Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Schiavo Watch: A Conclusion

The Washington Post is reporting that Terri Schiavo died this morning at 10:00 (Est).
Her feeding tube was removed March 18th; she continued to live for 13 days without food or water.

This morning I sat at my computer for several hours contemplating the life and death of Terri Schiavo. I could not formulate a post as hard as I tried. I thought about the lessons we should have learned from her life, the lessons we should have learned from her death, but then realized there are far more important lessons here.

The political pundit in me wanted to address the issues of eating disorders, living wills, and the congressional role in the lives of individual Americans. I wanted to comment on the division of the nation, from the 2000 election, through the war in Iraq, and now to Terri Schiavo, but then I realized something…the mortality of one woman is not for us to decide, it is not for any political body to decide, it is for God to decide.

What we should have learned from Terri Schiavo has less to do with the political things and more to do with the human things. We should have learned who we are, who we love, and what great lengths, as humans, we will go to for those we love. Today a mother mourns the loss of her daughter, a husband mourns the loss of his wife, and a family looks for comfort.

This is not about politics as much as the last few weeks would have liked it to be.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Health Related News

Okay...one more test and then I plan to write a fine post on the crazy world of Idaho politics.

Before then I just wanted to acknowledge the death of Johnny Cochran (attorney who gained fame with the first Michael Jackson trial and of course, the O.J. Simpson case). I remember watching Cochran on television in the fifth grade when he made his "If the gloves don't fit, you must acquit," argument.

Also, I heard on the news this morning that Jerry Falwell is in the hospital, in critical condition, with pneumonia. I hope he dreams of purple teletubbies and Spongebob. Ok, not really...I wish him a speedy recovery. Another health related issue-- it seems after the Easter services Sunday, Pope John Paul II had a feeding tube inserted through his nose. His health is a constant reminder of the concern the world seems to have with the status of the Catholic Church. I wish him well.

My Idaho politics post will mostly be focused on the governor's race, but I wanted to mention that part of the hooplah is the question of whether or not we will be appointing a successor to Sen. Mike Crapo in the near-future. Crapo is suffering through the final stages of prostate cancer. Crapo has been a level head in Idaho politics and his absence may cause a stir. He and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Until later... Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter!

Just some quick Easter wishes and a little update. Terri Schiavo is still alive, but her parents have run out of legal options and appeals, both on the state and federal level. It is just time now. As an update is available to me, I will make it available to you. I am currently doing a little research on Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, but until my quiz on Monday and exams on Tuesday and Wednesday are out of the way, don't expect too much from me. Hope you all enjoy this Easter Sunday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Schiavo, Blake, and Bowen

Terri Schiavo has survived six days without food or water. This case continues to baffle me and break my heart. Today the last possible court, aside from the U.S. Supreme Court, refused to reinsert Terri's feeding tube. The Schindlers (Terri's parents) are now preparing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. I really doubt the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case. Not only is the Supreme Court in a structurally shaky position with Rehnquist ailing and talk of Bush appointing Scalia to be chief justice soon, the majority of the current justices on the bench are adamantly in support of state's rights. They will not trample the decisions of the Florida state courts or legislature on this matter. President Bush in a press conference today as he met with the leaders of Mexico and Canada stated that there truly is nothing left for the White House to do. Yes, they have done enough, if not more than what they should have. Though I support Terri's case being heard in a federal court, the place of the U.S. Congress and the President is not to intervene in such matters. Florida DCF is trying to intervene as is Governor Jeb Bush. Unfortunately, before long we will be reading headlines of Terri's death. Then we can be sure of a firestorm.

On an unrelated note, somehow in all of this I seemed to miss the acquittal in the Robert Blake trial. How did that happen?? As you all know, I am a huge fan of Barbara Walters and watched her specials as well as her co-anchor 20/20 for most of my life. One of the strangest moments in a Barbara Walters interview was when she interviewed Blake. I'd like to agree with the judicial system today, but I'm afraid that the high-media attention given to cases such as Blake's allowed for an irresponsible finding such as in the O.J. Simpson trial. Though no criminal should be punished for verdicts in other cases, I hope the consequence of the failure in the Blake trial indirectly takes precedence in the Michael Jackson trial.

Further from the spotlight is the upcoming retirement of ISU President Richard Bowen. Interestingly, headlines of his retirement "negotiation" have hit Pocatello hard after the Idaho State Senate's vote Monday requiring the transition from a fee system to a tuition system at three of Idaho's public universities, including ISU. There seems to be some turmoil between the State Board of Ed and Bowen. Come to think of it, the State Board seems to be causing all sorts of turmoil as the Associated Students of ISU continue to support a lawsuit against the State Board. An ironic time to be negotiating retirement.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Declaration

*Editor's Note: I'm still following the Schiavo case and will give you updates as they happen. Also, I found it interesting that Barry Bonds announced today that he may be out for the season-- you think the new steroid testing policy has anything to do with that decision??

Just a quick little note-- today I FINALLY declared a major!! After much deliberation my decision landed on History and I have filled out the necessary paperwork. The last several weeks I had been considering this and as I have most recently been frustrated by politics, I realized Political Science wasn't for me and History is.

After two years, my history professor and now advisor says IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Senate Passes Bill on Tuition

Today in the Idaho State Senate, the bill allowing the transition between a fee system at Idaho public universities (limited to BSU, ISU, and Lewis & Clark) to a system allowing the charge of tuition, introduced in the House and sponsored by the Idaho State Board of Education, passed 25-8.

In recent weeks this legislation has consumed a great deal of my time and energy. The effects of the passage of this bill are far reaching and detrimental to the students of Idaho State University and the future leaders of the state of Idaho.

My disappointment cannot be expressed in one post, but let me say this--under the governorship of Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho education at all levels has taken a drastic hit. The state cannot fund our children's education, the state cannot support their interest in that education, and the state has implied and today continues to remind us that education has long lost its priority.

It is ridiculous, disappointing, and frustrating that only 8 members of the state Senate recognize the consequences of such legislation. It is even more frustrating that the president of Idaho State University believes that, “[ISU] appreciates the State Board of Education for supporting this legislation and the state Legislature for passing it. This change is critical to the future of Idaho State University.” I have personally Mr. Bowen on other matters and found him until today to be a rather rational and considerate man. Today I'd like to remind him that ISU does not appreciate this legislation. The administration might, but the student body of ISU certainly does not. The Associated Students of Idaho State University continue to support a lawsuit against their own state's Board of Education. Speaking on behalf of the students, not for a minute do we appreciate this legislation or the irrational, insensitive, and unsupporting senators who passed it.

The consequences of this legislation are yet to be determined. This may result in fees that are uncapped by state statutes. This may result in fees that are unaffordable for students. This may result in the outsourcing of education in the state of Idaho. The consequences will not be positive.

Tomorrow, I plan to write yet again to my state legislators, namely Senators Marley, Burkett, Kelly, Langhorst, Malepeai, Schroeder, Stennett, and Werk, and thank them for their noble efforts to defeat this legislation. I then plan writing a letter to Mr. Denton Darrington, a former educator himself and from my home town, and remind him that students vote. Not only do students vote, but one day I hope one of those students runs against him and dethrones him of that glorious senate seat Declo has afforded him for far too long.

I will continue to voice my disagreement with House Bill 231 and will continue to support the ASISU law suit against the State Board of Education. What does it say about the value of education when a public university's students are suing the Board of Education in their state??

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Schiavo, Kennan, Parks, and the Washington Nationals

I'm beginning to sound a bit like Orson Scott Card...oh well, there are worse things. There is just so much to be following this weekend.

Kennan
The death of George F. Kennan deserves its own post, but with Spring Break ending and my progress with Kenilworth slow-going, I just can't post on each individual thing I want to. So let me just say that I admire Kennan, who is known for his anonymous writing The Long Telegram that began the U.S. policy of containment, for his zeal, his influence in the Cold War days prior to Vietnam, and his dedication to education, especially Princeton.

George F. Kennan
1904 - 2005

News in the Terry Schiavo Case
Other important news-- the Terry Schiavo case has heated up again. Yesterday, despite the attempts of Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and other Republican leaders, the feeding tube that has been keeping Schiavo alive was removed. This mess has been going on for over a decade and has in the last several years been quite heated. I will hopefully post on this tomorrow as I have switched sides on the matter and unbelievably now side with none other than DeLay. There will most likely be a special meeting of Congress tomorrow to deal with this. Look for that meeting on CSPAN tomorrow as well as a more detailed post.

The Washington Nationals
And I just want to tell you all how excited I am about the newly completed baseball diamond at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Park in Washington D.C. The Washington Nationals will play an exhibition game there the first week of April. Finally some good news from the world of the MLB.
____

Now last but not least, I had written some comments about Rosa Parks several months ago that I had lost. One morning this week I woke up thinking about Ms. Parks and set out to find those comments. Well I partially found them and have added a few things that I just wanted to share. Forgive the history lesson--I just think it is important that we all know something about Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks: Pioneer of Freedom

Historically most would agree that the Civil Rights Movement began December 1, 1955 the day the world was introduced to an unknown seamstress from Montgomery, Alabama and the day a brave black woman, after a long day's work, refused to give up her seat at the front of a public bus to a white man.

In her bravery, Ms. Parks began the movement that ended legal segregation in America. Though a known and important figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks once stated that her work was "more a matter of trying to challenge the powers that be and to let it be known that we did not wish to continue being second-class citizens." If that was her main objective she certainly accomplished what she set out to.

Rosa Parks was fined $14.00 for refusing to give up her bus seat, her resistance and that fine began a 482-day boycott of public transportation led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and resulted in a Supreme Court decision that struck down the Montgomery city ordinance that allowed racial segregation on public buses. All of this because one woman believed that we she should "take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few there are."

Rosa Parks eventually served on the NAACP Board of Directors and aided Congressman John Conyers. The United States Congress created the Rosa Parks Freedom Award and annually presents it to deserving individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving human rights.
___

That's it for today--sorry it is so scattered, long, and random.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Circus Has Come to Town

...And I'm not talking about the Michael Jackson trial (though I do want to know--what happened to Mark Garagos??). Today I watched an accumulation of probably 6 hours of the House Government Reform Committee--i.e. the House panel investigating steroid use in major league baseball.

I watched the entire questioning of the five pro-players: Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmiero, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Jose Canseco. First, there is no reason for which Rafael Palmiero needed to be involved. I not only admire Rafael for where he's come from, but as a player he is exceptional. Second, if Mark McGuire said one more time that he is retired, I was going to scream! We know this, but thank you Mr. McGuire for reminding us and establishing in our minds the fact that you are no help whatsoever to the problem that plagues America's pastime. Mr. McGuire, you were asked by the United States House of Representatives to testify on the issue of steroids in major league baseball-- stating that you were not going to discuss the past (and reveal that maybe your homerun record was aided by the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs) left very little to discuss with you...you are, afterall, retired!

As Jose Canseco's book came out I wondered how much he really knew about steroid use, but today I realized quickly that he knows nothing. His book was just a quick buck. A scam that ruined friendships, player's reputations, and any sort of admirable perception we as baseball fans had of him to begin with. Way to go Curt Schilling for calling Canseco a liar. When asked if Schilling thought the use of steroids was as far reaching as Canseco stated (80% of all players use some sort of illegal performance enhancing drug), he answered "No," and added "[Canseco] is a liar."

Canseco's statements in his recent book and in his numerous interviews greatly contradicted his statements to the House panel today. What he says is 80% current steroid use in his book--and begins saying in his statement--is quickly cut down to 80% use in a given amount of time he spent playing (1994-2000). And about his own steroid use and how it may have furthered his talent and career, Canseco stated "I am an exception to the rule."

Curt Schilling was definitely the MVP of the day--his appearance had less to do with speculation over his use or lack of use of steroids and had more to do with his outspoken views on the problem of steroids in baseball. He was solid on the questions he felt comfortable answering. I'm not sure his testimony made or saved the day for baseball, but it sure helped. My favorite line of the entire questioning process was when Bernie Sanders told Schilling he sounded like a politician.

The House operates on a different level than the Senate (which I am more familiar with), but I was quite impressed with several of the representatives. Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) was the only representative willing to take a stab at McGuire and then criticize him for not taking the opportunity to say anything on the matter. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-California) was very firm in his questioning. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was eloquent and ever a reminder that we need more politicians like him in Washington. Bernie Sanders was odd. I'm convinced that there is something in the water in Vermont. Rep. Sanders (I-Vermont) started off his questioning with a long rant about how much the House needs to concentrate on childcare, health care, and more relevant matters. He was then stern in his questioning. One by one he was brutal!

The highlights? 1.) The naming of Schilling and Frank Thomas as co-chairs to a Zero Tolerance Task Force targeting all sports and 2.) At the end of the long questioning process were the ending statements that reminded the players, the House, and those of us sitting at home wondering what this was actually accomplishing that we are all just concerned baseball fans seeking a level and equal playing field, protection of the youth, and assurance that America's favorite pastime will be around for years to come.

For further information:
MLB Steroid Testing Policy
McGuire Refuses to Say If He Used steroids
McGuire Doesn't Give Answers to Committee
Players, Execs Testify at Hearing

Let me just say this--if we truly want to look into and attempt to prevent cheating in baseball, whether that be through performance enhancing drugs or not, we can't exclude Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi no matter the circumstances and how 'bout we ask Sammy about that corked bat?

Profile in Courage Award

Every May the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, under the direction of Caroline Kennedy and the National Archives and Records Administration, selects deserving individuals to receive the Profile in Courage Award (named after John Kennedy's Profiles in Courage).

This year Viktor Yushchenko, who survived an assassination attempt by poisoning and overcame the attempts of Russian-backed political opponents to rig his loss as the democratically elected leader of the Ukraine, has been named the recipient of the 2005 award.

I just thought that was pretty cool! If you want to read about the other recipients and about Yushchenko, you can go to the JFK Library website and click on the link to the release on Yushchenko or on the link to the award.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Weighing in on Social Security

A disclaimer may be necessary-- there are two disciplines that as of yet I've been unable to wrap my head around, Math and Economics. Having said that let me walk you through the proposed Bush reform of the Social Security program in a non-economist written, comprehensible, sort of way.

As we've already heard in both the State of the Union, the proposed budget, and in every newspaper this country has to offer, the Bush administration is laying claim to the belief that Social Security is in "crisis." Crisis may not be quite the word I would choose, but as Ted Kennedy, the honorable senior senator from Massachusetts says: "We have an Administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis."

The easiest way to understand the supposed crisis is like this: By 2018 the benefits being paid out to retirees and the disabled will exceed the amounts being paid in by the workers payroll tax. (It is similar to a budget deficit--the amount of money the government spends in excess of the amount it receives in taxes.) The administration is predicting the system will be bankrupt by 2042. Having determined this, President Bush is proposing the idea of personal accounts (i.e. privatizing Social Security).

Now the whole idea itself, forget its merits and follies, may just be an attempt for Mr. Bush to push through Congress an agenda he has been supporting/proposing since he first entered public office. It seems to be a wise attempt...like the visit I'm predicting Pres. Bartlett on the West Wing this week will orchestrate with Castro...to save a floudering soon-to-be lame duck presidency.

Not only have the Democrats jumped on the bandwagon against President Bush's plan---many key Republicans are a little skeptical. Recently Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader), though not directly against privatizing Social Security, states that this reform will not pass in this session of Congress, nor does he believe it can pass next year. Election, elections, elections.

Another leader of the fight against Bush's proposed plan is AARP. AARP is singly the loudest voice for retirement-age Americans and they're doing everything in their power to lobby, persuade, and prevent. The ads AARP is putting out are interesting--but they're taking a certain amount of heat as well from the right.

Not being an expert on any of this, I would recommend reading TIME magazine for Jan. 24, 2005, the several articles Molly Ivins has written on the topic, and an op-ed piece from The Wall Street Journal. And if you're really interested and/or bored, this week CSPAN is running the Senate budget committee debates.

There are numerous follies to Bush's agenda-- several of which I'm sure you are all hearing in mass quantity, but my biggest concern is why this administration is putting so much faith in a fiscally responsible teenager (isn't that an oxy-moron?). That's all I've got, forgive my economics. This could be an interesting and heated issue for the administration, but let me remind you that on my poll regarding the most important issue of Bush's 2nd term, not one vote went to Social Security.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

A Rather Odd Departure

It seems that it is finally time for Dan Rather to depart his longtime anchor post at CBS News. Though I've not been as critical as others over the so-called "Rathergate" or his mistreatment of facts of late, I've never been a fan of Dan Rather. I remember Peter Jennings voice on 9/11 and otherwise I'm a Brokaw fan...

Nonetheless, he has brought us many stories and has been a driving force in the transformation of the news media. Claiming to be leaving on a "high note," we can't help but speculate over what has caused him to resign. 24 years...what's a year more...unless you did "doctor" a story or who??

Anyway, back to the thick of midterms. Next week is my Spring Break so hopefully you'll hear from me then. That Social Security stack I've been meaning to post on needs attention and by next week I may know something more about the ASISU lawsuit against the State Board of Ed.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

A Response for Nick-- Funding Higher Education

As I began answering Nick's comments about Elmer Martinez and the legislation in the Idaho Congress that I've taken interest in, I realized my comments would not be brief and the issue deserved an entire post.

Recently, in regard to the lawsuit ASISU has filed against the Idaho State Board of Education, I wrote formal letters to the Idaho senators serving on the Idaho State Senate Education Committee and then sent emails, via the State homepage to the representatives in my area, including Elmer Martinez. I also sent a formal letter to Sen. Denton Darrington, the senator from my home town of Declo. I received a response from Denton yesterday. I'd like to think that they respond personally to my comments, Elmer's response may have been computer generated, but the response from Denton was more personal.

Both Senator Darrington and Representative Martinez promised to consider my perspective as this legislation hits the floor of both the House and Senate. And both recognize that the support for all education is "waning and certainly will not improve this year or next."

The ISU student body has filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Education. This will inevitably come before the Idaho House of Representatives soon and then if it passes will continue on to the Senate. Our current student body president at ISU assures me that it will most likely have to see a state-wide vote. They essentially want to convert BSU, ISU, and Lewis and Clark into tuition-based systems rather than the current fee systems. This is not legal under the Idaho constitution and excludes the University of Idaho. The state, from what I can tell, no longer wants to put that 34% of funding into higher education. If this goes through I'm afraid an "outsourcing" of education will happen in Idaho.

Education has become less and less a priority under our current governor and it is fine time the students in Idaho stand up and say something. It is a national epidemic, but Idaho seems to have been hit very hard by the education budget cuts. In 2006, Idaho will vote for a new governor whom I hope will come to the aid of the struggling education system, but we all have to do our part.

Mine is an interesting position as this is not the first time I've jumped headfirst into a heated debate about budget cuts plaguing educational institutions. As a senior in high school as ISATs were on the rise and the funding was in an downward spiral, I wrote a letter to the editor of each of our local newspapers supporting the teachers in what I felt was a "no-win" situation for them. Seeking only to support the teachers who were facing drastic cuts, I took a lot of heat for being what a local-radio host called "ungrateful."

I can't emphasize enough how important it is for all of us to take a stand on this issue. Though some are nearer to graduation than others, it is our obligation to the future students of Idaho's public universities and to the future leaders of Idaho to do everything in our power to prevent this legislation from passing and enforcing the tuition system on our schools. Personally I would encourage you to start the letter writing process. Let your voice be heard.

Idaho State Legislature
State Capitol Building
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho
83720-0038 (House)
83720-0081 (Senate)

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

ASISU Election Day

I just wanted to take a moment and remind everyone that today is the run-off election at Idaho State University. Please get out and vote. (For Hobson & Sharp that is...) There should be polling booths set up at the SUB, College of Tech, and I think in the BA building.

Also, yesterday State Rep. Elmer Martinez contacted me about the ongoing lawsuit the student body at ISU has brought against the State Board of Education. Rep. Martinez assures me that education is important in this state (despite what we are seeing) and that great consideration will go into his vote as the issue hits the floor of the House. Thank you, Elmer.

That's all for today. Good luck Matt and Will!