Western Wednesday Roundup

The Hill has a good article on Walt Minnick, the conservative Democrat that briefly held a congressional seat in Idaho:

Minnick left a legacy in Washington and the nation through his work in the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration while serving as Nixon’s staff assistant. Minnick still sees the agency as “a useful domestic solution to dealing with the drug issue.”

The DEA has, over the years, shifted its focus from treatment and prevention to law enforcement, he said.

Minnick explained that the agency used to “spen[d] $2 on treatment, prevention, and education … for every dollar that we spent on law enforcement reducing supply.” Currently, that ratio is reversed.

“As long as we have demand, drug-dependent users, there’s so much money serving that demand that no amount of law enforcement is going to prevent access,” Minnick said. “There is more bang for your buck educating kids … that it’s a poor lifestyle choice to become dependent, and if they do become dependent, finding ways to kick the drugs.”

Also during the Nixon administration, Minnick showed his independent backbone.

He was driving into the office on Sunday, Oct. 21, 1973, to finish a briefing book for a Monday drug policy meeting.

“I flipped on the WTOP news radio and [heard],” Minnick recollected.

Nixon, the evening before, had fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed by the attorney general to probe the developing Watergate scandal. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned in protest. The incident has gone down in history as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Minnick also resigned.

“I pulled up to my parking place and as I was walking in I said, ‘There isn’t going to be any meeting tomorrow, and I can’t work for this president anymore.’ ”

Minnick replaced Bill Sali, who amazingly found himself too conservative for one of the most conservative states in the country (or at least the half of it that comprised his congressional district. The course of nature righted itself, however, and Minnick was defeated two years later by Raul Labrador.

The browning of Idaho could help turn the state more purple, at least in theory. It does have a pretty long way to go, however.

National Journal looks at former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Schweitzer was extremely popular in what’s a traditionally red (or at least reddish-purple state) and helped keep statewide governance in Democratic hands even on his exit and despite the state going significantly for Romney. However, Schweitzer is the kind of candidate a party nominates when they’re afraid of losing. Democrats are getting used to winning.

A remarkably bright kid in Montana decided that he would make his case against gun control by shooting up a school with a regular gun (as opposed to an “assault weapon”). That… would not have had the desired effect, I don’t think.

Here are some great pictures from North Dakota’s oil boom.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. Interesting slides from a presentation by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources here (PDF). As I read the presentation, the department is forecasting that the peak in production will occur within a couple of years, and a long slow decline will begin at that point, unless the rate of well drilling and completion increases substantially. The shape of the curves shown in the forecasts is consistent with models of fields where the wells have very high decline rates — after a short ramp-up period, you have to “run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place”. And if there’s a steady decline in the quality of the wells, even that’s not good enough.

  2. The slideshow from the North Dakota oil boom is particularly interesting to me. I was struck by the odd pattern of the oil fields illuminating the night sky in the satellite picture, and the dreary uniformity of the “man camp.”

    At the same time, a sort of tired optimism seems to be on the faces of most of the oil workers photographed — I real into their faces that these are guys working hard but they’re convinced that they’re putting in what’s needed to get ahead in life.

  3. Minnick got that seat because NOBODY could stand Sali, as far as I recall…
    (granted, I was listening to kos, and you were there… but… there were some priceless quotes).

    • Sali was a candidate in Idaho running and legislating for a Mississippi electorate. He might have gotten by in Idaho’s other (Much more Mormon) congressional district, but not that one.

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