28 December 2009

Happy Holidays from Leonard Peltier

photo 1: Sheila Steele
photo 2: Wyatt Neuman

December 23, 2009.

Greetings and happy holidays,

I hope this letter finds you all enjoying the spirit of the season with family and friends.


My August parole denial was appealed in short order. We are expecting a response to that appeal sometime very soon. It has occurred to me that the viciousness of this system knows no bounds, and so I believe strongly in the coming days we will hear of another loss, another denial. This one will be timed and intended specifically as a twisted Christmas present for me, such is the nature of those in charge. With no sense of balance, fairness, or decency, I await my own personal stocking stuffer.

We all know the so-called justice system of this country is more about revenge and retribution than finding true and just resolution. It doesn’t take into account the plight of the wrongfully convicted, nor does it allow flexibility as human endeavors always require. This system has always been about making money at the top, furthering careers in the middle, and forgetting those at the bottom.


Their reason for denying my parole is that I refuse to admit guilt and show remorse for the deaths of two FBI agents. I know the righteousness of my situation. I know what I did and didn’t do. I will never yield. I also know what this country did and continues to do to me and many others.


While they demand I make a false confession for the sake of my freedom, they show no remorse for the loss of much of my life, or the lives of Joe Stuntz and countless others they have murdered over the generations simply for being who they were. Those lives are meaningless when compared to their precious FBI, I guess.

And now, some of the very ones responsible for the deaths and suffering of so many of my people, are peddling books and claiming to be a friend of the Indian. We’ve seen this before, and I’ll speak more about this soon.
I remain proud of what I have stood for and mindful of what real justice is. In this season of love and forgiveness, please say a prayer for all of those who never knew justice and others who have such difficulty in finding it still today.

My love and my prayers go out to all of you.

Happy Holidays

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,






LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!


Thanks for all you do!


Live your values. Love your country.

And, remember: TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

29 September 2009

Empire, Obama and America's Last Taboo.

Truth-telling Journalist John Pilger Lays Out the Hard Truths Learned Over a Lifetime of Investigative Reporting in this Wide-ranging Speech. What follows is an excerpt of a speech given by John Pilger at the Socialism 2009 event in San Francisco on July 4, 2009.

Illustrations: Ben HEINE: "
Barack Obama's Popularity", "OBAMA'S MAGIC" & "Colorful people for a Better World, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King". Ben on FB here.

Americanism is an ideology that is unique because its main feature is its denial that it is an ideology. It's both conservative and it's liberal. And it's right and it's left. And Barack Obama is its embodiment. Since Obama was elected, leading liberals have talked about America returning to its true status as, “a nation of moral ideals.” Those are the words of Paul Krugman, the liberal columnist of The New York Times. In the San Francisco Chronicle, columnist Mark Morford wrote, “Spiritually advanced people regard the new president as a light worker who can help usher in a new way of being on the planet.

Tell that to an Afghan child whose family has been blown away by Obama's bombs. Or a Pakistani child whose house has been visited by one of Obama's drones. Or a Palestinian child surveying the carnage in Gaza caused by American "smart” weapons, which, disclosed Seymour Hersh, were re-supplied to Israel for use in the slaughter, “Only after the Obama team let it be known it would not object.” The man who stayed silent on Gaza is the man who now condemns Iran.

In a sense, Obama is the myth that is America's last taboo. His most consistent theme was never change; it was power. “The United States,” he said, “leads the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good. We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.” And there is this remarkable statement, “At moments of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedoms sought by billions of people beyond our borders.” Words like these remind me of the colonel in the village in Viet Nam, as he spun much the same nonsense.

Since 1945, by deed and by example, to use Obama's words, America has overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, and crushed some 30 liberation movements and bombed countless men, women, and children to death. I'm grateful to Bill Blum for his cataloging of that. And yet, here is the 45th [sic] president of the United States having stacked his government with war mongers and corporate fraudsters and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, promising, not only more of the same, but a whole new war in Pakistan, justified by the murderous clichés of Hillary Clinton-clichés like, “high value targets.” Within three days of his inauguration, Obama was ordering the death of people in faraway countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan. And yet, the peace movement, it seems, is prepared to look the other way and believe that the cool Obama will restore, as Krugman wrote, “the nation of moral ideals.”

Not long ago, I visited the American Museum of History in the celebrated Smithsonian Institute in Washington. One of the most popular exhibitions was called “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.” It was holiday time and lines of happy people, including many children, shuffled through a Santa's grotto of war and conquest. When messages about their nation's great mission were lit up, these included tributes to the; "...exceptional Americans who saved a million lives...” in Viet Nam, where they were, “...determined to stop Communist expansion.” In Iraq other brave Americans “employed air-strikes of unprecedented precision.” What was shocking was not so much the revisionism of two of the epic crimes of modern times, but the sheer scale of omission.

Like all US presidents, Bush and Obama have very much in common. The wars of both presidents and the wars of Clinton and Reagan, Carter and Ford, Nixon and Kennedy are justified by the enduring myth of exceptional America, a myth the late Harold Pinter described as “a brilliant, witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist, partly because it is indeed extraordinary to see an African American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery. However, this is the 21st century, and race together with gender, and even class, can be very seductive tools of propaganda. For what is so often overlooked and what matters, I believe above all, is the class one serves. George Bush's inner circle from the State Department to the Supreme Court was perhaps the most multi-racial in presidential history. It was PC par excellence. Think Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell. It was also the most reactionary. Obama's very presence in the White House appears to reaffirm the moral nation. He's a marketing dream. But like Calvin Klein or Benetton, he's a brand that promises something special, something exciting, almost risqué. As if he might be radical. As if he might enact change. He makes people feel good; he's a post-modern man with no political baggage. And all that's fake.

In his book, Dreams From My Father, Obama refers to the job he took after he graduated from Columbia in 1983; he describes his employer as, “...a consulting house to multi-national corporations.” For some reason he doesn't say who his employer was or what he did there. The employer was Business International Corporation, which has a long history of providing cover for the CIA with covert action and infiltrating unions from the left. I know this because it was especially active in my own country, Australia. Obama doesn't say what he did at Business International, and they may be absolutely nothing sinister. But it seems worthy of inquiry and debate, as a clue to, perhaps, who the man is.

During his brief period in the Senate, Obama voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He voted for the Patriot Act. He refused to support a bill for single-payer health care. He supported the death penalty. As a presidential candidate he received more corporate backing than John McCain. He promised to close Guantanamo as a priority, but instead he has excused torture, reinstated military commissions, kept the Bush gulag intact, and opposed habeas corpus.

Daniel Ellsberg, the great whistleblower, was right, I believe, when he said that under Bush a military coup had taken place in the United States, giving the Pentagon unprecedented powers. These powers have been reinforced by the presence of Robert Gates — a Bush family crony and George W. Bush's powerful Secretary of Defense, and by all the Bush Pentagon officials and generals who have kept their jobs under Obama.

In the middle of a recession, with millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes, Obama has increased the military budget. In Colombia he is planning to spend 46 million dollars on a new military base that will support a regime backed by death squads and further the tragic history of Washington's intervention in that region.

In a pseudo-event in Prague, Obama promised a world without nuclear weapons to a global audience, mostly unaware that America is building new tactical nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war. Like George Bush, he used the absurdity of Europe threatened by Iran to justify building a missile system aimed at Russia and China. In another pseudo-event at the Annapolis Naval Academy, decked with flags and uniforms, Obama lied that America had gone to Iraq to bring freedom to that country. He announced that the troops were coming home. This was another deception. The head of the army, General George Casey, says, with some authority, that America will be in Iraq for up to a decade. Other generals say fifteen years.

Chris Hedges, the very fine author of Empire of Illusion, puts it very well; “President Obama,” he wrote, “does one thing and brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertisers want because of how they make you feel.” And so you are kept in a perpetual state of childishness. He calls this “junk politics.”

But I think the real tragedy is that Obama, the brand, appears to have crippled or absorbed much of the anti-war movement, the peace movement. Out of 256 Democrats in Congress; 30, just 30, are willing to stand up against Obama's and Nancy Pelosi's war party. On June the 16th, they voted for 106 billion dollars for more war.

The “Out of Iraq” caucus is out of action. Its members can't even come up with a form of words of why they are silent. On March the 21st, a demonstration at the Pentagon by the once mighty United for Peace and Justice drew only a few thousand. The outgoing president of UFPJ, Lesley Kagen, says her people aren't turning up because, “It's enough for many of them that Obama has a plan to end the war and that things are moving in the right direction.” And where is the mighty Move On, these days? Where is its campaign against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? And what, exactly, was said when Move On's executive director, Jason Ruben, met Barack Obama at the White House in February?

Yes, a lot of good people mobilized for Obama. But what did they demand of him? Working to elect the Democratic presidential candidate may seem like activism, but it isn't. Activism doesn't give up. Activism doesn't fall silent. Activism doesn't rely on the opiate of hope. Woody Allen once said, “I felt a lot better when I gave up hope.” Real activism has little time for identity politics which, like exceptionalism, can be fake. These are distractions that confuse and sucker good people. And not only in the United States, I can assure you.

This article first appeared in the Rock Creek Free Press, September, 2009.


LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

28 September 2009

The History of the Middle Finger.

I never knew this before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to share it with you in the hopes that you, too, will feel edified. Isn't history fun?

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as 'plucking the yew' (or 'pluck yew').

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as 'giving the bird.'

*IT IS STILL AN APPROPRIATE SALUTE TO THE FRENCH TODAY!

And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.


LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


07 September 2009

Van Jones Resigns from Position with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

September 7, 2009.


Dear fellow Americans,


Late last night, Van Jones resigned from his position with the
White House Council on Environmental Quality. Many of us are left with pain and anger after seeing a leader of integrity, vision, and commitment targeted by hateful personal attacks. Van stepped down in service to our movement. He felt that fighting the attacks would draw attention to him and detract from our mission.

Now, our challenge is to turn our disappointment and anger into action and renewed resolve for our common goals.

Like the great
social justice movements of the 20th century, our movement for an inclusive green economy is based in the most fundamental American values: equality, justice, and opportunity for all.

That's why our opponents reduced the debate to fear, hatred, and division. They cannot win a debate about values. They cannot win a debate about solutions.
Our allies and friends may be redirected by these attacks, and focus on the rants of those who fear our vision.

For Green For All, our struggle must be defined by the issues our opponents refuse to debate: ending
global warming; lifting people out of poverty; restoring the economy; and bringing health to our communities. These are the challenges that matter the most.

This moment reaffirms our commitment and makes us more steadfast in pushing for our goals, including a climate bill that delivers on the promise of a clean-energy economy. We will not be led astray. We will not let our anger cloud our vision.


Instead, it is the time to come together around the values our movement stands for: clean air; healthy communities; good jobs; and opportunity for all.
Please sign our Petition in support of the Green Jobs Movement. Then pass it on to 10 friends.

Let's use this opportunity to grow in numbers and strength.
In the face of tactics intended to frighten and divide, we must stand strong around our core values and renew our commitment to our shared vision. Thank you for taking a stand with us. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
 Chief Executive Officer Green For All




LET THE
REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

28 August 2009

SUN DANCE CHIEF FASTS AT WHITE HOUSE FOR LEONARD PELTIER: SEEKS MEETING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA

As a result of Peltier's recent parole denial, Ben Carnes, Choctaw Nation, and a Sun Dance Chief, states he will go to Washington, D.C. to stand and fast in front of the White House between September 5th - 12th, in hopes of securing a meeting with President Obama.

Earlier this year, the LP-DOC sent a letter to President Obama to discuss the case of Leonard Peltier, but the reply from the White House declined to invite members of the committee for a meeting. Leonard Peltier has been an international symbol of American injustice based upon critical questions surrounding his conviction in 1977 in the deaths of two FBI agents.

Amnesty International has designated Peltier as a political prisoner and a U.S. prosecutor has admitted in court during an appeal hearing that he did not know who killed the agents and cannot prove who did. A federal judge who heard this statement was unable to afford any relief wrote a letter to Sen. Inouye to ask the president to grant clemency.
Carnes is a recipient of the 1987 Oklahoma Human Rights Award for his stand against forced hair cutting of Native prisoners. He has been asked to speak before congressional committees and has served with numerous human rights, interfaith and Native organizations. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of Peltier for over 28 years, and first became a national spokesperson in 1991. He is also national support group coordinator and advisory board member for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee.

"The basis of Peltier's denial by the parole commission is one of hypocrisy. It is also beyond belief that the chair of the US Parole Commission, Issac Fullwood, who is lectures on ethics in law enforcement, would turn a blind eye to the FBI's abuse of the investigative process. And Ms. Patricia Cushwa, commission member, and Chair of the Maryland parole commission recently supported a pardon for a man who had been executed, because there were questions about the case." said Carnes.

He said that there are questions about Peltier case that remains unanswered, and with this denial, the parole commission have made Peltiers life sentence a sentence of death as he won't be eligible for parole for 15 years when he is 79 years old. Peltier will observe his next birthday on September 12 when he will turn 65. He has already served 33 years in prison.


Supporters are calling for a world wide 24 vigils on September 11th - 12th to begin at 8:45 AM.


LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




27 August 2009

Health Care Fit for Animals.

by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: August 26, 2009

Opponents suggest that a “government takeover” of health care will be a milestone on the road to “socialized medicine,” and when he hears those terms, Wendell Potter cringes. He’s embarrassed that opponents are using a playbook that he helped devise.

“Over the years I helped craft this messaging and deliver it,” he noted.

Mr. Potter was an executive in the health insurance industry for nearly 20 years before his conscience got the better of him. He served as head of corporate communications for Humana and then for Cigna.

He flew in corporate jets to industry meetings to plan how to block health reform, he says. He rode in limousines to confabs to concoct messaging to scare the public about reform. But in his heart, he began to have doubts as the business model for insurance evolved in recent years from spreading risk to dumping the risky.

Then in 2007 Mr. Potter attended a premiere of “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s excoriating film about the American health care system. Mr. Potter was taking notes so that he could prepare a propaganda counterblast — but he found himself agreeing with a great deal of the film.

A month later, Mr. Potter was back home in Tennessee, visiting his parents, and dropped in on a three-day charity program at a county fairgrounds to provide medical care for patients who could not afford doctors. Long lines of people were waiting in the rain, and patients were being examined and treated in public in stalls intended for livestock.

“It was a life-changing event to witness that,” he remembered. Increasingly, he found himself despising himself for helping block health reforms. “It sounds hokey, but I would look in the mirror and think, how did I get into this?”

Mr. Potter loved his office, his executive salary, his bonus, his stock options. “How can I walk away from a job that pays me so well?” he wondered. But at the age of 56, he announced his retirement and left Cigna last year.

This year, he went public with his concerns, testifying before a Senate committee investigating the insurance industry.

“I knew that once I did that my life would be different,” he said. “I wouldn’t be getting any more calls from recruiters for the health industry. It was the scariest thing I have done in my life. But it was the right thing to do.”

Mr. Potter says he liked his colleagues and bosses in the insurance industry, and respected them. They are not evil. But he adds that they are removed from the consequences of their decisions, as he was, and are obsessed with sustaining the company’s stock price — which means paying fewer medical bills.

One way to do that is to deny requests for expensive procedures. A second is “rescission” — seizing upon a technicality to cancel the policy of someone who has been paying premiums and finally gets cancer or some other expensive disease. A Congressional investigation into rescission found that three insurers, including Blue Cross of California, used this technique to cancel more than 20,000 policies over five years, saving the companies $300 million in claims.

As The Los Angeles Times has reported, insurers encourage this approach through performance evaluations. One Blue Cross employee earned a perfect evaluation score after dropping thousands of policyholders who faced nearly $10 million in medical expenses.

Mr. Potter notes that a third tactic is for insurers to raise premiums for a small business astronomically after an employee is found to have an illness that will be very expensive to treat. That forces the business to drop coverage for all its employees or go elsewhere.

All this is monstrous, and it negates the entire point of insurance, which is to spread risk.
The insurers are open to one kind of reform — universal coverage through mandates and subsidies, so as to give them more customers and more profits. But they don’t want the reforms that will most help patients, such as a public insurance option, enforced competition and tighter regulation.

Mr. Potter argues that much tougher regulation is essential. He also believes that a robust public option is an essential part of any health reform, to compete with for-profit insurers and keep them honest.

As a nation, we’re at a turning point. Universal health coverage has been proposed for nearly a century in the United States. It was in an early draft of Social Security.

Yet each time, it has been defeated in part by fear-mongering industry lobbyists. That may happen this time as well — unless the Obama administration and Congress defeat these manipulative special interests. What’s un-American isn’t a greater government role in health care but an existing system in which Americans without insurance get health care, if at all, in livestock pens.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.


LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Are we really so miserable?

Are we really so miserable?

Antidepressant use has doubled, and anxiety is at a troubling high. Blame TV, Big Pharma -- and possibly yourself

by: Charles Barber

Earlier this month the Archives of General Psychiatry released a much publicized study that one in 10 Americans is now taking antidepressants within the course of a year, making antidepressants the most prescribed kind of medication in the country. The number of Americans on antidepressants doubled between 1996 and 2005, and the number of prescriptions written for these drugs has increased each year between 2005 and 2008. One has to wonder: Are we really that miserable?

Manipulated might be a better word than miserable. If we were to pick one factor that explains the dramatically increased number of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (the technical name for drugs like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft) that now run through our collective bloodstream, it would be direct-to-consumer advertising, otherwise known as television commercials for prescription drugs. An obscure rule change by the FDA in 1997 allowed Big Pharma to advertise its products on TV and bring them into our living rooms, and our daily consciousness. The pharmaceutical companies concentrated on their best-selling “blockbuster” drugs — Lipitor, Claritin, Nexium, Viagra, as well as the psychiatric drugs Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, and more currently, Effexor and Lexapro — and soon enough these drugs became, quite literally, household names, the celebrities of pharmaceutical agents. Psychiatric drugs featured prominently in these ads because psychiatric drugs are very good sellers, among the best in the industry, for which there is a simple reason: Legitimate psychiatric illnesses are chronic (if episodic), and the legitimate sufferer needs to take the medication for a long time, if not for life.

With the resources and, yes, the resourcefulness of Big Pharma on hand, the ads were, for the most part, brilliant. They show the facile transformation from illness to health in a scant 60 seconds. Consider the ads themselves, which have become visual wallpaper for every TV viewer: A tormented person stares, alone and agonized, into some kind of abyss. Then along comes the depression drug, and the person is instantly transformed, grandchild on a knee, a golden retriever lolling at the feet. The sunny pictures and rousing music stand in sharp contrast to those bleak voiceovers rattling off disturbing side effects, but no matter — the way our minds work, we remember the soothing imagery, not the diarrhea and the flatulence.

Often it is hard to tell exactly what condition the drugs are treating. The taglines of the drugs are often vague — for drugs for depression, the slogans might speak broadly but inspirationally about change and hope and getting back to one’s true self. (Now that I think of it, these meta-messages are not unlike those of the Obama campaign.) The drugs thus appear to be defined less as mediators of specific medical conditions than as ways to enhance one’s lifestyle and quality of life. And this is good for business: It turns out that the market base of people who are interested in enhancing their lifestyle is far greater than of those who suffer from major depression and other serious and debilitating mental illnesses. In the case of Viagra and similar drugs, the number of people suffering from erectile dysfunction is far less than the number of people who want to have good sex.

And America is just about alone in the world in how we’ve embraced the commodification of pharmaceutical agents on television, the selling of them along with toothpaste and Chevrolet. Direct-to-consumer television advertising for drugs is illegal in every other country in the world, except for some strange reason, New Zealand. (Although I was contacted by a psychiatrist from New Zealand who told me that he’d never seen a drug ad on TV there, so maybe it really is just us.) It’s a very American thing, this turning of our drugs into products, and you can see its deleterious effects in the way that the illicit use of prescription drugs has risen dramatically by young people in recent years (who came of age watching these ads and don’t remember a time when they weren’t on TV), and the now not-infrequent death of celebrities who mix and match too many of these things. (Michael Jackson died of an overdose of propofol, neither advertised on TV nor recommended for home use. But reports have suggested he also indulged in a rainbow of prescription drugs, hitting a new low — or high? — in tabloid pill-popping.)

Of course, there is a flipside to all of this: The great prescription medication march has reduced the stigma of certain psychiatric illnesses. (But by no means all: See what happens next time you tell someone you have schizophrenia.) Many patients find the drugs helpful, particularly those who actually have the symptoms of what the drugs were originally intended to treat — major clinical depression — and not just the blues, or financial, career or relationship problems, all of those things that we used to regard as life problems, and not medical or diagnosable ones.

But there is something dark and undeniable shifting in our cultural mood, too. Sure, there is manipulation in the advertising and confusion about what constitutes legitimate “serious and persistent mental illness” (a formal term to describe the afflictions of the very small percentage of people who suffer from severe bipolar disorder, major depression or psychotic disorders) as opposed to the far more normative, if often very painful, stressors and issues of living life in the early 21st century. Yet I would also say that misery and — if one were to use a slightly more clinical word, anxiety — are at one of their periodic high points. Arguably we have entered a new age of anxiety, a term associated with the post-World War II era through the 1960s, when the prevailing belief was that the world might blow up at any moment (and on the medication front, Valium was king). Maybe there’s some weird synchronicity that the hottest thing in our present cultural moment, "Mad Men," is set firmly in that era. In any case, I have written widely about mental health and have traveled the country in the last couple of years and, given the nature of my writing, have been sought out by all kinds of troubled souls. I can claim confidently that there is, right now, a high-water mark of worry and suffering on numerous fronts — economic, of course, but also social, with our ever-increasing isolation and Internet-driven loss of human connection and the ongoing trauma of wars and crises that just don’t seem to end.

As W.H. Auden wrote in 1947, in a play called "The Age of Anxiety": “When the historical process breaks down … when necessity is associated with horror … then it looks good to the bar business.” Substitute “antidepressant” for “bar,” and you have our situation in 2009.

LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Single Payer Activists Target Whole Foods Stores in Los Angeles, Denver and New York City.



Single Payer Action will hold a protest at the opening of a new NYC Whole Foods store

WHEN: Thursday August 27, 2009 from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

WHERE: Whole Foods Market, Upper West Side, 808 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10025.

F.M.I.: For more information, contact Josh Starcher, Phone: 718.909.6343 e-mail: joshmee_@hotmail.com

Hope you can attend.

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August 26, 2009

Single Payer Activists Target Whole Foods Stores in Los Angeles, Denver and New York City

Filed under: News — russell @ 4:49 pm

Over the next couple of days, single payer activists will be protesting at Whole Foods stores in Los Angeles, Denver and New York City.

Earlier this month, Single Payer Action called for a boycott of Whole Foods in response to Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey’s article in the Wall Street Journal arguing that health care should not be a fundamental human right.

All western industrial countries – except for the United States – deem health care to be a fundamental human right.

According to an Institute of Medicine report, sixty Americans die every day due to lack of health insurance.

Last week saw a slew of protests at Whole Foods’ across the country.

An investment group called on the board of directors to oust Mackey.

And the Boycott Whole Foods Facebook page now has more than 29,000 members.

“While the CEO of Whole Foods has the right to make his right-wing libertarian arguments in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, we have a right to inform his largely liberal customers about those views,” said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “Mackey might be right about tofu and granola, but he’s wrong about health care. Single payer health reform – everybody in, nobody out – is the only option that will both cover everyone and control costs.”

Tomorrow, Thursday August 27 at 12 noon, single payer activists will picket the opening of a new Whole Foods store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

On Friday, August 28, single payer activists will be outside Whole Foods’ Westwood store in Los Angeles.

And on Wednesday, September 2, single payer activists will be outside Whole Foods’ Washington Park store in Denver.

The Whole Foods boycott in Los Angeles is being organized by a group of medical students from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

The group calls itself Advocates for Single Payer Reform (ASPiRe).

“We want to educate our colleagues, faculty, and other health professionals about the necessity for single-payer healthcare in the U.S.,” said student organizer Adam Saby. “Considering there’s a very popular Whole Foods market in Westwood, which is located right next to the UCLA campus, we believe it is our duty to let customers know that their dollars are going to fill the pockets of people like CEO Mackey who do not believe in ‘an intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter.’”

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Here are the details and contacts on the upcoming protests:

New York City. Thursday August 27, 2009, 12 noon to 1 p.m., Whole Foods Market, Upper West Side, 808 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10025.
Contact: Josh Starcher, Josh Starcher, Phone: 718.909.6343 e-mail: joshmee_@hotmail.com

Los Angeles. Friday, August 28, 2009, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Whole Foods Market, Westwood, 1050 Gayley Ave, Los Angeles, California 90024.
Contact: Adam Saby, Advocates for Single Payer Reform, Phone: 714.454.0582
E-mail: asaby@ucla.edu

Denver. Wednesday, September 2, 2009, 12 noon to 1 p.m., Whole Foods Market, Washington Park, 1111 S. Washington St. Denver, Colorado 80210.
Contact: Judy Trompeter, Phone: Phone: 303/894-0713, E-mail: schumpeter@worldnet.att.net

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LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

26 August 2009

The Campaign to Free Our Phones Is Working.

Dear fellow Americans,

Greedy mobile phone carriers have finally been put on notice. After more than 20,000 petition signatures from Free Press members, the FCC has put industry abuses like blocked applications, locked contracts, and excessive texting and termination fees at the top of its agenda.

Tomorrow, all five commissioners are meeting together for the first time to discuss the future of wireless communications. It’s the perfect moment to drive home our message: America’s mobile phone industry needs to change.

We have to be sure the FCC gets the message. Our goal today is to double the impact of the petition before hand it to the FCC tomorrow -- to go from 20,000 to 40,000 voices for better mobile phones in America.

Tell the FCC to Free Our Phones Now

Please sign our petition and help pry open the mobile phone market to consumer choices, open access, and lower costs for everyone. If you have already signed on, please forward this note to your friends urging them to join us in this final push.

It's because you and other Free Press members have made this an issue that Washington and the media are paying attention. Since we launched this campaign:

  • The FCC has launched an inquiry into the blocking of applications on the iPhone;
  • Leading members of the Senate have written letters calling for an investigation of locked phone contracts;
  • Prominent publications like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today have condemned the carriers’ stranglehold on competition, innovation and choice in the U.S. mobile phone market.

Thank you for putting this issue on the national agenda. Now we need to make sure that Washington follows through.

Thanks Again,

Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press Action Fund
http://www.freepress.net/

1. Join us on Facebook, follow FreeMyPhone on Twitter, or tell your friends to support FreeMyPhone. Be sure to tweet about FreeMyPhone using the #freemyphone hashtag.


LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

R.I.P. Ted Kennedy

OBITUARY: Edward M. Kennedy
Published: August 26, 2009 By: JOHN M. BRODER
photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.

The death of Mr. Kennedy, who had been battling brain cancer, was announced Wednesday morning in a statement by the Kennedy family, which was already mourning the death of the senator’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver two weeks earlier.

“Edward M. Kennedy — the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply — died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”

President Obama said Mr. Kennedy was one of the nation’s greatest senators.

“His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education’s promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just — including myself,” he said. Mr. Obama is scheduled to speak at a funeral Mass for Mr. Kennedy on Saturday morning in Boston.

Mr. Kennedy had been in precarious health since he suffered a seizure in May 2008. His doctors determined the cause was a malignant glioma, a brain tumor that carries a grim prognosis.

As he underwent cancer treatment, Mr. Kennedy was little seen in Washington, appearing most recently at the White House in April as Mr. Obama signed a national service bill that bears the Kennedy name. In a letter last week, Mr. Kennedy urged Massachusetts lawmakers to change state law and let Gov. Deval Patrick appoint a temporary successor upon his death, to assure that the state’s representation in Congress would not be interrupted.

While Mr. Kennedy was physically absent from the capital in recent months, his presence was deeply felt as Congress weighed the most sweeping revisions to America’s health care system in decades, an effort Mr. Kennedy called “the cause of my life.”

On July 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Mr. Kennedy headed, passed health care legislation, and the battle over the proposed overhaul is now consuming Capitol Hill.

Mr. Kennedy was the last surviving brother of a generation of Kennedys that dominated American politics in the 1960s and that came to embody glamour, political idealism and untimely death. The Kennedy mystique — some call it the Kennedy myth — has held the imagination of the world for decades, and it came to rest on the sometimes too-narrow shoulders of the brother known as Teddy.

Mr. Kennedy, who served 46 years as the most well-known Democrat in the Senate, longer than all but two other senators, was the only one of those brothers to reach old age. President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were felled by assassins’ bullets in their 40s. The eldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., died in 1944 at the age of 29 while on a risky World War II bombing mission.

Mr. Kennedy spent much of the last year in treatment and recuperation, broken by occasional public appearances and a dramatic return to the Capitol last summer to cast a decisive vote on a Medicare bill.

He electrified the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August with an unscheduled appearance and a speech that had delegates on their feet. Many were in tears.

His gait was halting, but his voice was strong. “My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here, and nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.”

Senator Kennedy was at or near the center of much of American history in the latter part of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st. For much of his adult life, he veered from victory to catastrophe, winning every Senate election he entered but failing in his only bid for the presidency; living through the sudden deaths of his brothers and three of his nephews; being responsible for the drowning death on Chappaquiddick Island of a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, a former aide to his brother Robert. One of the nephews, John F. Kennedy Jr., who the family hoped would one day seek political office and keep the Kennedy tradition alive, died in a plane crash in 1999 at age 38.

Mr. Kennedy himself was almost killed in 1964, in a plane crash that left him with permanent back and neck problems.

He was a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a Kennedy.

Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, one of the institution’s most devoted students, said of his longtime colleague, “Ted Kennedy would have been a leader, an outstanding senator, at any period in the nation’s history.”

Mr. Byrd is one of only two senators to have served longer in the chamber than Mr. Kennedy; the other was Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. In May 2008, on learning of Mr. Kennedy’s diagnosis of a lethal brain tumor, Mr. Byrd wept openly on the floor of the Senate.

Born to one of the wealthiest American families, Mr. Kennedy spoke for the downtrodden in his public life while living the heedless private life of a playboy and a rake for many of his years. Dismissed early in his career as a lightweight and an unworthy successor to his revered brothers, he grew in stature over time by sheer longevity and by hewing to liberal principles while often crossing the partisan aisle to enact legislation. A man of unbridled appetites at times, he nevertheless brought a discipline to his public work that resulted in an impressive catalog of legislative achievement across a broad landscape of social policy.

Mr. Kennedy left his mark on legislation concerning civil rights, health care, education, voting rights and labor. He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at his death. But he was more than a legislator. He was a living legend whose presence ensured a crowd and whose hovering figure haunted many a president.

Although he was a leading spokesman for liberal issues and a favorite target of conservative fund-raising appeals, the hallmark of his legislative success was his ability to find Republican allies to get bills passed. Perhaps the last notable example was his work with President George W. Bush to pass No Child Left Behind, the education law pushed by Mr. Bush in 2001. He also co-sponsored immigration legislation with Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. One of his greatest friends and collaborators in the Senate was Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican.

Mr. Kennedy had less impact on foreign policy than on domestic concerns, but when he spoke, his voice was influential. He led the Congressional effort to impose sanctions on South Africa over apartheid, pushed for peace in Northern Ireland, won a ban on arms sales to the dictatorship in Chile and denounced the Vietnam War. In 2002, he voted against authorizing the Iraq war; later, he called that opposition “the best vote I’ve made in my 44 years in the United States Senate.”

At a pivotal moment in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Mr. Kennedy endorsed Mr. Obama, then an Illinois senator, Obama for president, saying he offered the country a chance for racial reconciliation and an opportunity to turn the page on the polarizing politics of the past several decades.

“He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past,” Mr. Kennedy said at an Obama rally in Washington on Jan. 28, 2008. “He is a leader who sees the world clearly, without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in without demonizing those who hold a different view.”

This month, Mr. Obama awarded Mr. Kennedy the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which his daughter, Kara, accepted on his behalf.

Mr. Kennedy struggled for much of his life with his weight, with alcohol and with persistent tales of womanizing. In an Easter break episode in 1991 in Palm Beach, Fla., he went out drinking with his son Patrick and a nephew, William Kennedy Smith, on the night that Mr. Smith was accused of raping a woman. Mr. Smith was prosecuted in a lurid trial that fall but was acquitted.

Mr. Kennedy’s personal life stabilized in 1992 with his marriage to Victoria Anne Reggie, a Washington lawyer. His first marriage, to Joan Bennett Kennedy, ended in divorce in 1982 after 24 years.

Senator Kennedy served as a surrogate father to his brothers’ children and worked to keep the Kennedy flame alive through the Kennedy Library in Boston, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he helped establish the Institute of Politics.

In December, Harvard granted Mr. Kennedy a special honorary degree. He referred to Mr. Obama’s election as “not just a culmination, but a new beginning.”

He then spoke of his own life, and perhaps his legacy.

“We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make,” he said. “I have lived a blessed time.”

Kennedy family courtiers and many other Democrats believed he would eventually win the White House and redeem the promise of his older brothers. In 1980, he took on the president of his own party, Jimmy Carter, but fell short because of Chappaquiddick, a divided party and his own weaknesses as a candidate, including an inability to articulate why he sought the office.

But as that race ended in August at the Democratic National Convention in New York, Mr. Kennedy delivered his most memorable words, wrapping his dedication to party principles in the gauzy cloak of Camelot.

“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end,” Mr. Kennedy said in the coda to a speech before a rapt audience at Madison Square Garden and on television. “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.”

A Family Steeped in Politics

Born Feb. 22, 1932, in Boston, Edward Moore Kennedy grew up in a family of shrewd politicians. Both his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, and his mother, the former Rose Fitzgerald, came from prominent Irish-Catholic families with long involvement in the hurly-burly of Democratic politics in Boston and Massachusetts. His father, who made a fortune in real estate, movies and banking, served in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and then as ambassador to Britain.

There were nine Kennedy children, four boys and five girls, with Edward the youngest. They grew up talking politics, power and influence because those were the things that preoccupied the mind of Joseph Kennedy. As Rose Kennedy, who took responsibility for the children’s Roman Catholic upbringing, once put it, “My babies were rocked to political lullabies.”

When Edward was born, President Herbert Hoover sent Rose a bouquet of flowers and a note of congratulations. The note came with 5 cents postage due; the framed envelope is a family heirloom.

It was understood among the children that Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., the oldest boy, would someday run for Congress and, his father hoped, the White House. When Joseph Jr. was killed in World War II, it fell to the next oldest son, John, to run. As John said at one point in 1959 while serving in the Senate: “Just as I went into politics because Joe died, if anything happened to me tomorrow, Bobby would run for my seat in the Senate. And if Bobby died, our young brother, Ted, would take over for him.” Although surrounded by the trappings of wealth — stately houses, servants and expensive cars — young Teddy did not enjoy a settled childhood. He bounced among the family homes in Boston, New York, London and Palm Beach, and by the time he was ready to enter college, he had attended 10 preparatory schools in the United States and England, finally finishing at Milton Academy, near Boston. He said that the constant moving had forced him to become more genial with strangers; indeed, he grew to be more of a natural politician than either John or Robert.

After graduating from Milton in 1950, where he showed a penchant for debating and sports but was otherwise an undistinguished student, Mr. Kennedy enrolled in Harvard, as had his father and brothers.

It was at Harvard, in his freshman year, that he ran into the first of several personal troubles that were to dog him for the rest of his life: He persuaded another student to take his Spanish examination, got caught and was forced to leave the university.

Suddenly draft-eligible during the Korean War, Mr. Kennedy enlisted in the Army and served two years, securing, with his father’s help, a post at NATO headquarters in Paris. In 1953, he was discharged with the rank of private first class.

Re-enrolling in Harvard, he became a more serious student, majoring in government, excelling in public speaking and playing first-string end on the football team. He graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, then enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Law, where Robert had studied. There, he won the moot court competition and took a degree in 1959. Later that year, he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar.

Mr. Kennedy’s first foray into politics came in 1958, while still a law student, when he managed John’s Senate re-election campaign. There was never any real doubt that Massachusetts voters would return John Kennedy to Washington, but it was a useful internship for his youngest brother.

That same year, Mr. Kennedy married Virginia Joan Bennett, a debutante from Bronxville, a New York suburb where the Kennedys had once lived. In 1960, when John Kennedy ran for president, Edward was assigned a relatively minor role, rustling up votes in Western states that usually voted Republican. He was so enthusiastic about his task that he rode a bronco at a Montana rodeo and daringly took a ski jump at a winter sports tournament in Wisconsin to impress a crowd. The episodes were evidence of a reckless streak that repeatedly threatened his life and career.

John Kennedy’s election to the White House left vacant a Senate seat that the family considered its property. Robert Kennedy was next in line, but chose the post of attorney general instead (an act of nepotism that has since been outlawed). Edward was only 28, two years shy of the minimum age for Senate service.

So the Kennedys installed Benjamin A. Smith II, a family friend, as a seat-warmer until 1962, when a special election would be held and Edward would have turned 30. Edward used the time to travel the world and work as an assistant district attorney in Boston, waiving the $5,000 salary and serving instead for $1 a year.

As James Sterling Young, the director of a Kennedy Oral History Project at the University of Virginia, said the catchphrase of that era was: “Most people grow up and go into politics. The Kennedys go into politics and then they grow up.”

Less than a month after turning 30 in 1962, Mr. Kennedy declared his candidacy for the remaining two years of his brother’s Senate term. He entered the race with a tailwind of family money and political prominence. Nevertheless, Edward J. McCormack Jr., the state’s attorney general and a nephew of John W. McCormack, then speaker of the United States House of Representatives, also decided to go after the seat.

It was a bitter fight, with a public rehash of the Harvard cheating episode and with Mr. McCormack charging in a televised “Teddy-Eddie” debate that Mr. Kennedy lacked maturity of judgment because he had “never worked for a living” and had never held elective office. “If your name was simply Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy,” Mr. McCormack added, “your candidacy would be a joke.”

But the Kennedys had ushered in an era of celebrity politics, which trumped qualifications in this case. Mr. Kennedy won the primary by a two-to-one ratio, then went on to easy victory in November against the Republican candidate, George Cabot Lodge, a member of an old-line Boston family that had clashed politically with the Kennedys through the years.

When Mr. Kennedy entered the Senate in 1962, he was aware that he might be seen as an upstart, with one brother in the White House and another in the cabinet. He sought guidance on the very first day from one of the Senate’s most respected elders, Richard Russell of Georgia. “You go further if you go slow,” Senator Russell advised.

Mr. Kennedy took things slowly, especially that first year. He did his homework, was seen more than he was heard and was deferential to veteran legislators.

On Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, he was presiding over the Senate when a wire service ticker in the lobby brought the news of John Kennedy’s shooting in Dallas. Violence had claimed the second of Joseph Kennedy’s sons. Edward was sent to Hyannis Port to break the news to his father, who had been disabled by a stroke. He returned to Washington for the televised funeral and burial, the first many Americans had seen of him. He and Robert had planned to read excerpts from John’s speeches at the Arlington burial service. At the last moment they chose not to.

A friend described him as “shattered — calm but shattered.”

A Deadly Plane Crash

Robert moved into the breach and was immediately discussed as a presidential prospect. Edward became a more prominent family spokesman.

The next year, he was up for re-election. A heavy favorite from the start, he was on his way to the state convention that was to renominate him when his light plane crashed in a storm near Westfield, Mass. The pilot and a Kennedy aide were killed, and Mr. Kennedy’s back and several ribs were broken. Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana pulled Mr. Kennedy from the plane.

The senator was hospitalized for the next six months, suspended immobile in a frame that resembled a waffle iron. His wife, Joan, carried on his campaign, mainly by advising voters that he was steadily recovering. He won easily over a little-known Republican, Howard Whitmore Jr.

During his convalescence, Mr. Kennedy devoted himself to his legislative work. He was briefed by a parade of Harvard professors and began to develop his positions on immigration, health care and civil rights.

“I never thought the time was lost,” he said later. “I had a lot of hours to think about what was important and what was not and about what I wanted to do with my life.”

He returned to the Senate in 1965, joining his brother Robert, who had won a seat from New York. Edward promptly entered a major fight, his first. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Voting Rights Act was up for consideration, and Mr. Kennedy tried to strengthen it with an amendment that would have outlawed poll taxes. He lost by only four votes, serving lasting notice on his colleagues that he was a rapidly maturing legislator who could prepare a good case and argue it effectively.

Mr. Kennedy was slow to oppose the war in Vietnam, but in 1968, shortly after Robert decided to seek the presidency on an antiwar platform, Edward called the war a “monstrous outrage.”

Robert Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968, as he celebrated his victory in the California primary, becoming the third of Joseph Kennedy’s sons to die a violent death. Edward was in San Francisco at a victory celebration. He commandeered an Air Force plane and flew to Los Angeles.

Frank Mankiewicz, Robert’s press secretary, saw Edward “leaning over the sink with the most awful expression on his face.”

“Much more than agony, more than anguish — I don’t know if there’s a word for it,” Mr. Mankiewicz said, recalling the encounter in “Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography,” by Adam Clymer (William Morrow, 1999).

Robert’s death draped Edward in the Kennedy mantle long before he was ready for it and forced him to confront his own mortality. But he summoned himself to deliver an eloquent eulogy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it,” Mr. Kennedy said, his voice faltering. “Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.”

A New Role as Patriarch

After the funeral, Edward Kennedy withdrew from public life and spent several months brooding, much of it while sailing off the New England coast.

Near the end of the summer of 1968, he emerged from seclusion, the sole survivor of Joseph Kennedy’s boys, ready to take over as family patriarch and substitute father to John’s and Robert’s 13 children, seemingly eager to get on with what he called his “public responsibilities.”

“There is no safety in hiding,” he declared in August in a speech at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “Like my brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard. Sustained by the memory of our priceless years together, I shall try to carry forward that special commitment to justice, excellence and courage that distinguished their lives.”

There was some talk of his running for president at that point. But he ultimately endorsed Hubert H. Humphrey in his losing campaign to Richard M. Nixon. Mr. Kennedy focused more on bringing the war in Vietnam to an end and on building his Senate career. Although only 36, he challenged Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana, one of the shrewdest, most powerful legislators on Capitol Hill, for the post of deputy majority leader. Fellow liberals sided with him, and he edged Mr. Long by five votes to become the youngest assistant majority leader, or whip, in Senate history.

He plunged into the new job with Kennedy enthusiasm. But fate, and the Kennedy recklessness, intervened on July 18, 1969. Mr. Kennedy was at a party with several women who had been aides to Robert. The party, a liquor-soaked barbecue, was held at a rented cottage on Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha’s Vineyard. He left around midnight with Mary Jo Kopechne, 28, took a turn away from the ferry landing and drove the car off a narrow bridge on an isolated beach road. The car sank in eight feet of water, but he managed to escape. Miss Kopechne, a former campaign worker for Robert, drowned.

Mr. Kennedy did not report the accident to the authorities for almost 10 hours, explaining later that he had been so banged about by the crash that he had suffered a concussion, and that he had become so exhausted while trying to rescue Miss Kopechne that he had gone immediately to bed. A week later, he pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident and was given a two-month suspended sentence.

But that was far from the end of the episode. Questions lingered in the minds of the Massachusetts authorities and of the general public. Why was the car on an isolated road? Had he been drinking? (Mr. Kennedy testified at an inquest that he had had two drinks.) What sort of relationship did Mr. Kennedy and Miss Kopechne have? Could she have been saved if he had sought help immediately? Why did the senator tell his political advisers about the accident before reporting it to the police?

The controversy became so intense that Mr. Kennedy went on television to ask Massachusetts voters whether he should resign from office. He conceded that his actions after the crash had been “indefensible.” But he steadfastly denied any intentional wrongdoing.

His constituents sent word that he should remain in the Senate. And little more than a year later, he easily won re-election to a second full term, defeating a little-known Republican, Josiah A. Spaulding, by a three-to-two ratio. But his heart did not seem to be in his work any longer. He was sometimes absent from Senate sessions and neglected his whip duties. Senator Byrd, of West Virginia, took the job away from him by putting together a coalition of Southern and border-state Democrats to vote him out.

That loss shook Mr. Kennedy out of his lethargy. He rededicated himself to his role as a legislator. “It hurts like hell to lose,” he said, “but now I can get around the country more. And it frees me to spend more time on issues I’m interested in.” Many years later, he became friends with Mr. Byrd and told him the defeat had been the best thing that could have happened in his Senate career.

Turmoil at Home

In the next decade, Mr. Kennedy expanded on his national reputation, first pushing to end the war in Vietnam, then concentrating on his favorite legislative issues, especially civil rights, health, taxes, criminal laws and deregulation of the airline and trucking industries. He traveled the country, making speeches that kept him in the public eye.

But when he was mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 1972, he demurred; and when the Democratic nominee, George McGovern, offered him the vice-presidential nomination, Mr. Kennedy again said no, not wanting to face the inevitable Chappaquiddick questions.

In 1973, his son Edward M. Kennedy Jr., then 12, developed a bone cancer that cost him a leg. The next year, Mr. Kennedy took himself out of the 1976 presidential race. Instead, he easily won a third full term in the Senate, and Jimmy Carter, a former one-term governor of Georgia, moved into the White House.

In early 1978, Mr. Kennedy’s wife, Joan, moved out of their sprawling contemporary house overlooking the Potomac River near McLean, Va., a Washington suburb. She took up residence in an apartment of her own in Boston, saying she wanted to “explore options other than being a housewife and mother.” But she also acknowledged a problem with alcohol, and conceded that she was increasingly uncomfortable with the pressure-cooker life that went with membership in the Kennedy clan. She began studying music and enrolled in a program for alcoholics.

In 1973, his son Edward M. Kennedy Jr., then 12, developed a bone cancer that cost him a leg. The next year, Mr. Kennedy took himself out of the 1976 presidential race. Instead, he easily won a third full term in the Senate, and Jimmy Carter, a former one-term governor of Georgia, moved into the White House.

In early 1978, Mr. Kennedy’s wife, Joan, moved out of their sprawling contemporary house overlooking the Potomac River near McLean, Va., a Washington suburb. She took up residence in an apartment of her own in Boston, saying she wanted to “explore options other than being a housewife and mother.” But she also acknowledged a problem with alcohol, and conceded that she was increasingly uncomfortable with the pressure-cooker life that went with membership in the Kennedy clan. She began studying music and enrolled in a program for alcoholics.

The separation posed not only personal but also political problems for the senator. After Mrs. Kennedy left for Boston, there were rumors that linked the senator with other women. He maintained that he still loved his wife and indicated that the main reason for the separation was Mrs. Kennedy’s desire to work out her alcohol problem. She subsequently campaigned for him in the 1980 race, but there was never any real reconciliation, and they eventually entered divorce proceedings.

Although Mr. Kennedy supported Mr. Carter in 1976, by late 1978 he was disenchanted. Polls indicated that the senator was becoming popular while the president was losing support. In December, at a midterm Democratic convention in Memphis, Mr. Kennedy could hold back no longer. He gave a thundering speech that, in retrospect, was the opening shot in the 1980 campaign.

“Sometimes a party must sail against the wind,” he declared, referring to Mr. Carter’s economic belt-tightening and political caution. “We cannot heed the call of those who say it is time to furl the sail. The party that tore itself apart over Vietnam in the 1960s cannot afford to tear itself apart today over budget cuts in basic social programs.”

Mr. Kennedy did not then declare his candidacy. But draft-Kennedy groups began to form in early 1979, and some Democrats up for re-election in 1980 began to cast about for coattails that were longer than Mr. Carter’s.

After consulting advisers and family members over the summer of 1979, Mr. Kennedy began speaking openly of challenging the president, and on Nov. 7, 1979, he announced officially that he would run. “Our leaders have resigned themselves to defeat,” he said.

The campaign was a disaster, badly organized and appearing to lack a political or policy premise. His speeches were clumsy, and his delivery was frequently stumbling and bombastic. And in the background, Chappaquiddick always loomed. He won the New York and California primaries, but the victories were too little and came too late to unseat Mr. Carter. At the party’s nominating convention in New York, however, he stole the show with his “dream shall never die” speech.

With the approach of the 1984 election, there was the inevitable speculation that Mr. Kennedy, who had easily won re-election to the Senate in 1982, would again seek the presidency. He prepared and planned a campaign. But in the end he chose not to run, saying he wanted to spare his family a repeat of the ordeal they went through in 1980. Skeptics said he also knew he could not fight the undertow of Chappaquiddick.

A Full-On Senate Focus

Freed at last of the expectation that he should and would seek the White House, Mr. Kennedy devoted himself fully to his day job in the Senate, where he had already led the fight for the 18-year-old vote, the abolition of the draft, deregulation of the airline and trucking industries, and the post-Watergate campaign finance legislation. He was deeply involved in renewals of the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing law of 1968. He helped establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He built federal support for community health care centers, increased cancer research financing and helped create the Meals on Wheels program. He was a major proponent of a health and nutrition program for pregnant women and infants.

When Republicans took over the Senate in 1981, Mr. Kennedy requested the ranking minority position on the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, asserting that the issues before the labor and welfare panel would be more important during the Reagan years. In the years after his failed White House bid, Mr. Kennedy also established himself as someone who made “lawmaker” mean more than a word used in headlines to describe any member of Congress. Though his personal life was a mess until his remarriage in the early 1990s, he never failed to show up prepared for a committee hearing or a floor debate.

His most notable focus was civil rights, “still the unfinished business of America,” he often said. In 1982, he led a successful fight to defeat the Reagan administration’s effort to weaken the Voting Rights Act.

In one of those bipartisan alliances that were hallmarks of his legislative successes, Mr. Kennedy worked with Senator Bob Dole, Republican of Kansas, to secure passage of the voting rights measure, and Mr. Dole got most of the credit.

Perhaps his greatest success on civil rights came in 1990 with passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which required employers and public facilities to make “reasonable accommodation” for the disabled.

When the bill was finally passed, Mr. Kennedy and others told how their views on the bill had been shaped by having relatives with disabilities. Mr. Kennedy cited his mentally disabled sister, Rosemary, and his son who had lost a leg to cancer.

Mr. Kennedy was one of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s strongest allies in their failed 1994 effort to enact national health insurance, a measure the senator had been pushing, in one form or another, since 1969.

But he kept pushing incremental reforms, and in 1997, teaming with Senator Hatch, Mr. Kennedy helped enact a landmark health care program for children in low-income families, a program now known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-Chip.

He led efforts to increase aid for higher education and win passage of Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. He pushed for increases in the federal minimum wage. He helped win enactment of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, one of the largest expansions of government health aid.

He was a forceful and successful opponent of the confirmation of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court. In a speech delivered within minutes of President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Mr. Bork in 1987, Mr. Kennedy made an attack that even friendly commentators called demagogic.

Mr. Bork’s “extremist view of the Constitution,” Mr. Kennedy said, meant that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.”Some of Mr. Kennedy’s success as a legislator can be traced to the quality and loyalty of his staff, considered by his colleagues and outsiders alike to be the best on Capitol Hill.

“He has one of the most distinguished alumni associations of any U.S. senator,” said Ross K. Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University who has worked in Congress. “To have served in even a minor capacity in the Kennedy office or on one of his committees is a major entry in anyone’s résumé.”

Those who have worked for Mr. Kennedy include Stephen G. Breyer, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton; Gregory B. Craig, now the White House counsel; and Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Obama administration’s top official for compensation.

A Place in History

Mr. Kennedy “deserves recognition not just as the leading senator of his time, but as one of the greats in its history, wise in the workings of this singular institution, especially its demand to be more than partisan to accomplish much,” Mr. Clymer wrote in his biography.

“The deaths and tragedies around him would have led others to withdraw. He never quits, but sails against the wind.”

Mr. Kennedy is survived by his wife, known as Vicki; two sons, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. of Branford, Conn., and Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island; a daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen, of Bethesda, Md.; two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin; and four grandchildren. His former wife, Joan Kennedy, lives in Boston.

Mr. Kennedy is also survived by a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, of New York. On Aug. 11, his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver of Potomac, Md., died at age 88. Another sister, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, died in 2006. His sister Rosemary died in 2005, and his sister Kathleen died in a plane crash in 1948.

Their little brother Teddy was the youngest, the little bear whom everyone cuddled, whom no one took seriously and from whom little was expected.

He reluctantly and at times awkwardly carried the Kennedy standard, with all it implied and all it required. And yet, some scholars contend, he may have proved himself the most worthy.

“He was a quintessential Kennedy, in the sense that he had all the warts as well as all the charisma and a lot of the strengths,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute.

“If his father, Joe, had surveyed, from an early age up to the time of his death, all of his children, his sons in particular, and asked to rank them on talents, effectiveness, likelihood to have an impact on the world, Ted would have been a very poor fourth. Joe, John, Bobby ... Ted.

“He was the survivor,” Mr. Ornstein continued. “He was not a shining star that burned brightly and faded away. He had a long, steady glow. When you survey the impact of the Kennedys on American life and politics and policy, he will end up by far being the most significant.”

August 26, 2009, 9:54 am

Ted Kennedy

I don’t have much to say, except a personal thought. I remember the days, several decades ago, when Ted Kennedy was treated — mainly, but not only, on the right — as a figure of derision. He was mocked for his appearance, his personal life, his unabashed liberalism.

And now he’s remembered as a great man. The thing is, he didn’t change — he always was.


LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN!

Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember:
TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

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