Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ode to Insanity

Are they serious? Congress, let it go. Yes, Clemens is lying. Yes, this is serious. No, Congress does not need the DOJ to get involved. Let it go. Just let it go.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gag Reflex

If I see another story like this about Idahoans praising Senator Craig I think I am going to puke.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscars

Am I the only person who didn't like Michael Clayton?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

As I sat down to write this, I was confronted with some horrible news via F-Words, a fellow Idaho blogger, has just discovered she has a brain tumor. My thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes are with Sara and her family.

How do you get into the spirit of a traditional smorgasbord after that?

I stumbled across a website yesterday where a person can donate shoes. Yes, shoes. Soles 4 Souls is the organization--if you have extra shoes (or cash) lying around, take a look.

In baseball news, my Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball team should be coming together here soon. I chose not to do the live draft this year--simply because the only time I have for this is at an insane hour of the night or early on a Sunday morning when I would rather be sleeping in. In absence of a live draft, managers are allowed to enter pre-draft rankings for as many players as they wish. Players that you don't like can be removed from the draft list, players you like can be entered with a rank. Pretty simple stuff. After I entered my top five, I realized that fantasy baseball for me isn't about winning--it is about having an incentive to watch the players I like. Otherwise I would be watching only Braves baseball. Okay, who am I kidding? I would be watching all the televised games I could, but with no investment.

Here's a breakdown of my pre-draft rankings for the first ten slots:

1. Ivan Rodriguez (C-Detroit)
2. Tom Glavine (SP-Atlanta)
3. Brian McCann (C-Atlanta)
4. David Wright (3B-NYMets)
5. Matt Holliday (OF-Colorado)
6. Vladimir Guerrero (OF-LAAngels)
7. Ichiro Suzuki (OF-Seattle)
8. Andruw Jones (OF-LADodgers)
9. Carlos Beltran (OF-NYMets)
10. Jake Peavy (SP-San Diego)

And yes I have reasoning. Last year I was totally screwed as far as outfielders. My original roster included seven outfielders, by the allstar break, I had three left, one of whom was Andruw Jones who had a horrible season (the worst of his career) and the other was Mike Cameron who was by no means what he should be to any lineup. As for the catchers, I have a hunch that the Tigers are going to be hot this year, so having Pudge on board might help me (the fact that he is interchangeable in the C and 1B slots is a bonus). Brian McCann is just awesome, period.

Again, about the schedule here at TPG: Before I depart for Boise on Thursday, you should see posts on FISA, the Minidoka/Hunt internment site, the Oscars, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Merry Saturday!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bush Presidential Library

In an interesting decision announced today, Southern Methodist University (located in Dallas, Texas) will be the future home of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and policy institute.

Several institutions were in contention for this major "gift" that will enable the chosen university to bring considerable number of researchers and visitors to campus. Baylor, Texas A&M, Dallas University, and University of Texas were all in contention, however Baylor and Dallas University are within close proximity to SMU and both Texas A&M and University of Texas are close to the Lyndon Johnson library (and policy school) in Austin and the George H.W. Bush library in College Station, Texas.

Why is this decision significant? Well, there are a couple of things that stand out--one, this means friends of President Bush and Laura Bush (alumnus of SMU) will now concentrate on securing large donations for the library and, two, the regional location of the library "spreads the wealth," so they say, around the state of Texas in terms of presidential records and primary source materials.

Currently there are twelve presidential libraries operating under the National Archives and Records Administration. Regionally speaking, the West is largely disconnected with the NARA system (due to few presidents reigning from the West). There are two presidential libraries in Californian, those of Presidents Reagan and Nixon.

The Bush library will be the third for the state of Texas, not far from both the Clinton library in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Eisenhower library in Abilene, Kansas.

There are plenty of politics involved here, the most prominent in my mind being Executive Order 13233, issued by George W. Bush in 2001 restricting access to presidential records (not to mention the Presidential Records Act amendments of 2007). Who knows what the Bush library will be and if it will be, like the others, a mecca for historians, researchers, and political junkies.

At least they have a repository...baby steps.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Middle of the Week Mélange

Poor, poor John McCain. To quote one famous Canadian singer, "isn't it ironic?" I can't help but laugh at the insanity of the New York Times story breaking this evening about John McCain's "relationship" with a Washington, D.C. lobbyist. I guess if you're a Republican you spew these things against politicos you don't like, party-liners or otherwise.

Odd that this story is breaking tonight--Matt Drudge has to be pissed.

On a much happier note, good news for NASA, the home of perpetually bad news of late, the Space Shuttle Atlantis has returned to Cape Canaveral. Is anybody else wondering if we'll see another space shuttle mission in our lifetimes?

Word on the street is that the Frank Church Banquet featuring headliner Markos of dailyKos has sold out. Wonderful! It's a great year for Democrats, Idaho is no exception.

Other news from dailyKos is this great post from mcjoan on the absurd amount of money former (embattled, Constitution-breaching, insert adjective here) U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is fetching on the lecture circuit. Makes me sick. Physically sick.

In terms of TPG scheduling, I am hoping to post a rebuttal to a horrific letter to the editor I spotted in the Times-News this week, a post stating my position on the 1978 FISA legislation and why the 2007 amendments did it an injustice, and my traditional smorgasbord on Saturday. All of this in addition to the essay I need to finish, the articles I need to read, and the other odds and ends that have to be accomplished before next week when I take off for four days to Boise.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On Vices

No, not those kind of vices. My head feels like it is in a vice. I have had a headache for three days now. The kind of headache that is in no way cured by a bottle of aspirin and certainly not helped by the German two-way prepositions I've been staring at.

Look up vice in the dictionary and you will find a picture of my head with a vice grip on it. A very large vice grip.

I would like to say something about why I oppose the FISA legislation, aside from the telecom protections, but I can't with a headache like this and homework stacked to the ceiling.

I would like to relay an opinion piece I read in an Idaho paper today that made me sick. I can't. The insanity of some of my fellow Idahoans must be a part of this headache.

If you're looking for a piece of advice, here's one: If you are about to take on a huge project that a lot of people are going to take credit for, make sure you get at least a degree out of it. At the very least a pass from time to time.

Take my advice or one day you'll be posting on vices.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ruby and Oswald

Just in time for President's Day, the Dallas Morning News reported this morning that a manuscript was discovered in the old office of the Dallas district attorney that outlines the relationship and previous meeting of Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, doubts the authenticity of the document--some are speculating that the materials found were prepared as a movie proposal. Regardless, this recent discovery is only more evidence that the hype surrounding the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is still alive and well.

With each passing year, the key witnesses are passing away, the primary sources are becoming obsolete, and those "in the know" are losing their prominence. However, for the new generation of Kennedy assassination historians and researchers, news like todays only reaffirms the necessity for further investigation in the battle between historians and conspiracy theorists.

I received a half dozen emails from friends in the Dallas area this morning asking for my opinion on what this means to assassination research. My personal view is that all of this should be treated as highly suspect and we should not jump to any conclusions. Whether or not these materials were available to the Warren Commission concerns me most. Without having access to the twenty-six volumes of evidence accompanying the 888-page Warren Commission Report, I am relying on the report and the information readily available from the National Archives to conclude that this evidence was not available to the Commission.

I tend to believe that nothing would have altered the decision of the Warren Commission, minus of course some revelation that all the facts were wrong. And the fundamental difference between me and conspiracy theorists is that conspiracy theorists know that their version of the event is right. My version of the Kennedy assassination is word for word as the Warren Commission describes it and after much study I still don't know if what was presented to the public by President Johnson's commission to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy is 100% truth. However, I, and many Americans, have my qualms with what Gerald Posner addressed in his tome Case Closed: "It is hard for many to swallow the notion that a misguided loser with a $12 rifle could end Camelot."

Every day is President's Day at my house, but this particular President's Day weekend I welcome the speculation regarding an event that nearly forty-five years ago greatly changed the direction of a nation.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

Having calmed down considerably since last night, I am happy to say my Saturday thus far has been very mellow. I had lunch with a friend, stopped at Uptown Books, went to the post office, ran over to Winco, and am now home contemplating a serious nap.

I received an email this morning from Tim Tagaris, the former internet director for Chris Dodd for President asking me to contribute to Dodd's effort to pay down his campaign debt. I thought this was interesting given Dodd's political schedule this past week. How does he have time to worry about campaign debt when he is waging a battle for the rights of Americans? Please visit Chris Dodd's campaign page to help him pay down this debt--if anyone deserves our support after this week it is hands-down Chris Dodd!

Next item of business from my inbox: Major League Baseball will be announcing the winner of the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting on Tuesday. Nominees include Joe Morgan, Graham McNamee, Tom Cheek, Ken Coleman, Tony Kubek, Dizzy Dean, Dave Van Horne, Bill King, Joe Nuxhall, and Dave Neihaus. I'm guessing it is too early for Joe Morgan, any guy with the name McNamee right now won't get the vote, and Dizzy Dean of Cardinals fame has it in the bag. Of course there is always the possibility that Coleman will get it because his Red Sox have been hot in recent seasons. I can never nail down these kind of votes... Of course, my personal vote (if I had one) would go to Van Horne because I spent a lot of time watching the Expos prior to their demise in 2000.

Last night I found out that Google Maps streetview has Dealey Plaza listed. For those of you unfamiliar with Dealey Plaza, the site where President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the view seems to be from right on Elm (Kennedy's motorcade turned from Houston to Elm in front of the Texas School Book Depository). This was my first experience with streetview and I was absolutely amazed with the detail the view gives. My own photographs of the site in a panorama are nothing compared to this. Check it out!

I drove over to campus today to pick up my mail and was greeted with the pit in my stomach that always accompanies the sight of a lowered flag. Granted, since President Ford's passing I am far less observant of it, but today my heart ached at the sight of the flag that has been lowered for much of the week. Beginning with the passing of Representative Lantos, campus flags remained lowered upon news of the shootings at Northern Illinois University. Locally, the campus has been shocked by the sudden death of a thirty-three year old member of our faculty. Thirty-three years old and she died of a heart attack. It is always difficult to lose people in the prime of their lives, it just doesn't seem fair that that difficulty clouds our campuses more often than not lately.

Earlier in the week I spotted an item on the Washington Post website that I haven't been able to drag myself away from. The retreat of President Lincoln now stands as a sort of museum to the life and administration of President Lincoln. It is always refreshing to see the work of those who take historical preservation seriously. Be careful if you look at this that you don't click and drag too fast--especially if, like me, you are prone to motion sickness.

Forgot to mention earlier in the week this post over at the TV Guide website that gave a shout out to Mulder and Scully who are reportedly in the process of filming a second X-Files feature.

That's it. Merry Saturday!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Of Delegates & Endorsements

It seems the news this week, main stream media and otherwise, has been plastered with endorsements and the premature fear of where delegates pledged previously to certain candidates or promised via superdelegates will go.

The headline of the Washington Post tonight reads, "Some Black Lawmakers Rethink Endorsements." However, the headline is a bit misleading in that the black lawmaker rethinking his endorsement is the civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and there have only been "conversations" among the Congressional Black Caucus.

How significant is it that Lewis is considering supporting Obama? In terms of electoral math, probably not all that significant given the voters favoring Obama by a large margin in the Georgia primary. In terms of superdelegates, Lewis being one of them, it doesn't appear to be all that significant either. Superdelegates are all over the place at this point with the Republican party attempting to get behind McCain and many in the Democratic party waiting it out to see what will transpire. It simply is too early to know what this move on the part of Rep. Lewis, or any other superdelegate, will amount to.

Part of the Post article that struck me was a quote from the neutral Rep. Clyburn (D-South Carolina): "It's emotionally a problem for all of us[...] This is a moment I thought about sitting in a Columbia jail in 1961." I am assuming Rep. Clyburn is referring to members of the Congressional Black Caucus here and I am trying not to assume that Rep. Lewis is rethinking his endorsement due to the fact that Obama is black. Is this bandwagoning?

The reason I point this out, by all means I don't want to contribute to the hysteria surrounding delegates and endorsements, is because over the past week I have found myself appalled in many respects. Despite wishing the news of John Glenn, a personal hero of mine, endorsing Hillary Clinton would have received a little more publicity in a swamp of endorsements like those of Mitt Romney and George H.W. Bush for McCain, I was hoping the news might turn elsewhere.

Think about this: If each of the writers for the major news outlets as well as the national blogs had spent equal time writing about the severe breach of the United States Constitution that has resulted from the fear forced upon us by the Bush administration and the congressional dereliction of duties associated with this week's vote on S. 2248 (the FISA Amendments Act of 2007), the Democrats may not have had to walk away from Congress for a long weekend having accomplished nothing and the President of the United States may have actually been rebuked by public opinion for denying the rights of the American people in order to protect the telecommunications industry.

Yes, it is a presidential election year. Yes, public discourse is appropriate and needed so that our future success will be ensured. No, our time does not need to be monopolized by the insanity of endorsements and superdelegate hysteria while our Constitution goes quietly away.

Black, white, purple, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, we are all Americans. As Americans in this time of delegates and endorsements we continue to hold the responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Now is the time to spend our energy ensuring the traditions of our nation endure until we elect the next president of the United States.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Olbermann on FISA

Just when I thought Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" segment couldn't get any better tonight's special comment left me with chills. Here is the clip from January 31st's comment on FISA and look for the best special comment thus far as soon as I can get my hands on it:

From tonight's "Special Comment" on FISA and President Bush putting the telecoms before the American people:

"Mr. Bush you say that our ability to track terrorist threats will be weakened and our citizens will be in danger yet you have weakened that ability, you have subjected us, your citizens, to that greater danger...you, by your own terms and your own definitions you have just sided with the terrorists...it is bad enough sir that you are demanding an ex post facto law which could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who might be stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass email, but when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn't even confirm that they had actually done anything for which the deserved to be cleared, 'the Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.' Believed. Don't you know? Don't you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you? Does this endless presidency of loopholes and even fine print extend here, too? If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it. There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend, you are a Fascist. Get them to print you a t-shirt with 'Fascist' on it. What else is this but Fascism?"
To listen to Olbermann's entire Special Comment for February 14, 2008, visit the MSNBC website. I will post the entire clip when it is available on youTube. For the full text of tonight's Special Comment, this link will give that to you with the appropriate punctuation, spacing, etc. Mine is simply a transcription taken while I listened to the comment.

Here's the video from tonight's special comment:



God bless, Keith Olbermann! And thank God we still have some congressmen and congresswomen who understand they have an obligation to the Constitution of the United States. They have an obligation to the people who elected them and more importantly an obligation to the traditions of this great nation. Granted, there are not many of them and our President does not side with them, but they are there and they deserve our deepest appreciation. In doing their jobs they are protecting our rights as citizens of this free, non-Fascist, country.

A Fluffy Music Post

A few days before the Blogmother and I spontaneously took off for Elko to see four presidential candidates, my biggest purchase of the year arrived in the mail: a MacBook. Somehow I let d2 talk me into this purchase and I have been very pleased with the machine itself.

However, just before my old Compaq died a sad death due to a power supply issue, I attempted to back up my iTunes files. All 5,000 songs worth. iTunes worked fairly well on a PC, I had no complaints, but when I attempted to load my backup discs (burned from a PC) on my new Mac, I had seriously problems. My television shows were still there, but in terms of music I lost all artists falling after 'H' in the alphabet. No idea why. On other computer those files are there. On my Mac, no.

So, for the last month, I have been without 4,000 songs. Not a big deal, I still had 1,000, but I didn't know what songs I was missing and it was going to take time (that I didn't have) to load CDs. There were songs I lost that I didn't have on a disc--CDs and singles I'd purchased on the iTunes store.

Who needs that much music? Well, I have somewhere around 500 CDs, I really lost count. And I have quite a few tv shows on DVD. Mostly because the work I have done on the Stallings Collection was tedious, but allowed my mind to wander if I wasn't listening to music or watching something. It is how I have survived thus far. And, I am one of those people who can't sit down to write or do homework without a soundtrack.

Long story short, thanks to my friend Teresa who was here over the weekend and the time I've suddenly found to mess around with this, I now have about 2,700 songs and I have fallen in love all over again with songs that I didn't even know were gone.

Fallen in love? Yes, I tend to fall in love with songs. They are on repeat for days, I take a long break from them, and yet when I hear them again I am as happy as I was the first time. Music has this influence on me. And, if the song has a great piano in it, I'm all the more happy.

Right now I can't write about politics, even though I'm thinking about politics, so if you are wondering what I am doing, I'm listening to "Tears & Rain" by James Blunt, "More Than a Memory" by Garth Brooks, "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World, "Sincerely, Me" by Better Than Ezra, everything I have by The Wallflowers (Bringing Down the Horse, Red Letter Days Rebel Sweetheart, and Breach), and many, many more.

Every now and then it is just nice to sit, doing nothing, listening to music. I don't have that much time on my hands. Yet...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Foster Leaving the IDP

For some unknown reason, it is no longer common in a chess game to tip your king over when you are undoubtedly going to lose the match. You simply shake your opponents hand and resign. I suppose this is the less dramatic way of leaving a match.

Monday morning the news spread quickly that John Foster, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, had resigned. Like any decent chess player, Foster made no dramatic exit. His time at the Idaho Democratic Party was short, not without chaos and certainly not without success.

When John Foster came to the Idaho Democratic Party, he brought fresh ideas, fresh blood and a solid understanding of the role of the internet in state and national politics. Speaking for myself, I was shocked to see Foster welcoming the discussions taking place on the progressive blogs and embracing bloggers. The previous executive director of the party certainly hadn't acknowledged my presence. With Foster at the helm, the blogosphere really came together on certain issues. Collectively, we attacked Bill Sali's insanity last summer when his xenophobia became known nationally and we shouted our frustration with Larry Craig dragging our state through the mud. Without question the comradery in the Idaho progressive blogosphere was highly influenced by the leadership of John Foster.

It will not be soon forgot the great excitement that came when the Idaho bloggers were privileged to take part in a conference call with John and the keynote speaker for this year's Frank Church Banquet, Markos Moulitsas of dailyKos fame. Without John this would not have been possible.

Foster has chosen a high note on which to depart his position at the IDP--a record turnout in Super Tuesday's Idaho Democratic caucuses throughout the state brough 22,000 Idaho Democrats out to caucuses in all forty-four counties.

This past Friday at a reception honoring Richard Stallings, former chairman of the IDP, I couldn't help but notice while new chairman Keith Roark introduced Stallings that Foster looked on in admiration. As a party we have been truly privileged to have both men at the helm of our great party.

John has stated his reason for resignation is due to the toll the position has taken on his family. He and his wife, Andrea, have a four-year old daughter.

It has been a pleasure to be associated with John and I greatly appreciate the hand he has extended to me both as a blogger and as a young Democrat in this red state.

Headliners

Just noticed that the Stallings Collection is on the ISU headlines page today. Pretty exciting stuff!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FISA 68-29

Unbelievable. Sixty-eight men and women who swore to uphold the United States Constitution waved that promise goodbye today as 68 senators voted for the FISA bill, therefore legalizing the serious breech of both the privacy rights of the American public and the sacred rule of law.

To quote Senator Russ Feingold, "the Senate has buckled [and] we are left with a very dangerous piece of legislation."

Eighteen Democrats crossed the line and voted with President Bush today. Eighteen Democrats who should not be admired, but rather reprimanded.

May there be strong and wealthy candidates lined up for the seats of Jay Rockefeller, Barbara Mikulski, and the other Democrats who did their country and their fellow citizens a disservice today by voting for the disgrace that is the FISA bill. Now on to the House and let's pray there is a Chris Dodd wannabe over there who will strike down this bill as should have been done today. 68-29, unbelievable.

FISA Vote Breakdown

The following is a breakdown of the votes on each of the FISA amendments proposed today on the floor of the Senate.

S 2248 Feingold Amdt. No. 3979; To provide safeguards for communications involving persons inside the United States.

S 2248 Specter Amdt. No. 3927; To provide for the substitution of the United States in certain civil actions.

S 2248 Feingold Amdt. No. 3912; To modify the requirements for certifications made prior to the initiation of certain acquisitions.

S 2248 Feinstein Amdt. No. 3910; To provide a statement of the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance and interception of certain communications may be conducted.

S 2248 Dodd Amdt. No. 3907; To strike the provisions providing immunity from civil liability to electronic communication service providers for certain assistance provided to the Government.

I find myself particularly frustrated with certain Democratic senators today. Instead of listing the senators who chose not to side with Senator Dodd and the U.S. Constitution today, I would like to thank the following senators for supporting the Dodd amendment: Akaka, Baucus, Biden Bingaman, Boxer, Brown, Byrd, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Dorgan, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Kennedy, Kerry, Klobucher, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Menendez, Murray, Obama, Reed, Reid, Schumer, Tester, Whitehouse, Widen, and Sanders. For a better look at the Democrats who sold out the rights of Americans today, mcjoan does it justice.

The fact that she wasn't there to vote doesn't hurt or help Senator Clinton. I would have liked her to be there. She may make it for the final vote (which will come after a minor filibuster forced by the great Chris Dodd). In my humble opinion, there are few things more important than protecting the U.S. Constitution. Without question the bottom line with the FISA vote is whether or not we support the courts and the constitutional powers granted to them and whether or not we are for the privacy rights of the American people.

FISA Amendments

The FISA fight begins this morning as the amendments hit the floor for a vote.

Over at dailyKos, mcjoan is doing a fine job of following the Senate vote on the FISA amendments. Thus far, the Feinstein amendment went down, the Feingold/Webb amendments went down, and the Dodd/Feingold amendment was voted down. As of this moment (9:58 a.m. MST) the Specter amendment has gone down.

From Senator Chris Dodd's floor speech late last night:
“This is our defining question, the question that confronts every generation: The rule of law, or the rule of men? How many times must we get the wrong answer?

“To those who say that this is just about a few telecoms, I answer: This is about contempt for the law, large and small.

“We are deceiving ourselves when we talk about the U.S. attorneys issue, the habeas issue, the torture issue, the rendition issue, the secrecy issue. As if each one were an isolated case! As if each one were an accident! When we speak of them as isolated, we are keeping our politics cripplingly small; and as long as we keep this small, the rule of men is winning.

“There is only one issue here. Only one: the law issue. Does the president serve the law, or does the law serve the president? Each insult to our Constitution comes from the same source; each springs from the same mindset; and if we attack this contempt for the law at any point, we will wound it at all points.

“That is why I’m here today: Retroactive immunity is on the table today; but also at issue is the entire ideology that justifies it, the same ideology behind torture and executive lawlessness. Immunity is a disgrace in itself, but it is far worse in what it represents. It tells us that some believe in the courts only so long as their verdict goes their way. It puts secrecy above sunshine and fiat above law.”
I can't begin to say how discouraging and disappointing it is to see the U.S. Senate offering unlimited protection to the Telecoms over the people of the United States and the Constitution they swore to uphold.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dodd on the Floor

If for some reason you are not watching CSPAN this evening, go there now! Senator Dodd is on the floor railing against the Telecoms as the FISA vote nears. If this Chris Dodd would have appeared months ago as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, he would still be in the race today.

From his earlier floor speech today:
"This is not a Democratic or Republican issue: this is a rule of law issue. It is about striking the right balance between liberty and security. I absolutely reject the false dichotomy that we have to choose one or the other.

If a Democratic President was seeking to grant retroactive immunity, I would object just as stridently as I am today. This should not be a partisan issue. We should all be in favor of allowing the courts to perform their constitutional responsibility to determine whether or not these companies should be held accountable.

Mr. President, I believe when surveillance is fully under the rule of law, Americans will only be more secure. To claim otherwise is an insult to our intelligence, our common sense, and our proud tradition of law.

I don't know how many of my colleagues have ever seen the wonderful movie “A Man For All Seasons,” the story of St. Thomas More.

There is a wonderful scene in that movie in which More is asked whether he'd be willing to cut down every law in England to get his hands on the devil.

And More replies, absolutely not. “When the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where you hide, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast—Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down…do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

Those laws know no secrecy, they know no distinctions for power or wealth. They live, that is, in openness.

And when that openness has been defended, when the facts are in the light, where they belong, I welcome all of my colleagues’ ideas in the great and ongoing debate on security and liberty in this new century, a debate in the open, and open to us all."
Dodd has taken the floor this evening with more gusto than I have seen in the U.S. Senate in years--even more gusto than the speeches of Senator Byrd in defense of the Constitution.

Dodd has memorized Justice Jackson's opening statement at the onset of the Nuremberg trials and is using it wisely in justifying his position on upholding the rule of law.

To see a clip from Dodd's earlier speech, please follow this link to video on Dodd's Senate page.

Monday Meme

I am still playing catch up--that is, reading posts I missed on my favorite blogs, responding to emails I have filed away, and reading like a mad woman for my classes. 

Last week Wordsmith, over at Left Side of the Moon, tagged me with a meme. Okay, so I begged for it. Who doesn't love these? The rules:

1) Pick up the nearest book (0f at least 123 pages).
2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences.
5) Tag five people.

Okay, here you are:

"If we have a crisis, the American people will reflect on the incompetence and they'll say, 'We can't gamble with this man for another four years.'" As an American first and a partisan Republican second, he hoped that contingency didn't happen, and assumed Clinton would then breeze to a second term. I asked if he agreed with many of his Republican pals back in Washington that the press was giving Clinton a pass on his personal life."

For President Ford's answer I guess you'll have to sit down with Thomas DeFrank's Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford.

Now for the tags:

1) Jilly who shares the same blog template as me...
2) Andy & Teresa because their blog is fluffy, non-serious stuff...
3) The good folks at Hesperus Press
4) McCracken who likes words and books

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Stallings Collection

On a cold November morning in 2005, I was doing door-to-door campaigning with former Congressman Richard Stallings as he was running for reelection to the Pocatello City Council and being the historians that we are our conversation turned to my research projects. I expressed my dismay with the research materials available to me and as if it were not a monumentally important matter, Stallings replied, "Did you know my papers are at Idaho State?"

That cold November morning changed my academic life forever and has the potential of influencing the academic careers and research interests of many Idaho State University students as well as historians statewide.

My involvement with the final processing of the Stallings Collection, a collection of 266 boxes donated to Idaho State University's department of Special Collections in 1992 following Stallings' unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate, did not begin as a project to completely process and prepare the collection for researchers. In fact, my first experience was one of frustration as I attempted to write a research paper using the papers as a primary source in determining the importance of Stallings' position on abortion in the 1992 campaign. I was mislead. I had assumed that in a collection of this size there would be polling data. After leafing through all 266 boxes I realized that assumption was false. In leafing through those boxes I developed a broader sense of who Richard Stallings is to Idaho and how unique his political successes were in a state deepening in its shade of red.

After one long semester of wading through papers with no order or organization, I heard about an internship program at ISU sponsored by the President's office. The presidential internship program offered undergraduate students the opportunity to take on large administrative projects overseen by the President's office and administrative units within the University. Eight students are awarded these internships each year and I have been privileged enough to be one of those presidential interns for the past two years. I originally pitched the idea of completing the preliminary inventory that began in the late 90s by a member of the library's staff under the direction of an archivist who was killed in a automobile accident. Clearly, the disconnect between what was originally planned for the collection would make my attempt at completing an already started inventory challenging.

My job description quickly morphed into that of sole processor of the Stallings Collection, an undergraduate responsible for the complete processing, indexing, and arrangement of the papers from Congressman Stallings' time in Congress for the presentation and opening for research in January of 2008. As inadequate as I originally felt, the historian in me knew that the materials contained within those 266 boxes would be an invaluable resource for historians, political scientists, and I was determined to ensure that the collection met its potential through a systematic processing of every single item within those boxes.

Without getting too wonky, the procedure for this massive project included a complete revision of the partial preliminary inventory that existed (an inventory that is approaching 200,000 words), the creation of a searchable index with a series of subject terms for each folder and box as well as identifying dates, insertion of acid-free folders labeled to reflect folder titles/topics, the subject terms identified in the index, and the date range for the materials within each folder.

The Stallings Collection contains a wide-array of primary sources specific to agricultural issues (the 1985 & 1990 Farm Bills, creation of Farmer Mac, the farm debt crisis of the 1980s), energy related issues (hydropower projects, funding of and activities of the Idaho National Laboratory), Idaho politics & politicians, nuclear waste (Stallings' donated his papers from his time as U.S. Nuclear Waste Negotiator in 2006), constituent service files, correspondence, and various other legislative issues.

Without question, the procedure chosen for the processing of this collection will ensure its place as the premier political manuscript collection in Idaho. The collection highlights the research mission of Idaho State University.

In a reception hosted by Dr. Arthur Vailas, President of Idaho State University, the Stallings Collection was officially opened for research and Congressman Stallings was honored for his service to this state and finally acknowledged for a donation that took place fifteen years ago.

The reception was a beautiful reunion of Stallings and his staffers, one who traveled from Maryland for the event, and a wonderful reminder of what is possible in Idaho, a state that once held both U.S. congressional seats (by Larry LaRocco, who was in attendance, and Stallings from 1990-1992). Keith Roark, chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, introduced Congressman Stallings who shared his appreciation for the crowd's acknowledgment of his public service, shared stories about each of his staffers in attendance, and his family (wife Ranae, daughter Sallianne, and son Rick were also in attendance).

My appreciation for the opportunity and honor of being responsible for the completion of this collection is as immeasurable as my respect and admiration for Richard Stallings. I now know how he voted on every issue, when he sided with his Republican colleagues, when his principles came before his party, and why Idaho elected this man to four terms in Congress. This journey has been a challenge to my intellect as well as my health. The historian in me went to battle with archival practices. The Democrat in me faced the disappointment of some of Stallings' more conservative positions. As a student, I struggled through many semesters of juggling this project and my coursework. Despite the challenge and the cost, the outcome far exceeded my expectations of what could happen with 266 boxes of paper.

I will forever be in the debt of Richard Stallings for the opportunity of a lifetime. As I stood at the reception listening to him speak Friday night, I looked around and saw the president of the university, the dean of the graduate school, faculty members, library staff, historians, mentors, and friends. As I stood at the reception I realized that the completion of the Stallings Collection is the greatest accomplishment of my life thus far and will forever be something I am immensely proud of.

For more information on the Stallings Collection at Idaho State University please visit the News & Notes page for this week, the Department of Special Collections homepage with an outline of the collection, or the Biographical Directory of Congress entry for Congressman Stallings.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

Welcome back! Oh wait...it's me who is coming back. Thank you for being patient. It is with great relief and happiness that I say, the Stallings Collection grand opening came and went! It was a great pleasure for me to honor one of my heroes. More on this tomorrow.

Also coming tomorrow will be a new blog header. The design is coming together today.

You will also note that on the sidebar I have added a new favorite--a baseball blog--the creator over at batplaza.com and I are swapping links. It is a fabulous blog for friend and fans of Major League Baseball.

In the time since I took a break from blogging, Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race, David Shuster was suspended, space shuttle Atlantis was safely launched from Kennedy Space Center, tornadoes hit all over the southern United States, record numbers of Democrats turned out on Super Tuesday, Ann Coulter said she'd vote for Hillary Clinton over John McCain, and Microsoft could be buying Yahoo for an outrageous amount of money.

Maybe I shouldn't take such long breaks from the blogosphere?