Love; The Life of Ted Kennedy

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

I love you Ted Kennedy.  I have for a very long time.  Please let me count the ways.  

I have forever thought Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was the more effective, endearing, enduring, committed, and constant Kennedy.  Perhaps it is my age, or the lackluster logic of hindsight.  Possibly, I was too new to politics when I was very young.  After all, my interest was only ignited at the age of five.  Maybe, I might relate more to someone whose birth rank is more similar to my own, or to a person who, like me, throughout his life was thought to be more Liberal than the two older siblings he is often associated with.  I know not with certainty why I feel as strongly as I do.  Nonetheless, my impression of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Robert Francis Kennedy cannot be compared with my sense of Ted, Edward Moore Kennedy.  Oh, how I admired, appreciated, and adored Teddy Kennedy, and will for all of my days.  The reasons . . .  

I recall when we met.  No, we did not sit down to dinner.  We have no friends in common, at least none I am aware of.  I was but one of many who attended a very small gathering in Irvine, California.  I believe the year was  . . . indeed, I am uncertain. Although I trust it was well over a decade or two ago.  Less than forty persons were present.  Even that number may be an overestimation.  We who stood and spoke with Senator Kennedy were die-hard Democrats.  

For us, or at least for me, the legendary Kennedy charisma and charm that both John and Bobby were famous for would never has been of interest to me.  All of my life I have been attracted to those who actively address issues such as international harmony, health care coverage for all, civil liberties, human rights, equality, and education.  A man, woman, or child who learns from his or her experiences, and authentically empathizes with others, is, in my mind, a quality person.  Intelligence, consistency, and an intense sense to serve the average Americans, appeals to me.  I have long felt Edward M. Kennedy is the embodiment of what I think worthy.

Today, as a nation mourns the passing of a legacy, I too look back.  With thanks to Jezbel for what is admittedly but a summary of Senator Edward Moore Kennedy’s achievements, I submit to you dear reader some of the countless reasons I love the man I now mourn.  May we as a nation, not let the vision die.  As Senator Kennedy declared in 1980, “The dream lives on.”  It is alive and well in us, if only we act on our greater desire for global goodness.  “Teddy,” if I might be so familiar, may you, may we all, rest in peace.  May everyone remember what remains most meaningful.

The list is by no means comprehensive, but is meant to serve as a tribute to his work in public service.

Gender Equity: Kennedy saw [cosponsored] the Senate of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, which aimed to make men and women equal in the constitution. He reintroduced the legislation again this congressional session, but it has yet to make it into the constitution.

Kennedy championed Title IX of the Civil Rights Act in 1972, which prevented educational institutions from discriminating against women (afterward, colleges and universities integrated, paving the way for women like Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton to attend Ivy League institutions), as well as requiring equitable athletic opportunities.

Civil Rights:  Kennedy saw the passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 as committee chairman, which strengthened the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Afterward, then-executive director of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights Ralph Neas said, “Now you see what happens when you have a civil rights champion in charge of the committee.”

He was also chief sponsor on the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which addressed intentional discrimination and harassment in the workplace. He was also a key sponsor of legislation by the same name in 2008, which sought to restore civil rights protections stripped by Supreme Court rulings in recent years (like the Lilly Ledbetter case.)

Pay Equity:  Kennedy worked on the Fair Pay Restoration Act, which sought to restore the rights of women to sue with each discriminatory paycheck, overturning the Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.

Voting Rights:  Kennedy worked on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed equal access to voting as part of the Civil Rights movement. He also worked to add amendments in 1982 that expanded voting access to Native Americans, Latinos, and others who required language assistance.

Affirmative Action:  Kennedy helped defeat legislation that would have ended federal affirmative action in 1998 and joined his colleagues in the Senate in filing a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in 2003.

LGBT Rights:  Kennedy has been the chief sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act since 1994, which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace. The bill has yet to pass.

Hate Crimes:  Kennedy worked on the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2007, which would implement more severe penalties for crimes against women, gays, lesbians, and transgender persons. The bill was vetoed by President Bush in 2007, but the legislation has been reintroduced in the 110th Congress.

HIV/AIDS:  Kennedy introduced what became the Ryan White CARE Act, which addressed thirteen cities hit hardest by the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1990. When it was up for reauthorization in 2000, it provided nearly $9 billion in HIV/AIDS services over the following five years.

Domestic Violence:  Kennedy worked with Vice President Joe Biden on the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. He also worked on its reauthorization in 2000, which allowed immigrant women to apply for permanent status in the United States without their abusive partners.

Disability Equity:  Kennedy worked to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which provided much-needed accommodations for those with disabilities.

Minimum Wage:  Kennedy worked with Congress in 2007 to pass the first hike in the minimum wage in more than a decade. Women disproportionately make up the population low-wage hourly workers.

Women in Combat:  Kennedy championed the repeal a ban of women in combat in 1991. Women are still technically barred from fighting on the “front lines,” such stipulations are meaningless in modern combat. By working for legislation that repealed archaic legislation, Kennedy helped women achieve more equality in the military.

Military Child Care:  In 1989, Kennedy saw the passage of the National Military Child Care Act, which established the Department of Defense’s child care program. This allowed working spouses of military members and women who were enlisted themselves to have access to high-quality, federally funded child care.

Health Insurance for Children and Pregnant Women:  In 1997, Kennedy co-sponsored the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), allowing families to have access to health care that previously didn’t. Kennedy also introduced legislation that has yet to pass, Affordable Health Care Act, which would expand Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for children, pregnant women, and the disabled.

He saw the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, which made it illegal for employers to fire women for leave taken due to pregnancy. We still don’t require employers to provide paid maternity leave.

Minority Health Care:  Kennedy championed The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act in 2000, which provided funding for research for how to reduce disparities in cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and other severe health problems that are found to be significantly higher in minority populations. In 2006, he introduced the Minority Health Improvement and Health Disparity Elimination Act, which would address inequalities in health care access and treatment if passed.

The Inclusion of Women in Scientific and Medical Research:  Kennedy co-sponsored the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, legislation that called for the inclusion of women and minorities in federally funded clinical research.

Senator Kennedy, may you be with us all forever.  May each of us take you into our hearts and act as you always did.  May we keep the dream alive.  

References . . .

Betsy McCaughey; Resigned to Ruin Health Care Reform

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

There are moments frozen in time.  Words may give us pause.  Contrary actions can astonish most observers.  Yet, those who obstinately offer these postures may be oblivious to how others view what they think, say, or do.  Betsy McCaughey, her present circumstances, and the role she consistently plays in political debates, illustrates how many people can be moved to tears and jeers concurrently.  This week, Betsy McCaughey, who since the Clintons first tried to change the health care system, has been resigned to ruin the possibility of any reform, sat before a captive Daily show audience.

This persuasive player with words has proven her self to be a source of comic relief.  Nonetheless she is no less a tragic hero.  Ms McCaughey has had many a success.  She near single-handedly has destroyed health care reform legislation twice.  However, perhaps on this occasion, she has experienced some failure, albeit possibly only a personal humiliation.

Some assessed Ms McCaughey’s performance as awkward.  As the interview progressed, it was clear, in her attempt to further the case against medical reorganization, she was seen as other than the scholar she is thought to be.  Viewers of the program laughed at what had, for months, passed for profound.   Death panels, indeed.  Policies for physician reimbursement weaken? Quite the opposite.  

Host John Stewart countered her every complaint in regards to legislation with a reasonable rational argument or analogy.  While Betsy McCaughey remained self-assured, soon after, the public now presumes, problems arose.    Reports stated Betsy McCaughey was asked, or belatedly chose, to tender her resignation from a firm, which profits from the delivery of health care left just as it is.

Betsy McCaughey – an outspoken proponent of the myth that Democrats’ health care reform proposals will lead to the creation of “death panels,” as well as a former lieutenant governor of New York and adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute – has stepped down from her position as a director of Cantel Medical Corp., which bills itself as a “leading provider of infection prevention and control products in the healthcare market.

The esteemed and accomplished Administrator may have finally experienced a repercussion of her frequent follies.  Perchance, this fall will cause her to incur a financial fiasco.  We can only hope she will not be left without employer provided medical coverage, or that she has the dollars to dole out for what other Americans know to be an ever-costly expense. No one would wish for her downfall to be as those who came before her.  

For the tens of millions who struggle to survive without health care coverage Betsy McCaughey’s exit from the stage came perchance too late.  Only today, Sunday, August 23, 2009, words of wonderment left the nation to once again lick its wounds,   It seems just as occurred in the early 1990s, with the help of Betsy McCaughey,, citizens are again being told health care reform will have to wait.  The time is not now.  Again, Americans are placed in a deep freeze.  Collectively, the people find reason to pause, and ponder.  

Will someone such as Betsy McCaughey alway provide us with comedy, tragedy, and no health care coverage?

References for Ruin of Health Care Reform . . .

Polls; Panoply of America’s Age of Unreason

American Failure in Education, Reason- Moyers, Susan Jacoby

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

He is up.  He is down!  Thankfully, the opposition says, “Soon he will be out of favor and ultimately out of office!” If voters do not remove the renegade from his prestigious position, term limits certainly will do him in.  Liberal loyalists assert; President Obama is not the problem.  Congress is the cruel joke. It seems no matter the political persuasion, citizens of this country find someone to fault.  Surely, societal ills are thrust upon the public by an outside force.  Regardless, of whether the electorate places the onus on an individual, an industry, the nation’s Chief Executive, or other government officials, the oft-heard battle cry in the Age of America’s Unreason is someone else is to blame.  The American people do not imagine themselves responsible for inertia.

This stark reality is perhaps most apparent in daily Presidential polls.  The Commander-In-Chief has a single four-year term to prove himself competent.  In truth, in the United States, the “first hundred days” determines how many minefields a President has managed to avoid.  The second turn of the calendar indicator follows closely behind.  If the Chief Executive has not proven himself golden in six months, his fate might be sealed.  Witness the woeful popularity numbers the Press reports most fervently.

In the Information Era, within a matter of weeks, an amplified and somewhat shallow assessment of American speciousness was available for all to see.  Periodicals and pundits alike announced, statistically speaking Mister Obama’s personal magnetism is no longer viable.  His favorable numbers have fallen drastically. The American people are not swayed by speeches.   Nor do the plans the President submits speak to the general public.

The count was first publicized in early July.  Ohio citizens were given an opportunity to express their disdain aloud in an early public opinion Quinnipiac University poll.  

In Michigan, a locality which, for years, has been mired in a “one State recession” skepticism has never waned.  While a bit more hopeful after the 2008 election, constituents from this Great Lakes region remained cautious.  By mid-July it became apparent, Mister Obama’s every promise would be scrutinized.  How could a population so severely depressed do much else.

By early August the raw data showed citizens countrywide were doubtful that Barack Obama was the correct choice. The public rated his job performance poor.  National Public Radio reported the results of a nationwide survey. By then, it was obvious; that the honeymoon lasted less than six months.  Indeed, it seemed, the registered voters, interviewed by a bipartisan panel, did not support the Administration’s plans.  His policies were deemed a failure.  A whopping forty-two percent of American’s stated they did not approve of Obama performance in office.  Perchance, many anxious Americans in the Age of Unreason were ready for a divorce.

For some, the “Recovery” plan did not revive the economy as promised. Others fear the Health Care coverage options the President has put forth will be catastrophic to them and their families.

The stimulus package did not serve to satisfy the people in the areas of the country hardest hit by the economic downturn. Information that conflicts with raw rants does nothing to confirm slow yet substantive successes.  For the more vocal masses, the Recovery plan offered no relief for the Middle Class.  As the summer wanes, so too does support for the President. In the American Era of emotional Evaluations it appears, there is consensus.  The Obama White House has not helped improve the economy.  Countrywide, citizens clamor.  Change has not come.  

Chants, cheers and jeers are palpable  “Candidate Obama’s commitments were only political ploys.”  The latest polls illustrate, Independents and Republicans who once felt they could trust the Illinois Statesman, now believe he is no better than all the other politicians.  Driven by emotional elucidations, Americans rationalize Presidents have an omnipotent power.  The conventional wisdom is the people need only vote for a person with the Audacity to Hope. That person will inspire a nation to move mountains.  He [or perhaps she] will make my life better.  “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead” is the rally cry during a political campaign.

However, sadly, during the post election season reality set in .  Faith faded swiftly.

This angst is expressed as distress.  Anyone in a position of power is thought to be a disappointment to persons whose pocketbooks are empty and by the affluent who now may earn a bit less than they would like to.  The President of the United States, this time Barack Obama is thought to be responsible for all that is wrong with America.

Reactions, what we the people do as a result of what occurs, may reveal an irrationality all American’s possess. In this civilized country, personal attacks are the preferred means for engagement.  Through film, theatre, and television, residents in urban and rural environs have been trained to seek quick answers.  In these mediums, a story can be introduced, involve an audience, and offer a resolution, all within twenty-two [22] minutes.

Advertisers, more prevelant post World War II, understand that the medium is the message.  A product can be sold within four [4] seconds.  Anger can be generated just as quickly

The cost for immediate gratification and irritation is dear.  Since the 1950s, credit has help to satiated urgent desires.  Americans have been inured to habitually react.  The population proclaims, “Do it now or do not do it at all.”  “If you cannot turn down the heat, get out of our kitchen.”

As is characteristic in the Age of Unreason, if there is a perceived problem, the President, Congress, City Hall, or whoever might be deemed liable for the public’s pain, will receive the brunt of an American’s wrath.

One might hear the calls wherever he or she may live.  Many amongst the electorate anxiously await the day voters will be able to once again “Kick the bums out.”  Republicans may rage.  Independents become more impatient.

Progressive persons propose that the lack of follow through is not the fault of Barack Obama.  Individuals who still wish to believe that they are Organizing For America place the onus on Congress.  Their rant, “Representatives in each political Party are the problem.”  Independents, Republicans, and those who lean Left have reached in accord; “Invoke term limits,” they shout.

Accepted American adages in these less than reflective times are a constant.  Turn on the television and hear, “If you cannot get with the program, then, get the Hades out.”  Stand on a street corner and listen; “You are either with us or against us.” Stroll down the avenue and someone will screech, “Move on” or be mowed over.  In the States, there is no patience for a slow progression.  Ignorance, lack of full knowledge, and unawareness can lead to actions born  in haste.  People in the United States have no time to waste.  Attention spans are very short in the Age of Unreason.  In this nation, the blame game is popular, more so than the President, elected Representatives, proposed plans and public policy.

Thus we see the repeated tallies. As the two-hundred day term ends, the number of dissatisfied Americans rise.  The President’s standing falls.  Fault is easily found; that is everyone is to blame for what ails this country, except the unreasonable citizens who wait for someone else to fix what the people choose to let stand.

Again and again, the American people do not think they are responsible for the nation’s inertia.  Only others are onerous. Thus, he is up.  He is down, and the people are one more time out of luck.

Please ponder the video presentation; American Failure in Education, Reason – Moyers, Susan Jacoby, or peruse the transcripts, The Age of American Unreason.  Please reflect on responsibility.  If you would, contemplate the reality; the President, prominent persons in Congress, paid Lobbyists, and persuasive corporations do not have the power that the people possess. If only the public truly chose to be the change they wish to see.

References for Unreason . . .