Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Dropping Out....

As reported all over the TV news this morning, and already over at Red State Rebels, John Edwards is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, ostensibly because of his poor showings lately. The official speech will be at 1pm EST in New Orleans, where his campaign began. Giuliani is expected to follow suit.

Well, that leaves the Democrats with Clinton and Obama which means it will be a very exciting campaign, especially since Clinton not only showed up in Florida afterwards to accept congratulations from her supporters there, but also said,

"I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today. I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida's Democratic delegates seated, but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.''

So much for you Barack Obama.....

And I think it will get dirtier, not only because both candidates hunger for this position, but also because this is, in the background, a struggle between the DLC (Clinton's Democratic Leadership Council) and the DNC (the Democratic National Committee, now headed by Howard Dean). Dean of course has put money into all the states with his 50-state strategy, a strategy that considers the grassroots, the people, to be the foundation of the party. The DLC, on the other hand, seems to believe that money wins elections and goes about spending that money as if they were the Roviaters of the Democratic Party.

I've always liked John Edwards. As RedStateRebels suggested, it would be good to see him having a significant placement in the next administration. Only time will tell....

And now, I await February 5th.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I just received my latest copy of The New York Review of Books in the mail, and turned immediately to the article by Sarah Boxer with the simple title, Blogs. Once assigned to "create an anthology of blogs" for a book, she addresses that insurmountable task in the article. She also reviews several recent books about blogs. Aside from describing what a blog is, some of the legal rules concerning blogs, and the difference between blogs and journalistic and/or book writing, she finishes with a wonderful allegory of superheroes and bloggers, summing it up with the phrase, "They [bloggers] are what they write." I think that is true.

Speaking of blogging, the discussion amongst several Idaho bloggers over at RedStateRebels on the topic of videos versus live speakers at the Frank Church Banquet is interesting, important, and somewhat amusing. I think the idea of videos is great; however, I prefer live speakers (especially since I have to spend so much money and travel that far...I may as well live in Canada....). Of course, since the IDP has only posted partial information about the Frank Church Banquet, it's difficult to know exactly what the weekend's plans entail. Now I've heard that the candidates will not only have a chance to speak on Friday evening, but that they will all have hospitality rooms as well. If that's the case, then videos at the banquet no longer seem like such a bad idea.

I think that the problem here is that the IDP just doesn't release enough information at any given time. This tends to make their activities appear secretive, ill-planned, or just plain unorganized. Things seem to be getting better now that some re-organization of the website is going on, we have a new party chair, the Chair of County Chairs is a well-organized and diplomatic, and Shelley and Randy are around to keep everyone apprised of what they know. But the IDP still needs to do more to keep one step ahead of the bloggers..... if that's even possible.

Unfortunately for me, I am unable to get to Boise before about 8:30 Friday evening so I'll miss out on everything that day. Luckily for me, I am not afraid of speaking to candidates and asking them tough questions like how could you possibly support more nuclear energy in Idaho when there's nothing to do with the waste, it uses so much water and its costs to taxpayers are outrageous?; or how could you even think of mentioning pro-logging in Boundary County when not only is it the single most controversial wedge issue here, and, when Risch's roadless plan puts so much of Boundary County into the General Forest (read "protected by USFS whim") category; or what is your plan for withdrawal from Iraq; or what would you do in the US Congress to fight corporate monopolies; or how do you stand on the death penalty, on gay marriage, on the second amendment; and so forth.

Anyway, for the moment, I'm just trying to get enough money together to attend the Frank Church Banquet....

Back to blogging, which I think is a wonderful way for people to connect. It's great, creative, informative, occasionally malevolent, but usually positively purposeful (as in the "alternative" press), sometimes petty as well as brilliant, witty, idiotic, cathartic and blatantly over-personal, stream of consciousness as well as the well-researched academic article, and the adjectives go on and on.

I think that the Idaho bloggers have done quite well in bringing together diverse areas of this state so that suddenly it's not just north, south east and west, but Idaho as one entity. Not that regional differences don't exist and I, for one, make that obvious. But now I know what's going on in Boise, Pocatello, Idaho Falls or Moscow. I hear about energy plans around Idaho, the latest Bill Sali idiocies, what's happening in the ID Legislature, Larry Craig's latest presents to the IDP, environmental concerns around the state, as well as about food, restaurants, drink, local politics, and so forth. All thanks to Idaho's bloggers.

Indeed, meeting these bloggers at the Frank Church Banquet will probably be just as exciting, if not more so, than watching our candidates speak, uh, act, uh, whatever it is they'll be going (no offense intended, candidates, but blogging is just, well, just so interesting). Maybe it's just appreciation of the writing. As Anais Nin once wrote, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Welcome To Rural North Idaho

Last Sunday, my ISP suffered a major disruption and I haven't had internet service since. This has been a real drag, especially since I just took on teaching at my local community college (only 90 miles away, giving new meaning to the word local....). Given the lack of internet access, it has not been an efficacious week in terms of completing necessary work....If I've had any success, it has been because of my dear friends, Fred and Alice, who have been more than generous in offering me the use Fred's computer while he's busy at work.

Julie at RedStateRebels, contributed to the Idaho Progressives list, an interesting thread from the dailykos about competition between the Democratic Leadership Council and Democratic National Committee. On the dailykos thread, the opinion is that if the DLC has its way in getting Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee, then Howard Dean is out and a new leader (probably Harold E. Ford) will be put in that position. This may, at first glance, may not mean much for insignificant little Idaho, but, as they say, looks are deceiving. Note that the President of the Democratic Leadership Council is none other but our very own north Idaho boy, Bruce Reed.

In full disclosure, I am a supporter of the Democratic National Committee under the leadership of Howard Dean. If the DLC believes that Idaho wants to have a Democratic Party that follows in their footsteps, then I think that the DLC may find that not every Democrat supports their efforts. Indeed, they may well find that the Progressive Caucus has many more members than they thought possible. At least, that is my perception and only time will tell....

Be all that as it may, it leads to an interesting perception regarding Hillary, Obama, the DLC and the DNC since the Obama campaign is so strong in Idaho, several presumed DLC members support Obama, and the Progressives (at least in the north) appear to be divided between Edwards and Obama....Hmm, very interesting.... I can't wait till the caucus....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And The Gifts Just Keep On Coming

My first moment to post after learning Thursday evening that Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, publisher and founder of DailyKos, will be the guest speaker at the Idaho Democratic Party's annual Frank Church Banquet, happening this year in Boise on March 1. Several other Idaho bloggers have already reported this news since we were all in on the same conference call when the announcement was made. These include 43rdstateblues, the Mountain Goat Report, The Political Game, the unequivocal notion, and others. Over at New West Boise, Jill Kuraitis's terrific write-up prompted the mud-slinging to begin right there in the comments section. So, is Markos's guest speaker appearance at the Frank Church Banquet good or bad for Idaho Democrats?

I think it's great. With the DailyKos, Markos has given local grassroots politics a tremendous gift, demonstrating how the internet can be utilized to not just spread messages, report news, and provide educated opinion, but everything can be cross-checked for facts. Through the DailyKos, Markos has become aware of political trends around the nation, aware of politics from the local level to the top levels, and knowledgeable about both the strengths and weaknesses of the internet. I'm looking forward to what he has to say. I hope that he relates some of the content from his critically-acclaimed book, Crashing the Gate, specifically to Idaho, and generally to the west.

An issue that might be important here in Idaho has to do not only with a seemingly imploding Republican party, but wedge issues between top presidential candidates that are pertinent to our large Mormon and evangelical populations as well as to other issues including immigration, racism, and living wages. All this bodes well for the Idaho Democratic Party, especially after receiving weeks of wonderful gifts from Senator Larry Wide-Stance Craig, that just keeps on going.

And now those Republicans are doing it again! It must have been VP Cheney's hunting accident (sic) that taught them how to shoot themselves in the foot so well! So today in the Spokesman Review, we learn that the Republicans introduced legislation Friday that would close Idaho primaries. As reported by Betsy Z. Russell,

"The bill, with a price tag of at least $800,000, would allow only registered Republicans to vote in the Republican primary, only Democrats to vote in the Democratic primary, and wouldn't allow independents to vote in any primary. Nearly a third of Idahoans say they're not affiliated with any party."

Needless to say, the Democrats don't support this legislation, so now may be the time for Independents to join with the Democrats for the kind of changes we need in this state. No voter should be disenfranchised!

Okay, I'm saving my pennies for the long haul from Bonners Ferry to Boise and the Frank Church Banquet! Thanks, John Foster, for making it even more worthwhile!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Minnick in Boundary County

Today Walt Minnick, candidate for Congressional District 1, visited Boundary County for a first time introduction to his congressional campaign. Staying for about 1 1/2 hours, he was plied with questions about a variety of topics including what he has to offer that Larry Grant does not, immigration, the war in Iraq, energy, the death penalty, gay marriage, health care, the war on drugs, nuclear, and so forth. Because of an appointment with the newspaper and an evening meeting in Sandpoint, the questions had to end but I'm sure there will be more during his next visit.

He does plan on visiting again with a strategy of four day "immersions" into counties around Ditrict 1. Besides talking to Democrats he also wants to speak with Republicans and Independents. It should be an interesting visit. We had a good turnout today, given that he came in the middle of a work day, probably around 10 people. I think that next time, if it's in the evening or on a weekend, many more people may show up.

Boundary County is proud to have candidates visit this crown jewel of the north. We're also expecting Rand Lewis in March, another visit by Minnick in March, and the Larry Grant campaign kick-off in March. It certainly seems like the Boundary County Dems will be quite busy in March.... and so be it! This is an election year and it's about time for some change!!

Go Democrats!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Draft Rule for Idaho's Roadless Areas

I learned at a young age that when people become complacent others may make decisions that result in a rude awakening from that state of contentment. For me, that happened today with the Associated Press announcements that the Bush Administration had released on Monday its draft rule for managing the more than 9.3 million acres of Idaho roadless area. The Forest Service will hold a series of meetings across the state the and comment period ends April 7. The Federal Register released the information on Monday, January 7th.

Last year Risch wrote up a draft for Idaho's roadless areas that did not stray far from the Clinton Roadless rule. Not all environmentalist agreed with Risch's draft, but, all-in-all, they were willing to go along with it under the circumstances. Now the Forest Service has changed Risch's original draft and put in language that would provide the Forest Service with good excuses for building roads in designated roadless, allowing mining, taking out timber and so forth. For a more in-depth description of what is happening check out the report at the Environmental News Service. More information is available at the Lewiston Tribune, but only if you're a paid subscriber....

I just love the way the Bush Administration quietly released all this information while people were busy with the holiday season. Typical Bush present to the American public in general and the Idaho people in particular. I guess I was just enjoying the holiday season too much and had to have this change in Idaho's roadless rule language pointed out to me by someone else. It seems like we have to be on our toes all the time when it comes to politics....

The most irritating part about this whole business is that just when you think that everyone has come to an agreement that sits well with all parties, someone just ups and changes the stakes. It reminds me too much of how local Republican politicians have their hands in almost everything, and for the most part these people are not experts, not particularly well-educated, and not really interested in the opinions of those who are well-informed; rather their interests are usually selfish and greedy. And that certainly doesn't bode well for good government....

Well the comment period begins. Watch for statewide US Forest Service Roadless meetings dates which should be published locally; stay tuned to what's happening by reading the Idaho Conservation League website; and finally, I'll be reporting on this whenever something comes up.

"A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself." Edward Abbey in Desert Solitaire

Friday, January 4, 2008

Go Democrats!!!

Well, the big vote happened and I was surprised, very pleasantly surprised that Roark won 57 to 15 (you can check the exact figures but that's what I heard). My husband thinks the results indicate that other people also thought some sort of shenanigans were going on in Boise. I disagree. And I certainly don't think that it had anything to do with my blog; I don't write often enough for people to read it every day. Rather, I believe that Roark gave the most eloquent presentation. He appealed to the people who work on the ground, going door-to-door, trying to fill local positions, wanting the IDP to understand their needs rather than being told what they had to do. Our previous Idaho senator from Boundary County, Senator Tim Tucker, has said for years what Roark said tonight: we need to fill the courthouses with Democrats.

I also must commend Jerry Brady, who so thoughtfully explained his endorsement of Minnick. It made it all so clear; too bad it wasn't clear until tonight. As I said before, I do not doubt Brady's integrity, nor do I think he would be anything less than a great IDP Chair, I just didn't like what appeared to be going on in terms of full disclosure from the IDP offices in Boise.

But, be all that as it may. We had an election. It was overwhelming for Roark. I hope that the IDP will now move forward and after the Iowa Caucuses, I am really looking forward to our own Super Duper Tuesday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

There's Something Happening Here, Redux

Tomorrow, January 4th, the Idaho Democratic Party is having a State Central Committee meeting via conference calls at three locations. The initial reason for the meeting was for a discussion on amendments for caucus rules that made explicit the procedure for caucus absentee pledges. When Richard Stallings, our most recent IDP Chair stepped down on December 20th, the meeting suddenly morphed into voting for a new IDP Chair.

Well, that bothered me, and many others, it seemed, because of the urgency that surrounded it. Many central committee members (chairs and state committee men and women) work for a living but volunteer our time. December is usually a rather slow month, politically speaking, and many of us put aside our Democratic duties to tend to the holidays and family and so forth. So when the announcement came that we now had to elect a chair, a number of us felt that this was too soon, too quick and too hurried. We quickly received one nomination but no others were forthcoming. Nominations could be made on the floor, but there would be no physical floor for this meeting since it was via conference call.

So I started calling around to see if others felt like I did about the hurry and the single nomination and what was going on. Boy did I get an earful!

My first inkling that there may be more here than meets the eye came when I heard that our IDP in-group just wanted to appoint Jerry Brady as the Chair. Well, the by-laws don't allow that so that appointment, or even nomination, became "difficult" because Brady had already endorsed Walt Minnick over Larry Grant and Rand Lewis for the District 1 Congressional Seat. I questioned the word "difficult" suggesting "impossible" instead. After all, how can you have an IDP Chair who has already publicly endorsed a primary candidate??? That seems rather unethical to me.... but perhaps that is politics as usual and one shouldn't be worried about ethics.
But then I never received a notification about a nomination for Jerry Brady. I, and the other Central Committee members only received the nomination for Keith Roark, a man well-qualified for the position. Not only was he the Democratic nominee in 2002 for Attorney General, his resume indicates a life dedicated to service to his community. Just what we need for the IDP. And, I heard that he may actually work as hard, if not harder than our dynamite Vice-Chair, Jeanne Buell. Now I really like this guy.

In the meantime, word also comes through from others who just feel something fishy is up in Boise, that Cecil Andrus, whose recommendation of John Foster as Executive Director took precedent over the fact that he was least qualified for the job, perhaps wanted Brady to be Chair. I also heard that the strategy was for Foster's nominee to declare on the floor and not beforehand, and so Brady would be thought popular by name recognition alone.

And then I heard that it all has to do with money and fund-raising capabilities given that the IDP is running low, so to speak....

So now I'm wondering why Brady, who has always struck me as a man of integrity, would pursue the Chair position having already endorsed Minnick. And I wonder why, after the great united front at the last State Central Committee Meeting, John Foster would suddenly be pushing for a possibly dividing IDP Chair. I mean, how can a chair be said to be fair if he has already endorsed one candidate over another. Like what does he say, "Oh, I can be fair now and I'll put my endorsement aside." Give me a break! The damage has been done.

Finally, I've heard that the argument for electing Brady over Roark is we should really question whether we want our top three party leaders all from Blaine County. This includes House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet and Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett. Hey, these two were elected by the people, the public. If they both happen to be from Blaine County then perhaps that suggests that Blaine County has a lot of Democrats. Now Roark would like to be IDP Chair and he happens to be from Blaine. So what? That suggests to me that he not only has a great background in community service but great experience with Democrats as well. What better choice for an IDP Chair?

Actually this whole situation could be a lot worse, or possibly even better than I think. After all I had one person already figuring out what exactly happened and he surmised that Stallings knew that a core group wanted to have all their compatriots leading the party, so he stepped down early to thwart them. Now this is a complete conjecture but when secrecy is in the air, people try to figure out what's really going on. It's human behavior. It's why detective stories and mysteries sell so well. It's why we have conspiracy theories. But it's also why there are those who get so carried away with their power that they forget open government, due process, accountability, and honesty.

I'd like to know the truth. So many Idaho Democrats worked too hard in the last several years to nourish the grassroots of this party to now have their work ignored in a new top-down approach that thinks money is going to turn Idaho blue.