Thursday, January 31, 2008

On Hold

In preparation for the February 8th opening of the Richard H. Stallings Papers at Idaho State University, it is important that I concentrate my time on the remaining tasks at hand. Therefore, the Political Game will be on hold until Saturday February 9th. Don't forget to attend your county caucus on February 5th!

Thoughts and Prayers

May all of our thoughts, prayers, and get well wishes be with Idaho State Senator Clint Stennett today and in the days ahead.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Finding Her Voice, Finding My Support

The January 21, 2008 edition of Newsweek magazine brought with it an interesting reaction from me. On the cover is the quote, now known the country over, from Hillary Clinton's victory speech in New Hampshire: "I found my own voice."

Not too many weeks ago, though definitely prior to Clinton's win in New Hampshire, I spoke those very words when discussing a writer I admire and her influence on me. I understand with absolute certainty what she means and it isn't simply a campaign tactic or a catchy phrase you throw into a victory speech. It is a state of mind and state of being that allows you to be who you truly are. It is, as so many have said, the notion of letting Hillary be Hillary. The night of the New Hampshire primary, I got choked up when she uttered those five words. This was followed by the arrival of Newsweek. I had just returned from a road trip to Elko, Nevada, where I heard the three Democratic candidates speak, where my perceptions of each of them were sufficiently challenged, and where somehow my opinion of Hillary Clinton turned around.

Seeing the candidates reminded me of how these three Democrats ended up in this race. I was reminded of why the down-to-earth nature of John Edwards appeals to so many Americans. I was reminded of that spark that so many speak of when eluding to Senator Obama, the spark that caused the Kennedy's to "pass the torch" to him today in their endorsements, and I was completely impressed with Michelle Obama. I was reminded of Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I was reminded of how excited I was by the idea of General Wesley Clark as commander-in-chief in 2004. General Clark was there to introduce Senator Clinton. However, what surprised me was how irrelevant all of my disagreements with Clinton seemed as I sat there listening to General Clark express his complete confidence in her foreign policy expertise and her readiness to be President of the United States.

I have bad mouthed Hillary Clinton since the day the Clintons left the White House. I called it a political stunt when she visited Ground Zero, without any respect for her position as junior senator from the state of New York. I criticized many of her votes in the Senate and judged her attempt at winning friends across the aisle as a brand of treason. And every day since the vote was taken as to whether President Bush should be allowed to use force and enter Iraq, I have chastised Senator Clinton both publicly and privately.

My initial support in the 2008 presidential race went to former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. His presidential hopes were short lived and I was sad to see him leave the race just as quickly as he entered it. As the pack emerged, I saw a candidate in Edwards that wasn't the candidate I saw in 2004; I saw a young, charismatic, inexperienced Senator Obama; I saw a seasoned politician with incredible foreign policy experience and a knack for putting his foot in his mouth in Biden; I saw true love and respect for democracy in Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich; and, in Hillary Clinton, I saw a woman battered by her husband's tainted presidential legacy and conflicted in her own political aspirations.

I see a different woman today. I see a woman who is just as strong, if not stronger, than her male counterparts. I see a woman who is ready to lead the charge in the fight oft overlooked in Washington for universal health care. I see a woman who is well versed in foreign policy, domestic policy, and the needs of a struggling nation. I see a woman who not only found her own voice, but captured it and is using it to speak truth to power.

My greatest disagreement with her, the war in Iraq, is something I cannot negotiate. I will forever disagree with her vote to allow the President of the United States the use of force against a nation, though ruled by a tyrant, that was of no credible threat to the United States and would serve as only an immediate distraction from the war being waged against the real threat of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. However, the issue is no longer about who voted for the war, it is an issue of who will bring us out of the war in a timely fashion. To paraphrase the New York Times editorial board, "[I] opposed President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and [I] disagree with Mrs. Clinton's vote for the resolution on the use of force. That's not the issue now; it is how the war will be ended."

Without question, the endorsements today of the leaders of the Kennedy family--Senator Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, and Representative Patrick Kennedy--are a symbolic gesture of passing the torch to a new generation of Americans via Barack Obama. Do I question their endorsement? Yes, in the sense that I wonder how a family that had strong ties to the Clintons could abandon them now. Ted Kennedy campaigned for and supported President Clinton. He was a supporter of Hillary when she first ran for the United States Senate. They have been colleagues working together to pass sound legislation for the benefit of everyday Americans. There is certainly a reason that hanging on the second floor of the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, you will find a picture of Bill and Hillary Clinton sailing with Ted Kennedy, the late Jackie Kennedy, and Caroline Kennedy. As Craig Crawford of CQ Politics said this evening, "what would Jackie say?" Jackie Kennedy was a strong, brilliant woman who displayed one quality in abundance--loyalty. Would she have joined the Obama wave today? I think not.

Despite my questioning of the Kennedys today, I readily admit it was particularly difficult for me to swallow their endorsement of Obama. How do I in good conscience watch with complete admiration while my endorsement post sits waiting to be published? It wasn't easy, that I will say for certain.

While a majority of my peers are campaigning for a man who appeals to our generation, I cannot abandon the idea of another first--the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. I cannot abandon credentials that include graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Law School, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, and United States Senator. Unlike Senator Kennedy, I cannot abandon the candidate who played an important role in the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a program both Senator Kennedy and I support 100%. Hillary Clinton has fought tirelessly for the funding and continuation of SCHIP. I cannot deny my gratitude for Hillary Clinton's work to pass the Adoption and Safe Families Act, an act that has incredible significance in my own life. Despite the failures of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, I believe Hillary Clinton possesses a unique determination that will ensure the passage of solid health care reform that will prevent Americans from suffering from treatable diseases by securing health insurance plans for all Americans. I cannot deny the integral role Hillary Clinton has played in women's rights, including her service as an ambassador and advocate or women's rights around the world as well as at home with the creation of the Office on Violence Against Women within the United States Justice Department.

I believe, as does General Wesley Clark, that Hillary Clinton is prepared to be commander-in-chief. I cannot say this for the other Democratic candidates in the race for the White House. I believe that Hillary Clinton displays the breadth of knowledge that will allow her to pass through Congress necessary legislation to move this nation, our economy, and our military in a positive direction. I believe Hillary Clinton has experience, not experience as defined by years as the pundits will often say in a comparison with Obama, but the experiences of winning and losing. I believe that Hillary Clinton is strong on policy issues and because she has both won and lost policy battles in the past, her experiences will allow her to do what is necessary the day after those policies succeed or fail. It is not day one that concerns me, it is the days that will follow.

When I was six years old my grandmother introduced me to the Kennedy legacy. By the time I was twelve I had memorized Kennedy's greatest speeches, the speech at Rice where he promised we would make it to the moon, his speech on the world stage in Berlin, and the speech he was to give in Dallas on November 22, 1963. If in this campaign we are to invoke the words of President Kennedy, should we not be looking to Kennedy's example more so than whether or not the words that are spoken resemble his or those of his brother?

"So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause--united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future--and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance."

There is more at stake in this election than most of us realize. There is a war not far from home that comes into our living rooms every evening leaving cynicism in its wake. Our economy no longer rises with the sun and our families are broken due to the bills they cannot pay and the unbeatable illnesses that arrive where no health insurance plan is within financial reach. There is more at stake than the passing of a torch can solve.

Just as often as I have looked to the Kennedys for political inspiration, I have looked to the women who came before me and established my right to vote. There is a place reserved for the first female president of the United States in a sculpture of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott in Washington, D.C. May that place soon be filled with the likeness of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Thanks to the progressive movements that have come before us, each of us have the right and responsibility to vote. I intend to use that right in casting my ballot for Senator Hillary Clinton, the best and most qualified candidate in the 2008 presidential race. Please join me on February 5th as we make history and caucus for the next President of the United States.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Delay

I apologize for the delay in my post endorsing a presidential candidate. I promise to post it as soon as possible tomorrow. I've been battling writer's block as I'm made my way through the outline of a scope and content, biography, and chronology for the Stallings Collection that will be heading online via the ISU website tomorrow. In addition, I want my endorsement to be sincere and not hurried. Tomorrow.

TDIH: Apollo 1

"History will record[...]That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." --Commander Gene Cernan, Apollo 17

On January 27, 1967, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, three astronauts whose service to this country catapulted us to the moon, were killed during a launch pad test at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo-1/apollo-1-patch.jpg

It is no secret to those who know me well that I once aspired to be an astronaut. Didn't we all? I applied to Space Camp at the Johnson Space Center and attended a space simulation workshop. Math held me back and I abandoned that dream. However, like me, many young Americans looked to the space program for inspiration.

Even today the inspiration attached to the space program, especially the moon shot, that was created one September day when President Kennedy addressed a crowd at Rice University, keeps NASA afloat. Afloat in the sense that as Americans we can justify the continued efforts of NASA when they are bogged down in personnel and logistical nightmares because NASA and the space program gave us hope, hope to get through tumultuous times.

Perhaps it is the historian in me, I tend to believe that one of the many things that is great about America is the legacy of programs like the Apollo missions. Americans coming together for a cause that is more about humanity and the abilities we have collectively rather than individually.

Post-Apollo 1 we have seen the horrors of Space Shuttle Challenger, Space Shuttle Columbia, and the fears associated with Apollo 13. Our recent memory often views NASA with disgust. I would guess that the number of kids in America who aspire to be astronauts has decreased as the national affection for NASA has. We are no longer a country of dreams the way we were in the 1960s. We need a dream like reaching the moon to again excite us and bring us together.

The dream was not lost on January 27, 1967. The lives of three brave men were lost. Three brave men who are no longer known by name in classrooms around the country. Three brave men, who despite their deaths, catapulted us to the moon. The moon shot repaired a tattered nation after the deaths of many American servicemen (though only a small portion in comparison to the overall number of KIA in Vietnam) and restored the dream that died November 22, 1963.

Help the Library of Congress

Want to help the Library of Congress identify some historic photos? An unusual pairing now has the Library of Congress asking for our help. Check it out!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

I am a bit slow with this posting today, but as promised here it is:

Interesting news out of Hollywood today about a fine levied against ABC for a nude scene from clear back in 2003. I mention this only because it wasn't long ago that I discovered NYPD Blue and commented here about the controversy. $1.4 million. Quite a bit for one misdirected shower scene.

I can't help but pay attention to the Writer's Strike. I hear that they are nowhere near a resolution, but there are still shows on that haven't been impacted by the strike or they at least had a cache of episodes still to be aired. There is an interesting advertisement for a show called Eli Stone (not sure which network it is on) that caught my attention only because the main character has hallucinations. Hallucinations about what? George Michael. I kid you not. Man, Hollywood is getting desperate. CBS picked up Dexter which I hear was canceled by Showtime after the debut season. Dexter will lose the edge Showtime allowed it being on cable and I think the show is doomed. I love the guy who plays Dexter and I might watch it, but I am not going to be heartbroken if when the writers come back it makes an exit. NBC picked up a show called Lipstick Jungle from the writer of Sex and the City. I haven't actually seen the show, just the previews with the lady from Third Watch. Not something I'm too interested in. There are a few shows that have come back on while the writers are on strike--Law & Order (the original), Lost, 60 Minutes, Monk & Psych because of a different airing schedule, and a few others. The Amazing Race and Californication ended their seasons. I'm not sure what happened to the newbies Private Practice and Big Shots (which has been on a few times lately). USA has picked up a new show--the title of which has switched back and forth from Mary Sunshine and In Plain Sight--with Mary McCormack that could be worth watching. No idea when that will start.

That was a long update on the Writers Strike that may not matter to anyone but me...

What I do find ironic is that while the writers are battling over compensation for their work going online and all over the place via DVDs, the lack of new programming has left many of us (who are either television junkies or, like me, can't sleep without the tv on) resorting to television on DVD or full episodes via the network websites.

As much as I don't want to link to something so ludicrous, I have to direct you all to this rant of Mr. Orson Scott Card. I read Uncle Orson Reviews Everything quite regularly because he does review some important items--toilet paper, board games, books--and usually I find something that is helpful, but when he dives into politics I get a good kick out of him. This time he is ranting about "the fanatical puritans that belong to the Religion of Environmentalism." I am dead serious. Check it out! Who knew light bulbs could be so controversial. Poor Thomas Edison!

News via my inbox this evening following Obama's stunning win in South Carolina--Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, daughter of President Kennedy and niece of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and the late Bobby Kennedy, has endorsed Barack Obama. Interesting news. And I doubt she came about this endorsement lightly. I find it odd that whenever Caroline is mentioned they never use her married name. I suppose it is in respect to the Kennedy legacy or in some way an attempt to awe people. I guess if I had a name like Caroline Bouvier Kennedy Schlossberg I'd probably just stick to Caroline too... What do I know, my name is about as simple as they come. Eight letters and most people use it without a space between the first four and the second four.

In the January 28th issue of Newsweek is a nice tribute to the late chess giant Bobby Fischer. Also, an interesting headline in the campaign '08 section--"A Troll Through the Muck." Can you guess who is pictured below? John McCain. Actually Senator McCain and an angry bunch of fellows behind him with "stop illegal immigration now" signs and confederate flags. The whole McCain phenomenon is something I can't seem to wrap my head around. At least I am in good company...I suspect most of the Republican party cannot wrap their heads around it either.

Last night I had a dream I was voting for Rudy Giuliani and was making a speech as to why. You know you've paid too much attention to the campaigns when you have a dream like that!

Friday, January 25, 2008

In a Maze of Farm Debt

Amendments to the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 (coming in 1986); amendments to the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act of 1982 and subsequent amendments; the 1985 Farm Bill of the 99th Congress; the 1990 Farm Bill and its many technical revisions; Rural Electrification; amendments to the Farm Credit Act in 1985, 1986, and 1987; the Farm Credit System, not to be confused with or used interchangeably with the Farm Credit Administration or the Farm Service Agency; the Farm Credit Banks and Associations Safety and Soundness Act of 1991; the Farm Credit Relief Acts beginning in 1985 and by no means ending with the Farm Emergency Credit Act of 1985; and many, many other farm debt related agencies and legislation.

None of these items I can adequately explain on any given day nor can I comprehend how Idaho and other agrarian states made it out of the 1980s farm debt crisis. However, this is where I am spending my time as the opening of the Richard H. Stallings Congressional Collection rapidly approaches. And this is where I will continue to spend my time until the opening on February 8th. 

Therefore, (I feel I should say "let it be resolved" here) I will posting my usual Smorgasbord Saturday article tomorrow and a public endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate (the one I will be caucusing for on Super Tuesday) on Sunday and will then disappear from the blogosphere until Saturday, February 9th, 2008.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Senator Craig, What the Hell Are You Doing?!?

As if it isn't hard enough for Idahoans when their senior senator is late night fodder night after night still, months after his arrest in a Minneapolis men's room last June was made public, we are now going to have to see the saga of Senator Larry Craig on primetime.

Last night NBC showed a preview for next week's Law & Order episode that will have a "fictional" senator getting caught in a men's room tapping his foot. Fictional, right.

Blame the delay in this story appearing on primetime to the Writer's Strike, but you can't skip blaming the bad light it sheds on Idaho on our no longer distinguished Senator Craig.

Whenever Idahoans travel these days and mention the state they hail from, the question inevitably arises as to how they feel abou their senator. We've let Senator Craig skate by, in an election year no less, as he continues his "wide-stance" saga in Europe, we've let him be the butt of the jokes on late night television, and now we'll see his now infamous story on primetime.

Enough is enough! Senator Craig, what the hell are you doing? Maybe I don't want to know, but I do want to know why your state has not created an uprising as you have been dragging our name through the mud.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

3,931

Last night brought to a head the emotions I have harbored since March 20th, 2003.

As I sat watching a politically charged episode of Law & Order: SVU that brought with it other emotions I have yet to make myself familiar with, the war in Iraq came into my home in ways it hasn't through the nightly news. For those of you who weren't watching television last night, the plot line involved victims of a very personal robbery one of whom was an American soldier serving in Iraq while her husband attempted to live his life at home without her. This woman had left a safeguard at home in the event that she didn't return from Iraq so the love of her life could always have a piece of her. That safeguard, in the form of cryogenically frozen embryos, was stolen.

She was an American soldier leaving her home and family knowing that there was a possibility she wouldn't be returning.

At the end of last night's episode the young husband was followed to the airport by the detectives attempting to arrest him for fatally shooting the man who self-righteously stole the safeguard he and his wife held so dear and there he stood as his wife's casket was lowered from a cargo plane.

Our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, and friends are coming home in caskets. They aren't coming home to start families and continue their lives. They are coming home in caskets. 3,931 of them.

Hours before Law & Order I noticed a link to the Iraq casualties and thought I might take a moment to learn of the Idahoans that have lost their lives in our irresponsible occupation of Iraq. Before I was able to scroll down to Idaho I was physically sick. 3,931 is just a number until you scroll through their names. 3,931 is just a number until you come to a name you recognize.

Last night as the fictional husband questioned why back at the courthouse the press hounded the criminals and at the airport his wife's arrival brought no observers other than the military officials transferring her body were there to take notice of a true tragedy I realized what 3,931 really means.

3,931 means men like Curtis Hall of Burley, Idaho. 3,931 means kids like Michael Sturdivant of Conway, Arkansas who died today at the age of twenty in a vehicle accident in Kirkuk. 3,931 means our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, and friends.

It is going to take more than a Law & Order episode to make us realize what a quagmire we are in, but it shouldn't take more than 3,931 killed in action in Iraq. We shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Tulowitzki Strikes It Big

Word is the Colorado Rockies have extended the contract of their short stop, Troy Tulowitzki who barely lost the National League Rookie of the Year award this past season. Quite a pocket full of change for a guy who idolizes Derek Jeter and just wanted a spot on the Rockies roster last season...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sad News

First Brad Renfro and now Heath Ledger. Sad.

Too Damn Funny To Pass Up!

All in the Bunker

Thanks to Jared for the link!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday, Monday

What a weekend! To think I was in Elko Thursday night, Declo Friday night, and Pocatello Saturday night makes my head spin.

It is nice to be home, though not entirely nice to be back to work today. I took Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday off from the Stallings Collection. I can't say I accomplished anything at home that I should have. Saturday I found myself glued to MSNBC. Sunday morning when I finally rolled out of bed (or I should say the couch) I was able to pick up a new camera cord and attend to a heap of laundry. However, my readings for my classes are not done and the Stallings Collection sits right where it was when I so spontaneously left it Thursday afternoon.

ISU is closed for Martin Luther King Day, the library included, but I have a key and here I am.

While I have been away from the world of non-political news, Bobby Fischer died (I realize that isn't entirely non-political), my brother's beloved Green Bay Packers got knocked out of contention for the Super Bowl, caffeine is bad for you, and Roger Clemens and the now infamous McNamee are still making headlines.

And don't forget Oscar nominations happen tomorrow! Not that any body is staking a bet on whether or not the great award show will even take place this year amidst the writer's strike...

You all may be wondering why I am not mentioning MLK Day, aside from the mention of ISU being closed. Simple. I choose to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., his life and legacy, on the 28th of August every year. Since I will not be posting a tribute, I will instead direct you toward the Google home page graphic. I can't think of a better or more beautiful tribute.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Caucus/Primary Questions

McCain?!? How did that happen?
How old is John McCain?
What's with the Thompson staging?
Are Edwards' days numbered in this race?
Ron Paul? That's all I can say.
Is everybody else as baffled as I am tonight?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Wrap-Up

I went into this road trip undecided and I have come out on the other side just as undecided, if not more so, than I was going into it. Why? I went into the road trip with very little liking of Hillary Clinton and came out with a deeper amount of respect for the woman. I still don't agree with her on Iraq--both the decision to go in and her "plan" to get out once elected. I still don't feel one hundred percent sure she could beat the Republican nominee. And as much as I love the idea of a woman president, she isn't who I had in mind when I stood in front of the unfinished womens' suffrage sculture in the United States capitol.

As similar as Nevada and Idaho politics may appear initially, they are not so. The congressional districts (all three of them) are not anything alike. Northern Nevada is much like Idaho, in fact Elko County reminds me a lot of Cassia County, but Southern Nevada is nothing like Idaho. Well, maybe parts of Boise or Blaine County. I can't for the life of me figure out what will happen tomorrow in the Nevada caucuses because of Las Vegas. Do I think Romney has it in the bag? Yes. Do I think McCain wil come in a close second? Yes. Do I have any idea what will happen with the Democrats? Nope. I suspect Hillary has less support in comparison to Obama. However, I have o idea where Edwards support is or in what quantity. I doubt there will be more than ten percentage points separating Clinton and Obama. I suspect some of Richardson's early support in Nevada will tip it one way or the other. Those voters have to go somewhere. Where is the question.

It was interesting to be in a place so casual (or completely oblivious) to the caucus/primary system. Not a single person in Elko really knew what to expect at these events. Do we stand? Do we sit? Do we need tickets? Why is this not happening on time? The underlying question still remains, why Elko? Do the candidates really have to stop there? Maybe so. Maybe Las Vegas, Reno, and Elko have to be stops for the major contenders if they actually want people to show up to the caucus. The voters seemed to need an incentive to show up. The Republican voters seemed to need the incentive and assurance that their choices would be private. I'm not sure what the incentive for the Democrats was other than they really have a hand in picking who the nominee will be given the three-way race thi has become.

Despite what happens in Nevada tomorrow, I doubt Americans will have a clear picture of who each party's nominee will be until after Super Tuesday. Nevada, Florida, and South Carolina may only serve as the catalyst that forces out Giulini and Thompson. The big question is whether Giuliani will hang in there until New York and New Jersey.

When Julie first asked if I was interested in meeting her in Twin Falls to drive to Elko for the four candidates, I nearly talked myself out of it with all the work I have to do at home, but I am so glad I went. Every political junkie needs a road trip and the last political road trip I had was the November Bert Marley announced in Boise he would be running for State Superintendent. This trip hardly compares. Four presidential candidates plus Michelle Obama and General Wesley Clark. It doesn't get any better than this.

Not just a heckler...

...he was an "obnoxious drunk."

Road Trip Day II

At the ungodly hour of 7:40 a.m. (PST), former Governor Mitt Romney spoke to a crowd of nearly 300 at Adobe Middle School in Elko, Nevada. Nearly 300 registered Nevada Republicans crowded in to cheer for a guy who included in his speech the comment that no babies should be had before marriage, John Edwards' belief in the two Americas is a disillusion, Medicare is a socialist program, the Democrats proposal of universal healthcare is "Hillarycare" and the only change that will come with either Hillary or Obama is the change left in our pockets after they raise our taxes.

Give me a break.

He's a good speaker, Mr. Romney. He's a youthful, charismatic guy. He's everything you want a presidential candidate to be on the surface, but below that initial reaction he is why so many of us are Democrats. The GOP of today either doesn't get it or they have been so brainwashed over the past seven years of trying to sell a bad tax policy and an even worse foreign policy strategy that they can't see the forest for the trees.

The constant conversation about illegal immigration and the underlying message of bringing good Christian values to every aspect of American lives and American government is not hitting home with many of us. As much as we need to know our borders are safe we need to know on a greater level that our homes are a haven where our values are in fact our own and not a mandated living arrangement that a Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, et al. commander-in-chief forces upon us. We need to know that the people who are here (families, friends, and neighbors) are welcome regardless of their faith, value systems, sexual orientation, or race.

This morning, more than last night, I really felt like I was in Republican country. However, it was a welcome sight to see Obama supporters on each corner of the main intersection in downtown Elko waving signs and braving the cold. In fact, on our way out of the coffee shop the Obama supporters had been replaced by loud Clinton supporters. There are true Democrats out there, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find them.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Road Trip!

John Edwards right before my eyes. That is how my evening has been. Why? Well, let's just say every political junkie needs a road trip!

Wednesday night I received an email from the Blogmother herself asking if I'd be interested in meeting her in Twin Falls and then driving to Elko, Nevada to see not one, but four presidential candidates. Romney, Edwards, Clinton, and Obama have been or will be in this small town for the next eighteen hours. Four presidential candidates. How could I pass that up?

So here we are and we saw John Edwards! John Edwards at the Star Hotel this evening among a rowdy crowd of Nevada Democrats. Well...the rowdy bunch were the hecklers in the back--ranchers, go figure--but, all in all it was an awesome event.

Tomorrow morning we'll get the chance to listen to the spewings of Governor Mitt Romney and in the afternoon both Senators Clinton and Obama will be addressing large gatherings at local gymnasiums.

Pictures to come and plenty of political analysis when it isn't so late and I have "processed" how spontaneously splendid this all is.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Losing Ohio

In 2004 after Kerry lost Ohio I wondered about the 2008 presidential race. I knew, just looking at his eyes, that John Kerry would not be his party's nominee again. I suspected that John Edwards would run for either a House or Senate seat and he would settle back down with his family. I thought Hillary Clinton would consider a run for the White House, but would be talked out of it by the DNC long before 2008 rolled around. And I listened to that young senator giving the keynote at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and thought he had a bright future in politics.

A bright future in politics, but not specifically 2008. I don't believe Obama has the experience. I believe he has the leadership ability. I believe he has hope and a plan. And I sure do like listening to the guy, but I just can't be sure he has the foreign policy experience a president would need on day one.

I truly believed Hillary would be talked out of running by a party that sees the opinions around her. I thought she would say she had more to do in the Senate, can accomplish more there, etc. Isn't that what all politicos say when they don't want to or can't make the leap? I'm speaking from experience here.

And I really thought John Edwards would settle down with his family and pray wonderful wife has many, many years still to spend with her family.

When John Kerry lost Ohio I still had some respect for Joe Leiberman. When John Kerry lost Ohio I had faith that the war in Iraq was in its final days--I couldn't fathom the reality of a war started as I was preparing to graduate from high school continuing throughout college career. I am now beginning my Masters degree and Iraq is still news story number on every night of the week. When John Kerry lost Ohio I knew without a doubt that the Bush administration would crumble and the Democrats would bring strength to the table in 2006 and regain control of Congress. When John Kerry lost Ohio, I thought the Democrats were at their lowest point and there was nowhere to go but up.

Today in Nevada we have three candidates, none of whom will completely sign on with a national gun registry. Three candidates who each in their own way support big business just as much as they publicly loathe it. Edwards voted for the bankruptcy bill--a bill that did more for credit card companies than those who in desperation look to bankruptcy as an option. Three candidates that have reasonable answer to Yucca Mountain and three candidates who really don't make a whole lot of sense on clean energy. Tonight in Nevada they took the stage and admitted regret in regard to certain votes. They took the stage on the night of Dr. King's birthday only doing harm to the great lengths this country had progressed due to King, Medgar Evers, Bobby Kennedy, and other civil rights leaders. The very fact that they are still talking about race as an issue in the campaign makes me wonder if any of the previously mentioned men and women are still face up in their graves. I'd surely be rolling over in mine if I listened to some of that.

I am a Democrat and a proud one, but I can't say that since John Kerry lost Ohio and all that has come after including the Democrats seizing Congress, I have felt a Democratic candidate, presidential or otherwise, was an honest, decent, progressive politician that I agreed with even 90%.

It is all about the audience, the face time, and where the money is coming from.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

dailyKos founder is coming to Idaho!!!

Things are about to get very uncomfortable for Idaho Republicans as the Idaho Democratic Party announced this evening to Idaho bloggers that Markos Moulitsas Zúniga founder of dailyKos will be the keynote speaker at the Frank Church Banquet in Boise to be held March 1, 2008.

This is HUGE news for the Idaho blogosphere and progressives all over Idaho as word came down from the DCCC that Idaho first congressional district had made it on the DCCC's 40 seat target list.

In a conference call this evening, Markos discussed the civil war that is taking place within the Republican party as the neo-cons attempt to dissolve the campaign of theo-con and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee as well as his excitement for visiting one of the reddest states in the nation post-wide stance Craig's mug appearing on the national news for months.

It is definitely going to be a Frank Church banquet to remember! John Foster, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party and the brilliant mind who thought to bring Markos for the event says invitations should be going out soon. Get your seats while the getting is good!

(*Photo belongs to dailyKos. Cross-posted at Red State Rebels)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

TDIH: The Bloomsbury Group

On this day in 1924, author Virginia Woolf bought a house in the Bloomsbury district of London. Why should you care? This purchase would place Woolf and her husband Leonard in the center of a group of intellectuals that would become known as the Bloomsbury Group.

The group included a range of well-knowns including John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster, and the Woolfs.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bloomsbury Group, this video (a portion of an entire documentary) will introduce you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Night in New Hampshire

I can't help but have a smile on my face this evening with Clinton's surprising win in New Hampshire. As I have said time and time again, I am not a supporter of Clinton due to some of her policies and votes, but after yesterday I feel a whole lot better about her personally.

It is such a beautiful thing to see the major media wipe egg off their face. It is such a beautiful thing to see the Obama camp a little less confident.

As Bill Richardson said earlier this evening, this race is nowhere near over!

I also can't help but smile at the fact that Giuliani is competing with Ron Paul for the scraps. Giuliani really missed his time, didn't he? Is Fred Thompson out tomorrow? I sure hope so. Both are worthy of a smile on my face.

However happy I am with the results of New Hampshire on the Democratic side this evening, I am not particularly pleased with McCain's win. How do you vote for that man? I couldn't do it. Maybe in 2000 had I been eligible to vote I could have (considering the kind of politician he was then). Not now. Not now that he has been on the campaign trail with Joe Leiberman. Not now that he has become the panderer that he is. Not now that he has tried to narrow the gap between his politics and those of the evangelicals and the hard right. I still don't understand how people in New Hampshire that voted for him in 2000 could vote for him now and I may never understand how independents are still drawn to him.

What an interesting night it has been in New Hampshire. What an interesting night it has been for America. History books will be reserving a special space for the primary season that saw the wins of a former Vietnam POW, a strong woman, an African American, and a southern Baptist. To quote Obama, "there is something happening in America."

And how about the turn out? Unreal!

Goose is Golden

Votes are in and the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be inducting Rich "Goose" Gossage at their 2008 ceremony in Cooperstown.

Goose Gossage will be joining one of his former managers, Mr. Dick Williams, as well as former team owners Walter O'Malley and Barney Dreyfuss. These men will be joining the distinguished former commissioner Bowie Kuhn. If I remember correctly, Billy Southworth, a former Cardinal (player and manager) is also being inducted.

In a year when the MLB can't seem to catch a break it is refreshing to see a player like Gossage gaining entrance into the hall of fame.

Gossage will be the lone entry this year which surprised me. I was sure it was going to be the year of Jack Morris or Dale Murphy. However, Goose is one of few relief pitchers in the Hall and justifiably so. For more information on the career of Goose Gossage please see his baseball reference page.

The Goose is certainly golden today. Congrats to baseball for making a wise choice in a time of unfortunate pitfalls.

Monday, January 7, 2008

On the Eve of Everything

Tomorrow could very well end the hopes of several presidential candidates. Tomorrow will be history in the making.

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, I find myself irritated with New Hampshire Republicans and the media at large.

First of all, explain to me how John McCain is leading the Republican pack in New Hampshire. And don't tell me he won there in 2000. I dare you to tell me that John McCain is the same politician he was in 2000. Right. He's a panderer. How can New Hampshire Republicans be so blind to that? How is he ahead?

Second, give Hillary a break. The woman had tears in her eyes and the media is saying she's weak, she's losing, she sees her end insight, and she's being a woman. Good God! I bet she's had an hour or two of sleep in the last twenty-four hours. I get tears in my eyes when I've had four hours of sleep. The media is portraying sincerity for weakness only because she is a woman. I don't agree with Hillary's positions most of the time and I certainly wouldn't be voting for her over any of the other Democratic candidates, but as a woman I feel the need to defend her. Give her a break. The media portrays her as a monster one day and emotional the next. Last I checked the man in the Oval Office (or Crawford...I can't ever keep track of when he's on "vacation") doesn't have any feelings. Showing a little emotion when talking about what is best for this country does not make a person weak, I believe it is what they call patriotism.

I'd like to see Romney get his head handed to him on a plate tomorrow and I would love to see McCain face up to what he has become since his last appearance on the ballot in New Hampshire.

On the eve of what could be the political equivalent of everything, what I really want is to see something that doesn't resemble politics as usual.

Cooperstown 2008

Tomorrow the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announcing 2008 inductees. This year's nominees include an interesting array of players, including a few who made the now infamous Mitchell Report.

If I remember correctly, nominees are only allowed fifteen years of nomination or appearance on the hall of fame ballot. So, there are a few on the list that are running out of years-Tommy John, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Goose Gosage, Andre Dawson, and Don Mattingly. My vote goes to Dale Murphy, hands down. It surprises me that he hasn't already been inducted.

Two of the nominees that I suspect will be passed over time and time again include Mark McGwire and David Justice. Both are included in the Mitchell Report and both are going to have a hard time overcoming public knowledge of their steroid use. Without question, nominations to Cooperstown will be much more tricky post-Mitchell.

The 2008 ballot included fourteen returning nominees and eleven newcomers. Other nominees that I haven't already mentioned include: Dave Concepcion, Shawon Dunston, Travis Fryman, Chuck Knoblauch, Alan Trammell, Brady Anderson, Harold Baines, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Chuck Finley, Jose Rijo, Todd Stottlemyre, Rod Beck, Robb Nen, and Lee Smith.

My opinion is that baseball as a sport needs to honor not only two deserving players this year, but two honest, decent men whose nomination can shine a positive light on the game following a season full of negatives. The hall needs to follow the trend of voting from last year that brought about the induction of two wonderful players and represenatives of the game, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn. If I were a voting member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, my top two choices would be Dale Murphy and Jack Morris (with Goose Gosage in a close third). It wouldn't surprise me if the hall inducted Rod Beck due to his untimely death last year, but suspicion surrounding his death may only fuel the fire that is the steroid scandal in baseball.

The announcement will come tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Leading the IDP

In the past two weeks I have heard from several people (bloggers and others) that the sudden resignation of Richard Stallings as chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party had more to do with the internal politics and good ole boy system that may have brought John Foster to the position of executive director of the party. I heard that Jerry Brady was the old guard's choice despite his public support of Walt Minnick. I had heard that a few others were told to not involve themselves or seek nomination on the floor of the central committee meeting. And, I had heard that Stallings was pushed out.

Yesterday I linked to two posts at Idaho Rocks as a segway into what I planned to say today. However, this morning what I planned to say went out the window and I have decided to make my entire position on the current status of the IDP known.

The Idaho Democratic Party is in strong, capable hands.

Whatever recommendations came to the IDP on the behalf of John Foster were 100% true. He is a bright, energetic leader who brings a fresh face to the party and a true sense of direction. I do not doubt his qualifications and wish others wouldn't either. It is refreshing to have the director of the state party involving bloggers and young people by and large in discussions and respecting their opinion. Capable hands.

And, whatever reason there was to doubt Jerry Brady in this process should be irrelevant. Need I remind you that just over a month ago Stallings resigned from the Pocatello City Council with the comment that he would be devoting more time to the state party? Brady, nor anybody else for that matter, could have known Stallings would be leaving his post sooner, rather than later. Politicos endorse people, it is in our blood. From what I have heard, Minnick is a friend and was the logical endorsement for Brady. Brady should not have been penalized for his endorsement and from what I have heard, made his intentions very clear at the meeting...er, teleconference.

Throughout this entire process my inclination was not to question those who took the reigns of the party, but was to question what brought about Stallings' sudden resignation. I have to admit, I worried for a day or so about the health and well being of both Stallings and his wife. The thought did not cross my mind that there could be political forces at work here. That amount of cynicism did not occur to me. The IDP is nothing like the party that recently threw Larry Craig under a very fast moving bus. Due to my number one concern being Stallings, it didn't occur to me that any "forces" were at work, nor did I believe that one faction was promoting Jerry Brady over the other factions nominee Keith Roark. Call me naive, but it didn't seem to be the case.

Now, with all that said, I have complete faith in the abilities of Keith Roark. His grasp on the situation at hand is honest and straight forward. As I mentioned yesterday, my perspective is tainted by my admiration for Richard Stallings and my opinion that his shoes are pretty big ones to feel. This is by no means intended to discredit Roark or anybody else at the state party because I know that party is in good hands with Roark, Foster, and Buell, perhaps it is only meant as a disclaimer so my position is not misconstrued.

In the coming days prior to Super Tuesday I believe we will see remarkable leadership coming out of Boise and whatever fears or rumors existed throughout this process will be quashed.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

I'm still watching the New Hampshire debate and for the moment my comments are, 1) Is there anybody John McCain won't hug? 2) Fred Thompson scares the hell out of me, and 3) Bill Richardson would make a decent VP.

Alright, one more comment--does Richardson really believe Kennedy was one of our best presidents? Inspiring, maybe. Shooting for the moon, okay. Best president? Oh, Bill.

Friday night the Idaho Democratic Central Committee elected a new chairman of the state party to replace resigning chairman Richard Stallings. They picked Keith Roark over Jerry Brady. If I've ever met Keith Roark, I can't remember him. However, Stallings' shoes are pretty hard to fill so it wouldn't matter if they elected the Pope at this point. I've watched closely a conversation over at Idaho Rocks about the election and I'd like to comment more on this matter tomorrow. Until then, check this out!

Today on CSPAN's BookTV they were running footage of the Lincoln Forum meeting at Gettysburg in November. Hopefully they're going to be running this again soon. I'd love to attend one of those conferences. Something I really enjoy about the Lincoln Forum, other than the obvious reasons, is that they have an ongoing list of what is new in Lincoln books/literature. It is sort of similar to the e-newsletter JFK Lancer puts out, but broader (and more academic). If you haven't even heard of the Lincoln Forum, I would highly suggest you familiarize yourself.

The Dallas Morning News has an end-of-the-year "award" similar to Time, called Texan of the Year. While I was in Dallas this award appeared in the December 30th Sunday edition. Quite interesting was their choice this year: the Illegal Immigrant. Once I find a link to the article, I will add it here. This surprised me, perhaps because in the last year Texas lost Lady Bird Johnson and other notable Texans who really made a difference in the state. Yes, illegal immigrants are making a difference in Texas, but we don't see positive news reports about illegal immigrants and wouldn't it be nice to end the year on a pleasant note? Also interesting in the article is the way in which the editorial refers to the illegal immigrant: "He is at the heart of a great culture war in Texas." Yes, it's a pronoun to describe a group of people. Yes, they could have chosen they, them, etc. But he? Illegal immigrants are men, women, children, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and all sorts of other labels seeking the same thing--freedom and opportunity. He? Really? It could be worse, one of the runners up for the award was Alberto Gonzales...

This past week Sara Jane More was released from prison in Dublin, California for attempting to assassinate the late former president Gerald Ford. The timing wasn't lost on me. Last year, the day after Christmas, President Ford passed away. The details escape me, but of the two would-be assassins of President Ford, Sara Jane Moore was not given life in prison like Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. I've always wondered if Americans sympathized with Moore. She was attempting to assassinate a man who had just suppressed any possibility of the country knowing the crimes of their leader. Pardoning Nixon aggravated many Americans. Luckily, only two acted in response to that pardon. Even more lucky, neither succeeded. The world has been without Gerald Ford for a year, but the world has not forgotten the man who healed a nation. Hopefully they have forgotten Sara Jane Moore's actions and she can live her life or what is left of it in some sort of peace. It just amazes me that you can attempt to kill the leader of the free world and one day walk the streets a free person again.

The January 2008 issue of Smithsonian has a wonderful article by a fellow named Lance Morrow about the late Norman Mailer. He nails it. All the irritating characteristics of Mailer are there, all the endearing qualities are there. More and more I find myself a fan of Lance Morrow for his insight as well as choice of topics. I don't know that I agree with his politics, but he's a writer I admire. He was, if you remember, the author of a wonderful book called The Best Year of Their Lives, a discussion of three young congressman--Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

United Vision for Idaho has announced the award recipients for the upcoming progressive dinner to be held in Boise this coming Friday. I won't be able to attend (had to choose between the progressive dinner or the Church banquet this year), but I wanted to send a shout out to my fellow blogger and a writer I greatly admire, Julie Fanselow, who will be receiving the first ever Progressive Blogger of the Year. Way to go, Julie!

I've been home most of the day getting organized and gearing up for Spring semester to begin and as I've been "sorting" I've half watched, mostly listened to, the first season of NYPD Blue. Wow! I had heard that there was some controversy when this series first went on the air, but holy moly, I can see why now. Tell me this--we finally have nudity on prime time and we have to see Dennis Franz' naked butt? Where's the fairness in that? Yeah, I'm about fifteen years behind on that comment. What can I say? I was in the second grade when everybody else was introduced to Steven Bochco!

Friday, January 4, 2008

So Long, Joe

The one thing I hate about the Iowa caucuses and the New Hamphire primaries is that candidates I really like jump out quickly when a poor showing seems to say to them that they don't have a snowball's chance in hell to gain their party's nomination.

Case in point--Joe Biden. Yes, both Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have pulled out of the presidential race, but it is Biden's departure that bothers me the most.

Why do the good guys finish last? Biden was my choice, though I didn't throw my support publicly to anyone since it didn't matter much given it wasn't Obama, Clinton, or Edwards. This is only my second presidential election in which I've been old enough to vote. Same thing happened to me in 2004. I loved (still love) Dick Gephardt. My heart was in the race when he was in it. Then it came down to Edwards and Kerry and I got behind Kerry once the party did. The party lost me somewhere along the road when they let Gephardt out of the political sphere. No grand job offers like Howard Dean. No return to Congress. Nothing. I'm hoping the 2008 election won't be a repeat of my 2004 disappointments.

Whoever gets the Democratic nomination sure as hell better pick up Senator Biden as an advisor. Secretary of State? Yes, that too. Biden had the experience, the foreign policy experience. Something none of the candidates have is foreign policy experience and don't believe Hillary when she tells you that she does.

I won't say I wasn't shocked to see Obama and Huckabee take Iowa. I won't say I wasn't pleased to hear Obama talk about this country the way Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. once did. I won't say I wasn't thrilled to see Huckabee kick Romney's ass after the negativity Romney threw into Iowa.

I will say today my hopes for the 2008 election look rather bleak. 2012, Joe? Please?

Christmas Gifts to Entertain Myself This Weekend

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Dealey Plaza









(Digital photography property of Tara A. Rowe)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Middle of the Week Mélange

I have returned from the sea of red and yellow. Red and yellow? Yes, I have returned from the land of the Cotton Bowl where I saw my fair share of Arkansas and Missouri football fans. I must have been the only person in town for reasons other than football!

Despite what I said earlier about TNT pulling re-runs of Law & Order featuring presidential candidate Fred Thompson, they seem to be running a marathon of episodes with Thompson in them on the eve of the Iowa caucus.

Lots and lots of 2007 lists are popping up with reviews of all the political, Hollywood, and otherwise tabloidesque goings-on. Can't help but notice Larry Craig's name on many of those lists. While on vacation to both Little Rock, rural Arkansas, and Dallas, I got many questions about Idaho. One person said all they knew about Idaho was that we grow potatoes. Another, I kid you not, said, "Isn't that where that senator is from?" Yes, Idaho the land of Larry "Widestance" Craig. Geez. What a legacy.

On my trip I had my first visit to a Whole Foods store. All I really knew about it before that visit was what I heard them talk about on Six Feet Under. Pretty great place. I wish we had one here. Until then I guess I'll have to settle for the organics at Fred Meyer.

There was an interesting story over at Ridenbaugh Press while I was on vacation about dairies and laundry in Filer. Some day I'll tell you all about my comments about Filer that got me in a bit of trouble while in high school geometry class. I digress...featured prominently in the story is the request of a Filer resident that the dairies buy their own laundromat so the residents of Filer can use theirs again.

While I'm thinking about it, if anybody cares to know, my vote for Stallings' replacement as the chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party is executive director of United Vision for Idaho, Jim Hansen. I don't know what the requirements are for this sort of position, but there's my endorsement.

I took somewhere near 500 pictures while on my trip, so expect to see many of them appear here in the next few days. I'll also give you a recap of my trip when I get unpacked and settled in. So far I'd rather nap than unpack.