Michael Vick: Remorseful Eagle or Smirking Dirty Bird

by Walter Brasch

           PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 28–The crowd at Lincoln Field gave superstar quarterback/convicted felon Michael Vick a standing ovation when he entered the game on the second play against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

           On his first play for the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick tossed an easy shovel pass for a four yard gain. “It was unbelievable the way I was embraced and the warm welcome I received,” Vick told the Associated Press after the game.

           In his other five plays, Vick completed three passes and rushed for a yard. Fans didn’t even boo him when a lateral was mishandled and led to a Jaguars touchdown.

           Although there had been heated discussions, especially on talk radio the previous two weeks, outside the stadium were only a few protestors. Most fans told each other, their bartenders, and any reporters within a hundred yard radius they were pleased that with Vick, once the NFL’s highest paid player when he was with the Atlanta Falcons but now a possible back-up quarterback to All-Pro Donovan McNabb, the Eagles could finally win the Super Bowl.

           As for Vick’s federal conviction on charges of running an illegal interstate dog fighting operation, of providing the financing not only for the operation but also for extensive gambling as well, of involvement with illegal drugs, and with knowing, condoning, and the probability that he was directly involved in the abuse, torture, and murder of dogs, the fans enthusiastically explained that Vick completed his federal prison term, was “redeemed,” and deserved a second chance, especially if it meant-yeah-a Super Bowl championship.

            These are the same fans who probably wouldn’t have embraced Vick if he was a second-string offensive guard who would never be an All-Pro. These are the same fans who once booed and threw snowballs at Santa during a half-time show. These are the fans who cheered when Dallas Cowboys’ receiver Michael Irvin went to the ground for 20 minutes in 1999 with what proved to be a career-ending cervical spinal cord injury. These are the fans whose actions during games led the Philadelphia Municipal Court to put a jail and courtroom into Veterans Stadium in 1997. Eagles Court was terminated six seasons later only when Lincoln Field, with an extensive security system, replaced the Vet.

           Michael Vick never saw Eagles Court, but in the U.S. District Court, Judge Henry Hudson said not only did Vick not cooperate fully with federal officials, as he promised, but that he failed both a drug test and a polygraph about what happened at Bad Newz Kennels and had not yet accepted full responsibility for “promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and inhumane sporting activity.” Football Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely.

           At Leavenworth, where he completed 18 of his 20-month sentence, Vick claimed he realized the error of his ways and had found Jesus. But, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t want Vick back; most NFL teams also didn’t want him. The Eagles embraced him. For his part, Roger Goodell said if Vick showed remorse, he would allow him to play in the Eagles’ last two pre-season games, and would rule on Vick’s permanent reinstatement by the sixth game of the regular season.

           Professionals convicted of similar felonies, even if not directly related to their jobs, probably will not only lose their license but would have to wait far longer than six months after leaving prison to get it restored. Journalists who commit plagiarism, even if never sued or convicted, seldom get a second chance. Firefighters who commit arson and police officers convicted of taking bribes usually don’t get second chances. And, much of society has no compassion and won’t give a second chance to someone who was laid off, had significant medical bills, loses her house, becomes homeless, and must steal food. Even some athletes who did far less than Michael Vick don’t get a second chance. Pete Rose, who should be in baseball’s Hall of Fame, has a lifetime ban for having bet on sports, although there was no evidence that he neither bet against his team nor fixed a game.

           Nevertheless, count on Michael Vick being very remorseful for at least a few months, especially if he wants to collect all of his $1.6 million first season salary and a $5.2 million salary for the second season.

           At a press conference in August, Vick said he had “committed an act that was cruel and unethical and inhumane.” On CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” later that month, he said, he felt a “tremendous hurt behind what happened. And, you know, I should’ve took the initiative to stop it all. And I didn’t. And I feel so bad about that now. And I know that I didn’t. I didn’t step up. I wasn’t a leader.” It’s possible that Michael Vick is sincere, that he wishes to atone for what he did to others and to the animals that can not speak for themselves.

           Vick says he grew up in a culture that condoned dog fighting, with its brutality, gambling, and drugs. Lying, stealing, and running small cons were all part of his life. Apparently, he had no filters, nothing to tell him that what he was doing was not only illegal but immoral as well; however, others who grew up in that culture didn’t commit the crimes, even as juveniles, Vick did as an adult. Michael Vick could very well be a great actor, able to say the right things, with the right facial inflections to convince people he is remorseful and sincere, traits he may have developed over the first 27 years of his life. Whatever is in a person’s soul that permits him to torture and murder animals doesn’t quickly disappear because of a prison sentence and the public remorse that will lead to a job that may again make him a multi-millionaire.

[Walter M. Brasch-a former sports writer, sports editor, and public affairs/investigative reporter- is a university professor of journalism, social issues columnist, and the author of 17 books. You may contact him at brasch@bloomu.edu or through his website, www.walterbrasch.com]

 

New Jersey Governor’s Race Heats Up

A new Greenberg Quinlan poll shows Gov. Jon Corzine closing to within two points of challenger Chris Christie in this year’s big race in New Jersey.  Being a border state to Pennsylvania what happens in Jersey affects us.  Delaware River dredging is one significant issue which has divided the two states more than simply geographically.  Christy is a former U.S. Attorney for George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales and the baggage he has from GonzalesGate and the fact he was deemed a “loyal Bushie” in that scandal is hurting his chances of succeeding Corzine.  The Governor has his own baggage but his own personal integrity is intact.  He never sold his soul to George Bush for partisan political purposes.

There are but two Gubernatorial contests this year, this one and Virginia.  The GOP hopes to regain some ground and the momentum going into next year’s Congressional and Senate races by winning these elections.  A two point differential is statistically a dead heat and Corzine seems to have the momentum in this state going into the heart of the season at Labor Day.  Corzine normally self funds but I’m sure he’ll appreciate volunteers.  Every four years we get scores of volunteers from surrounding states assisting us so this time we can repay the favor.

Tributes to Senator Kennedy Pour In

I’ve often thought what sort of legacy I’d like to leave when I pass on.  I think the highest ambition one can aspire to is to leave the world a better place for having been there.  No one I’ve ever seen exemplifies that distinction as Edward Kennedy did.  What better epitaph:  the world is a better place for his having been here.  Much better.  Tributes to him have poured into my inbox today.  A few:

From Vice President Joe Biden:

“My wife Jill, and my sons Beau and Hunter, and my daughter Ashley — and I don’t say that lightly, because they all knew Teddy, he did something personal and special for each one of them in their lives — truly, truly are distressed by his passing.  And our hearts go out to Teddy Jr., and Patrick and Kara, and Vicki, with whom I spoke this morning, and the whole Kennedy family.

    Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America.  And for 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day and literally, not figuratively sitting next to him, and being witness to history.  Every single day the Senate was in session, I sat with him on the Senate floor in the same aisle.  I sat with him on the Judiciary Committee next — physically next to him.  And I sat with him in the caucuses.  And it was in that process, every day I was with him — and this is going to sound strange — but he restored my sense of idealism and my faith in the possibilities of what this country could do.

    He and I were talking after his diagnosis.  And I said, I think you’re the only other person I’ve met, who like me, is more optimistic, more enthusiastic, more idealistic, sees greater possibilities after 36 years than when we were elected.  He was 30 years-old when he was elected; I was 29 years-old.  And you’d think that would be the peak of our idealism.  But I genuinely feel more optimistic about the prospect for my country today than I did — I have been any time in my life.

    And it was infectious when you were with him.  You could see it, those of you who knew him and those of you who didn’t know him.  You could just see it in the nature of his debate, in the nature of his embrace, in the nature of how he every single day attacked these problems.  And, you know, he was never defeatist.  He never was petty — never was petty.  He was never small.  And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with bigger — both his adversaries as well as his allies.

Don’t you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan, liberal men in the last century serving in the Senate had so many of his — so many of his foes embracing him, because they know he made them bigger, he made them more graceful by the way in which he conducted himself.

You know, he changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans — in the literal sense, literally — literally changed the circumstances.  He changed also another aspect of it as I observed about him — he changed not only the physical circumstance, he changed how they looked at themselves and how they looked at one another.  That’s a remarkable, remarkable contribution for any man or woman to make.  And for the hundreds, if not thousands, of us who got to know him personally, he actually — how can I say it — he altered our lives as well.

Through the grace of God and accident of history I was privileged to be one of those people and every important event in my adult life — as I look back this morning and talking to Vicki — every single one, he was there.  He was there to encourage, to counsel, to be empathetic, to lift up.  In 1972 I was a 29 year old kid with three weeks left to go in a campaign, him showing up at the Delaware Armory in the middle of what we called Little Italy — who had never voted nationally by a Democrat — I won by 3,100 votes and got 85 percent of the vote in that district, or something to that effect.  I literally would not be standing here were it not for Teddy Kennedy — not figuratively, this is not hyperbole — literally.

He was there — he stood with me when my wife and daughter were killed in an accident.  He was on the phone with me literally every day in the hospital, my two children were attempting, and, God willing, thankfully survived very serious injuries.  I’d turn around and there would be some specialist from Massachusetts, a doc I never even asked for, literally sitting in the room with me.

You know, it’s not just me that he affected like that — it’s hundreds upon hundreds of people.  I was talking to Vicki this morning and she said — she said, “He was ready to go, Joe, but we were not ready to let him go.”

He’s left a great void in our public life and a hole in the hearts of millions of Americans and hundreds of us who were affected by his personal touch throughout our lives.  People like me, who came to rely on him.  He was kind of like an anchor.  And unlike many important people in my 38 years I’ve had the privilege of knowing, the unique thing about Teddy was it was never about him.  It was always about you.  It was never about him.  It was people I admire, great women and men, at the end of the day gets down to being about them.  With Teddy it was never about him.

Well, today we lost a truly remarkable man.  To paraphrase Shakespeare:  I don’t think we shall ever see his like again.  I think the legacy he left is not just in the landmark legislation he passed, but in how he helped people look at themselves and look at one another.”

Eloquent words from a man who knew Kennedy intimately after sharing 30 years together in the Senate.

From Congressman Joe Sestak:

“”Today, America lost a man who helped shape the future of our country for a generation. Senator Ted Kennedy’s leadership on education, health care, civil rights, worker rights, and so much more has helped millions of people make good on the promise of the American Dream to pass along a better nation to our next generation. He leaves behind a legacy of true patriotism. And we honor his legacy by remembering that we are in this together and by doing our part to make a difference. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Kennedy family who are mourning the loss of a dear father, brother, grandfather, and husband.”

Paul Kanjorski:

“Today marks the passing of a great legislator and an American patriot.  Senator Kennedy has been a beacon in the halls of Congress through his dedication to the American people, his sincere patriotism, and his determined efforts in the Senate.

“I feel particularly fortunate to have served in the Congress for half of Senator Kennedy’s distinguished career.  During that time, I had the opportunity to interact with him on many occasions.  In one instance during the Clinton Administration, I joined him at the White House with then Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and President Clinton to discuss developing technologies and a new future for America.  While technology was the topic of the day, Senator Kennedy took me aside to get my thoughts on a trade bill he had recently introduced in the Senate.  The consummate public servant, Senator Kennedy was always focused on many issues and capable of multitasking.  His passions extended way beyond just one or two issues, but instead, he took up the cause for so many while managing to stay determined and dedicated to each and every one.  It is for this reason that his imprint is on so many pieces of important legislation that passed during his time in the Senate.

“While he left too soon, Senator Kennedy’s extraordinary legacy will surely live on.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.”

Senator Chris Dodd:

“I’m not sure America has ever had a greater Senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy.

I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one.

He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life – ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need.

The commitment to build a stronger and fairer America, a more perfect union, was deeply ingrained in the fiber of who he was, and what he believed in, and why he served.

That’s why he stands among the most respected Senators in history. But it was his sympathetic ear, his razor wit, and his booming, raucous laugh that made him among the most beloved.

Whatever tragedy befell Teddy’s family, he would always be there for them. Whatever tragedy befell the family of one of his friends, he would always be there for us. And in this moment of profound grief, our hearts are with his wonderful wife Vicki, his fantastic kids Ted Jr., Patrick, Kara, Curran, and Caroline, his grandchildren, and the wide and wonderful extended family for whom he was always a safe harbor.

I will miss him every day I serve, and every day I live.”

National Security Adviser General James Jones:

“As a young Senate Liaison officer during the early 1980’s, I had the opportunity to get to know Senator Edward Kennedy who was then a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Senator Kennedy and his staff were among some of the best supporters the Marine Corps ever had on Capitol Hill.  Despite his many responsibilities, he always made time for me on issues of importance to Marines and their families.  Always gracious and well informed, the Senator was instrumental in the passage of the landmark legislation known as Goldwater-Nichols and military pay reforms, which ushered in the most comprehensive reforms of our military and defense establishment since the end of World War II.

Senator Kennedy, among the many things he will be remembered for, deserves to be honored for his genuine care and compassion for our men and women in uniform – his tireless work and his voting record clearly supports this distinction.  While he never shied from challenging our senior military leadership during hundreds of committee hearings, he could always be counted on to be fair and open-minded in letting witnesses like me make our case to the committee and to the American people.  He contributed a great deal to my “Washington education”, and I’m sure he is most proud of the contributions many of his former staff members continue to make to our nation today.”

Newest Bus Tour: Polluters Trying to Dirty the Discussion

The latest wacko bus tour is being funded by polluters to brainwash the great uninformed about environmental legislation.  At the same time we are experiencing serious climactic changes, fires raging everywhere, severe storms becoming routine and entire cities lost to hurricanes, the oil industry is not letting up.  They are running a propaganda bus in western Pennsylvania to muddy the discussion and confuse the uninformed.

The gullible Birthers, Death Panel Believers, Flat Earthers and Holocaust Deniers will believe anything.  I bet these are the same people who continue to wait for those millions from that Nigerian official for whom they helped move their fortune.  Some folks will believe anything.  The American Energy Alliance is a front group funded by the energy industry.  They are opposed to saving the environment and our planet so they can continue making exorbitant profits.  While claiming to be non partisan their leaders are all Republican operatives:

   Thomas J. Pyle, AEA President, Is A Oil Lobbyist And DeLay Operative. Before joining the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, Pyle worked as a lobbyist for the right-wing oil giant Koch Industries, first in-house starting in 2001, and then at the Rhoads Group. In 2008 Pyle became a lobbyist for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Previously, Pyle served as policy analyst for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives and as staff director for the GOP Congressional Western Caucus. Pyle started as a legislative assistant for radical anti-environmentalists Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA). [Institute for Energy Research, Center for Public Integrity]

   Patrick Creighton, AEA Communications Director, Worked For Bush And Pennsylvania Republicans. Patrick Creighton was the special assistant to Samuel T. Mok, the chief financial officer at the Department of Labor from 2004 to 2006. He then worked as a spokesman for oil and natural gas advocate Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) from 2006 to 2009, worked to elect Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), then joined Thompson’s office until May 2009. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]

   Kevin Kennedy, AEA Federal Affairs Director, Promoted Alaska Drilling Under Don Young. After graduating from Union College in 2004, Kevin Kennedy worked for the Astroturf organization Arctic Power, which advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2007, Kennedy became a legislative assistant for the corrupt Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He joined the Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance in 2009. [Institute for Energy Research]

   Laura Henderson, AEA Spokesperson, Served Shelby, Dole, And Tiberi. Laura Henderson was a former press secretary for offshore drilling advocate Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) from 2005-2009. Previously, she worked for former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH). [Institute for Energy Research]

   Daniel R. Simmons, AEA State Affairs Director, Is A Koch-Funded GOP Staffer. Simmons was the Director of the Natural Resources Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing network funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and other corporate and right-wing organizations. Previously, Simmons was a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, also funded by Koch. From 2001 to 2005, Simmons served on the staff of Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) on the House Natural Resources Committee. Simmons holds a B.A. in Economics from Utah State University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, also supported by Koch Industries. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]

Furthermore, AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org website is run by yet another former GOP House staffer:

   GOP.gov Webmaster Nathan Imperiale Runs EnergyTownHall.Org. AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org was designed by NJI Media Group, part of Endeavour Global Strategies. Endeavour’s head, Sean Spicer, is a long-time GOP operative, including communications work for the House Republican Conference and the Bush White House. NJI Media Group’s president, Nathan Imperiale, served as Director of New Media for the House Republican Conference, building its GOP.gov website. [Twitter, 2/13/09; Endeavour Global Strategies]

New Stimulus Funds Helping Pennsylvania’s Economy

In spite of losing between $1.4-$1.6 billion in stimulus funds which could have rescued the state budget (thank you for cutting that Sen. Specter) ARRA funds continue coming here saving and creating jobs while funding important projects.  Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood already brought $32.5 million to East Penn Manufacturing in Lyons for battery development and now says $7.5 million is being used for the following projects:

Hazleton Public Transit: $879,623 for an intermodal parking facility and a vehicle locator system.

·      County of Lackawanna Transit System: $2.6 million to purchase four hybrid-electric buses and communications and security equipment.

·      Cumberland-Dauphin Harrisburg Transit Authority: $3.4 million for the purchase of five hybrid-electric buses, and for operating expenses.

·      City of Sharon: $616,815 to purchase three buses, and make facility renovations.

Now $101 million is being authorized for weatherization programs.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced this yesterday:

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that the Department of Energy is providing more than $101 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand weatherization assistance programs in Pennsylvania.  These funds, along with additional funds to be disbursed after the state meets certain Recovery Act milestones, will help to weatherize more than 29,000 homes, cutting energy costs for low-income families that need it, reducing pollution, and creating green jobs across the state.

Pennsylvania today will receive 40 percent of its total weatherization funding authorized under the Recovery Act, adding to the initial 10 percent of the state’s funding allocation that was awarded previously for training and ramp-up activities. The remaining 50 percent of funds will be released after the state meets specific reporting, oversight, and accountability milestones required by the Recovery Act.

After demonstrating successful implementation of its plan, Pennsylvania will receive an additional $126 million, for a total of more than $253 million.  The state may spend up to 20 percent of its total funds to hire and train workers.

Pennsylvania will use its Recovery Act WAP funds to weatherize or re-weatherize more than 29,000 homes over the next three years.  These resources will enable the state to achieve greater energy independence, increase demand for skilled weatherization professionals, and help low-income residents reduce their energy bills.

The Pennsylvania Weatherization Assistance Program is administered through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which works with forty-three proven local agencies to deliver services.  Pennsylvania has a comprehensive plan for increasing weatherization activity while improving the program’s overall energy reduction performance for the low-income residents it serves. To ensure accountability, monitoring and reporting as part of its weatherization plan, DCED will add new oversight staff with expertise in areas such as financial management and technical assistance.

Also in the news is information that incentives will be provided to encourage consumers to replace their inefficient, energy wasting appliances with new Energy Star ones.  Similar in theory to the highly successful CARS program this would remove energy wasting, dirty items with much cleaner, environmentally friendly ones.  650,000 clunkers wasting gas and polluting our climate have been removed from the road.  Now many of these bad, dirty, energy wasting appliances will follow them to recycling centers.  Conservation is one important facet of fighting climate change and these programs are a good method of doing that while also stimulating the economy.

Sestak Responds to VA “Death Book” Smear

Congressman Joe Sestak, a tireless advocate for Veterans, responded to the latest Fox News smear.  It seems that producers at Fox have nothing better to do than concoct crazy conspiracy theories about the government.  In their latest attack, pulled out of thin air, they claim the VA has a “death book” advising vets to end their lives.  Fox heavily edited the contents of the book to support their latest effort to stir up the crazies.  Sestak’s response:

“As a Veteran, I read with deep concern an editorial entitled ‘The Death Book for Veterans,’ which accuses the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of deliberately sending Veterans a ‘hurry-up-and-die message’ with a pamphlet on living wills and end-of-life care. Anyone may criticize — and, indeed, suggest improvements to the pamphlet — but to seriously allege that an honest effort by the VA that sincerely helps families plan for the most difficult emotional experience of their lives is a ‘death book’ is counter to the public’s and Veterans’ interest.

“This is the same kind of sensationalized rhetoric and misleading accusations behind the misinformation on ‘death panels’ in the health care reform debate, and I am disappointed that Arlen Specter would lend credence to this insincere rhetoric by calling for a Senate hearing without, by his own admission, even reading the pamphlet.

“In the active service and as a Veteran, I’ve seen many attempts to use our nation’s fighting men and women as a political tool, rather than truly helping assist them. What we should really be focused on — especially those who supported the policies of the previous administration — is restoring coverage to the nearly one million ‘Priority 8’ Veterans who make as little as $29,000 a year and have been blocked out of VA care since 2003; clearing the backlog of nearly 600,000 VA disability claims so they can get proper support; and passing the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act (H.R.3155) into law to meet the needs of those who make great sacrifices at home to provide daily care for our Nation’s heroes.

“We need to give Veterans real respect, attention, and care — not political rhetoric that fuels accusations and misinformation.”

Budget Impasse Critical

The lack of a state budget is now severely hampering counties which provide essential services.  Many mandated programs such as protection for children against abuse, our court system, Departments of Aging for seniors, and others are funded by the state budget though administered by counties.  Colleges and universities and student loans are also threatened as the school year commences.

Something must be done immediately.  Layoffs are right around the corner just as it appears the economic meltdown is waning which could undermine the considerable effects of stimulus spending in the Commonwealth.  We should be reminded that this isn’t so much the responsibility of the government in Harrisburg as that of Senator Arlen Specter.  He stripped the stimulus bill of funds which would have balanced the budget.  That $1.6 billion would have made all this difficulty moot.  Specter has bragged about his role in passing the ARRA but he neglects to mention how he crippled the states.  Senator let’s be honest and also remember the $40 billion you took from the bill.

Time is now of the essence.  People relying on the safety net in tough times are about to be cut adrift.  The adamant determination of Republicans to see this as an opportunity to cut those programs permanently is political demagoguery.  This is classic economic “shock treatment” as detailed in Naomi Klein’s book of the same name.  They destroy economies then use the emergency financial conditions to impose harsh and severe budget cuts.  Let us not allow the Republicans to impose this on us as they did to Chile, Argentina and countless other nations which are still attempting to recover from the failed Friedman economics.  This is their backdoor way to further impose those failed policies on an already failed Friedman economic model.

President’s Statement on Kennedy Death

President Barack Obama, on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, reacted to the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy this morning:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For 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.

I 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 profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

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.

Ted Kennedy, Lion of the Senate, Dead at 77

I grew up in a Republican family where our parents rejoiced at every tragedy which befell the Kennedys.  I came to revere what they stood for.  Bobby Kennedy was one of the principal reasons I became a liberal.  Taking care of the poor, the downtrodden, those without a voice, without power, without influence.

Edward Kennedy accepted the mantle after his brothers were slain and held it high for decades in the U.S. Senate.  Ted was the voice of morality even while others could never shake the ghosts of Chappaquiddick.  One mistake by a young man who didn’t think to check his car before heading home after a party and you’d think the man was a devil…

Kennedy’s legacy is huge.  He was known as the Lion of the Senate because he got big things done.  In a body constricted by rules and tradition and not known for progressive thought he was their leader.  He got things done.  His death from brain cancer was not unexpected by still a tragic loss.

We are reminded of what the Kennedy brothers gave to this nation.  Hope that all will be forgotten, the prospects for peace and justice, education for those who for too long had been left behind by a society which cared little if they succeeded, equal justice for all citizens regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.  There was always hope for tomorrow because Ted Kennedy was in the Senate.  Today that dream has died along with the Senator.  Who will keep it alive?