The Last Word

I heard it last night, and Digby has the critical part of Senator Edward Kennedy's letter to the Pope in the waning days of his life. It was read at his burial at Arlington National Cemetery:

I want you to know, your Holiness, that in my nearly 50 years of elective office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I've worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I've opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States Senator.

I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to get access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

Senator Kennedy was expounding on how his Catholic faith imbued his political philosophy. He was explaining his religious values. And how they were central to his political values. Perhaps President Obama can take up THIS values argument.

Speaking for me only

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    Only if they believe in it (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 09:01:53 AM EST
    Aside from the Iraq war, HCR was the major issue in the 2006 primaries and election. The American public spoke. The Democrat's won it all.

    Ted Kennedy continued to fight for true HCR till his last breath. His vision is very clear as to what he considered to be a viable HCR bill.

    If Obama and the Democratic leadership are unable to use Kennedy's passing as a rally cry, then they never believed in it in the first place.

    I usually turn away when it comes to religion, (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by Angel on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 09:03:08 AM EST
    especially with regard to the pope, the church, etc., because I'm not a fan of organized religion.  However, I was moved when I heard Kennedy's letter read at the burial service last night.  I just kept thinking to myself that if all religious people would act on their beliefs the way he did then this would be a better place.  Ted Kennedy will go down as one of the great ones.

    I think you'd be surprised how many do. (none / 0) (#40)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:51:25 PM EST
    Perhaps (none / 0) (#43)
    by sj on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:03:15 PM EST
    I know that I'm tired of being surprised at how many don't.

    Yep, so many people profess ideologies (2.00 / 1) (#50)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 06:28:17 PM EST
    that they don't live up to. Look at our president.

    Had Kennedy spoken out about... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by EL seattle on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 10:48:31 AM EST
    ..."conscience protection" before?  

    He certainly spent decades working for "health care for everyone", but I don't remember him talking much about the controvercial consience protection law, one way or the other.  

    Has the Obama admin (1.00 / 0) (#18)
    by nycstray on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:14:12 PM EST
    moved on this?

    The failure to pass this legislation now leaves the door open for the Obama Administration to rescind the law by executive order and force health workers to compromise their moral convictions. ...

    Already (none / 0) (#6)
    by waldenpond on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:00:38 AM EST
    I thought some states have laws that allow pharmacists to get  between a doctor and the patient by refusing to distribute birth control.  I see the vote was partisan.

    Yes, some states already do -- (5.00 / 6) (#7)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:10:04 AM EST
    and it remains a horrible battle in my state, where it already is a de facto problem for many women denied their prescriptions.

    I found that part of EMK's letter to the pope very off-putting, frankly.  And very worrisome.  So now we have to watch that this isn't snuck into whatever comes out of Congress, as yet another concession to the faith-based blatherers.


    Discrimination (none / 0) (#17)
    by waldenpond on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:05:34 PM EST
    The Dems are all het up about health care discrimination when it comes to insurance premiums, but this?  Hopefully women will be able to purchase this type of prescription on-line.  I have Medco and my prescriptions go from my doctor to it and meds are mailed for free.  If insurers want to keep costs down, birth control should be free.

    It struck me (5.00 / 9) (#5)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 10:50:26 AM EST
    as one who well remembers the 1960 campaign, when I was an Irish Catholic kid growing up in one of the states that the Kennedys lost owing to their religion, that such evidence then of correspondence between a Kennedy and a pope would have put off for decades seeing the first Catholic in the White House.

    So it's progress of a sort for this country that there has been so much admiring discussion on teevee and in other media of the centrality of Catholicism for a family that has held (and will continue to hold) so much political power.

    On the other hand, it also struck me that the 1960 victory of the Kennedys was supposed to put all this faith-based stuff behind us -- and it only has gotten worse, from the 1980 conservative revolution right on through the 2008 election.

    And so it struck me that now we have a Supreme Court that is two-thirds Catholic . . . and that  I have to hope that none of the Justices are engaging in correspondence with the pope, too!

    The torch has been... dropped. (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:17:12 AM EST
    The gelatinous blob that was our standard-bearer in 2004 is once again caving and using the late Senator Kennedy for cover:

    "Sen. John Kerry says Kennedy would have fought for a public option in President Barack Obama's attempt to reform the health care system, but would opt for compromise if and when Democrats got to that point." -  ABC's "This Week."


    I suspect this isn't true either (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:22:44 AM EST
    Because if my vote-look-up-ing is accurate, Kennedy didn't vote for the Medicare Part D Pharma giveaway either.

    Why would he vote for this insurance/Pharma giveaway?


    Maybe because it's "our" BigPharma (none / 0) (#29)
    by Radiowalla on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 05:48:41 PM EST

    Of course, it's impossible to know what he would do or not do, given that he is no longer with us.  

    We were lucky to have him for the time that we did, that's for sure.


    Kerry is an embarassment (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:29:08 AM EST
    Someone should send Kerry a copy of the e-mail I got from Chris Dodd and Kennedy a week or so ago. Unless I've totally lost my mind I haven't heard or seen anything from TK that didn't include the public option as a minimum in HCR.

    But then Kerry was unwilling to fight for his own presidency so why would he fight for someones else bill?


    Is there no end (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Spamlet on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:29:53 AM EST
    to John Kerry's tin-ear idiocy?

    apparently (none / 0) (#27)
    by coigue on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 05:30:14 PM EST

    John Kerry (none / 0) (#46)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:32:54 PM EST
    never met an issue he could not stand on both sides of.  Unfortunately Kerry was shoved down our throats by the DNC and party big wigs in 2004. Clark or Dean would have been much better.

    The Catholic Church and HCR (5.00 / 4) (#22)
    by Amaliada on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 02:48:19 PM EST
    I read over the weekend that the Catholic Bishops sent a letter around to the parishes stating their stand against the Health Care Reform bill because it might provide abortions.

    This is why I am a lapsed Catholic.  The idea that those currently living should be denied health care (or in the case of pregnant women, life) for an as-yet unborn fetus has always seemed pretty repugnant to me and a measure of the Church's misogyny.

    But now they're taking that further and saying that people who don't have insurance and need medical care should be left out because the Democrats in Congress have not expressly said that the public option will not fund abortions even though it is already federal law that government funds cannot be used for abortion.

    Makes you wonder if all that death panel yakking was mis-directed.

    Hear, hear (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 03:01:23 PM EST
    from another former Catholic.  I don't consider myself lapsed.  I consider the church to have lapsed back -- after the great hopes of the John XXIII years -- to its medieval ways.  

    I didn't leave it; it left me.


    I would be as upset as you (none / 0) (#42)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:54:31 PM EST
    If I believed your premise. Which, of course, is completely false.
    those currently living should be denied health care

    How ironic (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by cawaltz on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 04:45:00 PM EST
    that he should be against the death penalty and simultaneously not realize that in many nations the withholding of the means to control reproduction(ie birth control such as condoms or the pill) IS the equivalent of the death penalty for many young women and the children they beget.

    Up until the 20th century more women died in childbirth then by any other means. In some countries(primarily the ones that scorn the idea of controlling reproduction) it is still a problem. Sometimes even intelligent and good men
    can be so utterly blinded to the truth and realities.

    The "conscience clause" is very similar to the "blue skies" intitiative in my mind, it is unconscienable that a woman be denied the means to control HER own destiny because of the belief set of another.

    As far as I'm concerned if you don't want to hand out birth control, the solution is simple, don't be a pharmacist. Easy Peasy.

    Well put. (none / 0) (#32)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 06:00:30 PM EST
    Btw, it actually was not until the 1920 that this country started, even only in a few areas at first (notably New York City), to take seriously the need to improve our horrible maternal mortality rates.  (Too late for the grandmother for whom I'm named, who died in childbirth in her 30s in the early 1930s.)

    It is so chilling to read what those times were like, when maternal and thus infant mortality rates were so high.  For example, it was not uncommon to not name a child until it was a year old -- so as to not "waste" the name on one who might not make it.


    He realizes it very well (none / 0) (#35)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 07:33:22 PM EST
    It's certainly not out of ignorance of the facts that the church rigidly maintains its position on abortion.

    because disorganized religion (none / 0) (#3)
    by TeresaInPa on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 10:07:54 AM EST
    is so much better. = )

    Many religious people are acting on their religious beliefs.  That's the folks you see showing up at funerals and abortion clinics to harass people.
    What we need is more people leaving their religion out of it all.

    ps disorganized religion has never built a school or university.  It has never fed the homeless or the poor.  I has never a hospital here or anywhere else. It didn't rebuild houses in NOLA.  Organized religion did that.

    Organized religion (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by cawaltz on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 04:51:53 PM EST
    is also responsible for the Crusades and Witch trials. Frankly, I find it a bit unnerving that anyone profess that they speak on behalf of God. By all means, do good things in his name(and many churches do, as a child we ate literally as a result of the church my mother frequented). It strikes me as incredibly arrogent though to profess that you and your faith alone know His will.

    For the record, there are many good organizations out there that are secular and I would argue are the result of "disorganized religion"(or random sets of belief sets that appear to intersect).


    Not All Organized Religions (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by daring grace on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 05:13:03 PM EST
    or their believers profess to speak for/on behalf of God.

    lol (none / 0) (#44)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:28:49 PM EST
    how many centuries did you have to reach back for those examples?

    It strikes me as incredibly arrogent (sic)though to profess that you and your faith alone know His will.

     not many people do that, but you can stick all religious people in a box if you need to I suppose.

    Do you have one in mind that feeds the homeless on a daily basis?

    Yes, there are many good non religious groups....can you name one that ever built a school or university or hospital in a poor third world nation?
    In the poorest country in our hemesphere, Haiti, not a single non religious group has organized itself to build a better future or even a support net for the people there.  Everything that has been done has been done by organized religion.


    There are many more recent examples to choose from (none / 0) (#49)
    by CST on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:44:48 PM EST
    Like WWII.  Or for that matter, the more recent conflicts in the middle east.  Whether it is between Muslims and Chritians or Sunnis and Shiites it's all about religion.

    That's not to say everyone belongs in the same box.  But you can hardly ignore that most of the world's major conflicts have come from disagreements about religion.

    I don't know about other places, but in my city there are many secular organizations that feed the homeless on a daily basis and provide housing and training.  The Pine Street Inn comes to mind.

    As for international orgs, the Peace Corps comes to mind.   As well as Doctor's Without Border's, World Teach, etc... There are many secular orgs that do that kind of work.


    ALL of the world's major conflicts (none / 0) (#51)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 06:38:54 PM EST
    have come from disagreements about power.

    Religion is merely one of any number of convenient excuses.

    w/o religion - or conversely, if all people were believers of one religion - such major conflicts over power would still occur.

    The cause is desire for power, always was and always will be.

    Good luck making that go away...


    I hadn't realized that Bill and Melinda Gates (none / 0) (#53)
    by cawaltz on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 04:56:39 PM EST
    were such Godly people.

    As for religion I didn't have to go back that far I could cite the nutballs who profess that abortion is a sin and use it as an excuse to blow up clinics or kill the doctors that perform these services.


    Organized religion (none / 0) (#13)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:38:38 AM EST
    also played a huge role in electing GW Bush.

    Like Everything Else (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by daring grace on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:48:01 AM EST
    There are positive and negative aspects to people's religious beliefs, organized and otherwise.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#15)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:54:55 AM EST
    my point.

    As far as I can tell, (none / 0) (#20)
    by tokin librul on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:19:34 PM EST
    churches lose their liberatory, emancipating functions when they sign on with the state.

    And they all do, sooner or later, sign on with the state.

    At that point, they lose whatsoever claim to their own existence they might previously have had.

    I like what Mexico did, in their last couple of revolutions...


    I am not sure what you mean by (none / 0) (#47)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:35:20 PM EST
    signing on with the state.  I am a Presbyterian and I can assure you that we have never signed on with the state. In fact we have refused to be part of the faith based hoo haa Obama and Bush both promoted.

    Yeah, right... (none / 0) (#52)
    by tokin librul on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:57:32 AM EST
    And BO Obama. (3.50 / 2) (#41)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 12:52:02 PM EST
    they also played a huge roll (none / 0) (#45)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:29:33 PM EST
    in electing Barack Obama.

    Meanwhile Ratzi, the Nazi, basically told Kennedy (none / 0) (#12)
    by tokin librul on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 11:33:40 AM EST
    to pound sand and take it up with Jesus.

    Doncha just LOVE how 'christian' the mutherfookers in (allegedly) Jesus' own church are?

    makes ya all warm inside, donnit?

    No response from the Pope. (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by oldpro on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:00:23 PM EST
    Catholics who are 'abortion enablers,' politically or otherwise, are persona non grata at the Vatican.  They do not even exist to the church hierarchy.

    There certainly was a response (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 07:31:40 PM EST
    from the pope.  Please don't make assumptions.  Ratzinger didn't respond directly personally, so kept a slight arm's-length (as he truly has to do, given Teddy's personal actions and some of his positions on things like abortion), but one of his top guys sent back a letter with appreciative and comforting words from the pope.  That was also read at the service.

    It was a response of sorts (none / 0) (#37)
    by Spamlet on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 08:08:26 PM EST
    It was paraphrased by an intermediary.

    I be Italy would like to have the Vatican back (none / 0) (#19)
    by tokin librul on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 12:16:42 PM EST
    Even if it would strengthen Berlusconi, I'd be in favor of conquering the place, hanging--oh, okay, exiling--the pontiff, and turning it into an international city, like trieste is and jerusalem's spozed to be...

    Send the Pope back to Avignon? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Spamlet on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 01:57:29 PM EST
    Reminds me of Charles Pierce's (none / 0) (#30)
    by Radiowalla on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 05:52:00 PM EST
    famous description of the Bush years as the Avignon Presidency.



    The priest read a response from the Pope (none / 0) (#36)
    by sallywally on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 08:05:02 PM EST
    I thought.....

    Week in review of NYT today (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 06:04:43 PM EST
    Has editorial on reconciliation process to achieve HCR. Anyone have an opinion on it's accuracy?

    It's probably just me (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 08:39:41 AM EST
    But from the lifelessness of President Obama's eulogy of Ted Kennedy I gleaned that he has no desire to be anything like Ted Kennedy.  He will give lip service.  I hope I'm wrong.

    to hear the media tell it (none / 0) (#48)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 03:37:43 PM EST
    Obama is the brother from another mother.