoans were largely disappointed, if not annoyed, with the antics of Congressman Bill Sali. Sali's voting record has been a study in paradoxes. And there has been no shortage in the ink supply used to expose the extreme personality of Bill Sali. Certainly these factors have fueled a Minnick victory, just as the continuing scheming and deceitful political maneuvers that brought down George Hansen secured a Stallings win.

Keep in mind that the demographics and general political make-up of 1st CD voters is a study in contrasts when compared to the make-up of the 2nd CD.

Nonetheless, the more obvious similarities between Stallings and Minnick may not tell us anything about Minnick's chances of holding onto the congressional seat after a first term. On his site, Adam Graham analyzes the view of Randy Stapilus, the notion of "pulling a Stallings" (a reference I find quite funny), and points out where he feels Stallings was invulnerable:
Richard Stallings was not the most powerful Democrat in Idaho. Democrats were in the middle of dominating the Governorship for 24 years when Stallings arrived. There’s less machinery and less power to help Minnick fend off a challenge. ...As a Pro-Life Democrat, Stallings was invulnerable to traditional Republican attacks on the abortion issue.
Graham goes on to point out that Stallings did not win in a Democratic year as Minnick quite obviously has.

Stallings was not invulnerable to the disappointment and irritation of 2nd Congressional District residents. His opposition to President Reagan and the aid to the Contras in Nicaragua spawned many an angry constituent letter. His vote against a congressional pay raise angered voters of every political persuasion. Note that his vote was against giving himself a raise and this vote took place prior to the 1992 constitutional amendment that addressed the timing of pay raises voted on by members of congress.

On the abortion issue, as Adam Graham noted, Stallings' pro-life stance was well-known by Idaho voters. Although, his position was rooted in his religious beliefs over his political beliefs, Stallings was often greeted by "believers" on both side of the argument that found themselves at odds with his position. In fact, Stallings was at times on the wrong side of the issue for party loyalists and the Idaho Democratic Party had to take his position into account when drafting their party platform. His position on abortion did not make him invulnerable to attacks from the left or right. He was often torn between the two sides of this argument, an argument that Randy Stapilus once pointed out as being less significant then than it is now, no better example comes to mind than his defense of Governor Andrus over Idaho House Bill 625. Perhaps the boldest anti-abortion bill to be voted on in any Statehouse at the time, the Idaho House and Senate passed this piece of legislation that was then painstakingly vetoed by Governor Andrus. Voters were outraged by what they perceived to be leftist undertakings in the Governor's office and on the other side of the coin some pro-life voters were concerned with particularly extreme language in the legislation.

No side was satisfied, though both sides were quick on the attack. Congressman Stallings, in a show of party loyalty and an understanding that this law could potentially be challenged clear to the United States Supreme Court, defended the veto of Governor Andrus at a high cost. His office was flooded by correspondence from irate Idaho voters throughout the ordeal.

Minnick will neither encounter the struggles of being a fairly conservative Democrat in Washington, D.C. with a fairly liberal governor in Boise, nor will he find himself at odds with the party in power in Washington, D.C.

Will Walt Minnick "pull a Stallings"? His success as a congressman will have a lot to do with the early successes or failures of the Obama administration, as unequivocal notion recently pointed out, but more than the circumstances in the nation's capital, Minnick's success as well as hope for re-election will come down to what kind of constituent service base he builds.

The Democrats that Idahoans have sent to Washington, D.C. in the past forty years have been Democrats that understood one very necessary component of representing their state--strong constituent support and service (i.e. casework). Following the lead of Frank Church, the only Democratic U.S. Senator to be re-elected in this state, both Congressmen Richard Stallings and Larry LaRocco offered superb constituent service to Idahoans struggling with the red tape of bureaucracy. As average Idahoans and Americans struggle in this time of a poor economy, national disdain for our leadership, and wars in two theaters, the future success or failure of Walt Minnick may have less to do with how he legislates and everything to do with how he and his staff respond to the requests for help from 1st CD residents.


Update: Randy Stapilus has an interview with Walt Minnick posted here. It appears that Walt Minnick is well aware of what he must do as Idaho's next congressman.

(Image credits: Senator Church, Frank Church Papers, image available through Boise State University; Congressman Richard Stallings, Stallings Collection, Idaho State University, and the Pocatello City Council; and, Congressman-elect Walt Minnick,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Speaking Volumes

On a Tree Fallen Across the Road
Robert Frost
from New Hampshire, 1923

(To hear us talk)

The tree the tempest with a crash of wood
Throws down in front of us is not bar
Our passage to our journey's end for good,
But just to ask us who we think we are

Insisting always on our own way so.
She likes to halt us in our runner tracks,
And make us get down in a foot of snow
Debating what to do without an ax.

And yet she knows obstruction is in vain:
We will not be put off the final goal
We have it hidden in us to attain,
Not though we have to seize earth by the pole

And, tired of aimless circling in one place,
Steer straight off after something into space.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Lincoln, Unexposed"

No smorgasbord today, but check out this story from David Brown on the current display, "The Mask of Lincoln," at the National Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The new exhibition, One Life: The Mask of Lincoln, is viewable on the NPG website and will run at the Gallery from November 7, 2008 through July 5, 2009 in conjunction with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I'm beginning to think there may be a curse in the progressive Idaho blogosphere. Between Sara at f-words, me, and now Bubblehead at the Stupid Shall Be Punished, we're kind of falling apart. However, there is an upswing, Sara and I have made it there and I have complete faith Bubblehead will be joining us soon. Good luck, Bubblehead!

AL Gold Glove Winners

As promised, here are the American League Rawlings Gold Glove winners for the 2008 season:

Pitcher: Mike Mussina, NY (Yankees)
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota
1st Base: Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay
2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia, Boston
3rd Base: Adrian Beltre, Seattle
Short Stop: Michael Young, Texas
Outfield: Torii Hunter, LA (Angels)
Outfield: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland
Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle

Now, for a team like Seattle that can't seem to win many games, they certainly are not lacking in terms of fielding. This is Ichiro's eighth consecutive Gold Glove and deservedly so. Ichiro has a gun and he knows it and shows it. His speed doesn't hurt his performance in the outfield, either.

Another player now a part of the eight consecutive awards club is Torii Hunter who was traded from the turf in Minnesota where he began his career to the grass in Los Angeles that didn't seem to phase him. He is everything Ichiro is and he dives head first into walls, practically jumps over them and doesn't break a sweat in the process. And then of course there is the trademark Torii Hunter smile...

Unlike the National League, the American League announcement nailed the outfield awards. There are three AL outfielders who steal the show and all three were rightly recognized today.

Like the National League, the American League pitcher recognized with his seventh Gold Glove, Mike Mussina, is potentially in a transitional point of his career. He has far more to gain if he continues with the Yankees, unlike Maddux and the Dodgers, but he, like Maddux, is still proving that a veteran pitcher can field his position and field it well.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NL Gold Glove Winners

And your National League Rawlings Gold Glove award winners for the 2008 season are:

Pitcher: Greg Maddux, LA (Dodgers)
Catcher: Yadier Molina, St. Louis
1st Base: Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego
2nd Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
3rd Base: David Wright, NY (Mets)
Short Stop: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia
Outfield: Shane Victorino, Philadelphia
Outfield: Nate McClouth, Pittsburg
Outfield: Carlos Beltran, NY (Mets)

For a guy who is seriously considering retirement, Greg Maddux doesn't seem to be losing much in terms of fielding. This is his, count them all, eighteenth career Gold Glove. Maddux has been on an only-once-interupted streak since 1990 (four years after he began his major league career). The only other National League pitcher to win a Gold Glove since Greg Maddux became the reigning king was Mike Hampton, his teammate in the 2003 season with the Atlanta Braves.

This is the second year in a row awards were handed out to Beltran, Rollins and Wright. Phillips, Molina, McClouth, Victorino, and Gonzalez are new on the scene. And, sadly, this is the first time in ten years Andruw Jones has not been awarded a Gold Glove. Maybe if he ever got playing time... Better luck next year, Superman.

Given his stunning performance in the 2008 All Star game that seemed to echo his entire season, I was pleased to see Nate McClouth win the award. For those of you keeping score, Yadier Molina is the second of the three Molina catching brothers to win a Gold Glove. Can you name the other Molina?

That'd be Bengie, two of them actually in consecutive seasons. Makes for an interesting family dinner. What's that, Jose? No Gold Glove? Guess you'll be sitting at the little kids table!

The American League, always wanting the last word, will announce their Gold Glove recipients tomorrow.

State Winter Games Cancelled

On a day full of good news, there has to be a little bad news. At least I heard the good news first so the bad news wasn't nearly as hard a blow. From the Idaho Statesman:

The Winter Games of Idaho, a 19-year tradition of competitive winter sports for recreational athletes, will not hold the event in 2009, organizers announced Wednesday.

The 2009 Games have been canceled due to an economic downturn affecting sponsorship.

As you may remember, Bill Sali didn't feel the need to support bringing the World Winter Games to Idaho, I highly doubt he felt obligated to support the state games.

Just another of the many reasons it is a damn good thing Idaho voters have kicked Bill Sali to the curb!

And Day

In my young life I've only known true political heartbreak once, in the primary election of 2006. However, the general election of 2008 has offered a few final tallies that sting.

My sincerest congratulations to the Obama campaign for a stunning margin of victory and a well-fought battle. My genuine thanks to Senator McCain for his humble speech last night. And what can you say about Walt Minnick? Thank you, Walt! It's about time Bill Sali was sent packing.

But like most politics, it is the races closest to home that are the most personal. Two years ago I spent quite a bit of time door-to-door campaigning for the candidates in District 29 here in Bannock County. I live in District 30, did a radio spot for one candidate in my own district, but the actual work was put into the neighboring district. Why? Because in 2006, Diane Bilyeu, Allen Andersen, and James Ruchti were running for seats that Bannock County desperately needed to hold on to and these three individuals are superb legislators, as I believed they had been or would become back then.

Yesterday was the third match up of Allen Andersen and Ken Andrus. The first matchup ousted Andersen from the Idaho House. The second retained Andrus. And now, the third, has once again seen the people of Bannock County elect a conservative "good ole boy" who offers them very little by means of representation and actual support. Ken Andrus in the Idaho Statehouse is a horrible choice.

Beyond the usual political reasons, it is a personal choice in my mind. There are few people in Bannock County or in this state that I admire as much as Allen. He has been a dear friend while I have been in Pocatello, took me under his wing as a young Democrat in Bannock County, and has opened countless doors to me. Watching a good guy like Allen Andersen lose simply because this opponent had an (R) behind his names is awfully discouraging.

Similarly, LaRocco's loss yesterday for the open seat being "vacated" by Senator Craig is yet again another one of those discouraging realizations that you can work harder than the other guy, offer more than the other guy, and still the other guy wins because of party affiliation.

One race that I am having a hard time explaining, not in the way it went down, but in the way I felt about the candidates, is the North Carolina senate race. You may have noted it on my list of races I was watching closely yesterday. Why? I love Liddy Dole. I know, this is insane. I'm a Democrat. I should have been watching happily as Kay Hagan added another D to the list of U.S. Senators. But I wasn't. I suppose I've always admired and looked up to Elizabeth Dole. This is a woman who has an education built on the prestige of Duke, Oxford, and Harvard. She is accomplished in every sense of the word. I would have liked to have seen her go further in the presidential race of 2000 and often thought if a woman was going to be in the White House it would be Liddy Dole. I even like her husband.

Has Senator Dole been without her faults? Of course not, but then again neither have many Democrats I've admired. There were more Republicans I watched lose yesterday that I was sad about than there were Democrats winning that I truly celebrated. Sununu, Shays, and Dole are on that list. Does this make me any less of a Democrat? No, I hope it just means I'm a sensible person who sees the good of the country in the hearts of members of all parties.

I am sure Kay Hagan will make an excellent United States Senator, just as sure as I am that this is not the end of Elizabeth Dole's political career. Liddy Dole is a public servant above all else. There are times, for me at least, when partisanship means very little. Watching the results come in from North Carolina last night was one of those times for me.

There is a great deal yet to be decided. An entire cabinet to compose, U.S. Senate races to decide, and campaign debts to retire. It is a long road to January 20, 2009, but I sure slept better last night knowing President Bush was getting very little sleep last night with all the celebration taking place out on Pennsylvania Avenue. That alone is enough to mend a little political heartbreak.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


We've Only Got One Shot...

Races I'll be watching closely today:

U.S. Senate: New Hampshire, Minnesota, Alaska, Kentucky, North Carolina, Idaho
U.S. House: Washington 8th, Colorado 4th, Arizona 1st, Idaho 1st
California: Prop. 8
Idaho House: 13B, 29A