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I am not alone in my genuine affection for Teddy Kennedy. Tonight is the culmination of his life long quest to provide health care for ALL Americans. I am republishing an updated version of a diary I wrote about him in August of 2008, shortly after we learned his brain tumor was incurable. When I was redoing the links, the one for his legislative accomplishments went to his Senate web site, which is no longer there. I had not even considered it might be the case, Teddy has been so much in my thoughts the last few months as we moved toward our goal of Health Care Reform. He really is gone, but his life's work lives on thru us and thru this bill, thru the dozens of bills he touched during his 45 years of service. Join me below the fold for REDEMPTION, celebration of a remarkable man and health care finally being a reality, a RIGHT!.


Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 06:16:14 AM PDT

Redemption is an important word to add to your current vocabulary and an even more important concept to allow in your consciousness. Follow me below the fold for a story of a man, an ordinary human being in so many ways, possessing so many of the same flaws as the rest of our species.

snackdoodle's diary :: ::

This ordinary man was born to an extraordinary and driven family Feb. 22, 1932. The youngest of the nine Kennedy children Ted grew up in the shadow of his older bothers. He also grew up in a family of over achievers, altho expectations for Ted were few, the biggest and grandest plans reserved for his bothers. I mention this because while at Harvard and for whatever reason Ted found a very smart friend to take his Spanish exam for him and was expelled for cheating. He enlisted and spent an two  undistinguished years in the Army. He did however allow his father's influence gain him a cushy position as a guard to SHAPE in Paris.  Eventually he returned to Harvard and graduated in 1956.

He graduated from law school with a degree in International Law, passed the bar and ran his brother Jack's reelection campaign in 1958 which was his first real job. He married a beautiful young woman, Virginia Joan Kennedy and had three children.  Those years were rife with rumors and sadder facts of Joan's alcoholism and Ted's womanizing.

When Jack was elected President his Senate seat was vacant. Ted was not yet 30 and not eligible to fill the seat until his birthday Feb. 22, 1962.  Jack Kennedy asked a favor of then Governor of Massachusetts  Foster Furcolo, to name a family friend to fill his term leaving it open for Teddy. During the campaign he was accused of having insufficient experience to be a Senator, of using the family name to get the seat. In 1962 a special election was held and Ted won his bothers old seat and two years later the full 6 year term in a virtual landslide. A seat he continues to hold with amazing popular margins that have never dropped below 58% .

Massachusetts United States Senate special election, 1962[2]:
Ted Kennedy (D) - 1,162,611 (52.92%)
George Cabot Lodge (R) - 977,668 (44.50%)

United States Senate election in Massachusetts, 1964[3]:
Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) - 1,716,907 (74.26%)
Howard J. Whitmore, Jr. (R) - 587,663 (25.42%)

His bother Jack was assassinated in 1963 just as Teddy was entering the Senate for the first time. From his own site is a compilation of his early Senate history.

Edward M. Kennedy is elected to the United States Senate.
Senator Kennedy made his maiden speech on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed on July 2, 1964, and the Senator strongly supported the Economic Opportunity Act, which was signed on August 20, 1964. The EOA stated that programs would be "developed, conducted and administered with the maximum feasible participation and the residents of the areas and members of the groups served." It also established community action programs, including ABCD, to mobilize resources that could be used in a direct attack on the roots of poverty
Senator Kennedy won passage of a bill establishing a National Teacher Corps, which awarded scholarships to young individuals willing to supplement their normal course of study with education courses. Participants agreed that, after graduating, they would teach for at least two years in economically-distressed rural and urban areas.
Senator Kennedy, through an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act, created a national health center system. In1966, the nation's first comprehensive neighborhood health center was established by Tufts University in cooperation with ABCD at the Columbia Point Housing Project in Dorchester.
As a result of Senator Kennedy's championing of bilingual education, the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 was passed by Congress. The Act mandated schools to provide bilingual education programs, which was the first time Congress had endorsed funding for bilingual education. The Bilingual Program, a federally funded program through Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education act, was updated with the Improving American's Schools Act of 1994

When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, the wastrel son, the son with the troubled personal life became the ONLY son. Every hope and dream lost with the deaths of his three brothers became Ted's to own, to carry and deliver upon. While he was doing some things in the Senate he wasn't a mover and shaker, he wasn't putting the energy needed into the job. He wasn't aggressively working for change, he was following rather than leading. He was elected Majority Whip in 1969 and wasn't memorable for the two years he held the job.

But 1969 was also the culmination of every horror and tragedy that marked Ted Kennedy's personal life to date.

On July 18, 1969, Ted Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick, a small island adjoining Martha's Vineyard and connected to it via a ferry. The party was a reunion for a group of six women, known as the "boiler-room girls",  who had served in his brother Robert's 1968 presidential campaign. Also present were Joseph Gargan (Ted Kennedy's cousin), Paul Markham (a school friend of Gargan's who would become United States Attorney for Massachusetts under the patronage of the Kennedys), Charles Tretter (an attorney), and John Crimmins (Ted Kennedy's part-time driver). Kennedy was also competing in the Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta, a sailing competition which was taking place over several days.

The Chappaquiddick incident refers to the circumstances surrounding the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a former staff member in Senator Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. Edward Kennedy was driving a car with Kopechne as his passenger when the Senator drove off Dike Bridge into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha's Vineyard. The Senator swam to safety, but Kopechne died in the car. Kennedy left the scene and did not call authorities until after Kopechne's body was discovered the following day.

Two amateur fishermen had seen the overturned car in the water and notified the inhabitants of the nearest cottage to the pond, who called the authorities at around 8:20 am. A diver was sent down and discovered Kopechne's body at around 8:45 am. The diver, John Farrar, later testified at the inquest that Kopechne's body was pressed up in the car in the spot where an air bubble would have formed. He interpreted this to mean that Kopechne had survived for a while after the initial accident in the air bubble, and concluded that “Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim's side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.

Ted Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to two months in jail, suspended.

In January 1970, an inquest into Kopechne's death took place in Edgartown. At the request of Kennedy's lawyers, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered the inquest be conducted in secret. Judge James A. Boyle presided over the inquest. His conclusions were as follows:
"Kopechne and Kennedy did not intend to return to Edgartown" at the time they left the party.
"Kennedy did not intend to drive to the ferry slip".
"[Kennedy]'s turn onto Dike Road was intentional".
Judge Boyle also said that "negligent driving appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne".
Under Massachusetts law Boyle could have ordered Kennedy's arrest, but he chose not to do so.  District Attorney Dinis chose not to pursue Kennedy for manslaughter, despite Judge Boyle's conclusions.

Those are the cold facts of the case, the cold facts of a careless thoughtless young man and how his actions cost the life of a young woman. There is no way to soften it, even if you believe as virtually no one does that he was disoriented, not drunk and didn't wait costing Mary Jo Kopechne's life so any blood alcohol test would be negative, there is no way to soften the facts of the case. There is no way to soften his conviction of leaving the scene of an accident and his 2 month suspended sentence that should have been a manslaughter charge and jail time.

These facts and rumors, innuendos and hateful whispers have dogged him every one of the more than 14,000 days since that night. By all accounts even Ted Kennedy's political career should have been over. But it wasn't, regardless of public opinion some how inside the same selfish thoughtless young man was a man of extraordinary generosity and compassion, Ted Kennedy found this better self. Over the next few years he parlayed his subcommittee positions into chairmanships. He started actively championing liberal ideas and fighting for the little guy, us. Fighting during the 80's and the twilight of liberal ideas in Congress. He became the mover and shaker, the lion of the Senate and perhaps the finest Senator of the last 100 years.

You can refresh your memory of his remarkable accomplishments on his own site. It reads as a laundry list of the single most important issues to average Americans, righting egregious lapses of government and a powerful message for social justice.

Senator Ted Kennedy was instrumental in one way or another for the following laws.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964
After his brother, President John Kennedy, was assassinated, Ted Kennedy was a strong force in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed and signed. This was more important to him as a senator and a man of conscience; however it was also important to get it passed as a memorial to his brother.

Head Start (1964)
The Head Start program provides pre-school children from low-income families with meals, education, and health and human services. It has been adjusted through the years.

  1. Two years after becoming a Senator at the tender age of 30, Kennedy scored his first major legislative accomplishment with the passing of the Hart-Celler Act, which abolished immigration quotas and lifted a 1924 ban on immigration from Asia.

Amendment to the Voting Rights Act in 1970
This laid the groundwork for a constitutional amendment which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

  1. Kennedy successfully helped pass the National Cancer Act, which quadrupled the amount spent on cancer research establishing the Federal Cancer Research Program.

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971
This increased disclosure for contributions for federal campaigns and in 1974 it was amended to impose a limit on contributions. The importance of this is that it lessens the chance of one person “buying” a candidate.

Meals on Wheels Act of 1972
This provides nutritious delivered meals for house-bound senior citizens.

Title IX (1972)
Title 9 prohibits discrimination against women and provides equality for women in schools. Simply put, women and men must be able to have the same classroom and athletic opportunities.

  1.  Kennedy spearheaded an overhaul of campaign ethics rules and election finance, amending the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act. The bill set limits for individual contributions and established the public financing program for Presidential elections.
  1. He saw the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which made it illegal for employers to fire women for leave taken due to pregnancy. We still don't require employers to provide paid maternity leave.
  1. Kennedy co-sponsored Civil Rights Commission Act Amendments, which expanded the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Commission to protect people from discrimination on the basis of disability.
  1. Working for years alongside civil rights leaders, Kennedy helped push Congress to establish the Martin Luther King Day holiday. President Reagan signed it into law in 1983.
  1. After President Reagan squashed a bill imposing sanctions on gold, coal and iron on South Africa’s Apartheid government, Kennedy led the Senate in an overwhelming override of the president’s veto to establish the Anti-Apartheid Act.
  1. The McKinney Homeless Assistance Actfifteen programs providing a range of services to homeless people , providing
  1. National Military Child Care Act, which established the Department of Defense's child care program. This allowed working spouses of military members and women who were enlisted themselves to have access to high-quality, federally funded child care.

Americans with Disabilities Act 1990
ADA says that no employer can discriminate against anyone with a disability.

The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (1990)
Also known as the CARE Act it provides funding for low income and uninsured AIDS patients. The Ryan White programs fund treatments when it is the last resort and nothing else is available for the patient.

  1. The National Community Services Act, a renewed focus on encouraging volunteering in America

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991
Otherwise known as START, this treaty between the United States and the USSR drastically reduced the number of nuclear weapons. It is estimated that from 50% to 80% of the nuclear weapons possessed by these two countries have been removed and dismantled.

Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992
The MQSA requires facilities to be accredited. This is designed to insure that women receive the best quality cancer-screening tests. Later changes to this act include the requirement of the facility performing the mammogram to provide the patients with written results in easy to understand language. Patients also have the right to obtain their original mammograms if needed.

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993
Otherwise known as FMLA, this act provides qualifying employees unpaid leave for up to twelve weeks to care for a new baby (by birth, adoption, or foster care), an ill family member, or when a serious health condition makes that employee unable to work. The worker’s job is protected under this law.

  1. In response to concerns that students were getting bad deals from private lenders, Kennedy sponsored the Direct Loan Program in 1993 that allowed students to borrow directly from the federal government instead.
  1. The NIH Revitalization Act, legislation that called for the inclusion of women and minorities in federally funded clinical research.
  1. Kennedy has been the chief sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act since 1994, which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace. The bill has yet to pass.
  1. Violence Against Women Act, to protect women against domestic abuse. Since then, more women are reporting these crimes.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996
HIPPA protects the health insurance of American workers who lose or change jobs. This law also protects the security of health records and the privacy of patients.

  1. Kennedy helped raise minimum wagefrom $4.25 to $5.15.
  1. The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act, which provided funding for research for how to reduce disparities in cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and other severe health problems that are found to be significantly higher in minority populations.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
This act provides for federal funding for schools that maintain a benchmark for students. This act sets standards for students and requires every public school to administer a standardized test annually to all students. The goal of this act is to raise the education level of the students and provide them with the tools necessary to advance in their lives.

Bioterrorism Preparedness Act 2002
This act strengthens the security of the nation’s drinking water, food and drug supply and biological agents.

Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002
This law requires that all travel documents be tamper resistant and machine readable. It also extends the communication between law enforcement agencies.

Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003
This act brought prescription drug coverage to Medicare subscribers. This was the biggest change to Medicare since it was first enacted.

Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003
PROTECT provides funding for Amber Alerts along the nation’s roadways and also provides for more intense security for children.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 2005
COBRA gives workers and their families the opportunity to continue their group health insurance for a limited time when they leave their job under certain circumstances.

  1. Introduced the Minority Health Improvement and Health Disparity Elimination Act, which would address inequalities in health care access and treatment if passed.
  1. Family Opportunity Act, allowing states to expand Medicaid coverage to children with special needs. That same year, he voted for expanding the enrollment period for Medicare, and would later support a bill that required pharmaceutical companies to negotiate prescription drug prices covered under the same plan.
  1. National Competitiveness Investment Act,creating partnerships between National Laboratories and local high-need high schools to establish centers of excellence in math and science education
  1. Worked on the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would implement more severe penalties for crimes against women, gays, lesbians, and transgender persons. The bill was vetoed by President Bush in 2007, but the legislation has been reintroduced in the 110th Congress.

2008 Mental Health Parity Act, which for the first time requires insurance companies to cover mental illness on a par with physical illness.

In 2009, an ailing Kennedy helped the minimum wage be raised again from $5.15 to $7.25.

Cancer Access to Life-Saving Early Detection, Research and Treatment (ALERT) Act of 2009
This bill provides for funding for new research in early detection of cancer, and includes access to clinical trials and information. The intent of the bill is to strengthen research and cancer prevention and detection. Introduced after his diagnosis, Senator Kennedy was always a strong supporter of medical advancement legislation.

2010 Health Care Reform

As you review his legislative legacy remember until Chappaquiddick Ted Kennedy had been considered the front runner for President, it cost him the nomination in 1972 and again in 1976. Ted Kennedy's private life in many ways was a train wreck, an unhappy marriage, lapses in judgement, immature behavior and finally a crime so serious only God can forgive it.  And yet, his 45 year career in the Senate pushing liberal causes or more importantly humane and just causes has had a far greater impact on our lives than another Kennedy Presidency might.

You all remember, how could anyone forget Robert Byrd's  heart wrenching announcement of Ted Kennedy's brain tumor or his joyful return to the Senate. Edward Kennedy is not only respected and admired by his colleagues and millions of citizens, he is genuinely loved.

He did it in spite of us. That's right IN SPITE OF US. He represented even those who hated him, thought him a murderer with genuine humanity, in a grandly egalitarian way. So, all of you who would bail on a candidate who has "sinned", villify them, crucify them bad mouth them at every turn, judge them. For those who forget the value and contribution of a human being is contained in the TOTALITY of their life, it doesn't matter. If someone has something important to say and something important to do, they will do it in spite of you and we all will be better for it.


The Reconciliation Bill HR 4872 just passed

Originally posted to snackdoodle on Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 07:45 PM PDT.

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