Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Official Rearrangement...

...as opposed to an unofficial rearrangement?

Regardless, I have rearranged my bulletin board:



And I am sure that makes nobody else nearly as happy as it makes me. In addition to this rearrangement, I also have new wall hangings:


This fine Kennedy/Lincoln scheme is in my living room/bedroom and will only have to come down in order for painting to occur. And...


This one is in the kitchen, my kitchen that has virtually nothing on the walls except the bulletin board, calendar, and whiteboard above my desk on the opposite side of the room. This one is staying up until I am completely over Bert losing the superintendent race--which it is probably a good thing I am not painting the kitchen because this one is staying up for awhile!

Anyway, completely random, I know. What do you expect for the first full day back after a weekend in Nevada?

Monday, May 29, 2006

TDIH: Brookline, Mass.

Appropriately, this Memorial Day, as many have before, fell on the birthday of President John F. Kennedy. Now, I spent much of the weekend on a travel bus and am thoroughly exhausted which includes not knowing what day it is. We were a few miles from home when I realized today was the 29th of May, a very important day to me.

I was chatting with a young man who I completely love and admire when it dawned on me that today would have been President Kennedy's 89th birthday. The young man sitting next to me was a little less than thrilled to know that fact, but as he and I have had many a conversation about Kennedy, he was certainly not surprised by me remembering such a thing after the longest weekend EVER. He made some quip about me not being able to remember phone numbers or the birthdays of family and friends, yet having no problem with historical dates. I told him that history isn't just about dates and he would have a greater appreciation for history if he would have had wonderful history teachers, like I had. It reminded me of something I read at the beginning of the trip:
What I am saying is that it needed other dimensions, that history is not a matter of dates, and only disreputable or unimaginative teachers take the "impartial" date approach, thereby killing all interest in the subject at a very early age for many students. --Whitney Otto, How to Make an American Quilt (pg. 2)

89 years ago a man was born in Brookline, Massachusetts to a legendary family that had yet to reach maximum potential. 89 years ago a man was born who would lead this country through a failed invasion of Cuba, a missile crisis, and would point us in direction of the moon.

Without a string of influential history teachers and professors (and most importantly the gift of one book), a man born 89 years ago may never have even occupied more than a second of my time.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

Governor Kempthorne is now the Secretary of the Interior, Lt. Governor Risch is now the Governor, and the state's business continues.

The election came and went. Some disappointments, some victories. And the world continues to rotate.

This week has been what I would probably describe as an emotional rollercoaster. I wrote a paper that nearly killed me, emotionally. I watched a dear friend and former teacher be defeated in a race that drained me. And today I checked my mail and there in the box was a letter from President Gallagher (Interim President of Idaho State University) awarding me a presidential internship for the 2006-2007 academic year complete with tuition, health insurance, and an hourly wage.

For the last probably six months, I have been engrossed in a project concerning the congressional papers of Richard Stallings and now, with this presidential internship, I will have the opportunity to inventory and catalogue the entire collection. I am excited on a level that I have never before experienced.

Now as I prepare to head out of town and sit here reflecting on the week and all of its successes and victories, I realize that it isn't about a single political race, not about how many victories we achieve, but rather about the smaller accomplishments we find along the way.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Raging Disappointment (Thankfully NOT Related to Raging Alcoholism)

The day after election day can be the best day of the year or the worst. Today certainly feels like the worst day of the year.

When George W. Bush won in 2000, I was up all night waiting for results that didn't come. When George W. Bush won again in 2004, I was up all night waiting for results that didn't come. Both times, once the results came I was finished thinking about it. He had won (sort of) and life goes on. Last night I was up all night waiting for results that came and today I just can't seem to get over it.

On the local level, I am beyond baffled at Geoff Ranere's loss. On a state level, the superintendent race has me...well crushed. I've always heard people talk about "political heartbreak" and thought that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. But I'm here to tell you that it happens. In 21 years I have never felt like this before about an election. And with that said, it is probably a wonderful thing that I wasn't alive during the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections and wasn't around during the first two races of Richard Stallings.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How Fitting

Being that it is primary election day, I found it particularly fitting that the Washington Post was reporting that Former Senator Lloyd Bentsen had passed away.

One of the greatest quotes in all of American political history is that of Lloyd Bentsen in 1988 while in the vice-presidential debate with Dan Quayle. Quayle compared himself to Jack Kennedy and Bentsen responded: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

As you can imagine, I have studied the 1988 presidential election--the race that put up Michael Dukakis against George Herbert Walker Bush. In fact, I wrote my high school senior research paper on presidential elections and the role of television in American politics post-1952. A large chunk of that paper involved the campaign ads during the 1988 election and the Willy Horton scandal.

Anyway, today the United States has lost a brilliant and gifted politician--a true patriot.

___________________
Senator Lloyd Millard Bentsen Jr.
2/11/1921 - 5/23/2006

Get Out And Vote!

Just a quick reminder that today is the primary election. Please get out and vote and remind your friends, neighbors, etc. Also, please remember to write-in J.R. "Roger" Williams for Secretary of State.

Good luck to the candidates. Happy Primary Day!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Belated Birthday

Every year for my birthday I get gift cards to bookstores. I guess people find it difficult to buy me books when in all actuality I will read just about anything. I understand however that I own quite a few books and it is difficult to buy me books that I don't already have. Anyway, this year with my gift cards I ordered my very own birthday present and it arrived today.
I cannot tell you how I ecstatic I am this morning.

There's a story behind this particular set of books (that only cost me $26.00, unbelievable, I know). Last summer I wrote a scholarship essay for the Lincoln Forum on what may have happened had Lincoln not been assassinated.

I know, you're thinking, but she loves Kennedy, not Lincoln. Not necessarily true. I love Lincoln and I have said and will always say that I hope to be to Kennedy what Sandburg was to Lincoln.

Last summer I checked out this particular set of books from the Marshall Public Library and they resided with me for much of the summer. I fell in love with these books and read every word of every page. I rediscovered Sandburg last summer and ever since have had this overwhelming desire to own my very own set of these beautifully amazing books. And now I do.

In my home there are three things I adore: Two books my grandmother has given me on Kennedy and now this set of books on Lincoln by a man I truly idolize.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

Despite the fact that my face and portions of my arms are now bright red, it has been a wonderful Saturday.

First of all, this morning I turned on BookTV on CSPAN 2 to find John Updike giving a speech to the Bookexpo America Convention. I love Updike. Along with Updike was Barack Obama. What a lovely way to start a Saturday.

For those of you who missed it, today at Ross Park there was a "Turn Idaho Purple" rally with Lt. Governor hopeful and former Congressman Larry LaRocco. Many other candidates turned out including Bert Marley, Allen Andersen, James Ruchti, Larry Ghan, and Lin Whitworth. The mayor of American Falls was there as was DC Power, an American Falls based band that played old classic rock covers. It was a great time, despite the sunburn.

Next on the agenda for today were the HP Week events in Old Town Pocatello. Recently I was appointed by Mayor Chase to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Pocatello, something I have enjoyed. Today as we celebrated Historic Preservation Week I had the wonderful opportunity of sitting down and talking to Chick Bilyeu. Now, there aren't too many people I think more of than the Bilyeus. They truly are remarkable individuals who have done wonderful things for this community. As I was talking to Chick today, I realized how proud I am to be a student at Idaho State University. My only wish is that Chick could have been my Speech teacher.

I'm in the process of clearing off the bulletin board and white board today. I decided I no longer need the list of congressional races and the votes for the 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990 elections and the 1992 Senate race of Richard Stallings. It's slightly surreal that I am finished with that project. Time to move on to something else, I suppose. It's a very good thing I'm in summer school.

There will be another reminder before Tuesday, but please remember to vote in the primary election Tuesday, May 23rd.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Senator Bert Marley: Candidate for Idaho's State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Several weeks ago I announced that I would be starting a feature, Candidate of the Week. For academic reasons I have not had the time to do this prior to next week's primary election, but I wanted to take a moment now to highlight the one and only candidate I can truly say I whole-heartedly support, Bert Marley.

When Senator Bert Marley announced on the lawn of the state capitol building last November that he would be seeking the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, he stated that when he began teaching "he went from working everyday for [his] own success to working everyday to ensure the success of [his] students." I want to attest to the honesty in that statement. As a former student of Senator Marley, I can say without hesitation that I would not be where I am today, a junior at Idaho State University with further academic aspirations, if it were not for the influence of Bert Marley.

As I stood on the lawn of the capitol last fall listening to Marley's announcement speech, with the deepest respect and admiration for Bert, I had never been more honored to be the former student of anyone. In February, I again visited the capitol and was introduced from the gallery by Senator Marley, something I will never forget.

Today as we approach the primary election and have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of our choice, I would like to tell you why I will be voting for Senator Bert Marley.

There is an enormous gap between the State Board of Education and the State Legislature. This has become more and more apparent to me as I have become involved with student government at ISU. The appointed members of the State Board have trampled the interests of students everywhere with complete disregard to our elected voice, the Superintendent of Public Instruction. As students we proposed a bill to place a student ex-officio member on the State Board this past session. Our bill did not even get out of committee, but in the disappointing days that followed, I realized that we were not trying to place a student on the State Board because we had no voice, we were trying to place a student on the Board because our voice was not being heard. Marilyn Howard was never a trained politico, nor was she a trained bureaucrat. We need a State Superintendent with both the ambition to advocate strong schools and proper funding as well as a State Superintendent who knows the operation of the legislature.

More frustrating to me than the gap between the Board and the Legislature is the gap between the State and the classroom. Bert Marley has the experience and has been on the front lines. He knows how unfunded mandates have hurt our local schools. Senator Marley is a social sciences teacher, he taught me German, World History, and Mythology, none of which are programs that are supported by the new design with emphasis on Math and Science. And yet, his advocacy for public education remains and his personal belief that he holds a responsibility to education has not been defeated.

With all the debate over the issues, the goals the candidates have for the office itself, and the reforms they hope to implement, we seem to overlook the little things that are so important to voters, not just on a political level, but on a human level. The influence Bert Marley as an educator has had in my life is immeasurable. As State Superintendent of Public Instruction, I have no doubt that Bert Marley's positive influence on students statewide would be just as paramount.

Twenty-three years ago, Bert Marley made a choice to teach that he claims changed his life forever. Twenty-three years ago, Bert Marley made a choice that changed my own life forever.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My Answer to Nick on Immigration

For weeks now we have all questioned immigration in this country...some of us for as long as we understood immigration and today our Commander-in-Chief answered. Kind of.

Tonight in an address to the American public, President George W. Bush announced his plan to send approximately 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican/American border to protect this nation from illegal immigrants.

You've got to be kidding me.

Has anyone forgotten that we are at war in Iraq, with an enemy we may or may not be able to beat? We are at war with a group that finds no discouragement in a daily casualty toll. We are at war with a principle, not a militia.

I was a senior in high school when the United States invaded Iraq. I am now approaching my senior year of college and we remain at war with a nation undisturbed by our constant presence. We have brought them democracy or the hopes for it. We have brought them our support. But what has the war brought us? We are just as divided, if not more so, today as we were in March of 2003. We are just as eager for victory and embarrassed by defeat. We have an administration that only 33% of us support and believe in. We have an economy that is suffering, gas prices that are sky-rocketing, and poverty between the area from sea to shining sea. What has war brought us here at home?

6,000 troops to defend a border that is virtually indefensible. Why? Because the American dream is so strong in the hearts and minds of immigrants they can taste it. Because millions of immigrants before them went to America and found prosperity, but even more important, hope.
We need to provide incentives for those who choose to be in this country legally. We need to provide the means for those responsible individuals who want to be in this country to get here. We need to remember that it isn't just terrorists who want into our borders, it is honest, hard working families who only want their children to live a life where they do not face or understand poverty and oppression.

I hope we realize that sending troops to the border is merely feeding the cycle of oppression and poverty.

At whatever cost to our economy, this nation exists only because of the efforts of immigrants. We are all in a sense immigrants and we are all responsible for instituting laws that protect and support those who wish to be here to work, to live, and to prosper legally.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tomorrow (TWW)

**Editor's Note: Please do not assume that just because tonight is the last episode I will refrain from quoting, referring to, or idolizing The West Wing. What's next?

A series finale is a fine art in its own right. How do you respectfully give credit to an entire series, capturing the elements that have been left unanswered, and still be honest to the core audience and story line?

Tonight as dedicated fans watched the pilot episode followed directly by the series finale of The West Wing, it occurred to us all that the series has evolved into the brilliance that it is today. I read recently somewhere that the series was created by Aaron Sorkin partially due to the fact that he had an enormous set built for a wonderful film, The American President, and needed something to do with the set. I also read that the series was originally going to center around the character of Sam Seaborn, but it wasn't until Rob Lowe's personal life fell apart that the series really evolved into the Bartlet-centered weekly reflection of the daily chaos in the White House.

It was slightly surreal as I sat down to type this post. This will be the last time I post on the beauty of each individual episode. This may not surprise anyone, but I used to be an X-Files junkie. When that series finally ended, I was relieved. The last seasons were so awful and unlike what they had been up until the end of season 7 (of 9), that it wasn't worth watching. I've heard that The West Wing has gone down hill in the last several seasons, mostly due to Sorkin's exit, but as someone who didn't discover the show until half way through season 6 (of 7), I have found it to be just as amazing in the last season as it was in the first. Granted, it has evolved into a modern drama, meaning there seems to be a need for the soap-opera qualities (i.e. Josh & Donna), yet the political brilliance has remained.

In tonight's episode, there were no shortage of references to previous episodes, sort of a reward for those of us who have watched every single episode and also in tonight's episode, there were many questions left unanswered. For me that is the worst part of the end. I don't handle the unresolved well.

First, Toby-- I struggled from last week until now to wrap my head around how a president could pardon a man responsible for a national security leak. But, historically speaking, many controversial figures have been pardoned. Gerald Ford pardoned President Nixon, not only for the things we know he did, but the things that we didn't. George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger for his role in Iran-Contra. Even further back, President Johnson (the first one) pardoned Confederate officials following the Civil War. In this case, Toby's loyalty to the Bartlet administration earned him a pardon, though I look at it as though his saving of American astronauts should have earned him the pardon. To a certain extent, I still wonder if Claudia Jean Cregg had something to do with that and if that explains much of her joy in his pardon. I'll always wonder what Toby's reaction would be and what would become of the relationship between Toby and CJ. We know he attends the dedication of the Bartlet Presidential Library from the opening episode of season 7. But there are many questions left unanswered.

Second, in that fictional unrealistic fantasizing brain of mine, I hope Charlie married Zoey Bartlet. As President Bartlet made the rounds or as he called it "a final stroll through the joint," and said goodbye to Charlie, giving him his copy of the Constitution that had been given to him by his father, I was reminded of all the times that Charlie had been nothing less than what a son should be to a father. Being that it is Mother's Day, I am overly perceptive of the relationship between parent and child. Just as after Leo's funeral President Bartlet told Josh he was like a son to Leo, Charlie was always like a son to the President. We know that Charlie goes on to Georgetown Law school, but the rest is unresolved.

I could go on like this for days on end. The end of television series that I adore is no small event in my life, sadly enough. But, I won't. I'll miss the story and miss the characters. That is of course if none of them bleed over into what looks like the first spin-off Studio 60.

It isn't very often a show comes along that can capture audiences for seven seasons without losing too much of it's original beauty. The West Wing has been a force in television since its debut in 1999 and will remain the fantasy of every Democrat in the United States. Who doesn't want an academic Democrat in the White House again? Who wouldn't want a Latino in the Oval Office? Who wouldn't want a female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Really, as Democrats, we all hope there is an economist out there like President Bartlet with Democratic ideals, fiscal responsibility, and a heart that cares more for the American people than the party as a whole.

Democrats across this nation better step it up and start making these dreams, the dreams we've been living each week as we've tuned in to The West Wing, a reality.

Finals Week Farrago

far·ra·go n. Also known as smorgasbord, just a day later.

I have FINALLY finished the 2006 Spring semester at ISU! It has been one of the longest, most tedious semesters I have had thus far in my college career.

Unfortunately, I can't say I was studying all week long, because I just wasn't. I finished my research paper on time and took my exams, but the week wasn't really all about studying...I seemed to find other important things to do. Okay, maybe not so important.

The greatest accomplishment of the week certainly was Monday morning when I turned in my final draft of the research paper I have been writing ALL semester about Richard Stallings. A polished copy (32 pages) was given to Richard and the entire document was turned in to my advisor on thiIndependentnt Study project. The paper itself, in all it's greatness is 58 pages long. I love Richard, but I really had nothing left to say about the man after that many pages.

Another fine accomplishment of the week are the new blinds and curtains I've hung in my living room (picture to the left). Since I moved in I've had these god-awful blue blinds that were bent in too many places and too filthy to ever clean completely. So...with my birthday money, I bought new shiny white blinds, curtains, and a lovely white curtain rod. It looks pretty sharp.


Also, and I know the picture isn't too great due to the lighting, Friday night we planted these flowers out back of the house near my back door. Since I've been here there was just this dirt patch that seemed to collect garbage and rocks. I cleaned it all out during the week in between finals and then bought some shade loving flowers to plant there. It looks pretty good and believe it or not, the flowers are pink!

On Ellen's show this week was the entire cast of The West Wing. And as Richard Schiff (Toby) described them, they certainly are the "best ensemble ever assembled." There was a moving tribute to John Spencer, as well as the clip of him when he was on Ellen's show talking about the "as seen oTVtv" items he so adored. I had to laugh because the particular clip was when Ellen gave John thclipip & flip, which when I was a kid wanted more than anything and my grandpa had to finally order me one of thTVtv to shut me up! I always knew I loved John Spencer, I just didn't know it was because we shared the same quirks! The tribute also contained the quote about the man who fell in the hole that Leo used to help Josh after the shooting (near the beginning of the 2nd season, I believe).

One clip on the show that I had forgotten about was one around Thanksgiving when poor Charlie was on a hunt for a new carving knife for President Bartlet and in the end President Bartlet gave thoriginalal knife to Charlie. The knife that his father had given him and his grandfather had given his father--one that was crafted by none other than Paul Revere. When I saw that episode for the first time, it hit me especially hard, mostly because I have so many honorary parents, but as I watched the clip again, I realized that really this show has become a family in it's own right.

Tuesday I purchased season 6 on DVD, which leaves only the current season for me to purchase in the future. Tonight at 7pm on NBC the pilot episode of The West Wing will air, followed at 8 by the final episode of the series.

As you can tell, it was a very long finals week, not necessarily the most productive one, but hey, I survived the semester with solid grades.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Truman Day

It occurred to me this morning as I was getting ready for the day, listening to Lee Greenwood as I always do on this day, that I've never recognized in this forum how important Truman Day is to me.

President Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri.

In this area of the state, people remember when Harry Truman came to campaign for Congressman Ralph Harding. I heard Ralph tell the story, a story I'd heard many times before, at the annual Truman Day Banquet in Idaho Falls Friday night. As former Congressman Harding was telling the story of Truman's visit, my historical sense had failed me and I had forgotten that Truman had only been vice president for a few months prior to the death of FDR and his rise to the highest office in the land.

My love for Harry S. Truman coincides with my love for Cold War history. He was the beginning of it all, just as Reagan was the end of it all. And his philosophy that there is "nothing new in the world except for the history you do not know," is a motivation and driving force in my academic life. Truman Day means nearly as much to me as Independence Day.

Today as I finished up an enormous task, that of a research paper about former Congressman Richard Stallings, I found myself thinking often about the definition of statesman. How fitting that I would be contemplating the difference between a statesman and politician today on Truman's birthday.

"I’m proud that I’m a politician. A politician is a man who understands
government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a
politician who’s been dead 10 or 15 years."

Just as quickly as Truman's definition of "statesman" came to mind, I realized maybe I should have taken his advice a semester ago when I engulfed myself in the Stallings project--"Study men, not historians."

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Institutional Memory (TWW)

The level in which a person can connect with a television character is scary.

As we near the end of a beautiful series, the pieces are falling into place. I say this knowing that tonight I realized my connection. I have loved Leo from the beginning, appreciated his sense of history, admired his loyalty to his best friend. I have been in love with the idea of President Bartlet, what liberal hasn't felt this way? But tonight it was the merging of CJ's struggles and Toby's quirks that made me realize it is a fine combination of Toby and CJ that I connect with.

Maybe from the beginning we knew CJ longed for what she couldn't have with Danny, but now near the end when she can have it, it scares the hell out of her. She never learned how to share her life with someone, a partner, the way he wants her to. As CJ put it, she "missed the window." Since the beginning Danny has done everything he could to be with her, minus that one stunt where he didn't take the editor's position that would have allowed him to be with her near the end of the second season, and he says all the right things. Really, who doesn't want to hear: "If I'm gonna jump off a cliff and you're gonna get pushed off a cliff, why don't we hold hands on the way down?" It's charming the way Danny puts up with her, the way he keeps coming back when she is "shoving the conversation downstream," yet as we watch we can see how impatient he is becoming. But he accepts her, he knows that the consulting that should be done when she is considering a job or when she is deciding between D.C. and elsewhere, is something she doesn't know how to do. He knows that she's scared, but like he said she can be scared, but he won't let her walk away from him just because she is scared. He knows her.

But somebody knows her better...

The relationship between CJ and Toby has always intrigued me. We know they were friends before the White House, though we know no details or the depth of that friendship. We know that when her father was sick, he supported her. We know that when his brother died, she was his shoulder to cry on. We know they were both directly involved with the leak and we know that they both were hurt immensely due to it. Yet, when it comes down to it, CJ still cares deeply for Toby. Why else would she consider asking the President of the United States to pardon a man who betrayed him? Despite her courage in pursuing the option of the pardon and having the courage to speak to Toby, she is still very bitter-- evident in the best quote of the season: "You don't need a pardon, you need a frying pan to the side of the head!" Despite their banter, they miss each other.

I am CJ in the indecisive sense...the way that requires Toby telling her to "stop bouncing." And I am Toby in the stubborn, won't take the pardon, I found a typo in the Constitution sense.

My hopes for the rest of the show, we may or may not see the outcomes to everything, are that Will runs for the Oregon 4th and Kate follows him, that CJ figures out how to share her life with Danny, I hope Toby receives a pardon for the sake of his children, that Arnold Vinick does become the Secretary of State, that Santos chooses Josh or someone of that magnitude for vice president, and that CJ takes on the offer presented to her by Hollace. Wouldn't it be nice if a person offered you 10 billion for any problem you chose to take on?

Next week at 7pm you can catch the beginning of it all, The West Wing pilot, and at 8pm you can catch the series finale.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Half-Staff

I am not a morning person. My days and nights have been mixed up for so long now that when I finally go to sleep you better let me sleep whether that be in the early morning hours or the mid-afternoon.

However, this morning a good friend of mine called bright and early to ask me why the flag was at half-staff on her walk to school. How should I know? So...I turned on MSNBC to find nothing of importance, just reruns of the same ole sound bites from yesterday. Then I flipped on the light and rushed into the kitchen to turn the computer on. No news on the Washington Post website. Or so I thought because I hadn't yet located my glasses from the night before and having awoken so quickly was not in the mood or shape to put my contacts in. I quickly looked at the Statesman to see if there was local news that I had missed. Nothing.

You want to know what goes through my head every time I see a flag at half-staff and don't know why? Gerald Ford. I'm not sure I've mentioned this before or not, but I have a deep love and respect for former President Ford. Granted, President Ford was born the year Woodrow Wilson took office and his days are numbered, I still don't want to wake up to learn that President Ford has passed away.

It wasn't until later today that it was brought to my attention that maybe the flag was at half-staff because of another Idaho soldier killed in action in Iraq.

Are you ready for your flag flying history lesson of the day? "The original flag 'etiquette' was to fly the flag at one flag's depth from the top of the hoist. With the larger flags on shorter hoists on public buildings the practice of 'half-staff' has now commonly become to fly the flag at true 'half-staff' regardless of the size of the flag or hoist." So says Answers.com.

The day didn't get off to the smoothest start, mostly because I was ready to sleep 'til Christmas had the phone not been ringing, but despite the moment of concern that started the day, the day is ending on a rather pleasant note. As a student senator for the upcoming academic year, I was sworn in tonight. I came home to a house full of friends and am going to bed happy with the fact that all I absolutely must have done for tomorrow is nowhere near ready,

I'll think about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

House Ethics & Lobbying Legislation

Today the United States House of Representatives passed legislation (HR 4975) that expands the amount of information lobbyists must disclose regarding their interactions with lawmakers.

Now I understand the need for this legislation, I can't wrap my head around how lenient this bill is, but the one thing I really can't figure out is the vote of a certain member of Congress. The vote was 217-213. The Democrats could have prevented passage had 8 more of them voted no, but by the same token, 20 Republicans voted no. And the one Republican that voted no that baffles me is James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. If you look at Representative Sensenbrenner's voting record, rarely will he vote opposite of the GOP's opinion, and never in a situation of such seriousness.

I watched Jim Sensenbrenner closely as he was given the Speaker's gavel following the historic weekend session of Congress during the Schiavo ordeal. I didn't agree with his statement that the Schiavo case was not political, because members of Congress certainly used it as a political move, but I do commend his vote today and am glad that 20 Republicans, 1 Independent (God bless Bernie Sanders), and 192 Democrats voted no to the lobbyist bill that would have been a mere slap on the wrist for men like Jack Abramoff.

In all fairness to party lines, I was just as disappointed in Representative Matheson of Utah as I was impressed with Represenative Sensenbrenner. But I won't rant on this one, don't get me started on Utah Democrats!

The Washington Post has more on today's vote and even links to how each member of Congress voted.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Immigration Protests & Baseball

As I said before, this week is Dead Week at ISU. I think it must be called Dead Week because by the end of it if you're not dead it's a miracle! So today I was home all day, one to do my part in supporting the immigration protests and two, because the work I have to accomplish by Friday is nearly impossible.

Anyway, a few minutes ago I took a break from a research paper and turned on the television to the Braves/Rockies game and had a thought: Wouldn't it have been awesome if all of the MLB players who are from countries south of us would have refused to play their regularly scheduled games today?

I don't know how many current players in the Major League Baseball association are from Mexico, I only know my personal favorite Vinny Castilla and Wikipedia says 97 players from Mexico have played in the league since 1933, but I know a good chunk of most team rosters is filled by Central American stars.

I do know that the first Mexican to play in the MLB was Mel Almada. Mel started his major league career when he was my age in 1933 playing for the Boston Red Sox. That season with 44 at bats, he had 11 hits, and 1 homerun. Not a stellar season, but he was the first player from Mexico to play in the league.

This is sounding similar to an argument I posted regarding why Cuba should play in the World Baseball Classic, when I really just wanted to say, Wow, wouldn't it have been awesome?