Monthly Archives: January 2008

Op-Ed: Is America A Fascist Nation?

RISE OF THE FOURTH REICH

As anyone who has ever heard Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speak on the subject of fascism already knows, he says that America is not veering towards becoming a fascist state — he thinks we’re already there, friends.

According to Kennedy, we passed that mile marker a long time ago.

In his 2004 book Crimes Against Nature (soon to be a documentary film), Kennedy strongly implies that we live in a fascist country and that the Bush White House picked up more than a few tricks from the Nazis.

“While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business,” he writes. “My American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as ‘a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism.’ Sound familiar?”

He quotes Hitler’s propaganda chief Herman Goerring: “It is always simply a matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Kennedy then adds: “The White House has clearly grasped the lesson.”

Kennedy also quotes Benito Mussolini’s insight that “fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

“The biggest threat to American democracy is corporate power,” Kennedy told us.

“There is vogue in the White House to talk about the threat of big government. But since the beginning of our national history, our most visionary political leaders have warned the American public against the domination of government by corporate power. That warning is missing in the national debate right now. Because so much corporate money is going into politics, the Democratic Party itself has dropped the ball. They just quash discussion about the corrosive impact of excessive corporate power on American democracy.”

SO AT LEAST SOME OF US SEE WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW…

But how many realize that fascism is hardly new to the United States?

This isn’t something that just suddenly happened over the past 7 years.

In actual fact, the cancer has been growing here since the 1920s, back when Mussolini was still fashionable and Hitler’s brand of socialism looked like a plan that just might work in the USA. Many powerful, influential, and seemingly otherwise intelligent people believed adopting a fascist system here would be the only way to end the Great Depression. After all, it had worked so well in Germany and Italy, hadn’t it?

Charles Chaplin as Hitler in The Great Dictator

Charles Chaplin parodies Hitler in his 1939 classic film, The Great Dictator.

(United Artists.)

In the 1930s, the fasces (an ancient Roman symbol adopted by the Nazis at about that same time) started showing up on our money, in our government buildings and public landmarks. Check out a few comparative photographic examples here.

Our attitudes towards the Fascists supposedly changed after 1940 – but if that is true, why did we bring over so many of the top German Nazis after the war and protect them from prosecution at the Hague?

Why haven’t the fascist symbols in the halls of Congress and on our currency been removed? It’s only been 67 years since the U.S. entered World War Two; you’d think someone would have gotten around to it by now.

And why the hell is there a building on a US Naval Base shaped like a Swastika?

Hardly anyone knew of this building outside the Coronado Naval Amphibious Base near San Diego until recently when Google mapped it. The story spread like a California wildfire through the blogosphere, eventually being picked up by the mainstream media.

Needless to say, the Navy had some ‘splainin’ to do.

Since the building was constructed well after WWII (in 1967), they can hardly claim to be ignorant of the symbolism. Even though the Swastika is an ancient symbol of luck, love and peace in many cultures, the Nazis perverted it into a symbol of hatred, intolerance and mass murder in the 20th century. When you see a Swastika today, what does it make you think of? Your first thought probably has nothing to do with world peace.

Maybe this was not the best PR move for an Allied military in the postwar era. I might wager a guess that any parent who lost a son in WWII fighting the Nazis would be deeply offended by such a building on a US NAVY BASE if they had known of it! Especially if that dead son had served in the Navy or Air Force.

Navy officials admitted to having “discovered” this many years ago (uh, how could they have missed it in the first place, one wonders?) but since there is a no-fly zone above the naval base, they figured no one would see it.

Well, the eagle eyes of Google Earth miss nothing.

And now that the secret is out, the Navy has announced that they will be spending $600,000 to alter the shape of the building into something less offensive — like a square, for example.

TIME TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GAS

Talk to people in the 9/11 Truth movement and they will tell you that September 11th was a sort of fire sacrifice to whatever Dark Lords these Nazi bastards worship. I don’t know about that, although I’m far from convinced the Twin Towers were brought down by two commercial jetliners. Looked like someone just hit a detanator button to me.

And don’t get me started on whether or not a plane actually hit the Pentagon.

Or the Bush family ties to top Nazis dating back long before WWII. (Although unlike many of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, this is a well-documented historical fact.)

The old adage, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is proven true again and again. The controllers establish total power over us while we nap blissfully in an illusion of freedom. By the time we wake up and fully realize the deep shit we’re really in, it’s too late. We’re already on the train with a one-way ticket to Auchwitz.

We never seem to see it coming, even when it was right in our faces the whole time. That’s the trouble with rose-colored glasses.

When History Repeats...

“It is a quite special secret pleasure how the people around us fail to realize what is really happening to them.”

— Adolf Hitler

Some say it’s already too late and that the coup d’ etat has long been complete. They say that fascism is too deeply rooted in our government over too many decades to be rooted out. I hate to join that doom-and-gloom camp, but sometimes I wonder if they are right.

Maybe we missed our golden opportunity to stop this snowball careening downhill 15 years ago when we watched a church filled with men, women and children torched by our loving government and we did nothing. (Besides, everybody knows those Branch Davidians were just a bunch of whacko fundamentalists anyway, so who why stick your neck out to raise a First Amendment question in the middle of a human barbecue?)

Was that us, the United States of America, openly conducting religious genocide in 1993?

So when it happens in other countries, genocide is bad, but when we do it to our own people, that’s acceptable? What the hell are we saying? Do we hear ourselves? And where is this line of thinking ultimately going to take us as the “moral leaders” of the world?

To my mind (and at least that of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark as well), Waco was America’s Kristallnacht and unfortunately the majority of Americans reacted to it the same way the Germans did in 1938 — with either outright approval or disinterested acquiescence.

When will we ever learn?

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

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Edwards Drops Bid for the Presidency

EDWARDS BOWS OUT GRACEFULLY

At a press conference in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, still decimated from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, John Edwards announced today that he is suspending his candidacy for President of the United States.

With his family and Habitat for Humanity volunteers standing behind him, Edwards gave an eloquent speech that should live for all time. Anyone who saw it shall never forget it.

Throughout this campaign, his opponents have drawn numerous comparisons to JFK, RFK, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — but it is John Edwards who rightfully deserved the credit for keeping the populist progressive dream alive. His message echoed President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, FDR’s New Deal, Robert F. Kennedy’s Poverty Tour, and Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign.

While other candidates talked the talk, John Edwards walked the walk.

Sadly, the media has all but ignored Edwards’ campaign in recent weeks, as the pundits focused on the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Even more distressing is the fact that the only way to get John Edwards back on the front page was for him to quit the race.

Edwards may have abandoned his campaign, but not the struggle for economic and social equality in America. No sooner had he delivered his announcement today, he picked up a hammer and got to work building a new home in Musician’s Village for those displaced by Katrina. This in itself was a powerful statement – and he wanted all the world to hear.

As a journalist, I’ve covered every presidential race since 1988, and have seen a lot of candidates come and go. But never have I seen a candidate drop out of the running with as much eloquence and grace as John Edwards did today. His words of farewell moved me deeply, and I sincerely hope they are not forgotten.

The following is a transcript of this moving and memorable speech by John Edwards. Please share it with your friends and family, and ask them to put pressure on whichever candidate they support to incorporate Edwards’ anti-poverty mission into their platform:

John Edwards in New Orleans, Jan. 30, 2008

Thank you all very much. We’re very proud to be back here.

During the spring of 2006, I had the extraordinary experience of bringing 700 college kids here to New Orleans to work. These are kids who gave up their spring break to come to New Orleans to work, to rehabilitate houses, because of their commitment as Americans, because they believed in what was possible, and because they cared about their country.

I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much.

It is appropriate that I come here today. It’s time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path. We do not know who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but what we do know is that our Democratic Party will make history. We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we’ll create hope and opportunity for this country.

This journey of ours began right here in New Orleans. It was a December morning in the Lower Ninth Ward when people went to work, not just me, but lots of others went to work with shovels and hammers to help restore a house that had been destroyed by the storm.

We joined together in a city that had been abandoned by our government and had been forgotten, but not by us. We knew that they still mourned the dead, that they were still stunned by the destruction, and that they wondered when all those cement steps in all those vacant lots would once again lead to a door, to a home, and to a dream.

We came here to the Lower Ninth Ward to rebuild. And we’re going to rebuild today and work today, and we will continue to come back. We will never forget the heartache and we’ll always be here to bring them hope, so that someday, one day, the trumpets will sound in Musicians’ Village, where we are today, play loud across Lake Ponchartrain, so that working people can come marching in and those steps once again can lead to a family living out the dream in America.

We sat with poultry workers in Mississippi, janitors in Florida, nurses in California.

We listened as child after child told us about their worry about whether we would preserve the planet.

We listened to worker after worker say “the economy is tearing my family apart.”

We walked the streets of Cleveland, where house after house was in foreclosure.

And we said, “We’re better than this. And economic justice in America is our cause.”

And we spent a day, a summer day, in Wise, Virginia, with a man named James Lowe, who told us the story of having been born with a cleft palate. He had no health care coverage. His family couldn’t afford to fix it. And finally some good Samaritan came along and paid for his cleft palate to be fixed, which allowed him to speak for the first time. But they did it when he was 50 years old. His amazing story, though, gave this campaign voice: universal health care for every man, woman and child in America. That is our cause.

And we do this — we do this for each other in America. We don’t turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what — but for the grace of God, there goes us. The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.

For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn’t register in political polls, they didn’t get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don’t know how it started. I don’t know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn’t afford to pay for heat.

We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can’t organize and can’t put a union in the workplace. Well, in this campaign, we didn’t turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, “We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you.” And I have a feeling that if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House.

Now, I’ve spoken to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. They have both pledged to me and more importantly through me to America, that they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency.

And more importantly, they have pledged to me that as President of the United States they will make ending poverty and economic inequality central to their Presidency. This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause.

And I want to say to everyone here, on the way here today, we passed under a bridge that carried the interstate where 100 to 200 homeless Americans sleep every night. And we stopped, we got out, we went in and spoke to them.

There was a minister there who comes every morning and feeds the homeless out of her own pocket. She said she has no money left in her bank account, she struggles to be able to do it, but she knows it’s the moral, just and right thing to do. And I spoke to some of the people who were there and as I was leaving, one woman said to me, “You won’t forget us, will you? Promise me you won’t forget us.” Well, I say to her and I say to all of those who are struggling in this country, we will never forget you. We will fight for you. We will stand up for you.

But I want to say this — I want to say this because it’s important. With all of the injustice that we’ve seen, I can say this, America’s hour of transformation is upon us. It may be hard to believe when we have bullets flying in Baghdad and it may be hard to believe when it costs $58 to fill your car up with gas. It may be hard to believe when your school doesn’t have the right books for your kids. It’s hard to speak out for change when you feel like your voice is not being heard.

But I do hear it. We hear it. This Democratic Party hears you. We hear you, once again. And we will lift you up with our dream of what’s possible.

One America, one America that works for everybody.

One America where struggling towns and factories come back to life because we finally transformed our economy by ending our dependence on oil.

One America where the men who work the late shift and the women who get up at dawn to drive a two-hour commute and the young person who closes the store to save for college. They will be honored for that work.

One America where no child will go to bed hungry because we will finally end the moral shame of 37 million people living in poverty.

One America where every single man, woman and child in this country has health care.

One America with one public school system that works for all of our children.

One America that finally brings this war in Iraq to an end. And brings our service members home with the hero’s welcome that they have earned and that they deserve.

Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency.

But I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a millworker’s gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine.

And I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard — all those who have volunteered, my dedicated campaign staff who have worked absolutely tirelessly in this campaign.

And I want to say a personal word to those I’ve seen literally in the last few days — those I saw in Oklahoma yesterday, in Missouri, last night in Minnesota — who came to me and said don’t forget us. Speak for us. We need your voice. I want you to know that you almost changed my mind, because I hear your voice, I feel you, and your cause it our cause. Your country needs you — every single one of you.

All of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause, we need you. It is in our hour of need that your country needs you. Don’t turn away, because we have not just a city of New Orleans to rebuild. We have an American house to rebuild.

This work goes on. It goes on right here in Musicians’ Village. There are homes to build here, and in neighborhoods all along the Gulf. The work goes on for the students in crumbling schools just yearning for a chance to get ahead. It goes on for day care workers, for steel workers risking their lives in cities all across this country. And the work goes on for two hundred thousand men and women who wore the uniform of the United States of America, proud veterans, who go to sleep every night under bridges, or in shelters, or on grates, just as the people we saw on the way here today. Their cause is our cause.

Their struggle is our struggle. Their dreams are our dreams.

Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what’s possible, because it’s time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one.

Thank you. God bless you, and let’s go to work. Thank you all very much.

Copyright RFKin2008.com. Speech text courtesy of the John Edwards for President campaign.

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Has the Media Already Crowned Obama King?

THE OBAMA PHENOMENA

If the election were tomorrow (and maybe it should be), Barack Obama would be president. Thanks to a media transfixed by the candidate’s star power, Senator Obama has seemingly unstoppable momentum. He’s got the media and the masses. The delegates can’t be far behind. And that’s the ball game, folks. The race may be over before it’s even been run.

So what’s the point of having an election then, if this thing has already been decided? Just think of all the money and trouble we could save ourselves by just calling the race early and getting the damn thing over with. If it’s a foregone conclusion, can we all go home now? 

Here’s a novel idea: let’s redirect all that obscene money candidates spend on campaigns back to the people. There’s a few billion bucks we could use to feed the hungry and the homeless in this country. Might even solve the economic crisis. It would certainly make a sizeable dent in the debt. Nah…that’s far too compassionate and wise. Can’t do that.

All sarcasm aside, I am troubled by the media’s rush to crown Barack Obama the once and future king (or perhaps the next Dr. King) after only five primaries. Ever since his astonishing win in Iowa, it seems the pundits can’t contain their own bias. Nor could they disguise their disappointment when Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire and Nevada. And after South Carolina, I’m convinced they’ve lost all objectivity and possibly their minds.

No sooner had Obama been declared the winner in South Carolina, in came the news that Caroline Kennedy, the late president’s daughter, was endorsing Barack Obama. The very next day, Senator Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Senator Obama was treated like the Second Coming of Camelot. All three cable news network took his speech live (quite rare), and proclaimed that “Obama is the next JFK.”

President Kennedy and his son, john F. Kennedy Jr.

WHAT STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS?

The endorsement drew the focus of the national media away from the runup to President Bush’s State of the Union address (as someone who has worked in newsrooms for more than 20 years, let me tell you how unheard of that is!), making the front pages of the major dailies and the lead of each of the networks last night.

ABC World News reported, “Today the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. The Kennedy clan annointed Barack Obama, a son of Camelot.” Sen. Ted Kennedy: “I know that he’s ready to be the president on day one.” For Bill Clinton, “who has always cast himself as President Kennedy’s political heir, today’s endorsement was a slap to face.”

The CBS Evening News reported, “It was a moment packed with political significance. Ted and Caroline Kennedy, the surviving brother and child of a revered Democratic president declaring that the torch has been passed.”

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams led by contending: “It’s been 45 years since a Kennedy has been in the White House, and yet because of the American fascination with the family name, and the family business of politics, the Kennedy name still has the power to grab the attention of millions of Americans.”

USA Today reports Obama also “picked up the support Monday of author Toni Morrison, who once called Bill Clinton ‘the first black president.'” The AP reports Morrison “said she has admired Clinton for years because of her knowledge and mastery of politics, but then dismissed that experience in favor of Obama’s vision.”

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric teased, “Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy.” NBC’s Lee Cowan, who earlier this month conceded “it’s almost hard to remain objective” when covering Obama, showed he also has a soft spot for the Kennedys as he radiated over how “the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar.”

With “New Son of Camelot” on screen over video of Obama and Ted Kennedy, Nightline anchor Terry Moran led thusly: “Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK…

Good evening, everyone. I’m Terry Moran. And tonight, on a night when the President gave his final State of the Union address, he was overshadowed.” Moran soon hailed how “the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st.” 

 

HAVE WE GONE “CAMELOT CRAZY”?

I’m not saying that Obama isn’t an exciting candidate. He is. This man inspires and stirs the minds and hearts of people in ways we haven’t witnessed in 40 years. He’s one hell of a handsome fellow with charisma to burn. He opens his mouth and poetry flows from his lips. He also seems to have some pretty good ideas about how to get the country back on track. But so do his Democratic opponents – and we’re suddenly not hearing much from them. Why not? Aren’t Clinton and Edwards still in the race?

Well, last time I checked, yes. So why aren’t they getting a lot more face time on tee-vee?

The answer is clear to anyone who has been paying attention. The media even admits their pro-Obama bias, albeit sheepishly. They just can’t help it, they say: yes, we’re journalists, but we’re human beings, too – and we are simply moved by what Obama is doing. Is that so wrong?

Well, actually, yes it is. This is an election year, we’re only a few primaries into the race, and we have a stellar array of impressive Democratic candidates to cover. Our job as journalists is to provide fair coverage across the board to all. Our job is not to steer voters towards one candidate or another, nor is it to heap undue praise or criticism on any of them. We’re supposed to report the news and get the hell out of the way, remember?

In the midst of all the excitement, we seem to be forgetting ourselves. We’ve all forgotten that opinion belongs on the Editorial page. We are not serving the American people well if we are not providing accurate information and dispassionate analysis – even if it makes really good TV. We are not paid to drool all over Obama’s shoes, no matter how moved we may be by his message.

FAIR AND BALANCED, MY ASS

The 2008 election will likely be the most important in our lifetime. This race is for all the marbles — so this is hardly a time for the media to lose theirs. Americans must make a well-informed decision when they walk into the voting booth. How can they possibly do that if information about the candidates is selectively made available?

This was precisely the problem faced by dark horse candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel (who is still running, incidentally – although CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX won’t tell you that), Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. On the Republican side, it’s a bloody miracle if Ron Paul can get five minutes on any network besides C-SPAN. And just imagine the uphill battle a Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader will have as Green or Independent challengers this year. One can’t win the presidency on netroots buzz alone.

Without mainstream media coverage, a candidate’s message is lost on the people. Unless each and every candidate is afforded the opportunity to present themselves and their platform to the public, they don’t stand a snowball’s chance.

So, I guess Lou Dobbs may as well throw his hat into the ring – at least he’s got a highly-rated nightly show on CNN – he has a strong base of followers and a media machine revved up and ready to take him to November. Dobbs may be the only hope for Independents who reject the two-party system outright, and who desperately need a candidate. But not just any candidate. This dog must hunt – otherwise the time, effort and expense of a campaign is an utter waste. Lou Dobbs is no fool, he knows this game all too well. (Which probably explains why he is emphatically not running!)

The same could be said for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also has his own media platform, a weekly show on Air America radio. This program is not only heard coast-to-coast, but around the world. Kennedy has already won countless thousands of converts via his books, articles, and public speaking engagements – to say nothing of having the Kennedy name.

The Independent Populists, Democrats, Liberals, Greens and Progressives who embrace him are hungry for a real candidate in 2008 – and they still haven’t found what they’re looking for in anyone but Bobby. They haven’t given up. They still want him to run. Now.

SIGN THE PETITION to Draft RFK Jr. for President!

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

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Camp Clinton Has Some Kennedys, Too

Three Kennedy siblings — from left, Kerry Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — stand with their mother, Ethel Kennedy, at New York’s State of the State address on Jan. 9. Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed naming New York City’s Triborough Bridge after Robert F. Kennedy. (AP Photo)

Kennedys for Clinton

She stands for Democrats and for the nation, these family members say.

 EDITORIAL

By Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy

January 29, 2008

This is a wonderful year for Democrats. Our party is blessed with the most impressive array of primary candidates in modern history. All would make superb presidents.

By now you may have read or heard that our cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have come out in favor of Sen. Barack Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the strongest candidate for our party and our country.

While talk of unity and compromise are inspiring to a nation wary of divisiveness, America stands at a historic crossroads where real issues divide our political landscapes. Democrats believe that America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We need healthcare for all and a clean, safe environment.

The loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues.

We have worked with Hillary Clinton for 15 years (and in Kathleen’s case, 25 years) and witnessed the power and depth of her convictions firsthand. We’ve seen her formidable work ethic, courage in the face of adversity and her dignity and clear head in crisis. We’ve also seen her two-fisted willingness to enter the brawl when America’s principles are challenged. Her measured rhetoric, political savvy and pragmatism shield the heart of our nation’s most determined and most democratic warrior.

She has been an uncompromising and loyal ally for each of us in our battles to protect the environment and to promote human rights around the world and juvenile justice in America. Hillary is a problem-solver, listening to people and then achieving solutions by changing attitudes.

Her transformational leadership was on display when she ran for the Senate seat in New York that had been held by our father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She faced rabid, heavily funded attacks from the far right and the challenge of prevailing in traditionally Republican upstate New York. Traveling with her, we watched admiringly as she persuasively articulated an inspiring and unifying vision rooted in American values and history. Then, through patience, hard work, leadership and political acumen, she transformed many of those rock-solid conservative counties into solid Democratic strongholds.

We look forward to working beside her in the general election as she uses those same talents to change once rigid opinions and political affiliations across the nation.

Like our father, Hillary has devoted her life to embracing and including those on the bottom rung of society’s ladder — giving voice to the alienated and disenfranchised and working to alleviate poverty and injustice, while urging that we cannot advance ourselves as a nation by leaving our poorer brothers and sisters behind.

She’s been an equally effective champion for human rights and for women’s rights, a worldwide cause that will profit enormously by her elevation to the presidency. She has worked for peace in Northern Ireland and fought to bridge religious, racial and ethnic divides from Bosnia to the Middle East to South Africa. She has shown a rare understanding that American values can only be exported by moral leadership, by a strong home economy and by a detailed understanding of the history and cultural backdrops of the nations we engage.

She understands, as our current administration does not, the uses of power. The world, she says, is hungry for U.S. leadership but will not accept our bullying. She knows the difference and will reestablish America’s lost prestige and moral authority.

Hillary Clinton’s political career has been centered in comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable and reminding Americans what it means to be American. As a young lawyer, she focused on children’s issues and legal aid. As first lady of Arkansas, she brought healthcare to rural areas and helped reform the state’s lagging education system.

As first lady, she courageously took on healthcare reform. When a massive propaganda campaign by Big Pharma and the radical right derailed her efforts, she didn’t give up. She helped create the nationally acclaimed Children’s Health Insurance Program. That kind of persistence in pursuit of our highest ideals is the brand of leadership America now requires. Inspirational leadership comes in many forms.

Seldom has history confronted America with such daunting challenges: a catastrophic foreign policy that has cost us our international leadership and aggravated the threat of terror; a misbegotten war that is squandering precious American lives and treasure; a healthcare system that leaves millions of Americans without coverage; irresponsible corporate power that is corroding our democracy and outsourcing our jobs, aggravating global warming and other environmental crises and reducing our economy to shambles.

We need a leader who is battle-tested, resilient and sure-footed on the shifting landscapes of domestic and foreign policy. Hillary Clinton will move our country forward while promoting its noblest ideals.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental advocate and Kerry Kennedy is a human rights activist.

Copyright 2008, The Los Angeles Times. 

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Bobby’s Standing By His Woman

Bobby Kennedy Jr.Hillary Rodham Clinton

KENNEDY STANDS STRONG FOR HILLARY

While Hillary Clinton was finding her voice in New Hampshire, Caroline Kennedy found her man in Barack Obama.

Senator Edward Kennedy is now lending his voice to the Obama campaign, along with his son, U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy. The three Kennedys appeared before a huge rally of Obama’s supporters at American University today, and on the same hallowed ground where JFK gave his landmark 1963 address, all heartily endorsed Obama.

In the flurry of media coverage that followed throughout the day, the story was too-often reported as a blanket stamp of approval from the entire Kennedy family. This, of course, is not true. But why let facts get in the way of such a delicious big story at such an “historic” moment as this?

For the record, anyway – if anybody wants `em, here are the plain ol’ unadorned facts:

While Senator Obama now has the support of the last living member of John F. Kennedy’s immediate family and his only surviving brother, many in the media today seemed to forget (or perhaps willfully ignored) that Senator Hillary Clinton already gained the endorsements of several important Kennedys months ago; the sons and daughters of Robert Kennedy.

Back in early October, this blog reported that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was supporting Hillary Clinton for president. Over the next two months, other media outlets gradually picked up the story, culminating in a formal endorsement on Nov. 29th. Soon thereafter, Bobby hit the campaign trail for Clinton in Iowa, and was joined in New Hampshire by his sisters Kathleen and Kerry. The mainstream media hardly noticed at the time.

Today was a different story entirely, as we all witnessed. All three cable news networks carried the American University rally live (NBC even aired it in it’s entirety), and the pundits went plumb Camelot crazy the rest of the afternoon; discussing historical and political ramifications of the Caroline, Patrick and Ted endorsements at length with an endless stream of historians, journalists, strategists, and Obama supporters.

Little was heard from the Clinton camp today in response. Whether by design or because the media was too high on some fine vintage Kennedy golddust, Hillary’s supporters were noticeably absent from most of the various cable news roundtable discussions.

Finally, late in the day, Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend stepped up to the plate for Hillary. In an exclusive interview with MSNBC, Kathleen was all smiles and seemed totally unshaken by the earthquake of the other Kennedys endorsing Barack Obama.

When asked about the “split” in the Kennedy family over this presidential race, Kathleen laughed it off and said, “don’t all families fight about politics over the dinner table? Of course, the Kennedys don’t agree on everything. We never have. But we respect each other’s opinions and choices, even when we have our differences.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. echoed his sister’s words later when CNN caught up to him late this afternoon. “I love and respect my uncle, Senator Kennedy, but I still believe that Hillary Clinton has the leadership and experience to lead this country right now, as I always have.”

Anyone who may have been hoping that RFK Jr. would defect to join the Obama camp is likely to be disappointed. As it stands today, he’s standing with both feet firmly planted in Hillary’s corner — and is making no apologies.

 

 

Copyright RFKin2008.com.

 

 

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Teddy Gets Fired Up for Obama

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s uncle), rejecting entreaties from the Clintons and their supporters, is set to endorse Senator Barack Obama’s presidential bid today as part of an effort to lend Kennedy charisma and connections before the 22-state Feb. 5 showdown for the Democratic nomination.
Both the Clintons and their allies had pressed Mr. Kennedy for weeks to remain neutral in the Democratic race, but Mr. Kennedy had become increasingly disenchanted with the tone of the Clinton campaign, aides said.
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He and former President Bill Clinton had a heated telephone exchange earlier this month over what Mr. Kennedy considered misleading statements by Mr. Clinton about Mr. Obama, as well as his injection of race into the campaign.

Mr. Kennedy called Mr. Clinton Sunday to tell him of his decision.

The endorsement, which followed a public appeal on Mr. Obama’s behalf by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, was a blow to the Clinton campaign and pits leading members of the nation’s most prominent Democratic families against one another.

Mr. Kennedy, a major figure in party politics for more than 40 years, intends to campaign aggressively for Mr. Obama, beginning with an appearance and rally with him in Washington on Monday. He will be introduced by Ms. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy then heads west with Mr. Obama, followed by appearances in the Northeast. Strategists see him bolstering Mr. Obama’s credibility and helping him firm up support from unions and Hispanics, as well as the party base.

The endorsement appears to support assertions that Mr. Clinton’s campaigning on behalf of his wife in South Carolina has in some ways hurt her candidacy.

Campaign officials, without acknowledging any faults on Mr. Clinton’s part, have said they will change tactics and try to shift Mr. Clinton back into the role he played before her loss in the Iowa caucuses, emphasizing her record and experience.

Mr. Kennedy, of Massachusetts, has worked closely with Mrs. Clinton, of New York, on health care and other legislation and has had a friendly relationship with both Clintons, but associates said he was intrigued by Mr. Obama’s seeming ability to inspire political interest in a new generation. For his part, Mr. Obama actively courted Mr. Kennedy for several years, seeking him out for Senate advice and guidance before making the decision to enter the presidential race.

Mr. Kennedy had been seriously considering an endorsement for weeks — a break with his traditional practice of staying clear of primaries.

He remained uncertain of his decision as late as the middle of last week. But, according to allies, when he learned that his niece’s endorsement would appear as an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times on Sunday, he decided to bolster that with his own public embrace of the campaign at a joint rally at American University in Washington on Monday, giving Mr. Obama, of Illinois a potentially powerful one-two Kennedy punch.

As Mr. Obama flew here on Sunday, he smiled when asked about his new wave of support from the Kennedy family.

“For somebody who, I think, has been such an important part of our national imagination and who generally shies away from involvement in day-to-day politics to step out like that is something that I’m very grateful for,” Mr. Obama said of Caroline Kennedy’s support. Ms. Kennedy declined requests on Sunday to discuss her endorsement.

Trying to dilute the impact of the twin endorsements by the brother and daughter of the late president, the Clinton campaign on Sunday issued a statement of support from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor in Maryland and a daughter of Robert F. Kennedy.

“I respect Caroline and Teddy’s decision, but I have made a different choice,” Ms. Townsend said in her statement, adding: “At this moment when so much is at stake at home and overseas, I urge our fellow Americans to support Hillary Clinton. That is why my brother Bobby, my sister Kerry, and I are supporting Hillary Clinton.”

But two years ago, Ms. Townsend’s mother, Ethel Kennedy, referred to Mr. Obama in an interview as “our next president” and likened him to her late husband.

The Kennedy endorsement grants Mr. Obama, who has been framed by the Clintons as being short on experience, the approval of one of the Senate’s senior members.

Before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Kennedy had planned to stay out of the race, largely because he had so many friends in the contest, chiefly Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. He also said he was waiting for one of the candidates to spark a movement.

“I want to see who out there is going to be able to inspire not only our party, but others, because I think we’re going to need the inspiration in order to bring a change in American foreign policy and domestic policy,” Mr. Kennedy said last year on ABC News’s “This Week.”

After Mr. Obama won the Iowa caucuses, associates to both men said, Mr. Kennedy concluded that Mr. Obama had transcended racial lines and the historical divisions the Kennedy family had worked to tear down. Mr. Kennedy was also impressed at how Mr. Obama was not defined as a black candidate, but seen as a transformational figure.

It was then, associates said, that Mr. Kennedy began talking with his children, nieces and nephews, including Caroline Kennedy, who had reached her own judgment some time ago independently of her uncle. They then agreed last week to move ahead with their endorsements, coordinating their decision before the Feb. 5 contests.

Mr. Kennedy has a long history of working with the former president and Mrs. Clinton on health, education and other social issues and, according to his associates, has a good relationship with both. While the Clintons were in the White House, the families socialized and sailed off Cape Cod.

Mr. Obama courted Mr. Kennedy as well, using late-night sessions in the Senate to get some tutoring about the intricacies of the institution. Conversations about the White House began more than a year ago, with Mr. Obama paying Mr. Kennedy a visit to seek his thoughts about whether he should run for president. Mr. Kennedy told him that he should because such opportunities rarely come along.

On the night of Mr. Obama’s national political debut at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, he was preceded on stage by Mr. Kennedy, a symbolic bookend of the party’s dean and its new generation.

A year later, near the end of Mr. Obama’s first year in the Senate, Ethel Kennedy asked him to speak at a ceremony for her husband’s 80th birthday. At the time, she referred to Mr. Obama as “our next president.”

“I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did,” Mrs. Kennedy said in an interview that day, comparing her late husband’s quest for social justice to Mr. Obama’s. “He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”

By JEFF ZELENY and CARL HULSE

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Campaigns Fight for Kennedy Endorsements

IT’S KENNEDY ENVY ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
The Hillary Clinton camp didn’t waste any time trying to blunt the effect of Barack Obama’s big Kennedy endorsements. Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in a New York Times piece Sunday. And Teddy Kennedy will be endorsing Obama on Monday.
The Clinton campaign hurried out a statement at midafternoon Sunday reminding everybody they’ve got some Kennedys too.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Bobby Kennedy’s daughter, has endorsed Hillary: “I respect Caroline and Teddy’s decision but I have made a different choice . . . She shares so many of the concerns of my father.”

And Ms. Townsend noted that her siblings — brother Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and sister Kerry — are also supporting Hillary Clinton.

So for those keeping score at home, it’s JFK’s daughter and brother for Barack. Bobby Kennedy’s kids for Hillary. Got that?

 

4:20 PM Sun, Jan 27, 2008 |
Wayne Slater

Copyright 2008 The Dallas Morning News

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