Tag Archive | "Ted Kennedy"

Scott Brown: A Change for Massachusetts

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Senator Scott Brown

A year after Barack Obama’s inauguration brought “change to America,” an unexpected change has occurred in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Republican Scott Brown, a heretofore obscure State Senator and real estate attorney, won election to the United States Senate by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in the Special Election to fill the remaining three years of deceased Senator Ted Kennedy’s term of office.  In arguably the country’s most liberal state and in a startling turnabout from polls showing him trailing by 20% as recently as two weeks ago, Brown defeated Coakley by 5 percentage points just one year after Barack Obama carried the state by 26% over his Republican rival, Senator John McCain.

 

The stunning results have severely dampened the mood of Democrats in Washington and thrown a monkey wrench into the Obama Administration’s plans for healthcare reform.  When seated, Brown will become the 41st Republican in the U.S. Senate; thereby, robbing the Democrats of their filibuster-proof majority.  Perhaps more significantly, Brown’s election and margin of victory in a state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 calls into question the public’s support for the Administration’s agenda for change, most notably in the healthcare arena.

 

With elections for the entire House of Representatives and 36 of the 100 Senate seats looming in November, Brown’s victory, following GOP gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia, provides mounting evidence of the American public’s unease with the nature and pace of change as it currently exists.  As our 44th President is learning, talking about change is easy; securing agreement and implementing change is difficult in the extreme.

 

As individuals, we struggle as we contend with change versus the status quo.  The idea of fresh ideas and approaches is very appealing yet also frightening, taking us out of our comfort zones.  Is it surprising that, when faced with momentous changes, the public collectively responds as do individuals?

 

In my humble opinion, Scott Brown’s surprising victory is an indication of the public’s ambivalence over the Democrats’ agenda for change and one-party rule.  Overwhelmed by the scope and rapidity of change, the voters of Massachusetts have taken a small step toward restoring balance to our legislative process and perspective.  This coming November, I believe that voters across the country will likely continue this trend.

 

Yet, one should be careful not to read too much into Brown’s victory or the prospective Republican electoral surge this fall.  The public holds neither Republicans nor Democrats in particularly high esteem.  And, the American people are smarter than politicians and their minions give them credit.

 

We understand that, as a nation, we face perplexing problems:  an economic downturn spawning persistent and worrisome unemployment levels, rapidly accelerating healthcare costs and deficiencies in health insurance coverage, climate change regardless of root cause, the growing threat of terrorism on American soil, and a deepening cynicism and distrust of government.  And, we realize that change is necessary if we are to resolve these and a host of other issues.  Yet, we are dissatisfied with the solutions offered and appalled by the rancor of current political discourse and the crass indifference of the Washington elite toward the citizens whom they represent.

 

Under these conditions, the victory of a relative political unknown over a well-oiled party machine should have come as no surprise.  And so, congratulations Scott Brown.  But, when you get to Washington, keep in mind the horse upon which you rode into town and resolve yourself to find and promote common ground with those of every political persuasion in crafting uniquely American solutions to our most pressing problems.  If you do, then that would be a change in which we all can believe. 

Gone But Not Forgotten

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2009 was one heck of a year.  Tiger Woods got caught with his pants down, we elected our first Black (okay, half Black) President, and the unemployment rate rose to its highest in nearly three decades.  This year, we also lost a number of celebrities, some of whom passed quietly and some of whom passed not so quietly into that good night.  In remembrance, here is but a partial list, along with opinions that are purely my own.

 

Michael Jackson (born 1958).  As much as I hate to admit this, I remember Michael as the tiny dynamo with the great big voice, belting out hit after hit that had the whole world rockin’ out on a natural high.  In his later years, the things I remember most are his interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which the talk show queen tiptoed on eggs, and his incisive Man in the Mirror, a song that had us all looking hard into our own mirrors. 

Michael Jackson Waving

The aptly named King of Pop was an inventive performer, an undeniable talent, and undoubtedly controversial.  I believe that God broke the mold when He/She made Michael Jackson.

 

Farrah Fawcett (born 1947). Rising to fame as a bouncy, brainless con on Charlie’s Angel’s, the actress evolved into victim-turned-victor against an abusive husband and a violent rapist in, respectively, The Burning Bed and Extremities. 

Farah Fawcett Poster

I recall an interview with Farrah and her then-husband, Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man).  Lee had taken his bride through every room of their new house, advising, “This is the kitchen; I want you to be a superb cook.  This is the living room; I want you to be a wonderful hostess.  This is the bedroom; I want you to be a consummate lover.”  To this, Farrah had quipped, “Pick one,” thereby cluing us all into the fact that she was nobody’s dimwitted Angel.

 

Dom DeLuise (born 1943).  A warm and genuinely funny comic who never failed to crack up my entire family every time he graced the small screen.  Dom was also an actor, a film producer, and a dear, demonstrative friend to fellow actor Burt Reynolds. 

Dom Deluise

Years ago, I walked into Fortunoff’s in the Woodbridge Mall and did a double take.  There was Dom DeLuise, cooking up a dish for the store’s patrons in the cookware department, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him.

 

Socks the Cat (born 1989) and Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua (born 1994).   I admit to mourning Socks more than little Gidget. 

Socks the cat

Gidget Taco Bell Dog

In addition to not being a fan of fast food, I associate Socks with better economic times (the famous kitty was White House mate to former President Bill Clinton).

 

Les Paul (born 1915).  As a music lover, I am supremely grateful to Les.  Contrary to popular belief, the musician-songwriter did not invent the electric guitar.  Rather, he brought it to the forefront of modern music, thereby giving rock n’ roll its kick-start. 

Les Paul

Les also pioneered the practice of overdubbing in the recording studio, and the first voice he overdubbed was that of his wife.  I had the privilege of hearing a live interview with Les, when music was still good, through the best rock station New York City has ever boasted: WNEW-FM.

 

Ted Kennedy (born 1932).  It must be difficult to follow in your family’s footsteps when your brother is the President of the United States and your other brother, the U.S. Attorney General.  But I believe that Ted Kennedy tried, particularly later in life. 

Ted Kennedy

Memory is what it is, and I vividly recall news coverage of the tragic incident at Chappaquiddick.  I also remember Ted’s face, deeply pained and steeled in courage, as he prepared to identify the body of his nephew “John-John,” in order to spare John’s sister Caroline that ordeal.

 

Patrick Swayze (born 1952).  I only caught one of Patrick’s films, Ghost (yes, I never saw Dirty Dancing).  Now that he is gone, I wish I had followed the actor-dancer more closely. 

Patrick Swayze

Recently, I’d read an excerpt from his autobiography and his words smacked of truth.  He seemed like a decent, humble, hard-working man and a loving husband and son: the kind of guy the world could use a lot more of.

 

Walter Cronkite (born 1916). The iconographic anchorman of the CBS Evening News who came into our living rooms for 19 years earned the oft-quoted title of “the most trusted man in America” via an opinion poll. 

Walter Cronkite

He was also a good friend to comic and actor Robin Williams, who closed a live performance earlier this year with a joke dedicated to Walter’s sense of humor.  And no, I cannot repeat that joke here.

 

Paul Harvey Aurandt (born 1918).  Best known as Paul Harvey, the ABC radio broadcaster brought us news and commentary as well as his famous monologue, The Rest of the Story. 

Paul Harvey

If you were not among Paul’s 24 million listeners, his latter program kept audiences on the edge of their seats with true tales. Only at the very end of the stories would he reveal names of the renowned heroes, heroines, and villains.

 

Mary Travers (born 1936).  As one third of Peter, Paul, and Mary, Ms. Travers was a singer-songwriter prominent, in the early ’60’s, in New York City’s Greenwich Village. 

Mary Travers

With her band mates, she crafted and performed timeless hits such as Puff, the Magic Dragon, and covered fellow Villager Bob Dylan’s It’s All Right, Don’t Think Twice and Blowin’ in the Wind.  It was the latter cover that put Dylan on the musical map and served as Sam Cook’s impetus to write the haunting and heartbreaking A Change is Gonna Come.

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