The End of an Era

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A Young Senator Kennedy

 

“I hope for an America where we can all contend freely and vigorously, but where we will treasure and guard those standards of civility which alone make this nation safe for both democracy and diversity.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy, On Truth and Tolerance (1983)

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy died today at the age of 77 after working tirelessly for the American people for over 47 years. This son of privilege focused his energies on those without: the underprivileged, the homeless, the children, the aged and infirmed—the ignored, the under-served, the invisible.

Senator Kennedy’s name is connected with some of the most groundbreaking bills to come to the floor of the U.S. Senate. He was a staunch supporter of healthcare reform, civil rights, immigration, Medicare and Medicaid, health insurance for children of the working poor, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, family leave, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A Roman Catholic, Kennedy supported a woman’s right to choose, and was a powerful ally for the fight for abortion clinic access.

“Many in the scientific community are concerned that the president’s decision will delay development of cures for dread disease for many years, at the cost of countless lives and immeasurable suffering.”

Openly critical of former president Bush, especially over the war in Iraq, Kennedy still managed to work across party lines for the “No Child Left Behind” act, which increased funding for schools. And although the Senator stood behind former President Bush in the Rose Garden for photo ops, Kennedy never relented in pushing for those issues in which he so fervently believed.

Senator Kennedy lamented what he saw as the former administration’s short-sightedness in stem cell research and the issue of healthcare in general.

He decried the recklessness of the war, the waste of lives, the deception: “It’s now clear that from the very moment President Bush took office, Iraq was his highest priority as unfinished business from the first Bush Administration. His agenda was clear: find a rationale to get rid of Saddam.”

 “The Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree.”

A liberal’s liberal, Kennedy possessed a characteristic so lacking in most politicians of any party: He was willing to work both sides of the aisle, to fight, and most importantly, to compromise. Perhaps his death will help those involved in the current attempts at healthcare reform to regain focus, to move past the divisiveness, to move the spotlight back onto what really matters and away from the name-calling and inane comparisons to Nazis and genocide.

What Kennedy wanted most, and what he did not live to see, was a country that truly cared for its citizens, a country that embraced the idea of good healthcare for all, regardless of employment status, pre-existing conditions, age, race, or annual income. It was this fight above all that made me truly admire the Senator.

And my concerns over Senator Kennedy’s replacement stem from my strong desire to see actualized that which he fought for so vociferously, sometimes heatedly, always passionately.

“His voice roared as he battled for the poor and the victims of injustice yet he had a smile that could light a room, a laugh that would draw a crowd and a heart always ready to share your sorrow.” ~ Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin

Petraeus testifying photo by Chip Somodevilla
Senator Ted Kennedy (Photograph by Chip Somodevilla)

Kennedy, the last of the original Joseph Kennedy dynasty, spent many years as a man plagued by personal demons. In 1991, after years of being lambasted by critics and lampooned by comedians, Kennedy admitted to his foibles in a speech at Harvard: 

“I recognize my own shortcomings, the faults and the conduct of my private life,” he said in the distinctive Kennedy accent. “I realize that I alone am responsible for them, and I am the one who must confront them.”

After marrying Washington lawyer Vicki Reggie, his second wife  in 1992, Kennedy seemed to be able finally to grow into the mantle of the Kennedy legacy. He lost weight, started taking better care of himself, and stopped partying as if he still belonged to another generation.

Many political pundits agree that Ted Kennedy came into his own in the latter part of his life. His “salad days” long gone, the senior senator took to the political battlefields with renewed energy and dedication.

In 2008, Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, but he surprised everyone when he appeared at the Democratic National Convention and declared his firm support for then candidate Barack Obama. The Senator’s endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton surprised many, but Kennedy believed that President Obama would be the best change for the American people:

“With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.” ~ January 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama for president 

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” (Democratic National Convention 1980)

Ted Kennedy will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, a place he visited frequently to pay his respects not only to the two fallen brothers who preceded him, but also to the men and women who have served this nation, who are buried in this hallowed ground of lost heroes and remembered warriors.

Rest in peace, “Lion of the Senate.”

 

 

More later. Peace.

Do I Ever Really Have Random Thoughts?

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Water-Lilies by Claude Monet, Oil on Canvas

Or Are They Always Just One Big Thought Without Punctuation?

1. I am a major Battlestar Gallactica nerd. I love this show. So when it ended abruptly almost a year ago with everyone standing on a nuked out earth, and no indications of when it was all going to be cleared up, I was bereft. I have the first three seasons on DVD. That’s how much of a BG nerd I am. So I was more than happy when they finally decided to show the remaining shows to end season four and end the show beginning a month ago that you would think that I would have been glued to my television. I set my DVD to record, but just got around to watching. Go figure the logic in my mind . . .

2. I got the idea for this post from David Bridger’s site, which I visit frequently because he usually has pretty bizarre postings. For example, he had a post about how his daughter’s door squeaked out the first five notes from the Addams Family, which of course, put the tune in my head. Couldn’t let that go, so I put the tune “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” in his head. The last I read, it had gotten down to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” Putting an earworm into someone’s head is pretty sneaky business. I would never do that to anyone. But does anyone remember the words to “Sweet City Woman”?

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3. I’m addicted to hand sanitizer. I have little miniature bottles of it everywhere, in the cars, in all of my various bags, and I’ve made Corey addicted to it as well. He carries a miniature bottle in his carryall. Alexis carries on in her purse. And my sons are so used to using it before they eat fast food. I think that if you’re going to be addicted to something, hand sanitizer is a good thing. Have you seen what people do with their hands in stores? Think about it the next time you use a cart in a store.

4. I really love the color purple and its various shades, light purple, dark purple, lavender, lilac. etc., which is why I am probably so much in love with Monet’s Water Lilies.

5. I wish that I had more opportunities to wear my boots and sweaters, but now that I don’t go to work everyday, I don’t have to get dressed in real clothes everyday. Usually, it’s just sweats for me. It would be kind of silly to get dressed in boots and a skirt and sweater to sit here at my computer for five or six hours, although it might make me feel better about myself.

6. My dogs are unnatural. Tillie is just plain demanding, and vocal about it. I swear the dog talks to me, and gets louder if I do not acknowledge her. Shakes snores and will not let me out of his sight, and also talks; it’s just a different dialect than Tillie. If I stay up too late working on the computer, Shakes gets very impatient and tries to jump in my lap (an impossibility as he is very bottom heavy), and then starts bitching at me to try to get me to go to bed. And Alfie is just plain psycho. I say that with love in my heart, but I can be holding him and rubbing his belly, and all of a sudden, this small dog will start a growl deep in his throat, and it may be because one of the other dogs entered the room, or it may be because he doesn’t want me to touch that part of his belly. You just never know with him. He really should have gotten laid before he lost his manhood.

7. I’m currently using checks that have a misspelling in the imprinted quote beneath the total line. I know the misspelling is there. In fact, I made the check company reprint the checks because of the misspelling, but since I ran out of checks and ran out of money to reprint more checks, and thought of the trees and the waste, decided to use them anyway, even though they offended my sensibilities. The quote is by Albert Einstein, and it is one of my favorites: “Imagnation is more important than knowledge.” This is the quote with the misspelling. Did you notice? Jumped out at me as soon as I opened the box. Corey kept saying, “where, where?”

8. Speaking of which, I try not to be, but I’m one of those pain in he butt people who corrects things like menus, my children’s speech, and various and sundry other things. When I was teaching Editing to English majors at ODU, I used to have them keep an Anguished English journal, in which they had to collect examples of various abuses of the English language. We would share our collections, some of which were hilarious. I once corrected a memo that my Division General Manager had sent out company-wide; it was riddled with mistakes. He had not run the memo by me first for a proofing. The memo concerned a very large, multi-million dollar contract with the Air Force. His assistant had made mistakes such as using the word roll instead of role for the company’s role in the job. It was really quite embarrassing. Anyway, I corrected it and sent it back to him, and told him that he never should have sent it out without sending it to me first. Very few people could have gotten away with that, but when you are right, you are right.

9. I’m obnoxious when it comes to being right.

10. I do actually watch one reality television show: “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I started watching it when it first came on four years ago, and I became addicted. Those women are so far out there. Who spends $3800 in one day on hats? Certainly no one in my circle. That’s why I watch it.

11. I still have two metal pica/agate rulers from when I worked at the newspaper several years ago. These are the old style rulers that were used to measure headlines by hand if need be. They are made of metal, and they are very flexible but durable. I love these rulers. One is a 12 inch, and one is an 18 inch. I tell you, there are some things that I simply cannot let go of, and certain office supplies are among that category.metal-pica-ruler

12. I have Star Wars pencils with the original Star Wars characters on them. Not the prequel lame characters, but the good old characters from episodes 4, 5, and 6.

13. I still have in my possession my old teddy bear, who is named Mr. Higgins for the green grocer who was just down the street from our apartment in London. The teddy bear is quite worn, but Mr. Higgins was one of my favorite people when we lived in W6. He always gave me an extra sweet whenever we went in the store.

14. I have a tattoo on my right shoulder of a hummingbird sucking nectar from a trumpet vine. It runs down my right shoulder. I plan to have more of the vine added, and possibly a dragonfly. I like some body art, but not a lot of body art, especially when there is so much that you cannot tell where one picture starts and another begins. I believe that if you are going to use your body as a canvas, then you must have an aesthetic, look at it as a whole. I mean, I’ve seen some really weird things put together on one back, and then I’ve seen some beautiful things. Of course, it is completely up to the individual, but I think that some people get tats when they are high or drunk and don’t really stop to consider the final picture, as it were.

15. I believe that Dick Cheney should be punished for all of the ways in which he befouled the Constitution of the United States.

tax_filing16. One day, I will have a new used BMW X5 with heated leather seats for my back and a sunroof for my mental health, and Eamonn will not be allowed anywhere near it.

17. One day, I will get my stuff together enough to find a publicist and try to get this book published.

18. I have to do our taxes this week. That really sucks.

19. The islands are calling me. I keep telling Corey this, but he doesn’t believe me. But would I lie? Every day, one of the cruise lines sends me an e-mail offering me a new deal as a repeat customer, and they tell me that Belize is calling me, or Grand Cayman is calling me, or the whole Caribbean is calling me. It would be just plain rude of me not to answer, and I really hate rudeness.cayman-islands-beach

20. I hate rude people.

21. I also hate people who insist that they know what is good for me. No they don’t. That mantra: “It’ll be good for you.” Where did that come from, anyway? Unless someone is my doctor and he or she has just drawn my blood, put my through and MRI, or looked into my brain, no one know what is going to be good for me. What’s good for me is usually a cup of tea and a nap. I don’t want your best intentions to blow up in my face at some point, which has happened to me more times than I can count. Trust me, hot tea, nap, or maybe Southern Comfort, tiny bit of lemon, and some honey, warmed in a brandy snifter. That’ll cure what ails me if its in my chest. And a nap.

22. Wal Mart was created by the devil and it continues to be run by the devil’s minions, especially on Saturday afternoon when I have a migraine and I really, really need to pee because there is no way in hell that I will use one of their bathrooms (remember, hand sanitizer), and every child in the city is in that Wal Mart at that moment crying or screaming or begging for cotton candy or falling out of the cart because no one was watching and therefore will soon be crying and screaming.

23. Target, on the other hand, is nice and clean and is starting to have almost everything that Wal Mart has. Hooray for Le Target.

24. I have an original “Women for Obama” sticker that Corey ordered in the mail for me before the campaign really got underway. He ordered it because he knew that I supported Obama and he knew that I would want to keep something like that and because that’s the kind of guy that he is.

25. Did you hear? George W. Bush is not president and cannot be president ever, ever again, and that just makes my heart sing!

Those are my 25 random things. Do you think you have 25 random things in you? Of course you don’t have to be as wordy as I am. That goes without saying, but if it goes without saying, why am I saying it?

More later. Peace.

Right of Conscience Rule is All Wrong

Dear President Bush,

Please Keep Your Laws Off My Body.king-george

Two days ago, the man who-would-be-president decided to sign one of the foulest pieces of legislature in his eight years of office, knowing that it will take some work by President-elect Obama to undo this last-minute attempt to circumvent basic rights for women: It’s called the Right of Conscience Rule, and it goes into effect the day before W. leaves office, part of the legacy.

But what people don’t realize is that this rule goes far, far beyond abortion rights into very murky waters in a galaxy not so far far away. This rule will allow refusal of AIDS treatment, blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses), in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, stem cell research, psychiatric treatment instead of prayer (Christian Scientists), even in extreme cases, the selling of condoms to minors.

This rule basically allows people in any position, not just physicians and pharmacists—but receptionists, cashiers, nurses, even the people who clean the instruments post operatively—to deny service if their consciences are against it. And I call that a great big bag of Bush bullshit. Let me clarify. If a cashier at a pharmacy is a Roman Catholic, and you come through her line with your monthly prescription of birth control pills, she can refuse to ring up said pills because she does not condone birth control pills. To her, these pills represent the killing of babies. And under this rule, she cannot be punished by the store’s management for refusing to give you service.

Let’s take another scenario: If a woman who has been raped goes to a drugstore and asks for the morning after pill because she does not want to report the rape, but she just wants to make sure that the rape does not cause her to become pregnant, and the pharmacist is a strict Fundamentalist Christian, he can refuse to supply her with this non-prescription drug that any woman can ask any pharmacist for. What’s more, said pharmacist can tell the woman why he doesn’t believe she should have this pill. The woman, who is already traumatized, will have to be humiliated and traumatized again.

Let’s take another scenario: A couple has a very sick child who needs antibiotics for his infection and fever. They don’t have a car, so they call a cab. They ask the cab driver to take them to the Children’s Hospital. The driver refuses on the grounds that he is a Christian Scientist and does not believe in medical treatment and offers to pray with them. Far-fetched? Probably. Possible? Who knows?

Latest true scenarios: In Virginia, 42-year-old woman was refused morning-after pill by pharmacist and as a result became pregnant. In California, a lesbian couple was refused artificial insemination. In Nebraska, a 19-year-old female with a life-threatening embolism was refused an early abortion at a religiously-affiliated hospital.

What’s the common thread here? All females. And who will be affected by the Right of Conscience Rule? Predominantly females and gays and lesbians—the populations who usually are underserved medically. Will straight men be refused Viagra? On what basis? My conscience does not want you to have better sex . . .

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt is quoted as saying, “This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience.” With this rule, providers, ” including hospitals, clinics, universities, pharmacies and doctor’s offices — can be charged with discrimination if an employee is pressured to participate in care that is ‘contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.’Violators would lose their federal funds.”

bush20frustratedOne of the fears of opponents to this regulation is the withholding of information from patients. For example, an emergency room doctor who does not believe in emergency contraception does not have to provide information about this contraception to a rape victim if it goes against his or her beliefs. Or an antiabortion doctor in a federally-funded clinic does not have to tell a patient if she is carrying a fetus with severe abnormalities if he doesn’t believe that she should have an abortion.

Okay, let’s stop for a moment and look at the far-reaching implications here. First of all, why am I in the medical profession if it is not to provide health care? Is it my place to pass moral judgments on my patients? Did I become a pharmacist only to decide which medicines I will and will not dispense even though a customer has a prescription? If a woman has been raped, who am I as a man to decide that she should not receive emergency contraception? As a patient, do I now need to screen all of my doctors to find out what religion they are before I begin treatment with them to make sure I don’t hit any bumps down the road, just in case? Do I need to find out if the local Walgreen’s has people on its registers who will ring me up without any problems or cause me any embarrassment before I go back in for a prescription I’ve been getting for years?

These are not silly questions any more, not under this new rule. Let’s take it a step further. Will any of my gay or lesbian friends be refused treatment because the medical staff believes that homosexuality is a sin? If Eamonn goes to college and has too much to drink and is taken to the emergency room, will they refuse to pump his stomach because drinking is wrong? If my daughter became pregnant and had an infection and needed a D and C, would she be refused because she isn’t married? These are things that you think about when you hear about the sweeping broadness and open-endedness of this new law.

bush_shrug2But I also have to ask, exactly when did George Bush get a conscience? Over 4,000 of our troops have been killed in an unjust war? We have—on the record now—used torture as a relatively ineffective means of gaining information on an, as yet, unknown number of people. We have acted without honor for the past seven years and lost the respect of numerous other world leaders—all on George Bush’s watch. Our veterans have come home to reduced benefits; they have been subjected to loopholes that have decreased their treatment options, and we have more veterans living on the streets and more warriors doing repeat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, all so that W. could prove to his daddy that he is a man.

Well, I have a conscience, too. And mine says enough paying for Bush’s mistakes. My conscience says that we should have universal health care by now. My conscience also says that we should be much farther along in alternative energy. But most of all, my conscience says that way back in 2000, George Bush should not have been allowed to steal a national election and get away with it. And the same could be said of the election in 2004. Enough already.

Go to this link to see the complete Federal Regulation HHS FRDOC 0001-0042:http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064807e2d39. You can download a PDF.

Not a good rule. Certainly not a good Christmas present from the current president. More later. Peace.