Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Friday Night

I believe in the press they call this taking out the trash or the Friday news dump. I'm going to take a couple days off from the blog and wanted to post a few things before I do. Apparently I posted 41 times in July. 42 times in 31 days if you count this post. That's just insane.

Here are a few stories/articles/posts that have caught my attention this week and are worth a read (consider this the bulleted list version of a smorgasbord):
  • "The 'Curse' of Idaho's First District" via MountainGoat Report. Also worth noting that a few other colorful characters have held the 1st CD seat including Larry "Widestance" Craig and the womanizing Steve Symms. It's hard to believe that a seat that has been held by a brilliant state historian, Burton French, Gracie Pfost, and perhaps the most qualified Idahoan elected to the seat, Abe Goff, has also been held by the likes of Sali, Chenoweth, and the Running Man (aka Minnick). I guess we've been fairly lucky in the 2nd CD. Well, minus the very large and humiliating George Hansen hiccup...
Still no sign of Robert Manwill, but nobody is giving up hope. The baseball trade deadline has come and gone. And Lou Dobbs is still a wingnut goading crackpot. Pretty sure I can stand to take a break for a couple of days.

2009 Trade Deadline

Major League Baseball's trade deadline passed this afternoon and the big name we've been hearing about for weeks didn't budge. That's right, the Blue Jays held onto their ace Roy Halladay and at least one of the teams that had attempted to broker a trade for him, the Phillies, managed to fair pretty well without him. Let's slow this down...here's your play-by-play of all things trade:

We've heard of teams that know they aren't in the thick of division races ridding themselves of payroll, but the Pirates have redefined team building. Last season they parted with their all-star caliber outfielders, Jason Bay (to the Red Sox) and Xavier Nady (to the Yankees), and this season they've parted with the rest of their semi-recognized starters and nearly the rest of their starting lineup--Nate McLouth (to the Braves), Adam LaRoche (to the Red Sox and quickly to the Braves), Freddy Sanchez (to the Giants), Ian Snell and Jack Wilson (both to the Mariners), Eric Hinske (to the Yankees), Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett (both to the Nationals). Those of you keeping score know that this means 17 new players for the Pirates in a grand total of 7 deals. Add to that the loss of Nady and Bay last season and you have nearly an entire 25-man roster in brand new Pirate uniforms.

The Indians traded away their ace, catcher, first baseman, reliever, and an outfielder. The Tribe will pick up eleven players in exchange for five, which, for a team that is rebuilding should work out pretty well. However, you have to wonder what exactly the strategy is in Cleveland--remember they traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers at the end of last season. You'd think with Cliff Lee (now of the Phillies), Victor Martinez (now of the Red Sox), Ben Francisco (also a Philly), Rafael Betancourt (now with the Rockies), and Ryan Garko (now of the Giants), the Tribe could have been in contention. I guess this is proof of how important Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore being healthy are to this franchise.

One trade in particular is being referred to as a wash, but the trade of Adam LaRoche to the Braves. The Red Sox just barely acquired LaRoche and in the last minutes before the trade deadline sent him to Atlanta for first baseman Casey Kotchman. Sure it is just a swap of two first basemen, but I think this is actually going to work very well. Kotchman, who was acquired by the Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade to the Angels last season, has always seemed to be an American League type of player. And Adam LaRoche was drafted by the Braves and spent quality time taking throws across the diamond from Chipper Jones. Kotchman never really fit in the Braves lineup and LaRoche brings an already established chemistry. Kotchman might find Boston a perfect fit and with the unknown of Mike Lowell in the Red Sox lineup, somebody is going to have to take the place of Kevin Youkilis when he makes the move to third.

Much can be said about the boosting of franchises by key trades. Clearly, the Giants, Phillies, Dodgers, Twins, Red Sox, Tigers, Marlins, and Cardinals have been given a boost by key signings. It may prove to be that last boost they need to make it to the playoffs, but there is one team that really did themselves a favor right before the deadline. The Chicago White Sox signed Jake Peavy in a trade that resembles the one they attempted earlier in the season. Time was really a factor here. Peavy, who has been out with a bad ankle, must have been ready to say goodbye to San Diego. Adding an ace like Peavy to a starting rotation that already includes the brilliance of John Danks and the perfect Mark Buerhle solidifies the White Sox lineup. Ozzie Guillen, who was in the news today for demanding the list of players who tested positive for steroids in 2003 be released so we can stop facing the news as individual names are released, has a solid shot in the American League Central where his White Sox are two and a half games behind the league-leading Tigers.

What was the biggest surprise of today's trading? Not that Roy Halladay wasn't traded. Not that the White Sox landed Peavy. Not even that teams that were in contention might be runaways with single trades. The big surprise today was that the Mets didn't make a single move. They've got an enormous payroll and they can't win their division or even keep it together through September. If any team should have started trading away players and ridding themselves of payroll it was the Mets. They've signed some of the biggest names in baseball (Putz, K-Rod, Santana) and they still can't win. Paging Mr. Minaya, you're the captain of a ship that sank two years ago. Problem is, you're the only one who can't see it. Okay, you and David Wright...

Still Endangered

The Boise Police Department held a lunchtime press conference regarding the Robert Manwill case and its status. The staff at the Idaho Statesman have kept a running account of the day's happenings related to the case and Treasured Valley has a news roundup from local media and blogs to check out as well.

I have a few questions/bafflements of my own at this point:
  • Why was the mother's apartment not searched prior to yesterday evening?
I can't quite wrap my head around why the Boise police didn't search the apartment of Melissa Jenkins, mother of missing eight-year-old Robert Manwill, prior to last night when they took a look at the apartment and found something that warranted discussion by the police with the public about "suspicious circumstances" that may have lead to the injury and disappearance of Robert.
  • Where is the mother and why hasn't she appeared with the rest of the family at the press conferences?
This could be the result of many things, the suspicion surrounding this woman included. However, it would seem to me that if the mother was really interested in finding her son and had absolutely no idea where he was or if he was safe, she would be out there leading the charge to find him.
  • Why did the state police prevent the local police from activating a nationwide AMBER alert for Robert?
Apparently there are strict rules in place and one of them requires the child to be an abductee rather than simply a missing person. The Press-Tribune has more information on this particular obstacle. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a flyer posted at the top of their website asking for help in finding Robert Manwill. This was not the case a few days ago. Sadly, Robert is only one of fourteen children currently missing and riding atop the organization's website. Many of the children on the website are victims of family abductions, usually resulting from custody disputes. Unfortunately, Robert appears to be in the opposite situation--he was with a parent who had legal visitation and disappeared from there. Please visit the website and take a look at these endangered kids.

This story does not appear to be getting any simpler and it's beginning to be awfully difficult to stay positive. As we all continue to hope Robert comes home safely, the one positive we can all note is that Nancy Grace is still on vacation.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Medicare, Health Care, & Minnick

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed into law one of the most progressive and needed pieces of legislation of the modern era. The bill offered an essential government insurance program to the nation's elderly. In the Truman Library, flanked by President Truman himself, Johnson signed into law the act that created Medicare. To this day, it remains one of the more successful government health programs enacted by the United States government.

There are other government-run health programs in existence today that provide a needed service to millions of Americans. Medicaid, SCHIP, state health insurance funds, and health care offered to our nation's veterans via the VA (and CHAMPUS or TRICARE) are just a few in addition to Medicare. Despite the success of these programs, there remains a great deal of skepticism surrounding health care reform and what reform might cost this country.

An op-ed in today's Idaho State Journal poses a question that is on the minds of millions of Americans--Is health care reform really going to happen? Leonard Hitchcock writes:
As complicated as the health care debate is, people seem to agree on the following facts: the per capita cost of health care in the U.S. is over two times what it is in other advanced countries and yet Americans do not enjoy better quality care.

Millions of Americans cannot afford the insurance premiums necessary to provide health care for themselves; businesses, both small and large (e.g. General Motors), have been crippled by the cost of employee health plans; drugs are more expensive in the U.S. than elsewhere; and private health insurance firms charge high premiums and deny coverage to their clients whenever possible.
It is true, many employers cannot afford insurance for their employees and those who are not offered benefits from their employer often cannot afford insurance on their own. Generally, if we can't afford something we go without. This is the case with millions of Americans who are uninsured. The problem with health care in this country isn't limited to the large number of people without health insurance because of the cost; the problem envelopes groups of people who have been turned away regardless of their ability to pay due to pre-existing conditions, groups of people who are underinsured, and groups of people who simply cannot be responsible for their own health care as well as the associated costs (i.e. children, the disabled).

In the current issue of Newsweek, Senator Ted Kennedy lays out his history with health care and his belief that we are closer now to reform than we have been in his entire senatorial career. This may be his last political battle as a member of Congress and this is not one he feels this country can afford to lose. After discussing his own personal health battles, battles that include a broken back sustained in a plane crash and his current battle with brain cancer, Senator Kennedy reflects on the fairness (or lack thereof) of him receiving the treatment he needs and the reality of many Americans going without the same needed care:
But quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.
Unfortunately, many members of Congress cannot see the problem with providing superb health care to the elite, political population in D.C. and denying adequate health care to the average citizen in rural America. Are members of Congress more deserving of coverage than you or I? Some would say yes, but the truth is the men and women who have been elected to Congress are more likely to be in a position where they could afford health insurance for themselves and their family if they weren't covered by the congressional plan.

Despite the idea being around for nearly a century, health care reform was first proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt, it seems at times that we are really close to reform and then at other times we seem millions of miles away. It certainly does not appear that any legislation offering health care reform will be immediately passed when Congress returns from their August "work" break. What exactly members of Congress will be doing over the August recess that will actually help average Americans remains unknown. Had they agreed to stay in the nation's capital for the month, surely they could have worked through the road blocks that have this legislation stalled.

Congressmen choosing to return to their home districts to meet with constituents to talk issues to death aren't going to solve anything. The Idaho delegation might as well skip the constituent talk all together--they seemed to be so considerate in their decision to vote against Judge Sotomayor, what could they possibly learn from constituents that they aren't currently learning from Fox News? Oh, wait, that would exclude the one "Democrat" wouldn't it? Hopefully Congressman Minnick has a better plan than simply holding these so-called economic summits. Even if these summits are about creating jobs, will those jobs come with health insurance? Hopefully Congressman Minnick won't be running from his constituents the way he recently ran from Mike Stark. Minnick doesn't need his constituents' opinions either, after all he did consult with Congressman Simpson and decided to vote against health care reform before any final language made it out of committee.

President Johnson was never the most vocal supporter of Medicare, but he saw a need and he set out to offer an effective solution. If he were alive today, on this the anniversary of him signing into law Medicare, he would be disgusted by an entire Congress throwing out talking points about Barack Obama's place of birth and the legality of abortion when there are millions of Americans who needed help months ago, not months from now.

Quote of the Day

Perhaps the only work of Austen I've ever really liked:
"There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere..."
-- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Endangered

When Robert Manwill went missing Friday night, he was an eight-year-old boy in danger. Today, after several days of non-stop searching, the Idaho Statesman has revealed the circumstances that put this eight-year-old boy in danger long before he went missing.

Something about this story wasn't right from the beginning, wasn't right beyond the sense that this very young boy was missing. The reporting was vague regarding this boy's family, specifically why he was at his mother's house when he disappeared. An AMBER alert was not issued, in fact remains to be issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and a rather odd scenario was being considered by the Boise police--that Robert Manwill was/is hiding.

What could an eight-year-old be hiding from for several days? Unfortunately, quite a lot, as the Statesman story today reveals.

Robert Manwill was visiting his mother Friday night, a mother who is on probation after fracturing the skull of another of her children, an infant. Robert's infant sibling was removed from his mother. As if this alone isn't enough for an eight-year-old to have in his memory, another sibling was murdered by his father's wife (not Robert's mother), after she stabbed the four-year-old in the chest. The first incident, that of his mother's assault on his infant sibling that caused the fracturing of the infant's skull, what court documents refer to as "willfully" striking the baby's head against a hard surface, resulted in merely a misdemeanor charge of injury to a child. It does not appear that Robert's mother even served jail time for this. Apparently, the mother's boyfriend has a history of assault as well that includes a court order that prevents him from being alone with a two-year-old daughter (also belonging to Robert's mother). The only clear and appropriate charge seems to be that of Robert's father's former wife who was charged with first degree murder for the stabbing death of a four-year-old. Amazingly, the first degree murder of a four-year-old only cost this woman ten years of her life in prison.

This boy's family history is rampant with assault, abuse, and other reasons for him to hide, should that have been the cause of his disappearance initially. The Boise police say they do not have a suspect, but it is quite obvious now, since the Statesman was able to attain this information, that the police are more than aware of Melissa Scott Jenkin's history and any probability of her being involved in the disappearance of her son.

Like far too many children in this state, Robert and his siblings are proof that even the most egregious crimes against children are not as aggressively punished as they should be. It certainly is no surprise that he may have wanted to hide. He may have known that he wasn't safe in his mother's home and anything that had happened in the past was bound to happen again. After all, the state moved to protect his infant brother too late, how would now be any different?

All of the speculation surrounding an eight-year-old missing in Boise is just that, speculation. Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem plausible that Robert Manwill wandered away from home and is trying to find his way back.

As the entire Boise community continues to hope and pray for Robert's safe return, a 'thank you' is in order for the countless volunteers who are out looking for Robert. Should, god forbid, the unthinkable happen, it will not be due to a lack of looking on the part of the Boise police, BSU's officers, and the community in general. It's times like these when it is truly evident what a community is made of and it appears that the entire valley is joining together to find a missing boy.

It's unfortunate that some are calling this effort a "wild goose chase" and that the Statesman has put together a "blockbuster" in their reporting. The disappearance of a child is never something to speak of offhandedly and it certainly isn't time to point fingers. These cases happen far more often than any of us care to admit. The insensitivity of some, referring to "dumping areas" is irrefutably inappropriate. Those who have lost sleep over this case and are tormented by the story should not have to read such insensitivity in alternative news sources.

Wherever Robert Manwill is, we can only hope he is safer than at home with those who have hurt him in the past.

[H/T: Treasured Valley. I am not in the habit of reading the Idaho Statesman daily, but I noticed this story first thing Monday morning via Treasured Valley and have kept a close eye on it since.]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

IDP Recruitment Committee Formed

Idaho Democrats form candidate recruitment committee for 2010

BOISE – Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Keith Roark today announced the formation of a special candidate recruitment committee for the 2010 elections, with a goal of recruiting top-notch Democratic candidates for all statewide and federal offices.

“We have received many expressions of interest from potential candidates and want to provide a source of information, advice and discussion to help these people make decisions about running for statewide office,” said R. Keith Roark, state party chairman. He added that Boise attorney Betty Richardson will chair the committee. “Betty did an outstanding job with candidate recruitment when she led the Ada County Democrats. Now she will bring those skills to bear at the state level.” Richardson, a former U.S. Attorney for Idaho and Congressional candidate in 2002, said she welcomes the assignment.

Roark said the committee will look most closely at the governor’s race. Governor Otter “has been focused on roads, to the exclusion of almost everything else, and he has lost the confidence of the Legislature and the people of Idaho,” Roark said. “We intend to offer a better alternative – someone who has a clear vision for Idaho’s future, especially our economic future.”

“I want to emphasize that the state party organization will not attempt to select our nominees,” Roark added. “Our voters will make those decisions in the primary elections next May. Our role, at present, is to make sure the voters have excellent choices. Certainly, one-party government has not served Idaho well.”

Individuals interested in running for office, or in recommending potential candidates, can reach Richardson and the committee via email to betty@richardsonandoleary.com; phone (208) 938-7903; or postal mail to Richardson & O'Leary, 515 N. 27th Street, Boise, ID 83702.

(For more information, contact Julie Fanselow julie@idaho-democrats.org or (208) 336-1815 ext.102)

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Live Birther

The Twin Falls Times-News, hardly a haven of liberal thought, has sponsored a series of blogs for nearly a year. Initially, three blogs were created offering three distinct styles and ideologies, one for progressives, one for conservatives, and one for moderates, albeit moderate conservatives. As time has passed, the progressive blog has been, well, progressive and pro-Obama to the point that moderate progressives are turned off by it; the moderate blog has become a thought-provoking, well-written testament to the independent nature of Idahoans; and, the conservative blog has become the go-to for the conspiracy theory believing right-wingers otherwise known as birthers. Yes, those people you hear about and see on the news ranting at town hall meetings about the citizenship of our president really do exist.

Perhaps the political ideology of Tom Young, author of Conservative Corner, should have been immediately apparent when he stated in his blog bio that he isn't a Republican, he is a conservative. That is to say, Tom Young believes in conservative values that are more conservative than mainstream Republicans are willing to embrace. What kind of beliefs? The kind that boil down to believing that the President of the United States is not legitimately the President of the United States because he's not an actual citizen. Yes folks, we have ourselves a real, live birther.

Birthers, or those who believe as Mr. Young does, aren't being laughed-off as most conspiracy theorists traditionally are. Birthers are finding their views tolerated by conservatives, if not the Republican party and not only are their views being tolerated, they've found a voice that is leading their theories right into the mainstream. That voice happens to be a graduate from Minico High School, right here in Idaho, Rupert to be exact. Lou Dobbs, the anti-immigration, talking head on CNN, has long been a voice that has spread xenophobic fear on the national stage. His all out hatred for Hispanics may have been shaped right here in Idaho. And it is Lou Dobbs who is mainstreaming the likes of Jerome Corsi, G. Gordon Liddy (who was recently on Hardball with Chris Matthews and said that Obama was born in Mombasa), Liz Cheney, and the countless fringe-dwellers who continue to believe that President Obama is not an American citizen.

It may not just be Lou Dobbs at CNN who subscribes to this misguided belief that the birth certificate issued by the state of Hawaii is forged or otherwise illegitimate. And analysts at Fox News, including Glenn Beck (who has a show on Fox as well as Headline News) have outright accused the state of Hawaii of throwing out documents related to Obama's birth.

Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs have a substantial following in Idaho. Dobbs has the Idaho connection working for him as well as his blatantly hateful anti-immigration opinions that are shared by many rural Idahoans. Glenn Beck's conservatism and faith play well to audiences in Idaho, especially southern Idaho where the population is largely Mormon (a faith Beck, who was raised Catholic, converted to). About a year ago when Glenn Beck was in Pocatello for a book signing at Deseret Book in the Pine Ridge Mall, a lengthy line of people formed hours before Beck even arrived. He once spoke to the now defunct College Republicans at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg and just this month, Glenn Beck was the headliner at a fundraiser for Idaho Falls area police and firefighters. He is always well received here in Idaho, despite his growing instability and on-air antics. It should come as no surprise that Idahoans like Tom Young are just as gung-ho about Obama's birth as are Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck.

Two posts are currently atop the front page at Tom Young's Conservative Corner. "CNN vs. Hawaii" and "Fiboma" are simply the latest of Young's attempts to convince his readership that Obama was merely raised in Hawaii and was actually born in Kenya, therefore disqualifying him for the presidency. In the past, he has pointed to news from what he calls the "eligibility front" and only one area resident, Rudy Castro, has even attempted to take Young to task for facilitating this lie. Certainly Mr. Young has a right to his beliefs and has the same freedom of speech that all of us share, but the Times-News as the home of his blog, should have a responsibility to the truth and clearly by allowing Mr. Young to post article after article spreading these lies about Obama's citizenship, they are neglecting their responsibility to the public and the truth.

Tom Young isn't the only Idahoan with an outlet to share this birther paranoia, in fact he isn't the only resident of the Magic Valley spewing these falsehoods. Steve Mitton, a radio personality in the Magic Valley and a colleague of none other than Zeb Bell, has devoted a great deal of time and attention on his own blog to this birther nonsense. Surely he is devoting some of his radio show to the cause as well. Birthers are alive and well in southern Idaho and as long as the Times-News and Lee Family Broadcasting (owners of KBAR, the station that broadcasts Mitton's show) allow it, they are here to stay.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cooperstown

Tomorrow Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Posthumously, Joe "Flash" Gordon will be inducted as well. If I remember the details correctly, Jim Rice is being inducted in his final year of eligibility, twenty years following his retirement with the Boston Red Sox, and Rickey Henderson is being inducted on his first ballot and first year of eligibility.

What I find most interesting about the hall of fame induction process is how two players that may not have been teammates or even liked each other in their playing days, become two guys with complete respect for one another and the shared experience of induction. This first impressed me in 2007 when Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. entered the hall together. Of course, they shared something else that is very rare in baseball these days--they both spent their entire careers with one franchise (Padres and Orioles, respectively). There time as analysts the season they were inducted also solidified them in my mind as a pair in baseball, despite them having never played on the same team. I can't help but wonder if Rice and Henderson being inducted together won't do the same.

I was too young to watch or remember Jim Rice's career, but I watched Rickey Henderson for many years while he played for various teams. Most of my memories of Rickey are from his days in a New York Mets uniform. That would have been the season Rickey was voted the National League's comeback player of the year. Thinking of Rickey's years in New York, certainly not necessarily the franchises he was most known for, I have thought quite a bit about the really extraordinary hitters who have gone to the Mets in their final years, perhaps the two most notable with the Mets now being Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado.

Enough with my reminiscing, Keith Olbermann, the newsman no longer known so much for his sports work, has a fabulous series of posts as he visited this Cooperstown this weekend and will watch the inductions of Rice, Henderson and Gordon tomorrow. The Cooperstown Flood, Cooperstown: Saturday, and Cooperstown: Saturday Evening are all great reads.

And with the weekend in Cooperstown has risen more discussion on the matter of the steroid era and how players who played in the steroid-clouded era will be treated on their respective ballots. If Ozzie Smith and Hank Aaron are any indication, there will be some sort of way of noting those who cheated the game. It's unfortunate that players under suspicion will even be eligible for induction, but I'm afraid that steroid use in baseball was once so rampant that there's no way of telling who it reached.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Patriot Extremist To Speak In Twin Falls

Today's edition of the Twin Falls Times-News offers two more letters to the editor noting an all-day constitutional seminar to be held tomorrow, Saturday the 25th, at the Herrett Center in Twin Falls. The title of the first of the two letters reveals little ("Educate ourselves on Constitution Day"), but the second letter titled "What's wrong in America?" suggests this event is in fact tied to the tea parties if not something even more ominous.

These two letters come on the heels of a letter mentioning supposed methods being employed by the U.S. government to lead this country down the wrong path and announcing this very constitutional seminar. That letter offered the following information about the seminar (which also appeared on Craigslist):

"Join TEARS of the Patriots for a daylong seminar on the Constitution in the Rick Allen Room of the Herrett Center at the College of Southern Idaho starting at 9 a.m. July 25. The speaker is retired Marine Corps Maj. and Professor of Constitutional Studies at the University of North Las Vegas (sic) Jack Ringler. Registration is $20 at the door, or you may pre-register for $17.76 by going to tearsofthepatriots.org/ and clicking the "calendar" link on the home page."
Initially, my first assumption was that this organization, Tears of the Patriots, was merely one of the off-shoots of the nationwide tea parties that took place on tax day, something potentially laced with hate. I clicked on the link provided and it took me to a meetup page that listed meetup topics that included Ron Paul's recent bid for the presidency and Campaign for Liberty, libertarianism, birthers, Glenn Beck's 9/12 project, tea parties, the John Birch Society, and the United States Constitution. I wasn't familiar with the Free State Project, but nothing in the topics list jumped out at me. It isn't like the Magic Valley isn't known for their more extreme fundamentalist residents. However, after the superb reporting of Boise Weekly on a speech given Wednesday night in downtown Boise by Nazi sympathizer David Irving, it occurred to me that I never looked into this constitutional scholar that will be speaking at the Herrett Center tomorrow. Big mistake.

The speaker, Major Jack K. Ringler, USMC Retired, is listed on each of the announcements of tomorrow's event as a Professor of Constitutional Studies at UNLV. Don't let the fliers fool you. UNLV has nothing to do with this.

As it turns out, Ringler is a whole lot more than what anyone reading these very enthusiastic letters to the editor might suspect. An article written in 1998 by Steve Friess of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reveals that Ringler has the makings of someone rooted in the Patriot movement. While teaching at the Community College of Southern Nevada, not UNLV by any stretch, Ringler spouted the very New World Order conspiracy theories that the Patriot movement is known for. The Friess article quotes Ringler as opening his courses with the following warning to his students: "Don't turn me off... Don't just say, 'God, he's way out there.' I'm not trying to convince you. I'm just trying to give you information." In fact, the course was even titled "The New World Order: The Ultimate Conspiracy." Ringler apparently approached the school's administration to teach the course.

Ringler is not listed anywhere on UNLV's website, however he is listed on the website of the College of Southern Nevada with emeritus status in History as well as Philosophical and Regional Studies. It appears he also taught U.S. History courses, first-half courses that generally cover the country's history up until the Civil War, at some point while employed at CSN. Whether the courses he taught speak to his general ideology is unclear, but the Freiss article in addition to a government publication Ringler penned in 1970 tell a more complete story.

The government publication, "U.S. Marine Corps Operations In the Dominican Republic, April-June 1965," offers a brief glimpse of Ringler's animosity toward non-whites and non-Christians. Ringler appears to fit the mold that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning about more recently--the emergence of neo-Nazis in the military. In Ringler's case, he may have left the military with not only the tactical training so well-known in the Patriot movement, but also a growing hatred for minorities. The publication offers a brief biography of Ringler:
"One of the authors, Major Jack K. Ringler, came to the Historical Branch (Historical Division after 1968) following a tour as an infantry officer in Vietnam. He is a graduate of the Naval War College and received a master's degree from George Washington University. He completed this history [publication] while serving as the head of division's reference, archives,and library activities. After his retirement, Major Ringler became a history professor in Nevada."
On the surface his credentials appear flawless and completely appropriate for a history professor. The syllabus for his course is what sends up red flags. Speaking of Americans' "thought conditioners" (i.e. the government) and the illegitimacy of the Federal Reserve, Ringler even went so far as to assign Treason: The New World Order as required reading.

In addition to his academic resume, Ringler served in the leadership of the Independent American Party of Nevada for a time. The Independent American Party is the party that backed George Wallace in the 60's and continues to oppose the concept of the "New World Order."

This is the speaker that the residents of Twin Falls area are so excited about having in town for an all-day seminar on the Constitution? I'm afraid of what constitution that may be. Judging by what the group promoting and sponsoring this event outlines in its brochure as being established "principles" and the obvious omission of "all men are created equal" in their "Modern Declaration of Independence," it sure isn't the United States Constitution.

TDIH: ADA

July 24, 2009
Statement from Former President George H.W. Bush on the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
____________

“I congratulate President Obama for taking some time today to remember the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is no place in our society for prejudice of any kind, yet it was not that long ago when Americans with disabilities were often not given equal rights and opportunities. Whether the cause was ignorance or indifference, it was not acceptable. We can all take pride in how much the ADA has accomplished, which is evident every time you attend a sporting event, ride the subway, or go to work. Yet, there is always more to be done, which is why it’s good not only to celebrate our successes, but to look forward at what still must be done. As long as we never forget that every life is a miracle and each person has something to contribute, we will finish the job.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Perfection

It's only happened eighteen times in the entire history of major league baseball, sixteen in the modern era, and it happened today on a mound in Chicago.



Congratulations to Mark Buehrle, the Chicago White Sox pitcher who threw the perfect game today, and congrats to his teammates DeWayne Wise who stole a homerun and Ramon Castro who caught the game.

Questions for Idahoans and Congressman Minnick

Can someone honestly say to me that we don't have a problem with hate in this state? News this afternoon of a ruling in the case of Michael Bullard and Richard Armstrong reminded me again that being recognizably different in any way can be a very horrific thing when intolerant bigots are in your midst. Betsy Russell has the ruling and if this story weren't enough, again today the Times-News is showcasing a new brand of hate ala the teabaggers. If you answered my question honestly and still don't think we have a problem with hate here at home, go read what one of Zeb's Rebs has to say to President Obama. Seriously, who signs a letter "A White, Christian, American Mom"? I think we all know the answer to that.
______________________

What happened to that oft-espoused idea/belief that Congressman Minnick would vote with the Democrats when it counted? He's not only voting against his own party, he's voting against the Idahoans that elected him in refusing to support health care reform. I am with Wordsmith on this one, it means diddly squat to be a Blue Dog Democrat anymore. All that means is you're a Democrat who votes with the Republicans. Wouldn't it just be easier to be a Republican? When Minnick says he hopes he can support a final version of the bill that has more bipartisan support, I hope that doesn't mean he'll vote for the bill when the Republicans who think like him can vote for it. Congressman Minnick, could I borrow your health insurance for awhile? Because I'm an average Idahoan who really needs health care in this country to be reformed and I don't need it to be reformed ten months from now when you're running for re-election or even a month from now when all you Washington politicians come back from you break. I need health care reform right now and I can't just take a month off from that absolute need.

Summer Readin'

While I am adding a few lists to my Amazon wish list, I wanted to take note of the progress on and additions I've made to my summer reading list (links to each of the titles appear in the 'Summer Reading List' sidebar section). Books in bold are new additions to the list since the last time I mentioned the list and strikeout obviously means I've finished a book and am crossing it off the list:

Alex Cross's Trial
America Back on Track
Assassination Vacation
Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeth's
Essays of E.B. White
Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Hate Is My Neighbor
In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest

Late Innings
Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and The Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill
My Father's Tears
Run For Your Life
Swimsuit
Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World
The 8th Confession
The Confessions of Nat Turner
The Deputy
The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right
The Mindbody Prescription
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: vol. 1: The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928
Writings from the New Yorker, 1927-1976

I began and finished the latest Janet Evanovich book Tuesday night, within the next 24-48 hours I should be finished with both Hate Is My Neighbor and In God's Country, and tomorrow I might pick up a copy of James Patterson's newest release.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Middle of the Week Mélange

If you missed my post on gubernatorial papers and the differences between former elected officials from the Idaho GOP and Idaho Democrats, scroll on down or check it out here.

I have every intention of still posting the Cronkite tribute I mentioned on Saturday, I just haven't made it to the topic yet. I'm afraid my post on Cronkite will come late, just as my post on McNamara did. I never anticipated the Sotomayor hearings taking as much time, both writing and otherwise, as they did. So, I'm behind a half dozen or so posts.

For those of you reading this now (as opposed to after 6pm), don't forget President Obama is holding a prime time press conference on health care reform this evening. If you turn a tv on, I can't imagine you'll miss it. That's another post I'd like to get to--my take on health care reform and my own experiences with health insurance throughout my life especially here lately.

I try to keep up with Steve Clemons of the Washington Note, but I miss things from time to time. However, today, his post "Note to White House: Netanyahu is Obama's Khrushchev" caught my attention. Go check it out if foreign relations is your thing...or even if it isn't.

In baseball news, former Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche has been traded to the Boston Red Sox. He'll be joining former Atlanta teammates J.D. Drew and Mark Kotsay. I think LaRoche is one of the decent guys in baseball and he just doesn't get enough recognition. It is unfortunate that he won't be playing with his younger brother Andy for the Pirates anymore, but even more unfortunate is that the Pirates are trading off all of their talent (McLouth went to Atlanta in a surprise deal not long ago). The Pirates will get two prospects in the trade. It's no wonder Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson aren't signing on for additional years in Pittsburgh at this stage in the game.

One other bit of baseball news is the unfortunate story Erin Andrews of ESPN finds herself stuck in. She appears to have been a victim of a peeping tom with a video camera. The Red Sox and Rangers will be facing off here shortly--we'll see if Andrews surfaces. I'd probably hideout in my house for months if I were in her shoes.

Around the Idaho blogosphere, Sisyphus is keeping tabs on the kiss-ins in Salt Lake on the LDS temple grounds; Wordsmith has the latest on a captured Idaho soldier; Gary Eller has two posts over at In the Middle that are worth a read ("American Soldiers" and "Double Standards"); and, Chris keeps things rolling over at Treasured Valley with a promised second phase to this project of his that somehow has turned into, in my humble opinion, the biggest site going in Idaho right now.

I'll try to catch up with the blogging, I just keep getting sidetracked by other stories. It's only Wednesday, there's time...

Save the Sentiment

As someone who has visited the Idaho State Historical Society dozens of times to look at more collections than I can probably count, a majority of them being gubernatorial records, I have for some time found the problems associated with former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne's papers intriguing. That said, it should come as no surprise that Dan Popkey's interview of Kempthorne running in the Idaho Statesman today caught my attention.

First and foremost, it should be noted that I am thrilled that Kempthorne's papers finally made their way to the state history center. Having kept an eye on the status of his papers for several years (writing about it here, here, and here), I have heard nearly every excuse Kempthorne has offered as to why his papers weren't immediately transferred to the state archives as required by the law and one hundred years of precedent. All of those excuses were head-scratchers to be certain, but his comments today in the Statesman are a little bizarre in their own right:
Kempthorne said he chose the Historical Society [to house his papers] for its focus on gubernatorial records and the passion throughout the agency, starting with Director Janet Gallimore and running to volunteers like Julianne Ruby, who helps index his collection.

"I love history, and they have made this a priority," Kempthorne said. "It's humbling to know you're a part of this, but it is the story of many Idahoans. It's the story of citizenship and what was accomplished together."

Really, Dirk? I have a hard time believing that Governor Kempthorne has any respect for state history based on his withholding of the papers initially. Never mind the fiasco with the state quarter that resulted in it portraying none of our state history and culture, Kempthorne had to know that leaving his papers in storage, unattended, and without any restriction to staffers and who knows who else that may have waded into the papers in search of one item with no respect for the rest of the materials therein.

Instead of donating his papers immediately upon leaving office so that whomever he donated them could begin the tedious task of processing them, he continued to drag his feet. Even Popkey's article addresses the condition and status of the papers up until their donation:
"[The papers] had been hastily stored in space off the tunnels under the Capitol Mall. Mixed in with Kempthorne's stuff was a misplaced box from the Andrus years and 24 boxes from former Gov. Phil Batt."
Not only was he keeping government documents and materials of an historic nature from the public, the public who paid for their creation, he was unknowingly keeping papers from two other administrations from the public. The entire situation is unfortunate.

As to how Governor Kempthorne feels about his materials being housed in the state archives and that bit of sentiment he expressed to Popkey, I don't believe it. The problem isn't that Governor Kempthorne may have had anything to hide, the problem is that elected Republicans in this state don't have a very good track record when it comes to transparency and public consumption of their papers. Governor Batt's papers, by no fault of the Idaho State Historical Society where they are housed, are a complete mess and offer very little insight into his administration; It will be interesting to see what becomes of the twenty-four Batt boxes found with Kempthorne's papers. Senator Symms' papers at the College of Idaho remain in the Symms' apple boxes they were donated in and much of those materials are restricted to the public by Symms. And there's no telling what will happen with former Senator Craig's papers, but my guess is that he will donate them to the University of Idaho in his home district, contingent upon restrictions protecting case files (if he chooses to donate them) and legal matters stemming from his arrest in Minnesota. It is my understanding that both Orval and George Hansen's papers are also housed at the state archives, though I am not aware of their status or accessibility. Whatever happened to the papers of Helen Chenoweth remains a mystery. One collection, that of Senator McClure housed in Moscow at U of I, has been processed and is available with some usage restrictions until 2016.

Clearly, records related to the governance of this state over several decades with Republicans at the helm have not been a priority to the Republican party or its leaders. In contrast, Democrats who have served in statewide and federal positions in the past few decades have made their papers available, even at times when those papers have not been completely processed. The papers of former Governor Evans are housed at the state archives and available for research, though the processing is not entirely complete. Andrus' papers are available at Boise State, it was his prerogative to have them housed there instead of the state archive, and have been processed and arranged in a way advantageous to researchers. LaRocco's papers are also housed at BSU, completely processed and available for research. The papers of former Senator Church are available at BSU and are a remarkable testament to Frank Church and his contributions to this state. And despite the continued processing taking place on the papers of former Congressman Stallings, his papers are available at ISU and have been available to the public for some time now. In this realm, the obstructionist label could only be applied to the GOP.

What I had forgotten and was reminded of by Popkey's article is that Kempthorne's senatorial papers are housed at the University of Idaho. The fact that papers from one part of his career are available at one institution or repository and another part of his career available elsewhere creates accessibility problems for researchers, especially in this state so regionally divided. I have found that collections that are split between institutions as the Kempthorne papers are, prove to be the most frustrating and difficult for research purposes.

If Kempthorne does in fact hold any amount of sentiment in regard to the housing of his papers at the state archives, that doesn't rid him of blame for denying the people he once served access to those papers in a reasonable time frame.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Music Tuesday

They say his songs are mushy and that he's dopey, but why wouldn't the son of Kenny Loggins have a few truly heartfelt lyrics on his Tuesday release Time to Move? Yesterday, Crosby Loggins released his first solo album and for all that has been released in the past month, including the sophomore releases of Rob Thomas and Daughtry, Time to Move seems both able to compete on today's pop/rock scene and worthy of a listen. Don't let his winning of Cradle of Rock on MTV scare you away--he isn't the usual reality show, son-of-a-celebrity type. A sampling of Time to Move, here are the lyrics from the title song:

I'm bouncing off the walls tonight
Drunken heart, sunken eyes
It's 3 am, I'm tangled up over you
Lying on a burning bed
I think too much, it hurts my head
But there's a light that's shining through

I left you lonely, if I could only have
A chance to prove
I could love you for who you are
Do you feel you're giving something
But getting nothing
Imade you wait for long enough
Come on it's time to move

I've had time enough to know
Changed my mind, I can show you
I'll be true, if you will just
Take me back
I'm not about to give up yet
If there's a chance, I won't quit
I'll do what it takes to get through

Left you lonely, if I could only
Have a chance to prove
That I could love you for who you are
Do you feel you're giving something
But getting nothing
I made you wait for long enough now
Come on it's time to move

Bouncing off the walls again
A different light is pouring in now
I can see I'll never be
The way I was when I found you

I left you lonely, if I could only
Have the chance to prove
That I could love you for who you are
Do you feel you're giving something
And getting nothing
I'd like to try to make it all up to you

I left you lonely, if I could only
Have the chance to prove
I could like you for who you are
Do you feel you're giving something
And getting nothing
I made you wait for long enough
So come on it's time to move

I downloaded this single from iTunes around 10pm (MST) when Tuesday's new releases hit the iTunes stores and since then I've listened to the song thirty-seven times. Yes, it's that good. I haven't downloaded the rest of the album, yet, but I plan to in the next few days. I hear his single "Seriously" is even better than the title track.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

"For how many thousands of years now have we humans been what we insist on calling "civilized?" And yet, in total contradiction, we also persist in the savage belief that we must occasionally, at least, settle our arguments by killing one another.

"While we spend much of our time and a great deal of our treasure in preparing for war, we see no comparable effort to establish a lasting peace. Meanwhile, emphasizing the sloth in this regard, those advocates who work for world peace by urging a system of world government are called impractical dreamers. Those impractical dreamers are entitled to ask their critics what is so practical about war."
--Walter Cronkite, Address to the U.N. (October 19, 1999)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sotomayor & Hate Here At Home

In the past few weeks I've heard some really ridiculous and bordering on insane comments made about Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the least of which being what the Washington Post front-paged today regarding the completely non-legal decision made by Sotomayor to observe fashion trends that ignored femininity for the workplace. A letter to the editor printed in today's Twin Falls Times-News takes the prize for the most paranoid and outrageous.

The Mini-Cassia/Magic Valley area has for some time been a haven of hatred aimed at the growing Hispanic community. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Obama's Hispanic nominee to the United States Supreme Court would fuel a fire that has been raging for far too long. However, even I, someone with a broad understanding of how deeply rooted the anti-Hispanic sentiment is in that community, was completely blown away by one Rick Martin's (not to be confused with a Grammy winning Latin music powerhouse) letter disqualifying Judge Sotomayor for an alleged association with the National Council of La Raza.

A snippet of the letter:
Meaning "The Race," La Raza is a revolutionary Mexican-American group seeking to cancel enforcement of immigration laws and grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Even more, the organization backs the return to Mexico of what it labels Aztlan. The vast area targeted includes California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico and portions of Colorado and Texas. La Raza's designs for our country are perhaps the most divisive and dangerous seen since our tragic War Between the States.

La Raza's president, Janet Murguia, jumped for joy over the choice of Sotomayor. She heaped high praise on President Obama for his selection. Will Arizona's John McCain approve the choice? How about the senators from the other states claimed by Aztlan? Won't a positive vote for Sotomayor indicate their approval of the demand that the people in six states, in four cases the entire states themselves, become part of Mexico?
Perhaps I am excessively sensitive to a few of the terms used in this letter including 'revolutionary' and 'Aztlan' having just finished reading David Neiwert's The Eliminationists and In God's Country, but I suspect I will not be the only reader that spent even ten minutes listening to Judge Sotomayor defend herself against attacks regarding her "wise Latina" speeches who takes this letter for what it is--a frighteningly shared hatred and fear manifest in beliefs about an "invasion" of this country by Mexico or Hispanics.

I know plenty of young people who live in the area in which this letter was printed, young people who are impressionable, that I worry about reading this sort of hatred and untruth. I have thought a great deal about the responsibility of the press and whether the editor of the Times-News or even my local paper the Idaho State Journal, and whether those editors have a responsibility to print every letter they receive regardless of the hatred they might be spreading throughout their respective communities. Specifically, I am reminded of a fellow by the name of Robert Mathews who wrote many a hate-filled drivel that the Sandpoint Daily Bee, led by Dave Neiwert, refused to print back in the days when Idaho was known for the Aryan Nations in Hayden Lake and the Ruby Ridge incident. For those of you who are familiar with Mr. Mathews or his mention in Neiwert's God's Country, it wasn't simply a matter of black helicopter paranoia, he was in fact guilty of much violent hatred. Do we simply just hope that Mr. Martin of Buhl, the Times-News letter-to-the-editor writer, is paranoid and anti-Hispanic and not driven by the type of hatred that led Mr. Mathews to violence? It's unfortunate that we have to take these types of chances. It's unfortunate that the cost of maintaining our freedom of speech is this sort of freedom given to those who use it to spread and fuel hatred and violence.

As for Judge Sotomayor, having listened to her responses to the borderline racist questions posed to her by Senators Graham (R-South Carolina), Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Kyl (R-Arizona), and Sessions (R-Alabama), I don't believe for a second that any of her decisions on the bench will be driven by her own ethnicity. Having gone into her confirmation hearings as someone skeptical of her nomination by Obama as both a woman and as an American who has not come around entirely to Obama's presidency, I am completely convinced that Sonia Sotomayor is immensely qualified to serve on our highest Court and that she will bring her vast array of experiences, not as a woman, Hispanic, or student impacted by affirmative action, but as a jurist that has served as a prosecutor, private lawyer, district attorney, and federal and appellate judge. She is, as has been said, one of the most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court in approximately a century.

I fear for my state, a state that harbors these paranoid, hateful, and often bordering on insane beliefs about minorities, liberals, and other groups targeted by an immense amount of xenophobia that exists here, but more than anything I fear for the younger generation of Idahoans that are growing up with these influences. It isn't just Zeb Bell, it's an entire belief system embedded in our backyards.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday

A Walter Cronkite tribute post is in the works and should be posted at some point this weekend. Cronkite passed away yesterday at the age of 92. In the meantime, here is President Obama's statement on the death of Cronkite:



Two worlds collided last night as the Mets announcers in their booth noted the passing of Walter Cronkite, as the news was breaking, and the Braves announcers in their Peachtree TV booth were joined by Greg Maddux. Maddux, a former Brave with eleven seasons of domination on the mound, was recognized at Turner Field yesterday as the newest member of the Braves franchise hall of fame. His number joined those of Braves' legends Phil Neikro, Warren Spahn, Hammerin' Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Eddie Mathews, and of course Jackie Robinson (his number has been retired across the league by each of the individual franchises) retired and on display at Turner Field in Atlanta. You know it is a huge night in Braves history when Bobby Cox says it was one of the best nights he's spent at the ballpark. Can you imagine how many nights Bobby Cox has spent the ballpark? And in true Maddux form, he was overwhelmed by the ceremony and truly too humble to admit he deserved such an honor. There on the field with guys like Chipper Jones, Eddie Perez, David Justice, Don Sutton, Phil Neikro, Dale Murphy, and Tommy Glavine via video, Maddux simply said, let's go out and beat the Mets "just like old times." And beat the Mets they did. Jair Jurrjens, perhaps the most Maddux-like pitcher in the game right now, threw six shutout innings and made a superb play fielding off the mound channeling eighteen-time Gold Glove winner Maddux. I'm with Bobby Cox on this one...what a night to be at the ballpark!

While I'm on the topic of the Braves, last night as I was watching the Padres/Rockies match up on FSN Rocky Mountain, I was reflecting on the fact that this is the third time in my life that I've lived in an area where the television lineup offered team-specific programming. I grew up, as I said yesterday, a kid in the Braves on TBS world. As a teenager, before our lineup stopped offering WGN in exchange for the WB (which is now the CW, I believe), I got non-stop coverage of the Chicago Cubs. And now, because of my location, the Fox Sports Network on cable here is the Rocky Mountain region which means instead of the Seattle Mariners that viewers in Boise get, we get all access coverage of the Colorado Rockies. Despite having probably an even number of years watching each of those three teams play whichever team was on their schedule, I stuck with the Braves and never much cared for the Cubs or Rockies. So, when I say I'm a Braves fan and people mention that I must have grown up watching the Braves on TBS, I get a bit annoyed. That and the whole 'fair weather friend' comment annoys me. Just because the Braves won fourteen straight division titles doesn't mean I like them any less now that they've had a few rough seasons and haven't made it to the playoffs. All of this, I'm sure, is far more than anybody cared to know...

There's another insane letter to the editor in the Times-News this morning. Unfortunately, this is pretty much all there have been in the days since Obama's election.

If any of you regular readers are students, I highly recommend taking a look at the Google Student Blog. I just recently discovered it, I'm a huge fan of the Google blog, and the student blog offers all sorts of wonderful tools. I've yet to take full advantage of the new tasks lab Gmail is offering, but Google for Students has a video tutorial and I hope to start using it regularly. One of the tools I was thrilled to see is a resume and cover letter template. It's geared toward recent graduates, but anybody can and should take advantage of the template. It can be so difficult to put a resume or cover letter together for the first time and not starting from scratch is a huge leg up.

Hopefully I'll have an update on my summer reading list in the next week. I finished Dave Neiwert's The Eliminationists and decided to pick up another of his works, God's Country, which I started last night. I haven't picked up the new James Patterson book, the new Janet Evanovich title, or the posthumous work of John Updike's, all of which were released recently, if that tells you anything about the status of my summer reading list.

It appears I wasn't the only one preoccupied with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week. Michael Gerson of the Washington Post, as well as a string of other journalists, reported on comments Ginsburg made in an interview with the New York Times Magazine. He calls it a scandal, I wouldn't go that far, but I will say that the comments Ginsburg made this week are precisely why I said in sixteen years on the bench we've never come to a full understanding of what Ginsburg thinks or believes about reproductive rights in this country. When Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate, the Democrats probably weren't as sure as they have been with other nominees of what they were getting. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Ginsburg has turned out to be what O'Connor was for Reagan and disappointed conservatives or what Earl Warren was for Eisenhower and enraged conservatives, but Ginsburg has definitely been hit-and-miss in terms of reproductive health, equal rights for women and minorities, and other largely progressive causes. Perhaps that makes her a good justice--a fair justice even. The jury is still out on that.

Today's tunes include Martina McBride's new single, "I Just Call You Mine," and "Alright" by Darius Rucker. I saw one of the funniest videos this morning by Randy Houser. I don't much care for the song "Going Out With My Boots On," but check out the video and you'll see what I mean. The kid in it is absolutely adorable! And don't think you have to like country music to like this video. Yesterday it was all Vienna Teng, today it's all country. Go figure!

Have a wonderful Saturday afternoon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Retiring No. 31

Greg Maddux is a guy I grew up watching. I, like the rest of the Braves on TBS generation, saw more Maddux wins on television than any other player in baseball. For a young baseball fan, watching Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz take the mound for Atlanta was like watching pure perfection.

Today the Atlanta Braves will honor Greg Maddux for his eleven year service to the franchise and all the winning that came with it by retiring his number, 31.

The Atlanta press release noted that the Braves will honor Greg Maddux today by "inducting him into the Braves Hall of Fame and retiring his uniform number. The induction will take place at the Braves Hall of Fame Luncheon at the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center during the day and the uniform number retirement will occur in a pre-game ceremony that night before the Braves take on the New York Mets." I can't think of a more deserving guy in baseball.

There's so much to point to in the career of Greg Maddux, this Nike commercial of the less serious highlights:




While with Atlanta, Greg Maddux had 194 wins, 1,828 strike outs and was a key part of the Braves 1995 World Series championship. And what he did in Atlanta he was able to do in L.A., Chicago, and San Diego. All in all, Maddux won a World Series, earned an unbelievable 18 Gold Gloves, won the National League Cy Young Award four consecutive years, was selected for the All-Star Game 8 times, won 355 games, and struck out a whopping 3,371 hitters. Maddux is now in the Braves franchise hall of fame and without question will be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Recently, Orel Hershiser referred to Chipper Jones as the "last soldier standing" in that amazing fourteen season run of division titles for the Braves and what I hope will happen today is that Chipper will be on hand, along with a lineup of Braves that grew up watching the genius that was Maddux on the mound, to truly honor a good and decent legend of the game.

Unfortunately, the franchise hasn't been as kind (as was deserved) to Tom Glavine and it remains to be seen what the Red Sox acquisition of John Smoltz will do to his chances of being recognized by the Braves. My guess is that when Smoltz retires we'll be having a similar ceremony for him--Maddux left Atlanta, too, and he's getting the ceremony he rightly deserves.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Blatant Racism of Lindsey Graham

(Update: To hear for yourself what Senator Graham said today, the video is available via YouTube and the exact comment in question appears at the 5:10 mark.)

If there was any doubt about Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) being a bigoted, racist and awfully pretentious blowhard, there is no longer.

I simply could not believe my ears a few moments ago when Senator Graham, taking part in the Sotomayor confirmation hearings in the Judiciary Committee, questioned Lt. Ben Vargas, one of the New Haven fire fighters who was part of the Frank Ricci, et al. v. John Destefano, et al. case (decided by Sotomayor on a three-judge panel and recently ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court), about how he, a Latino, was received by minorities when he took the side of the white fire fighters in the case. Senator Graham, eluding to retribution on the part of other Latinos and minority fire fighters, asked Lt. Ben Vargas of they had called him "an Uncle Tom." For those of you unaware, the term 'Uncle Tom' is a disparaging pejorative used against minorities who have been perceived by others as being subservient to white authority figures. Clearly, the term's origin is from Harriet Beecher Stow's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

I don't know which is more shocking, that Senator Graham would use such a term in front of his colleagues and the American public paying attention to Sotomayor's confirmation hearings or that not a single person in the hearing room called him out on it.

With racism this blatant, how can anyone believe that this confirmation hearing isn't being directly influenced by prejudice and racism?