- "New Rules for the New Year"/Bill Maher, New York Times
- "Alcohol and the Idaho legislator"/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press
- "12/30/1905 - Today In History"/John T. Richards, Idaho Meanderings
- "A brainpower revolution"/Eugene Robinson, Washington Post
- "Perry's Abortion Stance Gets Even More Extreme"/Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones
- "25 Literary resolutions for 2012. What's yours?"/Jacket Copy (via L.A. Times)
- "2011: A Year of Transitions"/Greg Johns, MLB.com
- "Keynes Was Right"/Paul Krugman, New York Times
- "Why Is Nepal Cracking Down On Tibetan Refugees?"/Jon Krakauer, The New Yorker
- "Pudge would welcome return to Rangers"/Texas Rangers Report, ESPNDallas.com
- "A Drug That Wakes the Near Dead"/Jeneen Interlandi, New York Times Magazine
Saturday, December 31, 2011
BOISE, December 30, 2011 – The recent execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades, IDOC #26864, cost the Idaho Department of Correction $53,411.Of the total, $25,583 went to employee overtime and $27,828 went to operating costs [...][...] Operating expenses include medical supplies, equipment rentals and meals. The total cost figure does not include salary and benefits paid to IDOC staff who would have been working regardless of whether or not there had been an execution. Only overtime costs that were accrued as a result of the event were included in the final tally.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
- "My Occupy LA Arrest"/Patrick Meighan, Family Guy
- "Thousands Sterilized, North Carolina Weighs Restitution"/Kim Severson, New York Times
- "Idaho Supreme Court will decide Bujak documents case"/Kristin Rodine, Idaho Statesman
- "NPR Music's 100 Favorite Songs of 2011"/Music Staff, NPR
- "Accounts of a Massacre, Saved From Junkyard Flames"/Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times
- "An Early Holiday Hangover"/Gail Collins, New York Times
- "Has Gingrich ever heard an idea he didn't like?"/Eugene Robinson, Washington Post
- "Extended labor peace a credit to Selig"/Richard Justice, MLB.com
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Lost most of the week to a trip at the beginning of it for a doctor's appointment. I'll get back into the swing of things next week. In the meantime, here's an interesting video I ran across that merges a few really interesting elements. Javier Colon, for those of you who didn't watch The Voice, is someone special. Add in a Ken Block of Sister Hazel and Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish and you get this very interesting version of "Let Her Cry" (only thing missing is Darius Rucker). Enjoy!
Friday, November 25, 2011
"The searing images of that day [November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated]— the rifleman’s shots cracking across Dealey Plaza, the wounded president lurching forward in the open limousine, the blur of speed to Parkland Memorial Hospital and the nation’s anguish as the doctors gave way to the priests and a new era — were dictated by Mr. Wicker from a phone booth in stark, detailed prose drawn from notes scribbled on a White House itinerary sheet. It filled two front-page columns and the entire second page, and vaulted the writer to journalistic prominence overnight."
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
One of the few topics I find Chris Matthews to be credible when discussing is President Kennedy. This morning on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," he discussed today's 48th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.
Monday, November 21, 2011
- "IPT reporter Nate Green chronicles morning of Rhoades execution"/Nate Green, Idaho Press Tribune
- "The Rhoades execution: final words" and "Back on the mainland, Otter says execution process has 'run its course' "/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman
- "Prosecutor: 'Nothing brings total justice' "/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise
- "Rhoades defiant to the end"/Rebecca Boone, Associated Press
Friday, November 18, 2011
Keeping with last week's Warren Zevon theme, I thought I'd share this video of Wagons & Joe Pug covering Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money." Was actually recommended on Twitter by Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dave O'Brien. Not a bad way to end a day that has been rather dark, literally and figuratively.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
- "Detective: Rhoades is a serial killer"; "Judge unseals details about execution team"; "Judge to rule on whether to proceed with execution"; "Death row inmate talks about scheduled Rhoades' execution"/Jamie Grey, KTVB.com
- "State says witnesses will not be able to see all of Rhoades' execution"/Rebecca Boone, Associated Press
- "ACLU of Idaho to protest execution Friday morning"/Idaho Statesman
- "Idaho's last execution; Remembering the victims of Keith Wells"/Andrea Lutz, KTVB.com
- "16-year anti-death penalty vigil in Boise takes on new meaning as Rhoades' execution nears"/Anna Webb, Idaho Statesman
- "What Idaho doesn't want its people to see"/Idaho Statesman
- "US Supreme Court refuses to block Rhoades' execution"/Ty Brennan, KTVB.com
- "Passing the buck on Paul Ezra Rhoades' execution"/Nathaniel Hoffman, Paleomedia.org
- "Brother of victim dealing with pain, again, on eve of execution"/Justin Corr, KTVB.com
- "Sister of executed inmate speaks"/Logan McDougall, KPVI.com
- "Idaho Media Challenge Rhoades Execution Schedule: Press Club Calls Timing Unconstitutional"/Marissa Bodnar, Local News 8 (Idaho Press Club letter on media witness procedures)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
They tell me love requiresA little standing in line
In the closing moments of this week's Covert Affairs, Rebecca Pidgeon's cover of Warren Zevon's "Searching for a Heart" played. I'd forgotten how much I love this song. The video is a 1991 performance of the song by Zevon on Letterman. Check out Zevon's son Jordan performing the same song on Letterman after his father's death. Rebecca Pidgeon's version is now available at iTunes.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
WHAT’S WRONG WITH CLASS WARFARE?
Republicans have reacted to the Occupy Wall Street movement with contempt for the cause and disgust at the participants. They have revived epithets they once reserved for the hippies, and stigmatized the demonstrators collectively as a “mob” that is engaged in “class warfare.” This reaction is, needless to say, just as it should be, for Republicans are the defenders of precisely that class of Americans against which the protests are directed.
It’s unclear, however, whether Republicans deplore class warfare simply because their interests are threatened by it, or because they believe it to be un-American to assume that classes exist in this country, or perhaps because, while admitting that there are classes, they reject the notion that the ruling class in American is anything but deserving and beneficent.
It is unlikely, I think, that any Republican could be so willfully blind to the economic facts as to deny that there is a describable class of American citizens that are properly called “the super-rich”. Nor could any Republican pretend not to know that though there was a time when such a class was composed of “captains of industry,” the current crop of those enjoying multiple dwellings, yachts, private jets and Lamborghinis have largely amassed their wealth by figuring out ways to make the money that they already possess multiply like rabbits, without, in the process, producing anything of tangible value or use to the general public. There may be the occasional Bill Gates or Steve Jobs among that class, but, to a considerable extent, these billionaires have never made a widget in their lives. Instead, they’ve contrived ways of doing clever things with loans, mortgages and securities that bring in floods of profit without employing anyone but bankers and accountants.
But let’s be fair: even if there is a layer of the hyper-affluent that floats atop the national economy like pond scum, that doesn’t justify class warfare. After all, the rich, as the Bible says, will always be with us. What entitles us to blame them for our troubles? To answer that question, let’s consider an archetypal case of class warfare, the French Revolution.
By the latter half of the 18th century, France had indulged itself in several unnecessary wars -- wars that it had funded largely by borrowing money. Since the higher strata of French society -- the clergy, the nobility and, the King and his bureaucracy -- had become accustomed to lives of considerable ease and opulence, when the country found itself deeply in debt it sought frantically to increase the national income, largely through the imposition of new taxes and higher tax rates. Because the privileged classes were legally exempt from the most severe of these taxes, and successfully evaded most of the others, the burden of taxation fell, perforce, upon the lower and middle classes.
The French peasantry was, at that time, experiencing greater poverty than it had endured during the Middle-Ages. What little protection the mutual obligations of serf and lord had provided for them during the Feudal period had now vanished and the land-owning classes aimed only to extract more profit from their estates. Peasants paid taxes to clerical and noble land-owners for the right to work the fields and then paid consumption taxes on the wretched provender that kept them alive. They had no voice whatsoever in local village government because the Crown made it a practice to sell municipal positions to the highest bidders to augment the state’s income.
In the cities, members of the urban working class were treated like beasts of burden by the bourgeoisie and the upper classes. Few had work on a regular basis, most lived close to starvation, and their political power was nil. Beneath them were swarms of unemployed beggars, prostitutes, and petty criminals, all of whom lived in even greater misery than the working class.
It was perfectly clear to any member of the lower classes that his enemy was not just the king, or his local landowner, or his bourgeois employer; it was the entire class of owners and exploiters, those who collectively ran the country and arranged the affairs of state to benefit themselves. It was also clear that those privileged classes, however much they might be in conflict with one another, had a shared interest in preserving their hegemony over the lower classes, and every intention of preserving the system that provided them with lives of luxury and security.
And what is our current situation, those of us who belong to the 99%? We seem to live in a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy. The rich write the tax laws and the banking regulations. The rich buy the politicians and are therefore able to reimburse themselves from the public till when their investment gambles fail. The corporate aristocracy has emerged from the economic catastrophe that it caused richer and more powerful than before. It seems capable of decimating the public sector, of crippling organized labor, and of thwarting those who seek to implement traditional measures to aid the unemployed and the helpless. Is that aristocracy not the ruling class, and have we no cause to go into the streets to denounce it?
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Thanks to host Greg Hahn and Idaho Public Television for permission to post this video in full.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
- "Drawing the Holocaust"/Art Spiegelman, New York Review of Books Blog
- "We Can't Wait: Obama Administration to Lower Student Loan Payments for Millions of Borrowers" (plus Fact Sheet)/White House Press Office
- "Prophets Without Honor" and "Slippery Slope"/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Post
- "Elizabeth Warren's winning formula"/Dana Milbank, Washington Post
- "Stephen King's New Monster in '11/22/1963': Lee Harvey Oswald"/Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal
- "Feds sue Idaho GOP legislator over unpaid taxes"/John Miller, AP
- "Role of government"/Alan, IdaBlue
- "Q&A w/Negro League Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick"/Jeremy Sickel and Geoff Ratliff, Pop Fly Boys
Monday, October 24, 2011
"We don’t believe it makes sense for the state to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new execution chamber. We don’t think it is just punishment when, over a course of 54 years, only three men are executed out of a death row population that has numbered dozens during that time span."As a native Idahoan myself, I am grateful to live in a state that isn't as blasé about executions as, say, Texas. However, I agree with the Times-News that the state of Idaho hardly had the money to spend on a new and unnecessary execution chamber. I also adamantly agree with the Times-News' assertion that the practice of executing prisoners seems unjust when it has been utilized in such a way.
Friday, October 21, 2011
"It's also a weighty issue for the prison employees who will be involved in the process, [Idaho Department of Correction Operations Chief Kevin Kempf]. But whether they are involved or not, all prison officials are keeping the victims' families in mind, he said.
" 'Our hearts, literally, are with the victims. This obviously cannot be a very easy time for them and certainly what they have gone through to get to this point is an incredible amount of tragedies,' Kempf said. 'That said, yes, this is impactful to our staff, to everyone involved in this thing. You have to have a level of toughness just to do this job every single day.' "
"Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners...
"Living with the nightmares is something that we know from experience. No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt. Should our justice system be causing so much harm to so many people when there is an alternative?"
[Editor's Note: The portion of Rebecca Boone's piece that is quoted here was done with her generous permission.]
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you likely noticed last month when my attention turned to the Georgia execution of Troy Davis. As I said repeatedly then, I cannot, will not and do not support the death penalty. The case of Troy Davis made the news because there was a complete lack of proof of his guilt. Uproar surrounding the execution of Troy Davis arose due to his apparent innocence. That was not the only reason to oppose his execution. Those of us opposed to the death penalty also had our sights on an execution taking place in Texas--the execution of Lawrence Russell Brewer. Brewer was found guilty of the murder of James Byrd, Jr. and there was never any doubt as to his guilt. The Brewer and Davis cases could not have been any more different, but their result the same. I find it perplexing when others support putting to death one prisoner, Brewer, but not another, Davis.
My personal belief about the death penalty takes into account two things. First, as was discussed around the execution of Troy Davis, the impact of carrying out an execution on the lives of the prison guards, staff, doctors and wardens. Taking a life, even if it is state sanctioned has horrendous costs. And second, the potential of executing an innocent man. Far too many men and women on death row have been exonerated which suggests the obvious--that the justice system is not perfect and mistakes are made. The exonerations also mean that inevitably we have put to death innocent prisoners.
Despite believing that the death penalty is flawed, as is the justice system that accounts for inmates on death row, I have found the announcement that Idaho will execute Paul Ezra Rhoades challenging. I find it challenging not because I believe he should be put to death for his crimes, but because I thought about how it reflects on me that I don't. Why do I say this? A personal connection.
Paul Ezra Rhoades was convicted in Idaho of three murders, though all told he is believed to have murdered at least six people. One of the three murders he was convicted of in Idaho was the sister of a family friend. I know what her death did to her family. I have seen the cost, the pain and the anger. However, knowing what I do, I cannot fathom any amount of closure or relief coming from the state executing Rhoades. It will not bring back his victims and it will not make what he did any less evil. If the law enforcement officials who brought Rhoades to justice will not find any satisfaction in his execution, what satisfaction can the state find in their killing him?
Unfortunately, in my life I have known the families of two victims of horrific murders. The murderer of the first victim was convicted and sentenced to death, but died on death row before the state could execute him. Why I say I have been challenged by how it reflects on me that I don't believe Rhoades should be executed is because I have thankfully never before been in the position to question how my opposition to the death penalty meshed with knowing the pain, loss and anger of someone whose loved one was taken by someone who is actually about to be executed. My personal connection in this case has only solidified my belief that the death penalty serves no reasonable purpose. It brings no closure. It deters no crime. It kills the guilty and occasionally the innocent. Is that a trade we are willing to make? I'm not. It solves no problem that lifetime incarceration can't. It sanctions the act of vengeance without returning the innocence that was lost in the commission of the crime itself. The cost is just too high.
When Paul Ezra Rhoades is put to death on November 18th, nothing will have changed for the families of his victims and his death will eliminate no major burden for the state of Idaho. He will simply be the fourteenth inmate executed in Idaho since statehood and one less person on Idaho's death row.
Monday, October 17, 2011
The trailer for J. Edgar is very intriguing. Written by Dustin Lance Black, writer of Milk, and directed by the brilliant Clint Eastwood, it could be a major contender come awards season. One thing is certain, the film tagline--"The Most Powerful Man in the World"--isn't far off. J. Edgar hits theaters next month.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
- "Idaho Journalists Expose Bryan Fischer in National SPLC Report"/Jody May-Chang, As I See It...
- "Labrador pushes bill aimed at helping foreign grads, high-tech employers" [But opposes the DREAM Act...]/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman
- "Martin Luther King's legacy for today"/Martin Luther King III, WaPo
- "Leading Idaho Republican Party official helped a firm now banned from doing business with the state"/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman
- "The Gift of Glib"/Gail Collins, New York Times
- "The Curse of The Lucchino" and "Theo? Your Bus Is Here!"/Keith Olbermann, Baseball Nerd (MLB.com)
- "Redistricting Panel Unanimously Approves a Map"/Sisyphus, 43rd State Blues
- "Portraits of Protest"/Martin Schoeller, The New Yorker
- "Fister able to pitch more aggressively with Tigers"/Greg Johns, Mariners Musings (MLB.com)
Friday, October 14, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Why would I want a blue elephant figurine emblazened with "G.O.P."? This is why:
Yes, this figurine originated in one of Herman Welker's two campaigns for the United States Senate. Welker, as those of you familiar with Idaho history may remember, served in the U.S. Senate for one term before being defeated by Frank Church. Welker is also responsibile for something else important in Idaho history--he recommended a young Harmon Killebrew to then-owner of the Washington Senators Clark Griffith who sent a scout out to Idaho and the rest is baseball history.
A big thanks to the friend who spotted it and knew exactly who Welker was and that I would value this piece of Idaho history.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
No-longer-Idaho's-problem & AFA wingnut Bryan Fischer said at the Values Voter Summit that by singing "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch of Major League Baseball games, another terrorist attack like 9/11 has been prevented. Seriously. That's exactly what he said. From saying Mitt Romney is not qualified to be president because he's weak on the issue of marriage to saying baseball's 7th inning stretch is keeping us safe from terrorist attacks...and all in less than a week! Mississippi, he's your problem now.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
If, as I suggested in a previous column, tolerance consists in restraining the desire to “act out” one’s disapproval of others’ behaviors or beliefs, the question then becomes: what degree of restraint is required? If total restraint is exercised, there will be no behavioral manifestations of disapproval whatsoever, including speech. No doubt there are circumstances under which this degree of inhibition, whether theoretically necessary or not, is the wisest course of action. If, for example, I am convinced that my daughter-in-law is raising my grandchildren to be savages, silence may be the best way for me to practice tolerance.
Silence is also something often recommended by parents. How often did our mothers say: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Of course many of us failed to follow that admonition and therefore encountered another piece of childhood wisdom: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” However untrue that may be for children (or adults), we Americans have tended to regard critical and abusive speech as not only harmless, but, in a certain sense, privileged.
The right to not remain silent is, of course, assured to us by our Constitution, and the rationale for that right is generally understood to be that democracies function most effectively if all opinions on topics of social interest are heard and discussed. In the “marketplace of ideas”, the more competing opinions there are, the greater the chance that the truth will be recognized and acted upon. Moreover, as John Stuart Mill argues in On Liberty, a person whose opinions are borrowed from others and who has never personally tested those opinions against the full spectrum of contrary opinions cannot be rightfully said to hold them at all. The public conflict of ideas is thus as essential to the individual’s intellectual integrity as it is to the welfare of society. As a result, the expression of opinion is much more than a right: it is an obligation.
Some might suppose, nonetheless, that though speech, per se, is not intolerant, the manner of speech may be, for a speaker may show insufficient restraint in his or her choice of words. Mill thought that the manner of expression was irrelevant. He pointed out that those holding minority view are often condemned for abusive language, while the prevailing majority’s inflamed rhetoric is ignored. A local illustration of this is a recent ISJ “Faith” column by a Pocatello minister who asserted that all those who embrace “the lie,” (i.e. the view that god does not exist), are selfish, narcissistic, rebellious, disdainful of the lives and property of others and actively engaged in destroying morality, peace, and culture. No one was moved to publicly question the ferocity of this attack, much less accuse the minister of intolerance.
It seems sensible to extend this conception of religious tolerance to tolerance in general, i.e. to conclude that the sort of restraint tolerance requires is an unwillingness to engage in the use of coercive force to halt or impede behaviors and beliefs of which we disapprove. That seems satisfactory, as far as it goes, but important questions remain unanswered. Is it, for example, intolerant to circulate a petition that seeks to create a law banning certain behaviors or beliefs? Laws, after all, represent intolerance that is socially-approved, and because of that approval we don’t usually regard as intolerant those who support and enforce them – nor, perhaps, those who campaign to enact them. But then sometimes we do, as in the case of the infamous Jim Crow laws. Why is this the case?
It seems clear that a satisfactory analysis of tolerance must go beyond this column’s conclusions regarding the proper definition of a tolerant act. What must also be explored is the substantive question that lies at the heart of the matter: what sorts of beliefs and behaviors actually deserve to be treated with tolerance?
Friday, September 30, 2011
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE TOLERANT? (PART 1)
The word “tolerance” has often been bandied about in letters and op-ed pieces in the Idaho State Journal, most recently in connection with a letter that rather forcefully attacked Pocatello’s gay pride celebration and those who advocate the elimination of prayer at city council meetings.
It seems to be generally agreed by users of the word that it is a good thing to be tolerant and a bad thing to be intolerant. But beyond this general sense of approval or disapproval, it’s hard to discern exactly what the words are intended to convey.
What is it to be a “tolerant” person? It’s not implausible to think that the ideally tolerant person is one who values human diversity and hence accepts, or perhaps even welcomes, behaviors and beliefs that differ from his or her own. Such a person could be said to have, at a minimum, a “live-and-let-live attitude” or, more probably, to agree with that memorable expression from the sixties and cheerfully acknowledge that there are “different strokes for different folks.”
Yet the preceding conception of what tolerance amounts to may not find favor among many. The notion that a tolerant person must take a positive view of other people’s differing behaviors and beliefs may seem excessive, if not downright wrong-headed. It might be thought more accurate to say that a tolerant person should be non-judgmental about such things. There is a local church that advertises itself as “less judgmental,” which seems to mean the same thing as “more tolerant.” So perhaps all that is required is that a tolerant person refuse to make judgments or form opinions. This does, indeed, echo traditional Christian advice from the pulpit, such as “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” yet, in practice, it is difficult advice to follow, for more often than not, we form judgments quickly and involuntarily. It’s important to notice, here, that the discussion is now focused upon negative judgments. From the present perspective, it is the disapproval of others upon which tolerance crucially depends, not the acceptance of them.
But if it’s true that our minds are so plentifully supplied with categories of wrong-doing and wrong-believing that we rarely undergo a conscious decision-making process when making negative judgments, and hence that withholding judgment is not really an option, what, then, can being tolerant consist in? The obvious answer is: in not expressing those judgments.
In giving this answer, we have entered a very ancient current of moral thought.
We’ve reached two conclusions regarding tolerance: 1) the person who is being tolerant must disapprove of or dislike the thing, person, or behavior being tolerated, and 2) the tolerant person must intentionally refraining from “acting out” that disapproval. That puts tolerance within the traditional domain of “virtuous” behaviors, since at the heart of “virtue” is a willingness and ability to exercise control over certain appetites and urges. The courageous person suppresses fear and carries out his or her duty on the battlefield; the temperate person reins in the desire for food and drink; the generous person overcomes selfishness, the honest person fights off the urge to lie. And the tolerant person restrains the desire to act out feelings of anger and disapproval.
It is, at the same time, an odd consequence of this way of thinking about virtues that the degree of praiseworthiness of virtuous behavior is directly proportional to the strength of the urges that are suppressed. Hence, one who naturally feels little fear deserves less credit for courageous behavior than one who experiences intense terror and is able to conquer it. From that same perspective, the most virtuously tolerant person is someone who manages to exercise restraint while harboring the deepest and most passionately hostile feelings and opinions. That easy-going, live-and-let-live sort of person we discussed earlier is definitely not going to shine in the tolerance department.
Another interesting component of the concept of tolerance, consistent with its being a virtue, is that it can be overdone; that is to say, it’s possible to be too tolerant. Most people agree that one must not tolerate that which is a serious moral wrong, nor, in most cases, that which is not legally permissible. Unfortunately not much more can be said than that, because there is evidently great disagreement among people about exactly which behaviors are morally intolerable, and even about what circumstances might render law-breaking acceptable.
Many questions remain about the nature of tolerance, e.g.: exactly what degree of restraint is sufficient to merit the label “tolerant?”; why are the histories of tolerance and religion so closely intertwined?; and how does tolerance relate to freedom of speech? I will address these questions in a future column.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
"My mother was a warrior...Her weapons of choice were compassion, an enormous heart, a sharp intellect and a competitive spirit. She used her full arsenal of talents to fight for those who were not viewed by society to be capable, to be fully human, to be deserving of the opportunity to play, to compete, and to contribute to their community worldwide."-- Maria Shriver on her mother, Eunice, for the Huffington Post
It is no coincidence that Eunice Kennedy Shriver is one of the seven individuals I have spotlighted on my blog masthead. Her life will remain an inspiration to thousands of individuals for decades to come and has been an inspiration to me for most of my own life. It is only fitting that a woman who gave so much to her family, her community, her country and eventually the entire world would be celebrated today. Today is Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day.
To gain an understanding of who Eunice Kennedy Shriver was, it is impossible to simply say she was the founder of Special Olympics and leave it at that. She was that and so much more. Many would say she was the sister of Jack, Bobby and Teddy. She was that and so much more. She was also the wife of Sarge Shriver, but yet so much more. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was and will always be the person who truly opened our eyes to the kindness, joy and capability of an entire minority of Americans--the disabled.
Eunice, like me and millions of Americans, had a family member who was disabled. I often wonder if Rosemary, Eunice's sister, knew what her life inspired. The Kennedy family became leading advocates of the disabled and introduced this nation to the joy they can bring to our lives. The Kennedy family, led by the advocacy of Eunice, taught acceptance and ability. To this day the children of Eunice, through her beloved Special Olympics and numerous other organizations, are leading the charge for acceptance and inclusion.
Could Eunice have helped her brothers' campaigns and left it at that? Of course, but not Eunice. Could Eunice have helped her husband push the Peace Corps toward a future mark of 200,000 Americans serving in 139 countries? Of course, but not Eunice. In 1968 she created the Special Olympics and was intricate to its success, leading it to eventual international status with more than 3 million athletes in nearly 180 countries. What is truly impressive about the Kennedy family is, and always has been, that they have never been content with simply running for and holding office.
There are few Americans born after 1968 who have any interest at all in the Kennedy family or truly grasp the legacy of the Kennedy brothers. Americans born after 1980 have no memory of a Kennedy brother running for president. Few Americans my age and younger know anything about the Kennedy sisters. Many Americans do not even know or could name the generation of Kennedys that includes a congressman who just left office (Patrick Kennedy), California's former first lady (Maria Shriver, who has an impressive list of causes she supports as well), a city councilman (Bobby Shriver) or a former gubernatorial candidate and Lieutenant Governor (Kathleen Kennedy Townsend) and those are the Kennedys on the front lines of public service.
There are Kennedys who run amazing non-profits and distinguished organizations as well (Jean Kennedy Smith, Very Special Arts; Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Timothy Shriver, now at the helm of Special Olympics International; Anthony Shriver, Best Buddies International; Mark Shriver, Save the Children; Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Foundation & Amnesty International Leadership Council; Joe Kennedy, Citizens Energy; Max Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Natural Resources Defense Council; William Kennedy Smith, Physicians Against Land Mines; and the late Kara Kennedy, VSA & National Advisory Board of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). Their service and advocacy knows no bounds.
We would all be better people if we, like the Kennedy/Shriver children, sought to be like Eunice and were constantly in the volunteer mindset.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was fearless, kind, and unbelievably caring. As was referenced in a video in her honor on this day, she was a revolutionary. As her daughter Maria recently wrote, she was a warrior. And, is evidenced by the tens of thousands of people in more than 100 countries who celebrated the second annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day today through all types of service, she was an extraordinary woman who set out to blaze a trail and ended up changing perceptions the world over. It will be another lifetime before another comes along as inspiring as Eunice and she will be missed for lifetimes to come.
For more on Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day
For more on Camp Shriver
For more on the End the Word campaign
- Matt Kemp is not-so-suddenly a contender for baseball's triple crown. If not for the craziness that is the Dodgers, he'd be leading the talk for National League MVP. Triple Crown Edition/Jayson Stark, ESPN.com
- Morgan Freeman: The Tea Part is racist/Caitlin McDevitt, Politico
- Another bow tie-wearing historian who paved the way for generations of American historians (especially those interested in urban studies) passed away this week. The Pulitizer Prize winner brought something relatively new to the field of History--the study of Census data. For every historian who has spent hours, days even, looking at Census data and trying to navigate the Census website, we have the great Oscar Handlin to thank for it. Oscar Handlin, Historian Who Chronicled U.S. Immigration, Dies at 95/Paul Vitello, New York Times
- The Netflix saga continues. Now that Netflix has announced they'll be concentrating on streaming and Qwikster (not to be confused with QuickStar, the Amway company) will be the portion of the company responsible for mailing out DVDs, I'm beginning to rethink doing away with my streaming service on September 1st when Netflix raised their prices. The problem with Netflix streaming is their small inventory and the fact that Starz did not extend their contract with Netflix, therefore taking away a big chunk of videos from said inventory.Qwikster: Not to be Confused With Quixtar, QuickStar, Kwikster, Quickster, Kwik Star, or Kickstar/Harry McCracken, Technologizer; Netflix says it's sorry, then creates new uproar/Michael Liedtke, AP; Netflix's Focus on Streaming: Too Soon?/Robert Seidman, TVbytheNumbers.com
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Here's a round-up of links that are worth a read (things that caught my eye, topics that have been in the news, etc.):
- On Day Devoted to Constitution, A Fight Over It/Kate Zernike, New York Times
- Suspend disbelief to watch 'Moneyball'/Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports
- How the Right Made Racism Sound Fair--And Changed Immigration Politics/Gabriel Thompson, Colorlines
- Eddie Vedder says Pearl Jam support for 'West Memphis Three' continues after their release/Associated Press
- In Cheney's memoir, it's clear Iraq's lessons didn't sink in/Bob Woodward, WaPo
- IBM putting Watson to work in health insurance/Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press
- In Tapes, Candid Talk By Young Kennedy Widow/Janny Scott, New York Times
- Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism/Daily Number, Pew Research Center
I'm always contemplating posts, in the rough draft stage or doing research on some post idea. Such is the case now, I've just been slow getting things completed due to not feeling well. Patience.