Saturday, August 29, 2009

Never, Never, Never, Never

Give Up.

Shades of Winston Churchill (who met with his Ambassador grandfather) Joseph Kennedy at the Kennedy Library in Boston eulogized his uncle and repeated the inspirational hope filled encouragement. Never, never, never, never give up. Never give up when fighting for the good, the right, the true- when you see someone in need, never give up trying to help them and make a better place. Never give up praying, never give up fighting, never give up hoping. Never give up trying. He died with his boots on trying.
Hope is in their genes. The Kennedy Family- plagued with more than most could bear and many a fine man has cracked under the weight - the Kennedys not only survive but thrive and flourish taking us all to a higher level. What a testament to the power of Faith and the Eucharist.

If you were born to privilege with your father once considered one of the the wealthiest men in America, with a brother who was President, what would you do in their honor? What would you do to make your mark on the world? Double the wealth? Buy up cities and towns? Start industries? Buy a private island and hide like a recluse there?

Ted Kennedy transformed government for the people by his people, was a standard bearer for the country, and the way we think about it. He survived two assassinations, a plane crash that literally broke his back, family scandals involving allegations of murder and rape, cancer of his children, death of a beloved nephew and his wife, family drug abuse overdose and addictions, a spattering of mental illness, and a divorce. Crumble? Hide? No-he prayed harder, dug deeper and more determined in his belief of redemption he just kept getting up every day and tried harder to give back and give back big and make a bigger difference.

Every piece of legislation from the Family Medical Leave Act, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Americans with Disabilities Act to the recent bill taking away the stigma on mental health treatment co-sponsored and authored with his brave son Patrick and some 300 other laws he wrote and a thousand others he sponsored make this country a place infinitely fairer, more humane, more kind, more gentle, more Just, and more of the Kingdom Come on earth. The country was a very different place before 1962 when Ted Kennedy came to the Senate.

I am particularly infinitely in his debt because these are the statutes I predominantly relied upon in a plaintiff's litigation practice for over a decade. I am also infinitely grateful because he has been in the Senate all but 2 years of my entire life trying to make a difference.

He was a man who obviously loved large. Each of his whole family carries a piece of him. His son and grandson who bear his name have a hero saint to live up to. He kept a family together and from falling apart. Lesser folks would have run for the hills not for office.

People old enough to remember know he helped paved the way that dissolved segregation and fought a war on Poverty. African Americans know that without the tenacious persistent drive of the Kennedys the many injustices that existed prior to the civil rights and equal rights for women movements would have been much harder to overcome. He was a fighting friend of the poor, the outcast and the downtrodden. He was a friend of the Lord.

He was to many a very present help in time of need. He was a man of peace whose finest vote he considered the one against going into Iraq.

I stood today as his casket passed behind the Capital with the anonymous huddled masses. I nearly passed out just before the hearse passed so had to step back on the grass, lower my head and stop the dizziness the emotion and standing in sun so long overcame me. I have been choked up for days and wonder why I can't stop watching the coverage.

Maybe I connected with him because my Dad sailed and taught us how. Or maybe because I also lived as Irish in London, England for years in my youth, we summered at the Cape and the Vineyard when I was little, my uncle Mike played football with him at Harvard, he met my Dad, and I ran into him at Church. I don't know exactly why I feel connected to him but I loved this Senator from a distance with all the respect that a lawyer (exactly his daughter's age) could ever have for a Hero from a distance. If Ted Kennedy can keep going, I can. So can you.

He's probably tossing a football now with his older brothers in Heaven and everywhere on earth as it is in Heaven--Irish eyes are smiling.
Ted Kennedy- pray for us all.

Friday, August 28, 2009

'Foolish Virgins' Sue the Bastard for Cost of Lamp Oil

Forgiveness When The Bridegroom Screws Up Before The Wedding.

The scripture reading today perplexes even the most erudite scripture scholars- a couple virgins deemed "foolish" don't bring enough lamp oil and a couple bring extra stash. The ones without extra stash use it up when the groom is late and the oil barronnesses tell the others to go buy their own. The ones who were ready with extra stash get to accompany in the bridegroom (deemed Jesus in interpretation) into the "wedding feast" (likened to the Kingdom of Heaven.)
The most striking thing about the scripture is that the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a wedding feast. Jesus likes weddings apparently. A lot. The first miracle turning water to wine happened in one and he used the occasion to prefigure metaphorically the matter of his redemptive blood shed for the world consumed as often as we drink this wine. Weddings are like the Kingdom of Heaven. A point as obvious to miss as the nose on your head: obviously for his most beloved priests he would not want to deprive them of it for themselves as outsiders or bystanders to bring more of himself or the kingdom to earth. Weddings are like the Kingdom of Heaven.

The next obvious point is that the bridegroom is going to come later than expected- he's on his own time which is not your time and he has a lot going on. Better late than never. The good ones are worth waiting for. Just like the wedding wine at Cana he saves the best for last.

The bad ones you don't care if you ran out of oil.

The perplexing part is why Jesus would shut out someone-a virgin no less, not a heathen- for not having enough oil when he could make oil with a wisp of the wand from the dirt under their feet- somehow they were supposed to get ready themselves and this demonstrated a degree of co-operation he needs to see once they acknowledge its really him. It echoes of "can't you at least stay up with me while I pray" when the disciples dozed off.

If you are wondering why your 'virgin' didn't bring enough oil for you- maybe it's because you aren't the real deal or acting like it so you are unrecognizeable as a bridegroom. Maybe it's because she didn't see enough to tell her that you were the ONE worth waiting for- maybe you screwed up on the way to the Altar and got there too late, maybe, just maybe the shoe doesn't fit as snug as Cinderella's glass slipper because you only look like a Prince. I want my oil back.

The thing about the virgins without enough oil- they had the money to buy it- they just didn't bother going to the store shopping before the wedding at the lamp store. Why? Who wants to be one of 8 brides?
How excited can you get about that prospect? Whatever- you can have him. Or- I don't see enough to make me want to go shopping. If you are the real deal, you got to give me something to work with. Is this just blindness on the part of the Virgin or did the bridegroom just act too imperiously distant for them to see who he was? Who are you really?

In any event, the decidedly male perspective of the "foolish" virgins can be viewed from a female perspective another way...and the lock out of the Kingdom of Heaven only works if you are really Jesus, not an immitation acting like an imperious polygamous jerk.

A big reason

Why I am a Catholic Revert; The Kennedys After a mostly presbyterian upbringing I intentionally rediscovered my Irish Catholic heritage-motivated in large part by my admiration for people like Edward Kennedy. I told my Dad and he said- well, if you want to be Catholic just make sure you are the best damn Catholic you can be.
I was a government major at Cornell when Ted Kennedy ran for President and was glued to the TV. Title IX, something he authored was all abuzz around Campus because it meant that we women crew team members were supposed to get the same sports budget as the men's crew team (travel, jerseys, and that erg machine). Of course we were. Who would ever think otherwise. My half Irish Dad said anything boys can do we can do too. I had and have the unmitigated gall to believe him.
Ted Kennedy understood government was the social contract with a people that was supposed to interject Christ's humanity in a world tending toward the entropy of disinterest and catastrophe. Being Irish he knew a government could be not on the side of the people but on the side of the powerful few unless there was an intentionality to make it on the side of the people at large in the common "good.". Every legislative initiative of his that transformed the way we live here was infused with the catholic social teaching that seeks to invest every human with greater dignity. The rich can take care of themselves- the government needs to be there for all of us.
The values this family stands for, whether they work in disability rights, environmental issues, civil rights, women's equality (the ERA)immigration, education and health care stems from the greatest impulses of altruistic compassion-
the notion that Justice for All really means "ALL" and the responsibility of public office is to take care of everyone, even and especially the Least of These His Brethren. Because when you do it unto them- you do it unto Him. And he is Damn Serious about it.

My father stood next to Edward Kennedy when he dedicated a facility in Billerica, Mass. for a computer company my father was an Executive at. I got to meet him a few times, shook his hand after a Mass once, waived at him at the 1992 Democratic Convention and last heard him speak in person at the Center for American Progress in DC- where his words then were trickily juxtaposed as his speech started to be affected by his then undetected tumor. I said a prayer.

So I don't want to hear about how this man who devoted his entire life to serving the America he loved needed some death bed conversion or was less a catholic than anti-abortion bloggers who were not even born yet while Ted Kennedy was saying the eulogy for his brother. Don't even start with me.

The best and most fitting tribute that we can make to Edward Kennedy is to pass a universal health care bill, yes, with a "public option" in the name of Edward Moore Kennedy- because this is what he put at the pinnacle of his life's work - and it was the "sign" of the Age when Christ healed everyone everywhere he went- without any pre-existing condition denials.
Healing- its His mission. Everyone. Everywhere.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The One They Call

dressed as Joan of Arc for a play in the Carmelite Convent; in Liseux, Normandy, France)

If Only...Hmmmmmmm

What did he get in exchange in this bargain? (goofie)

Off With His Head

On Saturday the Church observes the Memorial of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.

In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales wrote: "All the martyrs died for divine love.

When we say that many of them died for the faith, we must not imply that it was for a 'dead faith' but rather for a living faith, that is, faith animated by charity. Moreover, our confession of faith is not so much an act of intellect and faith as an act of the will and love of God.

For this reason, on the day of the passion the great St. Peter preserved faith in his soul but lost charity, since he refused in words to admit as Master him whom in his heart he acknowledged to be such. But there were other martyrs who expressly died for charity alone: such was the Savior's Great Precursor (St. John the Baptist) who suffered martyrdom because he gave fraternal correction..." (Book 7, Chapter 10, page 41)The great example of Jesus' "Great Precursor" raises a question for each of us, be we martyrs or not. How powerfully - and convincingly - do we give witness to others with a "living faith," that is, one "animated by charity?"

(Rev) Michael S. Murray,
OSFSDirector De Sales Spirituality Center
"Practical Paths to Holiness"
(reprinted with permission)

President Obama's Tribute to Ted Kennedy

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.
For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.

President Barack Obama

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sounds and Fury Signifying Nothing: The Unbearable Lightness of Sky Castles

You toil and tarry and wonder why
You scurry, query and battle cry
You bump and bruise and poke the eye
You build your castles on your ideologies in the sky

You storm and stew and hue and cry
You fight and forage and flutter by
You fiercely frighten and forcefully fly
You build your castles on your ideologies in the sky

You fall and fly and rise again
You scurry, query, bump bruise and then
fight and forage and flutter off and cry
still building your castles on your ideologies in the sky

And though these steps try to reach the heavens
they only so far as their highest step gain tred
and the ladder from heaven sent down instead to greet you
missed reaching you by the blindness of one arrogant step, bled
He for you to see, it isn't at all about your piety.

You can't earn your way to paradise
or build your castles high enough in the sky
If you miss the ladder sent to reach you neatly
because you mistook love for your sweat equity
You mistook the Holy Face for something made in your likeness
and the Holy Name for something more profanely lightness.

It isn't about your piety at all
or the preservation of your notoriety
It isn't about your claim to glory
or the money magnet of your popularity

If it's not about Love, it's not about anything
and nothing is worse than nothing parading as everything.

Candlelight Vigil in Thanksgiving For His 47 Years of Service in the Senate and to Pray for the Soul of Edward Kennedy Tonight

When: 7:45 tonight, August 26th,
Where: Dupont Circle, north side of the fountain
What: A solemn, candlelight vigil to honor Senator Kennedy.
Please bring some extra candles if you have them, and please bring your friends.

This is an important moment for us to remember Senator Kennedy together.

Can't Say Enough About This Man-they keep pouring in

Eulogy for Ted Kennedy from Jerome Maryon, President, Saint Paul Lay Committee on Contemporary Spiritual and Public Concerns (a Center for Catholic Social Policy), Boston, Mass.

Edward M. Kennedy: Requiescat in Pace

Sometimes the rich facts of a person’s life, the public accomplishments of a very public person, leave us overwhelmed at his or her loss. We’re far too desolate to “do the math” - to account properly for his or her greatness. Today, more than any day this decade, we face that challenge. For the person whom we have lost this day is not only one of the greatest legislators, but one of the greatest leaders, in American history. It is a testament to Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s unrivalled legislative accomplishments that we scarcely advert to the public leader as a whole, to what made him great, or, for that matter, in this counterfeit age, the Age of Celebrity, to what greatness itself demands.

It was just two weeks ago that we lost Eunice. When Ted could not make her funeral Mass, we knew then that the end was near for him as well. If this had been old Ireland, we would have heard the banshee wail.

Some would say that that would be all too appropriate, for it is the end of an era. Ted would be the first to correct them, quietly, humorously, affectionately. (Nancy Reagan attests to the warmth of his relations; so does Orrin Hatch; and so, for what little it’s worth, do I.) For the end of his life is but the beginning of his legacy.

First thing this morning, as I read the statements from the Kennedy family and from President Obama – and from around the world – I was reminded of three moments in the Kennedy legacy – our legacy. The legacy that formed and was formed by Ted, and that now empowers us all. For it is now, without equivocation, our turn to pick up the fallen standard.

I. What was the special gift of the Kennedys?

The first of the three moments in the Kennedy legacy was one that I’d only read about, in college, while researching a senior paper on Presidential psychology. Somewhere I turned up a fact that had escaped the attention of most commentators on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. A Peace Corps volunteer (the Corps being, of course, one of the President’s great legacies), was serving in an African city, somewhere along the coast, when a tribal chief walked into his quarters, bearing a portrait of the fallen leader. The volunteer was stunned: for this chief had been walking for days, all the way from his village, well in the interior, walking with little but that photo. What was it that had so moved the man? It wasn’t TV: they had none in the interior. It wasn’t charisma: the chief had never met the President. And it certainly wasn’t the grease that moves so much of Washington – lobbyists’ grease!

No, it as something else entirely. I stopped reading, and started thinking. TV personalities, like lobbyists, are too much with us; we’re too familiar with them, their pat lines, and their every fault. (For again, this is not a cerebral age, this is the Age of Celebrity.) A classic instance: Everyone in Poli Sci knows that the TV and radio audiences disagreed as to who won the first of the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960, with the radio listeners thinking it was Nixon, whereas the TV viewers, faced with Nixon’s scowl and sweat and five o’clock shadow, were won over by the Kennedy charisma. Well, yes, Kennedy was very cool – and never more so than when under pressure – but the fact of the matter, the invisible fact, the fact that had nothing to do with who shaved when, was that Kennedy had challenged the complacency of the nation – and survived. Kennedy had defied the mind set of the nation, the manic conformity of the 50’s – and this young upstart had not only survived, he scored an upset!

Now that really set me thinking. What was it about Jack Kennedy that could get a “nation moving again” – and not only move America, but move the world? What could bring Irish nuns and African chiefs, the Prime Minister of Britain, the President of France, and all of West Berlin, to tears?

What was it that Jimmy Carter had forgotten? That the speechwriters of George W. Bush had never even dreamt of?

Of this I was certain: whatever it was, that “x” quality which Jack Kennedy had summoned in the Presidential Debates and perfected in the Cuban Missile Crisis, was the same spirit that animated Bobby Kennedy in those last great primaries of ’68. And it was that self-same “x” that propelled Ted through one of the greatest legislative careers in America – and the world.

II. How did that special gift play out in Ted’s greatest primary?

That “x” came back this morning, and now again, at late lunch. As I read those moving statements from the Kennedy family, and the Obamas, and the world, my mind flashed back to a second moment in the Kennedy legacy, my own moment. I suppose that folks who are really good with Google or happen to be working in Ted’s archives will find me there – a much slimmer me, the cross country beanpole me!

For every day, as soon as I got out of class, I would go and volunteer at Ted’s primary headquarters in Manhattan. It was the New York State Democratic Primary, in the spring of 1980 (April, I think), and Ted was conducting what many commentators considered to be a quixotic campaign.

You’ll recall that he was running against Jimmy Carter, the sitting President, and the head of his own party, for the Presidential nomination in August (as it happens, also in New York). “Sitting” is the operative word – President Carter, who had initially benefitted (as Bush would benefit in September 2001) from a great national challenge, the taking hostage of the American diplomats in Tehran – spiking Presidential poll numbers, for in such moments of national shock everyone instinctively rallies round the Commander in Chief – had decided that his best strategy would be to re-assure the nation by showing it how diligent he was, how hard he was working on the crisis, chiefly by staying in the White House. This had backfired badly; what was now being called the “Rose Garden strategy” was not re-assuring us in the least. Folks had been flummoxed by the renewed surge of inflation, and infuriated by the renewed Arab oil boycott: there was a real sense that we were trapped in a recurrent nightmare, and the Rose Garden strategy was not showing us any way forward, any way out of the nightmare. Already, before the hostage taking, in the summer of ’79, Carter had misread the public mood three times over: he had convened a long summit at Camp David that was meant to show that he trusted the experts – but many people thought it suggested instead that he was casting about for answers he could not find himself; worse yet, he had sacked a handful of his Cabinet, so as to show that he was making a new beginning – but many people saw the sacking of relatively inconsequential politicians (who could name one of them today?) as scapegoating; and, worst of all, just before those firings, he had given a speech on our national “crisis of confidence,” in which he suggested that we were all of us to blame for our troubles (true), and that we would all have to pull together (also true), and that this might require a few sacrifices (true again, but how shall we be fired up for the sacrifice? – where was the energy, the passion, needed to lead a great crusade?) – that was a speech that so backfired in subsequent weeks and months that it was remembered, ever after, for a word he never uttered: the “malaise” speech. Three strikes…

So Ted ran. But not well. We all remember the botched interview with Roger Mudd, and the unprecedented back-to-back popular losses, for a Kennedy, in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. And so it was that, by the time the primary campaign reached New York, the commentators felt that Ted’s campaign was quixotic: he couldn’t win enough delegates now to get the nomination in August. So, wasn’t he tilting at windmills?

Most New Yorkers disagreed. So did I.

By being one of the many, many volunteers for Kennedy, I could help him win New York – and send a message to Carter. Get out of the Rose Garden!

Stop explaining. Start leading. Education and exhortation are only preliminary parts of a great Presidency, necessary but insufficient conditions. Necessary, indeed: when a President fails to educate the people as to the facts of a great undertaking, as Bush failed to educate the people as to the precious few facts we knew about Iraq, or about the need to make a full effort in Afghanistan, or to face up to the challenge of global warming, or to recall the horrors of unregulated, Wild West capitalism – last seen in the Roaring ‘20s – and to re-institute some of the firewalls of the New Deal, protections so obviously needed after Enron and yet still denied, … well, it is any wonder that his Presidency failed? So, education, yes. And exhortation, too – but Bush carried right on exhorting the public long after it had ceased to give credence to his beliefs. So exhortation is clearly no panacea. Something else is needed. Education, exhortation, and – there it is again, “x”…

It’s “x” that put me there, right alongside the Senator, in his talks at Primary HQ in Manhattan. I liked to watch the interaction of the press with the candidate. Even more, I loved to watch the candidate’s repartee – this was, after all, just what we expect of a Kennedy: no note cards from aides, no promptings from the VP at private lunches, and certainly no spending of days practicing how to read a State of the Union Address – can you imagine Jack practicing reading? No, no more so than we can imagine him strutting up to the platform!

No way. A Kennedy knows his mind – and every bit as importantly, he knows how to consult, how to inform that mind. Not flagrantly, but thoroughly and effectively: just contrast the secret, thorough, world-saving deliberations of the ExComm in the Cuban Missile Crisis with poor President Carter’s ten days at Camp David – that gave us the “malaise.”

And a Kennedy carries conviction. Not always – Ted’s interview with Roger Mudd was a study in poor preparation and even poorer self-confidence (the demon of Chappaquiddick compounded all the pressures on the ninth and last child, the slowest, heaviest, and most ungainly of the four brothers, and now the heir of his assassinated brothers). Not always, but in the key moments.

For me, then, those key moments were off-camera. When Ted would enter HQ, his instinctive reaction was always twofold. First, he oriented toward his staff and volunteers; he didn’t indulge himself in nasty labels – “Turd Blossom” – for them; instead, he prided himself on knowing them and their lives, their concerns. Ted was confident enough not to put down others; no, instead, he got down with them. Quietly, humorously, affectionately. If there was precious little brilliance in the NY campaign – no echo of Los Angeles 1960 – still, there was absolutely no braggadocio; this was a moment of bravery, and for everyone.

It hit me: that’s part of “x” - he really identifies with his staff! No wonder he has, by all accounts, the greatest staff on Capitol Hill!

It’s not just education and exhortation that makes a leader; empathy must be there – and Ted, like Bobby, had empathy to spare. (I think he got it in part from having to move so often as a boy: ten schools!)

So, empathy is a crucial component of “x” – but it isn’t the final part. We don’t elect Mother Teresa to Congress, much less to the White House.

Again, I noticed that when Ted entered Primary HQ, his reaction was twofold. As soon as he let people know how much he remembered them, valued them, he’d turn them on like spigots: How are we doing in Harlem? What’s the latest from Syracuse? Are we all set for tonight’s speech? Staffers leapt to show what they knew, and what they could do! He admired them, they admired him, and the result was action: informed, compassionate action.

Do I exaggerate? Just ask Orrin Hatch. Or John McCain. Or the Republican Senators who were present when Kennedy, despite the medical death sentence he had just received, entered the Senate, in May, 2008, to save Medicare from brutal cuts to doctors: some switched their votes on the strength of his personal, moral example; and some broke down and cried.

Back in the spring of ’80, by the time that Ted appeared before the press to accept the stunning upset victory he had just been granted by the voters of New York, I knew I was getting an education in politics that no college would rival. In fact, I was getting an education in greatness.

The scene is crystal clear. The waist-high stanchions and ropes - all that separated the candidate from any would-be assassin - the press, overawed, the staff and volunteers, exuberant beyond words, and finally, the Candidate. No Robert Redford moment: no, just a great grin, a few words of remarkably humble and humorous thanks, an appreciation of how the people of New York – who, like the people of Massachusetts, have always been kind to the clan – have given the nation cause for thought, and then another great grin, and a call to move onward (yes, to move the nation).

There I am, standing just outside the line, still in front of the press, within inches of the Candidate, at his right hand. (We don’t get to choose our moment in history, but I couldn’t have done better if I’d planned!) I wouldn’t be able to volunteer any further, and anyway, even though the exuberance of new hope from New York would carry Kennedy through other primaries, from Connecticut to California, it wouldn’t be enough – Carter had an insuperable lead in the delegate count from the earlier primaries, and a desperate battle at the Convention in Madison Square Garden failed to get delegates released to vote their conscience. The die was cast.

III. The Kennedy gift revealed: the triumph amidst the failure.

And yet, from that ultimate defeat, we gained this: Ted Kennedy’s greatest moment of leadership. Yes, his moment, not of greatest legislative triumph, but of leadership.

This is the third and final moment that struck me this morning, the moment that perhaps we only think we know. Until we feel our way through it, again, and know it for the first time.

It’s August 1980, it’s Madison Square Garden, and Kennedy has risen to make his concession. We can hear the Boston brogue, the personal agony, the communal triumph, and yes, the words, those words, as though they had been uttered yesterday –

“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Those in the Garden and those of us watching at home – it made no difference – we wept, we cheered, we carried on like banshees. The death of presidential aspiration, the birth of new hope. Politics had become profoundly personal.

And in that personal moment, it became real. We touched what is common to all.

Oh, to be sure, not everyone got with the moment. The President was plainly pissed that he had been upstaged; but then again, how did the picture of diligence presume to compete with a Kennedy at the height of his power? The delegates were out of control for a full half-hour!

And when have we seen the like since? I had the pleasure, in London, a couple months after the Inauguration of President George H.W. Bush, to ask an assembly of Republican graduate student scholars to raise their hands and recite a paragraph from his Inaugural Address. What did I get? Silence.

So I asked, instead, just for a sentence. Angry silence.

“Oh, come on!” I said, “it can’t be that hard: we have many students from the (British) Commonwealth who were not even born on the 20th of January, 1960, and I’d bet that they remember the key phrases of Jack Kennedy’s Inaugural Address!” Sure enough, I had only to say, “The torch has been …” and they chimed in, “passed to a new generation;” I’d start to say, “Ask not …” and the students of the Commonwealth, from India and Pakistan through Kenya and South Africa to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, would chorus: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!” You’d think we were at an evangelical tent revival!

To make my Republican compatriots feel better, I concluded that part of the speech by acknowledging that George H.W. Bush did get off one memorable line – “kinder and gentler” …though I had to concede that Nancy Reagan probably eclipsed him, in the biggest (and most furious) stage whisper in Washington: “Kinder and gentler than whom?”

So, there is a gift in rhetoric, a gift that endures even in a counterfeit age, when utterly mindless emotions are dumped all over the Internet – and spewed all over town hall meetings. There is a reason Pakistanis could “remember” Jack Kennedy’s Inaugural – when bright grad students who had recently volunteered for George H.W. Bush couldn’t remember a word he said.

It isn’t just the words.

Or else the extraordinarily creative speechwriters for George W. Bush would be up for a Nobel Prize in Literature.

It’s what informs the words: that’s the “x” – the gift of the Kennedys!

And none know it better than Ted Sorensen.

He never crafted a speech for Jack Kennedy that he did not go over, and over, and over again with the Senator and then the President. Oh, they did a lot of wordsmithing together, but mostly, they worked on the high moral concepts and the practical political realities. They worked on them at length because Jack wanted to capture his experiences, his beliefs, and the facts of the matter at hand, all in one. Jack knew his own mind – we cannot conceive a moment in the Oval Office where Paul O’Neill would raise a moral dilemma and Karl Rove and Dick Cheney would drown him out with a chant – but Jack also knew that he needed to be informed: the Presidency is not a faith-based enterprise.

Ted Sorensen & Jack Kennedy did this so often, they could finish each other’s sentences. And what they did, Ted Kennedy recreated to meet the needs of his office.

We’ve spent a lot of time on the Kennedy family, rather than simply on Ted. But Ted cannot remotely be understood without an appreciation of his family, from the unremitting pressures of his father – “We don’t want any losers around here” – to the extraordinary inspiration – and horror – of having had all three of his elder brothers killed in the line of duty. Ted did not simply love his brothers and admire their accomplishments; in a very personal way, he knew he was called to carry on their work – not to finish it, but to advance it. It took him years to realize that that would have to be in the Senate, and more years again to become the master of legislation, and yet more years to convince the members across the aisle that his joy in legislative combat diminished in no way the joy he took in them.

Pakistani students quote Jack’s Inaugural by heart. Ted’s fellow Senators weep at the sight of him.

Perhaps it is because Ted, like Jack and Bobby (and in another domain, Eunice) knew that the only way to lead “we, the people” is to educate us, then exhort us, to practice empathy with us as much in private as to show it in public – and above all else, to speak from the personal trifecta of experience, belief, and fact.

That is the acme of leadership. And that, I submit to you, is the secret of Ted Kennedy’s legislative brilliance.

Ted Kennedy first studied health care with Harvard Profs – when he spent six months on his back, after the near-death experience of the plane crash in ’64. In ’66, he visited a community health care clinic that two Tufts medical profs had opened in a housing project; that experience gave him a new belief, and upon consultation with his staffers, in just a couple months, he had persuaded the entire Congress: community health centers became part of the law of the land; and not only have they survived every cut of the last 28 years, they now serve some 9,000,000 Americans.

Thinking back on the hardships his own family had experienced in their first generations in Boston, and believing that we could learn never to label a people as undesirable again, Ted helped craft the Immigration Reform Act of 1965. And so it goes: his experience, belief, and careful staff work build the greatest body of legislative accomplishment in our history. And every loss began a new opportunity – the very moment he lost the coveted position of Majority Whip in 1971, he told the press that he would dedicate himself to committee work, and never more so than on universal health care. As President Obama said this morning, “For five decades, virtually every piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.”

It was his ability to read others and their needs that made him great. No detail was to small to attend to, no political current too great to cross. For the least of Americans, he was always there. Twice he defied the political correctness of the hour and led the Senate to increase the minimum wage. And even when he was battling to defend President Clinton on the floor of the Senate during his trial, he actually took time to come to the phone and say, “Jerry, I think what you need for your article is a team: I’ve asked a lawyer and a theologian from my staff to collaborate with you. Do you think that will do? If not, call me back.”

Who else would recall a boy’s name from1980? Who else, in the midst of the worst Presidential crisis since Watergate, would pride himself on putting together just the right team for a college article?

No wonder they call him the Lion of the Senate. In his pride, we all stand tall.

What was the special gift of the Kennedys? The call to serve: exemplified in life after life, career after career, exemplified in such a powerful way that we want to go and do likewise. From the Peace Corps to political leadership, three generations have been inspired by the Kennedys. What other “dynasty” could claim as much?

How did that gift play out in the NY primary? The voters remembered the gift – and rewarded it even when it could not make him the winner. In effect, they said in 1980 what we all too rarely say to those whom we esteem: this is how much we value you.

What was the triumph amidst the failure? Through career defeats and personal errors, even of great magnitude, Ted had the humility to know that we are all of us flawed, and to those who have been given the least, the community owes the most.

The call to serve, the gift that millions doubled, the triumphs that have empowered three generations in the face of idle celebrity, mindless candidacies, and sheer apathy: what are these political gifts, if not a testimony to faith?

Ted Kennedy would not always agree with the Bishops, and yet, who, Catholic or otherwise, would deny the inspiration that he brought to millions? The inspiration that he especially drew from his mother Rose, from his brothers Jack & Bobby, and from all those whom he worked with – from volunteers through staffers to GOP opponents and friends.

Inspiration compounding inspiration at every turn. Only the greatest of leaders remembers the least of volunteers; only the greatest of legislators empowers the world.

What he said of his brother Robert, in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on that grim day in June, 1968, may be his own and most fitting close –

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

Requiescat in pace: Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009


EDWARD (Ted) KENNEDY- The Work is Not Done, The Hope Lives On, The Dream Will Never Die. Rest in Peace

A Patriot of the Highest Order

Ted Kennedy was born the year my Dad was born. He played football with my uncle Mike at Harvard. I rooted for his Presidential campaign watching all the coverage when I was in college.
Then I met him, for the first time at Saint Matthews Cathedral in Washington, DC.
Ted Kennedy. There will be statues of him and buildings and streets named after him.
He was in the United States Senate from the age of 30- 77 and died with his boots on. 47 years in the US Senate. Champion of reform in Health, Immigration, Education, Civil Rights, raising the rights and dignity of workers everywhere- he catalyzed transformation of the country and saw the country's first African American President.

My prayers are with the entire family.
May they carry on his work with the dignity and tenacity that he did and show us how.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How did the American Papist Squirt Miss This One

Federal Court today in the Dakotas Upheld Informed Consent Notification Guidelines and Planned Parenthood is Ticked.

Google it- or read a paper. It was a mixed ruling- but the significant part is that abortion doctors now must advise patients that they are terminating a live autonomous separate human person (it's not just a "procedure" like a tummy tuck, a nose job, or a tooth extraction.) This has huge significance.
They did not have to advise of other things like- abortions increase the risk of suicide.

Everyone in that state must be told now before an abortion- uh, honey, you are actually terminating (uh, killing) a live, autonomous, separate, unique, individual human being- just thought you should know. It might make a difference. Especially if you ever heard of something called the Ten Commandments. Just askin.

Addendum to the Miseducation of Monsignors in The Year of the Priest

Praying While Female Can Get You Almost Arrested.
The New Paranoid Female Profiling in Mass For Promotion Strategies.

The degree of misogyny in the catholic church as a result of the perverse understanding of holiness as described below to be a total extraction of all healthy heterosexual attraction or physicality and a ban on the married priesthood option (revenge of the Albigensians who didn't win the Cathar insurrection so spiritually infected the entire Catholic World with this platonic heresy-you vil ALL be eunichs!!) can seriously get you if you are female severely harassed by even the police by
over-zealous clergy who think you are too threateningly attractive (like it's your fault what genes your parents gave you.) If you are a male priest, just expect to be completely defrocked like Father Cutie and banished to the Episcopalians- for having a more correct doctrinal understanding and one the church had for its first 1,000 years of existence.

It's not a joke and it's not an over-exaggeration. They will send the cops after you for praying while female. Ask me if I know a Priest angling to demonstrate how "holy" and "pure" he was with Cardinal ambitions at the urgent insistence of despirately envious post-menapausal nosey-bodies to throw someone under the bus for "holy" points. He stormtrooped an officer inside a church at the end of a Mass to stage a spectacle-like he was Monsignor Himler or someone. They actually applaud this abuse. They put his picture in the paper and promoted him to a major suburban parish with a big budget and a school. Shocking you say? No par for the course apparently- and this came complete with rude rantings of various hierarchy personnel.

I wonder if he realizes how blessed and what a mercy it is that there is not currently a federal lawsuit for the abuse of police authority in that regard. Still waiting for some sign of contrition or "sorry"- the statute of limitations on police harassment is what exactly? What do you expect from an institution where women are definitionally prohibited from all priest jobs and all government jobs of significant authority in the entire country called "The Holy See." Seriously, when you listen to their "policies" please remember they are ALL men and the women who feed them.

Now that's a story for Rachel Maddow. Please call and I will give you more details. Thanks for saying my instincts were so good last night. Thanks for noticing.

Any literature on how to forgive total schmucks when they don't ask for forgiveness is more than welcome as are civil Email comments for helping me get over it without shattering my faith. If you need a witness Affidavit from me let me know. I'll buy you coffee.

Twisted Heresies and Perversions on Holiness

Of Mysogenies and Miseries

The notion that Highest Holiness is definitionally Non-Conjugally expressed "love" is a perversion, not the maximal expression of "Love." It was never anywhere expressed by Jesus. It was never communicated by any Apostle including Paul. It is in fact anti-biblical. It is a church creation that is incorrectly attributed to the Holy Spirit, and it is a myth in service of an institutional accomodation or "discipline" as has been acknowledged by the past Pope. 39 Popes were married prior to the second Millenium. It is a fabrication and deviation from Purest Holiness, invented in the 12th Century with a theology created after it to justify a variety of other earthly things (that co-incidentially also was reinforced by the lonely widow's lonely hearts club who benefitted from priests not marrying to give them more attention and affection- you see it at play still.)

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to "LOVE" the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength- and the second flows from it- to Love your neighbor as yourself. The "strength" has a physical dimension and definition. To love one's neighbor with one's whole strength is not just intellectual (mind is) or spiritual (as soul is) or emotional (as heart is) but means a physical Love. An everything Love with one's whole self. The church has extracted the physical love out of the mandate- and it is a violation of the commandment. If "strength" is missing from your version look at Deuteronomy 6:5 where the commandment to Love God comes from that Jesus was quoting. Strength (sometimes translated as "might"; some translations have the quote in Matthew dropping it.)

It comes also from a place of deepest disdain for women. It facilitates mysogenies and miseries and keeps women from equal positions of authority under a perverted invented theology that was nowhere expressed by Jesus.

It may be "easier" to have a thousand post-menapausal girlfriends and pseudo "aunt" suggar mommas taking care of you and your Ministry, but it isn't holiness. Don't fool yourself, Pope JPII wasn't fooled. It is an adolescent priesthood that extracts all things physical from the Love commandment, and it causes a perversion in all the other dimensions.

You can call it what you want, but it is not "holiness." It might save you alimony and child support however if you don't have a concept of "faithfulness" which is a key attribute of Christ who in revelation is named "Faithful" and "True." Emotional adultery is every bit as evil as physical adultery and "Faithfulness" is an attribute of honor within character that is essential to Holiness. If one lacks that one really does not have a clue what LOVE means.

Time To Kick

Your Mother Out Of The Kitchen.

For I have come to turn....a daughter against her mother-in-law.
Matthew 10:35.

Do you have a meddlesome ego-needy emotional-needy parent in your business when you wish they would get a life? Have you trapped them unwittingly in your business out of your own ego and emotional needs?

Time to Grow the F Up and strap a pair on.
Your spouse will thank you. May even Kiss you.

Your mother and all your surrogate aunts will find someone their own age to pick on.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Please Get Over Yourself

Is It Still All About You?

People are rapidly sick of politicians who angle for the spotlight leveling vituperative personal jabs pretending to be high minded policy differences-especially when they come from vacuous coached brains. It still seems all about political posturing, scoring ridiculous talking head points,
creating contention for the sake of fundraising.
Some religious so called leaders fall into the same trap.
We are reminded by a good rabbi here at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews that the month to reflect on one's sins is fastly approaching after the indulgent August lazy vacation days.

So it's time to get over yourself- whatever yourself does and I don't exempt you religious so called leaders of any ilk because you are just as unconscious as the rest of us. Some of you even in the name of God do the most insanely evil things and you know who you are. If you don't yet, think harder because we do.

Here is the plumb line-
Check yourself against the plumb line. Did Jesus posture politically for advancement and sell down the river anyone he could profit off or did he turn the money changers out of the Temple?
Did he throw Mary M. to the dogs or stay with her, and she with him until the last breath?
Did Jesus suck up to power structures to angle his picture in the paper to increase his profile
and betray his heart? Did Jesus make sure he had a roof over his own head at any cost or price while homeless people sat begging at the temple gates or did he cure everyone he saw and say- birds of the air have nests and foxes have holes but the son of man has no place to lay his head. Did Jesus build physical building annexes and pawn people's trust and family jewels to do it?

Who are you really. What do you think you are doing?
Self-deception is the worst kind of fraud.

The people who clamor against Health Care reform -and particularly a "public option" that would ensure competitive incentives without even having read the bill or knowing what is in it are Anti-Healing people. They are just tools- programmed mindless ideological tools of the status quo powers that are.
The Anti-Healers don't want to look at how 'reform' of any kind can create miracles.
They don't really believe in Miracles. They are far too comfortable in their slogans, formulas and cliches. They self select the sayings that support their pre-cast ideologies, and in so doing edge completely out Jesus- the Healer.

Who are you? A Healer or an Anti-Healer.
There is no gray here. Self delusion dug deeper is just deeper self-delusion. It's a game going nowhere fast-full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Earth Is A Womb

You Only Live for 100 or so Years Here If You Are Lucky Health Care Reform Or Not.

In tomorrow's reading in all Catholic churches in the entire world there is a passage concerning the "bread of life" which states as quoted by Jesus' beloved and close apostle and disciple John "Whoever eats of this bread will live forever" John 6: 51.

John was/is Jewish. Jesus was/is Jewish. So if you are Jewish, pay attention.

What does he mean.

Every human life will dwell on the earth for more or less 100 years.....some meet disaster and destruction without their choice earlier, some make wise choices and live beyond 100.
100 is a good target if you are lucky and your money holds out. {My father used to joke, 'I'm getting so old I have all new used parts.' and a wise Bishop Boland once quipped 'I hope to leave a biopsied piece of me in every clinic so there is a relic of me in every state'}

So what is this saying about "whoever eats of this bread will live forever"

Adam and Eve were created to live forever eternally. Sin caused them to crash into the current dimension of finite humanity. Humanity is finite on earth. But the soul can be redeemed to live forever. It can be redeemed. How? One Way Only; Through Jesus.

There is an eternal umbilical cord that one can tie oneself to --by choice. Now you know- it's your choice.

You may not have had a choice coming to earth- you may not have asked to be sent or may have have asked to be sent (that's between you and headquarters). But once you landed in a womb you didn't have a choice to grow here. It was not your choice, so long as you were attached to an umbilical chord to grow in a womb. You just grew-by design of your DNA. You didn't say- please grow me an arm now, please grow me a leg, now please grow me a brain. et voila! You didn't place your order.
God had that programmed. You grew once you were attached to the nutrients of an umbilical chord in a womb.

But when you got here- everything was and is a choice. You have a choice to eat as a toddler what your mother tells you is good for you. You have a choice to obey or not what your parents tell you is good for you. You have a choice to do your homework, to go to college or not, to go to grad school or get a job, to excel or slack off, to save or spend, to buy a car or not, a house or not, have sex or not, have kids or not, marry or not, to run for office or not, etc.

You are a conscious human being by design. You are designed to make informed choices.

The earth is the womb for eternity. You are here for about 100 or so years if you are lucky.
(odds are better if you don't smoke, don't drink to excess, exercise and don't abuse your body....all things within YOUR CHOICE)

God gives you "free will." That's because what fun would it be to create people and demand that they love you. God didn't create robots to parrot "I love you god" like glassy eyed moonies or kool-aid drinkers. That would not be anything authentic or worth creating.

He creates people with the choice to love him or not- I'm here, do you really love me or not. So prove it.

If you do really love him, you listen to him. Here is what he says. "I am the bread of life, he who comes to me will never hunger." Here is what he also told his most beloved disciple/apostle:

"Whoever eats of this bread will live forever" He is either kidding or a liar or not. That's what he said. Deal with it. Figure out what it really means.

This is how he broke the curse of the fall of Adam and Eve from their garden sin which threw them from bucolic eternal bliss into human time and space exile.

Man was created to live forever in soul/spirit- some religions like Indian Seiks believe man is made of fire, water, salt, earth, spirit and does live forever in some form.

But God made it man's choice whether to carry on into eternity ---in a place with and near him.

You can strap and snap yourself into the umbilical chord of eternal life like a child first learning to snap himself into his car seat. You can hook yourself up to your umbilical chord.

You can hook yourself up to the eternal fountain of youth- the eternal life forever fountain where there is no more crying, no more pain.
You can do this simply by understanding that God himself transformed himself into your food, the food that transports you through the umbillical chord of eternal life into eternity.

Would you ever in a million years believe if I told you that pizza and ice cream that your mother ate while she was pregnant with you transformed into substances and chemical compositions in her blood that somehow transmitted necessary life giving nutrients that flowed through an umbilical chord to reach you when you lived in her womb as invitro embryo to sustain your life unto birth after nine months into this creation? Pizza and Ice Cream became food for your life for 100 years on earth. Pizza and Ice Cream. OK. Gelatto for you Paysano.

What is the Pizza and Ice Cream of Eternal Life? The Body and Blood of Christ.

Better than the manna from heaven in the desert on Moses' trek- Jesus in the Eucharist is his very present help in time of need. It is himself. Here for you, under the illusion of just a crackerish wafer made from stuff on earth, and composed, transformed truly into the umbilical life giving sustenance into eternal life.

You can now live 100 plus forever.

If only you figure out that all you have to do is strap and snap yourself into your car seat which is your umbillical chord to eternal life hereafter.


His words, not mine. You can quote him on it. Better yet, check out what a "Eucharist" means.

Pizza and Ice Cream got you 100 years. Jesus' body and blood gets you eternity.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Know Any Boy Scouts?

Extreme Back To School Summer Sales

Normally this blog doesn't commercially advertise except....for this cool Store, The American Gift Center (1629 K St. NW, Washington, DC, 20006, , because the owners are clients and I love them. They are Punjabi Seiks who are now naturalized proud American citizens and if you want to learn more about that google "Golden Temple"-the one in India, not the fast Indian food joint.

They are having a huge back to school sale and one of their coolest products is a line of back packs that would be awesome for a boyscout troup or a bunch of very patiotic campers because they are "Stars and Stripes" American Flag back packs. LOVE IT! The owner says they didn't sell to European tourists and others elsewhere around the world because the American Flag apparently invokes hostility in some parts. Ya Don't Say!

So help a brother out, and outfit your scout troupe with the very totally cool huge fashionable American Flag back packs. They will love you. He will be able to pay his bills and I will be able to eat.

They Ship Anywhere in the World
Say Cynthia sent you for the best discount.

Happy Birthday Uncle Bill

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful Part II; The Synergy of Eros and Agape

Why Do They Hate Women So Much?

This is worth serious reflection on the eve of the Assumption

The uproar over the "scandal" revelations that Father M. of the Legionaires fathered a few more kids than originally thought is perplexing and disturbing. The recent post from the American Papist gets to the root of the discomfort- it's about money. Inheritance. Child Support. They hate spending money on some priest's girlfriend and the kids he fathered-they begrudge their contributions going to someone he loved and the offspring of his intimacy. They are fine with spending blind billions on catholic charities for people they don't know, the faceless "poor" but contributions to someone he loved enough to father children with and support somehow rubs the wrong way because they can't fathom that this somehow is any part of "ministry." A priest with an actual "FAMILY" has been excluded completely from the definition of Christian Ministry and Vocation in the Catholic World. "Ministry" is narrowly defined and involves building, upkeep and maintenance of Cathedrals and church buildings, salaries of just men and women religious who have sworn off ever requiring men to build families with them, schools and orphanages for other people's kids and various ministry "projects" which are "Pro-Life"- but not really inclusively so, because the lives of women attached to priests and their offspring (or future progeny) just should get persecuted into dust not supported or embraced.

The Protestant world has long long ago banished this sort of small hearted miserly misogyny.
It's so ugly. It's so not Jesus. Jesus was about People.
God is Love.
God isn't a Building. God isn't a Budget. God isn't an abstract "Parish" but God is what Is when Real Love Is.- not the Usery kind of I Love You If I can Use You for What You Will Give Me- but the real kind of supportive Love- that kind perhaps this Father M. had for his family. Eros and Agape are not mutually exclusive and in fact are mutually synergistic.
The Protestant world pays their clergy salaries that are living wages designed to support their entire family and they are tailored to the needs of their family.

A priest who loved a woman and her children is closer to God by virtue of greater love than someone whose so called love of God persecutes women and crushes their spirits to dust.

The Economy of Heaven is not of this world. Wait till you see how off you all were and how much damage you all did. Cosmic Theistic Justice isn't what you think it is.

Statute of Limitations on Darth Vadar

The inUtterable Horror Show of a FORMER Vice President writing his Memoires.

--because the "Statute of Limitations" is long over....

What is the Statute of Limitations on "MURDER"-
Answer: Never.
So for the secret torture unto death missions, the secret assassination teams, the secret War on Terror that terrorized millions itself?


Keep spilling those guts-

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

believe (what's the alternative)

The Space
Between Grace
And You
Is Faith

Talk To Mr. Ed

Call Your Mother

No one owns her- she's your mother too.
August 15th, Feast of the Assumption- too good not to be taken up like Elijiah in body into the Heavens. She has a great view there. Call your Mother.

By George, Go George!

Recently there was a heartwarming article all over AOL about a homeless Jewish holocaust survivor in NY living out of a shopping cart who died in her 90s - and left $100,000 to a major Jewish University in Jerusalem, where she had never been (apparently she hid a tin coffee can in her shopping cart- imagine the discipline not to touch her savings!).

Why wait till you die? (must have thought George Soros because look what is all over the news today)

Yesterday morning George Soros announced a 35 million gift to support low-income families across New York State. Back to School New York will help families buy supplies for the coming school year. A collaborative effort involving the State of New York and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the new program will provide $200 per child to the families of the more than 850,000 children receiving public assistance or food stamps in New York State. I thought you would be interested to read a few stories covering the announcement that George made at a New York City public school together with New York State Governor David Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others. You can also listen to an interview with George Soros this evening, August 12, 2009 on National Public Radio's All Things Considered at 6:08 and 8:08 p.m. Eastern Time. You can listen online at by clicking on "Listen Live," or at Type George Soros' name in the upper right hand search box. Links to articles in the New York Times, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal are below.

All best,
Michael Vachon

Soros Gift Allows Bonuses to State's Needy Students
New York Times

"A $35 million gift from George Soros, the financier and philanthropist, will allow for a $200 back-to-school bonus for each of more than 850,000 low-income children in New York State this fall, state officials said on Friday..."

Soros donates $35m to 'back to school' fund
Financial Times
By Simone Baribeau in New York

"New York families on public assistance or food stamps are set to receive an additional $200 per child as part of a public-private partnership between the charitable foundations of George Soros, the state of New York, and the US Department of Health and Human Services..."

Soros Gives To Match Federal Funds for New York Needy
Wall Street Journal
By Shelly Banjo

"New York (Dow Jones)--Global financier and philanthropist George Soros is giving $35 million to needy schoolchildren in New York, enabling the stat..."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I Feel like Dancin, Dancin, Dancin, Yeah.

By a vote of 68 - 31 the Senate has just confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is an historic, groundbreaking event that marks the start of a new day for justice in America. Her confirmation is just the beginning of the significant change that President Obama can bring to our judicial system.

Age 2

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

August is a Jumpin Month

August 5 and 10 More Days to the Feast of the Assumption

Find your Favorite Saint Of The Day Next Find By Date

Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica -
This was the church that was the Vatican before the Vatican after the Popes came back from Avignon, France. Very blessed place- white roses fall and white lights penetrate into the
'nativity crypt.'

First raised at the order of Pope Liberius in the mid-fourth century, the Liberian Basilica was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III shortly after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as Mother of God in 431. Rededicated at that time to the Mother of God, St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honoring God through Mary. Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it has survived many restorations without losing its character as an early Roman basilica. Its interior retains three naves divided by colonnades in the style of Constantine’s era. Fifth-century mosaics on its walls testify to its antiquity.
St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals in memory of the first centers of the Church. St. John Lateran represents Rome, the See of Peter; St. Paul Outside the Walls, the See of Alexandria, allegedly the see presided over by Mark; St. Peter’s, the See of Constantinople; and St. Mary’s, the See of Antioch, where Mary is supposed to have spent most of her life.
One legend, unreported before the year 1000, gives another name to this feast: Our Lady of the Snows. According to that story, a wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the basilica’s dome every August 5.

THANK YOU BELIEFNET (click on Right)

Big Funny Pharma

Paid Hecklers Off Their Meds at Town Hall meetings

Oh Michael, Michael, Michael (Steele). What were you thinkin??

The stonewalling and delay strategies to blungeon the health care reform into trivial pursuit oblivion isn't going to work. The shouts of "socialized medicine" and fright factor follies are not going to work.

Too many of us know the horror show nightmare stories of relatives, neighbors and ourselves about the exploitations of egregiously overpaid insurance execs profiting off the miseries of the rest of us. They are literally killing us with their greed.
Planting bafoonish shouting hecklers at August Town Hall meetings is totally transparent and makes you all look like ignoramusus-- rude, ignorant, loud, fatassed, inconsiderate, mercenaries of the insurance lobby.

What are you giving these people beside piles of cash? A lifetime free Zoloft supply?

I especially love the guy who tries to rake up that populist sympathy on Olberman last night who said something like "I may not know how to use elegant language" or "I may not be articulate in my expression" .....but "Obama spent 6 months finding a dog for his kids and he wants to shove this down our throats in weeks?" Like the policy wonks haven't been at the Health Care debacle for the last few decades with the last serious try in Clinton's first term.

Do you seriously think that Congress should be bullied around like this?
Cut the Crap Out. Vigilante mercenary hecklers mock us all- they highlight the Moron Factor in the RNC. Run Run Run as fast as you can from this strategy.

Did I mention how much I love that Olberman guy- and I'm not gay but if I was that Rachel his sidekick is a hottie. Good reporting you guys. Keep it up. Next time you are in Washington let me take you to dinner.

Nice Job Uncle Bill

Playing Nice With Korean Nukes

Bill to the rescue-literally. Two Korean-American journalists released from looking at 12 years of hard labor... and hopefully some -calm yourselves down -deal on the nuclear front.

These are the benefits of being a former President and having a wife who is Secretary of State.
Charter a jet and get those girls out of there.

What you might have missed, but I didn't, not so behind the scenes is a genius of a slight man named John Podesta who accompanied Bill on the journey. He was his former Chief of Staff, now runs the Center for American Progress think tank and is a professor of law at Georgetown Law.
John Podesta is the quiet, get it done guy. Wiley like a fox smart. Damn Proud to meet you and be an American smart. Love that guy.

And now for their next trick??? Perhaps getting those three American hikers out of Iran.

truth in advert. disclaimer-he's not really my uncle, it's an artistic poetic license play on 'uncle sam', and i really did have an uncle bill who died tragically in his early 40s so i just miss saying 'uncle bill.'

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You'd Rather Have an UNWISE LATINA?

Play That Funky Music White Boy

The same odious onerous old White guy senatorial song and dance over the paranoia on someone not so old, white, Protestant and perhaps Southern will rear its drawling head again to raise the most appauling non-issues regarding Sonia Sotomayer and she will be confirmed anyway.

The problem with a Wise Latina is what exactly? You would rather find an unwise one?
Diversity doesn't lend itself to helpful differing perspectives in your book? Might someone who understands anti-catholic anti-immigrant bigotry actually be able to relate to the ethnic experiences of Italians or Irish?

How does the flat tire on the Pizza delivery truck sound?
Dego Whap Whap Whap Whap.
That was the joke running around my white suburban Philadelphia Jr. High when I grew up.
It's a racial epithet. Actually it's two- its a dumb bad ethnic joke. Who today even knows Italian Catholic Americans at one time were the object of deep discrimination and called "dego" and "whap"? Alito apparently might know as he spoke about how anti-Italian discrimination informed his perspective if not decisionmaking at his confirmation hearing. He openly told of the fact that his Italian immigrant family faced discrimination in America. No one had a second thought that this obviously would shape someone's perspective.

But Sonia Sotomayer had to get defensive about her belief that a "wise" latina might similarly be able to broaden the perspective and answer absurd charges that this somehow makes her "racist" - against whom exactly-southern white guys??? Are you kidding? The person who writes the scripts on these RNC strategies would be fired from Letterman they are such bad jokes. Seriously- are you boys off your meds?

She might broaden the perspective perhaps on immigrant issues, spanish language issues, accent discrimination title VII issues, and a host of others.

Remember that joke about 5 witnesses at the scene of an accident relaying six different versions of events? Perspective. That's what diversity means in part- she has a different vantage point. And it's a big country, so that's what we want.

She is a juvenile diabetic- how might she feel about universal health care issues? She is a
woman- so how might she feel about access to early screening for breast cancer and the constitutionality of legislation concerning certain health care reformed measures? Might she have a degree of serious concern about some issues that a male might not? She is a woman who worked for her living and didn't live off the income of a husband most of her professional life. What might that inform her about concerning the ability of women to have equal rights and opportunities in the workplace?

I'll take a WISE LATINA any day over anything Unwise.

The Wisest thing that the Republicans can do is not assault the integrity of this person any longer. The more they do, the more they look like complete Moronskis-- not to be racist against the Polish.

WHAT: Rally to Support Judge Sonia Sotomayor
WHEN: Wednesday, August 5, 11:45 am, EST
WHERE: Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC
Download and a print a flyer for the rally here.
Tell your friends!
***Rain location: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building
-- Your Allies at People For the American Way

hysterical-off-key prophet, not a stalker

Someone invite this kid on the tonight show.

Sweetness in the City-does it get much better?

And they get to Inherit The Earth

Meekness is the greatest of virtues.

- Joshua b. Levi, Talmud: Aboda Zara, 20b

Peace at the Crossroads of Kashmir

They had a conference on the Hill I am sorry I missed.

So I publish the recap by the Executive Director here:

Ghulam Nabi Fai
Executive Director
Kashmiri American Council

"Kashmir Issue: Regional & International Dimension"

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
August 3, 2009

With every passing conference, we have constantly strived to improve ourselves owing to a belief that stagnation leads to decline. Onwards from that, this Tenth International Kashmir Peace Conference shares the eternal commitment and resolve of encouraging a peaceful resolution to the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir in which the aspirations of the people of Kashmir may be paramount. However, it does so in the spirit of reconciliation, not confrontation; equality, not discrimination; and hope, not despair. It is our firm conviction that wisdom will guide decisions rather than myth, superstition or deceit.Overall, our purpose is to encourage the bringing together of scholars, academics, diplomats, from India, Pakistan and Kashmir as well as policy making personalities in Washington, D.C. Our spirit is of understanding, our heart is motivated by justice for Kashmiri peoples’ right of self-determination and mind recognizes the necessity of building bridges of peace and avoiding war.We are optimistic that this conference is only the first step, in the long journey towards peace, which may, realistically, only be achievable by establishing a peace process that includes the governments of India, Pakistan as well as the accredited leadership of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This may not happen without the deeper engagement of the United States with both India and Pakistan. We have invited distinguished delegates from India, Pakistan and from both sides of the Ceasefire Line in Kashmir. They undoubtedly have varied and diverse experiences and expertise. So we do expect different presentations during the conference. It is simply because there are more than one parties involved with the dispute. In having the distinguished speakers from India, Pakistan and Kashmir share the podium, we want the beginning of a dialogue that can truly lead us out of the terrifying situation into a peaceful and diplomatic resolution.So the objective of the conference is to create an atmosphere for dialogue – the dialogue that should take place between people with different opinions and different sides in conflict. This means making sure that there is a peace process in south Asia and there is free exchange of views and opinions, however, different but in an atmosphere that is free from fear, terror, intimidation and most importantly devoid of any blame game and accusation.Hence, the aims and objectives of this conference are not to speak against one government or another. On the contrary, our main purpose is to facilitate a sincere dialogue in the form of a peace process to resolve the Kashmir issue that will ultimately bring peace and prosperity not only to Kashmir but also to the region of South Asia – home to one fifth of total human race.So our primary motivation is: to establish a peace process that includes major stakeholders along with the movers and shakers in Pakistan, India and Kashmir. In that regard, we are entirely aware that a peace process has been initiated between India and Pakistan. That peace process has chosen to emphasize confidence building measures, increased economic trade and bus travel between Srinagar and Muzzaffarabad. Following the first high-level meeting of government officials from both countries, some success was achieved in recognizing the following key principles:First, a commitment to peaceful methods of conflict resolution in South Asia;Second, rejection of all forms of extremism that are engulfing Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Kashmir;Third, a just resolution concerning the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the will and wishes of the people of the territory.The importance of these peace initiatives cannot be overstated, particularly when considering the link between stability and American socio-economic and geo-political interests. Sadly, the potential for violence is ever-present which could catapult South Asia towards uncontrollable de-stabilization.The requisite need for Obama Administration with all other stakeholders is to prevent the further destabilization of south Asia and fulfill its moral obligation to mandate a peace process in Kashmir thereby, also protecting American interests in the region. Here it is important to note that there has always been bipartisan expression of support for the U.S. position toward Kashmir. It is apparent from: When the Kashmir dispute erupted in 1948, the United States championed the stand that the future status of Kashmir must be ascertained in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the territory. The U.S. was a principal sponsor of the resolution # 47, which was adopted by the Security Council on 21 April 1948, and which was based on that unchallenged principle. Following the resolution, the U.S. as a leading member of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, adhered to that stand. The clarification made by President George W. Bush on February 22, 2006 that the United States supports a solution of the Kashmir dispute acceptable not only to India and Pakistan but also to “citizens of Kashmir;”As a candidate President Obama said “I will continue support of ongoing Indian Pakistani efforts to resolve Kashmir problem in order to address the political roots of the arms race between India and Pakistan;” He also mentioned on October 30, 2008, “We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants;” US Under-secretary of State, William Burns, said in New Delhi on June 18th, 2009 that ‘“The US favours resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan and wants the Kashmir problem to be solved keeping in view the aspirations of the Kashmiri people”. And Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton said in Mumbai, India on July 18, 2009 in, “The decision (on Kashmir) has to be between India and Pakistan and it must take into account feelings of people of Kashmir.” The urgent necessities to help put the issue of Kashmir on the road to a settlement are:(I). India and Pakistan must include the genuine leadership of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in all future talks between these two countries. That means that talks need to be tripartite - India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. (ii). Without detracting from the necessity of trilateral negotiations, Kashmiri leadership should be ready for a preparatory dialogue with the Indian Government provided an environment of non-violence is established. This can be done by:a. The immediate and complete cessation of military and Para-military actions against the civilians’ population;b. Withdrawal of the military presence from towns and villages;c. Dismantling of bunkers, watch towers and barricades;d. Releasing of political prisoners, including Mr. Shabir Ahmed Shah whose only crime is his reconciliatory efforts to bring two Hurriyet Conferences closer;e. Annulling various special repressive laws;f. Permitting to travel abroad without hindrance, Kashmiri leadership who favor a peaceful resolution;g. Issuing visas to the Diaspora Kashmiri leadership to visit Jammu and Kashmir to help sustain the peace process.(iii). There cannot be and should not be any condition from any party, other than commitment to non-violence and to negotiations. (iv). In order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks, Kashmir needs to be demilitarized one hand and de-terrorized on the other.(v). During the latest phase of the freedom struggle, in particular in 2008 & 2009, virtually whole population of Srinagar (capital city of Kashmir) - men, women and children - came out dozens of times on the streets to lodge a non-violent protest against the continuance of Indian occupation. At times, the number of people exceeded 1 million. Certainly, terrorists cannot compose the entire populations of the major towns of Kashmir. And one million people reflect the true nature of the spontaneous, indigenous, non-violent and peaceful Kashmiri resistance movement and not a movement of terrorism. This popular, indigenous and non-violent movement in Kashmir needs to be supported and acknowledged by the international community to help push a fair settlement of the lingering Kashmir dispute. If we want the real peace, if we want the sincere settlement of the Kashmir problem then all parties to the dispute - India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir - will have to show some flexibility, will have to make some sacrifices and will have to modify their stand on Kashmir. It is almost impossible to find a solution of Kashmir problem that respects all the sensitivities of Pakistan, that values all the sentiments of India and that keeps in tact the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir. But does that mean that we cannot find an imaginative solution of the Kashmir problem. Yes, we can. Yes, we can. But that solution demands flexibility, sacrifices and modification of the stated positions of all parties concerned.Now is the time for the Obama administration to develop its positive and principled approach to the Kashmir problem into a tangible strategy. In this regard, an appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir would go a long way to hasten the progress of peace and reconciliation in the region of South Asia, particularly India, Pakistan & Afghanistan.The author can be reached on:


Busted by the Fashion Police

No, not Madonna in another Bustier

Just a girl wearing the pants in the family in Sudan. Against Sharia Law apparently. So she was busted by the fashion police for the brazen immorality and subject to 40 lashes with something sharper than a wet noodle. Plus she showed too much....head hair! OMG! Scarves must be worn close to the ears at all times with no free flowing locks tempting the men-because it's women's fault, not men's that they can't keep their libidos zipped.

Lest you start to feel superior, like- we would NEVER do that here thank God- I remind you that the forty lashes here come in subtler ways but exist in more insipid and venal forms when they are deemed too tempting. You don't even have to dress immodestly to apparently arouse the suspicions and other matters. The email attack, the frivolous slander, the blacklisting and blackballing and branding of people who don't tote the precise theological party line at the moment into oblivion. Its a modern stoning of sorts.
So don't feel superior to the religious zealots of Sudan- you do likewise here, some of you Right/WRONG wing-nuts. You know who you are.