Thursday, December 28, 2006

President Ford is dead.

What will be his legacy? Is it, as the media says, one of healing the nation after Watergate? Not being a big history buff, and certainly not being one who paid as much attention to Ford as I could have, I would have to say that certainly seems to be his legacy, at least according to the "liberal media".

However, I don't know if I agree with the assessment that he healed the nation, or at least helped heal the nation. A few things stick out in my mind when I think of this healing that apparently took place. One is a comment I read on a liberal blog, wherein the person commented that you can't heal something that hasn't been cleansed. The cleansing that never took place was Nixon accounting for his decisions, at least accounting for them by serving time.

When I was in Young Women's, I remember reciting the Young Women's values. One of which was choice and accountability. I don't think the Church, or Christ, intends for our accountability to be the most minimum we can get away with. I think accountability means accounting for it in the fullest possible way. This didn't occur because Ford pardoned Nixon. Which brings me to the next thing that crosses my mind when I think of Ford's legacy...

I was at my dad's house last night for dinner. Keep in mind my dad is a Republican. Solid Republican. He said Nixon belonged in prison and should've gone to prison. It was said in one article I read that Ford pardoning Nixon cost Ford the election.

Now before everyone gets to thinking that I despise Ford and Nixon, let me state that I wasn't alive during this difficult period in America's history. Let me also state that I do not possess any psychic abilities. I cannot say that had Ford not pardoned Nixon and Nixon went to prison if this country would have been better off. Perhaps pardoning Nixon was the best thing for this country. I don't know. Is any of this making any sense?!?

Let me end by saying that what President Ford did as President, aside from pardoning Nixon, was what this country needed. What was it exactly? It was not being Nixon! Though Nixon did some good things as President, which is a whole other topic for another post.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I wanted to post a link to my new blog. I hope everyone stops by and posts some comments. Any feedback is deeply appreciated!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Moves?

I posted my thoughts about the election results and a few people were surprised I was so horrified. Let me state again that I am more than pleased with how Democrats did nationally, but I am still sickened with the statewide results.

BYUI Dems blog commenter jamesp, wanted proof that Tom Luna was going to single handedly destroy public education in Idaho. I can't provide that proof and if I had that proof available, I would have shared it with everyone who would listen to ensure Luna wouldn't win the election. My opinion is still that Tom Luna will be a disaster for public schools and will seek to undermine public schools, but let me share some type of proof, in my opinion, that might lend credence to my opinion.

I would like to give thanks to the Royal Mountain Valice's blog for sharing some information about some of Luna's first moves as incoming Superintendent:

"The incoming superintendent, Tom Luna, has begun the process of restructuring the Department by firing 19 top level administrators, including key Bureau Chiefs and Coordinators. In addition to the 19, 8 more have resigned. Outgoing Superintendent Marilyn Howard identified the 27 in a memo sent out Monday to Idaho Superintendents, Principals, Business Managers, Charter School Directors, Title I Directors, Special Education Directors, Testing Coordinators and Technology Coordinators. According to Howard, this is just the 'first wave of firings.'"

Lastly, I would like to publicly announce my intentions to start my own personal blog that will be politically centered though not solely about politics. I still would like to blog here, if I am allowed, but would like the freedom to venture into other subjects. Thank you!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The state of things, part 1

It's been awhile since I've had anything to say. After November 7th, I had a lot of thinking to do and I so a took a personal sabbatical from the political world. I figured, if I want to say things intelligibly, I had better make sure that I've got things together before I say them.

I was both delighted and saddened by the events of Nov. 7. I was delighted that on the federal level, liberals were able to take control of congress. I was saddened to watch Idaho elect such strange candidates.

However, I see no point in anymore brooding -- it's time to move on.

Here are the state of things: the BYU-Idaho College Democrats are weak.

It pains me to to say it, but it's true. When I first started all of this, my intention was to usher in a new political utopia at BYU-I. Despite what my actions and mistakes may have said, my intention was to see what a two party system on a campus with BYU-I's demographic would be like. Here's what I was hoping:
  1. I hoped that at BYU-I, students would be able to be different than the world when approaching politics. It appears to me, that many view politics as useless, corrupt and dirty. I hoped that by virtue of the applied faith at BYU-I that it would be different. What I found was this: if it was different, it was manifested with apathy. Otherwise, it was politics as usual.
  2. I hoped to make friends of the BYU-I College Republicans. Through a series of mistakes by both groups, this hasn't happened. I envisioned friendly debate, I envisioned cooperation, I envisioned bi-partisanship, I wanted pure intelligence.
  3. I wanted to extinguish the apathy I believe was caused by the the lack of political diversity.
None of these things have happened to my satisfaction. Granted, we are only a little more than a year old, but our foundation is weak and I continue to see more and more cracks forming.

Here are the reasons I believe this has happened:
  1. While we are Democrats, and we are liberal, we are not gay baby killers. We have not convinced anyone of this.
  2. My strength of will has snuffed out potential leaders. Thus far, I have been the force keeping the College Democrats together. This isn't acceptable, and it shows just how weak we are. I wonder sometimes what would happen to the College Democrats if I disappeared. While this comment seems egotistical in nature, I have yet to see evidence of the same commitment from any other College Democrat, with the exception of a few, and I mean a few.
  3. We are lazy. I KNOW there are many like minded students on campus. Yet, we have been unable to inspire those students to participate. This is our greatest weakness. There is no point in having a political party without support from it's members.
I still have hope that these things will improve, but I will address solutions in another post. I'd like to change gears and address something different.

I believe both parties have failed America, both have deceived in a myriad of ways it's members, and that there is a changing tide.

I spurn anyone who has blind allegiance to their party. I personally could never be a zealot for the Democratic party. I am a free thinker, I don't believe either party has all of the answers or the resources to come up with those answers. I don't believe the barrage of rhetoric and promises that come from both parties and I'm amazed at how many people fall for either party's propaganda -- myself included to some extent.

Blake, if you believe that the Democratic Party could use someone of your conservative persuasion, I hope they don't kick you out. While I'm confident that the BYU-I College Democrats will fully accept you and listen to you, I'm not certain of your future on the national scale -- if you seek that. You are a true conservative and I respect that. I believe and hope that you can have great positive influence on the Democratic Party, I just hope the Democratic Party can deal with you.

With my experience in this past campaign, my conservative leanings were met with intelligent consideration from the Brady for Idaho campaign. I hope that this attitude is being infused into the National Party. In this past election period, a whole slew of "conservative Democrats" were elected to Congress. This tells me that perhaps the National Party has realized that they cannot hope to have influence while also exclusively catering to the far-left. I wish the Republican Party would quit wooing the neocons.

Let me wrap up this boring blog. Blake, you have a great mind. You are moral and you are realistic. In my opinion, if you want a safe political career, you should follow Joe's advice. But be prepared to be passed over as many paleocons have been.

I'm not saying that you have an opportunity to make the Democratic Party conservative. I don't want you to. But, there are a variety of issues where the Dems could be more effective by being more conservative one those issues. Lastly, I now believe that one of the biggest myths is that issues are either left or right. The truth is, the vast majority of issues are neither liberal nor conservative.

Just food for thought... could be junk food though.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Random Sampling From My Brain

First I must apologize for the long delay in my posting but I've been overwhelmed with personal things, work, and school. While politics hasn't been in the forefront of my mind, it has certainly been on my mind. It just wouldn't be a normal day if I didn't visit some of my favorite liberal Idaho blogs and visit DU. With that in mind I present a random sampling of what's been on my mind!

I did a class presentation on presidential scandals. I chose the topic, so does my topic choice mean I am just a dumb American who is too intrigued by the scandalous behavior of our elected leaders and not concerned enough with really important matters? Nah. The topic was more than the details of Watergate, Whitewater, Iran-Contra, and Monica Lewinsky. It included some statistical tests that predicted the chance of a presidential scandal occuring and what conditions need to be present for it to occur. It was fascinating!

I think many of us are waiting to see how the situation with Senator Johnson's health plays out. My best goes out to him and his family. The situation certainly brings to light the idea of a Governor choosing a replacement when a Senator, or other elected official, has to resign. To me it can fly in the face of the will of the people, but I am not just saying this because the Governor of South Dakota is a Republican. I don't know that there are many other options that would seek to fulfill the will of the people in a timely and fair fashion.

I was born and raised in the Seattle area and my hometown is currently without power. All 90,000+ citizens in the entire city, plus approximately 1,000,000 more. My mom had to call me to pay her house payments earlier today and had me check a few websites to see when they will get their power back. While perusing the Seattle Times website I came across a story about the Governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, seeking to put a cap on the tuition increases at Washington colleges. Living in Idaho, I forget that some states are fortunate enough to have Governor's who do something about the increasing costs of attending college. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a quote from a Washington Republican legislator who said Governor Gregoire wasn't doing enough to keep college affordable for Washingtonians. WOW!

Which reminds me of a program Washington has that every state should have, Running Start. In Washington, you can attend a participating community college for free as a high school junior and/or senior. I say "participating" because I can't be sure every community college participates. You basically pay for a parking permit, if needed, and books and supplies, if needed. You pay no tuition, no fees, nothing. I knew a few classmates who graduated with their Associate's degree while simulaneously graduating with their high school diploma. I only took a few courses as a senior but it was a worthwhile experience that gave me a head start when I started at Ricks College. Certainly Idaho could benefit from such a program, though there is no statewide community college system, the state could send students to ISU, BSU, EITC, UofI, etc...

Tom Luna, the recently elected State Superintendent of Public Schools in Idaho, has gotten into trouble for lying on his resume. He will also fire 20 employees at the State Department of Education. No comment!

Lastly, I was again pleasantly surprised to see Nancy Pelosi selected as the most fascinating person of 2006. You may disagree with her politics, but you must admit that what she has accomplished and will accomplish is noteworthy and fascinating.

Wait, I can't end without admitting something. I recently discovered Arrested Development, the genius show that was cancelled by Fox. If you have satellite tv, you can catch daily reruns of this brilliant show on the G4 channel.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Still My Hero

One of the candidates who ran this year is a personal and professional hero of mine. Personal because she exudes so many of the qualities I desire to have as a woman and human being, and professional because she has not only been successful in her career, but has made things better through her actions. I don't just want a career, I want to leave the world better because of what I have been able to do in my career and personal life-I want to leave my mark in this world.

I saw my hero yesterday (the first time since the election) and she looked positively amazing. I don't know why this surprised me, she is the type of person who, when she falls, gets back up and keeps pressing forward. But let me state that I don't believe she fell, she was pushed down because voters chose a lesser candidate. But still, she had clearly brushed herself off and continued her ways. I also learned that I was right when I assumed that the type of person she was on the campaign trail was the type of person she was all of the time; kind, concerned for others, selfless, intelligent, and so many other great things. She leaves me in awe that one person possesses all that is good in society!

I guess what I might be trying to say is that sometimes we focus on the negatives in politics and in politicians. We, often times, only remember the Tom Delay's, the Watergate's, etc...and forget there are people, like Jana Jones, who represent traits and demonstrate actions that are not only admirable but desperately needed in this world.

You are still my hero, Jana.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Real Mid-Term Elections

As some of you may know, next week the BYU-I College Democrats will be holding officer elections for next semester. Over the last month or so I have been asked numerous times, both by members of the club and by others, whether or not I was going to run for a position.

My answer has consistently been the same, I would be happy to serve in any way the club members would like me to, but I will not nominate myself for any positions. I would like to take this chance to explain why I feel that way.

It’s not an issue of commitment. I have attended just as many, if not more, meetings this semester as any other member (and I include the current officers in that category). I am the only active member of the club who contributes regularly to this blog (Peter has been so busy this semester with other obligations that he can rarely make it to the meetings anymore, which no one blames him for, but the fact remains). I don’t think anyone could rightly question whether or not I would fulfill the responsibilities of any of the offices.

However, the club doesn’t just need someone who will “do the job”. While it has survived its first year back on campus that is no guarantee that it will survive it’s second. What the club desperately needs right now is leadership. It needs leaders who can build it, guide it, and forge it into a lasting presence here on campus. Anyone can manage it, but it needs dedicated people who are committed to the Democratic ideals to make it great.

That is where the problem lies. No matter how active I am, no matter how many submissions I contribute to this blog, the fact remains that I am neither a Democrat nor a liberal. I don’t know that I can contribute the level of energy, enthusiasm, and leadership that the club needs. The club needs people who truly believe in liberalism, and the Democratic party to build it, while I am happy to help in any way I can, I don’t think I am what it needs or requires.

That being said, if in a week the members decide they want me to fill an office, then I will do so to the best of my ability. I just hope that people more qualified than I will step to the plate first.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Am Thankful

I am thankful to live in a country where we have leaders whom we elect, and some who run but aren't elected, who desire and strive to improve our communities, our state, and our country.

I am thankful that we have colleges and universities where we can go and learn more about ourselves, our world, and learn that the only limits that exist are those that we create in our own minds.

I am thankful that I attended Ricks College and BYU-Idaho for three years. It was at Ricks/BYU-Idaho where I grew up and started to overcome my demons. It was at Ricks/BYU-Idaho where I was taught that it is not only okay to think outside of the box, but thinking outside of the box is necessary in order to believe in the teachings of the Church.

I am thankful for professors at BYU-Idaho and Idaho State University who believed in me and made me believe in myself. These professors have changed my life and I shall never forget them.

I am thankful for my teachers in elementary school, junior high, and high school who overlooked my many shortcomings to reach out to me and care for me. These teachers were bright spots in what was often times for me, a very dark world.

I am thankful for the ISU College Democrats club. This is a club that provided an avenue to meet some of the greatest people I have known. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as President.

I am thankful for my friends and family who love me despite my imperfections, shortcomings, and horrible personality traits. Though I try to be a good person who is sensitive to the feelings of others, I still come up short far too often. I make a promise here and now to work hard every single day to be a better person.

I am especially thankful for my best friends, because they are the ones who I lean on when I am struggling, weak, and totally insecure.

But I am most thankful for Jesus Christ. There have been friends who have come and gone, but He always remains, our constant friend. He understands us better than any other person could.

What are YOU thankful for?

Friday, November 10, 2006

I couldn't resist



Yeah, figure out your own rationalization for this on a political blog. It's too cool!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Utterly Horrified

I am proud that people across this country elected so many Democrats and we now have control of the House and the Senate.

I am utterly horrified that Jana Jones has lost. If you have a child in an Idaho school, be prepared, Tom Luna is a danger to public schools.

I am proud that Pocatello voters, in District 29, elected Diane Bilyeu and James Ruchti to office. I am deeply saddened that Allen Anderson lost. I would love for a Ken Andrus supporter to tell me what makes Ken Andrus a better representative, because there isn't one reason I can think of. I was at the Bannock County courthouse all night awaiting results that didn't come until around noon. I was able to help "count" ballots at 9am because the voting machine was rejecting some ballots still. It was awesome having an advance knowledge of what precincts had just been counted, were being counted, etc...and I happily reported this knowledge to Diane Bilyeu throughout the morning. Being next to Diane when she found out she won, though there will be a recount, was an honor and I shall never forget it. I will also remember congratulating Radene Barker with a hug as she won the Treasurer's race. Democrats swept the county races here in Bannock County and NO ONE predicted that, all of the Democrats won their respective county races by at least 1000 votes.

As happy as I am for James, Diane, Radene, and for the many Democrats across this great country, I mourn for my state because we didn't seize the opportunity to better Idaho by electing the better candidates, and every Democrat running at the state and federal level in Idaho was better.

Jana if you read this, and I hope you received my email, you did Idaho proud with your 32 years of service to education. Your service, dedication, knowledge, and kindness is second to none. I am not sure what your plan was in case voters elected the unqualified Tom Luna, but I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. 215,905 knew you were the best candidate. That number will only increase as Tom Luna begins his destruction of public education.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Let us be humble in victory, and gracious in defeat.

With my party no longer in power in Congress (I don’t think anyone really expects for the GOP to pull a victory out of Virginia), I find myself in an interesting situation. This is the first time since I started to pay attention to politics that I can remember the Democrats controlling Congress (I didn’t pay attention to politics until ’95). While I do not have previous personal experience in the matter, here are a few thoughts of mine on the situation.

First, I don’t think that this is really going to change much in our country. While taxes may fluctuate, student loans and minimum wage may increase, and gun control may again rear its head, I really don’t think things will be drastically different. I have heard members of my party lamenting of the stupidity of people in voting the Democrats into office, and of the impending doom that it will bring to America. That seems silly to me, much of my childhood (’84 until ’94) was spent under a Democratic Congress’, and it really wasn’t that bad. I don’t expect this one to be any worse.

Second, I think that this could be a very good thing for both parties. I say that with two reasons in mind. I think that this will give the Democratic Party the leadership experience they need if they are going to take the White House in ’08. Regardless of whether one wants them to, I think we can all agree that it is better to have people leading and running for office who actually have leadership experience.

Further, I hope that Democratic control over Congress will spark change in the Republican Party. The Republican Party has wandered far from the ideals of small government, responsible spending, and states rights that it championed not so long ago. I hope that this will act as a catalyst for a back to basics conservatism, and party leadership reform.

Finally, I hope that both sides realize the situation they are now in. If the Republicans do not work with the Democrats and vice versa, there will be gridlock. Neither party can now enact legislation without some measure of cooperation from the other. This means that either nothing will get done, or they will be forced to compromise. While I don’t expect the rhetoric to lessen, or for both sides to go on back packing retreats and hot dog roasts together; I do hope that some of the bridges that have been burned by partisan politics might be rebuilt.

Really, we will just have to wait and see, but I faith in what this country can accomplish if we really want to.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Getting desperate

Below is the latest tactic Republicans in Idaho have been using to "Get out the vote". This is a release from Brady for Idaho Governor.

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BOISE, Idaho -- According to a healthcare professional in the Boise area, local Republican campaigns are using unethical voter coercion tactics to gain votes in local senior care facilities.

The healthcare professional, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of professional fallout, says he/she has witnessed Republican campaign volunteers entering senior care facilities—including the Boise Samaritan Village—and distributing Republican literature, verbally coercing mentally unfit seniors into voting for candidates, and even filling out absentee ballots with or possibly for these patients. She first heard of the activity in early October.

The healthcare professional was alarmed to hear from patients who had voted absentee—including a 95 year old woman suffering from dementia—despite not knowing who the candidates were prior to voting. The patients expressed confusion as to what had happened or who they had even voted for.

The healthcare professional pointed out that there are adult protection laws in Idaho that prevent just this sort of coercion and exploitation of seniors. Democratic party officials are currently investing the legality of these tactics and will be releasing a statement.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And now for something completely different.

While this doesn't really have anything to do with state, local, or federal politics; I saw it and thought it was hilarious. I justify it being posted by attributing it to office politics. Yeah, that's it...


here

BRADY TAKES THE LEAD!



I think values like the ones expressed in this commercial is what has put Jerry in the lead in this governor's race.

A recent poll commissioned by the Idaho Business Review and KTVB has Jerry in the lead by five points with a margin of error of +/- four points.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Brady gets the nod from conservative paper

The Times-News, a notoriously conservative paper, has endorsed Democratic candidate Jerry Brady for Idaho Governor. Read the story here.

This endorsement is symbolic of the fact that people of all political ideologies are moving towards Jerry. He's not pro Republican or Democrat. He really is for Idaho.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Idaho governor candidates square off"

Here's an interesting news article from a newspaper that has been rather tough on Jerry this election season.
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Idaho governor candidates square off



Betsy Z. Russell
Staff writer
October 31, 2006

It was Democrat Jerry Brady – not GOP Congressman Butch Otter – who garnered the sole outburst of applause during the final debate in the race for governor of Idaho on Monday night.

In a partly filled auditorium at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, the two, along with third-party candidates Ted Dunlap and Marvin "Pro-Life" Richardson, shared their views on everything from environmental regulation to taxes to their political heroes.

But a question about air quality regulations, an hour into the 90-minute debate on KTVB-TV, prompted the enthusiastic outburst from the audience. Otter responded first, saying he'd trust the Idaho Legislature even if it defied the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations.

"I believe that the state Legislature probably has a lot more wisdom on what happens in Idaho and should happen in Idaho than any bureaucrat in the EPA sitting on Independence Avenue in Washington, D.C.," Otter said. "My trust is with the Legislature, and I would work with them to maintain a standard whether or not it fit the federal government mold. I believe we can do what we want to in the state of Idaho."

Brady responded by citing a proposal by an out-of-state energy company to build a coal-fired power plant in the Magic Valley. "A California utility came here, said, 'We want to bring Wyoming coal into this valley, we want to burn it, we want to pollute your air, pollute your water, leave all of our ash behind, and ship the electricity out to the West Coast.' I opposed it," Brady said. "My opponent supported them, took their side, and took $6,000 from them."

The Legislature supported Magic Valley residents who pushed for a moratorium to block the coal plant, Brady said, but then, when a federal program threatened to allow more mercury emissions in Idaho – the very issue that raised concerns about the coal plant – the Legislature didn't respond.

"I said no, Gov. (Jim) Risch later said no, but the Legislature said yes," Brady said. "Now, I do not believe we can be sure that the Legislature will make the right decision without a governor who is committed to keeping mercury out of our state."

The room erupted in applause.

It was a key moment in a campaign that's become increasingly tight as the election approaches. An independent poll sponsored by the Idaho Statesman newspaper and KIVI Channel 6 TV in Nampa, released on Sunday, showed the governor's race in Idaho a dead heat, with Otter leading Brady by a single percentage point, 44-43, with 12 percent undecided.

Jasper LiCalzi, a political scientist at Albertson College of Idaho, said the mercury issue went to the heart of the message Brady's been pushing in his campaign, that he'd be more diligent than Otter in protecting Idaho's quality of life. That's embodied in Brady's campaign slogan, "Idaho is not for sale," which refers back to Otter's sponsorship of legislation in Congress to sell off Idaho public lands, which Otter dropped and apologized for after criticism from Brady and others.

"That's the strongest piece he's had all along," LiCalzi said, "and he keeps on using it." The issue is somewhat reminiscent, he said, of the issue Cecil Andrus first rode into the governorship, when he opposed a mining operation in the White Clouds mountains.

Otter took on the land sale issue head-on in the debate, saying, "I did make a mistake and I admitted that mistake. I think when you're in politics your burden is even heavier – when you make a mistake you stand up and say so."

He followed that up with digs at Brady, accusing Brady of wanting to "tear out the dams" and let wolf populations go unregulated, "let 'em run, let 'em howl." Brady denied both, and also rejected as false an Otter jab suggesting he favored amnesty for illegal aliens.

LiCalzi said, "What was surprising to me was he (Otter) was much more negative than Brady was."

Otter came out with a major new proposal on property taxes that he hasn't mentioned in recent interviews, saying he now favors freezing assessed value and allowing it to rise only at the rate of inflation until a home is sold. "I believe we can do that," he said. "I've talked to a lot of legislators about it."

But Libertarian candidate Dunlap said he lived in California when that state's Proposition 13 froze values until sale. As a result, he said, he paid $2,800 a year in taxes while his next-door neighbor, who had a bigger, fancier home, paid only $500. "That's the sort of inequity that develops when you do this sort of meddling with the property tax," he said.

Idaho's state constitution requires that like property be taxed alike, so any such change would require amending the constitution.

Constitution Party candidate Richardson offered an opening prayer instead of answering the first question posed to him, and later said if people keep turning to government for health care and other services that he believes churches should provide, "We're going to wind up in hell."

Brady and Dunlap were debating for the second night in a row – on Sunday night, they faced off in the traditional League of Women Voters-Idaho Press Club debate broadcast live on Idaho Public Television. Otter declined to participate in that debate on what he called "government television," but he clearly watched it – when Brady said his political hero was Abraham Lincoln, Otter pointed out that the night before he'd also mentioned Jimmy Carter. He didn't mention that Brady also had mentioned Thomas Jefferson, whom Otter named Monday night as his own political hero.

Otter said, "The strength of this state is in the families, I would do nothing, nothing to interrupt that great strength, in fact I would do everything I could to encourage that great strength, because I truly believe that Idaho can become what America was meant to be."

Brady said, "I talked in this campaign not just about me, but about we, how we can do things together, how we can bridge Democrat and Republican and do what's best for Idaho down the middle. I intend to bring balance back to our state."

The election is on Tuesday.

Monday, October 30, 2006

"One of a kind"



This homemade YouTube video cracks me up: Especially the part at the end where the narrator says in a menacing voice, "FOR SALE BY OTTER IDAHO!"

Makes me giggle every time I see it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Why Mormons should vote Democratic"

Why Mormons should vote Democratic
By Fred Voros
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:10/28/2006 03:55:02 PM MDT

"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties," declared the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is certainly true of the Democratic Party.

Mormon descriptions of a just social order read like a Democratic manifesto. The Book of Mormon decries a society in which every man prospers according to his genius, and every man conquers according to his strength (Alma 30:17). It condemns those who ignore the plight of the hungry, needy, naked and sick (Mormon 8:39).

This brother's-keeper principle animates government programs pioneered by Democrats. In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished" and acted.

LDS scripture warns incessantly against economic stratification: " . . . it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin" (D&C 49:20). Yet Republican tax cuts on one end of the economic spectrum and aid cuts on the other have widened the gap between rich and poor. Thanks to our Republican Congress, the world lies a little more in sin.

LDS scripture also calls us to "renounce war and proclaim peace" (D&C 98:16), and condemns offensive wars (Alma 43:45-47; Mormon 3:8-16). Yet the Republican administration misled America into invading Iraq, a nation that had not even threatened the U.S. Nor does LDS teaching justify the administration's fall-back rationale that the invasion was justified by our attempt to impose democracy.

In 1942, Church President David O. McKay declared, "Nor is war justified in an attempt to enforce a new order of government . . . however better the government . . . may be."

Astoundingly, the Republican Congress is borrowing money - from China, Saudi Arabia and federal trust funds - to cover the war, lavish tax cuts and their own profligate spending.

Even on abortion, the Democratic position is friendlier to LDS Church teachings. Mormonism does not teach that life begins at conception. President Gordon B. Hinckley declared that abortion inevitably brings "sorrow and regret."

Yet Church policy makes allowance where pregnancy results from rape or incest, where the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or where the fetus suffers from fatal defects. In such cases, Latter-day Saints are to consult with priesthood leaders and seek confirmation of their decision in prayer before proceeding.
The 2004 Democratic national platform says Democrats uphold Roe v. Wade; "strongly support family planning and adoption incentives"; and believe abortion "should be safe, legal and rare." This position grants Latter-day Saints freedom to follow the prophet.

The Republican position does not. The 2004 Republican platform declares that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." In other words, it would prohibit all abortions. Consequently, a Latter-day Saint's decision to seek an abortion may be allowed by church policy, approved by priesthood leaders, confirmed by the Lord in prayer, but forbidden by the Republican Party.

We need both parties. As the First Presidency foresaw in 1891, "The more evenly balanced the parties become the safer it will be for us in the security of our liberties; and . . . our influence for good will be far greater than it possibly could be were either party overwhelmingly in the majority."

This will never be achieved in Utah, however, until Mormons see the light and vote their values. By which I mean, of course, vote Democratic.
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* FRED VOROS is a lawyer living in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Homebrew Brady Ad



A supporter of Jerry's made this YouTube video. It's pretty funny and fun!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stay the course



This is the new DNC ad poking at the White House changing their catch phrase.

Here is the text of the interview that should put this ad into perspective.

My opinion on Iraq? Probably the same as everyone else's. I don't like the rationale we used to go in. I think that now that we're there we have to stay to help stabilize the region. I don't believe our current course/strategy/plan is effective.

I haven't seen the Democrats offer an alternative. However, I do believe Democrats would be able to have greater influence on the international stage and be able to put together a stronger coalition.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stem cell research



What does everyone think about the federal government funding embryonic stem cell research? Many scientists say that stem cell research could be the tool used to cure many diseases.

I admit, I'm not particularly knowledgable about stem cell research and it's relationship with the federal government. What that also means is I have not made up my mind. This is your chance to bring me to your side.

Here's an interesting website that pretty much sums up what I know. It's not particularly reliable, but it articulates this subject well. If you visited the website, the idea that I know little about stem cell research should be solidifed.

Here are some thoughts to consider when presenting what you know about stem cell research: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am an active and faithful member, does not have a stance on this issue.

As far as I know the Church does not have an official position on when the soul enters the body. Although, elective abortion at any stage of pregnancy is considered a sin.

Can a petri dish or a test tube get pregnant?

I cannot find a reliable source on the Church's opinion on in vitro fertilization, if such an opinion exists.

After 8 weeks, an embryo ceases being an embryo and becomes a fetus. A pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks.

I don't know why, but I think it's worth mentioning that President David McKay said that an abortion is not the same as murder: "As the matter stands today, no definite statement has been made by the Lord one way or another regarding the crime of abortion. So far as is known, he has not listed it alongside the crime of the unpardonable sin and shedding of innocent human blood. That he has not done so would suggest that it is not in that class of crime and therefore that it will be amenable to the laws of repentance and forgiveness."

That statement should not be used to downplay the sin of abortion.

What role will adult stem cell research play?

Please do not take anything on this post as my personal feelings on stem cell research or abortion. There will be times that I will play "devil's advocate". The only people who know how I feel about abortion are my wife and the Lord.

On a different note, Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of acting in this commercial. I think Rush went too far. The commercial was made to take advantage of Fox's celebrity status and his disease. This is evident.

However, I can't judge whether Fox was acting or not. So, I'm going to show sympathy and say he was not acting. Rush went too far.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Larry Grant's recent ad


Even though I'm not in Larry Grant's district, I've been following his campaign with some interest. As far as I can tell, his opponent, Bill Sali, is barely supported by his own party. It's interesting to me, that in Idaho, the Idaho Republican Party would have put up such a weak opponent.

Just from working for Jerry Brady, I heard that the latest poll numbers were 42 Grant (D) and 44 Sali (R)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Santorum reinforces position that crazies really do have a place in the U.S. Senate

Rick Santorum, the junior Senator from Pennsylvania, has really out done himself this time. And having out done himself is no small matter, considering this is the man who said that it was "no surprise" that the sexual abuse scandals involving Catholic priests occured in Boston, considering its liberal culture. Any how, here's an excerpt from a recent interview with Pennsylvania's Bucks County Courier Times:

Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been drawn to Iraq instead.

Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic “Lord of the Rings,” to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

Holy crazy. A three-term United States Senator folks. And coming up next, we'll hear from vice president Dick Cheney as he likens Kim Jong Il to the stinky cheese man.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Unexpected

I think that we can all agree that Fox News has a conservative bias to it. So I was caught off guard when I read this article, which was linked to from the Fox main page. It is an opinion article about Ann Coulter, and it is an extremly negative one at that. While this does not sway my opinion about Fox's leanings, it was the last thing that I expected to find on it today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dragging it back up

I found what I thought was an interesting analysis of the Clinton/Wallace spat that aired on Fox. Here it is. Thoughts? Comments?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An Interesting Read

While reading the recent edition of The Economist (a London based buisness and politics magazine) I came across an article that should be of interest to all members of the Church. It discusses how Mitt Romney would be an ideal Republican candidate for President, but questions whether or not being a Mormon will prevent that. The article can be found online here, or can be found in a September 30th-October 6th editionof The Economist.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lesson in Credibility

(I was going to post this as a comment, but just to make sure that everyone gets the point I’ve posted it here.)

To all, but especially Jensen and Cameron,

HERE IS YOUR LESSON ON SOURCE CREDIBILITY:

I’m sure that all of us here have written at least a handful of research papers in our academic careers. And in writing those papers, I’m sure our teachers told us that in citing information we must only use credible sources. No matter which way you may consider their political leaning, the most credible sources in news reporting are the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, LA Times and most major metro papers. Here are some sources that ARE NOT credible: Newsmax, TownHall.com and The Drudge Report.

So in the same sense that you wouldn’t use a quote from a blog on MySpace in a research report, please don’t use any of the above mentioned sources to support your claim on this blog. Just because something is written on the internet, or even in print, doesn’t mean that we can just take it at face value for fact. And Jensen has been so kind to have given us our first example of why we shouldn’t believe everything we read…

In one of his previous comments, he gives a link to an article written by Dick Morris on TheHill.com to support his claim that Clinton is and was nothing but a terrorist-loving, crazed, lunatic. However, if you knew the history behind Dick Morris you’d know that he has about as much credibility writing about Clinton as Hitler does writing about Judaism. You see, ol’ Dick here was a former Clinton advisor who had to resign in 1996 after getting caught in a long-time extramarital affair with a hooker who he had shared classified information with and had allowed to listen in on calls to the President. After resigning, he basically sold his soul to Fox News, where he is a constant guest (more than 400 times in a single year) often speaking out against both Bill and Hillary Clinton. In fact, Morris’s hatred for the Clintons goes so deep to have written three (yes, three) books criticizing them (one of them includes an account, which he later contradicted, about Mr. Clinton attacking him and Hillary having to desperately pull him off). Sounds like someone has some sour grapes about ending his own career after desperately seeking the approval of a prostitute.

So knowing Dick Morris’s past, a past in which he basically made a living Clinton-bashing, you, Jensen, want to quote him as a credible source to discredit former president Bill Clinton? I’d suggest that next time you check your source before you make your claim. And that goes for everyone (here’s the public service announcement): ALWAYS do a little research before you tout something out as your smoking gun.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

There Is A Reason

There is a reason Republicans win over and over again in Idaho. Well...there are lots of reasons, but one reason keeps smacking me in the face everytime I turn around. Democrats in Idaho are not helping the Democrats running for office get elected. Today I canvassed one of the more Republican areas in Pocatello. I didn't speak to that many people but the ones I did speak with had so many misconceptions about Democrats, even the conservative Idaho Democrats, I didn't even know where to begin and I really couldn't begin. I was at their door for Allen Anderson, James Ruchti, and Diane Bilyeu, I wasn't there to educate them on why I am a former (recovering) Republican and why I believe the Democratic Party is the better party for members of the Church, even though the national party supports a woman's right to choose and even though most non-Idahoan Democrats don't care if gay people get married or not.

I was elected in April as the Vice President of the ISU College Democrats. Due to a busy schedule, the President of the club recently quit. Essentially I have been running the entire club on my own for the last few weeks. There are hundreds of Democrats that attend ISU, and I would venture to say that most of the professors are Democrats and a fair number of the faculty/staff. But how many people are we getting at our meetings? A handful. The club has lots of friends on myspace and facebook, we have lots of people who say they are "College Democrats," but they don't attend meetings and they don't volunteer to help Democrats get elected. Democrats can't get elected-the party can't grow, unless we go out there and help these Democrats get elected. I firmly believe that when we fail to help a Democratic candidate get elected, we are only helping the Republican get elected. That is fine, for Republicans, but that isn't fine for Democrats! The very future of education is in jeopardy if Jana Jones doesn't win on November 7th. Yet I am not seeing Democrats out there hitting the pavement, knocking doors, and persuading voters. I have spoken to many voters, even Republicans, who fear for education if Tom Luna is elected, but these same voters aren't doing anything (besides voting, which is the most important thing to do, I KNOW!) to ensure that Tom Luna doesn't win.

So I say to my fellow Democrats, lets start working. The election is only 5 weeks away and the candidates need our help desperately. Find some candidates that you believe in and help them win. This isn't just about the future of education, this is about the future of Idaho. So get to work!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clinton slaps Fox News UPDATED

Sept. 26—This is an update from the post I wrote below. Here is a link provided by Jensen. It will take you to a WSJ editorial written by the person who authored the TV miniseries "The Path to 9/11". It's a pretty good editorial.

As I read more and more about 9/11 I'm convinced that this attention President Clinton is receiving is nothing more than a midterm election diversion. This whole, "It's Clinton's fault" is a way for conservatives who are tired with the Iraq war to displace their feelings on someone other than this current administration.

This website, Media Matters, expresses my sentiment by showing how Fox News has tried to cover up for Mike Wallace. While they are much too far to the left for my taste, they've done some excellent analysis on this subject.

While some dispute the facts behind President Clinton's statements on Sunday's interview, I think only God will know what really happened.

I have never had much love or malice for the former President, I feel that on this issue, he is right—he is being picked on, unfairly.

Well, "boo-hoo" right? Unfortunately, that's politics. Hopefully, folks will see through this smokescreen. Many will fall for this diversion, many won't, but it's never that black and white is it?

Here is a link to the Fox News Sunday broadcast of the interview. I don't know if it was truncated or not, I haven't compared it with the text of the broadcast below. Also, don't trust Fox News when it comes to written transcripts, they have a history of changing their typed transcripts from what was actually broad-casted and said. Here is an example.

Olbermann also adds his two bits to this whole drama. He goes way overboard in a lot of his rhetoric, but his overall point is correct. Here's what he had to say about the Clinton interview.

--------------

Sept. 23—I'll probably get into trouble for having a "positive" post about fmr. President Bill Clinton, but, this is a MUST READ interview.

The text of the interview is still rough and hasn't been cleaned up for spelling.

I was too young (I'm currently 24) to really understand and follow the Clinton administration. I also haven't done much reading on what he has done. However, I am an avid reader on 9/11 events, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever mistakes Bill Clinton may have made during his presidency, the trendy headlines asserting that Clinton did not do enough to catch Bin Laden are misleading and unfair.

I cannot help but think whether all of this attention towards Clinton is a political ploy using displacement to drag attention away from current events in Iraq and terrorism.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The problem with preserving and protecting our God given civil liberties is:

1. There always seems to be groups of people who want to take them away.
2. People do not tend to trust government.
3. Civil liberties and national security do not always mix.

It's a hard balance to keep. Here is an article on the subject that I found interesting.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Conformity

As a disclaimer for the following article, I would like to remind everyone that my opinion does not necessarily reflect that of the College Democrats, Church, or BYU-I. Any disagreements are to be directed at myself.

It all started over the summer when I viewed a message board comprised of BYU-I students. The subject of politics had come up and opinions were flying. I noticed something however that bothered me quite a bit. By the time I got up here for school this semester I had largely forgotten about it, until the issue raised its head again in a class room discussion (carried out over a several day stretch). It is on it that this article is about.

The issue is conformity.

More specifically, at what point do we as Latter-Day Saints exchange our personal views for those conforming to what the Church has said? We as Saints feel very strongly about agency, the right to choose, and about acting on what we feel is right. Some I feel have taken these principles too far though. In the discussions there were some who expressed that they felt that women should have the right to get an abortion anytime the wanted. There were some who felt that gays should be allowed to marry. There were some who felt that communism was the best form of government.

These conversations raise the issue: “While the Church doesn’t require us to vote a certain way, when our opinion on political matters differs from what the Church and its leaders have expressed, should we forsake our way of thinking?”

I say we should.

One of the primary reasons for our being here is to learn to trust in the Lord, and to bring our thoughts, actions, and desires in line with His. He has called Prophets in our day to guide us not just spiritually, but in a very real, physical way. We are expected to forsake false teachings that the world expounds for the truth that scripture and revelation teaches. False teachings are not regulated to matters relating to the proper mode of baptism, or the necessity of authority. They exist in science, medicine, philosophy, psychiatry, sociology, and politics (just to name a few).

When our ideas or the wisdom of the world is in opposition to what the Scriptures say, or what the Prophets (note the plural) have said, it is our obligation as Disciples of Christ to think as he would have us think. When it says, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman” what right do we have to say “I think the Church is wrong” and still call ourselves faithful members? We have none, and we stand as hypocrites.

We have an obligation to seek out the Church’s stance on every issue. Where it has taken none we must do our best through prayer and wise judgment. But where it has taken a stance we should stand by it, for no amount of false teachings or false revelation on our part will change the truth. As Elder Maxwell once said, “There didn’t seem to be any problem with conformity the day the Red Sea opened.” (http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates$fn=default.htm)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Americans falsley believe in in Iraq WMDs (AP)

NEW YORK Do you believe in Iraqi "WMD"? Did Saddam Hussein's government have weapons of mass destruction in 2003?

Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people, in their own minds, to justify the war in Iraq.

People tend to become "independent of reality" in these circumstances, says opinion analyst Steven Kull.

The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.

Despite this, a Harris Poll released July 21 found that a full 50 percent of U.S. respondents — up from 36 percent last year — said they believe Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, an attack whose stated purpose was elimination of supposed WMD. Other polls also have found an enduring American faith in the WMD story.

"I'm flabbergasted," said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.

"This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence," Massing said.

Timing may explain some of the poll result. Two weeks before the survey, two Republican lawmakers, Pennsylvania's Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) and Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra (news, bio, voting record), released an intelligence report in Washington saying 500 chemical munitions had been collected in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

"I think the Harris Poll was measuring people's surprise at hearing this after being told for so long there were no WMD in the country," said Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware.

But the Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned shells, many found in ones and twos, were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded, and they were unusable as artillery ordnance. Since the 1990s, such "orphan" munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say. In other words, this was no surprise.

"These are not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction," said Scott Ritter, the ex-Marine who was a U.N. inspector in the 1990s. "They weren't deliberately withheld from inspectors by the Iraqis."

Conservative commentator Deroy Murdock, who trumpeted Hoekstra's announcement in his syndicated column, complained in an interview that the press "didn't give the story the play it deserved." But in some quarters it was headlined.

"Our top story tonight, the nation abuzz today ..." was how Fox News led its report on the old, stray shells. Talk-radio hosts and their callers seized on it. Feedback to blogs grew intense. "Americans are waking up from a distorted reality," read one posting.

Other claims about supposed WMD had preceded this, especially speculation since 2003 that Iraq had secretly shipped WMD abroad. A former Iraqi general's book — at best uncorroborated hearsay — claimed "56 flights" by jetliners had borne such material to Syria.

But Kull, Massing and others see an influence on opinion that's more sustained than the odd headline.

"I think the Santorum-Hoekstra thing is the latest 'factoid,' but the basic dynamic is the insistent repetition by the Bush administration of the original argument," said John Prados, author of the 2004 book "Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War."

Administration statements still describe Saddam's Iraq as a threat. Despite the official findings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has allowed only that "perhaps" WMD weren't in Iraq. And Bush himself, since 2003, has repeatedly insisted on one plainly false point: that Saddam rebuffed the U.N. inspectors in 2002, that "he wouldn't let them in," as he said in 2003, and "he chose to deny inspectors," as he said this March.

The facts are that Iraq — after a four-year hiatus in cooperating with inspections — acceded to the U.N. Security Council's demand and allowed scores of experts to conduct more than 700 inspections of potential weapons sites from Nov. 27, 2002, to March 16, 2003. The inspectors said they could wrap up their work within months. Instead, the U.S. invasion aborted that work.

As recently as May 27, Bush told West Point graduates, "When the United Nations Security Council gave him one final chance to disclose and disarm, or face serious consequences, he refused to take that final opportunity."

"Which isn't true," observed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a scholar of presidential rhetoric at the University of Pennsylvania. But "it doesn't surprise me when presidents reconstruct reality to make their policies defensible." This president may even have convinced himself it's true, she said.

Americans have heard it. A poll by Kull's WorldPublicOpinion.org found that seven in 10 Americans perceive the administration as still saying Iraq had a WMD program. Combine that rhetoric with simplistic headlines about WMD "finds," and people "assume the issue is still in play," Kull said.

"For some it almost becomes independent of reality and becomes very partisan." The WMD believers are heavily Republican, polls show.

Beyond partisanship, however, people may also feel a need to believe in WMD, the analysts say.

"As perception grows of worsening conditions in Iraq, it may be that Americans are just hoping for more of a solid basis for being in Iraq to begin with," said the Harris Poll's David Krane.

Charles Duelfer, the lead U.S. inspector who announced the negative WMD findings two years ago, has watched uncertainly as TV sound bites, bloggers and politicians try to chip away at "the best factual account," his group's densely detailed, 1,000-page final report.

"It is easy to see what is accepted as truth rapidly morph from one representation to another," he said in an e-mail. "It would be a shame if one effect of the power of the Internet was to undermine any commonly agreed set of facts."

The creative "morphing" goes on.

As Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas battled in Lebanon on July 21, a Fox News segment suggested, with no evidence, yet another destination for the supposed doomsday arms.

"ARE SADDAM HUSSEIN'S WMDS NOW IN HEZBOLLAH'S HANDS?" asked the headline, lingering for long minutes on TV screens in a million American homes.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's long, but it's a must read


The demonization of dissent is tiring to me. Recently, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld carried on the political tradition of using ad hominem attacks against those who dissent.

Read his speech here.

I have no false image that this tactic is reserved to only Republicans. No, Democrats have been guilty of this poor behavior. But this administration has been particularly vehement in labeling dissenters as traitors.

It's one thing to agree with the Bush administration's policies, it's another to agree with their "below the belt" tactics of demonizing the alternative view. True learning and understanding can only occur in an environment that is safe and welcome.

Keith Olbermann recently wrote a piece about Rumsfeld's speech that is stirring. He emphasizes the importance of respectfully listening to the minority opinion and to beware of arrogance. To watch it, follow this link. The link also includes the full text of broadcast.

Jackie Groves Twilegar


  • This morning I had the pleasure and honor to sit with
    Jackie Groves Twilegar and discuss her campaign. Jackie is running for State Controller. I have been impressed with Jackie since I heard her speak at a lunch for her campaign during the Democratic Convention in June in Idaho Falls.

    Before I begin, I want to give a quick overview of what the position of
    Controller entails:

    -Handle the state's accounting and annual financial report.
    -Manage the payroll for over 26,000 state employees and pay all the state's bills.
    -Oversee the State Computer Services Center and data processing for most state agencies.
    -Hold a seat on the Land Board responsible for stewardship of Idaho's public lands benefiting public education.

    What is impressive about Jackie is not only her education and experience, but her life story. Jackie exudes integrity and the type of values Idahoans value-family, faith, and community.

    After Jackie was widowed and had two children to take care of, she created a business that allowed her to work from home so she could still take care of her children. While pursuing her MBA, she worked two jobs to put herself through school. Jackie has served her community by being active in schools and her church as well as participating in volunteer work.

    Many candidates talk a good game and they make themselves sound impressive in person, on tv, the radio, and through their campaign literature, but the best way to really gauge a candidate is not by the words they speak, but the actions they take. Jackie's actions demonstrate leadership, intergriy, and strength.

    One last thing I wanted to touch on is something that goes beyond partisanship. As a Democrat, I want to see Democrats elected. But more than seeing Democrats get elected, I want QUALIFIED people to get elected, whether Democrat or Republican. When someone who is not qualified gets elected, I feel it reflects poorly on the party itself. I refuse to elect Democrats to office who lack the qualifications needed to properly, effectively, and efficiently serve the people.

    Jackie is the only candidate for Controller who is qualified for the position. Vote for Jackie Groves Twilegar on November 7th and show candidates that Idahoans elect qualified people, whether Democrat or Republican.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Science and technology


This Friday, Gov. Jim Risch will try and pass his special interest tax shift during an expensive special session of the Idaho Legislature.

The tax shift would essential give an 18% tax break for all property owners, while at the same time raising the sales tax by 1 percentage point or 20%. This means big businesses get a break, and homeowners get the shaft.

This disturbs me on so many levels.

In Idaho, as in many other states, property tax goes to pay for education. So, under this new tax plan, financing education in Idaho would put a greater demand on sales tax.

Idaho has some of the lowest tax burden in the U.S.
Idaho has some of the lowest paying jobs in the U.S.
Idaho is one of the worst educated states in the U.S.
Idaho's tech industry is almost non-existent with the exception of Idaho National Laboratories, Micron and HP.
There are 140+ employees in Idaho government who work to assist agriculture based business. There is 1 employee dedicated to promoting science and technology.

Why do I bring all of this up? I mention these things because we should be paying more into education in Idaho! Instead, we tout our beautiful state as the state where businesses can come to use up our water, air, and land, but pay the lowest taxes. Not only that, but they don't have to pay their employees worth squat either.

Even with our ridiculously low tax burden, we still don't attract high tech industries because we don't generate a populace smart enough to work in those industries.

Under the proposed Democratic tax plan, which Gov. Risch refuses to consider, only homeowners would receive a property tax break. Under the Democratic plan, homeowners would see a larger break than under the Republican plan. Under the Democratic plan, school funding would be secure.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

GOP pays to sign up recruits


My last few blogs have been anti-Republican themed. After this post, I'll move to more pro-Democrat type posts.

Blake Roberts, a regular contributer to this blog sent me the article which is listed after these comments.

The story is basically about how the GOP in Arizona are is paying 10 dollars a head to register folks to vote as Republicans. While I recognize dirty tactics are probably used in both parties, I have to come out against this tactic. Paying people to register is only one step away from paying people to vote a certain way.

This seems to me to be counteractive to the spirit behind democracy.
-------
East Valley Tribune

The Arizona Republican Party has put a bounty on the heads of voters this year - and their hired guns are cashing in. Republicans are spending $10 for every person GOP organizations and paid strategists recruit to join the party as it looks to increase its registration edge over Democrats. So far this year, the GOP has doled out more than $300,000 to register nearly 22,000 new members, said Matt Salmon, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Although party officials have characterized the effort as a way for the state party to financially help local GOP organizations, it's been the political operatives that have really benefited.

Salmon said nearly two-thirds of all the money spent has gone to political operatives like noted Republican strategist Nathan Sproul.

Sproul, who is playing a major role on high-profile campaigns such as Len Munsil's gubernatorial race and the effort to ban gay marriages, was unavailable for comment late Friday.

But Salmon said Sproul - who was hired for similar work in the past - was the only professional he was aware of hired by the party to boost registration numbers, which he believes was necessary.

"Had we not done this, I really think we would have been overtaken by the Democrats," he said referring to state registration numbers. "And studies show that if you register someone, they will vote that year."

The latest figures from the Secretary of State's Office show there were 1,042,420 Republicans and 890,861 Democrats registered.

But with less than 82 days left until the November general election, the GOP has upped the ante for new members. About two weeks ago, it started offering $10 a head for every new voter brought into the party. That's up from $2 when the party started its efforts in the spring.

But that doesn't mean anyone who successfully recruits a new member will be paid.

Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the Republican Party, said only official GOP organizations like legislative districts or Republican clubs can receive the money.

"We're not going to be giving money to organizations called 'Republicans for Janet Napolitano,' " he said. However, he did say they are talking about paying individuals who recruit members.

Taylor also rejected any notion that the strategy of paying professionals to register members was a sign the party is in trouble. The money is a way to drive local Republican groups into the streets and increase the size of the party during a pivotal election year, he said.

This year Republicans are trying to unseat popular Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, as well as defend a U.S. Senate seat held by Jon Kyl from his well-funded challenger Jim Pederson.

Michael Fries, who is in charge of the Democrats' campaign efforts, said his party doesn't hire professionals to recruit new members. He said volunteers are the ones who recruit new members.

Fries also said he wasn't concerned by the concentrated effort of Republicans to increase their edge in registration.

"This is a campaign about talking to voters day in and day out," he said. "(Republicans) are trying to come up with a strategy that works because they don't have a good message."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Church endorsement

I was exploring the Church website when I, again, came across the following statement:

"Candidates for public office should not imply that their candidacy is endorsed by the Church or its leaders, and Church leaders and members should avoid statements or conduct that may be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, political platform, or candidate. In addition, members who hold public office should not give the impression they represent the Church as they work for solutions to social problems."

Bart Marcois, a former Bush official and member of the Church, said the political homogeny among church members negatively effects the Church's political influence.

This also causes me to recall a recent statement from the Church that said, "Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties."

Not to mention the many statements by various Church leaders that one can be a worthy member of the Church and a Democrat.

I bring all of this up partly to justify my party. But, I mostly bring it up because I have found that many Republicans justify their political party based upon their interpretation of the teachings of the Church.

This is in direct violation of the Church's statement asking us to, "...avoid statements or conduct that may be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, political platform, or candidate."

One positive, and admirable example is Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho. He's a member of the Church and he refuses to connect his decisions with the Church. In fact, if you call his office, they have a statement prepared about his feelings about the seperation of Church and state, and his belief that his politics are not a characterization of his faithfulness.

I also ask Democrats to stay away from using faith as a justification for thier political leanings. For the benefit of the Church, we should try our hardest to keep politics with politics, and faith with Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Judge nixes warrantless wiretapping

The AP today reported that a federal judge has ruled the NSA's wiretapping program unconstitutional.

I have conflicting feelings on this.

On the one hand, I don't feel government should be expanding itself to the point where it monitors our phone calls. Yet, on the other, I have to admit that it is probably an effective method of finding and preventing terrorists and terrorism domestically and abroad.

I think that part of the program that bothers me most is the data-mining. Supposedly, the program operates by having criteria entered into a computer that would then search for suspicious business. This kind of behavior smells of "police-state" activity.

Like I said, I feel conflicted. I believe when it comes to terrorism, the federal government is the best way to prevent and protect. But, I'm not sure if giving up basic rights is worth it. Will I sacrifice safety for principle, or principle for safety?

It's probably not even as simple as that.

More stories about NSA wiretapping can be found here and here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Voters must beware of Republicans' terrorism trap


by Susan Estrich

LOS ANGELES —

This is not about the war in Iraq.

It has nothing to do with Joe Lieberman.

This is the Republican trap.

Don’t fall in.

“They have tried to keep it together -- they have to make it one in people’s minds in order to cover the strategic error of Iraq,” says James Webb, Democratic Senate candidate from Virginia, and former member of the Reagan administration.

From the very beginning, the Republican slip of hand has been to convince people that the war in Iraq was the answer to 9/11.

It wasn’t. It isn’t. It never was.

It isn’t the answer to British hijackers either.

This really has nothing to do with the war in Iraq. It needs to be said over and over.

It’s the distraction from focusing on airline safety, on Usama bin Laden, on America’s true enemies. It’s one of the reasons we are so hated around the world.

“The war in Iraq had nothing to do with the war against international terrorism, or very little to do with the war on terrorism,” Webb says in interviews. “It has distracted our attention, it has pulled our forces in, and we are now in a situation where we have 135,000 on the ground, which affects our ability to do a lot of things that we would be able to do otherwise.”

Being anti-war has nothing to do with being soft-on-terrorism or ready to lead the world in dangerous times.

Being anti-war means having the resources we need to fight terrorism effectively.

No party is in favor of taking bombs on airplanes. As to whether either party is better at keeping them off, we are likely to hear more about that than we care to.

The Republicans have only one minor advantage left in the polls. They are now trailing on everything – starting with the war in Iraq, and then continuing on with the economy, the environment, health care, foreign policy-- in some cases well into the double digits-- with the only exception being terrorism. And their lead on terrorism is quite small.

So what do you do when you’re leading on exactly one issue?

What do you do when you have a slight winner and a loser. The loser, of course, the big loser, is the war in Iraq. You marry them, of course.

This is the August surprise. It’s what they have to work with, and they will try to milk it for all it’s worth.

They will try to connect Lieberman’s defeat with the attempted hijackings and say that the Democratic Party is being hijacked by the anti-war, anti-defense (pro-terrorism) crowd. Have you ever heard of anyone who was pro-terrorism? Who wanted to spend less on airport security? Who thought planes were too safe? What could be more ridiculous? But that will be the line.

What Dick Cheney started on Wednesday, saying that Lieberman’s defeat suggested the Democratic Party was not prepared to lead in dangerous times, was just the beginning.

Who is going to let them get away with it?

Say it ain’t so, Joe. Wouldn’t that be a classy gesture? You know it’s not true. They’re saying this about your colleagues of decades standing. Joe Lieberman himself should stand up to that kind of talk. If he fails to, he will continue to lose the respect of his former colleagues and supporters, voters included.

This is what happens when you turn your back on your party. Then others attack your party and they come to you and ask you what you think. And moments like these will define Joe Lieberman as much as his run for the vice presidency did.

His decency is on the line now as much as it has ever been. He knows better. This is another occasion for Lieberman to distance himself from his fellow Democrats, another step in his losing his Senate seat.

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

All things old are new again.

A small debate raged across my mind today concerning what topic this post would be about. I had two in mind, I settled on this one. Since I am absent from Idaho for another three weeks, I apologize if my posts stray at times from more traditional or local democrat topics. I do my best, I can only try harder.

I’ve had to face the sad realization over the last ten months that my political ideology is on the way out in this country; indeed, in the world. The National Republican Party is moving further and further into the sphere of the neo-conservatives, for which I weep. Gone are the discussions of reduced government spending, state’s rights, individual responsibility, and government minding its own business. Republicans now are doing the exact same thing they once accused democrats of, pandering instead to business then tree huggers, and offering just as many entitlement programs.

The worst part of it is that this is what the people want. For me, the true dawning point was the backlash towards the executive branch over Katrina, with the nation angry for their slow action in a situation that I feel the President had no authority to be involved in (send the hate mail, I don’t care).

But, there is a silver lining on these dark clouds, one that flirts of a future that may or may not be. It is no secret that the Democratic Party is the progressive party. They seek for change and growth, while Republicans seek to uphold the status quo (which has now shifted so far from what my ideal is that they are liberal to me). One says things are broke and need fixing, the other says they are broke because of unneeded fixing. It is for that reason that I wonder if the Democrats will one day be the new Republicans.

If society continues to grow and change, with the Democratic Party continuing to be “progressive” and the Republicans continuing to uphold the status quo, then it is possible that one day the Democrats will clamor for change towards smaller government, while the Republicans cry for standing by the current system. We know that political parties change ideology over time, the question is, do they move in a never ending line or in a circle? If it is a circular pattern, and the Democrats remain the flag bearers of change, then it would be they who would arrive there first. Just as the original colonists who rebelled from Britain were considered to be radically liberal for overthrowing the established order of things in favor of the smaller government we once had, perhaps they will call for that change again (hopefully without bloodshed this time).

It would not likely happen until long after I’m gone, if it does at all. But the hope glimmers for me; maybe one day I will find reason to be a democrat.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Otter grilled for lack of leadership

With the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) and the Owyhee Initiative (OIAA), two bills which help protect Idaho public lands, Butch “C.L.” Otter has been absent from some of the most important debates facing Idaho. After his initial silence, Otter revealed his objections to any public land protection. In the past week, Idaho newspapers have not overlooked Otter’s weak leadership on the issues. “Butch” Otter.

From the Idaho Falls Post Register (08/03) :
Whatever it is, he’s against it by Marty Trillhasse

“Butch Otter tends to keep his mouth shut, apparently hoping to cruise to election victory this year on the strength of his Republican credentials. With good reason. When he speaks, he gets into trouble. Last week, he lobbed a political hand grenade at fellow Congressman Mike Simpson’s Boulder-White Clouds wilderness bill just as it passed the House.

Otter may not like wilderness as a general rule. So it’s no surprise he came out against it (even though he missed the vote). What counts is how he opposed it. Boulder-White Clouds is Simpson’s signature bill, not some obscure budget measure. So you’d think Otter would tell his partner in the House early and forthrightly if he had problems with the legislation.

Presumably they’d find a way to agree — or at least an agreeable way to disagree. Instead, Otter waits until the eve of the House vote — July 23 — to tell a Custer County audience he’d oppose it.

Simpson found out the next day and the voters were told a few days afterward.”


Congressman Simpson published his response to Otter’s opposition to protecting wilderness in the Spokesman Review on 08/06 and in the Post Register on 08/04:

Excerpts: “With the U.S. House passage of the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), Idaho is one step closer to realizing the benefits of the most important piece of public lands legislation proposed in the last 25 years. Having authored this legislation, I feel compelled to respond to comments made by… Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter to clear up any misunderstandings about CIEDRA.”

“In a recent editorial printed in the Idaho Statesman (July 27), Otter's staff was quoted as stating that one of Otter's concerns is including "release language" for lands that aren't included as wilderness. This statement is difficult to understand since 131,600 acres of wilderness study areas are released from their current status and put back into multiple use. Moreover, under CIEDRA, there will not be a single acre of land in the Boulder-White Clouds managed as wilderness study area.

As for the Sierra Club's and Otter's concerns for the fate of traditional users, they should read the bill.

CIEDRA does not create a motorized playground and it does not eliminate motorized use. CIEDRA locks in motorized use on almost all of the trails and snowmobile areas used today. It comes as close as possible to maintaining the status quo for future generations to use and enjoy. CIEDRA has garnered the widespread support of local and statewide officials including the Custer County and Blaine County commissioners, East Fork ranchers, Sen. Mike Crapo, Gov. Jim Risch, former Govs. Cecil Andrus and Dirk Kempthorne and former Sen. Jim McClure. They understand the importance of passing CIEDRA so that Idahoans, rather than the courts, decide how our land is managed.”

“This legislation is anything but a "rush job." It has been in the works for more than six years and written in bill form for more than three. I can understand that some people are unwilling to compromise and respect their reasons for that position. I am open to criticism of CIEDRA and the constructive dialogue that criticism can generate. But I'm not going to sit back and just listen when I hear… a congressional spokesman make accusations that are inconsistent with reality. To do so would be a disservice to the public and future generations of Idahoans.”

Lastly, Congressman Otter seems unable to work with Republican colleagues in resolving his concerns about protecting Idaho wilderness lands. From the Statesman and the AP (08/04):
“Crapo's bill (Owyhee Initiative) is the second Idaho land-use measure to be put before this session of Congress, joining a House-passed measure sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson that would create 315,000 acres of new federal wilderness in the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains in central Idaho. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter hasn't read the Owyhee bill yet, but said Thursday that he's already expressed his concerns to Crapo. One of which is to ensure the bill is explicit that any land released from wilderness could not be redesignated. A spokesman for Sen. Larry Craig said the senator hasn't seen the bill and has not been involved with its development. Gov. Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson said Wednesday they support the initiative.”

Former Governor Andrus characterized Otter’s absence on protecting wilderness when he said: “Congressman Otter has never shown the grit for real leadership. He’s never tackled a complicated issue or done the hard work of compromising and working out what’s best for Idaho.”

“Jerry Brady is the man I trust to protect Idaho’s heritage,” Andrus said.