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 . . .

Madelyn Dunham; American Mentor

Obama Discusses Visiting His Sick Grandmother

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

She gave him life through her wit, wisdom, work, and commitment to family.  Madelyn Dunham helped to teach her grandson the importance of sincerity and service.  Ms Dunham, Barack Obama’s grandmother, physically gave birth to the woman who conceived the potential President, Stanley Ann Dunham.  Her being, who she was as a person, created more than a daughter, or the baby her offspring later brought into the world.  Grandma Dunham, “Toot,” mentored the man who now makes history.

Madelyn Dunham walked a path her grandson embraces.  She was the precursor, the predecessor, and a pioneer prior to Barack Obama’s thought to pursue the Presidency.  

The 86 year-old, who passed on the eve before the child she raised would, perchance, win a bid for the White House, traveled a feminist trail. In Hawaii, in the late 1960s, this petite and proper woman entered the business world.  She began her career as a humble bank teller.  However, with grit and gumption, this courageous lady climbed in banking circles. Madelyn Dunham’s professional journey began before other daughters of Eve, even on the mainland, sought to survive in a “man’s work world.”  By the early 1970s, she had become one of Bank of Hawaii’s first female Vice Presidents.

A young Barack Obama watched his grandmother do as he hopes to do today.  She overcame odds and broke through barriers, real and, those while palpable, invisible.

In earlier decades, in Hawaii, the way of a white woman was not easy.  Discrimination was direct.  Discretion was not the better part of valor.  Indeed, valor was not found in vicious cries of condemnation.  Native Hawaiians were brash in their bigotry.

Sam Slom, a Bank of Hawaii economist then, who is now a Republican state senator in Hawaii, recalls that as a part of the white – or “haole” – minority in Hawaii, he would regularly see housing ads that made no effort to hide racial preferences. He says he remembers ads that read, “No haoles” or “AJAs (Americans of Japanese ancestry) Only” or “No Japanese.”

“That’s the way it was,” Slom said. “Did people talk about race? We had local jokes … like that ‘pake’ (Chinese) guy or the ‘yobo’ (Korean) who did this or that.

Madelyn Dunham however, did not let such racist rants intimidate her.  As mentioned in her grandson’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father,” “Toot” as he called her [short for tutu, Hawaiian for grandmother] befriended a Black custodial worker.  She sympathized with her daughter who at a young age was harassed for her friendship with a dark-skinned classmate.  The “Grande Dame” Dunham did not dare be as intolerant as society might have taught her to be.  

As her grandson, Barack Obama, reminded Americans when race became an issue in the Presidential campaign, on rare occasions, Madelyn Dunham might have slipped.  She may have allowed words that expressed her apprehension of strangers to surface.  At times, the gracious grandmother stated what she wished she had not.  When she did, she was struck hard.  For in her heart, she had faith, humans are all honorable, no matter their color, creed, or country of origin.   Madelyn Dunham, the mentor of the highest magnitude, learned from her errors and taught as she embodied.  Empathy is our essence; it is the greatest educator.

If fear caused her to fall from grace, Ms Dunham would remember that persons she loved, ones who were pure of heart and soul, principled beings, Black and Yellow, Brown and Pink, were her darlings.  Indeed, in truth, she never forgot.  The woman who gave her home and her self to her grandchildren, Soetoro-Ng of Indonesian descent and Barack Obama, an African American ancestry embraced the beauty that enveloped her.  

Ms Dunham understood as too many Americans do not.  Momentary fear of those unfamiliar to us may evoke what need not be more than a temporary trepidation. The woman who would teach a man who might become President of the United States was aware, each and every day.  Intolerance is born of ignorance.  When we ignore the possibility that others are similar to us, we are scared by the strangeness that we believe we see.  

Madelyn Dunham lived with this wisdom.  Barack Obama learned to.  Now, the Presidential hopeful teaches the American people to ponder.  Differences need not divide us.  

Through her temperament, Toot taught.  We are all equal.  Every man, woman and child is a person of this planet, until they pass.  Then, they are with us all universally.

Madelyn Dunham, today, and everyday, we will mourn your passing.  We will also rejoice and remember what you have given us through your family.  May you rest in peace, comfortable in the knowledge, that your grandchildren and we know, “(Madelyn Dunham) She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength and humility.”  Madelyn Dunham has mentored America well.

America’s Teacher Toot Transitions . . .

Tim Russert Physically Passes, A Legacy Left Behind

Tim Russert Passes

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

I was in the Silver Sweetness, what most think of as a metal means for transportation.  I just pulled into her little house.  I was about to turn the radio off, and place the mechanical being into park.  Suddenly, the broadcaster announced homage to Tim Russert would be forthcoming in the program.  “Tim Russert?”  I asked myself why might a story on the Journalist I saw on a television screen hours ago be the featured essay.  Then, the newscaster said what I did not wish to hear, Tim Russert had passed.  

Washington Bureau Chief, Russert had a heart attack earlier in the day.  I wondered.  I had only been away from all media sources for little over sixty minutes.  This could not be.  Immediately, I thought, people say they will never forget where they were when they heard John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.  While I recall that day and I might dismiss the lack of intensity I felt to my age, in truth, I know it is not that for me.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as great a man as he may have been, did not seem as full of love as I experienced Tim Russert to be.  Granted, I knew neither personally.  Nonetheless, as I observed the zeal that was Tim Russert’s every breath I felt an energy, an enthusiasm, a joy for life, and for all mankind, that I did not, do not sense in most any individual, inclusive of the charismatic President Kennedy.

I recall the whiteboard and the words “Red State” and “Blue.”  I remember the man and the “Meet the Press” programs he hosted.  I sat for hours on end on many an election eve and listened to his evaluations.  As the polls closed, he and I watched together and assessed what might be and why.

His smile, his sincerity as he spoke of Big Russ fills my heart even now.  The glee Tim Russert expressed as he stood with dignitaries and representatives of the divine are memorable to me.  While some may have wished to have a beer with George W. Bush, I would have rather chatted with Tim, if he had the time.

Tim Russert seemed to be everywhere, always.  He appeared on his own show, and was visible on many others as well.  Mister Russert was prominent in proceedings.  I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby looked into the face of this famous Journalist when the former Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney was on trial.  Mister Russert, a man of deep faith, was able to interview the Pope.  For the devout Catholic, this meeting was not for the press; it was for the person who admired the Holy Father as he did his own.

Tim Russert, form all that has been said of him, had a high regard for everyone, and it seems many hold Tim in their hearts.  As memorials stream in Americans and people worldwide hear of how the man they invited into their homes each Sunday touched so many.

6:20 p.m. | Senator Kennedy: Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who recently underwent surgery for a brain tumor: “Tim Russert was a gentleman and giant, not just in politics and journalism but in life.  And throughout that life, he gave us all a model worth emulating.  With a reasoned voice, a sharp mind, and a fair hand, Tim took the measure of every Washington official and all those that sought to be one.  He was a great journalist and an even better friend.  His passing is a tragic loss for us all but especially for the family he loved so much.”

6:18 p.m. | The Coach: Kelly O’Donnell, an NBC correspondent, said that Mr. Russert would cheer her on with, “Go get ’em, K.O.”  She also said he would go incognito to events, with his coat collar up and glasses, because he wanted to experience political moments the same way voters would.

Keith Olbermann, who is anchoring now, said that Mr. Russert also said to him, “Go get ’em, K.O.”  He added: “It’s a badge I will keep with me forever.”

Presumptive Presidential nominee Obama spoke of what I observed and he experienced.  Barack Obama shocked and startled by the loss offered . . .

“I have known Tim Russert since I first spoke at the convention in 2004. He is somebody who, over time, I came to consider not only a journalist, but a friend. There wasn’t a better interviewer on television, not a more thoughtful analyst of our politics, and he was also one of the finest men I knew. Somebody who cared about America, cared about the issues, cared about family.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. And I think Tim is irreplaceable. The standards that he set in his family life and his professional life are standards that we all carry with us.”

Irreplaceable and one of the finest men, these may be the words that best describe Tim Russert.  The Journalist who fellow correspondent Chuck Todd thought of as a father figure would say to his colleagues at the end of a story conference, “Go get ’em.’  We can only hope now and forever, wherever Tim Russert may be he will “Go get ’em,” just as he got to most of us, or at least to me and I trust millions more.

Tim Russert; May he rest in peace . . .

Ted Kennedy; The Man, The Mission, Make a Difference


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

I met Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy many years ago.  He was shorter and stouter than I expected.  However, he was no less wondrous than I imagined.  Indeed, he was more than I might have considered possible.  After, our encounter I followed the man and the mission more closely.  My interest was perhaps a bit above casual.  I was intrigued by what I had observed.  This man was more than a politician, or an individual, who as many know, is part of a dynasty.  Edward Kennedy exudes warmth and empathy.  Perchance he is an enigma.  For Ted Kennedy personifies care.

Politically, Senator Edward Kennedy is famous for his endeavors to secure quality Health Care for all.  Now, the statesman, is enveloped in a system that, for decades, he struggled to improve.  

This weekend, America learned that Ted Kennedy was taken to the hospital.  Countless feared the situation, was critical.  However, ‘Teddy’ remained charming and engaged.  Family and friends had hope.

Then, moments ago, the news came.  Senator Kennedy Has Malignant Brain Tumor.  When I first heard of his seizure, I was stunned.  My heart sank.  As I listen to recent reports, once more, my mind is consumed with the man and the missions that characterize the senior Senator from Massachusetts’s life.  His achievements echo throughout the Senate chambers and in many a heart.

Kennedy also takes pains to do the little things that can make a difference, said University of Massachusetts President William Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts Senate . . . He said Kennedy’s legacy will be his commitment to upholding the tenets put forth by the country’s founding fathers.

Bulger said when Benjamin Franklin was asked what the U.S. Constitution would do for citizens, he responded, “We gave you a republic.”  Bulger said Kennedy has helped preserve that republic.

. . .  Kennedy continues to push for prescription drug coverage through Medicare, universal health care, and a Patients Bill of Rights to help citizens navigate through the red tape of insurance companies.

Earlier this year, (2002) Kennedy called for a delay in the implementation of a future tax cut for the wealthiest Americans that would save $350 billion to help pay for some of those priorities and Social Security . . .

Kennedy made his maiden speech on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . Since then, he has continued to fight for racial and gender equity, improved voting access for citizens and rights for immigrants and refugees.  He pushed for the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed the use of literacy tests and other devices that kept African Americans out of the voting booth.

In later years, he worked for the Cuban refugees, pushed limits in wiretapping and eavesdropping, and lowered the voting age to 18.  He also introduced the first Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and was one of the principal sponsors of the law that created the King holiday . . .

Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said  . . . minorities have had no better friend in Congress than Kennedy.  Whether it’s access to health care, protecting affirmative action, or guaranteeing equal education, Williams said Kennedy is his go-to guy.  He described Kennedy as the “civil rights voice box” in the Senate.

“Every piece of civil rights legislation impacting this nation has Ted Kennedy’s fingerprints on it,” Williams said.

Kennedy’s efforts on civil rights don’t end with minorities.

Kennedy has also led the way on issues that impact women: equal pay, abortion rights, and family leave.  This year, Kennedy has been leading the fight on a national level for insurance companies to cover contraceptives, said Melissa Walsh, co-president of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Walsh said Kennedy has a long-standing record of supporting women’s issues . . .

What’s unique about Kennedy, Walsh said, is his sincere interest in the issues and a desire to know how government programs are helping or harming citizens . . .

Not only has Kennedy championed the rights of minorities and women, he has consistently fought for children, seniors, the disabled and the poor . . .

Instead of simply funding programs to help the needy, Kennedy has pushed legislation that seeks to solve those social problems so future generations can advance  . . .

Peter Cullinane, former executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, said despite Kennedy’s wealth and background, he is one of the few politicians who really understands the issues facing families.

“He focuses on the income gap,” Cullinane said.  “I’ve heard him say, ‘When the economy is wrong, nothing else is right.’  He used to talk about that a lot and tie it to issues around how we serve the working poor and homeless.”  To help the disadvantaged, Kennedy has supported food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children program, fuel assistance, the school breakfast program, the Adequate Nutrition Act, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Children’s Health Act.

The children’s insurance program, passed in 1997, supported state efforts to provide health insurance to uninsured children in low-income families.  As of last December, about 49,000 Massachusetts children were receiving health coverage through the program . . .

Kennedy was also responsible for the creation of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Morrow said.

Ted Kennedy is a man of the people.  The sincere Senator with a genuine smile does not simply create policy, he connects to the common people.  The brother of a past President has made a difference that goes beyond political postures.  What Ted Kennedy does on any given day cannot be defined in official documents.  Only spirits offer meaning to what is characteristic of this exceptional man.

At noon Tuesday, Kennedy left Capitol Hill for a weekly ritual he has pursued for five years.

An aide drove him to the Brent Elementary School six blocks away, where Kennedy read to 11-year-old Jasmine Harrison for an hour.

Along with a few other senators and House members, Kennedy is a volunteer in a mentoring program for elementary-age students.

He and Jasmine sat in a corner in the library, with six other adult volunteers and their charges scattered around the room.

Together they read from author Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Swiftly Tilting Planet.”

Kennedy doesn’t like to miss the reading sessions, said aide Stephanie Cutter, 33, a Raynham native and former Clinton staffer who began working for Kennedy last summer.

“Unless it’s a vote,” she said.  “He hates to miss votes.”

Program coordinator Shirley Farrow thinks Kennedy has made a difference in Jasmine’s life.

“She’s much more confident,” Farrow says.  “He makes sure she writes down words and looks them up in the dictionary.”

Kennedy plans to speak at the school’s graduation this spring, when Jasmine finishes the sixth grade.  This will be their last year together.

“We had a lot of words today,” Jasmine said after the session, “and there were some words we didn’t find in the dictionary that the author must have made up.”

She was aware of the senator’s approaching birthday, and had created a birthday card for him with markers and yellow construction paper.

“Happy birthday Ted!,” Jasmine wrote.  “I’m really glad that you were able to celebrate another year of life.  I hope your birthday is wonderful and may all your wishes come true!  God bless you and your family and again Happy Birthday!”  Returning to the Capitol, Kennedy met with officials from Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a closed-door discussion of the prospects for peace.

Another briefing with staffers followed before the hearing on refugees.

Senator Kennedy does it all, with a depth and desire to contribute to the greater community that is his homeland.  Ted Kennedy resides in a world that most believe cannot exist.  For the Senator, there are no borders.  Love looms large.  Millions might muse as I do toady.  Ted Kennedy touches us all tenderly.  Some sense what Ted Kennedy has done.  Many benefit from his endeavors.  Few know to identify the programs that have a profound effect on their lives with Senator Edward Kennedy.

That matters not to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy.  This man is happy to move mountains quietly, without much fanfare.  For Ted Kennedy the politics of humanity is his priority.  People are the pearls.  The Senator sees himself as one, a part of the whole.  

Let us hope that the Senator will survive as he has, and that the diagnosis of the doctors will be as erroneous as earlier predictions.  When Ted Kennedy was younger many thought, he would never achieve as he has.  Yet, this gentle giant exceeded expectations.  May we all pray for the man who served us each and every day.

May the powers-that-be, those whose authority surpasses that of any Administration, be with you and yours Senator Edward [(Ted) Kennedy.

Benazir Bhutto Rests In Peace. Will We?

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Millions of Americans awoke to the news; Benazir Bhutto was killed in an attack.  The daughter of a former Prime Minister, and twice Prime Minister herself, Bhutto, months ago returned to her homeland, after a self-imposed eight  year exile.

The Harvard graduate ventured forth with a hope and a dream that she might unite her mother country.  The scion and scholar arrived in Pakistan amidst much fanfare and furor.

Benazir Bhutto was a deeply controversial figure.

Western-educated and charismatic, she presented herself as a moderate, democratic force. As such she was widely courted in the West. The United States hoped she could restore popular legitimacy to President Musharraf’s failing war against Islamist militants.

But she was widely seen as having misused her office for her own financial gain and faced a number of court cases, both inside Pakistan and outside the country. Islamist militants hated her for her pro-American views.

Earlier this year, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf had been working on a power-sharing agreement. The talks failed, leaving Ms Bhutto as the biggest political threat to President Musharraf, rather than an ally.

Therein lies the question many citizens of the United States ask.  Who, among the leaders in Pakistan is a friend to America and who is the foe.  Benazir Bhutto was our lover, devotee, and we her enthusiast.  Yet, for years the White House has happily courted the current President of Pakistan.

Despite talk of terrorist encampments and anti-American sentiment within Pakistan, the Bush Administration spoke of General Musharraf as a friend of the States.  Oh, the President of the United States and President, General Pervez Musharraf had their differences.  There was a time when the leaders aired their angst aloud.  However, ultimately, the two kissed and made-up as couples often do.  The world powers then walked off into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Each, revels in the joint venture to fight against Islamic insurgents.

Granted, there were other rifts.  Commander-In-Chief, the American military commandant demanded that the General take off his uniform.  After Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law and suspended that nation’s Constitution, there was fear within the White House.  Federal officials stated our ally had gone too far. His decision to wear military garb exacerbated the situation.  An elected official cannot be considered militaristic.  During a telephone conference with the Middle Eastern Head of State, President and Commander George W. Bush expressed his distress with the man who supported the United States in its endeavor to spread democracy.

“You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time,” Bush said. “I had a very frank discussion with him.” . . .

“My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform,” Bush said.

Perhaps this derision was the last straw.  It was time to move on, move forward, or stay the course with a new face at the helm.  Certainly, there is no need to imagine; were Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan, she too would have joined US in combat against “terrorists.”

The U.S. has long supported a return to power by Bhutto, who was perceived to be a moderate willing to work with Washington on the war on terror. She was also seen as a democratic leader who would serve as a counter to the plummeting popularity of Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 military coup. It was thought that a power-sharing deal between the two, in which Musharraf stayed on as president while Bhutto lead as prime minister, would promote stability in this nuclear armed nation of 165 million. But from the day of her arrival in Pakistan after eight years in exile, Bhutto’s return has been marred by violence.

We can only surmise that the hostile environment did not worry the Americans, the Bush Administration much.  After all, aggression is the way of this White House.  It matters not who leads or lends a hand as we go into battle.  As long as the war continues, a surge strategy is maintained, and fear is sustained.  Then, the hawks win.  All must inquire; is that not the most important aspect of this New World Strategy.

We can peruse the Pakistani papers.  We can read the rhetoric of the Right and the Left in America.  Candidates can recount their experience of Benazir Bhutto.  Still, there is reason to believe we know nothing of what really happened and why.  The common folk are not even certain they understand how to care for a tragic event that has now become a campaign battle cry.  Americans listen to the words of woe, and the warnings.  Again we are told, in the name of democracy, we are at war . . . and do not forget it!

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” Bush said. “Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.” . . .

With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses just a week away, U.S. presidential candidates also swiftly condemned the killing and stressed the need to fight terrorism.

The assassins who killed Bhutto “must be brought to justice,” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

“Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence,” said Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is trailing fellow Democrats Clinton and Barack Obama in polls, said a leader has died in Pakistan “but democracy must live.”

“It is in the interests of the U.S. that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists,” Richardson said in a statement.

Campaigning in Florida, current Iowa-caucus Republican frontrunner Mike Huckabee said he is “deeply troubled” by the news of Bhutto’s killing. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the U.S. must stand with moderate forces across the Islamic world “and together face the defining challenge of our generation — the struggle against violent, radical jihadists.”

“For those who think Iraq is the sole front in the war on terror, one must look no further than what has happened today,” said Romney, a Republican. . . .

Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center, said Bhutto’s death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere “is an enemy of freedom.”

“We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists’ war on us,” Giuliani said in a statement.

“This is devastating news for the people of Pakistan, and my prayers go out to them as we follow developments regarding this dire situation,” Huckabee said in a statement.

Once again, Americans must acknowledge that purposely, we are not fully informed.  As long as war remains in the wind, we cannot and will not speak of peace.  In an era where faux-Progressives stress the need for global tranquility, as they plan to wage war for at least another term, we must remember that when conflict is the cause of strife, it will also be the effect.

Americans and citizen worldwide can only hope that we, as  a world will decide not to focus on assignations and the aggressive demeanors that lead to these.  We might dream of the impossible, harmony, and create it.  

Together let us take a moment and rest in peace.  Perchance, we might listen to the words of the one Presidential hopeful from either nation, Pakistan or the United states, who wishes only for serenity planet-wide.  The aspirant that believes we can achieve the impossible, what same think absurd offers his words of wisdom.

U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement after learning of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a suicide attack following a campaign rally.

“This is a very dangerous moment for the world,” Kucinich said. . . .

“The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire.”

If we truly wish to establish world unity, Americans and Pakistanis alike cannot condone combat, in any form, on foreign or domestic shores.  If we are to authentically invite and work for peace, we, as a nation, as individual people must live  our lives in harmony.  We must be calm when in the company of our neighbors, strangers and genuinely care for our selves.

Peace, Pax. Hasiti. Amniat.

Source of Serenity or Strife . . .

Lady Bird Johnson; Her Presence Beautified America

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

My heart hurts.  Intellectually I know all entities must pass; nonetheless, there are those special persons that I do not wish to depart.  Some people live large in my mind; they have for as long as I recall.  Lady Bird Johnson is one of these.  Yet, as of this afternoon, July 11, 2007, this graceful, gracious woman has left her Earthly existence behind.

I was not personally acquainted with the former First Lady; still she touched my spirit.  I grew up with an intense appreciation for nature and beauty.  I recall Lady Bird Johnson had a similar sense.

Mrs. Johnson developed her own public projects.  She was an early supporter of the environment and, in championing highway beautification, worked to banish billboards and plant flowers and trees.

I considered her quest vital.  I still do.  In truth, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her campaign to beautify America.  It may sound strange; nonetheless, I do not function well in a world without natural splendor.

Each day as I walk or drive down city streets, I see the blight, the billboards, the bright florescent lights advertising this or that, and I think fondly of Lady Bird Johnson.  I often mention to others, I wish her campaign had endured.  Indeed, I wish her reverence for the environment was alive and well.  Had the former First Lady been more formidable perhaps “global warming” would be a concept considered passé.

The Lady Bird Johnson Park in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, is an outgrowth of her First Lady?s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital. She founded the $10 million National Wildflower Research Center in Austin, Tex., which opened in April 1995 and changed its name to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1998.  The center conducts research and provides information on plants, landscaping and conservation.

Foliage and flora must surround me or I feel empty, as though I cannot breathe.  As a child, my Mom was always gardening.  She filled our family home with plants and flowers.  When she was seventeen and left her parents home, she took Sanservias that were her mother’s.  At the age of seventeen, I too left my Mom and Dad’s house to live on my own.  Mommy gave me cuttings from Grandma’s garden.  I still have these.

Indeed, when I moved across the country, the vegetation came with me.  Sadly, I could not imagine the circumstances that would come my way.  For two and one half months my belongings, including the family green babies were left in storage.  These plants were without food, water, or lights for close to a quarter of a year.  When these heirlooms were brought to my new home, packed in tightly sealed dark boxes, I trembled.  I wondered; had they survived.  I opened these before I did anything else.  There they were the sparkling green lights of my life. 

It is said, those that garden are peaceful and patient.  Perchance this is true.

Mrs. Johnson was known for her even temper, although she did not always consider it an asset .  . . She softened hurts, mediated quarrels and won over many political opponents.

However, warring and worrying were not her nature.

She was a stoic, rarely admitting pain, a trait her husband characterized as perhaps her only fault.  She had four miscarriages but never indulged in self-pity

For the First Lady life was good, even when it might not have seemed so to an observer.

Although she suffered a mild stroke in 1993 and in her mid-80s was declared legally blind, she remained active in the Wildflower Center and at the L.B.J. Library.

“It has been a wonderful life,” she told Ms. Carpenter in 1992. “I feel like a jug into which wine is poured until it overflows.”

Claudia Alta Taylor, born on December 22, 1912 in a big red brick house in the East Texas town of Karnack was described as being as “purty as a lady bird” by her childhood nursemaid.  Lady Bird Johnson was a beautiful person, inside and out.  Missus Johnson, may you rest in peace.  May we, your survivors, plant seeds in your honor.  Might we decide to beautify America and respect nature as you did throughout your life.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

  • Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady, Dies at 94 By Enid Nemy. The New York Times. July 11, 2007
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute. “We will prevail.”

    Virginia Tech Convocation, Professor Nikki Giovanni.

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
    Today, the thirty-three fatalities are memorialized. It will not be the first time we honor the passing of these glorious souls; nor will it be the last. The entire world mourns with the Hokies, their families, friends, and all those touched by the loss of lives. Cyberspace communities have come together. Dedicated boards are offered so that each of us might write a word of remembrance.

    I present an opportunity to connect with those that we love, who sacrificed their human souls so that we might live and learn.

  • In their honor. Massacre at Virginia Tech. Cable News Network.
  • Remembering the victims. Roanoke Times.

    A week has passed since the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus was ravaged. However, students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alum maintain, they were not destroyed. They are, nevertheless, devastated. Students received much support from people throughout the nation.

    Throughout the week, students who have remained in Blacksburg have found support in a variety of places on campus and in the larger community, as local vendors and schools from across the country have shown their support in many different ways.

    On Tuesday, at the convocation, President Bush, along with Gov. Tim Kaine, Vice President for student affairs Zenobia Hikes, and distinguished professor Nikki Giovanni, spoke to the crowd that filled Cassell Coliseum, and flowed over into Lane Stadium.

    Bush encouraged the community of mourners by stressing “normalcy” in the community. He added, “Such a day will come.”

    The largest response from the crowd came after Giovanni spoke and performed a dramatic reading. Her poem reminded the crowd that tragedy strikes everyone. After ending with “We are Virginia Tech,” the crowd began a series of cheers, shouting, “Let’s go Hokies.”

    The esteemed Professor enthralled and embraced the crowd.  She spoke the words that guide us all. The Virginia Tech community was her audience and perchance the focus for her words; yet, the message might be considered our human mission.

    Transcript of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation address
    Delivered April 17, 2007
    We are Virginia Tech.

    We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

    We are the Hokies.

    We will prevail.

    We will prevail.

    We will prevail.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    I too do not understand.  I cannot comprehend why difficulties enter our lives.  I know not why we must breathe our last breathe at the hands of a gunman.  Acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS] confuses me.  The idea of war racks my brain.  The reality of brutal battles stresses my soul.  Illness and injury boggle my mind.  Man’s inhumanity to man is incomprehensible.  Nature wreaks havoc and this causes me to wonder.

    Perhaps, I can only trust that the reasons for such tragedies will reveal them selves upon my passing.  Nonetheless, I do believe those associated with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are granted great sustenance from those whose physical presence can be seen no more on Earth.

    I have faith that those gunned down are our finest teachers. Their passing may provide us with a path towards greater understanding.

    While in the human form, we cannot fully comprehend why what occurs does. Death does not make sense. When a person takes his or her last breathe before they have had a chance to truly live; it seems so unfair. If a person has experienced much hardship and has been spared in the face of death, we have hope. When we witness such individuals serve many, we are thankful that they are alive. Yet, when the time comes and their days on G-d’s green grass end, it is challenging to grasp.  We may muse, ‘What is the purpose.’ Why would anyone even wish to terminate the live of another.

    I do not know.  I have no answers. With each passing moment, I am more certain I cannot comprehend our existence here on Earth. There is little that makes sense to me.

    Yet, I am comforted by  my experience, observations, and what others share of their circumstances.

    In my life, much has happened that did not seem just or fair. However, I learned from what I once thought awful.  In my own life, much was not as I wished it would be. Tremendous sorrows befall.

    I too mourn the loss of innocent lives that were too short.  I cry for these vibrant individuals; they did not need to die.  Oh, to be cut down in your prime, no matter what the age, is sad beyond belief.  I do not negate the sorrow that Seung-Hui Cho felt. Oh, how his family must be suffering.

    Any life is of infinite value.  I think, although I may not like the actions of many, I must love their being, for oh, but for the grace of G-d go I.

    Please Peruse the References . . .

  • In their honor. Massacre at Virginia Tech. Cable News Network.
  • Remembering the victims. Roanoke Times.
  • Va. Tech Students Return to Campus, Ny Justin Pope. Associated Press. Time Magazine. April 22, 2007
  • Students receive support from across community, nation. By Collegiate Times Staff. April 23, 2007
  • Transcript of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation address. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Delivered April 17, 2007
  • rack/wrack Word of the Day.  Random House
  • Self-Actualizing Maslow; My Mentor, My Muse

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
    I have never been interested in Tom, Dick, or Harry foolery.  I am attracted to Abraham.  Today, April 1 is the anniversary of his birth.  Abraham Maslow was born on this day in 1908.  Since my own birth, I was a serious soul.  I suspect I was prior to my Earthly conception.  Never once have I taken part in an April Fool’s Day prank.  I know not the history of this “holiday.”  I only trust that it did not originate with me.

    I recall when I was younger, and still, the same today, women would say ‘I am looking for a man with a sense of humor.’  Perhaps, I do not have one for the possibility bores me.  In truth, it concerns me.  I think it offensive to laugh at others, or at the expense of others.  Sadly, more often than not, these are the dynamics involved in what people think hilarious.

    I want to share with serious spirits, persons of substance.  I long for a reciprocal reverence.  Rarely, what passes for humor is a homage to humankind.  The sacrifice of any entity, I believe scars the soul.  Thus, on this the day of April 1 I offer no jest.  I share what for me is profound.  It is not that I object to laughter.  I subscribe to the words of Horace Walpole.

    For those who think, life is a comedy.
    For those who feel, life is a tragedy.

    ~ Horace Walpole [Father of Gothic Novels, Member of Parliament]

    Days ago, persons within the cyberspace community were speaking of depression.  Some seemed anointed with the responsibility of speaking for the few, those that suffered from this affliction.  I thought that odd, for I believe if we are living and breathing we have experienced days, weeks, months, and years on end when we have felt down, often with reason.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow, a man whom I consider to be self-actualizing, by his own definition, suffered this misery as do all I ever encountered.  Maslow wrote . . .
    “During all my first twenty years, I was depressed, terribly unhappy, lonely, isolated (and self-rejecting).”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    Ah, so too was I.  While life improved in my thirties, I still struggled with my own insecurities.  These manifested in many ways.
    “I was awfully curious to find out why I didn’t go insane.”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    I rarely felt as though I might achieve as others were or had before me.  It seemed to me, everyone, each entity was perfect. Surely, I was the only flawed being.
    “The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    Fearful of my own failure or successes, I am still uncertain which frightens me more. I moved from one vision of myself to another.  I did not wish to stumble; nor did I think to soar.
    “We fear to know the fearsome and unsavory aspects of ourselves, but we fear even more to know the godlike in ourselves”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    I took professional positions and was given exemplary reviews. Yet, I held back, perhaps, not wanting to be noticed.  I do not seek a spotlight.  Perchance, my reticence may have not been related to achieving within my supposed chosen career.  It may be that although I was pursuing passionately, I was not following my deepest pleasure.
    “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    I thought having left my twenties behind, I was happy.  However, there was still an element or two missing.  No one noticed, not even I, or at least I pretended to be unaware.  I was content and comfortable.  I saw no reason to change.  Life was good.  I loved my home, my community, the workplace I adopted.  I adapted to it all.  I certainly was living in the moment.
    “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    However, I remained haunted.  I was not growing as I might.  Some may say I was secure, though stagnant.  I was active physically and mentally.  Emotionally I was developing beyond my wildest dreams.  Yet, as I remained centered, I was not confident.  Had I chosen complete and total wellness?  Was I actually the living breathing being I could or craved to be?
    “All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being,
    and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health,
    an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization”

    ~ Abraham Maslow

    Deep within me, I knew I was not what I wanted to be or might be.  I have long believed that ever individual is good, even golden; still, they let life and self beat them down and up.  We are bruised when we do not honor the gifts we are given at birth.
    “The fact is that people are good, if only their fundamental wishes are satisfied, their wish for affection and security.
    Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior.”

    ~ Abraham Maslow

    Affection and appreciation, I never gave these gifts to me.  Now, it is time.  I yearn to learn, to choose awareness, attentiveness, and an admiration for me.  Rewards from others will not suffice.  Suggestions of what is best for me cannot come from those outside my heart, mind, body, or soul.  As much as another might think they know me, they only understand their perception of me.  That, possibly, is a projection of them selves.  If I am to find my fulfillment I must acknowledge and accept . . .
    “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
    ~ Abraham Maslow

    Dearest Abraham, you have been my mentor for as long as I can remember.  On this, the anniversary of your birth you honor me again.  I hope to show you reverence.  I value your teachings, realizations, reflections, and truthfully, I appreciate that life taught you; thus, you are making possible my growth.

    Theories Realized and Referenced . . .

  • A Science Odyssey, Abraham Maslow.  Public Broadcasting Services.
  • Abraham Maslow, Personality Theories. Dr. C. George Boeree.  Psychology Department. Shippensburg University.
  • Molly Ivins Passes On a Life Lesson

    © Copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Please preview this tasty morsel, Molly Ivins – PBS Newshour Tribute Essay.  Miss Ivins is a delight as she assesses art.

    No matter what her age, she was forever young.  No matter how celebrated, she was always feisty.  Molly Ivins was quite a woman, quite a person, and even those that did not agree with her opinions thought highly of her.  Her fellow high school classmate, a man she not so affectionately labeled “Shrub” or “Dubya” eulogized the spirited Miss Ivins by saying

    Molly Ivins was a Texas original. She was loved by her readers and by her many friends, particularly in Central Texas. I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment to her beliefs will be missed. Laura and I send our condolences to Molly Ivins’ family and friends.

    Mister Bush respected the person some considered his foe.  Perchance, we all did, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike.  She was, she is quite a woman.

    I was flying home on the day Molly Ivins passed.  I landed and telephoned family, assuring them, I arrived safely.  It was then I heard the news of Molly’s passing.  My heart stopped.  I was literally speechless.  I never met Miss Ivins; nor had I ever seen her from afar.  Still, I felt as though I knew her.  I long ago acknowledged that politically we were one.  However, it was not until her physical presence left Earth that I learned of how we were truly connected.

    Molly’s life gives me hope.  I have greater faith in a belief that I work to embrace; yet, fear it may not be valid.  It seems that Miss Ivins went to work for The New York Times.  This periodical is highly respected.  The organization is considered exemplary.  I feel certain many a journalist would long for such a hiring.  Yet, Molly hated this position.  She felt imprisoned.  Not fitting in may have bothered Molly.  However, it seems that was not a problem.  My interpretation is, Molly Ivins just as I have and do, yearns to be who she is.  Conforming to the expectations of others drains her; it does me.  I so relate . . .

    While she drew important writing assignments, like covering the Son of Sam killings and Elvis Presley’s death, she sensed she did not fit in and complained that Times editors drained the life from her prose.  “Naturally, I was miserable, at five times my previous salary,” she later wrote.  “The New York Times is a great newspaper: it is also No Fun.”

    Miss Ivins tried to stay with the job.  She perhaps, hoped to find satisfaction.  Nevertheless, it was clear that she did not. 

    I understand loathing an esteemed position, disdaining the requirements of a job.  I too empathize with the reality.  Money, while attractive cannot motivate a mind, or at least it has never been enough for me.  The power of what others believe we should think, say, do, feel, or be can keep us going; however, it cannot fully control us.  Molly, I cannot begin to tell you how deeply I feel the pain you felt.  I too know that my true self will come through and triumph.  Our manner may differ; still the result is the same.  When we felt imprisoned or as though our brains were turning to mush, we each subtly screamed, I need to be me!

    After a stint in Albany, she was transferred to Denver to cover the Rocky Mountain States, where she continued to challenge her editors’ tolerance for prankish writing.

    Covering an annual chicken slaughter in New Mexico in 1980, she used a sexually suggestive phrase, which her editors deleted from the final article.  But her effort to use it angered the executive editor, A. M. Rosenthal, who ordered her back to New York and assigned her to City Hall, where she covered routine matters with little flair.

    She quit The Times in 1982 after The Dallas Times Herald offered to make her a columnist.  She took the job even though she loathed Dallas, once describing it as the kind of town “that would have rooted for Goliath to beat David.”

    Oh, Miss Ivins, I admire you.  Quitting, what makes you crazy, is strength.  For decades I have beat myself up for not doing what society suggests is correct.  I have taken professional positions that “should” have made me happy.  However, they did not.  I abhor facades.  I aspire to be financially stable and settled; however, I have never been able to sacrifice my soul.  I have heard many a successful person say, “If you do what you love the money will come.”  I also acknowledge, that for each of these individuals, the cash was not what counted.  Happiness did.  Joseph Campbell spoke of “following your bliss.”  I muse what could be better than allowing yourself to be who you are.

    Miss Ivins you were willing to live in a city that may not have been your favorite for you had an opportunity like no other, an assurance that you could write what you wish to pen and support for you being you.  That is glorious!

    the newspaper, she said, promised to let her write whatever she wanted.  When she declared of a congressman, “If his I.Q. slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day,” many readers were appalled, and several advertisers boycotted the paper.  In her defense, her editors rented billboards that read: “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?”  The slogan became the title of the first of her six books.

    It seems that you, Molly Ivins had experienced as I have.  When you are happy in your work, you labor in love.  You partake in your joy at every opportunity.  Molly Ivins was prolific!

    Ms. Ivins worked at a breakneck pace, adding television appearances, book tours, lectures and fund-raising to a crammed writing schedule. She also wrote for Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly and The Nation.

    Miss Ivins I  might share your story, by quoting the statistics I have read and heard.  I could chatter on about how unfair your passing is.  No one needs to have this earthly existence end at the age of 62; it is too young.  A cure for cancer must be found.  It is sad to think that with all the gains in breast cancer research we have yet to find a certain cure.

    However, such a dialogue seems too superficial. Miss Ivins, you are a woman of substance, a teacher, and a person that reaches beyond the limits.  Politically, you have long been my mentor.  Now, perhaps belatedly, I realize you are teaching me more.  In learning of your life, I realize that maybe, I have reason to trust.  Perchance I can and will have faith in me, myself, and I.  You certainly did and it served you well.  In truth, your strength, and courage served humanity well.  We the [thinking] people of America honor you.

    Molly Ivins, may you continue to facilitate growth and awareness.  May you remain my teacher and inspiration.

    Reference for the realization . . .

  • President Bush’s Statement on the Passing of Molly Ivins   Office of the Press Secretary  January 31, 2007
  • Bush Foe Molly Ivins Dies,  By Kelley Shannon.  Time Magazine.  January 31, 2007
  • pdf Molly Ivins, Columnist, Dies at 62, By Katharine Q. Seelye.  The New York Times.  February 1, 2007
  • Molly Ivins, Columnist, Dies at 62, By Katharine Q. Seelye.  The New York Times.  February 1, 2007
  • Remembering Molly Ivins.  The Nation.  January 31, 2007
  • Stories by Molly Ivins.  AlterNet.
  • Delighting in Absurd, Art Buchwald Lives Long, Large, Then Passes ©

    Please view the video auto-obituary within the following link.

    Author, writer, Art Buchwald, the most widely read humorist of his time has passed.  The columnist physically departed from this planet on Wednesday, January 17, 2007. 

    The New York Times realizes people’s lives make the best stories.  Therefore, the Times asked many memorable individuals to share their personal reveries on tape.  Thus, the author narrates his own eulogy.  In an interview aired with Mister Buchwald, I learned more of the man than I might have in any reading.  Biographies are nice.  However, I prefer to listen to an oral history.  I think it is a far superior means for getting to know an individual.  To hear the hear, soul, and cadence is a delight.

    The video was accessible within, Art Buchwald, 81, Columnist and Humorist Who Delighted in the Absurd, By Richard Severo.

    You may wish to view the CBS News premiere.  Please pardon the prologue advertisement.  Art Buchwald  Dies  At  81

    As I viewed the discourse between Art Buchwald and The Times journalist Tim Weiner, I grew to truly love the man Art Buchwald.  We share similar mindsets and frustrations.

    Humorist Buchwald and I wonder, what are we humans being doing here on Earth.  What is their purpose?  It is the pressing question for each of us.  Mister Buchwald once wrote, “The question is not where are you going; it is what are you doing [here] in the first place.”

    At the age of six or seven he realized as I did, “The world is insane, completely insane.”  For me, the inconsistency between what people say and what they do is baffling.  A nation engaging in war, while professing a need and a want for peace seems so contrary to me.  When observing individuals, I witness the same inconsistencies.

    Consider former President Richard Milhous Nixon, as art Buchwald often did.  It is said of the life and legacy of Richard M. Nixon, the former world leader was a man of contradictions.  Mister Nixon had “grand visions and petty grievances.”  He used the power of the office to reach for a daring dream of world peace.  Yet, he saw enemies everywhere.

    Buchwald, as I, also saw former President Richard M. Nixon as an insecure, tragic “hero,” a champion in Buchwald’s life for Nixon was a great source of income and fame for the author.  In 1974 Mister Buchwald published , “I Am Not a Crook,” the story of Richard Nixon and his demise.  For me, President Nixon was an unfortunate protagonist for he had a glorious mind; however mired in paranoia.  I love the imagery Mister Buchwald created.  Nixon was as a man in a lifeboat, bailing water into the vessel rather than out.

    Nixon’s policies did not mirror my philosophies; still, I thought him fascinating.  Late in life, Nixon became an elder statesman.  President Clinton turned to him for advice. 

    I often went to the Nixon “Library” in Yorba Linda, California.  This museum is very well managed.  The exhibits are interesting; they change frequently.  The Nixon foundation created a speakers program.  It is truly exceptional.  While there, I have strolled through the gift shop and skimmed many of Nixon’s writings.  The manuscript he penned, in honor of his wife Pat, is loving and tender.  Nevertheless, there is the notorious list, Nixon’s Enemy List.

    Among Art Buchwald’s and my greatest pains is that we never made that index!  I was a very young activist during the Nixon reign.  I wanted to believe that I had an impact.  Writer Art Buchwald and his words did have an effect on the Nixon White House.  Yet, Buchwald’s name never appeared on the register.  Mister Buchwald stated,

    It is my biggest hurt to this day.  When I tried to find out why I didn’t, one of his people told me, you are Not important enough.  That really hurt me!

    I relate Mister Buchwald!  Not being included on such a magnificent directory is one of my greatest disappointments.  I speak of it often.

    Art defied gravity, living long after he was expected to perish.  Publishing can do that for a person.  There are so many tales to tell there is no time to pass on.  How can one take a last breath when the being within is so alive.

    Ahhh, Art we are kindred spirits.  Only this morning a close friend spoke of my frenetic attempt to write of all that flows through my mind.  I wonder, which to chose, what to set aside, and for how long.  In your obituary interview you stated . . .

    I have a problem which of the six or seven stories I should write about.

    Even while waiting to leave this Earth in a physical form, you Mister Buchwald inscribed another tome and continued writing your column.  I admire your stamina, disciple, and desire to share.

    This morning, while I meant to work on any of a number of ideas swirling though my head, I decided I needed to take the time to honor you.  May you live long in our hearts and minds.  May your spirit linger forever.

    References for a life well lived . . .

  • Art Buchwald Articles.  Washington Post.
  • Art Buchwald, 81, Columnist and Humorist Who Delighted in the Absurd, By Richard Severo.  New York times.  January 18, 2007
  • pdf Art Buchwald, 81, Columnist and Humorist Who Delighted in the Absurd, By Richard Severo.  New York times.  January 18, 2007
  • Art Buchwald Dies At 81
  • I Am Not a Crook, By Art Buchwald>
  • Conversation, Art Buchwald. Public Broadcasting Service. March 28, 2006