Day: August 11, 2009

The Death Of Eunice Kennedy Shriver

The death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Senator Ted Kennedy,  and wife of Peace Corps and War on Poverty Director Sargeant Shriver,  is a moment to stop and reflect on her great role in American history, despite the fact that she never ran for office.

She not only had a great effect on her children, including Maria Shriver, wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,  but she is most important for initiating the Special Olympics in 1968, giving people who were disabled  the opportunity to shine and excel in competitions of all kinds.

Shriver opened up our eyes to the contributions that disabled people can make, and helped to promote a sense of dignity and self worth in people who,  through no fault of their own, were denied equality of conditions as a result of their birth or life circumstances.

We need more Eunice Kennedy Shrivers in American life–that is, people who are selfless in their desire to make life better for others, and spend their lifetime promoting equality of opportunity.  She will be much missed, and is in death, very much appreciated and loved!

Mel Martinez Resigns From The Senate

In a surprise move,   Florida GOP Senator Mel Martinez announced his resignation last week,  effective as soon as Governor Charlie Crist appoints a replacement for the last 16 months of the term.

Why Martinez resigned is not known, but Crist made clear that he would not appoint himself to the seat,  despite the fact that he is seeking to replace Martinez in the Senate via the 2010 election.

Instead, speculation has centered on  former GOP one term Governor Bob Martinez  (no relation)  who served from 1986-1990, and has been out of politics since.  It is evident that he has no ambition for political office again, and therefore is an excellent choice to fill out the unexpired term.

Some speculation has centered around another former Governor,  Jeb Bush,  but it is doubtful he would even consider such a temporary position, although a school of thought is that even serving for a short time in the Senate would polish up Bush’s resume,  were he to wish to seek the Presidency.  Within a few weeks, we shall see what transpires.

The Confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor And The Republican Party

It is a great moment of celebration  that on Saturday, Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts to be the 111th member of the Supreme Court, its third woman and its first Hispanic.

Sotomayor is eminently qualified to serve on the Court, and yet only 9 Republicans  joined all the Democrats  (minus Ted Kennedy, who was home ill in Massachusetts),  to confirm her 69-31.

It turned out three New Englanders  joined three Southerners and three Midwesterners to back Sotomayor.    Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine were  joined by Judd Gregg,  who had considered being Secretary of Commerce under President Obama.   Lindsey Graham, Lamar Alexander and  Mel Martinez all saw Obama as having the right,  as the winner of the White House,  to choose who he wanted, even if they did not agree on many issues with her,  an attitude that should have been accepted by many other Republicans in the Senate.   Richard Lugar and George Voinovich were surprisingly joined by Christopher Bond, who also said that Obama was entitled to his choice as the winner of the election.

The big disappointment, of course,  was John McCain’s refusal to back Sotomayor,  which many had thought was possible.  But the fact that 31 Republicans refused to back Sotomayor will hurt them politically in future elections, as it leaves the impression that they do not care about gaining Hispanic support.   Regrettable action,  but nothing new regarding the Republican party.

The Total Breakdown Of Serious Debate And Discussion On Health Care

The debate over health care reform has, unfortunately, resulted in the total breakdown of serious debate and discussion.

Instead, we have seen screaming, ranting and raving, total hysteria, disrespect for political leaders, death threats, swastikas, invocation of God’s wrath, physical altercations, and the image of mob action.

No public official should be under threat of bodily harm or face verbal insults, but this has become a common theme in many of the Town Halls that have been held across the nation.

People come to conclusions based on rumor instead of fact, such as the so called “death panels” that would determine health care; the issue of abortion being mandated to be covered; the issue of undocumented or illegal immigrants being covered; the accusation of a single payer system being forced on the population as a major step toward socialism; and the argument that the health care reform would lead to tremendous debt down the road and that it is unsustainable.

The fact that Obama’s goals include the coverage of almost all of the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance coverage; that pre-existing conditions would be covered; that the goal is to cut massive waste, corruption and repetitiveness in the system; that savings on the emergency room costs for those without health care would cover much of the additional cost of the national plan; and that health care should be an entitlement as part of the promotion of a good life for all Americans is somehow ignored. We are allowing Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hanniity and other propagandists on radio and television to hijack the issue!

There is too much selfishness and self centeredness being evidenced in the commentary of these Town Halls–that as long as one has health care, they don’t care whether others have it. And yet, these are the same people who feel that the government should intervene to protect life at the beginning and at the end, but apparently not in the interim between birth and death. This is such hypocrisy, and is the Achilles Heel of the conservatives and corporate influences who are fighting any change, because all they care about is profit, not the welfare of the American people. But they are taking along with them millions of people who are ignorant as to how they are being manipulated.

This is a battle that we cannot afford to lose. The details of the health care plan can be debated, and the exact details of what is acceptable can be decided when Congress comes back in September. But one thing is clear: it is essential that a health care reform bill MUST pass after full discussion and debate, and it can always be improved on in later years.

But since the time of Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, and more specifically since the time of Harry Truman to now, we have remained the only major industrial democracy not to protect all Americans on health care issues. The time has come to change that for good!

Sarah Palin Promoting Fear And Lies

Former Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska is maybe out of office, but she is, predictably, becoming a threat to civil discourse!

Last weekend, she came out with a statement that Barack Obama was intending to promote “death panels” that would decide the future of the elderly, such as her parents, and her son, Trig, who was born with Downs Syndrome.

This is outrageous, totally false, and all it does is promote hysteria and panic among the American people.

Interestingly, after much criticism over the weekend, Palin yesterday seemed to withdraw her statement, emphasizing the importance of civil discourse on a subject as important as health care.

However, this does not lessen the damage she has done, and the best one could ask for, but of course will not occur, is that Sarah Palin keep her mouth shut until she knows the facts about what she is talking about. This will require many months, if not years, of educating herself so she does not play a destructive role, inspiring people to act irresponsibly and behave like a mob, when they want to believe that she is a legitimate public figure.

At this point, unfortunately, she is NOT legitimate!