Monday, August 31, 2009

Eulogy for a Lion

Ted Kennedy was concerned, dared to care, tried to help all those less fortunate, sought health care and insurance coverage for all, upheld civil and human rights in the face of all adversities, and held out his hand to others always. He was a model politician, a model human being, one who dared to live as a thinking compassionate Mensch!

Therefore I here, with the link to the source, want to provide the eulogy in video and text from another thinking compassionate politician in the hopes that what Teddy sought will continue to be the goal of the vast majority of mankind worldwide!

President Obama's full remarks at the Eulogy for Edward M. Kennedy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on Saturday, August 29th, 2009 at 3:43 PM:

THE PRESIDENT: Your Eminence, Vicki, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the United States Senate -- a man who graces nearly 1,000 laws, and who penned more than 300 laws himself.
But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Grandfather. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, "The Grand Fromage," or "The Big Cheese." I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, as a friend.
Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child who bore the brunt of his brothers' teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn't know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail. When a photographer asked the newly elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, "It'll be the same in Washington."
That spirit of resilience and good humor would see Teddy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of 16. He saw two more taken violently from a country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.
It's a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Ted to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.
But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, "…[I]ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in -- and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves." Indeed, Ted was the "Happy Warrior" that the poet Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and the suffering of others -- the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. The landmark laws that he championed -- the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children's health insurance, the Family and Medical Leave Act -- all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy's life work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.
We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers' rights or civil rights. And yet, as has been noted, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that's not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw Ted Kennedy. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and platform and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect -- a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.
And that's how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, yes, but also by seeking compromise and common cause -- not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor. There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch for support of the Children's Health Insurance Program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas committee chairman on an immigration bill. Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan's favorite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. (Laughter.) When they weren't, he'd pull it back. (Laughter.) Before long, the deal was done. (Laughter.)
It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick's Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support of a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave my pledge, but I expressed skepticism that it would pass. But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes that it needed, and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how had he done it. He just patted me on the back and said, "Luck of the Irish." (Laughter.)
Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy's legislative success; he knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, "What did Webster do?" (Laughter.)
But though it is Teddy's historic body of achievements that we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss. It was the friend and the colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, "I'm sorry for your loss," or "I hope you feel better," or "What can I do to help?" It was the boss so adored by his staff that over 500, spanning five decades, showed up for his 75th birthday party. It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank-you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. senator of such stature would take the time to think about somebody like them. I have one of those paintings in my private study off the Oval Office -- a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who had just arrived in Washington and happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office. That, by the way, is my second gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo. And it seems like everyone has one of those stories -- the ones that often start with "You wouldn't believe who called me today."
Ted Kennedy was the father who looked not only after his own three children, but John's and Bobby's as well. He took them camping and taught them to sail. He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him. Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, "On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to been spared. We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love."
Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted's love -- he made it because of theirs, especially because the love and the life he found in Vicki. After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted to risk his heart again. And that he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana. And she didn't just love him back. As Ted would often acknowledge, Vicki saved him. She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days.
We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what God's plan is for us.
What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and with love, and with joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.
This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said, as has already been mentioned, of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death because what he was in life -- and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy's shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became. We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy -- not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country that he loved.
In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack. But he didn't stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counseling. He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along. To one widow, he wrote the following:
"As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved ones would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us."
We carry on.
Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those that he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good that he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image -- the image of a man on a boat, white mane tousled, smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for whatever storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon. May God bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace. (Applause.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Belated Birthday Documentation

Here finally just a few photos from Edith's Happy Birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago. Note especially the one with her and Detlef and her 2 grandchildren around the big spinning plate!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Memoriam

Edward Kennedy, 1932 --2009
That he lived long enough to see Obama become president, to help him do so, was a great victory for Ted Kennedy.
That he lived long enough to fight for civil rights, health care, and so many other important aspects of democracy and justice was a great privilege for the United States.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

C.I.A. Abuse Cases Detailed in Report on Detainees

The New York Times
U.S. / Politics

C.I.A. Abuse Cases Detailed in Report on Detainees
Published: August 26, 2009

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named a federal prosecutor to examine abuse of prisoners held by the C.I.A., as officials released a 2004 report detailing abuses.
And here's the link to the report.

Investigations are necessary and perhaps even prosecutions to ensure that everyone finally comprehends that human rights and justice are not perks to be granted and denied at the will of a potentate or even "good-minding" president, but are intrinsic components of a system of justice and democracy. Denying those rights to anyone NEVER protects the rights of anyone else but instead endangers the rights of all!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Protect Freedom of the Press

It's time once again to remind ALL that freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion IS freedom to think. It is time once againt to scold ALL who would deny any one of us the right to read any and everything we wish, to report whatever we may find worthy of reporting.
Indeed, this may mean that falsehoods are reported. Have YOU never ever not even once told a lie, not even a white lie? And you know what happens? You get found out. Because, and only because, everyone else can also say what they think about the situation, and thus, since we can all read it all, we can, if we wish, think about it and decide who is telling the truth, if anyone.
The current "crisis" relates to the following article published in a Swedish newspaper.

kultur - Publicerad: 2009-08-17
”Våra söner plundras på sina organ”Palestinier anklagar Israels armé för att stjäla kroppsdelar från sina offer.
Här berättar Donald Boström om den internationella transplantationsskandalen – och hur han själv blev vittne till övergrepp på en 19-årig pojke.
It concerns claims that Israeli troops transport the bodies of Palestinians killed in military actions back to Israel for their organs to be removed, i.e. stolen, for use in transplants there. Netanyahu labels it a lie and goes so far as to claim it proves Sweden is antisemitic and demands a "condemnation" of the piece by the Swedish government.
They, quite rightly, refuse to do so, reminding Israel, correctly, of the primal importance of freedom of the press.
Should Israel have evidence to disprove the claims of the rather dubious reporter for the rather dubious Swedish newspaper, then they should give this information to the press, which will certainly investigate and report further on the subject.
Just as in the case of the Mohammed caricatures, NO GOVERNMENT has the right to censor what newspapers print, nor what publishers distribute.
Freedom of speech is ONLY freedom of speech when someone can say something that YOU do not like!
Accusation of Organ Theft Stokes Ire in Israel
As the furor in Israel over the article gathered into a diplomatic storm revolving around questions of
anti-Semitism and freedom of speech, Mr. Netanyahu told ministers at a cabinet meeting on Sunday that the article, published in the Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet, was “outrageous” and compared it to a “blood libel,” referring to medieval anti-Semitic accusations that Jews ritually killed gentile children and collected their blood. ...
Some have raised questions about whether Israel’s reaction has been counterproductive. Lena Posner, a leader of the Jewish community in Stockholm, told the Israeli news Web site Ynet that Israel had caused a “mess” by drawing undue attention to the original article and turning the debate in Sweden into one about the need to protect freedom of expression.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports today:
Im Büro Netanjahus wurde am Sonntag ein Eintrag Bildts in dessen Internet-Blog als positiv gewertet. In dem Blog schreibt Bildt, dass Artikel wie jener über den angeblichen Organhandel Verbrechen auslösen könnten, die antisemitische Motive hätten. Die Vorsitzende der jüdischen Gemeinde in Stockholm, Lena Posner, kritisierte am Sonntag die Reaktion der israelischen Regierung. Es sei bekannt, dass der Autor des Artikels Israel feindlich gesinnt sei. Der Artikel sei "versteckt" im Kulturteil des Blattes erschienen und habe bis zu den wütenden Reaktionen Israels "kein Aufsehen" erregt.
The Washington Post reported Friday:
Bildt said in a blog posted late Thursday that he would not condemn an article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that suggested Israeli troops had harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. He said freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution.
"Freedom of expression and press freedom are very strong in our constitution by tradition. And that strong protection has served our democracy and our country well," Bildt wrote. "If I were engaged in editing all strange debate contributions in different media I probably wouldn't have time to do much else."
Bildt said he understood why the article stirred strong emotions in Israel, but said basic values in society are best protected by free discussion.
The article, published Monday, implied without evidence that there was a link between charges of organ theft from Palestinians and the recent arrest in the United States of an American Jew suspected of illicit organ trafficking. The writer, Donald Bostrom, based the story on accounts from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and his own experience of seeing a dead Palestinian man returned to his family with surgical stitches running the length of his torso. The article quoted an Israeli military spokesman who denied the charges and said that Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are routinely subjected to autopsies. ...
In his blog Thursday, Bildt rejected claims that Sweden harbors anti-Semitic feelings, adding that the condemnation of anti-Semitism was the only issue in which he has been involved where there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish Parliament.
He also drew a parallel between the current debate and the outrage triggered by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005.
"When we had an agitated discussion about what many people saw as official defamation of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, I think we gained an understanding that it is through openness that we best build the tolerance and the understanding that is so important in our society," Bildt wrote. "That is my belief in this case too."
The only solution is for ALL to have access to ALL and be allowed freely to think and form their own opinions.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Solidarity Is Good For You !

The New York Times
The Uninsured
Published: August 23, 2009

There are tens of millions of people without insurance, often for extended periods, and there is good evidence that lack of insurance is harmful to their health. ...
If nothing is done to slow current trends, the number of people in this country without insurance or with inadequate coverage will continue to spiral upward. That would be a personal tragedy for many and a moral disgrace for the nation. It is also by no means cost-free. Any nation as rich as ours ought to guarantee health coverage for all of its residents.

This editorial got it right. Come on, Americans, "Take care of one another right now!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Past Isn't "Finished"

No, the past continues, not as what is closed, finished, over,
as what has been.
Having been, it never ceases having been, and in that sense, never ceases
being able of coming into presence,
an infinite opening.
It's not somewhere else,
not "beyond", not otherworldly,
but here and now always.
Every time you light up as something opens up to what has been,
you should know what I mean.
THAT is infinity!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Real Health Insurance for Everyone!

Don't let them delude you into believing that true national health insurance is something socialist, fascist, or communist! They are the insurance companies reaping profits from you, the privileged insured, as long as you have a job and can afford the high premiums and have no dire illness or condition they don't want to pay for and cancel you. Again, those afraid of true full coverage for all are only directing their envy in the wrong direction, as better-offs they envy the worse-offs! The rest of the world is amazed at how little the US does to care for ALL its ill and disabled citizens. The only country I know of that behaves in a similar manner is the People's Republic of China, a true communist-fascist-capitalist state.
Forget "isms" and urge everyone to support health care for those who need it!

Op-Ed Columnist - This Is Reform? -

Giving consumers the choice of an efficient, nonprofit, government-run insurance plan would have moved us toward real cost control, but that option has gone a-glimmering. The public deserves better. The drug companies, the insurance industry and the rest of the corporate high-rollers have their tentacles all over this so-called reform effort, squeezing it for all it’s worth.
Meanwhile, the public — struggling with the worst economic downturn since the 1930s — is looking on with great anxiety and confusion. If the drug companies and the insurance industry are smiling, it can only mean that the public interest is being left behind.

You shouldn't have to promise to die before your medical bills (and then only palleative) will be covered, as was the case for my mother!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August 13

Today in History-Aug. 13 -

Today is Thursday, Aug. 13, the 225th day of 2009. There are 140 days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History:
On Aug. 13, 1961, Berlin was divided as East Germany sealed off the border between the city's eastern and western sectors and began building a wall in order to halt the flight of refugees.

Was nicht zu zählen ist
Rituale sind wichtig, denn sie halten im Gedächtnis, was sonst verfliegt. Also ist es richtig, dass an diesem Donnerstag Kränze an den Gedenkstätten für die Mauertoten niedergelegt werden, das grausame Bauwerk abermals in Erinnerung gerufen und vielfältig gewürdigt wird, und selbst der Jahr für Jahr wiederkehrende Disput über die Zahl der Opfer soll uns recht sein. Nur dass Rituale auch Gefahr laufen, die Bedeutung historischer Gedenktage zu reduzieren und der Verdrängung Vorschub zu leisten.
Von Hermann Rudolph 13.8.2009
Hat denn die Mauer nur diese Stadt geteilt und den Tod vieler Menschen verursacht? Was mehr und mehr in den Hintergrund zu treten droht, ist ihre wahrhaft monströse Rolle in jener Welt von gestern, die wir hinter uns haben. Sie war die zu Beton und Zement gewordene Bedingung eines Systems, das achtzehn Millionen Menschen bald dreißig Jahre lang seinen Willen aufzwang und darüber hinaus unnachsichtig eine Welt teilte. Sie hinderte die Menschen, zum Beispiel, nicht nur am Reisen, am freien Studieren und Sich-Informieren, obwohl das alles ärgerlich genug war. Indem sie den Menschen die Möglichkeit vorenthielt, ihr Land zu verlassen, griff sie in gewisser Weise auch an die Wurzel des Bedürfnisses, anders zu leben, als es die DDR wollte, also grosso modo: wie sie selbst es wollten. Weshalb das große Wort gilt, dass zu den Opfern der Mauer nicht nur die gehörten, die an ihr starben, sondern auch die, die mit ihr leben mussten.
If it weren't gone, if the people of East Germany hadn't finally, and peacefully, made clear they'd had enough, I wouldn't be where I am as I'm writing this and probably would have never met the man I love, and even if I had, we probably wouldn't have been able to build our life together as a couple. But this concretization of the denial of rights HAS gone, and Detlef and I will therefore be able together this evening to celebrate with his mom - and her friends and family - her birthday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer - Fatalities at the Berlin Wall - Victimes de mort au mur de Berlin

Tomorrow, 48 years ago, August 13, 1968, Berlin was divided, barbed wire strung along the border between East and West Berlin, and the malignity known as the Berlin Wall was born. We are nearing the 20th anniversary of its fall, November 9, 1989.

Latest records show that a total of 136 people were killed at or died in connection with the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989. The Projekt der Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam collect and collate all available data, commissioned by the German government, and presented the newest results a couple of days ago. It is more than worth while to follow the link here to the complete list of all those who died because one system felt dissidents and departures must be hindered at all costs. They are listed year by year. Whether you understand German or not, you can click on a year for the list of names, then on a name for pictures of the victims, some as they attempted to cross this border. This is a tribute to those who refused to accept this limit on their freedom of movement.

The list of those who fall victim to government and government-tolerated repressions and limitations on freedom continues to grow daily - in Russian republics, in Iran, in China.

ALL the walls must fall!

Here, the RIAS radio report on the closing of the border at the Brandenburg Gate, the sound of jackhammer can be clearly heard as workers are digging a trench one-half meter wide and one-half meter deep for the foundation of the Wall.

Friday, August 7, 2009

8th Anniversary

Yes, our eighth anniversary of official union is today. On the seventh of August at 9am 2001, after having already been together for 5 years+, we were the first couple in our district of Berlin, Weißensee, to become civil-unionized. The German law making this possible came into effect on August 1 that year, and the paperwork meant the 7th was the earliest possible date.
So now, it's been 8 years (13 years altogether), and we show no signs of cooling off.
Indeed, to celebrate this evening, we're going to see a stage version on the waterfront in Grünau of the first movie we saw together back in the summer of 1996, because we started with a hot summer and are still having one this year, the DEFA musical
Heißer Sommer !
Here, the opening sequence from the film:

and here RBB News report about the opening of the stage musical version we're going to this evening:

Besides, it is quite appropriate that Christopher and Ashley are getting married tomorrow, August 8th, in celebration of OUR eight anniversary.

Thanks, guys, and congratulations!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Whistling Guest

So, this morning Pedro whistled an improvise, and I was quick enough to grab the camera.

You can hear Koko off key in the background (the one in tune is Detlef) and when the camera pans to him, Pedro begins responding to Koko's poor musicianship. Once he's back in the spotlight, he continues whistling. It's not yet Sousa or Che Sara, but there's still time.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Pedro is still adapting to his holiday quarters as Koko

continues to play a rather disinterested host. Soon, however, we hope to make a video of them both as Pedro whistles a marching band number from Susa to

Koko's bewildered gaze.
Just give us some time.
There are also other things to do.
And the first photos of Pedro are not so good.
So now we're testing their ability to be quiet together while we go out for a Saturday jaunt.