Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Music Tuesday

Glenn Campbell is back!

I don't know what I find more shocking, that he's back or that his new single is so good. Back in June, Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and that he hoped he would be able to go on one more tour before retiring from music for good. I didn't realize then that he'd be putting out new music and I honestly didn't expect that he'd actually be able to tour. Turns out I was wrong. The new single is no "Wichita Lineman" and Campbell, as far as I know, is still a Republican, but it served as a reminder of the days of my childhood when my grandfather would play Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams and Glenn Campbell on the radio.

Here's Campbell talking about his final album and here's a review of the album. The album Ghost On the Canvas is available today on iTunes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"I Have A Dream..."

On this, the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial may not be dedicated, but you can still celebrate this day by sending a MLK e-postcard from the folks at The American Film Company. And let's not forget that the "I Have A Dream" speech was given on the anniversary of the death of Emmett Till. A young man and an orator that forever changed the course of American history.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Baseball History

Today the New York Yankees did something no team has ever done in the entire history of Major League Baseball--they hit three grand slams in a single game. Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Russell Martin each hit a grand slam and the Bronx Bombers beat the Oakland A's 22-9.

Years from now the history books will state that on this day history was made by the Yankees. Strangely enough, quite a few baseball gems happened on this day in history.

* 1921: Yankee pitcher Harry Harper hits 3 batters in 1 inning
* 1922: The Cubs & Phillies combined for 49 runs
* 1924: Walter Johnson throws his 2nd no-hitter
* 1936: 3 Braves hit twice in 1 inning getting 2 hits each
* 1951: Cleveland Indians were on a 16-game win streak
* 1952: Tigers' Virgil Trucks throws his 2nd no-hitter of season
* 1967: Twins' Dean Chance throws 2nd no-hitter of month
* 1985: Doc Gooden becomes youngest pitcher to win 20 games

That's a lot of baseball history for one day. And some day down the road some baseball junkie will write about this day and say the Yankees hit three grand slams this day and chances are good, however many years from now that is, no other team will have accomplished the same feat. Somewhere it might even say that future Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome was claimed off waivers by his old team the Cleveland Indians where he still holds the franchise record for most career home runs.

Even if it is the damn Yankees celebrating such an accomplishment, what a day in baseball it has been.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


As you've probably noticed, I have a new blog header. Thanks to my dear (and talented) friend Teresa, I have finally updated the header after months of considering it. In the next day or two I will be doing changes to the color scheme around here to match the new header. In the meantime, bear with me. I'm as indecisive as they come about design-related things.

For those of you wondering about the portrait choices in the new header, hopefully I will be able to write up a short blurb about each one. My passions are well represented in this group--baseball, politics, poetry, literature, history and Idaho. And I managed to stay true to the man and the quote that inspired the name of this blog. All in all it has been a successful redesign.

A huge thanks to Teresa for her help, her willingness to entertain my OCD need to change things up from time to time, and always for her friendship. Best friends like her only come around once in a lifetime for those of us who are truly lucky.

Friday, August 19, 2011

TGIF Tunes

Was looking for a link to my kid brother's favorite song (Ben E. King's "Stand By Me") in honor of his 19th birthday and ran across this awesome cover of the Rollings Stones' "Paint It Black" by Incubus. I love several versions of "Paint It Black" including the original, of course, and the Jonny Lang version. This is a nice version, too. Not much from Incubus isn't good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The True Cost of Budget Cuts

Editor's Note: This made its way to my inbox and deserves our attention. It is absolutely astonishing what the Republican Party has done to education in this state.

by Larry Grant
Idaho Democratic Party Chairman

This last week I paid the Idaho Republican-imposed “Family Tax.” If you have kids in school, you just paid it too. I paid mine when I registered my grandson for his sophomore year at our local high school.

The cost was over $100. It included $10 for the botany class, $5 for physical education/weights, a $75 athletic fee, $22 for a student activity card, and $5 for class dues. Students also pay additional fees for band, art, and broadcasting. Other than the class dues, I was dismayed at the amounts, particularly the athletic fee so he can play football and the student activity card fee required for all band, cheer, dance and sports.

I now see firsthand just how much the budget slashing demanded by Governor Otter and the school reform plans implemented by Superintendant of Public Instruction Tom Luna and imposed by our Republican-controlled legislature are really costing Idaho’s working, taxpaying families.

The fees charged to students are only part of it. There are plenty of other costs that are included in what can only be called Idaho’s “family tax” since it hits families with school-age children the hardest. Curtailing student bus service immediately means additional costs to the family for transportation. Four-day school weeks, furlough days, and reduced kindergarten classes add to the cost of daycare and in some families means a parent has to miss a day of work every week.

Because the state cut funding to local school districts, many districts are asking for override levies to make up the additional costs. Even after districts fire teachers and cut every imaginable expense or, in many cases, shift costs to parents through additional fees, reduced services or higher local taxes, it’s still not enough to provide the quality education every Idaho family is guaranteed by law in the Idaho State Constitution.

How many families have less money in their monthly budget because of these costs? How many talented students will never play sports or be in the band or take an art class because of the extra fees? How many families already struggling in these hard economic times will finally, simply, give up—and let their kids drop out of activities or even school because they can’t afford the state’s “free” education?

Our Republican leaders defend their actions by claiming there is a budget crisis—but only after they severely and deliberately underestimated revenues last year. Why are they shifting the costs to parents rather than closing tax loopholes, cutting something else or, yes, even raising revenues?

The answer, of course, is that Republicans want public schools to fail. They want to privatize education, just like they want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. Republicans support private schools, not public education. And, in a perverse twist of logic that makes sense only to them, they want the government to pay for private schools by giving vouchers to parents.

Simply put, they want budget cuts except when they don’t and they want to get rid of government except when it is their benefits that are being cut.

Fortunately, I can afford the extra fees. My grandson will play football. But how many other young, promising athletes and students will be denied that and other opportunities because of our stingy and misguided state legislature?

Too many.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Smorgasbord Saturday

A few articles that caught my eye, a couple might turn up in posts around here in the coming days:
A few new blogs you should be following:
And an update on my summer reading list: I've now completed The Help, 10th Anniversary, and Betty: A Glad Awakening. That makes eleven of the eighteen on the list that I've finished. Actually, eleven of nineteen because as of today I have added The Lacey Confession by Richard Greener to my list. I am currently reading The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary and will most likely pick up The Silent Girl next. Quite the accomplishment for one summer and by far the most I've read consecutively in ages. Hopefully I can complete the list before September rolls around. If not, bonus fall reading!

Going to be a difficult Saturday for me, but hopefully a day of baseball on Sunday will make up for it. Cheers!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Constitutionality of Redistricting

Editor's Note: The following Reader's Opinion was sent to me by members of the Idaho Redistricting Commission. Rather than being concerned with the politics of pitting incumbents against one another as the GOP members of the commission are, the Democratic members of the commission are looking at the constitutional factors involved in redistricting. As the authors of this opinion note, the members of the commission appear to be at an impasse.

Reader’s Opinion
Submitted 8/12/2011
Written by Co-Chair Allen Anderson of Pocatello, Commissioner Julie Kane of Lapwai, and George Moses of Boise.

As the constitutionally mandated deadline of September 4th looms, the press coverage of Idaho’s bi-partisan Redistricting Commission has increased. Two-thirds of the way through a 90-day timeline, the present Commission seems to be at an impasse. We believe that this impasse is rooted in differing interpretations of the legal guidelines. To resolve this apparent impasse, we believe it is imperative that the Commission adopt one consistent approach to redrawing the lines. Redistricting is done to protect individual voter rights, and we should approach redistricting in a way that best protects that Constitutional right. Such an approach is as follows: first determine if it meets US Constitutional requirements, then the Idaho constitution, and finally, state statutes.

Currently, Republican Commissioners bestow on statutory guidelines the same weight as constitutional requirements. We hold that statutes, which are passed by a simple majority of lawmakers, have less weight than constitutional requirements. To protect the rights that the constitution guarantees, any amendment to it requires a supermajority vote of the people in order to amend it. Simple legislative action is not enough. Considering all guidelines as equal permits more latitude in mapping than was ever intended and violates constitutional protections. Undermining the US and Idaho constitutions violates individual rights and permits the Commission a slippery slope to promote covert partisan goals.

Constitutions are designed to hamstring the power of government and protect individual rights. To ensure this Citizen’s Commission honors constitutional rights, we again assert that all plans should be approached by the following ranked standards:

First, uphold the US Constitution. The US Constitution requires that each legislative and congressional district must have equal population. Congressional districts must have exactly the same number of people. For state legislative districts, the Supreme Court determined that deviations of less than 10% presumptively honor the federal principle of one person, one vote. Interestingly, courts have not tossed out plans that meet the 10% threshold even if a lower deviation could have been attained. Courts have determined that changes below that threshold are simply political maneuvering.

Next, uphold the Idaho constitution. In Idaho, districts that join multiple counties must be contiguous, and a county may only be divided to comply with the standards of the US Constitution (Article III §5). The Idaho Supreme Court has rejected plans when it was shown that a county did not need to be divided. If any proposed plan divides fewer counties than the one adopted by the Commission, that adopted plan could be challenged as unconstitutional.

Finally, uphold Idaho Statutes. The Idaho Constitution grants the legislature authority to create guidelines for redistricting. Idaho Code lays out seven guidelines (72-15). However, in 2002 the Supreme Court held in Bingham v Idaho Commission for Reapportionment that while statues must be considered, “they are subordinate to the Constitutional standard of voter equality and the restrictions in the Idaho Constitution.” Constitutions always come first.

Idahoans should contact the Redistricting Commission and ask that they honor these requirements in their proper order of importance. Refusal to do so will create deadlock, waste taxpayers’ dollars, and erode the constitutional framework that protects individuals. As intended, a constitutional approach prevents the Commission from using its authority inappropriately. Idahoans should insist their Citizens’ Commission for Redistricting follow a mapping process that honors the US and Idaho constitutions first.

For those just tuning in, redistricting occurs every ten years after a U.S. census. It is designed to protect the voice of the voter and ensure our elected officials represent the same number of people. In 1993, a supermajority of Idahoans amended the state constitution to remove the redistricting process from the Legislature and incumbent influence. Idahoans instead implemented a six-member bipartisan commission of 3 Republican and 3 Democrats. Idahoans required that a final plan must have 4 votes out of 6 to pass. The Idaho legislature has passed a law requiring 5 votes to take certain actions, more than the constitution requires to adopt a plan.

The Commission began its work in June hosting public hearings all over the state to collect. July has been full of meetings and discussions on many proposed maps from both sides. Those who wish to follow archived meetings or future meetings and proposals may visit http://legislature.idaho.gov/redistricting/redistricting.htm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Personal Note

"Everyone needs to have access to grandparents...in order to be a full human being."
-- Margaret Mead
Last night my grandfather passed away after a battle with Alzheimer's. He would have turned eighty-five this September. I have written about him twice on this blog, both times on Father's Day. As I said then, my grandfather had his faults, but he was and will always be the father of my childhood who never let me down.

Without my grandparents, I would not be the person I am today. It has been a tough day, but as so many with loved ones battling Alzheimer's know, it has been a long goodbye.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Seven Years On

When I started this blog, I never imagined it would last seven years. In fact, I didn't think it would last more than a year. There have certainly been times when I thought I had already written about everything that needed to be written about. Now is no exception. I find I have little to say or what I do have to say doesn't bring anything new to the conversation. However, I'm still here. Seven years on and I'm still here. That's something. Thank you all for sticking with me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Music Tuesday

Jack's Mannequin with the new single "Racing Thoughts" from the upcoming album that will hit stores October 4th.