Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jennings Loses!

Tom Ridge has resigned as Secretary of Homeland Security, I'm deep in Holocaust research, but KEN JENNINGS HAS LOST! Jennings who has appeared 74 times as the Jeopardy! champion lost today. I just can't believe it!

(CULVER CITY,CA) November 4th, 2004 — JEOPARDY! champion Ken Jennings has officially established himself in the archives of television history as the All-Time Top TV Game Show Winner in the world. Last night, Jennings won an impressive $45,099, bringing his grand total to date to a whopping $2,197,000, and launching him past the previous record of $2,180,000 set by Kevin Olmstead from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2001.

Internet rumors were speculating that Jennings would end his run as champion somewhere near his 70th appearance. Though I've missed only maybe 10 of his appearances, I made sure to watch this week as we all knew it was inevitable. He walked away today with over 2.5 million--- WOW! He certainly took Alex Trebek's new challenge and ran with it. This season the gameshow ended their long standing rule that after 5 straight wins and changed it to "the sky's the limit." Jennings certainly shot for the sky!

Okay, sorry I just couldn't let this one pass. If I get overly ambitious I'll post a little something about Tom Ridge. If I don't get around to it I must say I hope that with his departure will come the departure of that stupid color coded terror alert system!

Friday, November 26, 2004

The Nightly News

With the announcement of Dan Rather's resignation at CBS News and tonight's special on the departure of Tom Brokaw from NBC News, I felt it was only appropriate to take a moment to remark on the ever present influence of the media, particularly the voice of the anchor, in our homes and in our lives.

The rivalry is quite intense when you think about it. At one network you have Peter Jennings, the only voice I remember hearing on 9/11. On CBS you have Rather who most recently became known for the Rathergate scandal, but who is also known for his hot-headed antics. Then you have Tom Brokaw, who seems to be the level head in it all. The voice we remember most in presidential election years. These men have been in on everything since the Kennedy assassination. But in it all they've been very gracious. Rather said he'd wait for the big hoopla for his departure..."Next week should be Tom's week." Despite their differences, I think it's safe to say that Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather hold each other in the highest respect.

And for what it's worth, Walter Cronkite, the anchor of all anchors in my book, thinks the trio have brought in more viewers and again placed importance on the trust of the American people (...maybe we could omit Rather from that one). To receive kudos from Cronkite is like the holy grail of journalism. The nightly news will surely miss Rather and Brokaw...as will I. Jennings has to step up to the plate and the replacements will have some pretty big shoes to fill themselves.

Monday, November 22, 2004

11.22.63

"From time to time, as additional classified documents are released, new fuel is added to a flame of mystery that seems to burn as eternally as the monument on President Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery."*

Random acts of violence can and will change the course of history. Was this the case 41 years ago when John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas? We may never know. We may never know if there were two assassins. We will never know what Oswald knew. We will never know, had Kennedy lived, what the outcome of Vietnam would have been. There are so many questions his death left unanswered.

It is the mystery that leaves us asking. How did a man, a poor marksman, an unstable mind, armed with a $12 rifle, bring down the prestige of what is now known as Camelot? For the average American, it is unimaginable that one man under those circumstances could have brought to an end an administration of talent, youth, and hope. In 2003, ABC conducted a poll---40 years later 2/3 of Americans felt there may have been a conspiracy involved with the assassination of Kennedy.

I've been to Dealey Plaza. You can't help but marvel at the intimacy of the space. You can't help but look to the 6th floor window and wonder how one man could have done so much. $12.78, the price of one rifle, the price of one moment, the price of one nation in complete turmoil, the price of one life...$12.78, the price of tragedy.

Conspiracy or not, the death of Kennedy changed our nation. Like the events of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we were no longer invincible. We will never know what a second term would have done for this nation. He may have sent advisors to Vietnam, but would he have gone the route of his successors? Would the deaths of RFK and Martin Luther King followed?

When I think of all the questions, finding no answers, I think of how much Kennedy changed this nation. There was an energy in the White House that we'd never seen before. There was an interest in politics that we'd never seen before. There was so much hope. With him died the traditional ideology of the Democratic Party. With him died the truth. What was killed in Dallas wasn't just Kennedy, it was the hope driving a nation.

*Assassination: The Politics of Murder

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Preoccupation and Politics

So I've been very preoccupied this week--I apologize for leaving you all hanging, but hope you all took a second to check out Uncle Orson's site. I love it, have I mentioned that?? Here's one of those random posts of the political happenings I'm following. It's not as interesting as my little historical rants or philosophies, but it's news (however late it may be):

Colin Powell Resigns; Rice Appointed:

This liberal thinks this is a great move for both sides of the isle. Judging by the outcome of this November's election we all know that it will take a great deal of reorganization for the Democratic Party if they plan on ever getting back into the White House. With Powell stepping down as Sec. of State, there is a good chance he could run in 2008-- obviously as a Republican, but he's very moderate. A good choice for both parties. AND, Condie Rice is one of the smartest, if not the smartest, women in the world. Though she tends to side with and support Cheney, this is a grand slam for the Republican party (we'll see what it does to the African-American vote) and for the Bush administration. No matter what party, having a decisive and consistent State Dept. is serious business. Not that Powell did a poor job, but if you want countries to respect your president, you can't send an ambassador/diplomat who doesn't necessarily agree with him.

By way of cabinet changes, this one didn't really surprise me. We all saw it coming at some point. The other new resignations-- Veneman, Abrams, Paige...nothing too surprising. I'm sad to say it would be a step up for the Dept. of Education to have a new leader even though we need a lot of consistency if we ever want to see No Child Left Behind succeed. But you just can't expect that from a guy who referred to the NEA as a terrorist organization. In the coming weeks we'll most likely see Ridge and Thompson depart. Oh how I wish for Rumsfeld to surprise me, but for now he'll be around a while.

Don't Make Rules You'll Have to Break:

This is certainly not Fox News...at least it isn't "fair & balanced." It goes without saying that I don't like Tom DeLay. Never have, probably never will. But I do find it very ironic that the Grand Ole Party made the rule that those indicted for criminal acts could not hold House leadership positions...in effort to defeat the attempts of the Dems to regain control of the House...and now they're changing the rule because their own beloved Tom DeLay has broken the rule. Political corruption is political corruption. Then again if political corruption were a "burned-at-the-stake" offense, we wouldn't have any politicians.

If you really want to know my opinion...I'm going to tell you even if you don't-- I think DeLay needs to go the way of Trent Lott, bye-bye. If only we could get DeLay to say something as tactful as Lott did at Strom Thurmond's birthday party, we'd really be in business. Stating your opinion about segregation gets you axed, but committing a criminal offense gets you party support and new rules-- What a Grand Ole Party it is!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Uncle Orson is Great!

Okay, so my good friend Cory has me hooked on a fine website. Uncle Orson Reviews Everything is GREAT! And to make it even greater, this week Orson Scott Card reviewed Ray, the new Ray Charles film that I love so much.

I don't have a lot of time to post right now, but I wanted to share his review with everyone...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Yasser, Yusuf, and Scott Peterson

For English 102 I've been working on a research project. I promised I wouldn't post until I got that paper handed in. Okay, so the event of John Ashcroft's resignation was the only slip-up...but the paper is done and handed in. YIPPEE!! Here are a few of the stories I've been working on, but haven't been able to post on until now (and it was just killing me!):

Arafat dies in Paris hospital, Buried in Ramallah--
In the last several weeks we had heard that Yasser Arafat, the controversial Palestinian leader was dying of some mysterious disease. He was admitted to a Paris hospital and it was announced that he was in the final hours of life.

There were stories of a Palestinian uprising if Arafat were to die, there were bizarre statements by Arafat's wife that they were killing him and that they were going to bury him alive as he wasn't really dying, and then of course the burial that had to be done within 24 hours of his death...
Arafat died Thursday (3:30 am Paris time) at the hospital in Paris. He was buried today in Ramallah after a funeral in Cairo. He wasn't buried where he wanted to be, he wasn't buried alive, and he was not buried quietly. No, quiet is definitely not what happened. I was watching the funeral at 4 this morning and I was amazed at the unbelievable amount of tension and the huge amount of people.

It was definitely an experience of a lifetime. The last big funeral I watched was Reagan's---what a vast contrast!

Cat Stevens Receives Peace Award--
Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev awarded Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) with the "Man for Peace" prize at a global meeting for Nobel Peace Prize laureates on Wednesday. How ironic...

If you remember in September, the flight from London Stevens was on to America was grounded and he was deported back to London for being on the Homeland Security Department's no-fly list. (Also remember I was a bit irritated.) I just don't understand how you can tie Cat Stevens to terrorism. He's a peace activist for crying out loud! But as Gorbachev stated,"Cat Stevens' life has not been simple. Every person who takes a critical stance to make the world a better place...has a difficult life." Let him in America.

His recent award only strengthens my belief that Yusuf Islam is not a terrorist-- and never was. I bought a Cat Stevens CD today...

Scott Peterson Found Guilty--
Now there's some good news. The biggest trial of my life next to the trial of O.J. Simpson (and with a much better outcome than that of O.J.) neared an end today as Scott Peterson was convicted of 1st degree murder for the killing of his wife Lacey and 2nd degree murder for the killing of their unborn child.

Peterson faces the death penalty in the state of California...something I am quite against, but I'm pleased that he was not only found guilty, but found guilty for both murders. That is a huge accomplishment for the judicial system.

Better late than never. It has been two years since Lacey Peterson disappeared. Justice was served today.

Okay, so that's the rundown for the week. There are some promising stories coming up about the Bush administration cabinet changes, but for the moment I don't know anything solid. (I'm expecting the departure of Rod Paige, Tommy Thompson, and would expect some sort of plan regarding Colin Powell soon.) I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Don't Let the Door Hit You On the Way Out!

Yippee-ki-yi-yea...get lost little doggie. It is official, John Ashcroft has resigned as Attorney General of the United States. Yahoo! News is reporting that Ashcroft made his resignation announcement today-- along with the Secretary of Commerce Don Evans.

His resignation letter, dated November 2nd, said that "nothing in [his] life compares to the high honor of serving America as Attorney General..." Yet due to health problems, a removed gall bladder earlier this year and an unimaginable amount of stress, Ashcroft decided it was time to part ways with the Bush administration.

Ashcroft also stated: "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved. " Are you kidding me? If this were truly the case why does the terror alert level keep going up and down?

The PATRIOT Act will be up for review soon, it will have to run through Congress, so I expect we haven't seen the last of Ashcroft. Obviously, I'm a bit excited about this departure. It will be interesting to see if Powell, Rumsfeld, Ridge, and Snow stay on board for the next four years. Says quite a lot about an administration if half the cabinet is leaving...

But then again it says a lot about a man if he loses a congressional seat to a dead man.


Sunday, November 7, 2004

Ray

In the early 60s while on tour and scheduled to perform in a "Jim Crow" establishment, Ray Charles did the unthinkable...he refused. Refusing to play for a segregated audience, Ray Charles got back onto his bus and drove away. Not into the sunset. He wasn't praised, he wasn't congratulated, he was persecuted.

Following his refusal to play, he was banned from the state of Georgia and was labeled "radical." The state of his birth, both physical birth and the birth of his musical talent, rejected him.

Friday night I went to the Pocatello opening of Ray. Alone with seven other individuals in the theater, I laughed, I cried, I cheered. I imagine those seven other people must have gone too because they loved Ray Charles. We were certainly not disappointed.

In the greatest role I've seen him play, Jamie Foxx did an unbelievable job of playing the greatest musician of all time. His quirks, his mannerisms...they were perfect. If Foxx doesn't earn an award and a great deal of prestige for this role I will be surprised. He was amazing!

As I sat there I began to realize that unless you walked in loving Ray Charles, you may not have walked out with a change of heart. The movie addressed his drug addiction. The movie addressed the immorality so present in the lives of musicians. But despite the reality of Ray's mistakes the movie also presented the poverty, oppression, and disability that plagued Ray Charles at a young age. His story is truly motivational.

Sitting there I thought a great deal about talent. My Ray Charles Philosophy kicked into high gear and I was hit with the reality of what great opportunity comes with talent. And behind that opportunity follows a great responsibility. Despite the adversity of his past, Ray Charles made his future surprisingly prestigious and successful. He made the choice to use his talent in a positive way, directly and indirectly affecting many people.

In 1979, Ray Charles was issued a formal apology from the congress of the state of Georgia and Ray's greatest hit "Georgia On My Mind" was proclaimed the state song. He was finally applauded for his impact on civil rights legislation and will forever be remembered for waling away instead of feeding in to and wrongly supporting segregation.

Inherently Unequal

(Editor's Note: This is the segway into two upcoming posts I am writing dealing with segregation.)

In the course of history, we as a nation have rarely agreed on a single issue. From the morality of Roe v. Wade to the constitutionality of Brown v. the Board of Education, we all have conflicting views. This occurence once again and to this day presented itself in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. It is an argument worth fighting every step of the way. As Chief Justice Earl Warren stated following the ruling of Brown: "We conclude that the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Segretation is, in every sense of the word, discrimination.

We cannot look at a man, regardless of the color of his skin, equally if he must be bussed to another facility designated to those of his skin color. We cannot ethically declare equality if two men of opposite skin color cannot drink from the same water fountain. Within the fourteenth amendment is room for speculation. "No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Constitutionally this means no person, government, business or any other organization has the right or power to segregate any group of people for reasons of race, color, religious preference, or gender. Maybe mypersonal interpretation of the constitution is a bit altered, but honestly, I do not see two sides to this argument. Segregation is discrimination.

Due to the formal and informal amendment process, Plessy v. Ferguson has been overturned. Through the Supreme Court's decision on Brown v. the Board of Education, we have realized and included in our governing that segregation is not equality and anything other than equality is discrimination. Chief Justice Warren was correct in concluding that the doctrine of 'separate but equal' no longer has a place in our society, but how do we make that up to the men and women of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Jackson who were sent to separate schools, delegated harder labor, and expected to drink from other drinking fountains?

Friday, November 5, 2004

Widening the Horizons

As you may well have noticed, I don't always stick to the topic of politics. I actually spend more time writing about education, history, and Ray Charles...So I've decided to widen the scope of my blog from strictly politics to the more random happenings of life. No, I will not sit down and write my random thoughts for ten minutes a day, I just need a little more flexability. I need that flexability to prevent the guilt that often accompanies my more off-the-wall posts.

Hopefully you all won't mind too much. Maybe it will widen readership and attract more comments. (Not that this back and forth conversation with Mr. Speth isn't great...) I'm not sure I will be writing reviews, look to Coryspot for that, and for the most important political news keep tabs on Nick's Daily News...but if you want to know how I feel about Rosa Parks, the new Senate Minority leader, and of course Ray Charles, keep reading!

I will stick to my guns regarding the topics I swore off. The Kennedy assassination, abortion, etc. Expect more of the same-- a little politics, a lot of history, and a few of my bizarre philosophies!

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Oh What A Night

Wow! What a night. Currently I can't comment on the presidential election as there is talk of Kerry contesting Ohio (which was projected by NBC as a Bush win). Somewhere in the back of my mind I had this utopian ideal that somehow, by some random chance, The Sunshine Boys would pull through this and win. Again, we have to wait, but I'll everntually come to terms with the loss...sort of.

Of course Kerry didn't take Idaho, nor Bannock County, had he, hell would have frozen over...Lin Whitworth didn't take Congressional District #2, what a brave and noble man he is for running a campaign he knew he stood no chance of winning...and the most amazing happening of the night--The "Bannock Six" is no longer. There are now five Democratic legislators from Bannock County. (Rep. Allen Anderson was defeated by Ken Andrus--go figure) For quite some time there was talk of only 4, but Bert Marley by some miracle pulled through. For a moment there, Bert was only ahead by 13 votes. 13 VOTES!! Unbelievable. But, as it stands Sen. Malepeai, Sen. Marley, Rep. Boe (who won by the greatest margin), Rep. Smith, and Rep. Martinez will be returning to the statehouse.

A couple of other interesting national races. Shout outs and congrats to Sen. Barabra Boxer (D-California), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Barack Obama...the underdog in the Illinois senate race, Sen Evan Bayh, and Sen. Byron Dorgan. But maybe the most interesting is the senate race in South Dakota. As of this moment, with 92% of the precincts reporting, the Minority Leader of the Senate, Tom Daschle is losing his seat by nearly 5,000 votes. There are going to be some very interesting changes coming soon to the Senate. (Overall the power didn't shift, but the leadership certainly will.) I'll keep you posted on that.

This has been one crazy night! It started at 8am when I went to the polls and it is certainly not over yet for any of us. We may not know the outcome of the presidential election for some time as again we find ourselves facing a contested election. We can only cross our fingers at this point...


Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Election 2004

Last minute thoughts, key races, and a day that could possibly change the world...or at least U.S. foreign relations. I have a few last minute comments before we each set out to vote today--

First and foremost I must make my final push for Sen. Bert Marley. All over Idaho the Marley/Frasure race is being closely watched. "The Marley, Frasure race is highlighted all over the state. You've got two proven war horses with proven track records. Both of them have won repeatedly, and they're tough" (Kent Kunz-Bannock County Republican Party Chair). Both are strong politicians-- but Marley is clearly the better choice. Serving on JFAC, Marley has continued to battle for ISU funding. He has strong values and understands the ethics that should not be lost in the political process. It's frustrating that the area most influenced by Marley doesn't have the chance to vote for him. ISU lies in District 30, Marley is running in District 29...Nonetheless he is the strong choice for state senate.

For my lovely English 102 class, Dr. Walter assigned "The Declaration of
Independence" for reading homework. Honestly, I rolled my eyes, but her timing couldn't have been more perfect. As I sat reading it last night and the night before (both the original draft and the final copy) I came across some interesting statements:


"He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with
manly firmness his invasions on the rights of people."


"He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

"He has combined with others to subject us to jurisdiction foreign to our
constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws."


Funny how the words once used to establish reason for revolution and independence resemble the actions of our current president and his policies. (The second statement made me think of the Dept. of Homeland Security) "A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

Enough said. It wasn't Fahrenheit 9/11, Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, or The 9/11 Commission Report that changed my mind...it was The Declaration of Independence. Go figure. That's the power of English 102!
Get out and vote.