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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Much Was Taken.....Much Abides

It was a piece of a poem he quoted in his famed 1980 "Dream Shall Never Die" Democratic Convention speech, which the Lion of the Senate prefaced:

"And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:

'I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield'

For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end."

With the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy comes the inevitable repeat calls about "The End of Camelot." We'd heard that the first time, with the news of his brother John's assassination 46 years ago, followed just five years later with the anguish of brother Bobby's murder.

Now, like the famous remark when Abraham Lincoln succumbed to death, Teddy "belongs to the ages" with his brothers.

Checkered would be a generous description of this Kennedy's life. There's absolutely no questioning his impact on us emotionally, as well as the influence he had in the Senate, in a long career dedicated to improving the plight of the poor, the disenfranchised, the sick.

One of the most lucid insights comes from MSNBC's Mike Celizic, who writes:

"With Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death comes not only the end of a political dynasty, but also of one of the most enduring — and cherished — American myths. Camelot is no more.

The myth was so powerful that it transcended generations. Unlike many allusions to the 1960s, it needs no explanation to those who don’t remember that time.

John F. Kennedy, the eldest brother, was King Arthur, and wife Jackie his Guinevere. Bobby, the second brother, was Lancelot, defender of the powerless and, it is said, secretly in love with the queen.

And then there was the youngest of them all: Teddy, in whom the best and the worst of everything Kennedy seemed to come together.

It was he who would ultimately become this Camelot’s Galahad. Though far from perfect and nowhere near a man of great virtue, Edward M. Kennedy was the knight who ultimately set for himself a quest.

Its object was no less momentous than the Holy Grail itself: universal health care."

Quite understandably, there is a horde of dragons blocking access to the grail. This nation's "compassionate conservatives" in Congress, on the air waves, and at town hall meetings (the hysterical, screaming yahoos in the audience) all would rather shill for the insatiable parasites that control the American Medical-Industrial Complex.

And who better to delude & inspire the hordes than radio's Oxycontin Beast Rush Limbaugh? Today this revolting garbage bag patted himself for predicting the obvious incoming calls to have "Ted Kennedy Memorial" tacked onto the national health care bill's title. He makes these kinds of cracks into the ear of a dying man and ridicules another, actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease.

The truly shocking and disgusting thing is our country's multitude of knuckleheads subscribing to this bloated psychopath's ravings.

Now here's my prediction: When it comes time for Limbaugh's hate-encrusted carcass to expire, his generous lobby pals at AHIP (American Health Insurance Plans) will be certain to construct a memorial of their own -- a elephantine "Rush" monument, right out in front of their Congressman Purchasing Outlet at the Pennsylvania Avenue HQ.

Celezic continues with the Kennedy, and Teddy, saga:

"This is a family that Aeschylus and Sophocles and Homer would have written about, a family that Norse poets would have immortalized in sagas, a family that medieval troubadours would have sung about, a family that Shakespeare would have devoted a trilogy to, a family that America transformed into a vision of its ideal self.

Teddy was the kid brother of that family, the youngest kid who was faced with the Everest of expectations established by his three older brothers.

Joseph Jr. had died heroically as a pilot defending London against the Nazi blitz. Jack, the second-oldest, became the embodiment of the Camelot myth that would follow the family to the present. Bobby, the third brother, was the brilliant orator and idealist who was on his way to the White House in 1968 when he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet.

It was a lot to live up to. It was both a curse and a blessing that Teddy alone among the brothers lived out his natural life. It was a curse because the reality of his personal life became public at Chappaquiddick, when Mary Jo Kopechne, a young campaign worker, died, and the famous senator neglected for nine hours to tell anyone about it."

This, above anything else, is the most vile and reprehensible and, yes, criminal part of the story. Some critics have likened him to an O.J. Simpson of politics, despite the infinitely more heinous nature of the Simpson Crime. There's little avoiding the fact that Ted Kennedy used his political clout, as Simpson did with his celebrity, to "get away with it."

And he shouldn't have.

But, he did.

Celezic added:

"There was more. After his unsuccessful challenge to incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980, Ted Kennedy outraged his Catholic base by divorcing his wife, Joan.

Much of the 1980s seemed to be a blur of excess, of public drunkenness and lechery. In a Greek tragedy, that would have been the last act: a great man brought down by his own excesses, due to the original sin of hubris.

But life doesn’t always imitate art. In the 1990s, Ted Kennedy met his second wife, Vicki, and finally became what the Kennedy myth had always held him and his brothers to be.

His redemption began with a very public confession of his own sins. In a remarkable 1991 speech at Harvard, the senior senator from Massachusetts did something that we were not accustomed to seeing our political heroes do: He admitted to being less than what he seemed.

'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.'

In an interview with NBC News the following year, he explained that speech, saying, 'I owed them some explanation, or at least the recognition that I understood.'

That would be what ultimately set Ted Kennedy apart, and what transformed him into a man who would be eulogized as one of the greatest senators in American history. Unlike so many others, Ted Kennedy proved by his actions that he really did understand.

His legislative resume is a towering testament to his ideals. And in those ideals, he was always consistent. His brother Bobby had swung from the right to the left of the political scale, and Jack had been a centrist and a political pragmatist. But Ted was consistent for four decades in his defense of the least of us, in his belief in the common man and woman."

One of the greatest senators? Certainly after Chappaquiddick he would labor to redeem himself, but his tireless work for the underprivilaged and downtrodden began years before that.

In his very first Senate speech in 1964, he spoke out in support of the Civil Rights Act. Kennedy led the charge in anti-discrimination legislation and championed Head Start, a program that fought childhood hunger and illiteracy. When the Pres. Ronald Reagan (the right-wing's bogus "champion of freedom") refused to back sanctions that ultimately ended the horror of South Africa's Apartheid, it was Kennedy -- not St. Ronald -- that lead the way to freedom.

It was Kennedy who helped pass the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as Medicare & Medicaid laws.

“We must begin to move now to establish a comprehensive national health insurance program," he announced 40 years ago, "capable of bringing the same amount and high quality of health care to every man, woman, and child in the United States.”

This would henceforth be, he vowed, "the cause of his life."

Laudable, too, was Kennedy standing brave and wise with 20 other Democratic senators voting no on the insidious 2002 Iraq War Authorization. He called it a "political product" and a fraud "made up in Texas."

Political product it surely was, manufactured by the most grotesque scam artist that ever sat in the White House.

"The life and death issue of war and peace is too important to be left to politics," Kennedy warned just six months before Bush & Cheney launched their reign of war crimes. "And I disagree with those who suggest that this fateful issue cannot or should not be contested vigorously, publicly, and all across America. When it is the people's sons and daughters who will risk and even lose their lives, then the people should hear and be heard, speak and be listened to."

I'm sure the thousands and thousands of Americans that watched their loved ones be maimed and slaughtered thanks to the Bush Big Lie really wish that the powers that be had listened to Kennedy.

The other of Teddy's most powerful speeches was of course the eulogy he delivered for Bobby. Pres. Obama, with his gift of oratory, will not disappoint us when he eulogizes the Senator at his funeral on Saturday. But it would be hard to match the poignancy of the words spoken by a grieving brother 41 years ago.

May this family, The Kennedys, all the children who grew up with a man who was much more than "Uncle Ted," but a surrogate father to all his orphaned neices & nephews -- be comforted in yet another wave of unbearable grief.

A passage from scripture:

They shall hunger no more --
neither shall they thirst

For the lamb which sitteth in
the midst of the Throne

Shall lead them into
living fountains of waters

And God shall wipe away
all tears from our eyes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Right-wing Does Lockstep With Insurance Mafia, Town Hall Circus Performers

"Myths which are believed in.....tend to become true." --George Orwell

The grotesque spectacle of the shameless, deluded rabble gives pause to not just our country's direction.

It's the bigger picture: How did we find ourselves trapped in this theatre of the absurd and appalling? When will we at last find the exit??

Below is the "Media Matters" link, which reveals that it's still quite dark in here, and the place is being smoked up with dread and doubt.

Grinning and fiendish predators work the stage. They love their job.


After Pelosi noted that protesters had swastika signs, media claim she called them Nazis

"I know these people like I know every square inch of my glorious naked body." -- Rush Limbaugh, on Democrats.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Insurance Racketeers' Poster Girl Palin Takes Aim At American Health Reform

Yes, ma'am, she's gunnin' to blow the slightest prospect of affordable health care right out of the water.

And disgraced governor Sarah Palin's pals at the NRA have inspired her to stock up on the ammo that has almost always worked for them: Fear and Loathing and some Supreme Double X OO Disinformation Buckshot. The Associated Press reports:

"Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course," the former vice Republican presidential candidate wrote on her Facebook page, which has nearly 700,000 supporters.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote.

My Dear God. What on EARTH ARE WE GONNA DO, THEN???

There's only one thing TO do, obviously.

Release Palin's warriors upon town meetings and create the kind of hysteria that energized Medieval Europe's nobles to confront all the evil and witchery threatening their holy order.

What does the right-wing say to the "Obamacare Demon"?? No, you can't! The forces of status quo goodness, where sound health care still remains a privilege (hugely profitable privilege to the medical special interests) and not a right, shall prevail.....

And so it's no wonder, like the corporate medical sabotage unleashed in 1993, that the frightened and deluded--but well-programmed--"moral majority" of stage-managed protesters will make a spectacular splash on the evening news.

Yep, those "Tea Party" party folks are reaaaaaally lettin' 'em have it. The people "are not happy!"

Makes ya so proud to be an American, eh? Especially when vested corporate interests can stir up enough yokels to bury a critical issue under a cloud of trailer park methane.

As much as the Big Media can often screw things up, there are many times some of its pundits can in fact speak common sense volumes above a roaring rabble. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman summed up the whole sorry spectacle recently.

"There’s a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled 'Freedom of Speech,'" he observed, "depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting, part of a series illustrating F.D.R.’s “Four Freedoms,” shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don’t like what he’s saying, but they’re letting him speak his mind.

That’s a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters — some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting 'This is America!' — have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.

Some commentators have tried to play down the mob aspect of these scenes, likening the campaign against health reform to the campaign against Social Security privatization back in 2005. But there’s no comparison. I’ve gone through many news reports from 2005, and while anti-privatization activists were sometimes raucous and rude, I can’t find any examples of congressmen shouted down, congressmen hanged in effigy, congressmen surrounded and followed by taunting crowds.

And I can’t find any counterpart to the death threats at least one congressman has received.

So this is something new and ugly. What’s behind it?

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, has compared the scenes at health care town halls to the 'Brooks Brothers riot' in 2000 — the demonstration that disrupted the vote count in Miami and arguably helped send George W. Bush to the White House. Portrayed at the time as local protesters, many of the rioters were actually G.O.P. staffers flown in from Washington.

But Mr. Gibbs is probably only half right. Yes, well-heeled interest groups are helping to organize the town hall mobs. Key organizers include two Astroturf (fake grass-roots) organizations: FreedomWorks, run by the former House majority leader Dick Armey, and a new organization called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.

The latter group, by the way, is run by Rick Scott, the former head of Columbia/HCA, a for-profit hospital chain. Mr. Scott was forced out of that job amid a fraud investigation; the company eventually pleaded guilty to charges of overbilling state and federal health plans, paying $1.7 billion — yes, that’s 'billion' — in fines. You can’t make this stuff up.

But while the organizers are as crass as they come, I haven’t seen any evidence that the people disrupting those town halls are Florida-style rent-a-mobs. For the most part, the protesters appear to be genuinely angry. The question is, what are they angry about?

There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they 'oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.' Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.

Now, people who don’t know that Medicare is a government program probably aren’t reacting to what President Obama is actually proposing. They may believe some of the disinformation opponents of health care reform are spreading, like the claim that the Obama plan will lead to euthanasia for the elderly. (That particular claim is coming straight from House Republican leaders.) But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the 'birther' movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.

And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.

Does this sound familiar? It should: it’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.

Many people hoped that last year’s election would mark the end of the 'angry white voter' era in America. Indeed, voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate.

But right now Mr. Obama’s backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn’t living up to their dreams of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity.

And if Mr. Obama can’t recapture some of the passion of 2008, can’t inspire his supporters to stand up and be heard, health care reform may well fail."

Well-said, Mr. Krugman.

Moreover, a grave admonition that if the real American public doesn't rally against the medical special interests and their vociferous performers, this "downright evil" current system of corporate bloodsucking will no doubt be the death of us.