You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘kennedy’ tag.

Advertisements

Fourteen years after failing to deliver health reform for her husband’s White House, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will play a key role in advancing the issue in 2009 — if she remains in the Senate.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) designated Clinton to head a task force to develop a Senate Democratic proposal to expand health insurance coverage as part of his larger push to move a major overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system next year.

Kennedy’s designation of Clinton as one of three senators to lead a healthcare task force provides her with an opportunity to make a significant contribution to an issue that has defined her political career.

Clinton, however, may have her sights on foreign policy, not domestic concerns. She is reportedly under consideration to serve as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of State, a position that would take her out of the healthcare debate.

Clinton is a junior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs, but has been a prominent Democratic voice on healthcare issues dating back to President Clinton’s first term, when she led the administration’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to reform healthcare.

Were Clinton to remain in Congress, there are no clear avenues for her to assume a formal leadership position or chair a committee.

Being given a influential position on health reform may serve as some consolation, and expanding healthcare coverage is arguably the most important and contentious component of the Democratic health reform platform.

During the primary campaign, Clinton and Obama frequently clashed over healthcare. The biggest point of dissension was whether individuals should be required by law to obtain some form of health coverage: Clinton said yes, Obama said no.

Kennedy and his aides have repeatedly indicated that they will base their legislation on Obama’s health plan, but they not have not disclosed whether the bill would include such a mandate. Despite Obama’s position during the campaign, he would be unlikely to oppose a major Democratic healthcare bill on that point alone.

Kennedy also assigned Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to lead the committee’s efforts on prevention and public health and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) to tackle healthcare quality.

“Our committee is fortunate to have the services of major leaders who are committed to improving healthcare for the American people. Sen. Harkin, Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Clinton have generously offered to step forward and assume an expanded role on critical aspects of health reform,” Kennedy said in a statement.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who controls a large portion of the jurisdiction over health reform in the Senate, issued a white paper laying out options for health reform, which include an individual mandate. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), another key lawmaker on health issues, is the author of a bipartisan bill that also has a mandate.

Source: The Hill

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, John F. Kennedy’s nephew discusses Barack Obama’s leadership potential, why it’s difficult to compare the candidate with the former president and his gripe with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

'He's tempered, thoughtful and reflective -- important qualities to have in a leader.'

A campaign button worn by a supporter of US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama: 'He's tempered, thoughtful and reflective -- important qualities to have in a leader.'

SPIEGEL: Do you think that trust in American capitalism has been shattered by the finance crisis?

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: Over the course of time our country has faced enormous challenges, many far greater than this one — the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the riots in Chicago and Indianapolis and Watergate, which rocked confidence in the political system. The country will get through this, and we’ll be stronger and better than before. We have enormous resilience.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, 43, is the fourth- youngest nephew of John F. Kennedy. He lives in Miami, where he runs Best Buddies, an international non- profit organization that serves the intellectually handicapped. So far he has stayed away from politics, but Shriver says he is still young and could change his mind.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, 43, is the fourth- youngest nephew of John F. Kennedy. He lives in Miami, where he runs Best Buddies, an international non- profit organization that serves the intellectually handicapped. So far he has stayed away from politics, but Shriver says he is still young and could change his mind.

Shriver: Not at all. This is going to be our biggest and best year ever financially. We just held a huge bike ride fundraiser out in California with help from my brother-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger and my sister Maria Shriver, and it raised 30 percent more money this year than we did last year. The Best Buddies Ball is scheduled for October and we’ve increased revenue by 220 percent over last year. You’ve got to be more creative and work harder to appeal to people. There’s nothing I can do about the economy, obviously. You just have to realize there are obstacles in front of you and you have to figure out how to get over them and do better than in the past.

SPIEGEL: Who has the best plan to heal the economy, John McCain or Barack Obama?

Shriver: This is not about who has the best plan. Great challenges always bring people together, and this will do for the United States what we haven’t seen in many years. The World-War-II generation had a common bond — they fought together to overcome a great enemy during the war. That created a sense of respect and dignity in Congress. But a lot of people there now, many of whom are my age and younger, have never faced anything that’s really been that challenging. Sept. 11 was a great tragedy, but it didn’t make us work together as a nation. The economic challenge could bring the country together, including the White House and Congress, to rally behind something that is challenging the whole fabric of our society.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying it doesn’t matter who becomes the next president, that McCain or Obama will both be forced to bring the country together?

The crowd erupts moments after US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Victory Column at Tiergaten Park, July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Obama in Berlin: The crowd erupts moments after US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Victory Column at Tiergaten Park, July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Shriver: No. It matters enormously who becomes president for many reasons other than the current economic crisis. It’s very important that Obama get elected because he would take the country in the right direction. There’s a huge difference in the way they view the role government plays in people’s lives in the US and the role Washington plays in the world.

SPIEGEL: Obama would likely be very different from McCain — he’d call for greater regulation of financial markets and increased international diplomacy. He’d be the antithesis of Bush.

Shriver: Bush totally blew it by not capitalizing on the international spirit of goodwill and the desire to help America after the tragedy of 9/11. He lost it, and I think you don’t get many opportunities like that your lifetime.

SPIEGEL: How do you feel about Obama’s lack of experience?

Shriver: I understand people’s concern about that. It is important to be out there in the world, meeting heads of state and traveling, and for this years of public service are certainly key. I don’t necessarily think you have to have held political office, but I think you do need to be informed and have engaged with people in a public way for a considerable period of time. That’s not a highlight of his resume, but he’s got many other things going for him. He’s got excellent judgment, and you can tell a lot about people based on the decisions they’ve made in their lives.

SPIEGEL: By judgment you mean that he spoke out against the Iraq War when it was still popular?

Shriver: Yeah. It gives you a sense that he’s tempered, thoughtful and reflective — important qualities to have in a leader.

SPIEGEL: Your uncle, John F. Kennedy, didn’t have a lot of experience when he came into office, either.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) near the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) near the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Shriver: He had quite a bit. He had been a Congressman and a Senator. He also gained a lot of experiencing fighting in World War II, which made him a hero. He wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book and traveled and lived abroad.

SPIEGEL: Granted, that is a bit more than Obama.

Shriver: But look at Sarah Palin. She seems like a nice enough woman, but it’s horrifying that people in the US would consider somebody who didn’t even have a passport until last year and oversees one of the smallest states by population in the whole union — someone who has little political and no worldly experience — as a serious candidate for vice president.

SPIEGEL: Your organization Best Buddies works with children with disabilities. Palin has a child with Down syndrome. You, like many Americans, must sympathize with her for that.

Shriver: She gets sympathy for it, but it doesn’t mean anything to me. I wrote to her before she had that baby, and she didn’t even pay attention to us. So now she’s a great hero because she has a baby with Down syndrome. That baby is going to be a great gift for her, but it doesn’t mean she’d make a good president.

SPIEGEL: What’s more important — for a president to inspire people or to have the best programs?

Shriver: The best scenario is to have the substance and the inspiration. That’s why President Kennedy was so effective and unique. Obama clearly has the ability to inspire, but it is difficult to compare him to someone like Kennedy, who had the chance to serve in the White House and had a record of delivering in really challenging times.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers his speech in front of the Siegessaeule on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will give a major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen Transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges in front of the Siegessaeule at the Grosser Stern in Tiergarten Park.

BERLIN - JULY 24: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers his speech in front of the Siegessaeule on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will give a major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen Transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges in front of the Siegessaeule at the Grosser Stern in Tiergarten Park.

SPIEGEL: In the course of the campaign, did you get the feeling that Obama overdid it a little bit by comparing himself to your uncle all the time? His campaign chose a stadium for his nomination ceremony — emulating John F. Kennedy, who also accepted his nomination at a stadium in the 1960s — and often held events at schools that bear his name.

Shriver: It’s common in the United States for young, aspiring leaders as well as older ones to want to connect themselves to political leaders or individuals who are highly respected and admired. Obama’s not the first one, either. John Kerry tried to talk about President Kennedy, saying he was also from Massachusetts, had served as a Senator and had the same initials: John F. Kerry.

SPIEGEL: But if you overdo it you might come across as displaying too much hubris.

Shriver: It’s always risky to compare yourself with an iconic figure. You run the risk of coming out on the wrong end of the equation.

SPIEGEL: Your brother-in-law, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, talks very fondly of Obama. Could he end up in an Obama administration, even though he’s a Republican?

Shriver: He’s very open-minded, and in the end it would depend on the job and what kind of an impact he thought he could have. I think if it was the right opportunity, he’d do it. Many of the values and positions he holds are very much in line with the Democratic Party platform; he also has some from the Republican platform.

Source: Der Spiegel

Drill Baby Drill – though there is a big question that keeps coming up – Drill What?

According to experts even in Palin’s ANWR oasis – over one hundred test wells have been sunk around the area and have yet to produce the dream find that Palin believes the US could be dependent on. Oil leaving the Alaska pipeline is now half the volume of its peak. But while Palin fools herself – she strikes out to convince others of the same.

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

I was water-skiing with my children in a light drizzle off Hyannis, Mass., last month when a sudden, fierce storm plunged us into a melee of towering waves, raking rain, painful hail and midday darkness broken by blinding flashes of lightning. As I hurried to get my children out of the water and back to the dock, I shouted over the roaring wind, “This is some kind of tornado.”

The fog consolidated and a waterspout hundreds of feet high rose from the white ocean and darted across its surface, landing for a moment on a moored outboard to spin it like a top, moving toward a distant shore where it briefly became a sand funnel, and then diffusing into the atmosphere as it rained down bits of beach on the harbor. For 24 hours, a light show of violent storms illuminated the coastline, accompanied by booming thunder. My dog was so undone by the display that she kept us all awake with her terrified whining. That same day, two waterspouts appeared on Long Island Sound.

Those odd climatological phenomena led me to reflect on the rapidly changing weather patterns that are altering the way we live. Lightning storms and strikes have tripled just since the beginning of the decade on Cape Cod. In the 1960s, we rarely saw lightning or heard thunder on the Massachusetts coast. I associate electrical storms with McLean, Va., where I spent the school year when I was growing up.

In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today’s anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don’t own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington’s C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.

Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy. In 1998, these companies plotted to deceive American citizens about climate science. Their goal, according to a meeting memo, was to orchestrate information so that “recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom” and that “those promoting the Kyoto treaty … appear to be out of touch with reality.”

Since that meeting, Exxon has funneled $23 million into the climate-denial industry, according to Greenpeace, which combs the company’s annual report each year. Since 2006, Exxon has cut off some of the worst offenders, but 28 climate-denial groups will still get funding this year.

Corporate America’s media toadies continue to amplify Exxon’s deceptive message. The company can count on its hand puppets — Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, John Stossel and Glenn Beck — to shamelessly mouth skepticism about man-made climate change and give political cover to the oil industry’s indentured servants on Capitol Hill. Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe calls global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public.”

Now John McCain has chosen as his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a diligent student of Big Oil’s crib sheets. She’s something of a flat-earther who shares the current administration’s contempt for science. Palin has expressed skepticism about evolution (which is like not believing in gravity), putting it on par with “creationism,” which posits that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago.

She used to insist that human activities have nothing to do with climate change. “I’m not one … who would attribute it to being man-made,” she said in August. After she joined the GOP ticket, she magically reversed herself, to a point. “Man’s activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming,” she told Charles Gibson two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Alaska is melting before our eyes; entire villages erode as sea ice vanishes, glaciers are disappearing at a frightening clip, and “dancing forests” caused by disappearing permafrost astonish residents and tourists. Palin had to keep her head buried particularly deep in an oil well to ever have denied that humans are causing climate change. But, as Upton Sinclair pointed out, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Palin’s enthusiastic embrace of Big Oil’s agenda (if not always Big Oil itself) has been the platform of her hasty rise in Alaskan politics. In that sense she is as much a product of the oil industry as the current president and his vice president. Palin, whose husband is a production operator for BP on Alaska’s North Slope, has sued the federal government over its listing of the polar bear as an endangered species threatened by global warming, and she has fought to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska’s coast to oil drilling.

When oil profits are at stake, her fantasy world appears to have no boundaries. About American’s deadly oil dependence, she mused recently, “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.”

I guess the only difference between Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney is … lipstick.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School.

Source: latimes