Saturday, July 28, 2012

TDIH: The Last Private Public Figure

On this day in 1929, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was born in Southhampton, New York. An accomplished woman who will forever be remembered for the time she spent in the White House, a time cut tragically short.

Something that Anna Quindlen wrote in the New York Times in 1994 about Jackie upon her death comes to mind whenever I think about who Jackie was:
"The moment when she crawled out onto the back of the open limousine in which her husband had been murdered was the first and last time the American people would see Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis crawl... She was the last great private public figure in this country. In a time of gilt and glitz and perpetual revelation, she was perpetually associated with that thing so difficult to describe yet so simple to recognize, the apotheosis of dignity."
She was a person every American identified with, even if they weren't able to identify just what it was. They shared her grief and shock. Americans felt as if Jackie belonged to the nation, just as much, if not more so, than President Kennedy belonged to the nation. And yet Jackie didn't want any of that for herself or her children. She fiercely protected her children. Let it not be forgotten that she defended and defined her husband's legacy almost immediately following his death.

As the "last great private public figure," Jacqueline Kennedy still captivates and draws the curiosity of a nation.

Jackie Kennedy would have been 83-years-old.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sally Ride, 1951-2012

“Without heroes we're all plain people and don't
 know how far we can go.”
 -- Bernard Malamud

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Execution of Warren Hill

Update: With 90 minutes to spare, the Georgia Supreme Court stayed the execution of Warren Hill. The decision was made based on the recent change of procedure from a 3-drug cocktail for lethal injection to the use of only pentobarbitol. According to the Georgia Supreme Court, this change in process may be a violation of Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.

This evening a man by the name of Warren Hill is scheduled to be executed by the state of Georgia. He was originally scheduled to be executed last week, but the execution was postponed until today to give the prison enough time to prepare for an execution with their new single-drug procedure.

Hill's fate now hinges on a court, perhaps the United States Supreme Court, finding that his mental capacity makes his execution unconstitutional according to Atkins v. Virginia (2002). In Atkins, the Court found by a margin of 6-3 that the execution of the mentally retarded is a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The generally accepted definition of mental retardation includes three criteria: 1) An IQ below 70; 2) Significant limitations in 2 or more areas of adaptive behavior; and, 3) Evidence that said limitations began in childhood. A Georgia court has determined that Hill's IQ is 70, but Georgia state law requires that the prisoner's defense prove beyond a reasonable doubt that mental retardation does exist. This requirement is, as the New York Times wrote in their editorial on the issue, an "unfairly heavy burden" on the inmate. Last week, the state of Texas executed a man with diagnosed brain damage. Texas, like Georgia, is granted the decision-making authority when it comes to mentally disabled inmates and whether their mental deficiency meets the standard set in Atkins. Since the 2002 ruling by SCOTUS, the states have each taken their own approach to determining the mental capacity of death row inmates. Unfortunately, not all of them have made the appropriate decision.

A personal observation: I don't know Warren Hill and I don't know a great deal about the crimes for which he was sentenced to death. However, I have known hundreds of mentally disabled children and adults in my life, many of them with an IQ of or near 70. Though the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders places an IQ of 70 as the division between borderline intellectual functioning and mild mental retardation, make no mistake about it, these individuals are unquestionably disabled. With an IQ of 70, Warren Hill, at best, functions with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. Last I checked, we do not execute children in this country. As I've thought about the individuals I have known who are by all means adults, but function at the level of a 12-year-old, it makes me physically sick to imagine them sentenced to death for any crime they might commit. The thought of a man in Georgia whom I have never met being executed, regardless of his crimes, reminds me of every one of those people I've met in my own life who share Hill's inability to appreciate or understand the magnitude and consequences of their actions.

Warren Hill has been denied clemency by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole and the pleas of organizations across the country for his death sentence to be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole have fallen on deaf ears. His execution is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight (EST).

May the state of Georgia change course before this action is irreversable. And should Georgia not fully realize the message of Atkins v. Virginia, may the United States Supreme Court intervene.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Smorgasbord Saturday

Today I've been listening to "One Kiss At a Time" by Joel Henderson, "What I Want" by Jon McLaughlin and "Faith (When I Let You Down)" by Taking Back Sunday. And I'm about to finish Joyce Carol Oates' Mudwoman and can cross that off my 2012 reading list.

Friday, July 20, 2012

TGIF Tunes

Newest from the great Jon McLaughlin. "What I Want" appears on his latest album Promising Promises. Lyrics available here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Deep Thoughts & The X-Files

Tonight I was reminded of an exchange in an episode of The X-Files called "The Red and the Black" and it seemed worth sharing:

Scully: Mulder? What are you doing sitting here in the dark?
Mulder: Thinking.
Scully: Thinking about what?
Mulder: Well, the usual. Destiny, fate, how to throw a curveball... The inextricable relationships in our lives that are neither accidental nor... somehow in our control either.

Maybe it was the curveball part that spoke to me, but I'm guessing something deeper.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Smorgasbord Saturday

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TDIH: Kennedy at All-Star Game

On this day in 1962, President John F. Kennedy threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Washington D.C.

President Kennedy throws out ceremonial first
pitch at D.C. Stadium.
From 1959 to 1962, there were two games celebrating baseball's all-stars. Kennedy threw out the first pitch at the first of the two at D.C. Stadium, a stadium that would eventually be renamed for Kennedy's brother RFK. The second game in 1962 took place at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

With Kennedy appear Speaker of the House John W. McCormack (D-Massachusetts), Special Assistant to the President Dave Powers, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, President Kennedy, Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick.

The National League's winning pitcher was Juan Marichal. The losing pitcher for the American League was Camilo Pascual. MVP for the National League that night was Maury Wills.

The line score that night:
All-Star Team Runs Hits Errors
National League 3 8 0
American League 1 4 0

Let's hope tonight's All-Star Game bodes as well for the National League as it did fifty years ago at D.C. Stadium.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reading List Update

Awhile back I posted a list of books I hope to read this year. I've been slowly making my way through the list and like usual, I've added a few books to the list (new additions are in bold, strike-through titles are finished):
  1. "Ezra Pound Speaking": Radio Speeches of World War II edited by Leonard W. Doob
  2. The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach
  3. Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Michael Beschloss and Caroline Kennedy
  4. 11th HourGuilty WivesI, Michael Bennett, and Private Games by James Patterson
  5. 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
  6. Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly
  7. Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews
  8. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
  9. Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution by Richard Beeman
  10. Calico Joe by John Grisham
  11. Cecil Andrus: Idaho's Greatest Governor by Chris Carlson
  12. Presumed Guilty and Last To Die by Tess Gerritsen
  13. The Pound Era by Hugh Kenner
  14. Mudwoman: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates
  15. Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser
  16. The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al-Qaeda by Ali Soufan
  17. Private: #1 Suspect and Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson
  18. Ezra Pound: Poet, A Portrait of a Man and His Work by A. David Moody
  19. John Smoltz: Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith and One More Year by John Smoltz
  20. Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley
  21. Once Upon a Fastball by Bob Mitchell
  22. American's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 by Alfred W. Crosby
  23. Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford
  24. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
  25. Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir by Clint Hill (with Lisa McCubbin)
  26. Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball by R.A. Dickey
There will surely be more additions as the year rolls on. In the meantime, I vow to finish Ezra Pound's radio broadcasts. They're tedious and require a great deal of research to comprehend. One a day, at most, is all I can stand. God bless him.

What's on your summer reading list?

Friday, July 6, 2012

TGIF Tunes

"I'm all alone, running scared.
Losing my way in the dark.
I tried to get up, stand on a prayer.
But I keep crashing down hard.
This is my side of the story."

A song that I've returned to this week, "My Side of the Story" by JT Hodges (here with Shaun Hague). I can't quite peg who it is that he reminds me of. The full lyrics are available here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I will wave a flag without hesitation, not because I have forgotten my nation's many wrongs, but because I remember them." 
-- Melissa Harris-Perry (7.1.12, Melissa Harris-Perry Show)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

2012 MLB All Stars

Today the 2012 Major League Baseball All Stars were announced for the July 10th All Star Game in Kansas City.

The American League, for the most part, remained as was projected by the vote breakdowns that came out earlier in the week. The National League, on the other hand, had a big shake up at the hands of Giants' fans who voted in three of their players to the starting roster.

Your 2012 All Stars:

American League Starters
C: Mike Napoli (Rangers)
1B: Prince Fielder (Tigers)
2B: Robinson Cano (Yankees)
SS: Derek Jeter (Yankees)
3B: Adrian Beltre (Rangers)
OF: Josh Hamilton (Rangers)
OF: Curtis Granderson (Yankees)
OF: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)
DH: David Ortiz (Red Sox)

National League Starters
C: Buster Posey (Giants)
1B: Joey Votto (Reds)
2B: Dan Uggla (Braves)
SS: Rafael Furcal (Cardinals)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (Giants)
OF: Matt Kemp (Dodgers)
OF: Carlos Beltran (Cardinals)
OF: Melky Cabrera (Giants)

American League Pitchers
SP: Matt Harrison (Rangers)
RP: Joe Nathan (Rangers)
SP: Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
RP: Ryan Cook (A's)
SP: Justin Verlander (Tigers)
SP: CC Sabathia (Yankees)
SP: C.J. Wilson (Angels)
SP: Jered Weaver (Angels)
RP: Jim Johnson (Orioles)
SP: Chris Sale (White Sox)
RP: Chris Perez (Indians)
RP: Fernando Rodney (Rays)
SP: David Price (Rays)

National League Pitchers
SP: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
RP: Craig Kimbrel (Braves)
RP: Aroldis Chapman (Reds)
SP: Gio Gonzalez (Nationals)
SP: Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)
SP: Cole Hamels (Phillies)
RP: Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies)
SP: Wade Miley (Diamondbacks)
SP: R.A. Dickey (Mets)
SP: Lance Lynn (Cardinals)
RP: Joel Hanrahan (Pirates)
RP: Huston Street (Padres)
SP: Matt Cain (Giants)

National League Reserves
SS: Starlin Castro (Cubs)
1B: Bryan LaHair (Cubs)
OF: Jay Bruce (Reds)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies)
2B: Jose Altuve (Astros)
OF: Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins)
OF: Ryan Braun (Brewers)
3B: David Wright (Mets)
C: Carlos Ruiz (Phillies)
OF: Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
C: Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
SS: Ian Desmond (Nationals)

American League Reserves
OF: Adam Jones (Orioles)
C: Matt Weiters (Orioles)
DH: Adam Dunn (White Sox)
1B: Paul Konerko (White Sox)
SS: Asdrubel Cabrera (Indians)
3B: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
DH: Billy Butler (Royals)
OF: Mike Trout (Angels)
OF/DH/3B: Mark Trumbo (Angels)
C: Joe Mauer (Twins)
SS: Elvis Andrus (Rangers)
2B: Ian Kinsler (Rangers)

National League 34th Man Vote
3B: Chipper Jones (Braves)
OF: Bryce Harper (Nationals)
OF: Michael Bourn (Braves)
2B: Aaron Hill (Diamondbacks)
3B: David Freese (Cardinals)

American League 34th Man Vote
RP: Jonathan Broxton (Royals)
RP: Yu Darvish (Rangers)
RP: Ernesto Frieri (Angels)
SP: Jason Hammel (Orioles)
SP: Jake Peavy (White Sox)

Shockers: David Wright not selected as a starter is a travesty. The Giants' fans really came out and voted for their guys. No surprise that fans of the Mets did not. Still. Not fair. Zack Greinke isn't an All Star which is insane. Has amazing numbers and is one of the few bright spots for the Brewers in this injury-plagued season.

The 34th Man Vote is online here. You have until 4 p.m. (EST) on Thursday to cast your votes. As you can imagine, my vote will be going to veteran Chipper Jones. It's unfortunate that skipper Tony LaRussa didn't select Chipper for the reserves. This is Chipper's final year, he is retiring at the end of the 2012 season. His Atlanta teammate, Michael Bourn, may be more deserving on the season, but this could be Chipper's ASG swan song (similar to the 2001 final ASG appearance by Cal Ripken, Jr.).

Now go vote!