Archive: August, 2009

Ted Kennedy

I met Ted Kennedy personally only a couple of times and he wouldn’t have known me from Adam.  But I knew him well because he was everything I ever wanted to be, heroic despite his flaws, unfailingly true to the liberal values we shared, a man who always got bigger as those around him grew smaller.  He was the most powerful liberal voice in the Senate, and a fierce battler for truth, justice and mercy, a giant.  Yet he never got down in the gutter, never questioned the motives of his colleagues on the right, never hectored the sophomores surrounding him. As far as I know, he was bereft of arrogance and pettiness, loving to his family, kind to his staff, all rare traits for a United States Senator. He suffered more personal losses than any public servant in our history, but he handled each with dignity, grace and forgiveness.  He was a rich man who cared most for those who weren’t so lucky, which, fortunately, included most all of us.  He dies made all the more wealthy by the affection and appreciation of millions.  Surely, there is no purgatory for Ted Kennedy.      

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Kim Dae-Jung and Robert Novak

Two important people died last week. One was a good guy. That would be Kim Dae-Jung, the South Korean dissident who transcended decades of torture, imprisonment, kidnaping, exile and assassination attempts and transformed his country into a modern democracy. The other was a bad guy. His name was Robert Novak, a man who abused his talent and standing as a journalist to transform political reporting into the brand of vulgar, smackdown commentary now practiced by Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. (More)

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Cheapshot: Tom Daschle

Shocked, shocked, shocked to read in the Sunday New York Times that Tom Daschle, once nominated but then withdrawn as health and human service secretary and head ObamaCare flogger, is still an Administration insider even though he’s dragging down big bucks from Alston & Bird, a legal and lobbying firm. According to the Times, Alston & Bird represents “insurance giant UnitedHealth and the Tennessee Hospital Association.” Daschle wiggles and squirms, but apparently admits to advising, in words of the Times, “private clients on the one hand and advising the White House on the other.” Sounds not so much like hand jive as mouth music, both sides.

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August 17, 2009

The Health Care “Debate”

My friend Merrill Goozner, a long-time Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune Reporter, now publishes a terrific blog called “GoozNews,” which really digs into health care in our country.  This week, he posted three incisive articles:  “The Return of the C-Ops (and the demise of the public option);  “Land of the Fee”; and, “The Faustian Bargain With Big Pharma.”  I urge you to visit him at

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The PATCO Conspiracy Revisited: Carter to Reagan to Kirkland

Last week when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controller’s Association (NATCA) reached agreement on a new contract, it ended four years of acrimony and apparently restored pay standards and scheduling flexibility to where they should have been all along. But it brought back bitter memories of 28 years ago, when Ronald Reagan, aided and abetted by former president Jimmy Carter and then-president of the AFL-CIO Lane Kirkland, fired 13,000 striking air traffic controllers, “permanently replaced” them, and drove the bar of U.S. labor relations so deep into the ground that we’ve never recovered. (More)

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August 11, 2009

Dick Armey and the Neo-Know-Nothings

I knew nothing about the Know-Nothings until the Neo-Know-Nothings began disrupting health care town hall meetings all across the country. Now I know the Know-Nothings were an anti-Catholic political party that flourished briefly back in the 1840s and 50s, split apart on the slavery issue, renamed itself “The American Party,” and eventually morphed into the modern-day Republican Party. Somehow, I just knew it all along. (More)

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A New Short Story

Note: Since this is a 6,000 word piece, feel free to download and read later, preferably with a single malt scotch in hand.

Shad Fishing

by Ray Abernathy

“You interested in going shad fishing next week?” Jimmy Joe nonchalantly asked of his son-in-law Tommy while they were both up under Jimmy Joe’s rattle-trap Ford pickup trying to put in a new drive shaft.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Tommy replied, trying to play down his obvious pleasure at finally being asked to make the trip. “Trouble is, I don’t have a boat.”

“Don’t need a boat — Alice and Agnes down at the camp got everything a man needs, for fishing and just about anything else. They’ll rent you a boat for $3.00 a day and not even charge you for the week if the Shad run quick. They got waders, skeeter oil, vienna sausage, deviled ham, crackers, even fresh cow’s milk for those that needs it after a long night of waiting for the fish. ‘Course you don’t have to worry about food — we take four or five locker boxes of beef and pork roasts, bacon and sausage and Big ‘un comes along to make sure it all gets cooked right. We split everything four or five ways, including a tip for Big’un because he’s the best cook in middle Georgia. But don’t worry, I’ll spot you on your first trip — I am your father-in-law, and besides, I’ve noticed you eat like a bird and drink whiskey like a girl.” (More)

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August 10, 2009

Bebe’s Back and Blogging

Note: This is a cross-post from my friend, Bebe Bahnsen, who has just started blogging through her website, Bebe’s Place: Musings of a Southern Writer  Bebe’s a living miracle who suffered half a life of depression before discovering it was a brain tumor and having it successfully removed.

My Brother and Julian Bond

I’m not sure these two special men have ever met, but each of them recently received an honor worth noting. First, my brother, Ralph Nelson, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Camera Operators. “From whom?” you ask.  You see, camera operators’ work every time you watch a movie and you see my brother’s stills every time you see ads for many, many movies, including Frost/Nixon, The Green Mile and Batman Forever, to name just a few. (More)

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