Less Than 2 Miles…

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This is a screen shot of a Google Earth "As the Crow Flies" line from my house to Laura’s in Paris. Just 1.77 miles! But, as you can probably tell from the roads, you have to go quite a bit further than that by car…probably a ten minute drive.

Anyway, pretty cool!

Should Vice President Cheney’s Office Be Exempt From Oversight?

Ok, I know this is the second politically-charged post in a month and I promise I’ll try to lay off for a bit after this one…

Vice President Dick Cheney claims his office is exempt from certain national security disclosure requirements.

  • The Information Security Oversight Office (part of the National Archives) oversees the
    government-wide security classification system
  • They collect data on how much U.S.
    material is classified and declassified.
  • Authorized by a signed presidential
    executive order, agencies of the executive branch are required to hand
    this information over.
  • Cheney’s office provided this information in 2001 and 2002. Then it stopped.
  • Administration officials say Cheney’s office is exempt from the
    executive order, since it has both executive branch and legislative
    functions. (the Vice President also serves as
    president of the Senate, one of the legislative bodies)
  • Five years ago, when details were requested about private meetings Cheney conducted with oil industry executives regarding energy policy, Cheney refused to release the information claiming Executive privilege.
  • The Vice President’s Office cannot be allowed to claim Executive privilege to hide information from the Legislature, and then detach itself from the Executive branch to avoid oversight requirements.
  • The Vice President’s actions are unconstitutional.

I called my representative to tell him I thought so and I talked to a nice young lady who passed my message on to a guy in the D.C. office. He sent me the following e-mail:

Dear Mr. Rhea,

Thank you for contacting Congressman Marchant’s office.

As an elected official and second inline to become President in the event of an emergency, the Vice President is subject to oversight.

Woop. Tee. Do.

So I said:

Thank you very much for replying so quickly. I’m sure your box is full of "re: Immigration" so I truly appreciate you taking the time to address this concern with me.

I agree that the Vice President is subject to oversight, unfortunately the Vice President himself disagrees with us and the question is what will be done about it.

Why ginger-foot around this issue with a bland statement like, "As an elected official and second inline to become President in the event of an emergency, the Vice President is subject to oversight."

Congressman Marchant should say, "Considering the enormous power, responsibility, and influence of the Office, the Vice President is rightly subject to oversight. The necessity of oversight and the checks and balances designed and implemented by the founders of our nation are at the very core of what made this form of government revolutionary at its birth and they are as indispensable today as they were then. For this reason and because as a United States Congressman my first obligation is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, I urge the Vice President to comply with the National Security disclosure requirements that he has thus far rejected."

Friends, we need to call our Representatives. They have got to hear from us that news stories like this one matter or they will be able to go on believing that "Paris Going to Prison" is more important to the American people than whether or not their Vice President is being allowed to break the law.

Ok, no more political posts until September.

My Beef with Broadway

The Tony’s came and went last week with nary a soul even noticing. Fine by me and I’ll go one further and say that it serves them right.

Look, I love live Theatre and I finally got to go to my first Broadway shows this Spring Break when Laura and I went up to NYC. It was a great experience, but Earth to Broadway, "we can’t all make it to New York once a year and shell out $70 a ticket to be savvy. So, start filming your shows and make them available on DVD so the rest of us can see what all the fuss is about over ‘Wicked’ and its ilk."

Maybe then people will tune in to your Awards show.

The typical purist response will be that "something is lost" when you put a live show on tape, "it’s just not the same." No kidding. You know what else isn’t the same? Never seeing it period.

I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Pearl Jam in concert, but I do have an incredible DVD of highlights from one of their tours. It is amazing and when I lived in the duplex I would watch it all the way through at least twice a week. I know that actually being at those performances would have been exponentially better than viewing them on my Zenith with a less-than-stellar home stereo, but at least I have some idea about Eddie Vedder’s mannerisms and Matt Cameron’s posture behind his kit. Of course something is lost by putting those concerts on DVD, but the point is that fans who couldn’t go can at least get a taste and those that did can bring a piece home.

Cheaha State Park: Delta, Alabama

Update – 6/13 : Photos and updates at www.thoseawake.com

We got out of DFW around 6:45 am yesterday and we made our way to our Cheaha State Park here in Delta, Alabama. We’re sitting in the lodge getting ready for the final push up to Spartanburg.

The drive yesterday was great. We listened to a lot of great music as well as some extremely thought-provoking and hilarious podcasts. We also took an off-the-interstate highway or two along the way so we could’ve made quicker time…but not necessarily better time.

My favorite part of the trip was reading aloud the "Peaceableness Towards Enemies" chapter from Wendell Berry’s "Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community". Richard and I took turns reading paragraphs so the three of us were able to discuss it along the way. It’s a great read with great conversation sure to follow.

Shaun has his camera, so pictures will come either at the end of the week or as we’re able to get online.

Ok, off we go…

Spartanburg, SC…Here I Come!

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So, Shaun and Richard have been planning on going to this ASLE Conference in South Carolina for a while now and I just never entertained the notion of going myself. With packing up the house and Laura busy with Vacation Bible School, I was resigned to missing out on this one.

Then, at about 10:00 I mentioned to Laura that Bill McKibben was going to be speaking at, "that conference that Richard and Shaun are going to tomorrow morning." She says, "Right, so why aren’t you going?" What has followed is a series of hurried calls to the guys, some more browsing around on the ASLE web site, a quick load of laundry and now…I’ll be leaving for South Carolina in about six and a half hours. A surprising turn of events for sure!