Effect Measure

Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: Ted Kennedy

I only met Ted Kennedy once, many years ago. I was working with parents whose children had been stricken with leukemia in Woburn, Massachusetts. We were trying to answer the simplest of questions: why their children? These were wonderful and extraordinary people, supported by their local minister, himself an ordinary extraordinary man. They were a handful of ordinary citizens, not a huge voting bloc and they were extremely respectful but determined. Their inquiries were turning up facts that were inconvenient for some of the state’s most powerful economic interests. But Ted Kennedy asked them to testify before his committee about what they were finding that might have caused their tragedy. I was asked to come along to give the science side.

After the hearing, itself a draining emotional experience for these parents whose children were dead or dying, the Senator invited us to be his guest in the Senate dining room for lunch. He had other commitments so he didn’t eat with us, but he didn’t send his staff to do the logistics, either. He personally saw us all to our places in the dining room and thanked us for our testimonies, which for some was extraordinarily painful. It was long ago and all I can remember was Ted Kennedy’s warmth and generosity and total lack of affectation. If you’ve been watching the media coverage of his death, this will be a familiar theme. I can tell you from personal experience, it is a genuine one.

I also know from the media accounts that Ted Kennedy was a deeply religious person, a devout and routinely observant Roman Catholic. I know this from media accounts. It was never part of his political persona. His religion was personal and private, although no less deeply felt for that. As an atheist I don’t understand it, but I respect the way he wore his faith. His older brother, John, had made it a matter of principle and point of personal honor to keep his religion and his role as public servant separate, and his younger brothers Bobby and Ted followed suit. I never heard him invoke God or religion for political reasons. Or for any public reasons, for that matter. The difference in our religious views — which was vast — was never a barrier.

The night before his burial there was a celebration of his life and works at the Kennedy Library. It ended with a song, When Irish Eyes are Smiling. No religion. No prayers. Just an expression of joyousness that all felt would have given the Senator pleasure. So on this weekend of his funeral, the Reveres would like to end the Sermonette with a song in his honor as well. Two years ago, also in the month of August, the world of Irish music lost one of its greatest practitioners, Tommy Makem. But his songs and his performances are still with us, and after hours of searching we settled on this:


  1. #1 Jeff
    August 30, 2009

    I can certainly appreciate the observations that Edward Kennedy was a warm, generous, devout man who didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve. In many ways he was an able, effective politician. However a case can be made that:

    1. His efforts in healthcare policy, however well intended, have not resulted in better treatment or better outcomes for Americans.

    2. Kennedy’s health problems were the result of his own lifestyle choices and the cocktail of drugs he was taking for cardiovascular disease.

    Byron Richards makes that case here

  2. #2 MPL
    August 30, 2009

    2. Kennedy’s health problems were the result of his own lifestyle choices and the cocktail of drugs he was taking for cardiovascular disease.

    I think the only explanation needed for his health problems was that he was born on February 22, 1932. People get old and die.

  3. #3 Nemo
    August 30, 2009

    Byron Richards is a douchebag.

    I watched the funeral all day yesterday. That was enough religion for a year or two. 😛

  4. #4 Snowy Owl
    August 30, 2009

    This is the first time I am proud of your Sunday Sermonette.

    Nothing to add nothing to remove, just mutual respect and dilegeance.



  5. #5 River
    August 30, 2009

    What a lovely tribute to Ted Kennedy. Kudos, Reveres. Well done.

  6. #6 rnnp
    August 30, 2009

    Eeew, I made the mistake of clicking through to the Byron Richards piece–he truly is an idiot. My 51 y/o brother-in-law, who isn’t on statins or antihypertensives, just had surgery for a glioblastoma and has now started chemo/radiation/Avastin. So much for Richards’ hypotheses.

    Very nice essay Reveres.

  7. #7 M. Randolph Kruger
    August 30, 2009

    My opinions of Ted Kennedy are mixed. I rank it as a mutual respect of someone that I considered to be a champion of all things liberal, regardless of whether they were right or not and someone that I felt was a communist in sheeps clothing.

    He should have retired when he was diagnosed with brain cancer to enjoy his time left with the family. He didnt and thats something I respect… The ideas come first if you are elected, family comes second and thats it. I dont have to agree or disagree with what he did or said.. He stayed in his saddle until cancer shot him out of it.

    But the Pope said nothing when he died. So that meant what? I dunno… A snub?

    Ted Kennedy in the 80’s went what we used to call cosmonaut in the military. That is he tried to align himself with the Russians and to stick it to Reagan in the biggest ways he could.

    There is written correspondence to Yuri Andropov that clearly shows that he would do anything to ensure that his agenda was met and to prevent deployment of the midget man missiles, Pershing II, Star Wars, and above all the B2 stealth technology. It was a great plan of ours. The Russians simply would have had to have spent 1/2 of there entire GDP to counter the threats from us. We bankrupted them and communism fell…sort of. We have it here now, just in a different form.

    But it was Kennedy that voted against defense so many times that it made me want to puke. He was a Carter supporter too. I cant begin to say how many people got killed because of those two. The other side would have said that we got as many killed since. I am still waiting for those other 520,000 bodies to show up in Iraq though.

    Either way, they created a vacuum of power that ensured the fall of Afghanistan and the Shah. Kennedy actively worked against the military when they and I were in the field and that my friends included Vietnam that his party worked so hard to get us into. His brother tried to get us out, he got us in. I missed Vietnam but nothing else.

    No question that his votes and actions created a place for terrorists to grow against all parties including the ChiComs, Ruskies and the US. Those are Islamic terrorists in whole and they dont care too terribly much who they go after if they are not Islamic. That would have included one Irish Catholic Senator too. But, they knew an ally when they saw one.

    Somethings that he did were right, some were agenda, most though created a welfare state for him in Massachusetts’s of permanently poor people where they are currently ramming a bill down everyones throats that will FORCE H1N1 vaccinations onto people, quarantines, internment camps.

    Dont you dare call it concentration camps… this is a medical emergency.

    Funny thing to me that the people who founded the Boston Tea Party must have moved out of state so that these guys would be voted into office. John Kennedy who appealed to the center was the most hawkish of them except perhaps for his older brother Joseph Patrick Kennedy who died in the service of his country.

    But alas Ted Kennedy’s aspirations to the Presidency were finished as soon as the spin machine left more questions unanswered than answered about Chappaquiddick. The Kennedy machine went to work after the accident and there was no autopsy of Mary Jo Kopechne to see what the cause of death was. Moreover whether she was pregnant or not by Teddy. Both were so circumvention’s of the law… So he gets bound over and allowed to plead to a lesser charge of injury…. Injury when there is someone thats dead that is.

    Now how does that work?

    Amazing… If you or I had shown up 12 hours after an accident like that we would have been sitting in jail or posting up a huge bond. My questions are how could you not be charged with homicide, how could there not be an autopsy. How can you run off a bridge that you have been driving over for over 30 years when it happened? How can you NOT RUN FOR HELP?

    So many unanswered questions. So many dollars to hand out.

    So the machine spun, the money flowed and the lefties went on to re-elect him and even more lefties. Massachusetts elected John “I committed atrocities” Kerry, and Barney “There aint nothing wrong with the Banks” Franks. Said atrocities were suggested right up until the time Johnny wanted to run for a seat, and he hasnt squared that meeting in Paris with the North Vietnamese.

    Barneys stuff is still rolling out… And I am a part of a racist mob for my views on him. Nyah, be a homosexual all you want, just dont sit there and tell me everything is fine when the banks are tanking and you are giving loans to illegal aliens and to people without a loan application.

    So the old dawg aint going to hunt anymore. Spin City…. Who is going to get his seat? I dunno but Revere and I agree that the country slipped too far to the right from Bush 1 all the way to Bush 2.5, and it was a lot of right winged religiously intolerant whackjobs that did it. But it has now slipped IMO too far to the left with government takeovers, government control, and government debts. All in the spirit of a Kennedy socialist machine.

    Teddy was a HUGE part of that machine. Revere might agree or disagree with that part. He (Revere) said recently that he thought the government hadnt spent enough. Ooookay! I wonder if 9.7 trillion is enough now?

    Well damn I hope it is. My own kids might try to take me out later because I am suddenly a tax burden in 15 years. They wont be able to afford me. Thats my death panel.

    Kennedy is gone and he has increased his number and no I didnt mean the number of kids…. More like the wealth amassed…What kind of businesses are the Kennedys IN to make that much money?

    I have an idea. Lets just take it from them as asserted by Teddy’s party and give it to the poor so they are assured of doing their fair share.

    Time to right the ship and move it back to the center before anarchy sets in. That is coming and anyone who disagrees may feel free to do so… I wont even discuss it because I have seen the seeds sown in the last three months and they are going to grow. You can disagree but not if the government has control of the internet in a month or two because they will control the media, alternative media like the net.

    Bye Teddy, your National Socialist Democrat Party shoes are going to be tough to fill. Give my regards to Nikita, Yuri and Che. I say that out of total respect for someone that I regarded as my enemy. He was formidable and fought off all challenges with other peoples money paying to ensure that socialism was alive and well. A system that takes other peoples money and gives it to other people with the assertion being that you make too much, you owe it to them, you are stingy, and above all…its the law.

    Ego tutus vos in nex ut a cado hostilis. Ego can tantum narro Volo ut vos absentis ocius

  8. #8 pft
    August 30, 2009

    As a Catholic, it would have been political suicide for JFK to wear his religion on his sleeve. Anti-catholicism is very widespread in this country, always has been given our British roots. In fact, there has only been 1 Catholic President, and he never got to serve out a full term. His brother would have been the 2nd Catholic President, but he never got the chance.

    Ted Kennedy was set up at Chappaquiddick by the same folks that did JFK and Bobby, to prevent him from running for President, make him toe the line, and leave his brothers murders alone. It is said Mary Jo was duped into serving the cause, spiking Teddys drink with a little something, not knowing what was going down. She was with Bobby’s campaign, probably serving the cause. No hard evidence for this though. The CIA historians (everything happens due to Coincidence, Incompetence, and/or Accident) say Conspiracies are not possible, so they must be right.

    And then there is JFK Jr who was reported to have plans to run as Senator of NY in 2000 before running for President. Many holes in that “accident”. Plane crashes are a specialty of those who wish to get rid of inconvenient folks, like Senator Wellstone.

    The reasons behind these events were not all about religion of course, but as they say, you are either with us or against us, and the Kennedy’s did it their own way until it got too much for them. Also, the Kennedy’s got labelled as anti-semitic as a result of their father and JFK’s efforts to shut down Israels nuclear program while his brother was fighting Lansky’s mafia did not go over too well.

    Teddy kind of got caught in the middle, he did not have the same stuff as his brothers, and without them, he just was not up to standing up to the powers that be.

  9. #9 Lea
    August 31, 2009

    There’s no damn good reason for any senator to stay in office as long as he did. Everyone touts how glorious he was (minus MRK and Lea). What about the bum on the street that helped the mental retard survive another week, month or year? What about the suddenly jobless person that had to dig in trash cans to live and suddenly died of a broken heart over the lack of compassion from our corrupt g’ment? Where’s the mourning for them?

    These people made so much money off of you and I and you have the gall to adorn them? You make me puke.
    He was a political lifer, something that should no longer be tolerated.

  10. #10 Carolyn Russ
    August 31, 2009

    The level of discourse on this blog is beginning to alarm me. Revere, we need your expertise, your wisdom, your advice in this scary upcoming flu season. Please let’s not allow Effect Measure to become another site for haters.

    I hope the winds of morning guide Ted Kennedy on calm waters to where he’s bound.

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