Monthly Archives: May 2008

Let’s Face It…We’re Screwed!

We're Screwed bumpersticker

OH, YOU KNOW YOU WERE THINKING IT, TOO

Well, my friends…the deadline to get independent presidential candidates on the Texas ballot was May 8th, and in many other states around the nation, that deadline has either already passed or is coming up very soon. Which means it’s too late now for any new candidates to file.

Put more bluntly, it means we’re screwed in `08.

I don’t mean to be a party-pooper, a bummer, a drag, a hope-smasher, or naysayer, but — it’s time we all faced reality at this point. So here `tis:

Without ballot access, we’re screwed. And we ain’t got it.

We are left now to choose from three (soon to be two, if those silly pillow-fighting Dems ever make up their minds) sitting U.S. Senators at a time when Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low. And yet, quite incredibly, these are our choices.

For those still seeking alternatives this election year, well…you’re screwed!

There’s always Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Ron Paul (should he decide to run third-party), the Green and Libertarian party candidates, of course, if you are lucky enough to have them appear on the ballot in your state. If they’re not allowed on your ballot, well…you’re screwed!

What about Robert F. Kennedy Jr., you ask? Barring a miracle, or an offer from Senators Clinton or Obama to come on the Democratic ticket as a Vice Presidential running mate, it looks like Mr. Kennedy won’t be going to Washington. At least not this year.

Which only underscores the fact that, well…we’re screwed in `08.

But look on the bright side (you mean there is one?): if you’re going to walk into the voting booth this November to cast a vote for the lesser of two evils, at least you can look good doing it. If you are not allowed to vote your conscience, you can wear it on your sleeve…or your chest, as the case may be.

We're Screwed `08 T-shirt

THE MUST-HAVE TEE OF THE 2008 ELECTION SEASON

A political tee that is non-partisan. Let’s be honest here.

These babies were printed up by the our fellow frustrated Americans over at We’re Screwed `08.

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. President

JFK with Danny Kaye and Judy Garland

President Kennedy shares a laugh with Danny Kaye and Judy Garland

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JFK

Today marks the 91st anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth.

Naturally, we wanted to run something special to celebrate the occasion. But rather than waxing philosophical on the meaning of his life and tragic death, we thought it might be a lot more fun to remember one of the qualities we loved most about him: his irrepressible wit. He had that rare gift of always being able to make us laugh, even during some of this nation’s darkest hours.

Lem Billings (Jack’s oldest and dearest friend) once said of Kennedy: “I’ve never known anyone in my life with such a wonderful humor – the ability to make one laugh and have a good time.”

That’s the way I think he would want to be remembered by all who loved him on his birthday.

So we dove into the archives and pulled a few of our favorite Kennedy witticisms. Although it’s awfully hard to narrow it down to just a select few, and some of the best stuff is just too raunchy for publication here (ever seen those letters he wrote to Lem Billings when they were teens? Wow!), we think you’ll get a chuckle or two.

For those of you old enough to remember Jack Kennedy, we hope this brings back some great memories. As for the rest of us, well…we’re still enjoying getting to know him. Through his humor, we meet the real JFK.

JFK & the

A very ill young man: Kennedy with his Choate school pals, the “Muckers,” a club he co-founded with best friend Lem Billings (second from left), 1934

During one of his many stays in the hospital, a fifteen year-old Jack Kennedy wrote Billings:

Dear Crap! -

…Nobody able to figure out what’s wrong with me. All they do is talk about what an interesting case. It’ll be funny if there was nothing wrong with me. I’m commencing to stay awake nights on that…

…I’ve had 18 enemas is 3 days!!! I’m clean as a whistle. They give me enemas till it comes out like drinking water which they all take a sip of…

A few years later, while celebrating his nineteenth birthday in Los Angeles. Having just spent some length of time recuperating from yet another illness at a cattle ranch in Arizona, Jack informed Lem that:

“If you could see what a thing of beauty my body has become with the open air, riding horses and Mexicans, you would stuff such adjectives as unattractive when you are speaking of my body right where they belong.

It looks as though there will be no little rascals bearing the name LeMoyne Kennedy as yesterday I got kicked where I love which stretched me out for a few blissful minutes. I no longer have that free + easy stride and am consequently a bit worried.

I have not heard from you for 3 weeks except for a couple of smutty post-cards…Please communicate + let me know what you are planning to do + when you are planning to do it…Have some plans that will get your dander up.”

A month after narrowly escaping death when the PT 109 was sunk by a Japanese destroyer during WWII, 25 year-old Jack wrote to his sweetheart Inga Arvad:

Inga Binga:

What the hell is the story? I write you a six-page letter – trash I admit – but not as bad as that last story of yours in which you tied up Joe Stalin, Wendell Willkie + Cupid into a sort of Blessed Trinity – but anyway – that six pager cost me a good deal of sweat and toil – plus a little blood when I cut myself trying to fix the type-writer – and what do I get – nothing – not even a rejection slip. What’s the idea – Has your “husband” come between us?

…Incidentally – that picture I had of you that Kick took – which was really good – has met a watery grave. Please send me another – will you.

As ever
Young Kennedy

Soon after the war, John Kennedy was already considering his first run for Congress in 1946. He wrote in his diary:

Conversation with Dan O’Brian
Says I’ll get murdered -
no political experience -
A personal district. Says I don’t know 300 people personally…

O’Brian indicates the attack on me will be

1) inexperience
2) injury to role on me in father’s reputation.

He is the first man to say bet me that I can’t win!

An honest Irishman but

a mistaken one

In 1958, then-Senator Kennedy had his sights on the presidency, and loved telling this story:

Several nights ago, I dreamed that the good Lord touched me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be the democratic Presidential nominee in 1960. What’s more, you’ll be elected.” I told Stu Symington about my dream. “Funny thing,” said Stu, “I had exactly the same dream about myself.”

We both told our dreams to Lyndon Johnson, and Johnson said, “that’s funny. For the life of me, I can’t remember tapping either of you two boys for the job.”

JFK and LBJ, 1960

JFK and LBJ, 1960

Arriving in Wisconsin for his primary fight with Hubert Humphrey in 1960, candidate Kennedy commented:

I am the first of an advancing army. By next spring the state will look like a college campus telephone booth.

Throughout the 1960 campaign, Kennedy always attracted throngs of youngsters everywhere he went. At a stop in Ohio, he quipped:

If we can lower the voting age to nine, we are going to sweep the state.

Around the time of his now-famous debates with Richard Nixon, Jack said of his opponent:

Mr. Nixon may be very experienced in kitchen debates. So are a great many other married men I know.

Exhausted after weeks of nonstop campaigning prior to the election, Kennedy remarked at a early morning stop in Philadelphia:

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen; it is nine in the morning and this will be a quiet, dignified speech.

JFK pardoning Thanksgiving dinner, 1963

“Which one of you is the Chief Turkey?” JFK grants 1963′s would-be Thanksgiving dinner a full presidential pardon.

Speaking of the Presidency just before his Inauguration, Kennedy said:

It’s a big job. It isn’t going to be so bad. You’ve got time to think. You don’t have all those people bothering you that you had in the Senate – besides, the pay is pretty good. And I can walk to work.

Dave Powers, one of Kennedy’s closest friends and aides, received a scroll from JFK on his fiftieth birthday. It read:

President’s Special Award, Physical Fitness Program. Walking fifty miles per month from TV to refrigerator and back. Presented to Dave Powers on his fiftieth birthday. In recognition of your athletic ability in hiking to my ice box to drink my Heineken’s.

JFK with his children, Halloween 1962

At the most tense moment in human history: laughter. During the Cuban Missle Crisis, JFK finds time for some Halloween fun with Caroline and John Jr., 1962.

Strolling through the White House grounds one day, the President looked admiringly at the newly-revitalized Rose Garden and remarked:

This may go down as the real achievement of my administration.

During his June 1963 trip to Ireland, Kennedy joked:

I can imagine nothing more pleasureable than continuing day after day to drive through the streets of Dublin and wave – and I may come back and do it.

Later, at City Hall in Cork, he said:

I don’t want to give the impression that every member of this administration in Washington is Irish. It just seems that way.

Shortly after the controversial announcement that Kennedy had appointed his brother Bobby as Attorney General, he cracked this one to a reporter:

Speaking of jobs for relatives, Master Robert Kennedy, who is four, came to see me today, but I told him we already had an Attorney General.

Senator John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, 1950s

At a press conference, JFK was once asked if he had it all to do over again, would he run for president again and would he recommend the job to others? The president replied:

Well, the answer to the first question is yes and the answer to the second is no. I don’t recommend it to others, at least not for a while.

At his 45th birthday party, a scantily-clad Marilyn Monroe shimmied out onto the stage of Madison Square Garden and launched into the most memorable rendition of “Happy Birthday” the world had ever heard. She also serenaded him with a verse of “Thanks for the Memories,” specially rewritten for the occasion:

Thanks, Mr. President,
For all the things you’ve done,
The battles that you’ve won,
The way you deal with U.S. Steel,
And our problems by the ton,
We thank you – so much.

A blushing, clearly embarassed JFK ascended the podium and thanked Marilyn by saying:

I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. And if you were here today, we know what you’d probably be doing:

JFK surfing his new favorite website

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY

MAY 29, 1917 – NOVEMBER 22, 1963

 

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com 

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Ventura Asks RFK Jr: “Do You Want To Be President?”

We now bring you the conclusion of our two-part feature on Jesse Ventura (click here to read part one). The former Minnesota Governor is considering an independent run for U.S. Senator or possibly even President of the United States in 2008.

In his new book, Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me, Ventura wrestles with the toughest question of all: “Should I do it?”

And the second toughest question: “who should I take with me?”

While he never fully answers the first question — leaving readers in suspense at the end of the book — he has the second one all figured out. Ventura wants Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his Vice Presidential running mate.

(Applause)

Actually, Jesse makes it clear in the book that he’d be perfectly content to play second fiddle behind a strong presidential contender. After reading of their conversation below, one gets the impression that if Kennedy preferred the top of the ticket, Ventura would happily give it to him. You’ll notice, for example, that never once does Ventura mention anything about Kennedy being VP; it’s clear that he’s not there to offer RFK the number two slot.

(Standing ovation)

Sure sounded like a great idea. Now all Jesse had to do was somehow convince Kennedy to run with him. And so off he went to ask Bobby The Question.

I mean, the really big question: “Do you — or don’t you — want to run this country?”

Read on for Bobby’s answer…

Jesse Ventura

VENTURA ASKS KENNEDY: “DO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT?”

The meeting took place late last year in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where RFK was vacationing with his wife Mary, and their children. Ventura had heard that Kennedy was coming, and since he only lived about 90 minutes away, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask…under the perfectly innocent guise of a diving trip, naturally.

Arriving around lunchtime at Kennedy’s rented Moorish-style vacation home, Ventura held Kennedy’s young boys spellbound with stories from his pro wrestling and Navy SEAL days. Before long, Ventura had completely charmed RFK’s kids (always a wise strategy when trying to convince them to let you borrow their father for the next four to eight years).

After a day of diving with Bobby and his son Conor at the edge of the continental shelf, Ventura carefully began turning the conversation a bit more political. He broke the ice by telling a few tales about his teaching fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“What did you teach?” Conor asked.

“Third-party politics,” I told him, and added: “Something your dad doesn’t know anything about!” Bobby laughed.

Back home again, the adults retired to a balcony overlooking the ocean and watched the sunset. Now seemed like the time. There wasn’t going to be another moment like this one. Never one to miss his cue, Ventura dove right in:

Now we got heavy into politics. We both spoke about how outraged we are concerning what’s happening in America today. We talked about the “war on terror.” Robert said the Iraq War has done nothing but create more terrorists. When I described myself as a fiscal conservative who is liberal on social issues, Mary said, “That describes Bobby, too.” We seemed to be finding considerable common ground between us…

…Sitting down again, I looked across at Robert and asked him, matter-of-factly: “Do you want to run the country?”

What did he say?” Mary responded.

Robert stood up. After a pause, he said quietly: “Yeah, I want to.”

(Wait, WHAT did he say?)

Bobby added that someone with the Green Party had asked him to consider becoming its candidate in 2008.

“Oh, don’t do what Nader did!” I told him. “You should leave the Democrats and run with me as an independent.”

Was I serious? Robert looked at me quizzically.

“I’m the most powerful man in America!” I announced. “Do you know why?”

“Why?” Mary asked, wide-eyed.

“Because I’m the only one who can unite both parties against me!”

We were hot into this when (Bobby’s son) Finn, who was doing headstands behind us, suddenly crashed into the Ping-Pong table and raised a big welt on his foot. Mary said she’d better run upstairs and get some ice.

I realized it was time to go.

First, though, I approached Robert, who was also standing on the stairs, one more time. Again I urged him to go independent.

“I am independent,” he said. “You should become a Democrat.”

“I’d lose all my credibility!” I exclaimed.

“We’ll keep talking about it,” Robert said.

…He stood on his front step and saluted, with a big grin on his face, as I drove away.

Heading home that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If Robert Kennedy, Jr. ever ran for president as a Democrat, it would be no surprise to anyone. Just another Kennedy going for the brass ring. But if, because he can’t stand what’s happened to politics today, he left the party and ran as an independent, it would – to borrow a phrase from Muhammad Ali – shock the world!

Our thoughts precisely, Jesse.

Ventura fully realizes that now is the time for bold new leaders to step forward, and he’s ready to get down to business right away. It’s time to put partisan bickering and party politics aside for a much greater mission. The world can’t wait. 

Now Ventura has an offer on the table for Kennedy. He’s also considering a run against Al Franken in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race. RFK Jr. is reportedly thinking about reclaiming his father’s Senate seat, or possibly running for another office in New York State. These two men have some big decisions to make in the days ahead — because they seem to realize just how many people are counting on them.

Then again, maybe they should just run for the White House on a last-minute, grassroots, why-the-hell-not independent ticket. It certainly would give the people a lot of hope, even if Ventura/Kennedy (or Kennedy/Ventura, whichever you prefer) statistically could not win. These two would bring critical issues to the campaign the two-party candidates won’t touch, and give independent voters a far more viable option than Ralph Nader or Bob Barr.

No disrespect intended to either Mr. Nader or the Honorable Mr. Barr, but is this the best the independent/third-party movement can offer in 2008? Isn’t a superstar independent candidate going to emerge? America needs one (or two) desperately! Who’s going to step up?

As the man says on page 302 of Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me, “you can’t go through life waiting for the other guy to do it.”

At which point, his wife Terry chimed in with a trumpet blast of truth: “That’s what’s wrong with the country right now!”

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com. Book excerpt copyright 2008 by Jesse Ventura.

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Ventura: Both Parties Responsible for Iraq Mess

We thought Memorial Day would be a most appropriate time to bring you a few thoughts on the Iraq War from former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura.

This onetime pro wrestler, Navy SEAL, politician and patriot has strong opinions about what’s happening to our country – and a few creative solutions to these problems, too.

Today’s installment is Part I of a two-part series on Governor Ventura, who is considering a run for the White House as an independent candidate. If Ventura runs, he says he wants Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his VP.

We’ll tell you more about that tomorrow in Pt. II. You won’t want to miss it. 

Kinky Friedman and Jesse Ventura, 2006

Kinky Friedman, a Lone Star icon and 2006 independent candidate for Texas Governor, plots political strategy with former independent Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (who has since shaved off those fabulous, freaky Fu Manchu whiskers).

VENTURA ON IRAQ: BOTH PARTIES ARE RESPONSIBLE

In his new book, Don’t Start The Revolution Without Me, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura reflects on how the Iraq war has served to deepen his independent convictions. He rightly blames the Bush administration and a Republican-controlled Congress for the start of the war, but certainly doesn’t spare the Democrats any blows, either.

On page 267, he body-slams Bush for The Big Lie which took us into Iraq:

“Okay, if we lie to our government, we go to jail. But what happens when the government lies to us?…Oh, that’s right, we go to war. And I make the point that I’m not talking only about the current war, but how the Vietnam War escalated after Lyndon Johnson’s administration concocted the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

I’m also very angry at the Democrats, who were cowards from the beginning of the Iraq ordeal. They seemed so frightenend of their political standing, or of what Karl Rove and the Bush machine had created, they wouldn’t just stand up and say no. Even now that the Democrats control Congress again, they will only go so far. They want a timetable for withdrawing our troops, but they don’t seem ready to hold Bush’s feet to the fire to get it. I, at least, give the Republicans credit for having courage, misguided though it may be. I don’t think anyone who voted for this war deserves to be president, Democrat or Republican.

What frustrates and angers me more than anything is this: It’s my generation. We’ve been lead down this primrose path once before already, with Vietnam. Shouldn’t we, of all people, know about being deceived? How dumb can we be? Now we’ve gone and done the very thing we protested so vehemently against in our youth. We’ve become what we feared.

Maybe it’s time we recalled the words of Robert F. Kennedy, when he was running for president in 1968: “I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that the course we are following at the present time is deeply wrong. I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that we are acting as if no other nations existed, against the judgment and desires of neutrals and our historic allies alike. I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that our present course will not bring victory; will not bring peace; will not stop the bloodshed; and will not advance the interests of the United States or the cause of peace in the world. I am concerned that, at the end of it all, there will only be more Americans killed; more of our treasure spilled out; and because of the bitterness and hatred on every side of the war, more hundreds of thousands of (civilians) slaughtered; so they may say, as Tacitus said of Rome: `They made a desert, and called it peace.’”

RFK's 1968 campaign

WOULD RFK HAVE LEFT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

Ventura is right, in a sense: had the political climate within the Democratic party in 1968 been what it is today, Robert Kennedy might have been forced to run as an independent. RFK’s turn against his party, his president, even his own late brother’s policy on Vietnam could have – and in today’s political world, likely would have - cost him the Democratic party nomination.

Try to imagine the Republican party nominating an anti-war candidate in 2008. Not gonna happen. No matter how unpopular their president is; no matter how misguided the policy which lead us into Iraq and keeps us there day after bloody day, they’re still towing the party line when it comes to the war.

Which brings us back to the here and now: if the majority of Americans want the war in Iraq ended as soon as possible, and two of the three U.S. Senators currently running for the presidency voted to authorize this war, does that leave only Barack Obama as “qualified” to be president, by Ventura’s logic?

Perhaps. But what we don’t know is this: would Barack Obama be opposing the war if a Democratic president had gotten us into it? Would Clinton?

It’s an interesting hypothetical, one to consider. Although Hillary Clinton undoubtedly made the wrong choice in voting to authorize our invasion of Iraq, at least we can evaluate her as a presidential candidate based on her vote (and her later mea culpa). In Obama’s case, we just don’t know. He wasn’t in the Senate at the time of that critical vote. We can only assume that his motivations to oppose the war are strictly moral, and not political.

Although Ventura says that Obama is the best of the two-party choices this year, he still has his doubts. Is Obama qualified? Will he be the strong leader we need now? Who’s really pulling his strings? Can he be trusted to uphold all those lofty campaign promises?

Obama’s a gamble, yes – but it seems the American people have nothing left to lose. We’re probably going to put Obama in the White House this November simply to free ourselves from more of the same-old, same-old, if for no other reason.

Unless some formidable independent contender should suddenly appear on the horizon to challenge the two-party system. With the exception of Ralph Nader, independent voters are left with a barren landscape of choices so far this year.

There is, of course, another option Ventura’s been thinking about. You know that old saying, “if you want a job done right, do it yourself?”

Perhaps we could add to that sage wisdom: “And always be sure to pick an unimpeachable running mate!”

AND WE ALL KNOW WHO THAT IS

For Jesse Ventura, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is exactly that man. In his new book, Ventura makes no secret of who he wants to run beside him, even going so far as to put forward a fantasy-scenario of this “dream ticket” burning up the campaign trail this summer.

And it all sounds really good – great, in fact – so good you find yourself starting to dream about it, too…Until the last two pages, when the dream turns into a nightmare.

Thankfully, that’s only fiction. What this blogger worries about, though, is that if strong, brave leaders like Ventura and Kennedy don’t offer themselves to represent the people during America’s “hour of maximum peril” (to quote JFK), we may wake up one morning soon to find that our worst nightmares have come true.

Ventura, to his eternal credit, has offered himself wholeheartedly (as any good soldier would when he hears the call of his country). He has said he is willing and able to run for president as an independent and believes he can win.

He’s not the coy, passively-reluctant candidate. This old fighter is just itching to get back into the ring for another round: “Give me ballot access,” he recently told Larry King, “and I’ll beat `em all!”

I’m in no position to disagree with that statement. The Maverickfrom Minnesota only needs two things right now to become the first independent President of the United States: 1) ballot access, and 2) RFK Jr.

But can Ventura convince Kennedy to leave the Democratic party and join him on The Quest?

We’ll explore that question in Pt. II tomorrow. Stay tuned…

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com. Book excerpt copyright 2008 by Jesse Ventura. 

UPDATE: Jesse Ventura told CNN’s Larry King this week he is considering an independent bid for the Minnesota U.S. Senate Seat that Al Franken is currently running for. Should Jesse do it? Or is there already one comedian too many in this race?

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RFK Jr.: Don’t Be Offended

RFK Jr at Hyannisport, May 24, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. walks down the pier in Hyannis Port to go sailing in the Figawi race Saturday. At far left is his sister Kerry Kennedy. (Photo by Jennifer Longley)

KENNEDY JR. SAYS “NO OFFENSE TAKEN” AT HILLARY RFK REMARK

From The Boston Herald

HYANNISPORT – Robert F, Kennedy Jr. emerged from the Kennedy family compound Saturday morning but responded only with a smile and a “hi” when asked about Hillary Clinton’s remarks concerning his assassinated father.

Friday night, however, responding to the daylong outcry over Hillary Clinton’s statement regarding the 1968 murder of his father, a former New York senator, Kennedy Jr. said in a written statement that the mention by Clinton should not be taken as offensive.

Kennedy Jr., who lives in New York and has endorsed Clinton, wrote:

“It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband’s 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”

The next morning, Kennedy Jr. stepped out alone onto the private dock at the family compound here and was soon joined by other family members. They were expected to spend part of the day sailing with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the family patriarch, whose diagnosis of brain cancer last week has shaken the Kennedys and the political world.

Kennedy Jr. said “he’s good” when asked about the health of Sen. Kennedy, who quietly took a seat on the compound’s back porch this morning so he could watch the day’s Figawi boat race.

“He’s in good spirits,” his nephew Chris Kennedy said of the senator as he arrived with his family at Fortes Beach, where the senator’s boat, “Mya,” is docked.

Copyright 2008, The Boston Herald.

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Cleaning Up America, One River At a Time

Photo by Dave Lauridsen; Grooming: Juanita Lyon/celestinetalent.com

Newsmaker

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

By Bill Newcott, May & June 2008 issue of AARP Magazine

He’s cleaning up America, one river at a time

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s obsession with rivers has its headwaters in the mid-1960s, when he and his famous dad paddled along the towering walls of the Grand Canyon. Now 54 and chief prosecuting attorney for the Riverkeeper environmental alliance, he goes after river polluters nationwide with a vengeance…and returns to the Colorado River in the new IMAX movie Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk.

Q: Why is the Grand Canyon at risk? “Forty-five years ago, when my dad and I went down in some military-surplus pontoon rafts, we were told that we were within the first couple of hundred people who had ever been down the Grand Canyon. Before the Glen Canyon Dam was built upstream from the canyon in the 1960s, you still had these big sandbars, and we camped on them. There were eight native fish that had a healthy population; four of those are now extinct, and the others are on their way to extinction. There were colonies of mammals—beavers, muskrats, otters—that have disappeared.”

Q: What happened? “The thing that’s destroying the Grand Canyon is not the visitors. It’s the friggin’ dams. The Glen Canyon Dam at the Glen Canyon reservoir took what was a warm river and turned the Grand Canyon into a big plumbing conduit, a cold-water canal between reservoirs.”

Q: Don’t we need the dams to protect against water shortages? “There’s enough water for everybody, but it’s being allocated to benefit a few utilities and developers, building golf courses and growing rice in the desert.”

Q: Are our environmental laws too lax? “We have very good environmental laws in this country. If we enforced them, we probably wouldn’t have environmental problems.”

Q: Where did you get the inspiration to become an environmentalist? “My father was an environmentalist, and so was my uncle—President Kennedy. He tried to launch the first Earth Day in 1962, but people wanted to focus on nuclear disarmament and other issues.”

AARP: Lifestyle Information for People 50 and Over
The entertaining and informative content on AARPmagazine.org is just one of the many benefits of AARP membership—only $12.50 a year. Join or renew online today!

Q: Are tourists “loving” our national parks to death? “Human beings are a part of nature. I spent time in the rain forests of Hawaii, and I have to say I was a little bit bored because there are no people in them. The rain forest I want to be in is the one that has human beings in it, so you can see human beings interacting with nature. I love to camp on an island in the Hudson and see the same blue silhouette of the Catskills that Henry Hudson saw when he came up in the Half Moon in 1609. I see the boatmen, the water-skiers, the big freighters. And I think, ‘You know, the Hudson is big enough for everybody.’ ”

Q: What can people do? “Get involved in the political process, and get rid of all these rotten politicians who are indentured servants to the big polluters. And I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans alike!”

 

Copyright 2008, AARP Magazine.

 

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Would You Like Some Water To Wash Down That Foot, Hillary?

Hillary Clinton in S.D., May 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton apologized for any offense her remarks about Robert Kennedy’s assassination might have caused. We don’t know what got into her yesterday – did the devil make her say it? – maybe the Hill just wasn’t feeling well. Come to think of it, she does look a bit feverish. (AP photo)

OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT

While on the campaign trail in South Dakota yesterday, Senator Hillary Clinton apparently contracted a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.

Citing historical examples of Democratic candidates who fought for the nomination well into June – including that of her own husband in 1992 – Clinton then tripped over her own tongue, igniting a worldwide firestorm of controversy by bringing up the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy:

The comments came in a meeting Mrs Clinton was having with the editorial board of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader newspaper.

Responding to those who had called on her to withdraw from the Democratic Party’s presidential race, Mrs Clinton said:

“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June… We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it.”

What I don’t understand is what Hillary Clinton was thinking when she blurted this one out. While I see where she’s going with this, and she is historically correct, her timing is positively Godawful.

With the 40th anniversary of the RFK assassination coming right up, Senator Ted Kennedy’s recent brain cancer diagnosis, and a Kennedy family already divided between Obama and Clinton, this seemed the absolute clumsiest thing a presidential candidate could utter — and at the worst possible time.

Observers say the remarks could be damaging if people were to interpret them as an indication that Mrs Clinton believes the assassination of her rival would benefit her campaign.

Yikes. Let’s not even go there.

The New York senator later apologized to the Kennedy family and expressed her regret at any offense her comments may have caused.

RFK JR.’S $.02

At least one member of the Kennedy family wasn’t offended by Senator Clinton’s remarks. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who has endorsed Clinton for president) defended her in a telephone interview with the New York Times Friday evening.

“I’ve heard her make that argument before,” Mr. Kennedy said, speaking on his cell phone as he drove to the family compound in Hyannis for the holiday weekend. “It sounds like she was invoking a familiar historical circumstance in support of her argument for continuing her campaign.”

Mr. Kennedy said he has been traveling and had not seen the video or read Mrs. Clinton’s comments, but said his support of Mrs. Clinton has not wavered.

He added that the protracted fight for the Democratic nomination would only last “two more weeks.”

“The candidate’s going to emerge within the next two weeks, and the party will get behind them,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Late last evening, Kennedy also fired off a written statement through the Clinton campaign press office.

Bobby cautioned folks not to be offended at Clinton’s mention of his father’s assassination when discussing why she was staying in the race and how there was precedent for the primaries lasting until June.

“It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband’s 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”

After the uproar, Clinton came to the TV cameras to make a brief statement on her remarks. 

“Earlier today, I was discussing the Democratic primary history, and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June in 1992 and 1968. And I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination, primary contests that go into June. That’s an historic fact. “

“The Kennedys have been much on my mind in the last days because of Senator Kennedy, and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. i certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.”

“My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to. And I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York, And have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family. Thanks.”

And a big thanks to Senator Hillary Clinton for giving the Memorial Day weekend fill-in crew at every cable news channel plenty to pontificate on between now and Tuesday. Oh, brother…here we go again.

So turn off your tv sets, everyone. Don’t even bother watching for the next three days. Hell…go fishing. Go to the beach. Have a backyard barbecue or something and just enjoy a nice holiday. Try to ignore these campaign season distractions and instead remember America’s fallen. Think of all our troops currently stationed around the world. Send a care package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan — and a prayer that God will keep them safe until our next president can finally bring our fighting men and women back home again!

 

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com

 

 

 

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Kennedy’s Passion, Anger Evident in Canada Speech

RFK Jr. in Canada, May 22, 2008

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at Trent University, May 22, 2008

KENNEDY’S PASSION, ANGER EVIDENT IN CANADA SPEECH

Story and photo from Kawartha Media Group

An event that took so much planning on Trent University part paid off in a big way Thursday night (May 22) as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. took to the stage at the Memorial Centre.

During a speech that at times was more performance than lecture, he captured his audience’s attention. The lights were low but the sold-out crowd of 2,000 people were squarely focused on the lone figure on stage.

After speaking about his love for Canada, Mr. Kennedy mentioned that Canada still has time to prevent what has already happened in the United States, in particular government policy being written by industrial lobbyists.
“We have the worst environmental administration that we’ve ever had in history,” he said, adding that instead of distributing the goods of the land and protecting democracy, there are well-positioned people looking out for big business as opposed to what’s best for everyone.

“Regardless of how much money you have, you should be able to have clean air to breathe, clean air to drink, and, for children, to have the opportunity to proudly bring home a fish and cook it for supper…without worrying about getting poisoned. That right has been taken away.”

Like Trent University president Bonnie Patterson promised, Mr. Kennedy’s address left behind a lot to think about.

For example, Mr. Kennedy recommended that Canadians start strongly lobbying for measures that will keep the United States from taking from Canada’s water supply.

Coverage from the Orilla Packet and Times goes on to say:

Canadians should tell the United States that they will not allow exports of their country’s water to address a shortage south of the border, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Thursday during a visit to Trent University.

“Right now, there’s a broad consensus against bulk water exports… and we think that that’s a good idea,” Kennedy told reporters. “But only 10 per cent of the water in Canada is protected.”

Kennedy, 54, urged Ottawa to “send a clear signal” to the United States by putting “strong protection on the other 90 per cent and say, ‘This is not going to the U.S.’”

Policy makers in parched southern states don’t fret about shortages, he said.

“They’ll say, ‘We don’t have to worry about this because we’ll just get the water from Canada.’

“It’s really important for us to say, ‘Canada’s not going to give us the water.’ We need to start right now implementing the kind of practices, good planning practices, that allow us to live within our resource base.”

On Thursday night, the high-profile environmental crusader was cast as the closing keynote speaker for the university’s 51st annual Conference on Great Lakes Research.

Reporters were asked to refrain from asking questions about his uncle during what was described as a trying time for the family.

And this announcement today from Canada Newswire:

TORONTO, May 23 /CNW/ – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sent Ontario Premier
McGuinty a tersely worded letter in which he asks that the Premier reform
Ontario’s outdated mining rules and do whatever possible to halt ongoing
drilling on traditional lands of jailed First Nations’ leaders.

Read the full letter from RFK Jr. here (PDF).

Learn more at WildlandsLeague.org

 

 

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Kennedy Out of Hospital, Headed for Hyannisport

(Stephan Savoia/Associated Press photo)

Senator Edward M. Kennedy walked out of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Wednesday.

 

BOSTON — One day after learning that he has a malignant brain tumor, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the longtime Massachusetts Democrat and patriarch of the Kennedy family, walked out of a hospital to a crowd of well wishers on Wednesday, appearing strong and cheerful.

Mr. Kennedy was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital on Saturday after suffering a seizure at his Cape Cod compound. After several days of tests, a preliminary biopsy of the brain revealed that Mr. Kennedy, 76, has a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe on the upper part of his brain, a cancer that often carries a bleak prognosis.

But if there were any signs that the diagnosis had slowed Mr. Kennedy or dampened his spirits, they were not evident as he left the hospital on Wednesday morning. Holding hands with his wife and walking side by side with his children, Mr. Kennedy exited the hospital to cheers and cries of good luck from a few dozen supporters who had gathered outside the hospital. Mr. Kennedy waved and gave a thumbs up sign as he walked to his car, then circled back and played with his two dogs before getting into a car and driving off.

The only evidence of the procedure and diagnosis appeared to be a two-inch by two-inch bandage on the back of Mr. Kennedy’s head.

Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, the hospital’s vice chairman of neurology, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Mr. Kennedy’s primary care physician at the hospital, said in a statement that Mr. Kennedy “has recovered remarkably quickly” and would be awaiting further test results and treatment plans while recovering at his Cape Cod home.

On Tuesday, they explained his treatment options, saying that the usual course for someone with his history and diagnosis includes “combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy.”

News of the brain tumor jolted people in Washington, Massachusetts and beyond, generating reaction from around the world, where Mr. Kennedy’s family legacy and his 46 years in the Senate have made him a well-known figure.

Aside from an unsuccessful run for president in 1980, Mr. Kennedy has focused his energy on issues including health care, education and civil rights. Despite his liberal ideology and occasional loud clashes on the Senate floor, Mr. Kennedy is held in high esteem by the opposition for his determination, understanding of the issues, and a willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion on subjects like education, health care and immigration.

“Senator Kennedy enjoys great respect and admiration on this side of the aisle,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. “He is indeed one of the most important figures to ever serve in this body in our history.”

In a statement, President Bush said, “Ted Kennedy is a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength, and powerful spirit.” Mr. Bush said he and his wife, Laura, “join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.”

Senator John McCain echoed that sentiment, and both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton invoked Mr. Kennedy at length on Tuesday night in their speeches following the Oregon and Kentucky primaries.

Doctors and people close to Mr. Kennedy said on Tuesday that while he was in the hospital he was “in good spirits and full of energy” and “in overall good condition.” He has not had another seizure since he was hospitalized, they said.

“Right now, he’s his normal self, except for the news that he’s dealing with,” said a close friend who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I bet he’ll be back at the Cape sailing this weekend. I expect he’ll go back to work” after the Memorial Day recess.

Senate Democrats and Republicans learned of Mr. Kennedy’s condition as they were gathered for their weekly closed-door party luncheons, and members of both parties were visibly shaken by the news.

As he opened debate on the Iraq spending bill, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, at 90 the only current senator to serve longer than Mr. Kennedy, was distraught. “Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and miss you,” Mr. Byrd said in halting remarks on the floor.

Malignant glioma is the most common form of brain cancer, accounting for about 9,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. They are more common in older people, especially those between the ages of 75 and 84, according to the American Cancer Society.

The prognosis varies depending on the type and severity of the tumor, and the patient’s age. The American Cancer Society said survival rates dropped with increasing age.

Dr. Patrick Y. Wen, clinical director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said the average prognosis for the most aggressive type of glioma was 14 to 15 months, while the prognosis for slower-growing tumors was two to four years.

“This is a sad situation,” Dr. Wen said. He said that such tumors can sometimes affect sensation, speech, or vision, and that tumors in older people tend to be harder to treat. “These are unfortunately aggressive tumors.”

Alain Charest, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Tufts Medical Center, said if the tumor could be removed surgically doctors would do so, although gliomas are difficult to remove because cells from the tumor tend to travel to other parts of the brain. Radiation and chemotherapy usually follow surgery.

Dr. Carl B. Heilman, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Tufts Medical Center, said that most people went back to work after a biopsy, and that many patients responded well to radiation therapy and oral chemotherapy at first.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said on Tuesday in Washington that he had visited Mr. Kennedy over the weekend.

“He’s in a fighting mood,” Mr. Kerry said. “He is asking questions about what the choices are for him. He’s deeply involved in making all the kinds of personal decisions that any of you would.”

Mr. Kerry added: “He would call you and help arrange a discussion with a bunch of doctors to talk about a wife who was sick or a child or any number of things — now everybody needs to do that on behalf of Ted. Everybody needs to pull for him and his family and remember that this guy is one unbelievable fighter.”

In Massachusetts, the impact of Mr. Kennedy’s persona and political legacy is hard to overestimate.

“There’ll never be another Ted Kennedy,” said Paul S. Grogan, president and chief executive of the Boston Foundation, which finances nonprofits involved in economic development and other state issues. “He’s sort of Horatio at the bridge. He’s been such an outsized figure, so influential, so effective.”

Mr. Grogan said that Mr. Kennedy had given Massachusetts a level of political prominence beyond what would normally be accorded a state of its size, and that he had helped engineer policies and financing mechanisms that benefited important sectors of the state, including universities and medical centers.

“He’s single-handedly postponed the onset of Massachusetts’s political decline,” Mr. Grogan said, adding, “His vigor, his vitality and his longevity has kind of encouraged us all to believe that he’s immortal, and we’ve gotten used to the idea that he’s going to be around forever. But this is a reminder that he’s not.”

Cameron Kerry, a lawyer who is the brother of Senator Kerry, said the news of the brain tumor was “like an earthquake,” adding, “He’s just such a colossus that this kind of shakes the ground underneath everything.”

Mr. Kerry said that “on a political level, he’s just been so good to my brother and to the whole family. He really is like family.”

Jack Connors, a businessman who is active in Democratic causes, said: “Ted Kennedy raised public service to an art form. Ted Kennedy has really been a hero for people who don’t really have much of a voice.”

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, called him “clearly the most influential senator in U.S. history.” Mr. Frank added: “His personality, his understanding of the legislative process, his dedication. He has a good sense of other people, a lot of empathy. And he hires first-rate people and knows how to benefit from them.”

Legislators close to Mr. Kennedy, like Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said on Tuesday that they were certain Mr. Kennedy would return to work and would battle the tumor with his characteristic tenacity and energy.

“He’s a fighter,” said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, “and he’s definitely ready for this fight.”

Pam Belluck reported from Boston. Carl Hulse contributed reporting from Washington and Katie Zezima contributed reporting from Boston.

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Family and Friends Pray for Kennedy

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy in 2005. (AP Photo)


SENATOR KENNEDY’S FAMILY, FRIENDS REELING AFTER GRIM DIAGNOSIS

BOSTON (AP) – The grim diagnosis that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has an almost certainly fatal brain tumor was “a real curveball” that left his family stunned even as he joked and laughed with them, his wife told her friends.

In her first public comments on her husband’s diagnosis, Vicki Kennedy expressed pride in how well her husband of 15 years was handling the news.

“Teddy is leading us all, as usual, with his calm approach to getting the best information possible,” she wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to friends.

“He’s also making me crazy (and making me laugh) by pushing to race in the Figawi this weekend,” she wrote, referring to the annual sailing race from Cape Cod to Nantucket.

An Associated Press photographer who was given access to the senator on Tuesday captured Kennedy, dressed in a gray sweater and dark slacks, joking and laughing with family members as he sat at a table in a family room at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctors discovered the cancerous tumor after the 76-year-old senator suffered a seizure over the weekend. Outside experts predicted he had no more than three years – and perhaps far less – to live.

Family members with suitcases bunked with Kennedy overnight. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., was determined not to leave until doctors settled on a treatment plan.

“Obviously it’s tough news for any son to hear,” said Robin Costello, a spokeswoman for Patrick Kennedy. “He’s comforted by the fact that his dad is such a fighter, and if anyone can get through something as challenging as this, it would be his father.”

The diagnosis cast a pall over Capitol Hill, where the Massachusetts Democrat has served since 1962, and came as a shock to a family all too accustomed to sudden, calamitous news.

“He’s had a biopsy, and we don’t yet have final pathology or a plan or course of treatment. But I have to be honest, we’ve been pitched a real curveball,” Vicki Kennedy wrote.

Doctors said the senator had a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, a region of the brain that helps govern sensation, movement and language. Malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year; in general, half of all patients die within a year.

“It’s treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while but it’s not a curable tumor,” said Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuroncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital for the next couple of days as they consider chemotherapy and radiation. They did not mention surgery, a possible indication the tumor is inoperable.

In a statement Tuesday, Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary physician, said the senator “remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital.”

“He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” the physicians said.

Senators of both parties heard about his condition during their weekly, closed-door policy lunches, and some looked drawn or misty-eyed as they emerged.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving member of the Senate, wept as he prayed for “my dear, dear friend, dear friend, Ted Kennedy” during a speech on the Senate floor.

“Keep Ted here for us and for America,” said the 90-year-old Byrd, who is in a wheelchair. He added: “Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and I miss you.”

In a statement, President Bush saluted Kennedy as “a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit.” He added: “We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.”

Kennedy has been active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for Sen. Barack Obama.

“He fights for what he thinks is right. And we want to make sure that he’s fighting this illness,” Obama said Tuesday. “And it’s our job now to support him in the way that he has supported us for so many years.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “Ted Kennedy’s courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery.”

Kennedy has left his stamp on a raft of health care, pension and immigration legislation during four decades in the Senate. In 1980, Kennedy unsuccessfully challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Kennedy family has been struck by tragedy over and over. Kennedy’s eldest brother, Joseph, died in a World War II plane crash; President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Ted Kennedy shocked the nation in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge to Massachusetts’ Chappaquiddick Island and a young female campaign worker drowned. Kennedy, who did not call authorities until the next day, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence.

Kennedy, the Senate’s second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012. Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat 145 to 160 days afterward.

Associated Press writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report from Washington.

On the Net:

http://kennedy.senate.gov
05/21/08 06:01 © Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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