Friday, November 30, 2007

Hilarous!



Kathy Griffin on the Larry Craig bathroom incident.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

TDIH: The Warren Commission

Forty-four years ago today the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, popularly known as the Warren Commission, was established by newly sworn-in President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Within the last year, Kennedy historians and assassination historians alike have been introduced to more material related to the death of this nation's thirty-fifth president. In May, Vincent Bugliosi's tome, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy was published. The work is a superb collection of research and resources valuable to both those who support the findings of the Warren Commission and those conspiracy theorists who still believe that the possibility of one lone nut with a twelve dollar rifle killed the leader of the free world is outrageous. At the close of 2006, the last living member of the Warren Commission, President Gerald R. Ford died. Color footage of the assassination released to the public in February 2007 revealed President Kennedy's bunched collar--something that has fueled new conspiracy theories regarding the first shot. That color footage taken by George Jefferies is now available at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. In the last year the infamous dictabelt resurfaced as scientists have been working on a way to revive these defunct reels. Also this year, Executive Action, a film starring Burt Lancaster depicting an alternative to the Warren Commission's finding originally created by Mark Lane in his book Rush to Judgement, was re-released on DVD.

It is hard to imagine any other forty-four year old event surfacing so frequently in literary and scholarly work.

In 1964, the Warren Commission released its report, similar to the way in which the Iraq Study Group Report and the 9/11 Commission Report were released to the public in inexpensive paperback copies. The report in its entirety is 888 pages (nearly half of what Bugliosi's Reclaiming History reaches at 1632 pages). The entire 26 volumes of supporting documents, exhibits, and testimony is also available.

A few weeks ago I was reading Bugliosi's The Betrayal of America (about the 2000 election) and he mentioned that he was once giving a talk at a conference and asked the audience to raise their hands if they felt the Warren Commission Report was a lie to the American people. A majority of the audience raised their hands. Then Bugliosi asked if they had read something or seen something about a specific conspiracy theory too which they responded by raising their hands. Then Bugliosi asked if they had read the Warren Commission Report and few audience members raised their hands. He corrected his question by stating the condensed report (888 pages). None of the members of the audience changed their answer. I thought that was very interesting. Few have actually read the Warren Commission Report, but many refuse to believe its findings.

I have read the Warren Commission Report on numerous occasions and have dabbled in the 26 volumes of findings, testimony, and exhibits. I have a very beat up mass market paperback edition from 1964 when the report was released. Despite me having any sort of opinion on what did in fact occur as an alternative to the commission's finding that Lee Harvey Oswald had in fact acted alone in killing both President Kennedy and Officer J.D. Tippit, I have my reservations as to the commission's findings. Some pieces don't quite add up. Some pieces are missing. The Warren Commission Report remains for me like a jigsaw puzzle that someone has taken the scissors to.

One of the few living participants of the Warren Commission is Pennsylvania senior Senator Arlen Specter. I wouldn't mind having the opportunity to sit down with Specter to ask about his role as assistant counsel for the Commission. After all, it was Specter who authored the "single bullet theory" that has left most assassination researchers and historians baffled.

Since the Warren Commission was first released in 1964, some controversy has surrounded the public accessibility to the materials used by the Commission. When the records were first released, all of which were sent to the National Archives, a records policy placed a restriction on the materials for a period of 75 years (75 years was then the policy of restriction for all materials used in the investigation of the Executive Branch). The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 trumped the National Archives policy and was followed by the 1992 JFK Records Act that established the Assassination Records Review Board in 1998. In 1998, all materials of the Warren Commission investigation were opened to the public excluding only a few materials (tax related). It is said that these materials are available to the public by request with only a few redactions. Assassination scholars dispute this claim quite frequently and are often met with the red tape of FOIA requests.

Despite the 1992 JFK Records Act, some materials remain restricted and will not see the light of day until 2017. My prediction is until 2017 (fifty-four years after the actual assassination) rumors will continue to circulate and each year, much like this one, all sorts of assassination related work will surface.

The Abzug, Church, Edwards, Pike and Rockefeller Committees, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Freedom of Information Act, and the JFK Records Act, have not accomplished what their purpose was--the convince the American people that their trust should lie with the findings of the Warren Commission.

Following the release of the Warren Commission Report, Chief Justice Earl Warren felt perhaps some of the material should not be made available due to the nature of the pictures and autopsy reports. This argument lacks strength due to the American publics' exposure to the morbidity of the event via the Zapruder film. Most Americans were already aware of the gruesome details of Kennedy's death. However, what is most frustrating about Warren's opinion is that it was not only a protection of the American public, but a protection of the members of the commission--some photographs from the autopsy were not even viewed by the members.

Unfortunately, forty-four years later it is evident that the federal government has spent more money and time in effort to support the findings of the Warren Commission than was actually spent from late 1963 to late 1964 when the report was released. That fact alone often makes me wonder how many people within the federal government actually believe the report Americans were asked to swallow.

Like I previously stated, I don't personally have a specific alternative to the findings of the Warren Commission. This is what separates me from conspiracy theorists. As I once read and unfortunately cannot cite my source directly, the difference between a skeptic and a conspiracy threorist is conspiracy theorists believe whole-heartedly in their alternative version of reality.

Regardless of what you believe about what did or did not happen that November day in Dallas, you have to admit that it is amazing how revered, refuted, and infamous the Warren Commission Report is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Facts...

...not to be confused with Frequently Asked Questions.
  • If we are really taking sides, I'd rather know the fellas at 43SB have my back--at least I know what that comes with that (i.e. wine, tech support, and late night banter after I ask a question with a seemingly obvious answer) and that I'm not going to be sold down the river.
  • Politics is personal. 'Tis why you'll never find me posting about domestic violence, Matthew Shepard, or child abuse.
  • Never get into a pissing match with a race horse.
  • Feeding hungry people is addictive.
  • I can't pronounce Morialekafa.
  • It is possible to sing the tune "You Are My Sunshine" with the word 'hero' inserted in place of 'sunshine' each time. This I know because it came to mind while reading Digby's piece on the Kennedy assassination anniversary. In fact you could potentially insert any two syllable word you would like in place of sunshine, however, I wouldn't recommend inserting certain words.
  • I threw up in the parking lot this afternoon and am now home in bed. I don't know where my phone is, I know exactly where my lunch is, and I will be returning to the world of the living (and sane) again tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Posse Ad Esse

For the next twenty-seven days, I will no longer think of my life in terms of hours, minutes, tasks, or days, I will look at my life in terms of boxes. Yes, boxes.

The Stallings Collection is slated to open January 1st. Given that the University has decided to close (and turn off the heat) from December 22nd through January 1st, I have until the 22nd to complete the main, Washington D.C. files contained within the collection.

As a mere thought this task seems insurmountable, but if one box is completed a day, it is quite possible that the main portion of the collection will be complete on time. These visions of completion that I have been having since, well, since day one I suppose, are becoming less vision-like and more realistic.

From possibility to actuality -- a posse ad esse.

Keeping in mind I have classes to attempt to pass and will need time to sleep, eat, breathe, etc., I will be light on blogging until the 22nd when I plan on having a very long (and overdue) vacation.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Forty-four Years

"If anyone is crazy enough to want to kill a president of the United States, he can do it. All he must be prepared to do is give his life for the president’s." -- President John F. Kennedy (quoted in the phenomenal work With Kennedy by Kennedy's press secretary, the late Pierre Salinger)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Surprise Here

The Statesman is reporting that the group behind bringing the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games to Idaho is struggling. By struggling they report the third CEO in less than eight months signing on.

I'm not at all surprised!

More on this later, but until then, here's a little reminder of how I felt about Congress getting involved.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Local View on Luna

From the South Idaho Press:

Luna’s Pay Proposal Won’t Improve Instruction

Local View/By Jeff Roper

State Education Superintendent Tom Luna, backed by legislators like Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, has recently proposed a radical change in the way Idaho’s public school teachers are paid.

This proposal would provide an alternative to the “Steps and Ladders” approach to teacher pay, an approach that rewards teachers for years of service and for college credits earned, and would instead reward teachers with substantial bonuses based upon five variables:

1) Student achievement and growth as measured by ISAT scores;
2) Teachers filling hard to fill positions;
3)Teachers forgoing tenure and entering contracts much as principals do now;
4) Teachers becoming certified to teach multiple subjects; and
5) Teachers accepting leadership positions while they teach.

Luna’s proposal has received “overwhelming support from parents, teachers, policy makers, and education administrators across Idaho,” according to the State Department of Education’s own newsletter.

Not so fast, Mr. Luna. At Declo High School in Cassia County (as conservative and rural as Idaho gets) where I have taught English for six years, almost no support for this proposal has emerged. Instead teachers are very concerned about any proposal that is so focused on administrative issues ? like teachers filling hard to fill position, teachers forgoing tenure, teachers becoming certified in multiple areas and teachers filling leadership positions ? and is so unfocused on classroom instruction.

I understand student achievement and student growth as measured by the ISAT tests are a part of Luna’s plan. But almost all teachers recognize that the ISAT tests are very crude and often unreliable guides to either growth or achievement. For example, last spring almost 20 percent of the questions on the 10th grade Language ISAT test were about a particular writing format, a format most would argue no one ever needs to memorize.

ISAT tests simply don’t tell enough, and what they tell is not accurate enough to base anything as important as teacher pay upon. And ISATs don’t measure analytical thinking and questioning very well at all, and this is what we teachers know is most important.

Do we have any data that suggests that focus on ISATs improves student performance as our students leave high school? In fact, we have the reverse. We have been giving ISAT tests for six years, and Idaho student participation in college has dropped to one of the lowest levels in the nation.

Could it be that ISATs actually “dumb down” education to a level of memorization and regurgitation, forcing creative college-level thinking to the sidelines? Could it be ISATs make school so deadly boring that students can’t imagine continuing in college?

Certainly Idaho’s public schools are not working as they should if only 26 percent of Idaho’s 18- to 24-year-olds participate in college (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Nov. 2007). This percentage should make all Idahoans shudder.

Perhaps an alternative pay proposal is appropriate in our efforts to improve public school instruction. The alternative proposed by the Idaho Education Association is much more focused on instruction and maintains a much higher degree of local control, but Luna’s proposal will not improve instruction because it is not aimed at instruction.

Basing a new pay proposal upon faulty student tests and four questionably important administrative issues seems unwise indeed. Why would the Idaho Legislature accept a teacher pay plan that will cost additional millions without doing what everyone agrees is our primary goal, improving classroom instruction for what our students need in their adult futures?

Jeff Roper teaches at Declo High School.

Glavine Returning to Atlanta

Yes! MLB.com is reporting that Glavine is signing an $8 million deal to return to the Atlanta Braves for his final season(s) in the big leagues! This makes me a little less sad about Andruw's departure. Now, if they can just find a place for Franco in their lineup... If a man wants to play professionally until he is fifty, let him!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things Change

Having spent much of the weekend transferring numerous campaign ads and political forums from VHS tapes to DVDs, I find myself wishing for days passed. The tapes I've watched, those contained in the Richard H. Stallings Congressional Collection, soon to be open to the public at Idaho State University, contain political pleasantries I hardly recognize today.

Civility in politics is lacking now, unlike what I was reminded of having appeared in the 1980s. I say this after watching the ceremony that took place in Philadelphia in 1987. The celebration of the bicentennial of the United States Constitution and the creation of a bicameral congress. Here two partisan bodies came together to celebrate our greatest document and our greatest triumphs as a nation. Robert Byrd and Robert Dole shared a stage as members of our government and men deeply appreciative, if not indebted, to the men who met in those chambers in 1787.

In addition to that particular video, I've watched the campaign ads prepared for Stallings in 1984, 1986, 1988, 1992, and 1998. Even in the 1984 ads there are no attacks of his opponent, attacks that would have been warranted in a race against felon George Hansen. The bloodiest ads didn't come until 1992 and even then were restrained, attacking Stallings' opponent Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne only for accepting a pay raise and not sticking to term limits. What has happened to campaigning?

We live in a day where a town hall meeting with Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain becomes a humorous sound bite because an audience member asked how they would beat "the bitch." We live in a day where a stage full of presidential hopefuls sounds like teenagers vying for the position of student body president, not leader of the free world. We live in a day where some are called terrorists simply because someone doesn't agree with them. We live in a day where campaign ads bring out every skeleton in every politician's closet.

Long gone are the days attacking Dukakis for any role he may have played in the "revolving door" and release of Willy Horton. People no longer react to these campaign ads with confusion and the desire to find the true story behind such statements. We now react in fear and hate. Not curiosity or compassion.

Watching the bicentennial celebration, I was amazed at the way the speakers were able to capture the attention of those members listening in that historic chamber. As the camera panned around, there were listening ears, those of Stallings included, truly appreciative of that historic document that they met there to celebrate. Long gone are the days that those in public service truly honor and recognize the Constitution. Long gone are the days when that historic document was treated with complete respect in Washington, both in the halls of Congress and the offices of the White House.

Perhaps it was the 2000 election or maybe even 9/11. Maybe it was the Iraq War Resolution or the profanities spoken by our Vice President on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Whatever the reason, I am reminded that in life, like politics, things do in fact change.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Smorgasbord Saturday

To add to my last post, the Cy Young award winning pitchers were named this week: C.C. Sebathia of the Cleveland Indians (American League) and unanimously Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres (National League). A unanimous Cy Young vote has not happened in the National League since 1995 when Greg Maddux won with Atlanta for the fourth year in a row. Also, manager the year honors went to Eric Wedge of the Cleveland Indians (AL) and Bob Melvin of the Arizona Diamondbacks (NL). Melvin really surprised me! But...my vote was Clint Hurdle.

This morning I was watching MSNBC and watched one of the most startling reports I have ever seen. Mental Disability Rights International released a report on Serbian segregation and neglect of its developmentally disabled population. The report titled "Torment Not Treatment: Serbia's Segregation and Abuse of Children and Adults with Disabilities," is grim. The photos are astounding, in a very unpleasant way. In the report, a staff person at one of the Serbian facilities states that the major activity of those housed there is smoking. How horribly sad. However, something the reporters on MSNBC didn't mention is that while we criticize in shock the treatment of the disabled in Serbia, the United States isn't far removed from such treatment of our own disabled. One reporter mentioned that the parents of the disabled were told to lock their children up in a facility and forget about them. Not long ago in the United States, parents were told something similar--lock them in your basement or institutionalize them. Forget you ever had them.

Were you all flooded by emails this past week regarding the 1st District Congressional race? The seat currently attended to by Bill Sali is a much sought after prize. Walt Minnick jumped into the race, Rand Lewis was already in it, and Larry Grant, Sali's opponent the last time around was ready for battle 2.0. I received emails via the Idaho Democratic Party from all three candidates this week. Thankfully I didn't receive emails from either Bill Sali or his Republican primary opponent Matt Salisbury. Too much, too soon. 'Tis also what I said about Thursday night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas. Come January 1st I welcome any and all campaign material sent my way. However, let me get through the rest of this year before you make me start thinking about the 2008 election!

Back to the Serbian report--a related issue actually, there is all sorts of news in this neck of the woods about a murderer being admitted to State Hospital South in Blackfoot. I am not entirely surprised by this given that Idaho would rather fund prisons than treatment and the only place for criminals with any sort of mental instability is a state hospital, but I am surprised by some of the reports coming out of Blackfoot. The chief of police was quoted recently as saying that the hospital has only been there since 1951 (not true) and that the Blackfoot police have never been called to assist in any situations arising at the hospital (also not true.) More on this later.

The new issue of NEWSWEEK has some interesting articles in it. I would have to say it is one of my favorite issues of the magazine that I have read. I have to say that. The title is "1968: The Year That Changed Everything." As I was reading through my advanced copy, I couldn't help but note the similarities between 1968 and now. Young, wise, candidates rising up in a time of political turmoil. An election on the horizon that could change many things. Pick up a copy. It's worth the $5 and the read.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gold Glove Awards

I told you how I would have voted and now the results are in:

Gold Glove Winners (American League)

C: Ivan Rodriguez, DET
1B: Kevin Youkilis, BOS
2B: Placido Polanco, DET
3B: Adrian Beltre, SEA
SS: Orlando Cabrera, LAA
OF: Torii Hunter, MIN
OF: Grady Sizemore, CLE
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
P: Johan Santana, MIN

Gold Glove Winners (National League)

C: Russell Martin, LA
1B: Derrek Lee, CHC
2B: Orlando Hudson, ARI
3B: David Wright, NYM
SS: Jimmy Rollins, PHI
OF: Aaron Rowand, PHI
OF: Andruw Jones, ATL
OF: Carlos Beltran, NYM
OF: Jeff Francoeur, ATL
P: Greg Maddux, SD

I highlighted (with teal) the ones I got right. I forgot that the NL gets an extra outfielder due to the lack of DH...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanks, Mississippi

I second that motion.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans' Day

The last sunbeam

Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,

On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,

Down a new-made double grave.


Lo! the moon ascending!

Up from the east, the silvery round moon;

Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;

Immense and silent moon.


I see a sad procession,

And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles;

All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,

As with voices and with tears.


I hear the great drums pounding,

And the small drums steady whirring;

And every blow of the great convulsive drums,

Strikes me through and through.


For the son is brought with the father;

In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;

Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,

And the double grave awaits them.


Now nearer blow the bugles,

And the drums strike more convulsive;

And the day-light o’er the pavement quite has faded,

And the strong dead-march enwraps me.


In the eastern sky up-buoying,

The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d;

(’Tis some mother’s large, transparent face,

In heaven brighter growing.)


O strong dead-march, you please me!

O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!

O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!

What I have I also give you.


The moon gives you light,

And the bugles and the drums give you music;

And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,


My heart gives you love.


Walt Whitman's Dirge for Two Veterans
From Leaves of Grass

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer Dies


"I knew that there was one thing I wanted to be and that was a writer." --Norman Mailer (1923-2007)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Now brought to you by Sports Blogs

I don't really know what this means, but hey, it is baseball and baseball is awesome! The Political Game has been added to the listings of Sports Blogs, an online sports network. The people over at Sports Blogs sent this link to me earlier in the week. The nice thing about Sports Blogs is that I don't have to do anything. If I post something at The Political Game that they find sports worthy, it is automatically picked up as someone searches the internets for sports oriented posts and tags it up on their site for fellow fans to read. Pretty cool!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Check Me Out on ISUer.com

The guy that runs IdahoFallz.com has started a new blog for and about Idaho State University Students called ISUer.com. He shot me an email a few days ago and now has a profile of me up at his site. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Don't Forget to Vote!

Don't forget to vote today! If you are in Pocatello, this year the city has adopted the same precincts as the county--this means your polling place will be the same as usual.

If you have some spare time on your hands, tonight an election results shindig hosted by the Bannock County Democrats will be taking place from 8:00-9:30 p.m. at the Courtyard Swim and Tennis Club, 540 University Dr. in Pocatello.

Most importantly, just go vote!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

An Explanation of Sorts

It was this time of year when U2's single "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" was first released. I was parking my car in the lot across 4th & 5th from the Liberal Arts building one morning as I headed to my English 102 class. The first word, tough, caught my attention as I pulled into the parking lot and I sat in my car listening to the haunting melody as it was revealed to me for the first time. The song ended and I sat in my car another thirty or so minutes bawling.

I don't cry in front of people or at least I avoid it at all cost. However, that November day I sat in the car unafraid of any wandering eyes that may have spotted me. That evening I walked back across 4th & 5th to my car and found my cell phone blinking with a new voice message. It was my best friend in the entire world, beginning his message with four words that wrapped up my entire day: "So there's this song..."

Friday evening as I was driving home, I turned on the radio, something I rarely do anymore, and there quietly began that song by U2. It hit me nearly as hard as it had that fall morning when I heard it for the first time. This time it was more than anything a reminder to me that you don't have to be tough all of the time. When the song ended I picked up the phone and called another friend. The kind of friend I email constantly, but only call occasionally. I called her for no other reason than to hear her voice and reassure myself that it really is okay if you can't make it on your own sometimes.

This past week was perhaps the most difficult week of my life. I battled the demons of my past, faced the pain of the present, and got a glimpse of the obstacles in my future. I wish I could explain this without revealing the deeply personal battles that have been mine this year, however, I can't. Without question I will be first in line to welcome and celebrate the end of 2007 and the beginning of a new year.

I truly believe the only way to live life is to subscribe to that philosophy of falling down, getting back up, dusting yourself off, and jumping back into the game. However, it might be awhile until I am back in the saddle completely. Please be patient. Blogging isn't the most important thing in the world. In fact, it isn't even in the top ten.

Smorgasbord Saturday

Forgive the fact that this post is actually going up on a Sunday (early Sunday). I was busy.

Check out this commentary by Randy Stapilus over at Ridenbaugh Press. Stapilus points out a neighborhood level organization that the Idaho Democratic Party is taking advantage of. I went to one of those house parties mentioned in the press release last night and I must say I am very impressed with what's going on here.

I haven't said anything much this week, which can be explained hopefully tomorrow (er...I guess today). One of things I haven't said a word about and need to is the passing of Chick Bilyeu. Please be patient with me as I get to that.

So, Joe Torre is headed to L.A., Renteria is headed to Detroit, and Joe Girardi will head the Yankees. Big changes in baseball this week. This, too, will be an upcoming topic. The first few weeks of November are always interesting for baseball fans. You're either heartbroken, floating on air, or watching carefully to see what will happen to your beloved team.

There is evidently a vote going on--the Weblog Awards--and two of my fellow bloggers are nominated. The MountainGoat Report is nominated in the best political coverage category (and rightly so) in her first year of blogging. Impressive! And, Bubblehead has been nominated for his submarine blog (there is another word for this, but I can't remember what that is...) in the category for Best of the Top 5001-6750 blogs. I read Bubblehead from time to time and asked awhile back for some information on the INL. He is a well deserving nominee, too. Go Vote! You can vote in all categories once every 24 hours or something like that.