Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Death of Ted Kennedy

This is the blog I posted on learning of Ted Kennedy's brain tumor diagnosis.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Ted Kenedy

The news of Ted Kennedy's brain tumor is devastating news for those of us who live in Massachusetts. I know he is the butt of jokes about his drinking and is probably not taken seriously by many people but I love the man, though I've never laid eyes on him.

I love him because he was the ne'er do-well Kennedy brother. After the WW II death of the oldest brother, Joseph, the family hopes came to reside in Jack Kennedy and Robert. Not much was expected of Ted. Yet, after the murders of JFK and RFK, Ted Kennedy, to everyone's surprise, took up the burden of the family mantle. While the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne on Chappaquidick Island while in Ted's company ended any chance of him ever becoming president, he became the unstinting, unswerving, uncompromising, and often, only voice of political liberalism in America.

Practically every other Democratic Party politician ran when Republicans turned the word "liberal" into a pejorative. Not Ted Kennedy. He was a liberal and was proud of it, and his compassion for that other America of poverty and joblessness never weakened.

To face his death is like contemplating the death of a close family member. For those of us in Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy has always been there. It is impossible for me to imagine the political landscape without his presence.

Well, I know this much. After he dies, and I pray that won't be before his present term ends in 2012, if his name should happen to appear on the ballot for re-election to the U.S. Senate, even dead, he would win in a landslide. A dead Ted Kennedy would be better than a lot of politicians I could name who think they're alive.

© 2008 by Julius Lester


Anywhen - At any time.

This is a great word. We use anyhow, anywhere, anywise, why not anywhen?

I'll take Ted Kennedy anywhen over anybody else.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fighting Back Against the Right

"Nature does not bestow virtue; to be good is an art."


What follows below is from and was sent to me by a blog reader,(Thanks, Kate!) and I thought it worth passing on. Please feel free to send this to anyone you think would be interested. And for information about putting this statement from on Twitter or a Facebook page, go to the organization's web site. And don't forget: many of the lies and innuendos are being spread via the Internet, which has become a powerful political tool. We must use it also.

Julius Lester


The health care fight has turned ugly, fast. Right-wing mobs are crashing congressional town halls, lies are spreading via anonymous email chains, and Sarah Palin bizarrely said that President Obama was going to set up a "death panel," whatever that is.

Many of these claims are just incredible—but if we don't fight back with the truth, the right will continue to poison the health care debate. So as part of our Real Voices for Change campaign this August, we're working to set the record straight.

Check out the list below: "Top Five Health Care Lies—and How to Fight Back." Can you spread the word by passing this email along to 10 of your friends today?

Top Five Health Care Reform Lies—and How to Fight Back

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill." What's the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.6 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.

If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them. But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage. And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation.

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits. Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in over payments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.

Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy.

Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care. The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses. Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.

We're closer to real health care reform than we've ever been—and the next few weeks will decide whether it happens. We need to make sure the truth about health care reform is spread far and wide to combat right wing lies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Poisonous Political Climate

"There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue."

Erich Fromm

During the presidential campaign my fear that candidate Obama might be assassinated was more abstract than real. However, in the past few weeks that fear has become real. When the Rush Limbaughs of America pollute the air waves with blatant lies questioning Obama's citizenship, when the irresponsible rhetoric of the Bill O'Reilly's and Glenn Beck's mobilizes people to shout down anyone who speaks in favor of the health care legislation, when demonstrators carry signs depicting President Obama as Hitler, my fear for the president's life ceases to be abstract and becomes very, very real.

If something should happen to the president, the mouths of hatred will be quick to deny that they had anything to do with it because they did not pull the trigger. And this is what is so despicable about these people; they refuse to take responsibility for their words; they refuse to acknowledge that speech is action, that words are not just words because words create emotions, and emotions get translated into actions.

I wanted to believe that Obama's election heralded the beginnings of a post-racial America. This may still be the case, and what we are witnessing from the Right represents the final outbursts of a thinly disguised racism. But this does not mean that serious damage is not being done to the atmosphere in which issues are discussed and decided. When one side has no interest in discussion, when one side has no interest in knowledge, when one side has no interest in listening, when one side has no interest in any truth other than what it deems as truth, when one side will say and do anything to maintain its narrow and self-centered view of life, it must be countered by those who envision a dynamic and creative society in which people listen to and learn from each other in an atmosphere of civility and respect. Wherever those who hate gather to disrupt, they must be met by the anger of those of us who will not permit thus hatred people to poison democratic ideals.

However, I find myself thinking about the political atmosphere in the country in 1963 when it was far from certain that the civil rights movement would succeed, when thousands of white people blamed President Kennedy for what they perceived as his compliance with the goals of the civil rights movement, which, as they saw it, was to destroy their "way of life". There was violence in the air then, and it expressed itself in the murders not only of John Kennedy, but Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy.

There is violence in the air now, and I am afraid.

© 2009 Julius Lester