Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Pope, a President, and a Day in History

I'm still not feeling on top of my game, so this may be a short little post. I just wanted to announce the decision in the Vatican today. Yes, they have chosen a new pope. Pope Benedict XVI will be Pope John Paul II's successor. He is German and seventy-eight years old. I don't know too much about him yet, but hopefully when I'm feeling better I'll be able to post more important details on the matter.

Also, today is the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. I always find it so strange that there are "anniversaries" for such tragic days in the history of this nation. But, I am surprised that it has been ten years. I was in the fourth grade that year. I, an aspiring short story writer at the time, wrote a little story about the children who went home that night without their parents. I don't have that story now, but I thought about it often in the days following 9/11.

I watched President Bush earlier this week speak at the dedication of the Lincoln library and museum. Today I watched President Clinton speak at the First Methodist Church in Oklahoma City (on CSPAN of course). What vast differences there are in those two men.

That year was very strange, the year I ended 4th grade and began 5th. Both personally and nationally. That year brought the O.J. Simpson trial, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and the drowning of two small children by their mother, Susan Smith. There are times in this nation's history when you can't help but wonder how this nation, as civilized and prosperous as it is, can see such evil and tragedy.

I never cease to be amazed by this nation.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Golf and a Sinus Infection

My apologies for an entire week off from the blogging world. I've been feeling a bit under the weather for the last several days and school is just crazy. We've hit that point in the semester where it is sink or swim. For the next four weeks I'll be pretty busy with papers and whatnot, but I will try and post as time permits.

The other day in my Vietnam War class we were watching a film about the Tet Offensive and it was showing President Johnson playing golf in the United States as the events were unfolding in Southeast Asia. I thought that was interesting as in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 President Bush is playing golf (I believe he is asking someone, presumably of the press corp, to "watch this drive"). I was wondering what it is about American presidents that leads them to the green when the world is otherwise chaotic. Kennedy played golf occasionally during the Bay of Pigs ordeal. Kennedy, with back problems, and much weighing on his mind, played golf. Odd.

I'm not a golfer so maybe that is why I don't understand it. I once went golfing and was pretty bad at it. I went with Sen. Marley, who was my bishop at the time, and he said I could hit straight, but never short. Putting just wasn't my idea of a good time. Baseball...now there's a real sport!

Anyway, sorry for the random post today, like I said I'm a bit under the weather and haven't paid much attention to the news lately. All there seems to be is Michael Jackson, the unethical pursuits of Mr. Tom DeLay, and that no good Yankee, Sheffield. Slow news week I guess.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Funerals, Weddings, and Favorites

The other night I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. (local time) to watch Pope John Paul II's funeral. It was absolutely amazing! Though the only station I had covering the pope's funeral was the German News Network, despite watching it in a foreign language (a language that I have only a minor grasp on), I was amazed with the emotion and the outpouring of love by the Catholics as well as the rest of the world. As soon as the College of Cardinals selects the successor to John Paul II, I will comment.

I was also watching with less interest the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla. It disgusts me, to be honest. He carried on an affair with this woman for many years before divorcing his wife and now he decides it is time to marry her?!?! Royalty is much different from the lives we lead, but I think the actions of Prince Charles are inexcusable.

Also, I added another link to a list I created on Amazon.com--- this time it is my favorite poems (it was a little more complicated to construct than a list of my favorite books). Maybe in the next week or so I will create lists for my favorite movies and cds. But...this week should be a rather crazy one with lots of papers to write and books to read. Be patient. And until then, have a lovely week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Bellow and Jennings

The Washington Post is reporting that the legendary author Saul Bellow died today at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts. As non-political as this may seem, I have followed his work closely in studies of the 1960s and have always been a fan of his finest work Herzog. Bellow's character Herzog is one of my favorites, second only in American literature to Holden Caulfied in Catcher in the Rye.

Another bit of news is Peter Jennings announcement this evening that he has been diagnosed with lung cancer. With the recent departures of Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather from the major network news, Jennings' announcement may cause a shake up in the media. Of the anchors, Jennings has always been my favorite. The only voice I remember hearing on 9/11 is Jennings. He is an amazing man and as Brian Williams said tonight at the closing of the nightly news, there is no greater competitor than Jennings, but also no better colleague and friend. Good luck, Mr. Jennings.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Happy Opening Day!

It seems with so much death in the news we all needed something a little more happy to talk about. It is officially opening day of the Major League Baseball season!

I was reading in The Washington Post this morning that the RFK stadium opened yesterday for the Washington Nationals exhibition game--- a few slight problems with the stadium, one man got stuck in the turn-style (someone hadn't forgotten to unlock it) and several of the stadiums employees showed up to the wrong places instead of their designated concession stands. But, I'm sure the game was great!!

The AP is reporting this morning that the first steroid suspension was issued to the Devilray's outfielder Alex Sanchez. I sure hope the steroid hype slows and we can watch some quality baseball this season.

Anyway, if nothing else we can all hope for another Red Sox World Series!! (But, of course I'm in it for the Braves!)

Sunday, April 3, 2005

The Passing of an Icon

There are few more recognizable individuals than Pope John Paul II; his passing yesterday at the Vatican is certainly one of those moments when we realize, as a society and as the human race, we have lost a legend.

Though his conservative views were a bit controversial and his papacy most recently has been plagued with scandals within the Catholic Church, the Pope has remained a beacon of hope and a strong advocate for peace. In his life he made significant contributions in the efforts of advancing human rights and for the first time, maybe ever, in the Catholic Church, began soothing the ill-feelings of anti-semitism.

Elected by the College of Cardinals in 1978, Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in nearly 450 years. His experiences in WWII and the Holocaust, as a young man in Poland, brought a sensitivity and consideration to the papacy that the Church had not seen in many years.

I am not Catholic, but I can understand the magnitude of his passing and respect the millions of mourners world wide who have lost a dear part of their lives.

Karol Józef Wojtyła
(Pope John Paul II)
5/18/20 - 4/3/05

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Shades of the Forties

** Editor's Note: I'd rather not post in regard to Pope John Paul II until the Vatican formally announces his death which, unfortunately, is inevitable--- Just so you all know that I have not overlooked it.

I enrolled in an Idaho Politics class this semester for one reason...Richard Stallings. Stallings is a former Idaho Congressman, currently serves on the Pocatello City Council, and was recently chosen as the chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party. What I didn't know was how entertaining, informative, and amazing the class would turn out to be.

Recently, we addressed the scandals of Idaho politics. It actually began as a commentary on the 2006 governor's race, but just as always, we lost sight of the topic at hand. The scandals began as we discussed our current governor, Dirk Kempthorne. News to few, Kempthorne, while serving as a Congressman in D.C. had an illegitimate child. His asked him to come back home to Idaho (it slightly reminds me of the Bowling for Soup song, "Ohio, Come Back to Texas." Needless to say, the marriage is "rocky" and yet Patricia remains by his side and is one of the most vocal in the fight against breast cancer.

Kempthorne's term is up next year and the race is interesting. Last week Jerry Brady, who ran against Kempthorne in 2002 and did rather well, through his hat into the ring. 19 months before the general election!! Consulting with Stallings, Brady decided to get a head start for fundraising purposes. It's that old belief that if you get started first you will eliminate the competition before they can even get started. Brady's biggest advantage will be who he chooses as his "running mate" (the lt. gov. does not run on the ticket with the governor in Idaho, but supporting a good candidate for lt. gov. would greatly benefit any chance of a liberal win). But, what Brady wasn't expecting was who his competition would be within his own party-- none other than Clint Stennett. That probably means nothing to anyone, but Stennet is currently the democratic minority leader in the Idaho State Senate. Stennett, recently while I was writing letters to everyone and their dogs about tuition, wrote me a very eloquent letter that I will forever keep. He is strong candidate except...there is a major beef between Bonneville county and Blaine county.

If you know anything about the political makeup of Idaho you know that Blaine County is predominately Democrat (the only county in Idaho to go with Gore in 2000) and Bonneville County since the late 40s has been predominately Republican. If a Democrat hopes to win a statewide race it is an unwritten rule that they must get above 28% of the vote in Bonneville County. Clint Stennett, reigning from the Ketchum area really doesn't stand a chance in Bonneville County. The one thing Stennett has working for him is the area in which he is based. The Ketchum/Hailey/Sun Valley area raised a great deal of money for John Kerry last year and could be a great political asset for Stennett.

On the other side of the fence is an interesting race as well. Kempthorne is done when his term ends which leaves no incumbent for the governorship. But Lt. Governor Rische seems to think he has it wrapped up. (19 months before the general election!) Rische's competition? None other than the current U.S. Congressman C.L. "Butch" Otter. Otter who has done relatively well in his bids for Congress has a slight problem...DUIs on his record. In Idaho you have to win the Mormon communities to win the election and not only does Otter have a drinking problem, he is Catholic. 2 strikes against him in the southern portion of Idaho. I'd imagine he will concentrate his campaign efforts in the northern part of the state. Rische is not likes my the main Republican party and has a reputation of having a mean streak. This will work against him, as will Otter's ties to the J.R. Simplot family. You would assume that the congressman would have the aptitude to beat the lieutenant governor, but here's the catch: Senator Crapo is dying.

Sen. Mike Crapo has, as I have said before, been a level head in politics. I like him mostly for his stance on the "human issues" that I am so attached to. Though very conservative, he has been very popular among the Democrats (how ever few there may be) in the state. In the 2004 election, he ran unopposed. He was the only U.S. senator to run unopposed. Senator Crapo was diagnosed with prostate cancer several years ago, went into remission, and it has come back. He is undergoing chemo treatments every day and from what I have heard looks as if he has aged 25 years in the last few months. His staff is expecting him to live through the end of his term.

So what does this have to do with anything? His death will leave a vacancy in the Senate that only the governor has the power to fill. The governor, being a very young man with lofty political ambitions, could very well seek that position, resign as governor, and have Lt. Gov. Rische appoint him to the U.S. Senate. This has happened once in Idaho. In 1945, Governor Charles Gossett, faced with the vacancy left by Sen. Thomas, resigned as governor, and had Lt. Gov. Arnold Williams appoint him to the vacancy. This threw off not only the power in the Senate, but brought the first Mormon to the governorship in Idaho. If this were to happen today--hypothetically if Kempthorne were to resign, he would easily be appointed to the vacancy and would be successful in the next election. His resignation would bring Lt. Gov. Rische to the forefront and in the 2006 governor's race would leave him as the incumbent and virtually unbeatable. This could force Otter into political obscurity.

Whether or not Kempthorne would want the senate seat isn't really a question. He's been in Washington before. But he doesn't really like being a little fish in a big pond. He's much rather be the big fish in a little pond. The real question is whether or not Rische would turn on Kempthorne and not appoint him. It would be political suicide, but he is VERY unpredictable.

I never realized that Idaho politics could be so exciting! This class has given me a great deal of insight into the one-party system that plagues Idaho currently. It has also been helpful as I hadn't had a formal Idaho History lesson since the 4th grade. If any of you ever get the chance to take a class on the history and politics of whichever state you are from, I would certainly encourage it. Also, if you ever get a chance to take a class from a former congressman, take that opportunity. It is a wild ride!