Sunday, September 30, 2007

The End of an Era

I grew up watching the likes of Roberto Alomar, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Jr., and one of the best pitching trios of all time in Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine. Today marks the end of an era in two respects--the retirement of Craig Biggio and the end of Braves Baseball on TBS.

Over the last several years the steroid scandal in baseball has horribly hurt the reputations of several players, the most obvious being Bonds and Canseco, but to a lesser degree Palmeiro and McGwire as their careers ended. Today as I watched the final Atlanta Braves game of the season, I found myself cheering for the retiring second basemen for the Houston Astros, Mr. Craig Biggio. Not only was I cheering for a man who remained with the same team his entire career, I was cheering for one the most decent, humble men in baseball. I felt similarly today about Biggio as I felt while Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. were being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This isn't a game of decent, loyal, playing for the love of the game, men anymore.

Today's game is a game of men for the money, men for the endorsements, men for big time contracts and October post-season play. Sure, there are a few decent guys still playing, but the big time contract winners aren't there for the game itself like Biggio has been or as Gwynn and Ripken, Jr. always were.

Undoubtedly, Biggio deserves a place in Cooperstown. His stats alone are phenomenal. And taking into account that underlying question asked by those voting for Cooperstown hopefuls, Biggio was in fact one of the best in the game. Not only was he one of the most athletic players (I don't know many catchers who can and have made a successful transition to second base), he was one of the most respected players in the game. As Biggio left the field this afternoon you noticed a few of the veterans tipping their hats and I couldn't help but notice Chipper Jones, a rival of Biggio's on the field, nodding in appreciation of a decent man who loves the game as much as anyone ever has.

Major League Baseball would be an entirely different entity in the press if their were more men in the various lineups like Craig Biggio.

Also in today's Astros/Braves game came an end of a television force. Braves Baseball on TBS, as it has been known for some thirty-two years, will cease to exist as we diehard Braves fans have known it. TBS has picked up rights on the postseason (except for the World Series which will remain on Fox) and will air a special Sunday game between any two teams, not necessarily the Braves and an opponent.

Early on, TBS had announced a deal to air the 45 Braves games it holds rights to nationally, but opted out and sadly signed those 45 games as part of a deal with Peachtree TV. From here on out (or at least until 2013 when the contract expires) Sunday afternoon and playoff games will be known as Major League Baseball on TBS and what was once Braves Baseball on TBS will be only a memory.

Over the last few years I have been quite disappointed in the production change-ups at Braves Baseball on TBS. When the legendary Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren were cut back and Don Sutton and Joe Simpson stepped up I was utterly disappointed. This season was a compromise--Chip and Skip Caray as well as Joe Simpson led the charge.

Sure the announcers for Major League Baseball on TBS are good (Chip Caray will play a large part as TBS' lead play-by-play announcer for division series and LCS games with Tony Gwynn joining him. Joe Simpson and other members of the current Braves broadcast team will be a part of postseason coverage and last I heard there were talks taking place with former Braves announcer Don Sutton, but it looks like neither Sutton nor Skip Caray will be in the mix) and I absolutely can't complain about Ernie Johnson, Jr., Cal Ripken, Jr., and Frank Thomas being partially involved, but its a sad day for Braves fans outside of the Atlanta area and those with a FSN-South feed. Those of us in Idaho will have to become accustomed to only watching the Braves on Sunday baseball, ESPN, and occasionally Fox.

If next season is similar to this one, I may find myself watching more Rockies baseball (I can hardly believe I just said that) as I have been very impressed with Troy Tulowitski and Matt Holliday. But like always I will watch whatever baseball game is on for the simple love of the game.

Tomorrow we'll see the Rockies square off with the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card in a tie breaker. This coming week we'll see the beginning of the postseason with the Chicago Cubs (also a big shocker), the L.A. Angels of Anaheim, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Phillies (holy hell what a collapse on the part of the Mets), Cleveland (another surprise), the Arizona Diamondbacks, and either the Padres or Rockies.

Today we say good bye to a wonderfully executed television production. Today we say good bye to one of the most decent, respected, and talented men in the game--Biggio. Today, in a sense, we say good bye to an era.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The State of Blogging

All day I contemplated what I might throw into the mix for my usual Smorgasbord Saturday post. While in the language lab taking a German quiz and test, I thought about how ridiculous it was that my week didn't go well enough to allow me to do that in class. The problem therein, certainly not worthy of the smorgasbord. While driving south of town to visit a friend I thought about how annoyed I was with the weather (snow in Pocatello this morning), but that too didn't seem worthy of the smorgasbord. I thought long and hard, then I read this, and decided today isn't a smorgasbord kind of day.

Blogging can be a futile effort. At times it can gnaw at you all day until you have a moment to sit down and pound it out on the keyboard. Occasionally blogging becomes an enormous frustration and you have to take a step back, get some space from it, and remind yourself why you began the gig in the first place.

d2's post this morning made me take a step back and do exactly that. I looked back at day one of The Political Game and remembered what I was thinking when I started up my own blog. I wanted somewhere to vent, somewhere to let loose, somewhere to show my political colors without feeling stifled. I wanted that safe haven d2's talking about. I wasn't trying to create a safe haven for my readers, I was trying to create a safe haven for myself. I needed something so flexible that I could talk Kennedy one day and spew baseball stats the next. I needed that outlet just as much as I wanted it and as time has gone by (hard to believe it has been three years) I have come to appreciate the place the blog has in my every day life. Blogging can really consume a person.

In addition to the safety zone I feel I have created for myself in this space, I have had the wonderful opportunity of encountering some of the brightest minds in Idaho politics and some of the most gentle, compassionate people around. There are a handful of Idaho bloggers that I do not hesitate to shoot an email to when I don't quite understand something, need a link, or just want to rant about whatever stupid political maneuver occurred that day. The wisdom of my fellow bloggers is not something I take for granted. It is no coincidence that two of Idaho's top bloggers are theblogmother and Sage Word. Both have lived up to those names on more than one occasion where I am concerned.

There may be infighting and unfortunately, we have experienced it a handful of times, but when it comes down to it--bottom line--we're all on the same team. We'll continue to share victories together; upsets together; Bill Sali's stupidity together; and, from time to time we'll share a bit of our lives together.

Yesterday, I sent a fairly personal email to a fellow blogger after becoming fed up with a string of comments I was following on a blog. I don't think before that semi-emotional email, I had realized how it is all connected, it being our lives and our blogs. In my own mind I'd never realized that the blog wasn't this "other thing" going on completely outside of my regular life. It's part of it. And a pretty big part of it. My posts don't come out of nowhere (well, some are pretty random...), but are deeply rooted in the what I believe about certain issues, the way I react to stories and people, and more than anything are rooted in an Idaho upbringing with all that entails.

Last night I realized for the first time that being a blogger isn't like being a stamp collector. It's not this side job that is unattached from everything else. Being a blogger is an identity and one that gets listed with the important titles we each carry. Those titles connected to those we love, our respective religions, etc. I am a sister, a friend, a student, a Democrat, a daughter, a granddaughter, an intern, an historian, and many other things. Until yesterday I'd never thought to add "a blogger" to this list. Looking at the list, being a blogger is just as important as many of the things on that list, though nothing is as important to me as that first identity.

When we can't agree on hate crimes, children's health insurance, what the Democratic Party should do (or not do) about the Craig issue, or the MoveOn ad, we are all still bloggers.

Pie fights aside, I personally feel the state of blogging is in safe hands. And d2, if you're reading this, we've all got your back!

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Books from Uptown

Tonight on way home I stopped at Uptown Books and experienced for myself the joy of this fine bookstore. Had there not been a Brewers/Padres game beginning at 6, I could have stayed and perused the extensive selection of books for hours.

However, in the time I was there, I was able to spot and purchase the above pictured books. Pretty typical books for me...a little baseball (Hank Aaron and the Home Run That Changed America), a little Kennedy (A Woman Named Jackie, Oswald and the CIA, and Fatal Hour), McNamara's The Essence of Security (to add to the growing collection of books I have by or about McNamara), a little Idaho politics (George Hansen's epic piece), something on Johnson (more for the benefit of the author than the man), Stevenson because I love him, and a book of short stories purchased for the purpose of fueling my ongoing short story project that may never end.

The Jackie Kennedy book was my freebie for purchasing a book.

Being in a bookstore is pure heaven to me. In fact the pearly gates will surely be followed by ornate bookshelves. I enjoy the search as much as I enjoy the pleasure of finding a book that I can't live without. For any one who has spent a great deal of time around books, you know as well as I do that there is a distinct odor. Musty. I love old books, but man oh man can they smell. Uptown Books doesn't smell, unless you count the aromatic coffee pot quietly brewing near the cash register. And yes, the coffee really is free!

Clean smelling books, clean looking covers, and a selection that will knock your socks off.

Only downside? I had to come home and find homes for my new books. They are sadly sitting right where I took their picture. I have since I got home looked over my books and have compiled a stack of books that I've been meaning to find another home for (i.e. I can't continue to hoard duplicates of books).

What can I do with these books? Well, I will do what any self-respecting book lover would do--I'll take them to a beautiful little bookstore where I know they'll be given to a great and loving home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Craig's Voting Record

Interesting that Senator Craig finds it so important now to be in Washington to vote. Now that he has resigned, err...intended to resign, nope, un-resigned, yeah that's it. I'm just saying that for a guy who can say only 9 other men have voted less than he has this session, it's a little strange that now while he's fighting for his record to be cleared that his number one priority is being in the Senate to vote. Shouldn't he be in court? I mean now he has a real excuse to be missing votes as opposed to before when he was...hmm...what was he doing? Where was he? Sure, nine people missed more votes than he did. Nine. And every body has their excuses. Those nine consist of presidential candidates, a dead man, an eighty-three year old with one arm, and a man who suffered a brain hemorrhage. Tell me--how is Larry Craig doing a superb job of representing Idaho when he has missed thirty votes this session? Better yet, tell me how Senator Byrd who is nine hundred years old and takes two hours to walk from his office to the Senate chamber has managed to vote more often than Senator Craig and his nine cohorts that make up the ten least voting senators of the session thus far?

S-CHIP: Update

House Resolution 976, the bill to reauthorize funding for and to expand the State Children's Insurance Program (earlier discussed here) passed the House of Representatives yesterday with a vote of 265-159. Still, President Bush insists he will veto the legislation when it hits his desk following the Senate vote.

The Senate will more than likely vote tomorrow, as Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture petition requesting the vote. If the Senate doesn't vote tomorrow or Friday (like they want to be in session on a Friday and have a full five day work week) then funding for S-CHIP will sunset Sunday September 30th as planned. And still, Bush insists he will veto S-CHIP.

In the House vote, 45 Republicans voted for S-CHIP--that's a big jump from the five who supported the legislation in August.

There are many sides to this story, hence the reason both parties are taking this in stride and why President Bush promises to veto the legislation. However, one of the most common heard critiques from both sides of the aisle is the comment that congressmen and women are playing politics with children's health care. One quote I found particularly amusing: "This is a government-run socialized wolf masquerading in the sheep skin of children's health." Yeah, that quote from Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas is one of many spewing from the halls of Congress this week as Republicans try to scare the American people into thinking providing for the good health of America's children is just like true socialized medicine.

For a better look at the different perceptions of S-CHIP reauthorization, CQ Politics offers a synopsis--hat tip to The Mountain Goat Report.

Perhaps the number one problem the opposition to the legislation frequently discusses is the possibility that children from families who have the means of providing them health insurance, but choose not to will be rewarded with a government handout. Factually, the legislation provides for children of families that are above the poverty level, but cannot afford the cost of living plus adequate health insurance. A common misconception is that uninsured children are only those children below the poverty threshold. This simply isn't true in the "Two Americas."

If tomorrow's Senate vote goes anything like the vote did in August (and subsequent votes on amendments) that effectively tabled the issue until now, the Senate Democrats (with Republicans Hatch, Domenici, Snowe, Grassley, and Independents Leiberman and Sanders) will be able to send the bill to President Bush's desk, but won't have the votes to override his promised veto.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Praeceptores suos adulescens veneratur et suspicit

Unfortunately, my Latin is better than my German. Equally unfortunate: I can't tell you a damn thing about Seneca.

However, I can tell you exactly why Seneca uttered this famous phrase--men and women like my former Latin professor.

A couple of weeks ago I ran into my former Latin professor, a man that can only be explained by his genuine kindness and amazing sense of humor, and I found myself wishing certain aspects of my academic career would have gone another way. I didn't have the chance to complete the Latin course with this fine instructor, but that didn't end my Latin studies. Had this been any other instructor, perhaps one that didn't seem to notice I bothered to show up to class, I may have ended my Latin studies indefinitely as most college sophomores would. Fortunately, I didn't.

There have been many, many times throughout the last four years that things could have gone another way. Had there been a gentle, direction-giving mentor who challenged me in the ways students like me need to be challenged, I could be student teaching right now and preparing for a career in Special Education. Weird thought. Instead that gentle, direction-giving mentor who challenged me (and continues to challenge me) was an English professor who helped me to realize that you have to do what you love, not just what is comfortable.

Last night I was on the phone with my younger brother, helping him cram for a history test covering the French Revolution, and he made the comment that if his teacher cared a little more about the subject it might then make him care a little bit more about it, too. This, I truly believe, has everything to do with a young man wanting to coach, therefore taking a position as a history teacher as his day job. No offense to my teacher friends who also coach and do a fine job of both.

I digress...what our conversation last night really solidified in my mind is the distinct difference between my brother and I as students. I have had unbelievably supportive, concerned, and motivating teachers and professors who have deserved my trust and admiration. Additionally, they have challenged me and have made me care about the subjects they teach. This has not only made my educational experience much more pleasant, it has made me a much better student. On the contrary, my brother has had one teacher thus far in his academic career that has truly cared about him. I know this because she was my teacher once, too. It has been a long time since second grade and he is due for a superb educator in his life.

Fortunately, it isn't necessary for me to know anything about Seneca because I understand what his famous phrase means. I understand it both because I believe what he is saying and because I know some educators don't take the responsibility of his words seriously enough.

TDIH: The Little Rock Nine

**Editor's Note: This post was intended for yesterday, but I was distracted by Cold Case which was then distracted by my little brother's French Revolution history test studying last night. My apologies.

Fifty years ago, the United States watched as federal troops had to escort nine students into Little Rock Central High School. The federal troops, sent in by President Eisenhower, were there to counter the National Guard sent in by the Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus.

There's an entire history behind the event, beginning with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v Board of Education. A history tainted by a century of prejudice and a nation divided by the issue of integration.

When I was in the fifth grade each student drew a state out of a hat and was required to write a lengthy report on that state. Hoping for Massachusetts or Maine, I was disappointed to draw Alabama--not because I had anything against Alabama, but because I was entranced by New England (still am). Drawing Alabama turned out to be another one of those moments in my life that seemed to define and mold my political leanings as well as frame my interpretation of history.

In the case of Alabama, it was Ross Barnett and George Wallace, two staunch segregationists who startled my ten year old mind. My curiosity got the best of me, as it usually does, and I started to investigate the issue at Central High School.

At ten I didn't understand how such hatred could exist among people who had only one fundamental difference between them--the color of their skin--and today, twelve years later I don't understand it any more than I did then.

How could the ten years between Brown and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 be so loaded with prejudice and confrontation? How could a year that produced the likes of On the Road, Atlas Shrugged, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and 12 Angry Men also produce one of the most heated, prejudice confrontations in U.S. history? Why does it matter if the person sitting next to us in a classroom is black, white, or purple?

Clearly there is a huge disconnect between the generations and those in my generation cannot fathom how the crisis at Little Rock Central High School occurred. However, it did. Fifty years ago nine students walked into an Arkansas high school and blew the doors wide open for generations to come.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smorgasbord Saturday

There's a new bookstore in Pocatello!! It's in a building owned by a friend of mine, so I have been waiting patiently for it to open and finally it has arrived. Uptown Books is on the corner of 4th Ave. and Halliday. Something I love about this little store, other than the obvious thing--it's a bookstore, duh!--is that it has evening and weekend hours. Check out the website to see for yourself. I haven't been in since it has been completed, but I hope to visit one night this week. If you're in Pocatello please stop in and let me know what you think.

In other nerdy, book related news, the Idaho Yesterdays Lecture Series brings Dr. Peter Boag to campus this week for his lecture titled, “Family, Gender, and Conservation, 1945-1970: How Outdoor Recreation Undermined and Reinforced the Post-War Consensus." The lecture will be held on the Idaho State University campus Thursday September 27th at 7:30 pm. The event, sponsored in part by the American Studies Program, will be held in the Salmon River Suite of the Pond Student Union Building.

I don't recognize nearly enough the work of my fellow Idaho bloggers, so today I wanted to mention the great work The MountainGoat Report is doing in following the Bedke/BLM debacle and point out a great article at Spittin' In the Snake.

I received another email alert from Preservation Idaho this past week regarding the Minidoka Internment National Monument in Hunt. The Endangered Places program has noted recently that the camp faces threats from a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO or what sounds like a plain feed lot). A public hearing has been scheduled for September 25th and 26th at the Jerome County Courthouse . The Jerome County commissioners have limited pre-hearing letters from the public to only those property owners within one mile of the proposed site, but that doesn't stop wise Idahoans from voicing their concerns with the proposal. For more information please visit the National Trust site for endangered places. Only in the Mini-Cassia area would it make any sense to threaten a national monument with a feedlot, yet not set up a wind power system for fear of hurting the birds.

This funny tribute to former President Ford turned up in my inbox this week. Fitting, given that the Ford postage stamp is supposedly in circulation now though I haven't actually seen one yet...Somebody also told me there is a Jimmy Stewart stamp in circulation, too. Suppose I ought to make a trip to the USPS?

There were a couple of great articles in the August issue of Smithsonian Magazine. I recently became a subscriber to this periodical due to the depth of each issue and the wealth of information on all sorts of topics. "Hemingway's Cuba, Cuba's Hemingway" and "Barefoot Hemingway" offered new and intriguing vantage points of the late author as well as the perspective of Valerie Hemingway. I don't know many people who absolutely can't suffer their way through Hemingway, so I am recommending these articles to others like me who appreciate Hemingway's style and to others who need to open their minds!

New fall television begins tomorrow. There isn't a show on these days that I am absolutely hooked on--not like I was with The West Wing or The X-Files, but there are a few I follow pretty close. Without a Trace, Cold Case, and Brothers & Sisters garner my attention whenever possible. I catch the CSI shows occasionally, though they're wearing me out with all the reruns and what not. I also enjoy The Amazing Race and NCIS. I'm looking forward to a few new shows this season--the return of some tv phenoms like Amy Brenneman, Peter Krause, and Dylan McDermott in shows like Private Practice, Dirty Sexy Money, and Big Shots. And, one of my favorite fluff authors--James Patterson--is having his Women's Murder Club series brought to the small screen. I'm pretty excited about that as well. Now if I can just make it home in time for prime time television!!

Since Constitution Week isn't technically over yet, I wanted to point out Senator Byrd's statement in honor of the 220th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. I am one of few Democrats who truly appreciate Robert Byrd. I could listen to the man talk all day long. However, I will admit Byrd's statement this year with its comparison of the Constitution to a soap opera wore me out. What? Yeah, he's losing it, but his heart's still in the right place. Go read his statement. You'll laugh. He did redeem himself with Longfellow.

I read somewhere that people perceived Sally Field's Emmy acceptance speech as a tirade and that she went "ballistic." Ballistic? Maybe I don't quite understand the meaning of the word. She didn't go ballistic, she simply stated the obvious. Indeed, "let’s face it, if the mothers ruled the (world), there would be no goddamn wars in the first place!"

Friday, September 21, 2007

47-47 Wasn't the News of the Morning

Earlier today I was watching C-SPAN and I caught the vote on the most recent Levin/Reed amendment. It was a stalemate, like those that have come before it, and the Senate Democrats weren't able to gain enough support to set a date on withdrawing our troops from Iraq.

My point in mentioning this has nothing to do with the War in Iraq. My point in mentioning this has everything to do with one senator who voted today.

Larry Craig.

As Larry Craig entered the chamber and made his way to the floor of the Senate, it was amazing the reaction of his fellow senators. Had there been more room, it would have been like the parting of the Red Sea. His fellow Senate Republicans could not get out of the way quickly enough. The clerk who was tallying the votes shut off the microphone before Craig reached the table to vote, but the silence prior to the microphone being shut off was stunning. Only one senator said a word to Craig. Only one "hey, Larry" from a senator I can't pinpoint at the moment and one pat on the back from another.

Unbelievable. I've been watching CSPAN for many years now and I have never seen a senator receive such silence from his peers as I did this morning with Larry Craig's entrance in the Senate chamber. In fact, I don't think the Senate collectively was that silent the day Vice President Cheney told Senator Leahy to go f*** himself.

The silence was the true story there this morning. Yes, I was pleased to see Chuck Hagel voting with the Democrats (I wish he would run for president--also wish Bob Kerrey could take his place upon his retirement). Yes, I continue to find myself at odds with and greatly disappointed in Joe Lieberman. Yes, 47-47, an even split in the Senate is surprising. Yes, Dodd voting against the measure surprised me. And yes, the six not voting surprised me--Bennett (R-Utah), Boxer (D-California), Domenici (R-New Mexico), Durbin (D-Illinois), Lott (R-Mississippi), and Sanders (I-Vermont). With those not voting we can reasonably assume that had they voted the vote outcome (50-50) would have resulted similarly. Rejected.

Yes, there were some odd occurrences, but the story here my friends is the parting of the seas. Larry Craig, guilty or not, you've lost your Senate buddies.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Few Small Matters of Business

I began this post as a TDIH piece--one on this speech Kennedy gave to the United Nations in 1963--but I thought better of that and decided to take care of some housekeeping matters.

As you may have noticed on the sidebar, Nick's back!! Yes, his long awaited return to the blogosphere is here, though he proposes an idea of an anonymous blog that may be forthcoming. Please check out The Return Blog.

When I have made updates to the two sections In the CD Player and What I am Reading, I've found myself annoyed with how far down on the sidebar those elements are. I'm contemplating moving them up, but I'm not sure what to move into their place. Keep an eye out for those changes. Perhaps I'll move the archive down.

As you also may have noticed my writing over at ArmChairGM is slow-going. I haven't been able to juggle all of my other projects and may have to drop this extra gig until Spring training. However, I'm not going to drop it until after the baseball postseason in case something really spectacular happens.

The blog pile has been stacking up with ideas for posts, I just haven't had time to get to those. Maybe I'll throw several of those ideas into the Smorgasbord Saturday mix. I know for sure Sunday deserves a TDIH post.

I am a contributing member (or hope to be contributing weekly) at the new Red State Rebels site. Like other things, I'm slow getting around to that too. I'll let you know when I post over there just as I do (or did) when I post at ArmChairGM.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

November in Dallas

Every year at about this time I find myself very antsy and wanting more than anything to attend the November in Dallas conference hosted by JFK Lancer (this can also be found on the sidebar). However, every year something comes up or I simply can't work a trip into my schedule so closely to the Thanksgiving break from school. Today I received the newsletter from JFK Lancer announcing that this year the conference will focus on both JFK & RFK. From the press release:

The 2007 JfK Lancer November in Dallas Research Conference has been scheduled for November 16-18. This year the November in Dallas Conference will address three 2007 national news stories that focused on JFK and RFK.

First, there was the news that E. Howard Hunt, prior to his own death, had shared details on his personal knowledge of the conspiracy which resulted in JFK's death. That information included specific names of CIA officers who were involved in planning and organizing the attack.

Then, with the publication of David Talbot's book on Robert Kennedy, the public was provided with considerable evidence that Robert Kennedy himself had been convinced that his brother was murdered as the result of a conspiracy; and that RFK covertly investigated the conspiracy and had focused on a specific group of suspects, including individuals named in the Hunt confession.

Not long after the Hunt and RFK revelations made news, national media carried a number of stories about a scientific team which had published studies showing that a key technical test used by the Warren Commission to confirm Lee Oswald as the sole shooter was invalid; that test is no longer being used in FBI investigations or as evidence for court cases.

This year's JFK Lancer's November in Dallas Conference will be addressing all three of these news stories as well as offering a variety of new historical research on President and Senator Kennedy. It's a conference you don't want to miss!

David Talbot is speaking!! How can I pass this up? This year we only receive two weekdays off for Thanksgiving when in the past ISU has given us the entire week. In addition to this scheduling snafu, I am working hard on the Stallings Collection, trying to prepare the main portion to open in January and a trip plus Thanksgiving break wouldn't work out with the schedule I need to keep until January.

If any of you love Kennedy, have always been intrigued by the assassination, or are just plain nerds, I would highly recommend looking into this conference.

I suppose there is always next year for me...

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Gift to the Constitution

*Editor's Note: This piece is cross-posted at dailyKos and Red State Rebels.

Today marks the 220th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution being adopted in its original form with the signing at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

This particular Constitution Day, we not only celebrate the beauty and brilliance of what is believed to be the oldest democratic governing document, but we also celebrate the departure of one of its greatest foes--Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

As was announced in August, today, September 17, 2007, Alberto Gonzales will officially leave his post at the Justice Department, marking an end to a reign noted for the unconstitutional.

You may remember in January before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Gonzales stated: "There is no expressed grant of habeas corpus [in the Constitution]; there's a prohibition against taking it away."

After being questioned by a dumbfounded Senator Arlen Specter, Gonzales went on to clarify:

"The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right shall not be suspended 'except in cases of rebellion or invasion.'"

To this baffling argument Specter responded: "You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense."

If you read Article I, Section IX of the U.S. Constitution it in fact refers to habeas corpus as a "privilege" and a privilege that "shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion" at which time "public safety may require it."

Certainly the NSA warantless surveillance of Americans does not constitute an issue of public safety and certainly our civil liberties have been threatened as President Bush and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have carried out this program.

Today is without question a great day for the United States Constitution. The departure of Gonzales is not only fitting for this day, it is a gift to our 220 year-old Constitution.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

No Longer Brought to You by iTunes

Seems like the best features of iTunes are no longer accessible. With Apple in general it seems after so many new versions the great features we loved with the first few versions of a product disappear. Maybe they'll finally get it right with the iPhone, but after the latest setback of those diehard Apple fans who bought the iPhone the first day and got ripped off, maybe not.

One of my favorite features of iTunes is no longer accessible on the version of iTunes I now have. "Celebrity Playlists" was an awesome feature that allowed iTunes users to download the songs handpicked by famous people. For instance, I could download the songs picked by Elvis Costello or some other random celebrity that I love. Another feature comes and goes, "Complete My Album," offers me the opportunity to purchase entire albums that I had previously purchased singles off of. Not there always and Celebrity Playlists is not there at all. Frustrating.

So, I've decided that since I can't look at what James Blunt is listening to, I'll have to share with you all what my playlist would be if I were famous.

  • Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)
  • Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
  • Drops of Jupiter (Train)
  • Let it Be (The Beatles)
  • I Wanna Be There (Blessid Union of Souls)
  • Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
  • You Gotta Hide Your Love Away (Eddie Vedder)
  • Sleeping In (The Postal Service)
  • Easy Silence (The Dixie Chicks)
  • She Said (Collective Soul)
  • Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
  • It Don't Matter to the Sun (Garth Brooks)
  • Secret Garden (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Holy Water (Big & Rich)
  • Runaway Train (Soul Asylum)
  • You Don't Know Me (Ray Charles)
  • Hope (Shaggy)
  • Tears & Rain (James Blunt)
  • I'll Be (Edwin McCain)
  • You've Got a Friend (James Taylor)
  • Morning Has Broken (Cat Stevens)
  • Chances Are (Bob Seger & Martina McBride)
  • Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles)
  • Please Come to Boston (Dave Loggins)
  • Under Pressure (David Bowie & Queen)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Today is my grandfather's eighty-first birthday. He has been a father for nearly sixty years, a grandfather for nearly forty, and has gallantly served as both to me for twenty-two years.

The eighty-first birthday isn't the one we traditionally celebrate. It's not seventy-five, it's not ninety, and it certainly isn't one hundred, but it is his eighty first birthday and there is a real western movie in theaters.

What? Yes, my grandfather is a die hard western fan. And there hasn't been a decent western since Unforgiven. Hot damn!!

It isn't just a western...because if you're like me you roll your eyes when the opportunity of watching a western is before is a western with humor:

[Potter is getting ready to go and join the posse who have gone after the stage robbers]
Alex Potter, town drunk: Ain't cha gonna help catch 'em?
Ben Wade: Ah, wish I could.
Potter, town drunk: What'd they look like?
Ben Wade: Oh, they'll be easy to catch. That's three big men on three white horses.
Alex Potter, town drunk: [as he starts to ride off] Three white fellas... on three big horses, huh?

Though I doubt I could talk my grandfather into leaving the house, you all should. Go see 3:10 to Yuma it will be well worth your time.

Happy birthday, Gramps!

Popkey on the Unlearned Lessons of 1982

Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman has a new article up about Senator Craig not learning the lessons of the 1982 House page scandal--go check it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Here's to the State of George W.

I've been looking for this for a very long time. And with an answer like the one given to Senator Warner yesterday by General Petraeus about the safety of our nation, there's no time like the present for a protest song. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years

I read the poetry of Billy Collins the day after 9/11. I began a mural of American landmarks for an art class. I watched the strongest person I've ever known cry while listening to "God Bless the U.S.A." And yet, six years later it is the emotion that came with reading a poem by Collins that remains:

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass-bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.
They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a warm afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,
which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.
Collins' "The Dead" brought with it the emotions I'd been harboring after watching on television the second plane hit the second tower. It brought with it the realization that nothing would ever be the same again.

Now six years later we have been deceived, told repeatedly to connect the terrorist acts of 9/11 with the atrocities a dictator in Iraq forced on his own people. Six years later we have healed, yet on each anniversary remember the pain, confusion, and fear we felt that day. Six years later we are reminded of "the tragedy of things."

Monday, September 10, 2007


An article in The New Republic this week attempts to unravel the myths of children's health insurance programs in this country. "Debunking Conservatives' Myths About S-CHIP" by Jonathan Cohn is a realistic look at why the current administration, that does not believe in offering these health insurance programs to children whose parents on the surface do not need the help, and the more moderate voices who feel that the current S-CHIP (State-Children's Health Insurance Program) plan on the table is overreaching. The reasoning behind this stems from the income gap that puts working families in a position of making too much money to apply for Medicaid and not enough money to afford their own private health insurance plan.

Where Cohn's article falls short, like many other well-written articles on children's health insurance in this country, is in the depiction of the cost of S-CHIP. After laying out the hard numbers on who in which states can apply for CHIP, he factually examines the cost of living and earned income requirements for applicants. Surprisingly in some states a family of four may have an income of $80,000 and is still eligible for assistance--those states of course would be the higher cost of living states like New York.

Without question Cohn's research is credible and respectable, but yields the same results as most other attempts to describe the proposal--we simply cannot afford it.

What we cannot afford in this country is to continue to allow children, regardless of their background, family income, etc. to go without treatment. Solving or at the very least managing many health problems in youth prevents devastating health crises in adulthood. Additionally, if children are taught from an early age about when it is (and isn't) appropriate to seek medical advice, once grown they will have retained that knowledge and will use it wisely, often allowing cancer to be caught sooner or allowing them the benefit of early management of lifelong diseases. Yearly physicals and exams are needed throughout all stages of life and when is a better time to learn the importance of this than in childhood?

The issue shouldn't be whether or not an annual budget has room for the growing costs of the S-CHIP plan, but whether our conscience can survive continued neglect of our nation's children. Evidently our conscience can survive. It doesn't appear from Cohn's article or the current facts and figures on continued funding of S-CHIP that the discussion is shifting directions.

Quote of the Day

If you're going through hell, keep going. -- Sir Winston Churchill

Sunday, September 9, 2007

"Surrounded By Her Books"

When Jackie Kennedy died John Jr. gave a short statement to the press in which he commented that his mother had died the previous evening surrounded by her books. At the time I was nine years old, fond of the Kennedys, and confused by the young man's statement.

Now that I am older I have come to greatly understand what it meant for Jackie Kennedy to have ended her battle with cancer surrounded by her two amazing children and her collection of books.

This afternoon I finished reading Mary Pipher's Writing to Change the World. This wasn't the first time I had read it, nor will it be the last, but this time I completely grasped something that like John Kennedy, Jr.'s statement in 1994 had previously baffled me. Pipher writes:

As a girl, I was the fixer in my frenetic, disorganized household. I did the dishes, hung up the coats, and tossed out the cigarette butts and old newspapers. Whenever I could, I retreated to the public library, with its oak tables and leather books, or to school with its waxy floors, rows of desks, and sharpened pencils.

As an adult, I am the fixer of my own family as well. The children and grandchildren arrive for Thanksgiving. We take joy in our reunion, but we share a small space physically and a complicated family history emotionally. After a while, old tensions surface, and fault lines reveal themselves. Trying to make things work in a universe I cannot control, I grow anxious. We have fun, but it's messy family fun, filled with shared stories and disagreements, with laughter and hurt feelings, emotional crashes and hugs.

I will look forward to the time when I can return to my sanctuary, to this cathedral of writing I have built. At my desk, my breathing slows down. I dissolve into the writing.

Pipher is speaking of something that John Kennedy, Jr. implied in his statement regarding his mother's passing--the places we find comfort and solitude in.

When I was young, there was this loft area at the top of the stairs in my grandparents house, a loft that connected to the open walkway to the upstairs bedrooms. I remember sitting there many an hour looking over the banister, down to my grandparents' living room as my grandfather napped. I remember the many books I read while sitting in that place, one book in particular that offered a child's perspective of the life and death of President John F. Kennedy. The gift of that book, a book I was first introduced to when I was six, began my fascination with the Kennedys and was followed with the gift of another Kennedy book, The Torch is Passed. Looking back at my childhood that place was my place of comfort and solitude.

As I am now older I note the number of places I have found solitude in. Offices of mentors, areas of libraries, and Zapruder's perch. None of these places mean what the ledge of my grandparent's house meant to me, but all of these places are similar in their own right to the places both Pipher and Kennedy speak/spoke of.

It isn't necessarily the physical space a person occupies, but rather the mental space they occupy that brings that measure of comfort and solitude. While sitting at my own desk, I am surrounded by photos of the men and women I admire deeply. On the wall near my desk are photos of Robert Frost, Adlai Stevenson, William Faulkner, Gerald Ford, and other famous notables. On my book shelf near my desk are photos of those who have had a more personal impact on my life, most importantly my younger brother. My house is adorned with photos of the Kennedys, a rare photo of Carl Sandburg admiring a bust of President Lincoln, and my own artwork.

The things in which I surround myself with bring me comfort and solitude.

It is the things Jackie Kennedy found herself surrounded with in her last moments of life that brought her happiness and contentment. It is the "cathedral" Mary Pipher has built that brings her feelings of strength to life on every page she writes.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Smorgasbord Saturday

Last night I cleaned, rearranged, and otherwise gutted my entire house. Why? Well, there isn't one reason in particular, but when I am stressed, frustrated, or angry (occasionally a combination of the three) I clean. It's what I do. So, this morning I have a sparkling house, a worn out body, and a stack of schoolwork to the ceiling. None of which is stopping me from a true Saturday post.

What is the meaning of the term 'investigative journalist'? I was watching MSNBC or some other news channel and I flipped out when I heard them describing Gerald Posner as an investigative journalist!! Are you kidding me? Gerald Posner is a poser. Granted, he has a good looking, TV face, but good Lord! Investigative journalist? If Gerald Posner is an investigative journalist, then I'm the Pope! And...while I'm on this kick, he titled his latest "investigative" work Why American Slept? Right, the man totally knocked down any hope of the public ever understanding the strange intricacies of the Kennedy assassination and then he goes and rips off Kennedy's dissertation title (Why England Slept?). What a poser.

Late last night while I was watching the late-run of Monk on USA, I heard a rather familiar voice on a commercial, looked up, and there was former Congressman Richard Stallings. Seems Stallings is doing commercials now. The commercial was for Potelco Credit Union. Interesting.

Hmm...what else can I add to this Saturday post? Let me throw out a name--Troy Tulowitzki. Who? Yeah, my thought earlier this year as well. But, he's the name I'm throwing out there for Rookie of the Year. Short stop for the Colorado Rockies. I'm telling you, if anybody deserves Rookie of the Year in the National League, it's Tulowitzki. Yeah, yeah, you're all thinking why not Prince Fielder? Why not? He's a great fellow, too, but he isn't the fielder that Tulowitzki is. Remember that unassisted triple play earlier in the season? That was Tulowitzki. I can't believe I'm endorsing a Colorado Rockie for Rookie of the Year...

That's it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Quote of the Day

"As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Overestimating Craig

Perhaps all this time I have overestimated Larry Craig. I always thought he was an intelligent man, wise enough to serve Idaho in the United States Senate. However, after last night's news that Craig is reconsidering his resignation, I am completely convinced that Larry Craig is not as intelligent as I had always thought he was.

How does a well-educated United States Senator make a phone call to his lawyer about very sensitive details of his resignation without checking to make sure it was in fact his lawyer before leaving the message?

How does a bright politico like Craig think a charge in June and a plea in August won't make it into the news and back to his home state?

How do people believe the logistics of what Craig says transpired in that Minneapolis bathroom stall? Seems to me he'd either have to be a contortionist or a liar.

Overestimated. Of all the things I've thought of Craig over the past week, today I'm just overwhelmed by the idea that I overestimated him.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?

Breaking news--Craig may reconsider his resignation (or intent to resign). Good God, how much more can the RNC put up with? Never mind the RNC, how much more with Idahoans put up with? For more on this developing story I redirect you to The MountainGoat Report.

Monday, September 3, 2007

It's Been A Summer

Labor Day traditionally marks the unfortunate (or fortunate if you're a member of the Idaho GOP) end of summer.

Classes on this campus began a week ago, but this weekend surely marks the beginning of the grueling months of fall semester -- months lengthened by a shorter than usual Thanksgiving break.

As I have contemplated what I have and haven't accomplished this summer, I've been more than aware of the lessons I've been taught over the preceding months.

Sure I didn't accomplish as much as I would have liked to on the Stallings Collection (the January 1st opening presently on my mind), but I certainly learned a great deal about Idaho politics this summer. I saw my fair share of other political manuscript collections this summer. For someone so immersed in the process of cataloging a collection, seeing a finished indexing of a collection is a welcome (if not motivating) experience. For those of you who have been following the Stallings project, I would like to personally assure you that the main collection (files from the Washington D.C. congressional office of Stallings as opposed to his district offices) will open as scheduled in January. More than a few people have asked me why it is taking so long...ignoring the health hiccup I had in the Spring, I can say without hesitation that perfection is what is taking so long. I am by no means referring to the bout of perfectionism that has plagued me all my life, but rather the way in which we have chosen to index Congressman Stallings' papers. The collection, once completed, will be an historian's dream.

I am of course biased.

In addition to the lessons I am constantly learning from this project, I learned a great deal from the blunders of our fine first district congressman, Bill Sali, and from the sudden fall from power exhibited by Senator Larry Craig. Hard to imagine those two things happened in one summer, much less one month. The political game is indeed that, a game, a game that requires a great deal of thought and occasionally the courage to call out "checkmate."

On a much more personal level, this summer has opened my eyes to very important life lessons. Some lessons I wish could have bypassed me and a few I find myself learning over and over again. A dear friend of mine passed away this summer, a man who taught me how to truly take care of myself, not just physically, but mentally. His sense of humor even in his last days was something worth admiring. His absence in my daily life is something I miss horribly, though I believe some part of him lives on within me. Perhaps that part of me that worries about whether I've slept enough or if I am fretting over things that in the bigger picture do not matter.

At the beginning of August my brother and I went on a trip to northern Idaho for a friends' wedding. If you want to know what you share in common with a person, get in a car with them for a long trip. In our entire lives I'm not sure we've talked so much. It was a great trip and one that the both of us needed. As I grow older I am learning that he will teach me far more than I will ever be able to teach him.

On that same trip I learned a great deal about families. Family interactions, that is. That is something my friend and I have always shared -- complex families. Coming away from that wedding I only loved this friend more and truly appreciated the different perspectives we bring to this friendship.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of this summer is that you never stop learning from your mistakes. Mistakes are what they are. You live with them, let them go, and move on, but they don't necessarily let go of you. There aren't many things in my life that I regret (that's another thing my late friend taught me--live life without regrets), but there are a few. Those few mistakes have their way of sneaking up on me when I least expect them, challenging me every step of the way, and ultimately reminding me of just how far I've come to be where I am today.

Without question, this summer has been far better than last summer was for me. However, the challenges were different. This summer they were my challenges and not me fighting the battles of others or trying to save the world. Yes, I do that from time to time. Taking care of me has been something I've learned slowly, I'm not even sure I'm there yet (or that a person ever really gets there), but compared to a year ago I am a pro! What's the key to truly taking care of yourself? Let things go that don't deserve holding on to. Sleep through the night. Watch a baseball game every time you get the chance. Call the ones that love you when you need them most. Play the piano whenever you feel like the world is crashing down on you. It's okay to open up. Read a good book. A good book will do wonders.

Important lessons, sweet success, stinging loss. It's been a summer.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Original Red State Rebel

While most of us were carefully examining the sudden fall of Senator Larry Craig yesterday, something else in the Idaho blogosphere was occurring that more than deserves a mention. The retirement (or let us hope hiatus) of the original Red State Rebel from the partisan Idaho blogosphere.

Four years ago, Julie Fanselow, the Red State Rebel, began the blog. Red State Rebels paved the way for progressive bloggers statewide.

My own first encounter with Red State Rebels occurred on November 22, 2003. Why do I remember the exact date? It happened to be the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Earlier that day I had conducted an interview of then Idaho State University president Dr. Richard Bowen regarding the assassination (as I did numerous members of the ISU community) and was surfing the web looking for Idaho memories of the Kennedy assassination. Somewhat accidentally encountering Julie's post on the anniversary, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness Julie put into her post and equally appreciative that she hadn't bad-mouthed the conspiracy theorists out there with whom I have worked closely. From that day on, I have been a daily reader of Red State Rebels and a frequent participant in the many discussions there.

Looking back through RSR's archives, I remembered fondly my first reactions to a few of Julie's posts that both meant something to me and forced me to really examine my beliefs or more specifically my understanding of certain issues. By no means a complete list, here are a few of my favorites:

When I began this blog in August 2004, I looked to the original Red State Rebel on numerous occasions for tips, advice, and occasionally links. With every post from Julie, I fought off the urge to simply direct my readers to her writing. Over time I've continued to fight this urge and have found myself hoping to imitate Julie's style, though not at all reaching that level of brilliance.

Recently I began reading Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher, a name constantly on the New York Times bestselling list, and more than once I thought 'this sounds like Julie.' An example:

"True rebels act from a well-developed moral center. They know who they are and what they stand for. Most likely, they are fighting for something they have spent a lifetime learning to love."

As we have all learned from the original Red State Rebel, believing in the progressive ideals we do has taken a lifetime of learning, if not convincing. Some of us have come from conservative backgrounds, rural Idaho towns, and diverse histories to join the Red State Rebel in bringing truth to Idaho readers. We now share a bond as bloggers that we can attribute to the trail blazed by Julie.

Julie has served as the interim communications director for the LaRocco for Senate campaign, leaving that post yesterday, September 1st. She now joins the Study Circles Resource Center (soon to be known as Everyday Democracy).

My personal thanks to Julie for all she has done and continues to do as the godmother of the Idaho blogsphere. My best wishes to her as she begins her newest gig. How about a Michael Jordan like comeback, Julie? Let's say it's just a hiatus.

Update: Looks like I tagged a few of Julie's favorites, too. Check out Julie's favorite posts and her parting words.

Update #2: Don't miss Mountain Goat's post on the role RSR played in inspiring the start up of the MountainGoat Report.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Craig Resigns

Unfortunately for Larry Craig, he does not understand that withdrawing his guilty plea will only make his world a little more miserable for quite a while longer.

Today at his press conference, Craig announced that he intends to resign effective September 30th. Craig's statement:

BOISE, Idaho - Senator Craig made the following statement to Idaho:

For most of my adult life, I've had the privilege of serving the people of Idaho. I am grateful for the opportunity they have given me. It has been a blessing.

I am proud of my record and accomplishments and equally proud of the wonderful and talented people with whom I have had the honor and privilege to work and serve.

I chose to serve because I truly love Idaho. What is best for Idaho has always been the focus of my efforts, and it is no different today.

To the Idahoans I represent, to my staff, my Senate colleagues and, most importantly, my wife and our family, I apologize for what I have caused.

I am deeply sorry.

I have little control over what people choose to believe, but clearing my name is important to me and my family.

Having said that, to pursue my legal options as I continue to serve Idaho would be an unwanted and unfair distraction from my job and for my Senate colleagues.

These are serious times of war and conflict - times that deserve the Senate and our full nation's attention. There are many challenges facing Idaho that I'm currently engaged in, and the people of Idaho deserve a Senator who can devote 100 percent of his time and effort to critical state and national issues.

Therefore, it is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate, effective September 30. In doing so, I hope to allow for a smooth and orderly transition for my loyal staff, and for the person appointed to take my place at William Borah's desk. I have full confidence that Governor Otter will appoint a successor who will serve Idaho with distinction.

I apologize to the people of our great state for being unable to serve out the term to which you have elected me. I hope you understand my decision to step aside.

Few people have had the pleasure and privilege to represent Idaho for as many years as I have. Each day, each week, each year brought new challenges and opportunities to create a better life for Idahoans. I have enjoyed every moment and cannot adequately put into words how much I appreciate you giving me this chance. I hope you do not regret the confidence you have placed in me for all these years. I hope I have served you and our state to the best of my abilities.

Lastly, Suzanne and I have been humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from our friends, our family, staff and fellow Idahoans - we are profoundly and forever grateful.

Thank you.

Whether the U.S. Senate leadership will allow Craig to continue into September is any body's guess, but the media buzz will not cease.

As I prepared to watch the Craig press conference, I can only describe my feelings as surreal. Biding my time before the press conference, I was working on a box of materials in the Stallings Congressional Collection related to the Savings and Loan Crisis. During the Savings and Loan Crisis representing Idaho in the U.S. House of Representatives with Stallings was then Congressman Larry Craig. Craig is a prominent name throughout the Stallings Collection as he served with Stallings until 1990 when he ran for McClure's open Senate seat. Until this week I'd never given materials with Craig's name on them a second though. From here on out, my time with the Stallings Collection will surely bring up these same surreal feelings that come with knowing today's press conference will forever be an unforgettable moment in Idaho political history.

Watching Craig with Tom Luna, Butch Otter, and Bill Sali behind him, I couldn't help but wonder what has happened to the Republican Party not only in our state, but nationally. They part their ways with anyone who will bring them bad publicity and yet stand behind the oddest of men.

No explanation from Craig, no announcement about his sexuality, though I didn't expect one, and a rather hollow apology.