Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

** Editor's Note: The West Wing will resume next Sunday, January 8th, at its regular time with the vice-presidential debate. A post will inevitably follow.

As I was driving home a few minutes ago (yes, early for New Year's Eve, but just in time to be to home/work by 10:30, which I will say I'm not too happy about), having just smoked the guys in Battle of the Sexes with my own WWII knowledge and an exceptional accumulation of western movie trivia, I thought I better send a shout out for the new year. I'd say don't drink, but undoubtedly some of you will, so I'll only request that you don't drink and drive. If you're in Pocatello give Denny's Wrecker a call and they'll even tow your car.

Usually on New Year's Eve I have a full list of ambitions for the coming year, but for the moment I don't. I'm not sure if that is because this year was a rollercoaster and I've given up planning for things that won't happen and have learned that the unexpected things come whether you want them to or not or maybe because what's ahead is foreign. Whatever the case may be, Happy New Year from The Political Game and best of wishes to you in all of your endeavors!

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Cowboy, Cassia County, & The Constitution

Tuesday morning on the Zeb Bell Show, Zeb asked Wayne Hurst (the chairman of the Cassia County Republicans) why the United States Constitution is not being taught in our schools.

Now, the motivation behind Mr. Bell's question has a long history, a history that residents of Cassia County are quite familiar with and a history that I personally have had a run in with. And when I say "run in," I mean like the head-on collision I had with a guard rail on the interstate two years ago that left me with cracked ribs, a mangled car, and an outrageous ambulance bill. The motivation behind Mr. Bell's question is pretty simple--he despises teachers. Having lived in Cassia County for a good chunk of my life, Zeb Bell's radio show was nothing new to me. I had listened several times over the years as he ripped apart teachers for what they were teaching in the classroom and for what they were not. I had listened for years to a man dead set on running the reputation of public education into the ground and frankly, I had had enough.

There is this part of my brain that operates on its own terms in situations where I have clearly had more than I can take. When that part of my brain kicks into gear I am capable of amazing things. When I have had enough I am ruthless. So I wrote a letter to the editors of both the South Idaho Press and the Times-News. I truly did not expect anything to come of that letter, but much came of that letter. I was slaughtered on Zeb's show. His overall perception of me was that I had been handed everything all of my life and did not understand sacrifice. He spoke about Vietnam and friends he lost there. He explained to his audience that he understood what true sacrifice was and that I was clueless. He also made a statement regarding the fact that my mother taught in the school district and I was coming to the defense of teachers either at her request or she had written the letter. His comments could not have been more off base. Yes, my mother taught in the Cassia County School District, but not even she knew that I had written the letter. At that time I may not have even been living at home. Yes, I have been blessed to live in a time without a draft and will never fathom the sacrifices that came with Vietnam, but let me assure you, I know what sacrifice is. Nothing has ever been handed to me. I have worked for everything I have and have never accepted anything on a silver platter.

That day in a maximum of thirty minutes, my name went out on the airwaves in disdain, and yet just as quickly I was defended by another radio personality in the area, I saw a letter to the editor from my English teacher's husband in praise of my own letter, and most importantly gained the respect of every teacher in Declo High School. The day that Zeb Bell took it upon himself to criticize a high school senior who sought only to praise the efforts of underpaid and underappreciated teachers was the day I became a true advocate for public education.

Tuesday it was my former high school government teacher who informed me of the happenings on the Zeb Bell show. Mostly because his own name came up. Wayne Hurst knew, just as well as I know, that not a single student has gone through Declo High School without being taught the Constitution. Not one. If they have they never showed up to class. Even today, three years out of high school, I know the Constitution. I know the Bill of Rights. I know that section one of the 26th amendment provided me the right to vote following my 18th birthday. I know that the only reason that Mr. Bell is able to get on a soapbox while on the air and rant about what a poor job he thinks teachers are doing, teachers who everyday teach in classrooms that are poorly supplied and struggling due to budget cuts and unfunded mandates, is because the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution allows him to do so.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New Favorite Website

As you all know, I'm well a freak about history. I love This Day in History posts just as much as I love to read lists about events for whatever date I choose. So, today I stumbled across a site that I love! The BBC On This Day website is now my newest favorite and a new edition to my sidebar links. Hope you all can appreciate it as much as I do.

I'm headed out of town today (mostly because I've run out of books to read and after seven days of being sick in bed, I'm a bit stir crazy) and will be back tomorrow night. Until then, check on the BBC, these guys know what's up.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Prayer for Christmas

May the Christmas season bring you all much happiness and peace. May the season remind us of our blessings, our duties, and our Savior. Merry Christmas!

By Maya Angelou

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give all the
world that which we need most--Peace.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Saturday Smorgasbord

Since I have been away from the blog for a good week, it is Saturday, tomorrow is Christmas (a day I dread more than any other day of the year), and simply because I can, I've decided to post a smorgasbord of thoughts, comments, and of course lyrics.

Recently I was looking at all of the blogs registered with Blogger out of Pocatello and came across an interesting one... it hasn't been updated recently, but is worth a look. There were only a handful of posts, but the girl caught my attention when she called herself an "undercover liberal." Don't all liberals in Idaho feel that way at times?? Check out Life in Pokey, it's worth a minute of your time.

Today I drove to Blackfoot to visit my grandparents, even though they are so close, and we're in the same business, I rarely see them and regretfully don't take the chance often enough to sit and down and really chat with them. It was a good thing to do for Christmas Eve and it was an enjoyable few hours. What was also enjoyable was my drive. Usually I will do anything to get out of driving to Blackfoot. I find it to be the most boring drive EVER. Short, yet boring. But, possibly because tomorrow is Christmas and I am operating on auto pilot, I enjoyed the drive due to to one song.

If I had to pinpoint my single favorite song, something that is a monumental task for me, it is... drum roll please..."Drops of Jupiter" by Train. Now, we're speaking only of songs written in my lifetime; On the top ten list "Drops of Jupiter" barely makes it.

As promised, the lyrics to my favorite song (written by Pat Monahan):

Now that she's back in the atmosphere,
With drops of Jupiter in her hair,
She acts like Summer and walks like rain,

Reminds me that
there's time to change,hey
Since the return from her stay on the Moon,
She listens like Spring and she talks like June, hey

But tell me,
did you sail across the Sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the
lights all faded?
And that heaven is overrated

And tell me, did you
fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss
me while you were looking for yourself out there?

Now that she's back
from that soul vacation,
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey,
She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-bo,
Reminds me that there's
room to grow, hey

Now that she's back in the atmosphere,
I'm afraid
that she might think of me as plain ol' Jane
Told a story about a man who is
too afraid to fly
So he never did land.

But tell me, did the wind
sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the
light of day,
And head back to the Milky Way?

And tell me, did Venus
blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And did you miss
me while you were looking for yourself out there?

Can you imagine no
love, pride, deep-fried chicken?
Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you're wrong

Can you imagine no first dance?
Freeze dried romance five-hour phone conversation
The best soy latte
that you ever had and me

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day,
And head back toward the Milky Way?

And tell me did you sail across
the Sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded?
And that heaven is overrated

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were
looking for yourself...?

And now you're lonely looking for yourself out


Any given day I could go off on a rant about Cuba, why should today be any different?

Castro may be right on the money when he says President Bush is "very much a fool." The United States, citing a longstanding embargo on the communist country of Cuba, will not allow the Cuban team to play in the World Baseball Classic.

Cuban Jose Contreras just won a World Series ring with the champion Chicago White Sox and the Cubans can't play in the Classic? I guess all I'm sayin' is the United States has an embargo on Cuban goods, can you place an embargo on baseball players? And the "World" Classic... Since when did the United States own the world?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Game, The Name, and Leo

Being deathly ill is an interesting position to be in. You notice things that normally wouldn't catch your attention and ignore things that would on any other day irritate and annoy you. Today is day seven of being sick and let me just say I have done my fair share of noticing and ignoring.

I have watched three whole seasons of The West Wing in the last seven days. Mostly out of boredom and the need for something to occupy my mind, but also because I have been thinking a great deal about John Spencer and how his passing will affect the dynamic of the show. I've come to the conclusion that Leo McGarry was the central character, next only to the President. His hand was dipped into almost every storyline and his presence was well known and respected.

How I hadn't noticed before is beyond me, but after watching season two, I have decided that the only other person that understands and appreciated the following quote by John Kennedy as much as I do is President Bartlet (or shall we say Aaron Sorkin, the writer):

The political world is a very interesting life. It allows the full use of your powers. First, there is the great chess game. It's the battle, the competition. There's the strategy and which piece you move and all that.

Until I re-watched a season two episode titled "The War at Home," I hadn't taken into account the great respect President Bartlet has for chess as it pertains to politics. When I began this blog I named it "The Political Game" because of the Kennedy quote. I am not very good at chess, but I can appreciate it's meaning and significance. In the episode, when Leo informed President Bartlet that they had lost this one and he responded by saying they had lost it six moves ago, that's when it clicked. That was the moment when I realized I hadn't ever noticed the connection between chess, the quote, and my favorite television show. It is no wonder that I like The West Wing so much.

Since I watched the episode I have been thinking a lot about the blog, mostly about my seven day absence, but also about how I had chosen that lighthouse template after having completely ruined my patriotic theme with too much tinkering. The template was meant to be temporary and now I have a new revamped blog. One that more clearly represents the meaning behind the title and one that I think I am satisfied with for the time being.

One last comment on the passing of John Spencer. In that same season two episode, Leo says something to the President that I think may have been the moment, if the jury was still out at that point, where I decided that Leo was my favorite and the star of the show.

If I could put myself anywhere in time, it would be the cabinet room on August 4, 1964 when our ships were attacked by North Vietnam in the Tonkin Gulf. I'd say 'Mr. President, don't do it. You're considering authorizing a massive commitment of troops and throwing in our lot with torturers and panderers, leaders without principle and soldiers without conviction, with no clear mission and no end in sight.

If there was ever any question at what point I was sold on the greatness of The West Wing and that Leo McGarry is the central character and my personal favorite, if I had to pinpoint it, that would be the moment.
John Spencer
1946 - 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Goodbye, Leo

**Editor's Note: Having survived a sinus infection, I was told today that I have bronchitis. I will be away from the blog for a few days.

I also just learned that John Spencer, Leo on The West Wing, died today of a heart attack at the age of 58. ABC News has a detailed story here.

I'd imagine Santos will replace Leo (who I assume the writers will give a similar fate to on the show) with Josh as VP. Wouldn't that be interesting?

A phrase from The Man In The Iron Mask comes to mind..."All my life, all I wanted to be, was that man." Everyone in the Bartlett administration feels that way about Leo.

Judge Randy Smith Nominated to 9th Circuit

I just heard on the news that N. Randy Smith from Pocatello has been nominated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals...I haven't looked into the latest announcement, nor do I have the energy to entertain such an idea, but here is a link to an article I read last week about this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What I Needed Today

**Editor's Note:

I honestly don't know how I missed this...Hugh Sidey died. Today I was reading a magazine when I came across, in the December 5, 2005 edition of Newsweek, an announcement that he had passed away. I looked at The Washington Post and read the official announcement dated November 22, 2005. An ironic date if you ask me... For quite some time now I've said that I want to be to Kennedy what Sandburg was to Lincoln; a new voice for a new generation, but really when it comes down to it, I'd sell my soul to have been to Kennedy what Hugh Sidey was. From Eisenhower to Clinton, Hugh held the presidency in the highest regard and with the greatest respect. I am almost embarrassed that I didn't know he had passed away.

Today has been a humdinger of a day. Finals, this killer headache, and stress that shouldn't even exist have me worn out. So instead of developing a post or just not posting I wanted to share (for the second time) a post from a year ago. I can't even remember what was going on in my life then that had me thinking about the Ray Charles philosophy so intensely, but I know today when I went back and read that post I was impressed, relieved, and hopeful again.

A Non-Political Philosophy
Originally posted 10/22/04

I've mentioned my Ray Charles philosophy, credited to the greatest musician of all-time, before, but I've added something new: Not only do we each have one certain talent, beyond the talent of another, that will benefit those around us, we each have an obligation, a human obligation to one another. How we treat each other is so essential to my coveted Ray Charles philosophy, I just hadn't realized how important until this week.

A fact of life is that there will be adversity. We will encounter obstacles and we will struggle. Some obstacles we will encounter often. "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.*" But in those obstacles the talent, opportunity, and potential within us remains. We are when we come out of it, the person we were when we went in. More experienced, more self-aware, perhaps stronger, but nonetheless, the same. Do not lose sight of the person you are or the talents you have simply because one person failed to respect their human obligation. There are both positive and negative ends of the spectrum-- you will also encounter individuals who unbelievably step in when the rest of the world seems to step out. For the one person this week who did everything in her power to tear me down, there was one who lifted me right back up and helped me to remember that it is possible for others to have faith in my potential.

When I listen to Ray Charles' music I get goosebumps. I've heard others say they do as well. If people we know indirectly can have that kind of an affect on us, imagine what kind of an affect we have on those we interact with directly. Our human obligation is to treat one another with humanity. If each person felt obligated to practice humanity, imagine what realized potential would be out there.

"Some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.**"

No one has the right to stifle another's potential or greatness. How's that for a non-political post?
(Quotes:*Lady Margaret Thatcher,** Washington Irving)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blogs...via Idaho

Hey, just a quick note... The Idaho Statesman has an article about Idaho bloggers that is pretty sweet! It also gives a listing of political blogs from the Gem State. I was contacted last week by Greg Hahn and was thrilled to give a little input... A little disappointed that I was listed as posting on "JFK-centric history" as I think there is a lot more to me than that, but hey, I'll take it.

Anyway, I'm in the thick of finals week at ISU and have been fighting off a sinus infection. I'm taking a short break from cramming tonight, but will be diving right back in bright and early tomorrow for a 7:30 a.m. final. YUCK!

Posts I have planned for over Christmas break include a deep look into Idaho State University, certainly some commentary on The West Wing, and will quite likely at least mention how much I hate the holidays. I expect a mellow Christmas break from school and don't have much planned. A trip to Declo might be in order and my good ole friend from Moscow is coming for a visit. Things are a little thick on the homefront right now, which honestly leaves me a bit irritable in my disgust, but this too shall pass. I'm too damn stubborn to let it get the best of me. Thanks to a lovely biography of Adlai Stevenson I've learned that not letting yourself be defeated is one of life's greatest triumphs. I've learned in the last few months that a person needs to be more concerned with their character than their reputation. Reputation is merely a reflection of what others think you are however wrong they may be.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Wedding (TWW)

Josh, of course they want Leo. He's only the best of the best. Is it just me or has this campaign season been unbelievably long? Get on with it already. Don't get me wrong, I love Martin Sheen and in his case don't want term limits, but it is time to have the election. It is time for a new president. Who will it be? My money is on Santos. Mostly because they spend far more time on the young Democrat and if they (the writers) want to draw in some more younger viewers it would be a wise choice. I love Alan Alda, though. As do most post-M*A*S*H junkies.

They'll stick with Josh. Leo will step it up. Josh will step it up. You know, maybe that ever present backpack is weighing him down.

Let me just say the Will/Kate dynamic has been a long time coming. Enough said.

In my humble opinion, the writers have done a wonderful job of drawing various audiences. With Santos they get the younger females (the non-intellectuals...can't believe I just said that), with CJ Cregg and Kate Harper they draw in a substantial number of more intellectual females (young and old) who are impressed with the independent, strong woman persona, with Leo and the President they get, well hell, who don't they get? They get old presidential junkies who have watched Sheen in the Kennedy flicks and a few viewers who just think Leo's it. That would be me. With Josh, Will, and I'd say Sam (gee, I miss Sam) they pull an odd array of viewers for a combination of reasons. And Charlie. With Charlie they get a black audience, a young audience, a mesmerized audience. A young kid, mom killed in the line, came for a messenger job and became the President's wingman...what's not to like? Kudos to the writers.

The father/president challenge always fascinates me. When the President Bartlett temporarily resigned when Zoey was kidnapped I was amazed and tonight again, as he yelled at the Chinese ambassador to shut up and let him walk his daughter down the isle, I was yet again impressed. It would be hard to be a father and the President of the United States. It is hard to define the end of one and the beginning of the other.

Last and certainly not least... Leo made a quip about Illinois that I'd like to clarify. At first I was confused as to why Leo would say the party had not contested Illinois even during the Eisenhower run. Why wouldn't the party contest Illinois in 1952 or 1956? They had a candidate from Illinois. So I looked into it... Democrats didn't win Illinois in '52 or '56. Surprised me. And I'm still confused. Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson won Illinois. Why wouldn't the party contest Illinois? I guess that's just one of those questions I'll never know the answer to.

Pretty good episode. Would have liked to see a little more of the wedding, but all in all not too bad. Mrs. Bartlett however looked a little like a disco ball.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Man Worth My Admiration

I, strangely enough, have favorite years in American history.

One such year is 1968 when Senator Eugene McCarthy (not to be confused with Sen. Joe "Witchhunt" McCarthy) pulled out a surprising 42% of the vote in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary against sitting president Lyndon Baines Johnson. 1968 was a turbulent year in this country. The Chicago Convention and the riots that followed. The assassinations of both Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. And of course that unbelievable moment in March when due to the shock of Senator McCarthy's strong showing in New Hampshire, President Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

Former Minnesota senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy died last night at the age of 89.

There are certain people I admire for their ability to continue after loss. Adlai Stevenson challenged the great General Eisenhower not once, but twice and still continued on to the 1960 primary and to serve in an ambassadorship to the United Nations. Eugene McCarthy ran for president a remarkable five times and even continued to run for public office into the early nineties.

There are images burned into my memory that even as a recollection give me goosebumps. One such photograph is from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Entering through an old service entrance surrounded by an entourage of bodyguards, Eugene McCarthy had ducked down to miss being hit by a shoe that you can see has hit the wall to the right of him. It is an amazing still and one that represents the chaos of Chicago.

Today I would like to commend Mr. McCarthy for his service to this nation in a time of unparalleled confusion. His anti-war message was a a wake up call to the Democratic Party, pushed Senator Robert Kennedy into the race, and I think singlehandedly brought the end of the Johnson administration. Because I have very little use for the 36th President of the United States, other than an unbelievable amount of respect for his pushing and passage of the civil rights legislation and recognition of Carl Sandburg, had I been there that 1968 night when the New Hampshire numbers rolled in, I would have cheered for Senator McCarthy.

Eugene Joseph McCarthy
1916 - 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

In the Beauty of the Lilies

Saturday mornings there is this lovely little program called BookTV on C-SPAN. Very rarely am I awake enough to concentrate on the wide array of guests, but this morning I was up unusually early and have had the privilege of watching John Updike.

A friend of mine has trouble distinguishing between John Updike and John Irving, almost as much trouble as I have remembering the works of James Fenimore Cooper, but for me there is one thing that sticks out about Updike that keeps him in my mind separate from Irving and his contemporaries-- "in the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea..." Updike admits to having an obsession with this phrase from the beautiful and moving "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe. It is the title of one of his many novels and appears in many short stories.

For me I understand this obsession clearly. I have from the first time I ever heard "Battle Hymn of the Republic" been engrossed in the idea behind another of Howe's key phrases: "As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free." I think of the phrase often in times of great leadership and crisis. I think of the phrase always during state funerals and especially while watching the funerals of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and William H. Rehnquist.

Even on a Saturday morning when I had wished to be sleeping, I can appreciate the talent and beauty of John Updike's work. In the Beauty of the Lilies... go find it. It is worth your time.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Leahy, Reid, Feingold, and Craig?

A thoughtful and heated post is in the works, but for the moment I wanted to share this story that has me puzzled.

This morning there was an article in the Idaho State Journal about the current Patriot Act legislation which led me to be baffled for much of the day as to why Senator Larry Craig of Idaho would be included in a list of the most liberal senators in Washington, D.C.

It just isn't everyday Larry Craig and Patrick Leahy turn up in the same sentence. Much less in the company of Dick Durbin, Ken Salazar, Russ Feingold, and Harry Reid.

Click here for more on this story.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Yes, it's a long way to go, but in the meantime...

I despise Yoko Ono.

There, that's the only explanation as to why today is not a TDIH post.

It is the 25th anniversary of the murder of one of my all-time favorite musicians, John Lennon, but frankly, I have other things on my mind. I'd love to stay and chat about Strawberry Fields in Central Park or my favorite songs, which I kinda did in my title, but I can't. I don't have time.

I am reading this amazing biography of Adlai Stevenson and Cary Grant will be on TCM at 10pm in North by Northwest. Oh and there's this funny little thing called finals week...

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

TDIH: Pearl Harbor

There's more to this day than quoting FDR. More to it than illustrating the similarities between December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001. Far more to it than the sixth grade history lesson level knowledge we have of it. And yet, there are those who know nothing nor care to know about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that forced the United States into World War II.

I wasn't originally going to post on the Pearl Harbor anniversary as I've gone a little crazy on TDIH posts of late, but today as I was leaving a wonderful class where the professor truly cared and wanted us to care about the historical significance of Pearl Harbor, I heard someone mutter something about just because the professor is old enough to have been there, why should we care? Now folks there's not much that will make my blood boil, I get mad and get over it usually in the same breath, but there are a few really important things that I won't let slide. When my trumpet-playing brother is in danger I forget that I am a pacifist, when people dismiss or disrespect my love, trust, or friendship I won't stick around to put up with it, and when I hear someone ignoring their duty to history like today, I won't drop it. There are some things I don't take lightly, those three are on the top of my list. Why should we care?

This is why we should care...

Very rarely in American history have our core interests been violated. The British invasion in 1812, the Civil War, Pancho Villa invading New Mexico, and 9/11. Those are the only times in American history that stick out in my mind as moments of serious threat to American core interests. Pearl Harbor was a shock to a nation. The government knew that war with Japan was inevitable, but the disconnect between what the elites knew and what the general public knew led to the mass shock sustained that Sunday morning in 1941.

Following Pearl Harbor came the U.S. entrance into WWII, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, relocation camps across this nation for Japanese Americans (including one near my home town), and an overall shift in American foreign policy. Why should we care?

I am often irritated my senseless comments from classmates, but never before have been so disgusted and embarrassed by one comment. We should care that 64 years ago our nation was attacked because just 4 years ago we saw that type of mass destruction and devastation in New York City. More than anything I was disgusted with that one student because he too lived through 9/11 and should have grasped the seriousness of such an attack. We are our history. What has happened is part of our lives. Our duty to history is to remember the events that define a nation. We are to learn from them. We are to tell our children of their significance. And when one very well-meaning professor stands up in front of a college class on a day that could have spent reviewing for a final to tell that class about Pearl Harbor, it must be important, not just to him, but important to us being Americans.

Monday, December 5, 2005

On A Monday

My little brother plays the trumpet. Why do I point this out? Yes, it is even slightly random for me, but here's the story... This morning I was lying in bed (or I should say the couch after having tried the chair, the bed, and the couch hoping for sleep to overtake me) and I could hear Coltrane playing in my head. Coltrane plays the saxophone. Yes, I know. I play the saxophone. Where is this going? I do have a point, I promise. So my little brother plays the trumpet and loves John Coltrane. I had never thought much of Coltrane. Honestly, I love Louis Armstrong. Why? I have no idea, but there is something in his trumpet playing that soothes me. Maybe if Armstrong had been playing in my head I would have actually fallen asleep at some point.

So, the point of this is... the Marshall Public Library here in Pocatello has an entire CD collection. I scope it out pretty regularly when I stop in. Today I stopped in. This is odd for a Monday. Saturday is the most likely of library adventure days, but today I needed a library day. Mostly because I thought they'd hunt me down at some point, being that the Kennedy and Khrushchev book that I have been reading (the one that has inspired such off the wall posts lately) was overdue. Anyway, I scoped out the CD collection and there was this lovely John Coltrane CD sitting there as if for some reason it was meant for me to find. I came home, stuck in the CD player, and there it was #4 "Just For the Love." Had I not listened to this CD today I would have continued on attesting to the fact that I had no Coltrane piece burned into memory. But...NOT TRUE. There in my memory, hidden away like so many other bizarre things that sometimes resurface (often in the form of The Who lyrics), was this lovely piece by Coltrane. I'm sure my little bro is thrilled I announced to the world that he plays the trumpet...

He, the district wrestling champion, would probably stop strutting for just long enough to tell you that I played the tuba once and was horrible at it and played the baritone for months and never could pick up a trumpet and play a scale. Which I'd imagine is the reason I admire Louis Armstrong so much and added to about a gagillion other reasons think my little bro is pretty "sa-weeeeet."

Next on my much needed adventure to the library--still in the CD section--was a face I recognized. There it was on the shelf, Kristin Chenoweth: Let Yourself Go. For those of you who don't know, and I don't blame you for it took me several minutes to put the pieces together, Kristin is the newish face on The West Wing who is nowadays Leo's sidekick. I think when CJ took Leo's job as chief-of-staff after his heart attack and Toby (notice the correct spelling) stepped into CJ's old job and Chenoweth became the communications director. And she can sing! It's amazing. Not necessarily my type of music, though I don't know what my type actually is, but it was interesting to listen to and quite impressive. Let's just say CJ Cregg singing "The Jackal" has nothing on Kristin.

Next exciting encounter-- I checked in my overdue books and this lovely little man who is always there when I am asked me how my paper turned out. It seems he always knows I've written a beastly paper when my books are late. Actually we usually discuss whatever it is I'm up to when I check the books out in the first place, but it just so happens this last time 8 books on the Mediterranean Sea gave away the fact that I had a term paper to write for my Geosciences course. After our discussion about my writing projects he said he had found something great for me. Now when a librarian who knows me as well as this guy says he's found something great for me, it's the most wonderful surprise. I was thinking a new Kennedy biography would be great, but I'll have to pass because I do have finals to study for, but then he handed me the book and I just wanted to squeal right then and there in the library. Somewhere in stacks of books that no one ever looks at, let alone ever checks out, was a biography of Adlai Stevenson!!! Let's just say I was excited and leave it at that.

So, on a Monday it was a great trip to the old town library. And on a day where I vacuumed up my cell phone charger that will never work again, shredded I'd say at least a thousand papers, cleaned the most disgusting room I have ever seen in my lifetime, ignored a throbbing headache that's been silently building for a good 8 months, and somehow survived on an hour of sleep for like the fifth time in as many days, that's not half bad. Thank everything that is holy for the public library!

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Undecideds (TWW)

Honestly, I'm not sure what tonight's episode was titled. I at some point read the word "undecideds" and thought it was an awkward word with an unusual spelling. I could look at the NBC website, but my sleep deprived mind would rather not mess with a site that always wants me to download Macromedia or something of the sort. I really should be sleeping, but knowing I'll be awake again in an hour or so I thought I'd delay the inevitable and give my commentary on tonight's episode. And let me just say it was refreshing to have TWW on again! Frankly, Cold Case on CBS was wearing on me.

I often wonder how The West Wing has stayed afloat without writer Aaron Sorkin. It is missing something very important. Don't get me wrong...I like it, I like it a lot...but an essential element or timing is gone that once existed. Tonight it was nowhere more evident to me than Will planning Ellie's wedding. Though I love Will and I think his character has a charming geekiness, was there nothing better for him to do than go through the entire list of wedding invitees?? Granted, CJ was quite wrapped up in the China/Russia/Pakistan dilemma. It is Pakistan isn't it? Too many weeks away from the hour drama and I had almost forgotten that there had recently been an assassination.

So what I'm not saying is that really my problem with the wedding plans is the simple fact that it is Ellie's wedding and not Zoey's. I like Zoey. I like Charlie. See? In my humble opinion I just feel that if a Bartlett daughter is going to get married in the White House it should be Zoey (and of course her marrying Charlie because that French kid was a piece of ...), not the lesser known daughter who happens to be pregnant. Hell, the other daughter would have been a better choice, but then again her character is played by Annabeth Gish (of the last seasons of The X-Files and I am biased). The wedding should be nice next week and hopefully no catastrophe will keep the President from his fatherly duties.

Santos can climb out of a hole just as quickly as he can dig it. It may never cease to amaze me that his character is at times so naive and arrogant and then so humble and considerate. His "speech" in that church was amazing. How can you bridge a gap between two people in one speech? Sending a presidential candidate to a church in LA hoping to bridge a gap between Latinos and blacks is like sending a rookie in to hit against The Rocket in the World Series. There is not much hope there. And gaining votes is about as likely as getting an accidental walk. Not gonna happen. Santos does a nice job of playing the common man card even though I despise men/women who use Dr. King in a speech hoping to bridge a racial gap.

Two more things about Santos and I will move on... perhaps his wife is my problem. She's too frumpy. She's young, blonde, and I would suppose attractive, yet she doesn't stand out. She isn't the typical candidate's wife or not in comparison to recent real-life wives. She's no Elizabeth Edwards I guess is what I am saying. She needs to step it up. She detracts from his strength and charisma. And she's got big shoes to fill. West Wing fans have grown to love and appreciate the zeal of Abbey Bartlett (Stockard Channing). Last comment on Santos--or shall we say the Santos/McGarry ticket-- Leo looks awkward in a church. Not that I thought the roof would cave in or anything, but a white guy in a black church with numerous known indiscretions just struck me funny. I feel bad for Leo. It would be hard to have had such an amazing career as the wing man for a guy you love, admire, and would do anything for and then have to move on knowing every other candidate will never be Jed Bartlett. If Santos wins it will be interesting to see what happens with Leo, if he'll be a kick-ass VP or if he'll leave the office entirely. In earlier seasons when Leo looked at the President you could see the loyalty, trust, and undying admiration in his eyes. Leo doesn't have that look when Matt Santos is in the room.

At this rate I might just be here all night---

Tobey. A few weeks ago I had a little marathon. I can't quite remember what episode it was, but Tobey said to the President: "There's no one in this room that wouldn't rather die than let you down." It still is a shock to me that Tobey was the man at fault in the leak case and even more surprising is that he no longer works at the White House and can't speak to his friends. Josh was not the best representative to seek Tobey out. I half expected them to duke it out in his living room. Wouldn't be anything new. Bottom line---Josh admires Tobey. Cynical, ruthless, and angry Tobey.

Last and certainly not least, CJ Cregg is amazing. I have determined the reason for which I can't stand Commander-In-Chief with Geena Davis-- she doesn't have the clout of Chief-of-Staff CJ Cregg and never will. If Geena Davis could walk into a room the way Allison Janney does, commanding the same respect without reaching for it, then I might think "Hillary in the White House" (as one guy calls the new CBS drama) was worth an hour of my time. Not that in my sleeplessness I don't have all the time in the world...

Now that I have rattled on and feel like Andy Rooney (random commentary on meaningless things with no apparent solution), I will call it quits for the night. Lucky for you all I don't want to explain to you the brilliance of Orson Scott Card, as proven in his recent article, or why people shouldn't make overly long biopics of men like Johnny Cash and all his failures when I'm already sold on his unparalleled talent.

Friday, December 2, 2005

Endless Nights, Endless Forks In The Road: Part II

After the death of President Kennedy, the Soviets ran Nikita Khrushchev out of power and into the ground. I doubt it was entirely the death of Kennedy that caused it, but Khrushchev always believed without that connection and relationship, he had nothing to offer the Soviet Union. Khrushchev didn't just lose power, Brezhnev and Kosygin banished him from inner Moscow and took away his home. The other night when I couldn't sleep and couldn't help but think of Kennedy and Khrushchev, I made a promise to myself that I'd never let someone drive me from my passion if I held the power to stop it. I wondered today if Khrushchev ever regretted his choice to work with Kennedy rather than ignore diplomacy and directly aid the rise (and fall) of communism in the Soviet Union. I wonder if he ever felt the road he chose was the road that would defeat him, or if he just accepted the outcome as fate, destiny, or really bad luck.

All of my life I have been surrounded by a population of people that I love. I have worked in group homes for developmentally disabled adults, I have lived in those group homes, I have coached Special Olympics for years, and in my own family have always known the privilege and challenge that comes with the disabled. Currently I work for a home that I love. In the last few months I have grown to hate the bureaucracy and the tension among staff, but have never once stopped loving the residents. They are like family and I treat them like siblings.

When I went to Ohio I was on a scholarship to study special education. When I came back to Idaho and started at ISU, I was a declared special education major. It wasn't until the moment I sat in a room at the College of Education to take the Praxis test that I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was the familiar road, the road I knew with my eyes closed, and the road I didn't want to take. Special education for me will always be the road not taken.

For the last week or so I have been considering a big change in my life. Though I have for many months been a history major, I have never let go of that other part of my life. I still took a job as houseparent in a group home because it never stopped being my passion. My time is split between my history and political interests at school and my work at the home. I thought, when offered a position in Boise, that now was the time to escape the business, to move on with my life, and to prove to everyone who I am and what I am capable of.

Today I realized I am right where I need to be. And I know exactly who I am. Life is too short to worry about what others may think of us. As long as we know who we are and that we're doing our very best with the life that is ours, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? I came to that conclusion after a great deal of reflecting, praying, and listening to Garth Brooks...not necessarily in that order. And of course all of that came with many sleepless nights.

I've thought often in the last few days about something Khrushchev once said following the Cuban Missile Crisis:

Someday history will tell the whole profound truth about what is happening today.

I had never taken that out of the context of the actions, some secret, taken by both the Americans and the Soviets those tense thirteen days of the crisis, until last night when I thought about how we spend so much time judging ourselves and others, wondering if the road we chose was the road we were meant to or if we would regret it one day. The most unlikely of people, a former Soviet premier who single-handedly could have brought about a nuclear holocaust, convinced me that it isn't worth beating ourselves up over, for the future will tell us if the roads we chose today were the right ones.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

TDIH: Rosa Parks

There are few days in history that mean as much to me, if not the same, as December 1, 1955. November 22, 1963, for obvious reasons, and September 11, 2001 because I lived through that horrific day and the days and months than followed.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on a public bus to a white man, was arrested, and sparked a movement that would continue for decades. Decades that would bring to light men like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Decades that would influence an entire generation and decades that would see a movement unparalleled to anything in the previous 180+ years of American history.

Today, weeks after the passing of Rosa Parks and on the anniversary of her one brave action, I hope Americas understand the legacy and appreciate the sacrifice. We all too often hold American icons to a higher esteem than they deserve. With Ms. Parks, we don't hold her nearly high enough.