Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vacation

This is my official vacation message--no, this is not a test. I am really going on vacation. I leave first thing in the morning for Moscow and will return to reality next Wednesday. I may post along the way, I may not. Either way, I have left you all plenty to catch up on in the past two days. Enjoy!

H.R. 4041

Every now and again I run across something in the Stallings Collection that is completely perplexing. I can't usually mention those things because the collection remains closed to the public until January 2008.

However, in this case, H.R. 4041 (99th Congress, House Resolution 4041) the legislation is available via THOMAS (the Library of Congress website specifically designed for those interested in searching current and past legislation), so really all I am doing is introducing you, the reader, to the legislation. All legal, I assure you.

Two weeks ago when I first ran across H.R. 4041, it wasn't my doing. I remain buried in a box on mining and natural resources, but my fine co-worker (whom I might add volunteers his time to assist in completing the processing of the Stallings Collection) stumbled across the legislation in another box. The summary of the legislation reads:

Live Birth Abortion Revision Act- Amends the Internal Revenue Code to deny taxpayer's personal exemption deduction for a child who is born alive after an induced abortion or an attempt to perform an abortion and dies as a result of such procedure. Denies the deduction for abortion expenses unless the abortion was performed to save the life of the mother.

Denies the personal exemption deduction for the spouse or a dependent of the taxpayer if the taxpayer intentionally causes the death of such spouse or dependent.
Requires a court determination of an intentional cause of death.

On January 23, 1986 this legislation was introduced in the House and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

I have spent two weeks mulling this over in my mind. Rarely does something that crosses my desk grab my attention and force me to think as hard as this particular piece of legislation has.

I know from research (prior to and during the processing of the Stallings Collection) that Stallings took a position on abortion that wasn't particularly liked by the Democratic party, but not entirely surprising in conservative Idaho. I also know that Stallings occasionally co-sponsored legislation that would help reduce the number of abortions--legislation that promoted adoption and other alternative routes.

This particular legislation was co-sponsored by Stallings. THOMAS tells me that Stallings added his name April 23, 1986, to a list that included 57 others (Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, Jack Kemp, Dick Armey, Larry Craig, Duncan Hunter, and James Sensenbrenner, to name a few). I'm less surprised by the names on the list of co-sponsors, I've grown accustomed to and ultimately forgiving of Stallings' conservative streak and nature, but the legislation boggles my mind.

A fetus can live, even momentarily, after the performing of an abortion? I have done a series of searches about this topic and can't seem to find any reliable, medical information about it. I assume that if the U.S. House of Representatives saw it as a problem in tax code that they didn't simply dream up this scenario and it does in fact occur. How embarrassing if 57 representatives were confused on the matter.

Still...YIKES! The thought of this scares me a bit. It makes me really concerned about humanity in general. Not the thought of an abortion being performed, but the thought of what must be going on in the minds (and lives) of these people who so desperately need a tax exemption that they claim a child they never had.

If any one has any information on this strange scenario, I would love an explanation. I would love to finally get a grip on this very bizarre legislation that has had be wondering for two weeks now. I'd love to have a defense of my opinion on abortion if this scenario is in fact true and this sort of thing still happens.

As far as I can tell from the Congressional Research Service summary, H.R. 4041 was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means and never again saw the light of day. I'm not patient enough to investigate this further--at least not patient enough to take a look at the Internal Revenue Code--is anyone that patient?

Big Day In Baseball

Today is one of my favorite days of the entire year. Why? Because it is the Major League trade deadline. I don't have much news to report other than what I already did. Do watch for something to happen in Houston with Morgan Ensberg (somebody who started out on my fantasy team this spring, but I cut quickly because I simply was not patient enough). Looks like the Braves are getting Texas Ranger Mark Teixeiria after all.

Other than it being the trade deadline, history could be in the making today. New York Met (and former Atlanta Brave) Tom Glavine could very well pitch his 300th career win in Milwaukee tonight. He would be joining San Diego Padre (and also former Atlanta Brave) Greg Maddux in the 300 career win club. There are, I believe, 23 members of the 300 win club. I would love to see Glavine get his win tonight so he can get back to having fun--seems to me he's thinking too hard about winning and not focusing on the game or the pitching nearly enough. Good luck, Glavine!

In the West, Barry Bonds could easily hit #755--the home run that will tie him with Hank Aaron. Like I've said a million times before, I'm not happy about this. I liked Barry in the beginning of his career with the Giants, but I'm one of those who thinks he could have been a better player, made it to the record, and all that jazz without the steroids. And like I've said before, too, is there any doubt he used steroids? Part of me wants to see the fans at Dodger stadium throw the ball back on the field after he hits it. But then there is the other part of me that realizes the magnitude of watching history in the making.

Like it or not, Alex Rodriguez could also make history as the youngest player to hit 500 career homeruns. Despite how you might feel about A-Rod, you can't deny his talent.

Enjoy this very big day in baseball!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kennedy Comparisons

It is interesting to me how often they are invoking the Kennedy administration and legacy these days. First, it was the full TIME magazine spread--the Making of America edition--on what we can learn from JFK. And now, in the latest issue of The New Republic there's an article written by former Kennedy speech writer (also ghostwriter of Profiles in Courage) Theodore Sorensen making many comparisons, albeit shallow comparisons, between Kennedy and Barack Obama.

Aside from the obvious--Kennedy was a single-term senator with little experience, as is Obama--Sorensen made a few interesting points that I found intriguing. The first:


In the end, despite his ethnic handicap, Kennedy proved to be less divisive than his major opponent, fellow senator Hubert Humphrey. Obama may prove the same.
I personally haven't fallen head over hells for any of the Democratic candidates so given the Obama/Clinton matchup that I feel this portion of the article implies, I wouldn't feel more inclined to vote for Obama over Clinton or vice versa, but I do believe that the general public might look at the Obama/Clinton matchup and choose Obama over Clinton due to Clinton's background. Sorenson certainly has a point here.

Before I continue with the second statement made by Soresen, I want to add that I don't find Obama's race and Kennedy's religion at all comparable. Catholicism in the 60s and race in the 21st century are two very different things. And as much as I've studied Kennedy I continue to find the argument of his Catholicism being a handicap lacking in logic and strength.

The second point I was intrigued by:

Most of Kennedy's opponents, like Obama's, were fellow senators-Johnson, Humphrey, and Symington-who initially dismissed him as neither a powerhouse on
the Senate floor nor a member of their inner circle. That mattered not to the voters; nor does it today.


Very true. I would dare say maybe five percent of American voters pay any attention to the debates on the Senate floor. American voters don't generally know if the Senate is in session, let alone who is carrying the argument on the floor. And I'm not entirely sure Obama's opponents are dismissing him at this point--perhaps after the National Democratic Convention keynote address, but not now. Like Kennedy before him. To an extent, even like Frank Church as well.

Like I said, I am amazed by the comparisons being drawn between Kennedy and the candidates. As a co-worker of mine said on Friday, the Democrats want to be Kennedy and the Republicans are trying to bring Ronny back from the dead. As a Democrat, I just can't seem to figure out why Kennedy.

I wouldn't normally recommend picking up a copy of The New Republic, but in this case I do--if for nothing else but to introduce you to my all-time favorite writer and hero, Teddy Sorensen.

Bright Tomorrows in Parade of Homes


News from the Bright Tomorrows website--the new facility in Pocatello located on the corner of Washington and Walnut will be showcased in this year's Parade of Homes.

As of June, the Building Contractors Association of Southeast Idaho had seven home entries, four commercial enteries, and five other leads. I'm assuming that the new Bright Tomorrows facility qualifies as a commercial entry.

The Parade of Homes will be held in Pocatello August 16th through the 19th.

For those of you in southeast Idaho I would highly recommend participating in the Parade of Homes, especially with the new Bright Tomorrows facility being showcased. The Parade of Homes will be the official open house for Bright Tomorrows.

The World's Pastime

In the July 22, 2007 edition of Parade magazine, an insert in our local Idaho State Journal, there was an interesting article about San Pedro in the Dominican Republic.

A surprising number of major league players hail from San Pedro. Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano, and Alfonso Soriano. Of the active 849 players, 99 of them are from the Dominican Republic. The Alou boys, Adrian Beltre, Wilson Betemit, Melky Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Juan Encarnacion, Julio Franco, Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Wily Mo Pena, Placido Polanco, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Willy Taveras, Miguel Tejada, sort of Alex Rodriguez, and a whole list of others.

The break down: 849 active players, 246 of them born outside the 50 United States, 208 born in Latin American or the Caribbean (Puerto Rico 28 and Venezuela 50), and 18 born in Asia.

Why Dominicans over Puerto Ricans? Or why Dominicans over Cubans? Or Dominicans over Asians? Of active players, there are 18 Asians. That's a mere five shy of the number of major leaguers out of Idaho in the entire history of Major League Baseball. Crazy, isn't it? In fact I can name four active Cuban imports (Livian Hernandez, Orlando Hernandez, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez) and only two Idahoans in the entire history of baseball (Harmon Killebrew and Larry Jackson).

After thinking about it, I realized my favorite active player, Julio Franco, is from Hator Mayor, Dominican Republic. Go figure.

MLB Trade Deadline

Because I will be leaving town early on the 1st and the trade deadline is late on the 31st, I thought I'd mention the rumors I'm hearing about pending trades and hopeful trades before I take off for vacation. This is by no means a complete list.

Rumors in no particular order, other than those I'm most interested in first:

Atlanta Braves

All the talk about Mark Teixeiria coming to the Braves from Texas may end soon. The Braves don't want to add much to their offer (isn't Salty enough?), but there's still time. My guess is if it still happens, Atlanta will have to give up Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, and at least one other player. I personally think they should keep Salty as a backup for McCann, but that's just me. Either way I may never learn how to spell either Teixeiria or Saltalamacchia. If we're shopping for a first baseman, what about Kevin Millar? All I can say is they need to keep Julio in the lineup.

New York Mets

I'd love to see Luis Castillo go to the Mets (to fill the 2nd base slot), but I don't know that this is even feasible. The Mets can do with what they have, so don't expect any major moves before the trade deadline with prices holding where they currently are.

Chicago Cubs

Jason Kendall to the Cubs? Are you kidding me? I hate the Cubs and love Jason Kendall. I know he hasn't had a stellar career performance with the A's, but I'd much rather see him stay in Oakland. All I can say is at least he is staying in the National League.

Colorado Rockies

I'd really like to see Kyle Farnsworth relocate to the mile high city.

San Diego Padres

I hear they're looking for a starting pitcher. No names. My only question--Why? What a bullpen!

Washington Nationals

Undoubtedly the team that could benefit most in the next hours leading up to the trade deadline. I hear they are interested in Wily Mo Pena. Who isn't? I'd like to see them shop for a catcher (no offense to either Flores or Schneider) and a catcher who can swing the bat. No news of that happening, however.

San Francisco Giants

I'd love to see Klesko head back to San Diego to join Maddux, but who know what the Giants are thinking at this point. Seems they have other things to think about in the bay city these days... Kevin Millar would also be a good pick-up for the Giants.

Chicago White Sox

Jermaine Dye is leaving. That seems inevitable. I just can't figure out where he's going. Not the Red Sox. And Jon Garland would be a good trade for them, but like Dye I have no idea where they would send him. Maybe Seattle?

Cleveland Indians

They got Lofton back. That's pretty exciting. Third time's a charm? Maybe this time they should hold on to him...

New York Yankees

Gagne. Why? Because they have more money than sense.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Ty Wigginton to the Astros for reliever Dan Wheeler--pretty interesting deal.

Detroit Tigers

I don't think Brad Lidge is moving to Detroit. If he does I will be shocked. Other than that I can't think of any major news.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Eye on Baseball

A couple of baseball moments to keep an eye out for this week:

1. Tom Glavine (of the New York Mets) could very well pitch his 300th career win. He hit 295 and a plateau, but he's on a roll now. Most likely will happen Tuesday in Milwaukee.

2. Barry Bonds is sitting at 754 homeruns. The Giants are on the road (at L.A. and then San Diego) so Bonds may hit 755 outside of AT&T park. As far as I'm concerned, if Bonds has to break Hank Aaron's record, something I still haven't come to terms with, I wouldn't mind watching him break Hammerin' Hank's record in San Diego with Greg Maddux on the hill.

3. A-Rod could very well hit his 500th homerun, however complicated.

A couple of baseball moments this past week that blew my socks off:

1. Yunel Escobar caught the D-Backs sleeping and stole second. Never in my life have I seen such a thing in a big league game.

2. Omar Vizquel made a sweet diving stop and then, no kidding, rolled over and threw the ball to first while on his back. Unreal.

3. How great was it to watch Ripken & Gwynn inducted into the Hall of Fame? Two decent guys. Two guys who played for only one team their entire careers. Congrats to them both and a big thank you from one baseball fan to two men who played the game with integrity.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Smorgasbord Saturday

Saturday has rolled around yet again. I don't know what happened to the week--Thursday it seemed like the longest week ever and now it feels like the week flew by. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the list of tasks I must accomplish before I leave town Wednesday morning...

I was going through my email this morning, trying to weed out some stuff, and ran across a link to an article in the New York Times that was sent to me in May by my friend Jared. The article, read it and you'll learn a small amount about Down syndrome or visit this link for more information, really made me take a long hard look at my views on abortion. A dear friend of mine, a roommate of my older brothers', and the gentleman who took me on my first date had Down syndrome. He was (he passed a few Decembers ago) one of the sweetest, most gentle, funny guys I've ever met and I can't imagine what my life or my view of the world would have been without his presence in my life. Additionally, I can an uncle who has Downs. When he was born they told my great-grandparents to lock him up (as they did with many parents of Downs children back before they understood the syndrome) and instead they raised him until he was nine, sent him away to the State School & Hospital in Nampa, and then allowed my grandmother to care for him until his age (he is now 50+ years old) required him to be placed in a home. I have a very soft spot in my heart for Downs kids and like I said, this article really made me think. Check it out.

I stumbled across a great blog last week as I was doing a little research on my all-time favorite player, Hank Aaron. Best by the Numbers is a great blog that picks one player for each uniform number (yes, Hank is the best #44 and Jackie remains the best #42).

Finally, I have made my first purchase from the Hesperus Press! Perhaps what I loved most about my purchase (other than the book itself) is how pleasant the entire experience was. Because I'm a registered user all I had to do was add my purchase to the trolley (cart for the Yanks who don't understand), enter my credit card information, and that was it. Not surprisingly, my single, first purchase from the wonderful press is Percy Shelley's novel--yes the poet wrote a few novels--titled Zastrozzi. As usual with books from his press, the cover is very intriguing. It will be a pleasant surprise when I return from vacation and a wonderful read in my last days of summer freedom before fall semester begins on the 27th.

As I mentioned, I am going out of town on Wednesday. My younger brother and I (who turns fifteen in August) are taking a road trip to Moscow, Idaho to attend the wedding of my best friend from high school. It should be a fun and interesting trip--given my knack for getting lost--and I'm hoping the new spectacles I ordered this past week arrive before we leave! Adam, my younger brother, and I have never been alone in a car together for that long of a time so it could be a very interesting ordeal. On the way home we will be stopping in Boise to catch a Boise Hawks game which I think Adam is more excited about than the wedding. Go figure.

Because I will be out of town for a week and am not sure how often I will have internet access or how much energy (or interest) I will have for posting, before I leave I am hoping to post several pieces for your reading while I am away. I want to mention a great article in The New Republic as well as spend a little time discussing some interesting things I've learned from the Stallings Collection lately. Keep an eye out for that.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

H.R. 380

Though often disappointed, I refrain from commenting on the legislative activities in the office of Representative Bill Sali. He doesn't represent my district, so airing my grievances to him directly would more than likely result in very little. However, this week something he and the rest of the Idaho delegation have participated in has left me completely annoyed.

Take H.R. 380 (110th Congress, House Resolution 380)--a bill attempting to commend Idaho for winning the bid to host the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games--which for all intents and purposes appears to be a decent, kind, and thoughtful bill. Enter Bill Sali and the Idaho delegation and it becomes just another attempt (by all appearances) to draw a substantial crowd that may ultimately do wonders for the Idaho economy.

Great. I understand the need for economic growth, I understand the tourism industry, I understand what outsiders bring to the state. What I don't understand is this: Where was the Idaho delegation when the Idaho Special Olympics organization was barely staying afloat?

Some of you in southeastern Idaho may remember when the state summer games were held every year in Pocatello. Idaho State University offered a superb venue for the summer sports (basketball, cycling, swimming, track & field, powerlifting, etc.) competitions and the community was welcoming of the activities, with hundreds of volunteers turning up the first week of June every year.

With each year it became more apparent that the Idaho Special Olympics State Summer Games were receiving less support, volunteers were still showing up in droves, but the funding just wasn't there. State officials stopped coming (the last state official to attend was Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and that was probably four summers ago) and the community seemed to forget what was taking place here in Pocatello. The athletes were no longer put up in hotels, the dorms at ISU became the location for all lodging and dining, local teams (within a 60+ mile radius) were told to drive to the event, but no lodging would be provided, and the venue for the state games slowly collapsed.

In addition to what was happening in Pocatello, the Boise administration of the state Special Olympics organization lost revenue and had many failed fundraising events. Just as quickly as it fell apart, the Boise big-wigs admitted defeat and pulled the state games out of Pocatello. Not only did they pull the games out of Pocatello, they created a new competition system that consisted of regional competitions, a new distribution of sports for each of the three seasonal games (Fall, Winter, and Summer), and the cost of uniforms, equipment, lodging, and transportation fell on the shoulders of the individual teams, athletes (and their families), and the coaches.

While all of this was happening, never did a single member of the Idaho delegation express any concern with the way things were proceeding. Never did a single member of the Idaho delegation step up and assist in an overhaul of the fundraising system.

Then came the announcement that Idaho had made the shortlist of venues for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Everyone, including all four members of the Idaho delegation, got very excited at the prospect of a multisport event taking place here in our state. All the possibilities of such a large event danced in the heads of the Idaho delegation like sugar-plums on the night before Christmas. Idaho business leaders praised the city of Boise and the Idaho Games Organizing Committee for opening the door to such an economically promising event. Finally, the announcement came that the World Games would in fact take place here in our backyard (and why not with such wonderful ski resorts?) and people who had never been interested in Special Olympics before were suddenly intrigued by this upcoming event.

In May, Congressman Bill Sali introduced in the House a resolution to commend all those who had worked tediously to ensure that Idaho secured the bid and would indeed host the 2009 games. On July 22nd, Sali's legislation won the approval of the House and was then carried to the Senate by Senators Craig and Crapo.

Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful honor to host a world event. It is a wonderful event both to the state and to those involved with Special Olympics. As a former coach and life-long supporter of Special Olympics, I am thrilled with the idea of having the world games in my home state, but it bothers me immensely that we can so easily turn our backs to the problems in the local/state organization and then welcome with open arms the world organization because of the economic benefits the event will bring.

Shame on the Idaho delgation for ignoring an ongoing problem with a wonderful organization in this state while welcoming the larger, world version of that very organziation when the prospect of serious dollars appears.

New Post @ ArmchairGM

Check out my new post at ArmchairGM:

"Franco Returns...No, Not Another Spanish Civil War"

ArmChairGM Posts

Braves in the News
Franco Returns...No, Not Another Spanish Civil War

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Missing TWW

This morning I was waiting to get the oil changed in my car (yes, I was too lazy to do it myself) and I pulled out the copy of the U.S. Constitution that I keep in my wallet and read it. Cover to cover. What does this have to do with The West Wing? Well, the copy I keep in my wallet is an older version published by the American Society for Educated Citizens and it includes the Declaration of Independence. And listed first from the state of New Hampshire is Mr. Josiah Bartlett. For those of you who don't know, Josiah Bartlett was the name of Martin Sheen's fictional character on The West Wing. Anyway, the original Josiah Bartlett is the reason I never knew whether the fictional president's name was spelled Bartlett or Barlet (one L).

Reading the Constitution this morning made me miss The West Wing all the more. Above is one of my favorite scenes from the series. Doesn't hurt anything that there's good music in the background...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Smorgasbord Saturday

It has been nearly a month (two days short of a month) since my last Smorgasbord Saturday post. My apologies. This particular Smorgasbord Saturday is full of random news I have been compiling for some time.

First, and most importantly, let me air my complaint with Newsweek magazine. For as long as I have been a regular reader of Newsweek I have been a fan of the My Life In Books column. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is a small column that asks one person for their five favorite books as well as a book they haven't read despite its importance and one book that they would read to their children. Long story short, the July 23rd edition is without my favorite column!! If it doesn't return in next week's issue I can say without hesitation that I will not be a subscriber next year.

Awhile back, perhaps a week or two ago, Chipper Jones made Atlanta Braves franchise history. I may have already mentioned that he holds the record for career doubles (with 403), but also, with homerun numbers 371 and 372 he tied, then passed Dale Murphy to become the record holder for most career homeruns in franchise history. Don't ask me why the numbers in baseball don't confuse me, but unlike algebra, I can handle baseball stats...

Last night I rented and watched The History Boys. With the same cast and quite similar script as the British play, The History Boys wasn't quite a surprise. Very close to the original script and awfully British, it was still enjoyable and the story was as I remembered it. If you haven't read or seen The History Boys, I would highly recommend it.

Is it just me or does Montgomery County, Maryland get a whole lot of press? Mostly bad, but still a lot of press. Maybe it's just me, but it is increasingly looking like Montgomery County is becoming the new Modesto, California in terms of loads of bad press. Maybe there are just a lot of people in both places. Maybe there are a lot of criminals in both places. Or maybe the judicial system in both places is severely flawed. Who knows.

The new Harry Potter book came out today. Did you all go out and buy it? I was at ShopKo purchasing a book shelf and noticed that they still had a large supply of books. Did it not sell as well (or quickly) as the others? I wouldn't know having never read a Harry Potter book. I'll have to ask my brother--he is a big fan of Harry Potter books on tape.

Speaking of my little brother, this may not be nearly as exciting to you all (or surprising), but last Saturday night I discovered that my very athletic, cool, unnerdy brother can play chess. Yes, chess. The brain game. He can play chess. And let me just say he's good. Good enough to beat me in our first match. Bizarre. Other than being completely baffled to this skill of his, I am quite happy for someone to play chess with. It's just not as much fun online.

Lots of progress with the new Bright Tomorrows facility. I have been watching closely the last few days as the new Bright Tomorrows facility next door has been sided. Very nice looking siding with rock half way up. It's really gorgeous. It looks like from the outside windows (and from a distance) that the inside is also sheetrocked. Lots of progress going on over there. The ramp that comes down the side of the house toward our house is unusually long. It will be interesting to see why that is. I am also interested to see if the City of Pocatello puts back up the basketball hoops they tore down when they started construction. They promised the neighborhood they would. We'll see.

I am sure there are many other things I could add to this post, but seven items should be enough reading for today! ;) But before I leave you to keep cool on this beautiful, hot Saturday, my best wishes to d2 at 43rd State Blues for a speedy recovery!

Friday, July 20, 2007

May the Sea Hold You

A dear friend of mine passed away yesterday. I can't seem to put into words what this man meant to me or what his wife continues to mean to me. The words of Lord Byron have been echoing in my head since I learned of this man's passing yesterday afternoon:

For the sword outwears its sheath,
and the soul wears out the breast.
And the heart must pause to breathe,
and love itself have rest.

(from "So, We'll Go No More A-Roving")

Earlier this month another man I deeply admired passed away as well. He somewhat famous, famous in his shyness as a New England poet. However, he too, like my dear friend Gary, deserves his own post--shrine if you will--for being a remarkable influence in my life.

Farewell my friend.

Thought this was pretty funny...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Iraq: Smoking Something

The Spine I Didn't Think He Had

However, I don't believe this is really a filibuster.

The U.S. Senate

I've been watching CSPAN since 6pm yesterday.

A few comments as the cloture vote nears an end:

Larry Craig you are no William Borah. Unfortunately, nobody on the Senate floor knows who Borah was (save maybe Robert Byrd who is nine-hundred and could have served with him).

I have a new nickname for the senator from South Dakota--Mr. Thune the Looney Tune. That's what he gets for taking out my beloved Daschle.

How lovely that our tax dollars go to the creation of those fine poster boards the senators haul with them to the Senate floor! Good Lord, I really am glad my taxes are going to a freakin' "Let Us Vote" poster board. Note the sarcasm.

Harry Reid please forgive me for those early days of your leadership when I was afraid you had no spine and would make a poor leader of the Senate Democrats.

What the hell happened to the Joe Leiberman I loved up until four years ago? You sell out.

I say they all just challenge each other to a duel.

My first pick for duel-action? Not even a Repub & Dem. Obama/Clinton.

CSPAN is my version of heroin.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Al Qaeda and the NIE

Have you ever watched something on television unfold and while watching thought at any point somebody was going to jump out and say "you've been punked?"

This morning, quite naturally, I turned on MSNBC for the news and ended up watching the entire press conference regarding the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the terrorist threat to the American homeland.

Fran Townsend, who I can only surmise as being a talking head for the Bush administration and one often sent on "expeditions" throughout the world looking for good news to share with the American people regarding the War on Terror, was at the pulpit discussing the NIE and the threats Al-Qaeda continues to pose to the United States. With that there was a great discussion of Osama bin Laden.

I haven't found the transcript of the press conference, but here is a bit I found out there that does justice to what I witnessed unfold this morning. And here's a more neutral response from The Washington Post.

As I was sitting there watching as well as listening to the questions of the press gaggle, I couldn't help but laugh at how insane the entire press conference was. We're sending a talking head all around the world on the dime of the American people only for her to return and remind us that the "wanted dead or alive" statement made by our President some six years ago amounted to nothing and Osama bin Laden is still out there posing a risk to us?

What a wonderful use of tax dollars. What a sad attempt to spin some intelligence news so the White House can feel justified in continuing to place our soldiers in harm's way in a war we shouldn't be fighting in the first place.

Strangely enough my only question after watching this unfold this morning: Will the War or Terror become what the War on Drugs was? Is the War on Terror another botched attempt to address a worldwide epidemic without proper policy, funding, and coalitions to back it up? And I suppose my underlying question all this time remains--what does/did Al Qaeda have to do with Iraq in the first place?

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Storm Brewing

There has been a storm brewing in Pocatello all day. Figuratively and literally.

Borrowing from the phrase from "God Bless America," there seems to be a correlation between the storm clouds gathering far across the sea and the feelings I am having about the goings-on in the Idaho liberal blogosphere.

However, not even Irving Berlin himself could convince me to not touch it. My thoughts, in time, will formulate into an entire discussion of how outrageous this entire ordeal is, but like my thoughts on many other things, they will remain my private thoughts for now.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Thing LBJ Did Right

"The First Lady is an unpaid public servant elected by one person - her husband." -- Lady Bird Johnson

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Goodnight, Lady Bird

Last year when Nellie Connally died, it occurred to me that she was the last remaining survivor of the motorcade; the motorcade that carried John Kennedy to his death and Governor John Connally to a long recovery from serious gunshot wounds. This past December when President Ford passed away I was reminded that he was the last living member of the Warren Commission, a group commissioned by President Johnson to investigate Kennedy's death.

Today when I learned that Lady Bird Johnson had passed away, it suddenly hit me that something I've studied for so long and with so much interest is becoming like so many other events historians study--too long past to investigate, yet still too present to grasp in terms of the implications of an event.

This comment has less to do with the Kennedy assassination itself because I think time has taught us the lessons of the Kennedy assassination. We all know the facts or at least historians claim to know them and we all understand how disheartening the assassination was not only to Americans, but to all citizens of the free world (as Kennedy would have said, all free citizens of the world or citizens of Berlin). This comment has more to do with the entire Kennedy/Johnson era. There are things we know and things we may never know.

Today with the passing of Lady Bird I have been reminded that there aren't many left of the Kennedy White House. Both LBJ and Lady Bird are gone, Jackie and John, Jr., many of his advisors including Salinger, O'Donnell, and others are gone. The generals, LeMay and Taylor, both gone. Rusk, Dillon, Hodges, Goldberg, Ribicoff, and the other assassinated Kennedy--Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

In fact the only former cabinet members that come readily to mind that are still living are Stewart Udall (Interior), Wirtz (Labor, I think), and of course Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defense under both Kennedy and Johnson) the key architect of the failed war in Vietnam. And there is of course Teddy Sorenson, the speech writer and the man whose hand made Profiles in Courage the masterpiece we know it as today. Much more distant to this intimate group is Ted Kennedy, still a master of the Senate and a much respected Democrat. And there will always be Caroline.

The time is now gone for historians to conduct interviews of the key people, those remaining may have lost what remained of their memories of the darkest days of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

There is certainly a wealth of information out there about this period and I am not saying there isn't, but knowing how I feel today about Lady Bird's passing, I am sure there must be serious historians out there who feel each of these losses and realize that the events of these administrations are passing into a new realm, a realm where they are no longer studied as recent history. Oh, the complexity of the historian's timetable and grasp of time.

In marking the passing of Claudia Taylor Johnson, I won't claim to be a fan of her husband, her claim to fame as it was. Johnson is not a man I've ever admired and I don't anticipate that changing, but on the contrary, I have loved Lady Bird. There was something so inviting, so motherly about Lady Bird. Perhaps a warmth Jackie never possessed. Perhaps an understanding in her eyes that seemed to say that it is okay to be afraid of that big bad world, but pick yourself up and dust yourself as soon as you fall.

A quote from Lady Bird has come to me from time to time as I've faced insurmountable obstacles or as I've approached new and often scary circumstances: "Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid." Looking back at the Johnson administration I can't help but wonder if this is exactly what she was doing as she mothered the nation in a way her predecessor hadn't and as she supported her husband through unbelievably difficult times. She may have been afraid of where our country was headed. She may have been afraid of the protesters outside on the Mall. She may have been afraid of the decisions her husband was making in the Oval Office. She may have been afraid of a life without him when he passed in '73 before the war had come to an end. She may have been terrified, but she never showed it.

Tradition will surely recognize Mrs. Johnson's passing with the lowering of the flag and she will be honored as all former First Ladies ought to be honored.

My words will not do justice to this remarkable woman, so I leave you with the words of a man who knows far more than I will ever know about Washington and members of the Senate, Senator Robert Byrd: "While her husband, Lyndon, could be brash, she was benevolent. While he could be tough and hard-charging, she epitomized style and grace. Together, they were a formidable pair."

____________________________
Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson
1912 - 2007

Ichiro's Infield HR

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I was a baseball player, I taught baseball, and all of a sudden I was in the business world. Now I used the baseball world to talk about their product. Not too much, just enough to keep going. Just be yourself and you'll never have a problem. That's what I did." --Willie Mays

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Thank you, Walt Whitman.

O I see flashing that this America is only you and me,
Its power, weapons, testimony, are you and me,
Its crimes, likes, thefts, defections, are you and me,
Its Congress is you and me,
The officers, capitols, armies, ships, are you and me,
Its endless gestations of new States are you and me,
The war (that war so bloody and grim, the war I will henceforth forget) was you and me,
Natural and artificial are you and me,
Freedom, language, poems, employments, are you and me,
Past, present, future, are you and me.

I dare not shirk any part of myself,
Not any part of America good or bad,
Not to build for that which builds for mankind,
Not to balance ranks, complexions, creeds, and the sexes,
Not to justify science, nor the march of equality,
Nor to feed the arrogant blood of the brawn beloved of time. . . .

I am for those who walk abreast with the whole earth,
Who inaugurate one to inaugurate all.

Thanks to the world wide web I was reminded of this great NewsHour broadcast from 2001.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

In the Mail: Hesperus Press

I think I am in love.

Today in the mail I received two catalogues from the Hesperus Press, the wonderful press I mentioned previously that I stumbled across while discussing the short stories of Ms. Virginia Woolf.

I love this press! And no, I am not an English or Literature major.

As if it weren't enough that they appreciate the lesser works of very important writers and have beautifully designed (and curiously unique) covers for each of their publications, their Autumn 2007 catalogue has none other than the author of my all-time favorite work The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde.

Having spent several hours pouring over these two amazing catalogues, I have settled on my first two purchases from this wonderful press--The Obelisk by E.M. Forster (I'm a huge fan of Howard's End) and Zastrozzi by Percy Shelley. Forster's work is not yet available in the U.S. and Canada, but I will wait. For this particular edition I'm willing to wait any amount of time necessary.

If you haven't taken my hint thus far, now would be a mighty fine time to wander over to Hesperus Press and check out their selection.

Unbelievable

I just picked up the paper. Commuting Libby's sentence? Are you kidding me? The man may have (and quite possibly did) compromised national security--yes, the same national security the Bush administration is harping on at every given chance--and now President Bush says the punishment was too "harsh." Never mind the punishment being faced by those at Gitmo (also guilty, or presumably, they haven't seen a trial or tribunal yet) who have comprised our national security. They can remain locked up 'til they shut the place now. But oh no, we can't have one of the Bush lovers in jail that would be an injustice. President Bush must have consulted Gonzo on this decision. God help us.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Shooting at WinCo

Check out this piece at Arbitrary and Capricious. Hit home for me. I was in Twin later that day, thankfully across Blue Lakes at Barnes & Noble. And I knew of the kid who was shot--from my home town.

All-Star Roster

2007 All-Stars

American League Starters

Ivan Rodriguez
David Ortiz
Placido Polanco
Alex Rodriguez
Derek Jeter
Vladimir Guerrero
Magglio Ordonez
Ichiro Suzuki
(Voted by the fans)

American League Reserves

Victor Martinez (Leyland’s pick)
Jorge Posada
Justin Morneau
Brian Roberts
Mike Lowell
Carlos Guillen
Michael Young (Leyland’s pick)
Carl Crawford
Torii Hunter
Manny Ramirez
Alex Rios (Leyland’s pick)
Grady Sizemore
(Voted by the players)

American League Pitchers

Josh Beckett
Dan Haren
Bobby Jenks (Leyland’s pick)
John Lackey
Gil Meche
Jonathan Papelbon
J.J. Putz
Francisco Rodriguez
C.C. Sabathia
Johan Santana (Leyland’s pick)
Justin Verlander

National League Starters

Russell Martin
Prince Fielder
Chase Utley
David Wright
Jose Reyes
Carlos Beltran
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Barry Bonds
(Voted by the fans)

National League Reserves

Brian McCann
Albert Pujols (La Russa’s pick)
Derrek Lee
Dmitri Young
Orlando Hudson
Freddy Sanchez (La Russa’s pick)
Miguel Cabrera
J.J. Hardy
Alfonso Soriano
Carlos Lee
Matt Holliday
Aaron Rowand (La Russa’s pick)

National League Pitchers

Francisco Cordero
Brian Fuentes
Cole Hamels
Trevor Hoffman
Jake Peavy
Brad Penny
Takashi Saito
Ben Sheets
John Smoltz
Jose Valverde
Billy Wagner

Final Vote Online (1 from each league)

American League

Jeremy Bonderman (my vote)
Kelvim Escobar
Roy Halladay
Pat Neshek
Hideki Okajima

National League

Chris Young (my vote)
Roy Oswalt
Brandon Webb
Tom Gorzelanny
Carlos Zambrano

Monday, Monday

This was meant to be my Smorgasbord Saturday post, but Saturday turned into Sunday and Sunday into Monday, so bare with me as I list the topics of interest to me intended for a smorgasbord setting.

First, I have returned from Boise. I had a lovely time, got a lot of research done, and met some interesting folks. The first day of my Boise trip was the most important in that I met up with an acquaintance of mine who offered me a job in Dallas. I'd give you every last detail of the job offer in normal circumstances because it is a sweet gig, but these are not normal circumstances. I turned down the offer. I was flattered to be offered such an amazing job at my age, even more flattered that they had interviewed a dozen or so people, narrowed it down to three candidates, and then sent their negotiator to Boise to take me to dinner because they weren't particularly pleased with the three candidates. I'm sure one of those three will work out and will do a wonderful job.

Why turn down the offer? This little thing called the Stallings Collection. Nothing little about it and it happens to be my current project. I have promised Congressman Stallings the collection will be finished and it will. End of story. The main portion of the collection will open in January to the public and I figure I have until May to wrap up the loose ends. Then from May to December I will be writing my Master's thesis and will graduate in December with my MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (History/Political Science).

At any other time, given the wonderful job offer, I would have jumped at it and moved to Dallas in a heart beat.

This whole situation proved to me that I actually have a plan at the current time and I'm not flying by the seat of my pants as I suspected...

While in Boise I enjoyed some wonderful food. Thanks to a suggestion from one of my fellow bloggers, Thursday night I had dinner at the Milky Way in Boise. Very delicious food for an important dinner meeting. Friday afternoon I had lunch at this great Thai restaurant in Meridian. My friend Leonard said I had to eat there while I was in town and since I end up in Meridian at least once due to my complete lack of direction it was an easy place to find once I got on Eagle Road.

The drive home from Boise was rather uneventful. I'm not a big fan of that drive, especially while traveling alone. It just isn't exciting. I stopped in Twin (perhaps my favorite city in all of Idaho) and picked up the new TIME magazine at Barnes & Noble. Other than that one stop it was a straight shot home.

Yesterday I spent most of the day recovering from the trip. Watched two baseball games (Braves/Marlins and Tigers/Twins) while unpacking, doing laundry, and having cat naps. Baseball is the best sport to watch if you're into cat naps. I slept through two innings of the Braves game and was still awake in time to see the Escobar two-run single in the ninth and yet another blown game by Bob Wickman.

In addition to the two baseball games I was able to watch the Allstar Announcement Show on TBS. Not too many surprises. I was surprised that neither the fans or players picked Albert Pujols and he had to be picked up by the manager. Also surprised that the Braves will only be represented by Smoltz and McCann. Neither of the Jones boys made the Allstar team. Sad to see that Orlando Cabrera wasn't picked. And Jeremy Bonderman.

In other baseball news, Hargrove, the manager of the Mariners resigned yesterday. Very weird. Craig Biggio got his 3,000th hit last week and The Big Hurt (aka Frank Thomas) got his 500th home run last week, too.

For a complete listing of those chosen for the Allstar game being played on July 10th in San Francisco, I'll post that later today.