So. Speaker of the House John Boehner is stepping down, not just from his Speaker of the House position, but from Congress entirely.
To understand why, you’ve got to understand Boehner’s relationship with guys like Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador. Over the past five years, the relationship between Labrador and Boehner has been an uneasy, often adversarial one.
Robert Draper’s Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, highlights Labrador’s first year in Congress, along with other freshmen congressmen:
Just before the vote was scheduled, Raul Labrador was summoned to the Speaker’s office.
Boehner knew that the Tea Party freshman was never one to mince words. So the Speaker cut to the chase: “Are you with me?” he asked.
”I’m sorry, I’m not,” Labrador replied. “This is not a bill I can support. I actually think this is a terrible bill.”
“Well, I need you with me on this,” Boehner pressed.
“I understand. But I can’t vote for it.”
Labrador saw the Speaker’s strength as his weakness: he was fair and believed others would be, too. Boehner had actually told Labrador one time, “I trust Harry Reid.”
Labrador had nearly come unglued. Are you out of your mind? Labrador was a lawyer. By training he had learned it was wise to assume the worst in people. He didn’t trust Reid. He thought Obama was lying to the American people about the government running out of money on August 2.
Then Labrador added, “But I’ve talked to several folks and I know how we can get out of this mess. If you can amend the bill to make it closer to Cut, Cap, and Balance, I think I can get you some votes. I’ve been talking to people all day—I think I can convince maybe ten people.”
Despite Labrador’s tough stances and his occasional obnoxious outbursts in conferences, the Republican leadership and the whip team admired his willingness to work toward a positive outcome.
Boehner brought in a legislative assistant. “Allen West would tell you, the bill is basically Cut, Cap, and Balance,” the aide said.
“It’s not even close,” Labrador scoffed. He acknowledged there were political considerations. West’s district is like sixty percent Medicare recipients.” By contrast, Labrador’s constituents were hard-core right wingers, the freshman told the Speaker. They made Labrador seem ideologically tame in comparison.
In Draper’s book, his clash with leadership comes up multiple times.
Some discoveries stumbled upon inside the labyrinth abyss called the Internet are just so unusual and strange, one is instantly compelled to share. Enter today's weird discovery, courtesy of Mashable.com, but not a new blogopshere topic: the portable baby cage. This find is of the sort that peppers social media feeds on an occasional basis. Some blogger, like myself, chances upon such an oddity, and in marveling at the surprise such a thing exists, fellow denizens of the web are quick to follow with their own investigations. Suddenly, the word "viral" is thrown into the dialogue. Perhaps baby cages are old news — nonetheless, we hope it intrigues and amuses you.
Back in 1922, Spokane resident Emma Read was really worried about city-born babies, stuck inside stale-aired apartment homes and with no grassy yard to roll around in. So, why not build a box resembling a chicken coop, strap it to your window several floors above the street, and nestle your wee babe inside. Rock-a-bye baby, you know?
The concept didn't exactly take off (can you imagine the outcry if some mom decided this was a good idea today?!). No surprise, but there remain many black-and-white images of these baby cages in use in sooty London during the 1930s. Thankfully, we've since moved on from this arcane line of thinking that placing your baby in a rickety wire cage tens of feet over the street, in air that was probably polluted worse than people knew, was good and healthy.
And yet, quite unfortunately for local historical sleuths, information on Read's life and her patent is quite hard to find. In a 2013 piece musing on baby cages' absurdity, Spokesman-Review writer Shawn Vestal laments the lack of any firsthand information on Read in old newspaper archives. It is noted, however, that the original patent for the contraption is accessible, from which the following text was obtained:
It is well known that a great many difficulties rise in raising and properly housing babies and small children in crowded cities, that is to say from the health viewpoint. This is especially true with reference to babies and young children, who at present are being raised in large apartments, as a result not obtaining the proper fresh air, as well as being outdoors for such air and exercise. In crowded cities, where the houses and the front yards are small, there is no way for proper ventilation, while those living in apartments have no facilities whatever to permit the children and babies to receive proper fresh air from the outside. With these facts in view it is the purpose of the present invention to provide an article of manufacture for babies and young children to be suspended upon the exterior of a building adjacent to an open window wherein the baby or young child may be placed.
This emphasis on fresh air, as noted by Spokane historian Larry Cebula on a post in response to Vestal's piece on baby cages, was due to the popularly held belief — called miasma theory — of times past that communicable diseases were easily spread through "bad," stale or polluted air.
And that, dear readers, concludes our local history lesson of the day.
The word has been all over the Internet today that the popular podcast Serial is set to tell the story of Idaho Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who went missing from his Afghanistan base back in 2009 and was subsequently held prisoner by a Taliban-tied insurgent group for nearly 5 years.
Bergdahl, a native of the small, central Idaho town of Hailey, was famously freed in a prisoner exchange last year, after which he was charged with desertion and the endangerment of fellow troops who went searching for him. The facts surrounding Bergdahl's disappearance from the base remain fuzzy — he claims he was kidnapped while fellow soldiers assert he intentionally deserted his position. The military case to charge him with desertion is currently in the pre-trial stages.
While it's not been entirely confirmed by Serial — an offshoot of This American Life — that Bergdahl's story is indeed to be featured in either of the show's upcoming second or third seasons, screenwriter Mark Boal, who's worked on modern military story films The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, is set to co-produce Serial's Bergdahl series. Boal is also said to be working on a movie about Bergdahl's experiences.
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