Ted Kennedy is Dead

From CNN:

(CNN) -- Sen. Edward Kennedy, the patriarch of the first family of Democratic politics, died at Tuesday night in his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," a family statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice."

The man who gave us SCHIP, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and COBRA, who erased immigration quotas, who defined liberalism, who stood up to Reagan. A real American hero.

(For the full text and audio of this speech, visit this link. H/T reggie44pride in the comment section.)

My hands are trembling as I type. I have weeped over three political stories in my short life - 9/11, Obama's election, and tonight. And I should add, my health insurance is through COBRA - I wouldn't have paid for my annual physical and semi-annual dental checkup this summer, and I would be subject to preconditions, if not for Ted Kennedy.

Health care reform must pass, and let that be his legacy more than any family relation.

OMG! President Obama is Black!?

Yes, he is.  For all the talk about the first black president and what it means for America (and by that I mean all the back-slapping by Americans who are proud to not be racist), people seem shocked--SHOCKED--that the President of the United States could identify with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard University professor who was arrested for disorderly conduct (read: mouthing off to the police) by officers responding to a possible breaking and entering at the professor's home.  After the president stood before the media and the American people earlier this week to discuss the need for health insurance reform, all anybody can talk about is how the black guy (Obama) stood up for the black guy (Dr. Gates).

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American Exceptionalism

The phrase 'American exceptionalism' has become toxic for many on the left who resented the Bush administration's arrogance in dealing with the international community, particularly their destructive policies meant to fulfill the neo-con dream of spreading democracy around the world at the barrel of a gun. It wasn't so long ago that criticism of the American president and of America in any way shape or form was equated with anti-Americanism and it was this concept of American exceptionalism that drove these criticisms of the left. Now that we have a Democratic president, it's interesting how suddenly it's patriotic to criticize the president and hope he fails. American exceptionalism, we hardly knew thee.

The other day, President Obama was asked if he subscribes to the notion of American exceptionalism and I agree with Arianna who raved about the president's response on This Week this morning.
He really struck just the right tone, walking a line between nationalistic pride and humility.

Steve Benen has Obama's full response:

"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don't think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.

"And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.

"Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we've got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we're not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.

"And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can't solve these problems alone."

By both embracing the concept and redefining it completely, the president at once shatters the conservative notion of American exceptionalism and renders his critics who long to lump him into the "blame America first" crowd without a leg to stand on. When you have a Democratic president express American pride with such enthusiasm, what else can a conservative head do but explode? But it is a strange time indeed because not only is the American exceptionalism crowd actively rooting for the president to fail but they are arguing against the exceptionalism of America at every turn. When they rail against unions, raising the minimum wage, imposing stricter fuel standards or capping carbon emissions, the argument is always that it will hurt business. What happened to American ingenuity and innovation and the flexibility of the marketplace? And when they claim on rightwing radio that our freedoms are being infringed and we are on the road to fascism (or Marxism, or socialism...fill in your -ism here), how fragile they think American freedom is. Their entire bluster about the greatness of America seems to actually be obscuring what is really a sense of insecurity about the weakness of America.

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When We Scream Too Long, We Lose Our Voice

I think Bill Clinton said it best during this past campaign that we don't have to dislike somebody in order to like another. Hatred and vile is something we need to disown, not something we need to promote. Divisiveness and entrenched polarization are not things we should preserve, but things we should eliminate. There may be differences between the way I see things and the way conservatives do, but that is not something to cower from. We may stand at odds over how to address things like health care, education, national security, energy and the environment, but those odds do not have to be roadblocks; they can merely be different paths to a common destination.

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Palin's Un-America

Everyone in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami, Cleveland, Minneapolis, etc., etc., etc., should be furious with Sarah Palin for equating living in a urban area of the country makes you un-American (if being un-american means potentially voting for Obama.)  

I have never seen a party that consistently classifies themselves as uniters being so divisive.  

In a Sarah Palin America those of us that live in urban America are lovers of socialism who "pal around with terrorists" while we actually read news publications that extend our elitism.  Sarah Palin, who has barely seen the world past Alaska, let alone those "furrin" countries that lie past our borders fails to see that urban America celebrates the diversity of America.  You see people of many races and religions living together side by side (mostly) in harmony.  You see people with open minds that are open to new ideas that will improve the world and willing to help their neighbors, unlike what Sarah Palin wants people to believe.  That to me is what America is about, not homogeneous groups of people that still believe that the world was created in 6 days and that we lived the same time as the dinosaurs.  

Sarah Palin comes from a town in Alaska of under 10,000 that was surrounded by 42 meth labs and forced victims of sexual abuse to pay for their own medical treatment.  Those are virtues that I want extolled upon the rest of America.  

I have traveled to most of this country, and I have seen good and bad in both rural and urban America.  In times like these, more then others, we need to come together as a nation.  Yet members of the Republican party insist on still trying to divide this nation into the "real" America and the elitist socialist America.  America will not be able to move forward as a divided country were it's rural citizens harbor a distrust of it's urban citizens that is fostered by the leaders of the Republican party.  People in this country need to realize that we need to move forward on a united front, that is the only way we will succeed and bring this country back to the status that we all want to be at.  

The voters of this country need to step up and say No! I will not let you divide my country into two parts.  We are all Americans and we are all looking for the same thing and urban America and rural America coming together will provide a strength that the two parts can separate would never be able to match.

So say no to Sarah Palin's "real" America of small towns.  We all live in one America, and we are all real Americans.

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Diaries

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