Wiggins, Strong, Hoiberg Get Attention

Gee, for a guy with so much talent, it’s strange how questions continually swirl in his presence.

Even as he played for Kansas, where was he going to wind up in the NBA? Was he going all out in the games? Was he too passive on the court?

Yeah, Andrew Wiggins needs an answer man. Cleveland drafted him No. 1 and as soon as the Cavaliers did the questions popped up. What position would he play? Did he have the fire in his belly? And the big one — would the Cavs trade him in order to get Minnesota’s Kevin Love?

Thomas McKenna, writing in the Huffington Post, speculated that the Cavs would want Love to pair with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. McKenna asked another question: Is attaining Love worth losing Wiggins?

“The discourse surrounding the Wiggins-for-Love debate is, too often, simplistically framed as ‘Winning Now’ vs. ‘Winning Later,’ and that’s misleading,” McKenna wrote recently.

There’s so much more to the scenario. McKenna noted that Wiggins would blossom running the floor with James, Irving and Dion Waiters.

“For his many offensive talents (and they are certainly manifold), Kevin Love is not a perfect player,” McKenna said. “Wiggins is an underrated rebounder (he once pulled down 19 of them against Iowa State), while Love might just be an overrated one.

“In fact, the Cavs wouldn’t just be trading for a historically poor defender — they’d be relinquishing a potentially marvelous one. Wiggins’ 7-foot wingspan and other-worldly quickness positions him as a solid perimeter defender from day one, and the thought of him becoming a lockdown, All-NBA defender is not out of the question.”

Keeping Wiggins also would give Cleveland financial flexibility in the trade market. Foregoing the transaction allows Cleveland to pencil in more than $19 million in cap space to go out and land a veteran free agent during the 2015 summer, McKenna said.

“Any smart NBA team knows to draft Andrew Wiggins,” McKenna wrote. “It’s the smartest teams that know to keep him.”

At another website came this quote from an Eastern Conference head coach: “I wouldn’t hesitate to trade Wiggins. He could be a great player, sure. But Kevin Love is 25 and a top-10 player right now. I don’t know what there is to think about.”

——

The recent news coming out of Austin reflects just how tough new Coach Charlie Strong can be. Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were suspended after being charged with sexual assault. Running backs Jalen Overstreet and Joe Bergeron and defensive back Chevoski Collins were dismissed from the program — Overstreet and Collins for repeated violations of team rules. The reason behind Bergeron’s dismissal is currently unclear.

Strong tried to temper expectations when he took the Texas job, saying that his team wasn’t going to win the national title in year one. Strong wants to clean up the Longhorn situation.

When Strong was at Louisville, he had a list of rules posted:
1. Honesty
2. Treat Women With Respect
3. No Drugs
4. No Stealing
5. No Guns

Texas is one of the most prestigious jobs in the country, and Mack Brown had a big hand in that in his 16 years as coach of the Longhorns. But things were trending down for a few seasons. Whether it was a matter of recruiting or a culture shift, Brown’s final years were marked by teams that weren’t playing the type of football that led the Longhorns to 10 or more wins for nine straight seasons in the 2000s. And it wasn’t just people outside the program who noticed.

Earlier this week at Big 12 media days, senior cornerback Quandre Diggs held nothing back in discussing what he felt was wrong with the Longhorns.

“I told Coach Strong that I just feel like we had guys on the team that just didn’t love football the way they should,” Diggs told Max Olson of ESPN. “That’s something that I’ve always sensed since I’ve been here: We had guys that just didn’t love football. If you don’t love football, you don’t need to be a part of this university or a part of this team. That’s just something I feel greatly and strong about.

“I want to weed guys out. That’s just me. I’m an up-front person. All my teammates know me. I’m going to tell you how I feel. I’m not going to jab at anything. I’m going to take an uppercut, take the hardest swing I can take, and I’ll try to knock you out.”
——

Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg had successful heart surgery Tuesday morning to replace the batteries in his pacemaker. The surgery took place at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Hoiberg’s wife Carol Tweeted: “Surgery went well and @ISUMayor32 is RECHARGED” along with a picture of the Cyclones coach in a hospital bed giving a thumbs up. The procedure went so well that he was expected to return to Ames quickly.

“The surgery performed this morning at the Mayo Clinic to replace my pacemaker was successful,” Hoiberg said in a statement released by the school. “The plan is for me to be discharged and allowed to return to Ames this afternoon. I want to thank my doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic, as well as everyone that has extended their well-wishes to me. Our family truly appreciates your support.”

Hoiberg’s NBA career was ended in 2005 when a routine physical showed he needed surgery to remove an enlargement on his aortic root. During that surgery, doctors installed a pacemaker that helps maintain a regular heart beat.

“It’s very routine for people with pacemakers,” Hoiberg said before the surgery. “It was going to happen eventually.”

While working out Monday morning at home, Hoiberg could tell something wasn’t right.

“My (heart rate) isn’t supposed to go below 70, but I could feel it was lower,” he said. “I could just feel it. I’d do a workout, and when I got done, I could tell my heart rate wasn’t elevating. It wasn’t going past 65.”

Obama’s Trip Provides Look at a Big Three in KC

There they were, representatives of three tiers of government — a mayor, a congressman and the president of the United States. Three black men, mind you.

You can argue against me all you want, but the country has come a long way since the slave days of yesteryear. Yeah, when Sly James, Emanuel Cleaver and Barack Obama can stand on the tarmac of KCI in front of Air Force One as a power group, you know we have gained in our racial tensions.

Obama landed Tuesday evening, walked down the rolling stairs and met James and Cleaver. Oh, it wasn’t the Three Kings of the Orient or the Big Three meeting at Yalta, but it was quite an event. Close your eyes and picture that image of the three politicians. Pretty impressive, huh.

Did this end prejudice? Come on. Of course not. We will have prejudice forever. We’re human beings and we just can’t help it. I don’t like the Taliban, I don’t like Texas A&M, I don’t like liver and onions, I don’t like the person who tries to bully me. I’m full of prejudices. And the actions of some people cause me to develop a bias. I can’t help it. But my mind also allows me to think and I know the status of blacks has improved.

You can’t look at that image without feeling the goodness of it.

After greeting a few people, Obama and his entourage headed straight to Arthur Bryant’s to eat barbecue. At 18th and Brooklyn. A black neighborhood. A restaurant steeped in black culture. With a black patron, the head of the country.

He should have gone to Jack’s Stack in Martin City to eat barbecue. See, I’m prejudiced. Oh no, not about whether it was a black/white situation. No, no. Bryant’s sauce is too vinegary and Jack’s is just right, sweet with a bite.

I’m a little prejudiced, too, on how you could press the flesh of the President or even go hear his speech at the Uptown Theater. I didn’t think about writing a letter. Lots of people write the President letters but four who did wound up eating dinner with him. And how can some folks take the time to stand in line outside for three days just to get a ticket to hear him speak? Yeah, and I bet some insiders got a ticket without standing a line. I’m darn prejudiced about that. Surely, there’s a better way to do this.

Oh well.

The letter writers included a man who thanked Obama for student loan help he received, a single mother who described her challenges raising children and running a business, a teacher in a GED program and a woman who is active in her neighborhood association. Obama told them he gets many letters, some telling him that he’s a terrible president, but that most are like theirs, adding: “It’s people telling their stories.”

Various media outlets said Obama ordered a half slab of ribs, beans, fries and a Bud Light but was disappointed to hear the coleslaw was sold out. “You didn’t save any for me?” he said teasingly to the cashier.

Before sitting down to eat, he greeted a fast-pitch softball team in for a tournament from Glenview, Illinois, outside his hometown of Chicago, and a group from the Game Show Network in town from Los Angeles for a cable convention.

Obama was in Kansas City just ahead of a five-week congressional break. Do these guys ever work anymore. The Republican leadership sets the House schedule and that seems to reflect the do-nothing tone for our representatives.

You turn on C-SPAN and way too often you get an empty Senate chamber or a re-run of some committee hearing. Both houses try to wrap up the week’s business early Thursday so they can get out of town. But take a look at the work calendar and, well, they just aren’t there very often.

Oh they say they are working at home, talking to constituents. Yeah, right. How many times have you talked to your congressman? John Boehner didn’t get that tan by holding town-hall meetings.

The Senate has held back approval of judges, diplomats and Obama appointees. It’s a we’ll-show-you Republican ploy, a part of the stone-walling, obfuscation, detraction campaign.

Yeah, I’m darn prejudiced against all that.

Can you imagine that the U.S. has gone five months without an ambassador to Russia with all the turmoil going on. Finally, the Senate may have seen the light. Obama’s nominee to be the new ambassador to Russia could be on his way to Moscow in days, after U.S. senators put aside partisan differences to hold a quick vote backing his appointment on Tuesday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held an unscheduled evening meeting to unanimously approve the nomination of John Tefft, a career diplomat. Whoops, there was no immediate word on when the full Senate might hold the final vote.

So much to do and Congress worries more about their free time than actually working.

I’m prejudiced about that.

The White House is pressing lawmakers to approve an overhaul of the Veterans Affairs health care system and funding to deal with an influx of children streaming in across the southern border.

Obama has a prejudice, against the lack of news about the good his administration has done. During his speech Wednesday at the Uptown, he said sometimes you wouldn’t know it if you were watching the news, but there are a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about America.

“The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008,” he said. “It’s dropped faster than any time in 30 years. This morning, we found out that in the second quarter of this year our economy grew at a strong pace, and businesses are investing, workers are building new homes, consumers are spending, America is exporting goods around the world.”

He noted that the world’s No. 1 oil and gas producer wasn’t Saudi Arabia but the United States, adding that the country had tripled the amount of electricity we get from wind and increased by 10 times the amount of electricity from solar energy.

“And, look, Kansas City, none of this is an accident,” he said. “It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people. It’s also thanks to some decisions that we made early on.”

He applauded his administration for doing things without Congress. He chided Congress: “Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time. Come on. Let’s get some work done together.”

Maybe they should take a look at the image of those three men on the tarmac and think cooperation. Work at it a little, huh.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Never-Ending

Americans seem to favor Israel over Palestine in most every political issue. Should it be that way? Well, for whatever reasons, most Americans forgive the Israeli power moves while condemning actions by Palestinians.

Ever since the movie, “Exodus,” a higher percentage of Americans have taken the side of the Israelis. The movie framed the passion and idealism of the Jews finding their home in Jerusalem.

When you consider the rampant anti-Semitism fostered in the early 1900s, it’s remarkable that Israel draws so much backing.

A Palestinian journalist, Rula Jebreal, recently appeared on MSNBC and told the audience she believed the U.S. media showed an overwhelming bias in favor of Israel. Frankly, she’s right about that. She also pointed to the apparent stranglehold the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby had on congressional politics toward Israel.

Israel and Palestine have battled each other ever since Israel became an established state in 1948. Of course, the dispute can go back further — in 1917, Great Britain promised the Jews a homeland in the whole of Palestine through the Balfour Declaration.

Palestine is a set of two physically separate, ethnically Arab and mostly Muslim territories alongside Israel — the West Bank, named for the western shore of the Jordan River, and Gaza. All together, Israel and the Palestinian territories are about as populous as Illinois and about half its size.

There’s no internationally recognized line between Israel and Palestine and that’s a major problem because each is disputing the borders. Some countries consider Palestine to be an independent state, while others, including the U.S., regard Palestine as territories under Israeli occupation.

Despite numerous bids by the United States to negotiate peace between the two, conflict, vicious, bloody conflict, remains. It seems to boil down to Israel’s suffocating military occupation and Palestine’s militant acts of terror.

Instead of bloodshed, maybe the conflict could be decided on the stage of debate. With Vanessa Redgrave, the renowned actress, on the Palestinian side and John Hagee, founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, on the side of the Israelis.

It seems odd to me that a Christian minister would be so strong for the Israelis. After all, ask a Christian if a Jew will go to heaven and the answer most often is no. Christians believe that Jesus Christ was born more than 2,000 years ago and one must accept him as savior to get to heaven. Jews believe he’s coming at a later date.

Maybe the support of Israel is more a case of being against the Muslim faith of the Palestinians.

In Hagee’s book, “The Battle for Jerusalem,” he explains how the Israeli and Palestinian conflict affects global politics, America’s energy supply and the world economy. He believes the conflict is not merely political or economic, but is also spiritual.

Which brings up this: Christian Zionism is a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is in accordance with Biblical prophecy. Hagee is the founder and national chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization, Christians United for Israel.

And there’s Redgrave. Well, in 1977 she funded and narrated a documentary film, “The Palestinian,” which concentrated on the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. That same year she starred in the movie, Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazis before World War II. In 1978, she won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role and while she was accepting the award, Jewish Defense League members protested outside. They were upset with her Palestinian support.

In her acceptance speech, she saluted the academy for not being intimidated by the threats from a small bunch of what she called Zionist hoodlums. Even now, the JDL considers her a supporter of terrorism, citing remarks she has made, such as, “Zionism is a brutal, racist ideology. And it is a brutal racist regime.”

Redgrave has been an outspoken critic of the war on terrorism. In December 2007, she was named as one of the possible suretors who paid 50,000 pound sterling to bail out Jamil al-Banna, one of three British residents arrested after landing back in the UK after four years’ captivity at Guantanamo Bay. She said she was happy to be of some small assistance for Jamil and his wife. She noted, “Guantanamo Bay is a concentration camp.”

Pro-Palestinian blogger Sami Cherkaoui wrote on the Etre’acte website, “This state of confusion, disturbance and death in the Middle East may be enhanced by some religious extremity, poverty, ignorance and other social negativeness in Islamic and Arab societies, but it is definitely caused by Israel and the Super Powers, especially the governments and administrations of The United States and Europe.
“The unsolved Israeli/Palestinian Crisis had developed a crack in the Palestinian Society and a more hatred between Israelis and Palestinians. This hatred continues to receive the blessings from countries who support Israel.”

Actually, only those who deal in weapons benefit from the conflict.

A possible remedy to solve the problems? Whew. First, pick out a problem — lots of them. Many point to the bellicose Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last April, Netanyahu voiced major concern when Hamas joined the Palestinian Authority to form a unity government. Then in June, he blamed Hamas for what appeared at the time to be an abduction of three young Israelis, and ordered the IDF to conduct an operation to purge Hamas in the West Bank.

Later that month, when the bodies of the three missing teenagers were found, he launched major air raids over Gaza. In response to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, Operation Protective Edge was initiated. Netanyahu continued his condemnation of Hamas. Nearly two weeks into the operation he did a round of television shows in the United States, and on CNN described Hamas as “genocidal terrorists.”

Netanyahu has opposed the Oslo accords, a set of agreements between the government of Israel and the PLO, from their inception. During his term as prime minister in the late 1990s, Netanyahu consistently reneged on commitments made by previous Israeli governments as part of the Oslo peace process, leading American peace envoy Dennis Ross to note that neither President Clinton nor Secretary of State Madeleine Albright believed that Netanyahu had any real interest in pursuing peace.

The struggle over settlement cities also have triggered violence through the years. Why wouldn’t the Palestinians cry foul when Israel continues to spread settlements throughout the area? Israel should commit to peace and police itself, so say some who propose mediation and negotiation. They also ask, why not make it a two-state solution?

Unfortunately, early this week, Netanyahu signaled an escalation of Israel’s Gaza operation by telling Israelis to be ready for a prolonged war.

Palestinians are much at fault, too. Long-time records show Palestinians have massacred Jews, who also have been ethnically cleansed in Palestine and other Arab lands.

So many problems, so few solutions.

Bad Decisions, Poor Judgment Help Make Royals an Inconsistent Team

The inconsistency of the Royals. Win 10 a row then go in the tank. Win five in a row then play like dogmeat, with apologies to Alpo.

What is it with the Royals? A Wal-Mart style of upper management? An over-hyped farm system? Bally-hooed home run hitters with minor league park power? Not hitting behind the runner as evidenced by so many 6-4-3 and 5-4-3 double plays? Lack of communication in the field on pop flies?

Indeed, those are important factors.

A big reason is the atmosphere of cheap-skate ownership with a manager who can’t get the team to that championship level.

Yes, yes, the Royals have a chance to be a wild-card participant in the American League playoffs. Do you think they will play 10 games above .500 the rest of the season to achieve that goal?

This team needs a shove every now and then just to shake the doldrums. Oh, there seems to be camaraderie. You can see the genuine hugs and happy slaps in the dugouts after key hits. But is this a clubhouse with good leadership? Is there enough maturity to overcome adversity? I watch Billy Butler after a bad play and he gives that “I want my mommy look.” Reports persist that Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas don’t take instruction all that well. With all the ethnic diversity, can they really talk to each other to iron out problems?

Does Manager Ned Yost have full control of the players? I heard him say that it was up to the players to get out there and perform. Yes, but did Bear Bryant ever make that kind of statement? I don’t think so. He gave them the spirit and inspiration to perform at a top level — all the time.

I began thinking about that when I was reading “Francona, the Red Sox Years.” The likeable and productive manager, Terry Francona, and the word smith Boston Globe writer, Dan Shaughnessy, combined to author the book. Francona is now the Cleveland manager.

After the Boston championships of 2004 and 2007, Shaughnessy wrote, the players stopped taking care of each other and abused their freedom. The Red Sox started losing. Francona said he was disturbed by the lack of unity. After gaining his trust, he said, they took advantage of it in the end.

After the 2011 season, he was fired. He said, “They needed a new voice.”

Do the Royals need a new voice?

Something sure is missing.

Then there are the simply border-line crazy decisions.

You may recall that Kevin Seitzer was fired as hitting coach in October 2012. You know that Butler, ol’ 6-4-3 Billy, hasn’t been the same since. Butler continued to call Seitzer after he was let go. One of the reasons given for his firing was that the Royals needed more home runs. Well, let’s see. Butler had 29 home runs, 107 RBIs and batted .313 in 2012. In 2013, he dropped to 15 home runs, 82 RBIs and .289.This season, Billy has five home runs, 41 RBIs and is batting .273.

All along, Billy has squirmed on the bench, wanting to play first base instead of just being the DH. With Hosmer hurt, Billy has made it out on the field and he’s responded defensively and offensively. Will it last?

Meanwhile, Sietzer, now the Toronto hitting coach, has the Blue Jays third in A.L. overall batting while hitting 129 home runs and posting a .430 slugging average. The Royals have 61 homers and a .375 slugging average.

Yost isn’t getting what he asked for.

I was at the Royals-Red Sox game July 18 in Fenway Park and Yost got what was coming to him.

It was a microcosm of his tenure.

Going into the sixth inning, the Royals led 4-1. Then Royals starter James Shields gave up a two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts. With one out, Stephen Drew smacked a ground-rule double to right. Shields then struck out David Ross. Jackie Bradley Jr., who was hitting .225, was due up. Shields had thrown 111 pitches but Bradley already had struck out and grounded out to first so it seemed logical for Shields, a strong arm, to face him again.

Yost decided to bring in lefthander Scott Downs, 38-year-old Scott Downs, Chicago White Sox reject Scott Downs.

Naturally, Boston Manager John Farrell inserted a right-handed pinch-hitter.

So illogical.

I got Yost’s quote later from wire services and the internet because the Globe, like many newspapers these days, seldom do visitor dressing room stories.

Anyway, Yost said, “We had enough runs to win if I’d managed the pitching right. I should have stuck with Shields. I just outsmarted myself.”

Oh, right, right, the pinch-hitter. Well, Jonny Gomes blasted a home run into the center field bleachers. The Sox led 5-4 — and that was the winning score.

“I gambled and lost,” Yost said. “They’ve pinch-hit one time in the last three games in the seventh inning, a bunch in the eighth and ninth. I wasn’t sure if they were going to do it in the sixth, so I gambled right there. Bad decision.”

Indeed. But that’s not all that should have been pointed out. He still had an option. He could have countered the right-handed hitter by taking out Downs and inserting a right-hander from the bullpen. This was a rested staff, coming off the All-Star break. Let them pitch. A simple decision. Make the move.

Just one decision, huh. Not enough to convict, huh. Too harsh on the man, huh. Don’t think so. This one move says loads about the man’s decision-making. And pretty much reflects the season.

Geez.

It’s no secret that Yost has critics questioning his ability to help a team capable of winning actually to win. Baseball pundits have often mentioned that Yost filled a transitional role with Milwaukee, which did improve. It took the Brewers, under Yost, five years to gain a winning record. Yost has done it with the Royals in four.

The improvement in Milwaukee wasn’t enough and he was fired late in his sixth season.

For the relatively young Royals to continue to improve, they need prodding and someone to provide power. Oh please, someone. An outfield that includes Jarrod Dyson and Nori Aoki isn’t going to power the team to victory.

Consistency? Teams can’t win consistently when they have to amass 14 hits to score 7 runs.

There are so many things I don’t like. I haven’t even mentioned anything about Lorenzo Cain’s negative body language, Moustakas’ .195 batting average, the lack of a .300 hitter. Plenty of negatives.

Look, the Royals have good pitching. But when they’re throwing out there with the knowledge that they’re going to get fewer than 4 runs a game, well, pressure mounts. This is not hindsight because I said at the beginning of the season that the Royals would suffer if they had to go the plate with this line-up of hitters.

New administration? That would help. New manager? That would help. A clutch hitter? That would help. A home run threat? That would help. Status quo will not help.

Immigration Reform Difficult to Grasp in Any Language

The problems of immigration have been with us for decades. Southerners didn’t mind importing slaves from Africa. They didn’t want to come to the United States. But many, many others did in subsequent years, from the Irish to the Italians to the Jews.

Now, the country faces upheaval with the influx of Hispanics, among others. What do we do? With the loathing and seething in Congress, we don’t seem to know.

In fact, few of us know of a truly fits-all beneficial solution.

I mentioned several years ago that if you want to stop immigration from Mexico and Central America, cut off the jobs. Put the employers who hire illegal immigrants into jail or fine them. Punish them somehow so they don’t offer menial jobs that these immigrants will do for little pay.

But that idea was met with strident words from those who believe the economy would collapse under the increase of pay, noting that no one in the U.S. wants to work those kinds of jobs. Oh really. Those out of work wouldn’t work the fruit orchards, the vegetable gardens, the wheat fields, the packing houses? Hmm.

Critics of immigration reform claim that immigrants take on jobs, lower wages and drain too much tax money because of social services. The usual resonant answer: people do not realize that the jobs immigrants take are the jobs most citizens won’t take. Immigrants filling up these jobs lighten the load of producers and consumers, and results in gains in economic welfare, is one view. It is a fact that immigrants are a source of low cost labor, but these cost reductions are eventually passed on to the consumer. The goods produced through the efforts of immigrant workers can also generate additional profits as the goods can be sold at a lower price.

This is an argument so many entrepreneurs cherish.

Those pushing for immigration reform say that the economic value of a new legalization program would be substantial, amounting to tens of billions of dollars in added income, billions of dollars in additional tax revenue and hundreds of thousands of new jobs for native-born and immigrant workers alike. In short, a new legalization program for unauthorized immigrants would benefit everyone by growing the economy and expanding the labor market.

And the debate rages while adults and children storm the borders, raising the cackles of conservative ideologues.

What happened to the swoons over this quote on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This quote comes from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the statue now sits.

Should immigration reform be based on economic reasons alone? Should the decisions be made with humanitarian sensitivity?

Unfortunately, immigrants seem to have a difficult time assimilating into the U.S. culture. I grew up in the North End of Kansas City and visited many homes of Italians. I heard Italian spoken and not English. The children learned English in school and they soon became part of the community and directed their energies into the mainstream. Sorry, yes, Americanized. As it should be.

Today, we seem to live in a society with a dual language. Press here for English, press here for Spanish. Peligroso joins danger on the trash bins. Those Hispanics who develop the American way can advance faster in society. That isn’t racist. It is trying to get them to become more productive, more fruitful, more inclusive. They can maintain their culture. Ethnic festivals abound, from Czech to Mexican to Italian to Irish to Africans to Asians. They become celebrations of the country’s melting pot. But this is still America.

So what are we to do with all these children coming across the country’s southern border? They risked death to get here. The right wing of the U.S. House of Representatives buries President Obama in criticisms but does nothing to advance immigration reform. They criticize but don’t have productive answers to the problem.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has a plan, as he outlined recently in the Boston Globe. He wants to provide temporary shelter for up to 1,000 children who have illegally crossed the border. He has sites in mind, one at Westover Air Reserve Base and another at Camp Edwards. No state outlay of funds; the federal government would pay for the plan.

Patrick said, “We have rescued Irish children from famine, Russian and Ukranian children from religious persecution, Cambodian children from genocide, Haitian children from earthquakes, Sudanese children from Civil War and children from New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.”

He made a reference to the voyage of the St. Louis, a German ocean liner that contained Jews fleeing from Europe in 1939. The passengers were unable to gain entry to Cuba or the United States and had to turn back.

“A good nation is great when we open our doors and our hearts to needy children and diminished when we don’t,” Patrick said.

How was his plan accepted? Well, a letter writer to the Globe said Patrick was attempting to guilt-trip the people, adding, “The passengers of the St. Louis never tried to force their way into this country illegally. They did not seek to come here for free health care, free housing, welfare subsidies, or better jobs. Theirs was a voyage of survival, not economic upgrading.”

Really! Is not economic well-being a main part of survival?

The St. Louis story? After Kristallnacht in November 1938, many Jews within Germany decided that it was time to leave. Though many German Jews had emigrated in the preceding years, the Jews who remained had a more difficult time leaving the country because emigration policies had been toughened. Since many countries, especially the United States, had immigration quotas.

On May 13, 1939, the SS St. Louis sailed from Hamburg for Havana — 937 Jewish refugees were on board. The Cuban government declared the visas invalid and refused entry to the passengers. They tried to get into the U.S., but that failed, too. The ship was forced to sail back to Germany. After the German invasion of Europe, many of the former passengers found themselves under Nazi rule and didn’t survive the Holocaust.

Do these children face the same fatal fate if returned to their homelands?

Difficult, difficult. What to do. The do-nothing Congress needs to do something. The immigration question has divided the country for too long.

Boston Ideology? No Matter, It’s a Great City

(Second of Two Parts)

Boston — is it as liberal as so many argue?

Well, you get a liberal dose of cussing when you’re trying to park or fight the traffic. But really liberal from a ideological point of view?

A Boston resident looked at me straight on, lips pursed in a pensive moue. Then crisply and firmly she said, “We’re perceived as liberal, yes. But you know what, we probably are the most segregated urban area in the country.”

I checked the demographics and most of the blacks live in Roxbury or Dorchester, both neighborhoods. Boston is sometimes called a “city of neighborhoods” because of the profusion of diverse subsections; the city government’s Office of Neighborhood Services has officially designated 23 neighborhoods.

But liberal or conservative? You can find a conservative in Boston. Lots of them. In fact, you can check numerous surveys and they will show that most Bostonians are fiscally conservative.

From another viewpoint, people there, like many in New England, are independent minded. They aren’t just spoon-fed what to think and say.

Harvard University, just on the north side of the Charles River, draws many designations as a liberal college. Whatever you label it, it’s one damn good school. MIT, which abuts Harvard on the east, may produce more, shall we say, high IQ graduates, but many more high school age students dream of an education at Harvard.

Undergraduate admission to Harvard is characterized by the Carnegie Foundation as “more selective, lower transfer-in.” Harvard received 27,500 applications for admission to the class of 2013; 2,175 were admitted and 1,658 enrolled of first-year students graduated in the top tenth of their high school class.

Harvard recently enrolled 6,655 students in undergraduate programs, 3,738students in graduate programs, and 10,722 students in professional programs.

You can hear stories of so many who don’t have the intelligence or the educational background or the wherewithal to get into Harvard. Uh, ahem, if a parent tells the school that the endowment fund would increase significantly if administrators would allow Johnny Joe to take classes there, would the university allow him to enroll? Good question.

Stories persist that Joe Kennedy did just that to get his son, John Fitzgerald, into Harvard.

Harvard’s application form used to run three pages long but young JFK wrote just a short letter:
“The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.
April 23, 1935
John F. Kennedy”

Father Joe also wrote a letter, this one to the dean before his son enrolled in 1936:
“Jack has a very brilliant mind for the things in which he is interested, but is careless and lacks application in those in which he is not interested. This is, of course, a bad fault.”

JFK ultimately enrolled and graduated cum laude. And, as they say, the rest is history.

My gosh, the famous people who have graduated from Harvard! In politics, for example, John Hancock, John and John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Gore, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Chief Justice John Roberts is a graduate.

Business leaders are many from Harvard, including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Then there were W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, T.S. Eliot, Leonard Bernstein and Yo Yo Ma.

And entertainers galore, including Conan O’Brien, Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd and Jack Lemmon.

Founded in 1636, Harvard is the first institution of higher learning established in the United States. The school celebrated its 375th anniversary through a year-long celebration featuring a range of academic events, lectures, symposia and exhibits from 2011-2012.

Harvard’s faculty and alumni have won 46 Nobel Prizes.

Numerous eateries and shops, including Coop where you can buy various Crimson outfits, dot Harvard Square, a busy and bustling area for tourists, students and residents. The campus, with its diverse architecture, sprawls throughout Cambridge.

The JFK School of Government has evolved into one of the world’s most eminent social science research institutions, housing 15 research centers and institutes, and providing more than 30 executive education and degree programs with worldwide reach and influence. More than 46,000 Kennedy School alumni reside in more than 200 countries and territories and serve in a wide range of positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Harvard graduates are all over Boston and while the degrees impact throughout the world they don’t mean quite as much to locals because of the numbers.

Plus, Boston has many graduates from high-level schools, including those from the Ivy League.

That part is not revolutionary but much of Boston is dedicated to those who fought in the Revolutionary War. Memorials abound. Historical sites are everywhere.

Interestingly, more than two-thirds of inner Boston’s modern land area didn’t exist when the city was founded, but was created by the gradual filling in of the surrounding tidal areas over the centuries, notably with earth from the leveling or lowering of Boston’s three original hills (the Trimountain) and with gravel brought by train from Needham to fill the Back Bay.

Boston is rated among the top 30 most economically powerful cities in the world.

The city attracts more than 350,000 college students from around the globe. They contribute more than $4.8 billion annually to the city’s economy With the schools, the city attracts a number of technology companies and is a hub for biotechnology, with the Milken Institute rating the metro area as the top life sciences cluster in the country.

Mass General is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. It is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest hospital in New England with 950 beds. It runs the largest hospital-based research program in the world, with an annual research budget of more than $750 million. It is ranked as the No. 2 hospital in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

With all the area has to offer, it’s no surprise that tourism comprises a large part of Boston’s economy.

Professional sports run prideful programs — Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots.

The city is a major seaport and the oldest continuously operated industrial and fishing port in the Western Hemisphere.

Other businesses include financial services, investment banking, publishing and insurance.

Conservative or liberal? It doesn’t matter, unless you’re an ideologue. But know this: Boston is one helluva city.

Boston, a Potpourri of Good Times

(One of Two Parts)

Boston.

As in Revolutionary War
As in JFK
As in Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics
As in beans, cream pie
As in Back Bay
As in Cape Cod
As in education

Love Boston. All the history. All the energy. All the sites. All the food.

And, of course, the smarts. According to 2010 U.S. census data, the Boston metro area leads the United States in the number of young people with college degrees. Yeah, they’re smart. And they love to have fun. Cambridge, just across the Charles River, is home to MIT and Harvard. The two schools butt right up against each other.

Harvard! Say the word, roll out the word, repeat it. Yeah, very imposing. I’ve been impressed ever since I read about it in high school. My political hero, John F. Kennedy, drew attention to it and that simply added more interest. The JFK School of Government hosts numerous conferences with high-ranking political credentials. The school is a hub for those seeking higher education. The campus sprawls like a city within a city, its varied architecture camouflaging when it ends and when it begins.

What an energized campus, even in the middle of summer.

But, hey, there was much more to our trip than just a look at education.

There was Back Bay, Fenway Park, the North End, Cape Cod, Quincy Market and various bars and eateries.

Tony Back Bay. Yeah, one of the most affluent areas in the country emerged from the stench of garbage-laden mud flats. In the 1800s, to get more livable land, workers kept piling on dirt, painstakingly without the use of modern equipment. With the aura of Paris in mind, Back Bay emerged and now its brownstones mix with boutiques, camp cafes, parks and bike paths.

With all this evolution comes a nifty price tag. One ad in the Boston Courant: Back Bay $4,350,000. One of a kind, grand living duplex with 3 bedrooms. 2.5 bath, 5 fireplaces, a dramatic bridal staircase/foyer and gorgeous kitchens, located on the sunny side of Comm. Ave.

Another listed at $3.7 million, another at $6.4 million.

One-room apartments can run $1,300 a month rent.

No yards to speak of, parking is at a premium — they even buy spots in alleys.

We stayed in a four-story residence that included a basement apartment and a roof-top deck. Public records noted that the building was owned by a cousin of Louisa May Alcott.

Just down the street, I found a wonderful food and libation place, Joe’s American Bar and Grille. Clam chowder in a bread bowl — outstanding. On another visit, I found a great freshner, a cactus shooter — made of ¾ jigger of mandarin vodka and ¼ jigger of peach schnapps dropped into a glass — jigger and all — of an orangey smoothie.

A walk in Back Day is like a study in personalities. All kinds. I had to grin seeing so many dogs pulling humans along the Comm. Ave Mall.

It just so happens Back Bay is close to Fenway Park. I had never been to the legendary stadium and the excitement ran high — not so much that the Royals were playing Boston on a Friday night but for the history of the park, the ghosts of players past and the Green Monster. No disappointment. None at all. Ahh, 10 rows back just to the left of home plate, we joined 38,000 fans. Oh the energy of these people. The loyalty, the support. After all, the Sox were in last place in the American League East. And there they were, cheering loudly and often. Oh, supposedly sophisticated, the fans did the wave. Geez.

Bring on the beer, bring on the peanuts. The Sox won 5-4 and the celebration afterwards throughout the stadium was joyful. Let there be dancing and libations among the numerous stands and joints just outside the gates. Unlike Kauffman Stadium, the Sox fans have nearby places to party.

So many place to have fun. We made a night of it at the North End, where 122 restaurants fill a square mile and please speak Italian when you order. From gnocchi to vitello parmigiana the plates rattled and the wine filled wide-mouth goblets. And you walked in safety. No fear.

Many Back Bay residents flee the city during the summer and wind up at Cape Cod. We went there for the weekend. The place we stayed, well, lovely with 7 acres of land right on Cotuit Harbor, midway between Hyannis and Martha’s Vineyard, the newsy spots of the cape.

The Cotuit Oyster Co. supplies many restaurants throughout the area and the country. We had to reserve the time we picked up the oysters — 36 of ‘em. I shucked and ate most of them. Being a wonderful human being, I shared some and even offered a splash of Tabasco and a smidgeon of horseradish.

On a boat ride on the Atlantic, the pilot pointed to that house, belongs to Bill Koch, that one ever there was owned by the founder of Reeboks. Then he pointed to a house on the point and said, “He was asking $18 million but you can have it now for $12 million.” I smiled sheepishly.

I shot a few hoops on the tennis court and even helped pick lettuce in the organic garden. Hey, I can do some things. All those vegetables made for a great salad to go with the sausages, meatballs and my own recipe for spaghetti sauce.

On the days before and after Cape Cod, I spent time walking along the Charles River. At one time, this was one of the most polluted streams in the country. Bostonians proudly say they have cleaned it up and it’s now one of the most pristine.

Got to tell you this one. We walked a lot of places, including Beacon Hill near John Kerry’s residence, through the Common, along Boston Harbor. And we couldn’t pass up Quincy Market near famous Faneiul Hall. The aroma of food was, well, was seducing. I walked by a seafood display and saw this lobster — just begging me to order it for lunch. I did. The guy behind the counter was super, even showing me a new trick on how to pick the prime meat from the shell. And I asked about the tomalley, the green juice inside. I had heard of its delicacy and damn if it wasn’t good. Slurped it right down. Hey, for $21.39 I had lobster and corn on the cob. And it was great.

When not walking, we used the T, a labyrinthine underground public transit system with green lines, orange lines and red lines. A neophyte traveler could be trapped below for days.

Oh, and this. We got a view of the city from the 56th floor of the Hancock Building. I took in the view with awesome appreciation.

As I did with Boston.

Poverty Scores Big Vs. South

The South shall rise again. Oh they hope. But, like yeast in dough, a punch here and a stomp there and poof goes the best-kneaded plans of a neophyte chef.

I have this picture of the stereotypical southern sheriff pulling me over on a two-lane highway and saying with a gruff drawl. “You in a heap o’ trouble.” And then I am thrown into a dark corner of a roach-infested jail and forced to stay there for the entire weekend — undergoing physical threats from each Bubba with a billy club.

Obviously, the bully boys of the South are products of a regional lifestyle that rewards power and greed. It’s a disease carried throughout the country, not just the South, by the Republicans. It’s just that the South provides such a well-defined poster for laying the blame on the haves in their subjugation of the have-nots.

The South rise again? The question might be which South — the plutocrats or the oppressed? Right now, the bully boys are on top with some making noise that sounds a lot like a separatist movement. To me, the have-nots wallow in apathy, unlike those that rose against segregation and exploitation.

Them that’s got do well in the land of cotton, oil, bourbon and lumber. Those good ol’ boys have taken the one percent philosophy and run like a Bama backfield.

However you look at an economic graph, you see the haves of the South enjoying the cocktails on Saturday and the sermons on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the have-nots in the South suffer, from salaries to funding education. The bully boys say hell no to any progressive policy, as evidenced by their disdain for the Affordable Care Act. And guess who needs that health? Right, all those southern folks who don’t have Big Daddy to fund their lives and good times.

The Great Recession and Not-So-Great Recovery have been bad news for most Americans, but some folks have suffered more than others. As one pundit put it, “We call those people ‘Southerners.’”

The southern states showed the biggest increases in the number of people living in what are known as “poverty areas” between 2000 and 2010, according to a Census Bureau report. For a family of four, the poverty line in most states is an annual income of $23,850.

Today, 25.7 percent of all Americans live in such areas, up from 18.1 percent in 2000, according to the report. Having a quarter of the nation living this way results in higher crime rates, poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities, the report pointed out.

Southern states were five of the six biggest gainers. This shouldn’t be cause for a shock face because southern states consistently lag the rest of the country in good things like wages, economic mobility and access to health care, while leading it in bad things like poverty, obesity and general unhappiness.

Just as an aside, Mississippi has more internet hits on porno sites than any other state.

Another thing Southern states have in common is Republican leaders who have spent their political lives shrinking the social safety net.

Why does the South remain so poor?

David Kaiser, an historian of international and domestic politics, provides part of the rationale: the de-industrialization of the South, thanks to NAFTA, and the general movement of industry overseas. Regions that live by cheap labor, it turns out, die by cheap labor, because there is always somewhere where labor will be cheaper still.

The South remains strong for Republicans, who reflect the tenets of the old Dixiecrats. The election of 2008 drew a clear line around the deep South. Virginia and North Carolina, both of whom include substantial new urban and educated areas, voted narrowly for Obama, as did Florida, which is only partly a southern state at all. But the rest of the old Confederacy voted overwhelmingly for Republican candidate James McCain, based on the same sad resentments that have controlled much of the poor white vote for most of the last 150 years.

Ask someone from the Deep South if Obama was born in the U.S. and you shouldn’t be surprised that the answer oftentimes is no.
The South has no corner on power and greed, but they live true to their beliefs.

Awhile back, Daisy Grewal, a social psychiatrist, wrote: “Who is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal—the poor person or the rich one? It’s tempting to think that the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to act fairly. After all, if you already have enough for yourself, it’s easier to think about what others may need. But research suggests the opposite is true: as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline.”

She said research showed how upper class individuals were worse at recognizing the emotions of others and less likely to pay attention to people they were interacting with.

“But why would wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others?” she asked rhetorically. “After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness.”

The answer is that wealth and abundance give people a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings, Grewal said, adding, “This leads us towards being more self-focused.”

Given the growing income inequality in the United States, the relationship between wealth and compassion has important implications, she wrote. Those who hold most of the power in this country, political and otherwise, tend to come from privileged backgrounds. If social class influences how much we care about others, then the most powerful among us may be the least likely to make decisions that help the needy and the poor.

What can be the consequences of all this? In an essay published in Politico magazine, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer warned that the widening income gap in the U.S. would eventually spark a violent revolution. He didn’t say so, but maybe something along the lines of the infamous Watts uprising.

“No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality,” Hanauer wrote. “In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.”

Hanauer, who lives in Washington, suggested raising the minimum wage to $15 and the Seattle city council obliged recently, passing an an ordinance including that figure.

Oh, but detractors certainly remain. Andy Puzder, the head of CKE restaurants, the parent company of Hardees and Carl’s Jr., said the consequences of raising the minimum wage included more youth unemployment, higher prices and increased automation.

“If government gets out of the way, businesses will create jobs and wages will go up,” he told Yahoo!.

Many economists say his statements are bull. By the way, Puzder made $4.4 million in 2012, according to Forbes.

Will the South rise again? So goes the South so goes the country — a lot of focus on power and greed.

(The Sands Blog Is Scheduled To Return July 24).

Stay Awake for This One

Get the white coats. The loony bin must be around the corner.

Within recent months, I’ve awakened and was damn sure a tarantula was crawling across my pillow. I saw it, big as ever. I even slapped at it. Then I saw one racing across the wall. I did. I really did. Am I nuts? Yeah, it really wasn’t a spider. It was a shadow. A little Twilight Zone music, please.

Okay, yeah, you know what it is. Sure. The DT’s. A booze hound with the affliction. Ha, ha, ha. Aren’t you funny. Well, it isn’t delirium tremens. No, it isn’t. I don’t suffer from a severe form of alcohol withdrawal involving sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes. Smarty, you think so, huh. I like my Beefeater martinis, among various other libations. But DT’s, well, analyze this.

But, hey, I am going to talk to the doc about this spider business. I scoured the internet and came across a lot of comments from people who have gone through the same experiences.

One person wrote:
Help! I keep waking up from my sleep seeing spiders. every time so far it has been spiders. They look so real to me that I have actually started to hyperventilate and scream and run out of my room. Last night I woke up and was sure I saw one scurry across the pillow next to me and started to freak out. I saw it run under my boyfriend’s neck and actually started to try and hit it, waking him from his sleep — yet there was nothing. I don’t know why this is happening and why it’s spiders every time. I know it’s obviously me making this up, possibly still in a dreaming state or something. Sometimes it’s like 12 spiders hanging in front of my face when I wake up. The first time this happened I started screaming and kicking and flailing and ran out of the bedroom. I couldn’t catch my breath after and couldn’t fall back asleep. I was sweating heavily and felt panicky.

Another wrote:
I’m so glad that I have found other people that are going through the same thing as I am. I thought I was going a bit crazy. I’ve been having these vivid sights since I was 20 and I’m now 24. I keep seeing huge tarantulas coming down on the curtains, spiders jumping from the walls on my bed, spiders crawling on my pillow. Always spiders! I really don’t like them and have put this issue down to that but after seeing this forum, I am now thinking of actually going to see a doctor as it’s disturbing my sleep. Had one last night where I was trying to go to sleep and saw a huge spider with legs spread out coming down on me from the ceiling. I freaked out and had to look twice and it was still there. It was only until I actually got out of bed that I realized that It wasn’t real. I have difficulty going back to sleep then. They’re horrible!

But I never really got an answer as to how and why. Get ready, doc, I’m coming to see you.

I’ve heard of all kinds of sleep disorders. So I researched narcolepsy. Well, it’s an idiopathic neurological problem that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day. In a typical sleep cycle, experts say, we initially enter the early stages of sleep followed by deeper sleep stages and ultimately — after about 90 minutes — rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. For people suffering from narcolepsy, REM sleep occurs almost immediately in the sleep cycle, as well as periodically during the waking hours.

I like my naps but, hey, I’m not into this narcoleptic state.

Sleep apnea? Well, some of my friends went to the doctor and were diagnosed with this disorder. It’s a common problem in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Usually a chronic condition, the disorder causes breathing pauses that can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits.

When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring.

Like they say, how can you know you have it because you’re asleep. Talk to your doctor, huh.

Apnea? Hmm. Arachnid, as in spider. Yeah, yeah, it’s a stretch.

DT’s, well, I recall hearing that term for many years. When we used to go near the City Market in the old days, we would see gandies along the old buildings and my dad would talk about those ol’ boys suffering the DT’s. Quite a stigma, huh. You could see them slapping at their arms. Hell, I just thought they were crazy and let it go at that.

The DT’s can occur when a person stops drinking alcohol after a period of heavy drinking, especially without eating much food. It also can be caused by head injury or infection. It is most common in people who have a history of alcohol.

Symptoms include body tremors, agitation, confusion, delirium, fear, hallucinations and sensitivity to light.

Delirium tremens isn’t something to laugh about. A hospital stay is necessary because it’s a life-threatening disorder.

But the spiders? Geez. I sure thought they were real. What a horrifying experience. Bipolar? Nah. Just plain crazy? Nah. Thank goodness, it’s been awhile since I “saw” them.

Hallucinations, sleep-walking. Oh the mind, oh the veritable labyrinth of daily and — and nightly — excursions created in the wonderment of existence.

Believe me, the doc and I are going to talk about this. And soon.

You Want Scandal? Here’s Some Scandal

Senate Democrats are attempting to fast-track legislation that would override the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case and compel for-profit employers to cover the full range of contraception for their employees, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

The bill, co-authored by senators Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Mark Udall, D-Colorado, would ban for-profit companies from refusing to cover any federally guaranteed health benefits for religious reasons, including all 20 forms of contraception detailed in the ACA. It would preserve the contraception mandate’s current exemption for churches and accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, such as certain hospitals and schools.

The court’s decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into private lives, Udall said in a statement. Women shouldn’t have to rely on permission slips to access common forms of birth control or other critical health services, he added. The bill, he said, would keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms and bosses from dictating what was best for families.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects closely held corporations like Hobby Lobby, an evangelical-owned chain of craft supply stores, from having to cover birth control in their health insurance plans if they morally object to it. The owners object to what they consider methods of abortion.

“Your health care decisions are not your boss’ business,” Murray recently told reporters.

Even if the bill passes the Senate, it is unlikely to get a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But Democrats hope it will at least make senators go on record supporting or opposing universal birth control coverage.

——

A Republican representative from Missouri has introduced a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from working on any new regulations until it conducted an extensive review of every single existing rule.

Representative Sam Graves released a statement that the legislation would protect Americans from an “out-of-control” EPA agenda.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently visited Graves’ home district in the northwest part of the state to reassure farmers about changes to the Waters of the United States rule, The changes, open for public comment until October, seek to clarify protections for streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

Liz Purchia, EPA spokeswoman, said, “EPA was created by Congress to protect public health and the environment and we are committed to fulfilling our mission, because all sides should agree that we have a moral obligation to leave a healthier, safer planet for the next generation.”

——

House Republicans certainly are out of touch. Their priorities lack reason and common sense. A prime example of this is that they already have spent an estimated $14 million in investigating Benghazi and a House Select Committee has requested a $3.3 million budget to do more.

The attack on Benghazi has received more inquiry attention that the Iraq War, yet the Republicans push for additional probes. It is part of their attack on President Obama with faux scandals, including one with the IRS.

Think about this: the Select Committee budget request is bigger than the one granted to the committee overseeing the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.

——

You want scandal? How about Warren G. Harding?

Before Harding became president of the United States, he was involved in a 15-year love affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, a stunning beauty in the popular Gibson Girl tradition of its time.

In the summer of 1920, immediately following acceptance of the Republican nomination, Harding disclosed his affair with Mrs. Phillips to the party bosses, and also disclosed that she was in the possession of hundreds of love letters he had written to her, many on Senate stationery. Afraid of a scandal involving both an affair as well as Mrs. Phillips’ government files for supporting Germany in the recent war, the party bosses impressed upon Mr. and Mrs. Phillips the importance that their travel abroad could keep the matter quiet. Carrie refused, and immediately dictated the terms under which she would consider the party’s wishes. In return for Mrs. Phillips’ silence on the matter, the Republican Party would pay for an extended tour of Asia and the Pacific Islands, as well as an annual stipend to Mrs. Phillips in return for her silence on the matter for the remainder of her life.

She holds the infamous distinction of being the only woman in U.S. history known to have successfully blackmailed a major political party.

On July 29, a century after the affair, approximately 1,000 pages of love letters written by a married Harding to Phillips will be released to the public. Harding’s extramarital trysts were no secret — even his wife, Florence, knew about them.

A letter dated December 24, 1910 read: “My Darling. There are no words, at my command, sufficient to say the full extent of my love for you — a mad, tender, devoted, ardent, eager, passion-wild, jealous … hungry … love … It flames like the fire and consumes … It racks in the tortures of aching hunger, and glows in bliss ineffable — bliss only you can give.”

After becoming President, Harding rewarded his friends and contributors, known as the Ohio Gang, with powerful positions. Multiple cases of corruption were exposed, including the notorious Teapot Dome scandal.

——

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is suing Kansas over the Second Amendment Protection Act, a Kansas law that exempts all state-made firearms that have not crossed state lines from all federal gun control laws.

The Brady Center views the law, signed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback in April 2013, as an unconstitutional violation of federal law that “cripples law enforcement’s ability” to combat gun crimes by allowing the sale of firearms to individuals otherwise prohibited from owning them.

According to a Brady Center press release: The law allows the sale of firearms to violent domestic abusers and permits the sale of handguns to minors under the age of 21. It also allows gun manufacturers in the state to make guns without serial numbers and guns designed to avoid metal detectors. The law prohibits background checks for guns made in Kansas and the tracking of guns used in crimes. It also prevents local authorities from referring gun crimes to federal agencies.

Brownback, also named in the suit, said that attorneys for the state would vigorously defend the gun rights of Kansans.