Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

Broke the ring around it
I can't think about it
I can barely start to even wrap my head around it

Waters rise around us
Sinking ships around us
I can't believe she even found a way inside to drown us

I'm not so sure anymore what's next
Or if there's anything left for us
What will we find inside of the wreck
Yeah we both know it's all just washed away

Where do you go and what do you do
All you have left is hanging on you
Where do you go and what do you do
When you lose everything you ever knew

Shine a light into it
Shoot a canon through it
Spill it all and hope you find a way to make it through it
'Cause down is up and up is down
And love lies dying all on the ground
You find a line that's in the sand and figure out who drew it

Where do you go and what do you do
When all that you have's been taken from you
Where do you go and what do you do
When you lose everything
-- Sister Hazel, "Where Do You Go"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Smorgasbord Saturday

Did you know that there is a Peeps Diorama Contest? Not only is there such a thing, this year will be the fourth annual contest! Seriously. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

As a follow up to Thursday's post regarding an ISU campus protest, I wanted to point out two articles running at KPVI (the local NBC affiliate) regarding the protest ("Students Upset Over Proposed Tuition Increase" and "ISU Students Stage Protest"). KPVI's Brenda Baumgartner sat down with Dr. Arthur Vailas, President of Idaho State University, this week to discuss his hefty raise. I couldn't help noticing that Vailas looked old and tired. He certainly hasn't had it easy with the state budget cuts, but he has also made his bed in many respects. All the hope I once had for Vailas when he arrived here disappeared quickly and was all but wiped out with the hiring of Provost Gary Olson.

Think Progress has a pretty complete list of the Republicans that have taken credit for or acknowledged the help various stimulus projects have brought to their districts. As of today, 114 lawmakers are on that list. I suggest they add a Democrat to it--Idaho's own Walt Minnick--who back in October praised energy grants made possible in part by the stimulus bill.

As a follow up to the Brave New Films video I posted, news has surfaced that David Talbot, a Kennedy historian, has opposed the character assassination that is this mini-series that will run on the History Channel.

The events at UC San Diego continue to make the news. First, students held an anti-Black History Month party. Then students went on a campus radio station and uttered a racial slur. Now, UCSD has suspended a student for hanging a noose in the main campus library. It appears the events are not limited to UCSD. A spokesman with the UC system said that events being addressed by administrators "included the recent carving of a swastika on the dorm room door of a Jewish student at UC Davis."

Tomorrow, the Idaho State Journal will be running contrasting columns on ISU's reorganization plan. The "pros" column was penned by ISU professor Dr. David Adler. The "cons" column was penned by professor emeritus Leonard Hitchcock. Both columns are available on the ISJ website tonight.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ISU Campus Protest

PRESS ADVISORY
Contact: Diana Painter
E-mail: paindian@isu.edu

For Immediate Release

ISU Students Protest Proposed 9.9 Percent Tuition Hike

POCATELLO-- Over 200 of students protested in front of the Idaho State University’s Administration Building holding signs and chanting to demonstrate their anger over the proposed 9.9 percent tuition increase ISU recently submitted to the State Board of Education.

While some of the students’ outrage is directed toward the ISU Administration for not including students in the decision to ask for 9.9 percent, most of the anger is directed at Boise. The proposal was made by ISU after Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter recommended cutting $138 million from the state public school budget, on top of the $68 million trimmed this past year. ISU will get $15 million dollars less next year. ISU President Arthur C. Vailas addressed the students at the beginning of the demonstration saying “Higher education leads to development. There is no doubt about that. (But on the cuts to public education) the debate has to be in the Idaho legislature.”

Students argue that the 9.9 percent increase is unfairly taxing students, many who have come back to school to escape the ailing Idaho economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from last month, unemployment, nation-wide, is at 8.5 percent, but for people with even a bachelor’s degree it is 4.9 percent.

“We are the future taxpayers. To continue to tax students in this way is like eating your seed corn,” said Diana Painter, Outraged Student and organizer of the protest. “Idaho needs a governor who values public education.”

Students chanted “No more fee hikes, we’re already poor,” and held signs like “The Idaho legislature hijacked my education.”

The increase of 9.9 percent would be $247 per semester, or $495 per year more. Jessica Sharp, a student who attended the event says, “I have two kids. This increase is the same amount as two month’s rent, or more than a month’s worth of groceries. We just can’t do it.”

Tom Briggs, ISU graduate student and another organizer of the event said, “Governor Otter has decided to hand ISU a check for $15 million dollars less than what was promised.”

On March 11th the Associated Students of Idaho State University, the student government, is bussing [sic] 400 students to Boise for a rally on the capitol steps. They plan on lobbying the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee and the State Board of Education who begin work on the state’s budget next week.

###

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Let Me Be Brave"

Outdoor Idaho will be re-airing their program "Let Me Be Brave," chronicling the story of four Special Olympics Idaho athletes who competed in the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Idaho. The documentary follows four athletes, Reuben, a snowshoer from Boise; Alicia, a snowboarder from Caldwell; Juli, a skier from Rupert; and Robyn, a floor hockey player from Ontario, Oregon. The documentary will re-air tomorrow, February 25th, and again on the 28th. Both airings will appear on Idaho Public Television.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Morals, Schmorals

First the Cassia County Clerk was accused of grabbing a female county employee by the wrists and was asked by the county commissioners to work from home. Then that clerk, Larry Mickelsen, announced he would not be seeking re-election and would retire June 1, 2010, giving him time to get the 2011 budget process underway. Under pressure from the county Republican party, Mickelsen moved up his retirement date to this Friday, February 26th. Now, another member of the county GOP, Burley City Councilman Dennis Curtis, has been served with a citizen complaint for misdemeanor battery and disturbing the peace.

The citizen's complaint, filed with the Minidoka County sheriff's office by John Walsh, accuses Councilman Curtis of pulling Walsh to the floor and uttering profanity at him in a Rupert eatery. Walsh states in his complaint, as outlined in the Times-News, that Curtis was provoked by Walsh's refusal to shake his hand. Walsh is a fairly well-known Mini-Cassian who has given the Burley Council grief in the past.

If it weren't for the mixed messages of Dennis Curtis and Larry Mickelsen, the altercation with Walsh may have been just another odd story out of the Magic Valley penned by the always entertaining Damon Hunzeker. However, both Curtis and Mickelsen have made their "morals" a key element of their politics.

When the news got out that there had been an incident between Mickelsen and a county employee, both Mickelsen and Commissioner Clay Handy confirmed that Mickelsen was working from his home in Oakley and only coming to the courthouse before or after hours. Working at home in Oakley, approximately twenty miles from the county courthouse in Burley, couldn't have been an ideal arrangement for Mickelsen or the county. Yet, it remained the arrangement for the county clerk from mid-August until this week.

When Mickelsen announced last month that he would not be seeking re-election and would retire in June, his reported reason for retiring was so he could spend time with family before he and his wife served a mission for their church. Yes, a mission. This from the man who allegedly grabbed a county employee by her wrists, was asked by the county commission to work from home, and was not allowed to work in the courthouse during business hours because of the alleged threat he posed. Working from home didn't afford him the time with family he needed? There may be more to the story now that the county GOP has determined that needed supervision of county employees is not happening with Mickelsen working from Oakley and have set out to find an interim replacement.

As for Curtis, remember back in October when former Senator Larry Craig's new consulting agency, New West Strategies, was brought in to discuss bringing a federal prison to Malta? It was Curtis who said in a Burley City Council meeting about the proposed prison that he had reservations about bringing Larry Craig in to consult because of "Craig's morality." Apparently, Councilman Curtis sees no problem with taking a man to the floor and uttering "f*** you then," in response to that man refusing to shake his hand. All in a high-traffic, family restaurant. Nothing immoral about that... Good grief!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Corporate Interests

Years from now Citizens United v Federal Election Commission will stand as one of the most stunning decisions in American jurisprudence. Rescinding a century of case law, the Supreme Court has offered corporations freedom to participate in our election process as if they were individuals with votes and voices.

Writing in today's Idaho State Journal on the Citizens United decision and how the decision signals a perspective in this country that favors a political oligarchy rather than the republic form of government we currently have, Leonard Hitchcock had the following to say:

"Corporations are called “legal” persons. You and I are called “natural” persons. Because a corporation is actually nothing but a collection of natural persons, to refer to it as a “person” is roughly equivalent to saying that a flock of geese is itself a goose. Despite this apparent absurdity, corporations have, over the years, managed to acquire personhood, at least in some respects.

"For-profit corporations have sought this status because they realized, early on, that they would be better able to make money if they were like persons. Fortunately for them, our country has traditionally encouraged the making of money. It has also been inclined to show special consideration to those who possess it. Hence, during the 19th century, as industrial corporations grew and flourished, they prevailed upon the judicial system to grant them rights previously reserved for individual citizens.

"Initially, the ways in which corporations were allowed to resemble persons were limited to the business arena. It was as homo economicus, in other words, that the corporation made its first personal appearance. Corporations were granted personal rights that applied directly to business affairs: the right to buy and sell property, the right to borrow money, and the right to make legally-enforceable contracts. They also acquired a right peculiar to their own interests: the right to free their investors of any responsibility for debts incurred by the corporation. This had a very salutary effect upon their ability to accumulate capital through the sale of stock. Another special and peculiar legal endowment was immortality. Natural persons come and go; corporate persons need never die.

"By the end of the 19th century, the corporation had gained an additional and extremely valuable concession from the judicial system: the understanding that they were among the “persons” protected by the provisions of the 14th Amendment. That amendment, originally created to protect freed slaves from repressive legislation by the states, assured “due process,” i.e. equitable treatment, to individuals. What “due process” meant for corporate “persons,” at least during the first three decades of the 20th century, was protection against state governments’ attempts to tax them, limit working hours for their employees, prevent child labor, and in other ways inhibit the beneficent progress of free enterprise. When the Depression hit, the public would no longer tolerate this interpretation (called “substantive due process”) of the 14th Amendment. Nonetheless, corporations remain under its protection, albeit with less indulgence from courts than before. In the years following the Depression few new personal rights were acquired by corporations, except the protection against double jeopardy.

"But on Jan. 21 of this year, the Supreme Court chose to bestow upon corporations an unlimited right to free speech; the right, in other words, to engage freely in political speech via contributions to political campaigns from corporate “general treasury” funds.

"Corporations, it must be noted, already had the right to contribute to campaigns, in that they could create PACs, they could fund “issue” advertisements, they could engage in political communication with their own employees and stockholders, publicly endorse candidates, host fundraisers for candidates, and, of course, all stockholders, employees and management personnel were perfectly free, as citizens, to be politically active in whatever way they chose. The law that the court’s majority declared unconstitutional (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002), clearly did not, as alleged, “ban” the political speech of corporations.

"Neither did that law violate the intention of the Founders. Few corporations existed at the time of the Founders, and those that did were chartered by states for the public good and tightly regulated. It is unlikely that the Founders would have even imagined the possibility that corporations could have First Amendment rights.

"The Supreme Court’s absolutist view of free speech protection is similarly unhistorical. Courts have long recognized that free speech, even of natural persons, may be limited in the interests of the public welfare. That the public welfare is corrupted by the enormous power and influence of corporations — artificial persons — is generally acknowledged by conservatives and liberals alike. That even the weak constraints upon that influence established by congressional legislation should be found unconstitutional makes one fear that we are about to accelerate the country’s transformation from a republic to an oligarchy."

Prior to the Citizens United decision, many members of Congress were elected to represent their states and/or districts with the assistance of campaign contributions from individuals contributing on behalf of their industry and/or company. However, those contributions were limited and companies could not participate in the campaign process directly.

To illustrate how the campaign system has worked in the recent past, former Congressman Bill Sali was elected by and large with the funding provided by the Club for Growth. Donor data represented on the individual profiles of Congressmen Minnick and Simpson and Senators Crapo and Risch at Open Secrets reflect the top industries contributing to their campaigns. Congressman Minnick's top campaign contributors are Goldman Sachs, Trilogy Partnership, Primary Health, Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, UBS, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Is it any surprise that Minnick has opposed health care and financial regulatory reform? Not if you subscribe to the cynical view that money equals votes. Congressman Simpson's top contributors are Idaho Power, URS Corp and Qwest. Senator Risch--Melaleuca, Idaho Power, URS Corp, Contran Corp, Qwest, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Chevron Corp. And Senator Crapo--Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, URS Corp, AT&T, and Goldman Sachs.

If Congressman Minnick's buddies at Goldman Sachs can contribute such a large amount of money through the people employed there in the past, what will prohibit Goldman Sachs from outright buying Congressman Minnick in the future? There are still limits as to how much an individual or PAC can contribute, but the sky's the limit when it comes to campaign ads. How long until we see a campaign ad with Congressman Minnick discussing his career as a "successful businessman" with the 'paid for by Goldman Sachs' disclaimer? Unfortunately, probably not long.
_____________
Editor's Note: "Greed personified: Corporations and the Court" appears in the 2/21/10 edition of the Idaho State Journal as well as on the ISJ politics "blog" and is re-published here, like previous columns by Mr. Hitchcock, with permission of the author.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Executive Bedside Table

Earlier this week in honor of President's Day, The Daily Beast released a slide show they created entitled "The Best-Read Presidents." The list is compiled of nineteen American presidents who were known for being avid readers and for having a large collection or library of books of their own. Being a reader of multiple genres and a historian interested specifically in American history, I thought I knew quite a bit about the reading habits of the men who have inhabited the White House, but the list surprised me.

If I were setting out to compile a list of the presidents I thought were the most well-read, I wouldn't have hesitated to place Thomas Jefferson in the top spot. After all, our third president offered his own collection to the country after the Library of Congress burned. The more I think about Jefferson's placing on the Beast's list, he comes in third, the more I wonder if I wasn't unduly influenced by something President Kennedy said at a White House dinner in 1962:
"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
When President Kennedy made this remark, he had in his midst numerous Nobel recipients. President Kennedy, a reader and best-selling author, made the list at number fourteen.

Generally speaking, academics are readers to the extreme. It is really no surprise that Woodrow Wilson made the list. The former president of Princeton came in seventh on the list. His interest in politics was much deeper than a simple curiosity for how American government operated. The liberal Wilson was not always liked for being well-versed in political philosophy. You might say that Wilson was the original liberal elitist, at least that is how he was perceived by many in the nation's capital as he traveled to Europe to negotiate the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and to create the League of Nations.

Being well-read does not necessarily constitute being a good leader. The Beast noted this in their profile of number nineteen, James Buchanan:
"Considered the worst president in our history, James Buchanan not only loved reading, but also being read to. He was in the habit of reading himself to sleep every night with a candlestick and candle, terrified of burning a hole in his books, according to George Ticknor Curtis’s biography. And, frequently, he did."
Being well-read wasn't much of an advantage for President Buchanan. While George W. Bush and Sarah Palin (the second time she was asked, mind you) may have wanted us to think by their statements in the press about what they read that they are intellectuals and their reading lists in some way equip them in times of crisis to provide superb leadership, the truth of the matter is, if they were true readers they wouldn't look at each of their reading choices in terms of what benefit they get out of the material. True and avid readers simply read for the fun of reading, for the thrill of knowledge, to cure their curiosity.

Reading may have saved John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt as they both struggled with serious physical ailments that left them immobile quite often. It was while he was recovering from back surgery that John Kennedy found the time and concentration to write his best seller Profiles In Courage. While books may have saved Kennedy and Roosevelt, they might have felt like a crutch to Woodrow Wilson after he suffered a stroke. A mind unmatched by many, his final years must have caused Wilson extreme frustration and anger.

One last thought on the reading material that has found its way to the bedside table in the White House: Though men like Adams (John and John Quincy), Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Wilson, and Kennedy had many books available to them and an unquenchable desire for knowledge, specifically about history and politics, it is the men on the list that were not as privileged that are quite remarkable. While the Roosevelts came from wealth, men like Abraham Lincoln, Millard Fillmore, and James Garfield came from humble means and homes with few, if any, books. We hardly think in the digital age about being deprived of information, but men like Garfield truly were. Garfield immersed himself in books when he went to Williams and while he was in the Union Army. We have had presidents who have taken for granted the information around them. We have had presidents who didn't take advantage of the wealth of knowledge around them. And yet, we have also had presidents who came from nearly nothing to become the most well-read and informed occupants of the White House.

Where does our current president fit in a discussion of the reading habits of those who have resided in the executive mansion? I suspect the former constitutional law professor more resembles Wilson, the academic with great interest in political philosophy, than he does a president like Herbert Hoover who was known to bury himself in scientific study. Regardless of which president he resembles, we can be sure President Obama has a book on his bedside table.

Shortfalls, the 'Amazon Tax' and Textbooks

Idaho is no California, but there have to be Idahoans out there who scratch their heads at the thought of a state so embedded in an economic crisis not looking for revenue wherever they can find it. Though we think of revenue hunting in California as a potential marijuana-legalizing endeavor, the California Senate has passed legislation targeting sales on internet sites like Amazon and Overstock.com as prospective revenue sources.

Evan Halper in today's Los Angeles Times writes:
"The online retail giant has enjoyed an edge over many competitors in the state because it is not required to collect sales tax from residents who buy books, top-of-the-line plasma televisions, cases of diapers and thousands of other products from its website. The Seattle corporation has no store, warehouse, office building or other physical presence in California, and the state cannot tax such businesses under a 1992 Supreme Court decision.

"Consumers here are required to pay sales tax on the goods they purchase at Amazon but almost never do, because the state has no mechanism for tracking Amazon purchases and collecting the money.

"Now California is one of several cash-strapped states exploring a novel legal strategy that could force Amazon and others like it, including Overstock.com, to start collecting tax from their customers. New York launched the effort with a law that took effect in 2008. North Carolina and Rhode Island have passed similar laws; other proposals have advanced in the statehouses of Virginia, Illinois, Colorado and Hawaii."
Several weeks ago, writing at New West, Sharon Fisher noted that taxing internet sales could bring in an estimated $30 million to Idaho. She further explained the taxation loophole associated with internet sales:

"When the Internet first started becoming a commercial entity, Internet sales were exempted from sales taxes in order to help encourage new commercial companies to form on the Internet. But now, with Internet retail firmly established, legislators in a number of states are starting to say such protections are no longer needed.

"Currently, the law—due to the 1992 Supreme Court ruling of Quill v North Dakota [sic]--is that an online retailer has to pay taxes on sales only if it has a physical presence in a state. The argument by opponents of such taxes is that, without such a physical presence, it isn’t using state services and so shouldn’t have to pay state taxes."

Idahoans, like Californians, are required to account for their tax-free internet purchases every year when they file their state and federal taxes, but many either don't know that this is required, don't find it to be necessary, or simply avoid the tax. Taking out the additional step for the taxpayer might actually bring in additional tax revenue without irritating Idaho taxpayers.

An additional component to consider in terms of tax revenue shortfalls is the impact such loopholes for online stores like Amazon have on the funding of state services. In Idaho where higher education is taking a disproportionate hit in the endless rounds of budget cuts coming out of the statehouse, it would be interesting to know how much tax revenue is lost based on tax-free textbook purchases alone. Students are finding it much less expensive to purchase their textbooks through online outlets like Amazon that are tax-free (either hard copies or the newer Kindle and iPad versions of textbooks), versus campus bookstores that automatically collect a sales tax. Could this shift in textbook purchasing alone be depriving higher ed of needed funding lost when the state's tax revenues come up short? Perhaps. And students aren't necessarily filing each year (depending on their income), non-residents aren't filing in Idaho at all, and all categories of students may not be paying the sales tax for internet purchases as required by state tax code.

The tax revenue lost by not automatically collecting a sales tax on all purchases, online or otherwise, may be mere dollars, but every dollar matters in this economic climate.

Friday, February 19, 2010

TGIF Tunes



Lady Antebellum performing an acoustic version of their single "I Run To You" last year at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Turning Back the Clock In Madison County

The definition of 'public' has long suggested that any event, service or facility is open to a diverse cross-section of the larger communities in which we live. Open challenges to the very definition of 'public' divided this country during the civil rights movement of the twentieth century. Jim Crow laws in the South restricted the very definition of 'public' by prohibiting blacks from using drinking fountains, eateries, and buses that were specifically labeled for white use only. Apparently, portions of Idaho have not progressed since the days of Brown v Board, the Montgomery bus boycott, and sit-ins.

According to KPVI and the Rexburg Standard Journal, the Madison Library District has launched a new policy that bans a specific demographic from using the library. The demographic--disabled children who frequent the public library with life skills trainers, developmental therapists, and other supervisors.

The letter articulating the new policy was released earlier this month and reads as follows:

It has become problematical to bring problem children to the library for non-library functions. The library is a place for the public to use for library functions. It is inappropriate as a place of business such as work with problem children, especially when that use interferes with library functions.

Our library functions are severely compromised:
• When tables for four are completely dominated by two
• When the safety of other library users cannot be assured
• When children’s difficulties that should be private are made public
• When behavioral control is lost to the degree that police must be summoned
• When common rules of not using cell phones in the library are ignored

The Board of Trustees of the Madison Library District determined at the November 18, 2009, meeting that the library should be restricted from use in the above conditions, and that if children are brought to the library, it should be for training in library use. The board determined that the library is an inappropriate place for counseling children.
For those unfamiliar with what is taking place in the Rexburg library, in many cities and towns developmental therapy programs exist for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These programs offer a range of services to help individuals with daily life skills. Community-based therapy programs often pair a disabled individual with a therapist/trainer/coach who accompanies them out into the community where they participate in events and learn how to use the services in their community. Many of these programs incorporate libraries, public transportation, parks and recreation, and other public services into daily or weekly sessions. The children being targeted by the Madison library are using the facility as any other member of the community would--for a variety of purposes including checking out books, using the internet, and searching for information.

The letter being distributed by the library suggests a few falsehoods that need correction. First, the individuals who work in a professional capacity with the disabled are not counselors; they do not offer counseling, they are not qualified to do so, and even if they were, they would not do so in a public setting. A great deal of developmental therapy is centered on making it easier for the disabled to function in society just as seamlessly as you or I do. It is also important to understand that these disabled children being targeted are not "running wild" in the library and are never unsupervised. Taking a disabled child into a library is no more distracting or problematic than taking a toddler into a library. In fact, depending on the diagnosis of these children, they may be just as quiet and well-behaved as you or I. There is always the chance that one of these kids doesn't understand the difference between an indoor voice and an outdoor voice, but isn't that distinction the entire purpose of their community-based training/therapy? They are learning how to behave in the community and are attempting to fit in as much is possible.

As a country we have come a long way from the horrors of the system we once had in place for caring for the disabled. Long gone are the days that a young mother with a disabled child would be told to have that child locked away, protecting society from that child and doing nothing to protect that child from the challenges of a prejudiced society. Yet in the twenty-first century, the Madison Library District Board of Trustees would have those children locked away and out of society's sight rather than have a few patrons hear any personal detail about a disabled child's life.

What is taking place in the Madison library is without question discrimination. A public library should not have the right to restrict its patronage, especially if that restriction so blatantly discriminates against an entire subsection of the populace.

The Madison Library District might as well put a "whites only" sign above the main entrance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stop Kennedy Smears



For some time now, the History Channel has sensationalized the Kennedy family for the purpose of ratings, but as Brave New Films points out in this video, the History Channel will be airing a new Kennedy documentary that is ultimately destructive. Just as has been said in our recent political discourse, the far-right is not entitled to their own facts. This film surely makes the far-right look foolish in their attempt to portray the Kennedy family, particularly President Kennedy, in a poor light. Take a moment to watch the short film and join me as well as my fellow historians in signing a petition telling the History Channel not to air the film.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Dry Spell

There's a great scene in one of my favorite episodes of The West Wing, "The Stackhouse Filibuster," where Sam is asked who his favorite writer is. Sam's response is Toby, his colleague and fellow speech writer. When pushed for an answer as to who his favorite fiction writer is, he says "you're listening to him," as Senator Stackhouse reads David Copperfield on the television near by. It's a great exchange and one I've always thought of when people say that so-and-so influenced their writing style or they looked to such-and-such book for inspiration. However, as much as I enjoy the exchange and appreciate when a writer is able to pinpoint exactly where their inspiration comes from, I am not one of those writers. I have heroes and I have outside influences, but I can't pinpoint any particular writer, book or cause that drives my writing on any given day. Lately the things that usually light a fire under me don't seem to be working and the causes I am generally pleased to tout haven't driven me. Maybe I'm as fed up with the political discourse in this country as soon-to-be former Senator Evan Bayh is. Maybe I've lost faith that a solid argument means something in this world. Maybe I just can't hack it. Whatever it is, it's safe to say this is a dry spell.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

(Editor's Note: Make no mistake, there's a political message in the words of Noah Webster, hardly a man that invokes partisan bickering among Americans today. Continuing where I left off yesterday...)
"However independent each state may be and ought to be in things that relate to itself merely, yet as part of a greater body it must be a subject of that body in matters that relate to the whole. A system of continental government, thus organized, may establish and perpetuate the confederation infringing the rights of any particular state. But the power of all the states must be reduced to a narrow compass; it must center in a single body of men; and it must not be liable to be controlled or defeated by an individual state. The states assembled in Congress must have the same compulsory power in matters that concern the whole as a man has his own family, as a city has within the limits of the corporation, and as the legislature of a state has in the limits of that state, respecting matters that fall within their several jurisdictions.

"I beg to know how otherwise the states will be governed as a collective body? Every man knows by his own experience that even families are not to be kept in subordination by recommendations and advice. How much less then will such flimsy things command the obedience of a whole continent? They will not -- they do not. A single state by noncompliance with resolves of Congress, has repeatedly defeated the most salutary measures of the states proposed by Congress [...]

"I will suppose for the present that a measure recommended by Congress and adopted by a majority of the legislatures should be really repugnant to the interest of a single state, considered in its separate capacity. Would it be right for that state to oppose it? While the measure is in agitation it is the undoubted privilege of every state to oppose it by every argument. But when it is passed by the concurrence of a legal majority, it is the duty of every state to acquiesce. So far from resisting the measure, those very individuals who opposed it in debate ought to support it in execution. The reason is very plain: society and government can be supported on no other principles. The interest of individuals must always give place to the interest of the whole community. The principle of government is not perfect, but it as perfect as any principle that can be carried into effect on this side of heaven."
-- Noah Webster, Sketches of American Policy (1785)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Quote of the Day

"What, it will be asked, must the states relinquish their sovereignty and independence, and give Congress their rights of legislation? I beg to know what we mean by United States? If, after Congress have passed a resolution of a general tenor, the states are still at liberty to comply or refuse, I must insist that they are not united; they are as separate as they ever were, and Congress is merely an advisory body. If people imagine that Congress ought to be merely a council of advice, they will some time or other discover their most egregious mistake.

"The resolves of Congress are always treated with respect, and during the late war they were efficacious. But their efficacy proceeded from a principle of common safety which united the interests of all states; but peace has removed that principle, and the states comply with or refuse the requisitions of Congress just as they please.

"The idea of each state preserving its sovereignty and independence in their full latitude, and yet holding up the appearance of a confederacy and a concert of measures, is a solecism in politics that will sooner or later dissolve the pretended union, or work other mischiefs sufficient to bear conviction to every mind."
-- Noah Webster, Sketches of American Policy (1785)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fiscal Conservative In Name Only



We can now apply Carly Fiorino's campaign ad to Idaho's own Walt Minnick. His vote today against PayGo officially made Minnick a fiscal conservative in name only.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The statesman is concerned with inspiring right action, and the test of his statesmanship is his ability to lead public opinion rather than slavishly to follow it."
-- John Hallowell, The Moral Foundation of Democracy (1954)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Eighteen Days

It only took the Idaho Legislature eighteen days since my original post on the hypocrisy of compulsory coverage for them to admit they had a problem introducing and attempting to pass a bill that would block federal health care reform efforts that would require Idahoans to purchase health insurance. Today, the Idaho Legislature admitted that there is a law on the books that already requires college students carry health insurance, and in doing so admitted that they'd forgotten all about the bill they themselves passed. Now, if only it simply took eighteen days for the Idaho Legislature to admit that there are actual benefits that come with compulsory coverage, benefits that include saving lives.

[H/T: MountainGoat Report and Sisyphus @ 43rd State Blues]

Quote of the Day

"When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection."

-- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71
[The Federalist Papers, No. 71. March 18, 1788; Emphasis my own.]