Thursday, August 13, 2009

Congratulations Keri!

I woke Tuesday morning briefly at around three in the morning, to gaze stupidly at my television set which was tuned to CNN, and sadly leaned of the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, age 88, of complications resulting from several strokes. She was of course the sister of President John F Kennedy, Senators Robert Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy, the wife of presidential candidate R. Sargent Shriver, and the mother of the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver, and mother and law to Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was also the co-founder of the Special Olympics, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the founder of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Community of Caring, at the University of Utah, and was well known as an advocate for the mentally ill, of which her sister, Rosemary, was afflicted. Now the only remaining children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy are Teddy and Jean Kennedy Smith, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.
May she rest in peace.
Speaking of Ireland, former President of that country, Mary Robinson, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (along with the Congressional Gold Metal), our nation's highest award for civilians, for her work promoting equality and human rights during her term as President, and as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Our friend Professor Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, was also honored for his lifetime of work. I am glad that he is feeling better (for a man who is totally paralyzed) and was able to attend the ceremony in Washington D.C.
Doctor Hawking has also taken up the health care issue in this country, defending the U.K.s system from attacks from conservative Americans. The geniuses at Investor's Business Daily, on July 31th wrote in an editorial entitled, "How House Bill Runs Over Grandma," wrote: "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."
One problem, Dr. Hawking was born in Oxford, which kind of makes him British because Oxford is in England, he has always been British, and will probably be British for the rest of his life. He continues to live in England, and has taken full advantage of that countries universal heath care system. In rebuttal to the editorial, Hawking wrote: "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."
Other honorees included the American politician Harvey Milk, Senator Ted Kennedy, retired civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, actors Chita Rivera and Sidney Poitier, geneticist Dr. Janet Rowley, economist and micro financier Mohammed Yunus, Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Komen Foundation founder Nancy Brinker, former Tennis pro Billie Jean King.
And former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
President Obama has been criticized by homophobes for choosing Milk, and pro-Isreal factions for Robinson, but I take exception to the choice of O'Connor as she was one of the five justices who voted to put George W. Bush into office, and I hold her directly responsible (along with justices Kennedy, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas) for the death and destruction in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, those killed by hurricane Katrina and 9/11, and the ruination of this country, and it's reputation by the excesses of the Bush administration. For that I can never forgive her.
Other issues in the news include the right wings continued attempts to derail heath care reform by scaring the gullable and ignorant by falsely claiming that if President Obama's health care reform bill becomes the law of the land, bureaucrats will come and kill you when you get old. The likes of Sarah Palin, and Senator Grassley of Iowa, promoting the idea of Government Death Squads out to whack granny if it becomes too expensive to keep her alive.
Of course there is nothing like that in any proposed legislation. What is suggested is reimbursement for end of life counseling, for things like a living will, and hospice services.
Senator Grassley recently spoke in a town hall meeting in Iowa, that Jesus Christ should be consulted near the end of one's life, rather than the government, and that Washington has no place in how one dies.
Except in cases like that of Terri Schiavo, when the Republicans can attempt to score political points by taking advantage of the condition of a comatose woman. Hell, President Bush even cut short his vacation to come back to work to sign into law provisions that would have forced the continuation of that poor woman's life. Something he couldn't do when warned of an impending attack from Al Qaeda.
Now so much fuss has been made in the media on this issue that the Senate has taken it out of it's version of the health care bill. Thank you Senator Grassley. Now your constituents will have to pay for these services themselves, as well as the rest of us.
Finally, on a happier note, I am proud to announce that my lovely niece Keri Lynn (pictured above), is expecting her first child in March! She and my sister are very excited, as am I, although the thought of becoming a granduncle, or a grandanything, is a little disturbing. I'm obviously much too young and good looking for that. Anyway, we shall see, and I hope that the earnest work we do now to correct the problems this nation and planet faces leaves this a better, and worthwhile place for all future children to live.

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