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Florida tributes to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

Ted Kennedy, says Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, calmed her nerves when she was asked to speak -- as a freshman Democrat -- at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Later that year, the veteran lawmaker offered advice on getting her signature swimming pool legislation through Congress.

"I was deeply saddened this morning when I learned of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy," she said today. "Americans have lost a giant in public service, someone who was never too big to reach out and lift someone else up."

And outgoing Sen. Mel Martinez, who worked closely with Kennedy on immigration reform, said he was "deeply saddened" by his death.

"Ted was an icon of passionate public service and gave selflessly to our nation," Martinez said. "I came to know him well through our work on immigration reform where he was a tough negotiator, and someone who knew how to reach bipartisan agreement for the good of an issue. He will be remembered as the Lion of the Senate for his voice, his style, his work, and his allegiance to always do what he thought was best for our country. Kitty and I offer our condolences and Senator Kennedy's family is in our thoughts and prayers."

Wasserman Schultz continued: "For me personally, this occurred when as a freshman in the House of Representatives, Senator Kennedy graciously gave me words of encouragement when I was asked to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of Justice Samuel Alito. Later that year, he took the time to counsel me on the best way to move my pool safety legislation through the Senate. I was grateful and personally moved that this pillar of the Senate would take the time to help a brand new member of the House of Representatives get her bill passed and save the lives of young children.

"Senator Kennedy dedicated his life to improving the lives of others, and dedicated his entire career and his final months of life to crafting health care legislation that he described as 'the cause of his life,' so that 'every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.' 

"When the time comes that each of us approaches the end of our time here on Earth and we look back over what we've done for others and how we've made the world a better place, we can only hope to come close to the record of selflessness and dedication that Senator Kennedy showed during his own life.

"Our country has lost one of its brightest stars. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family--to his wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family."

From Rep. Alcee Hastings: "Today our nation mourns the loss of a great man and a great public servant.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family at this most difficult time. Senator Kennedy served our country proudly in the United States Senate for over four decades. His profound impact on American politics has taught us to serve our country with respect and to fight for those whose voices aren’t always heard. Although, Senator Kennedy is no longer with us, his life and legacy will always be remembered in the halls of Congress."

From Rep. Kendrick Meek: "Senator Kennedy did not simply live for the Senate – he was the heart of the Senate. Respected by all of his colleagues, Senator Kennedy’s thoughtfulness, conviction and passion were attached to signature pieces of legislation that have profoundly shaped our nation for the better.  From strengthening the quality of education for our students, to improving the quality of health care for our eniors, to ensuring equality and civil rights for all Americans, Senator Kennedy was a leader unparalleled in our nation.  

“Senator Kennedy was the patriarch of a family that gave this nation so much and as he comforted the nation time and again, we as Americans must now be there for the Kennedy family during this mourning period. Senator Kennedy dedicated his life to this nation and we are forever indebted to him. 

 “My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family today. I’m especially thinking about my colleague Congressman Patrick Kennedy who is continuing his father’s fight in the U.S. House of Representatives. During this sad time, I hope the outpouring of support is comforting the Kennedy family.”

Sen. Bill Nelson: "Most Americans can not remember a time without Ted Kennedy. Whatever your political persuasion, you had to respect his lion-like conviction. It was that conviction that gave a voice to the powerless over the powerful. Grace and I came to know Ted and Vicki in his later years in the senate, and we count it a privilege to have known him."

Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Senator Edward Kennedy’s family at this difficult time. We especially send our heartfelt condolences to our friend and colleague, Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. We will always remember that Senator Kennedy dedicated his life to serving his constituents (who consistently reelected him to the United States Senate for almost 5 decades) and the nation."

Rep. Corrine Brown: "I want to send my thoughts and prayers to the family of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  The American people have lost a great leader, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved family man. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy’s statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishments that have given every American citizen greater opportunities. 

"Senator Kennedy’s extraordinary work in the areas of education and health care go unparalleled. Indeed, I always say, when you are born you get a birth certificate, and when you pass, you get a death certificate, but it’s what you do with the time in between that makes a difference. Unquestionably, this idea is encapsulated in the life of Senator Kennedy, who’s 46 years of service to this country demonstrated a remarkable vision for America and an unrivaled ability to reach across Party lines to bring about
extraordinary change for the betterment of our citizens. 

"I vividly remember him from the first Democratic convention I attended in 1980, in which I served as a Kennedy delegate. I was awed by the Senator’s vision and presence at the convention, and of course, by his memorable and inspiring speech in which he said, ‘for me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.’ Similarly, the work that the Senator did in the areas of health care,
education, people with disabilities, and poverty alleviation will continue today and into the future as we attempt to fulfill his dream of providing quality health care and a solid education for all Americans, as well as security for our nation’s senior citizens.

“Again, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, his devoted wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr., and of course, my colleague in the House of Representatives, Patrick Joe Kennedy, with whom I have worked for years on many important issues, in particular, on veterans’ affairs.  Our nation as a whole mourns this loss and prays for the Kennedy family at this sad time.” 

Rep. Robert Wexler: "I was deeply saddened to learn that Senator Ted Kennedy passed away late last
night, and my thoughts and my prayers are with the Kennedy family during this incredibly difficult time.

"Senator Kennedy was a devoted public servant whose work in the United States Senate touched the lives of all Americans. He was instrumental in ensuring voting and civil rights for minorities, enacting equal opportunities for women in education, athletics, and the workplace, preventing discrimination against Americans with disabilities, providing millions of Americans with affordable health insurance, and in countless other landmark legislative achievements.

"As we mourn the loss of Senator Kennedy and honor his many legislative accomplishments, we must all to work to ensure that his ideals and values live on. His commitment to justice, equality, and opportunity for all Americans must be remembered as we work to rebuild America’s economy and ensure all of our citizens have access to quality, affordable health care."


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The Last of The Kennedy Dynasty

As soon as his cancer was detected, I noticed the immediate attempt at the
"canonization" of old Teddy Kennedy by the mainstream media. They are
Saying what a "great American" he is. I say, let's get a couple things
Clear & not twist the facts to change the real history.

1. He was caught cheating at Harvard when he attended it. He was expelled
Twice, once for cheating on a test, and once for paying a classmate to cheat
For him.

2. While expelled, Kennedy enlisted in the Army, but mistakenly signed up
For four years instead of two. Oops! The man can't count to four! His
Father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England (a step up from
Bootlegging liquor into the US from Canada during prohibition) , pulled the
Necessary strings to have his enlistment shortened to two years, and to
Ensure that he served in Europe, not Korea , where a war was raging. No
Preferential treatment for him! (like he charged that President Bush

3. Kennedy was assigned to Paris, never advanced beyond the rank of
Private,and returned to Harvard upon being discharged. Imagine a person of
His "education" NEVER advancing past the rank of Private!

4. While attending law school at the University of Virginia, he was cited
For reckless driving four times, including once when he was clocked driving
90 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood with his headlights off
After dark.. Yet his Virginia driver's license was never revoked.
Coincidentally, he passed the bar exam in 1959. Amazing!

5. In 1964, he was seriously injured in a plane crash and hospitalized for
Several months. Test results done by the hospital at the time he was
Admitted had shown he was legally intoxicated. The results of those tests
Remained a "state secret" until in the 1980's when the report was unsealed.
Didn't hear about that from the unbiased media, did we?

6. On July 19, 1969, Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island in
Massachusetts . At about 11:00 PM, he borrowed his chauffeur's keys to his
Oldsmobile limousine and offered to give a ride home to Mary Jo Kopechne, a
Campaign worker. Leaving the island via an unlit bridge with no guard rail,
Kennedy steered the car off the bridge, flipped, and into Poucha Pond.

7. He swam to shore and walked back to the party passing several houses and
A fire station. Two friends then returned with him to the scene of the
Accident. According to their later testimony, they told him what he already
Knew - that he was required by law to immediately report the accident to the
Authorities. Instead Kennedy made his way to his hotel, called his lawyer,
And went to sleep. Kennedy called the police the next morning and by
Then the wreck had already been discovered. Before dying Kopechne had
Scratched at the upholstered floor above her head in the upside-down car.
The Kennedy family began "calling in favors", ensuring that any inquiry
Would be contained. Her corpse was whisked out-of-state to her family
Before an autopsy could be conducted.
Further details are uncertain, but after the accident Kennedy says he
Repeatedly dove under the water trying to rescue Kopechne and he didn't call
Police because he was in a state of shock. It is widely assumed Kennedy was
Drunk, and he held off calling police in hopes that his family could fix the
Problem overnight. Since the accident Kennedy's "political enemies" have
Referred to him as the distinguished Senator from Chappaquiddick. He
Pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, and was given a
Kopechne's family received a small payout from the Kennedy's insurance
Policy and never sued. There was later an effort to have her body exhumed
And autopsied, but her family successfully fought against this in court, and
Kennedy's family paid their attorney's bills.... A "token of friendship"?

8. Kennedy has held his Senate seat for more than forty years, but
Considering his longevity, his accomplishments seem scant. He authored or
Argued for legislation that ensured a variety of civil rights, increased the
Minimum wage in 1981, made access to health care easier for the indigent,
Funded Meals on Wheels for fixed-income seniors, and is widely held as the
"standard-bearer for liberalism". In his very first Senate roll he was the
Floor manager for the bill that turned U.S.
Immigration policy upside down and opened the floodgate for immigrants from
Third world countries..

9. Since that time, he has been the prime instigator and author of every
Expansion of an increase in immigration up to and including the latest
Attempt to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. Not to mention the pious
Grilling he gave the last two Supreme Court nominees, as if he was the
standard bearer for the nation in matters of "what's right". What a pompous

10. He is known around Washington as a public drunk, loud, boisterous, and
very disrespectful to ladies. JERK is a better description than "great
American". "A blonde in every pond" is his motto.

Let's not allow the spin doctors to make this jerk a hero -- how quickly the
American public forgets what his real legacy is


Very well researched, John. But you forget one very important piece of the puzzle - Ms. Kopechne was pregnant when she died, I mean killed.

Ed Slavin

I am stunned at the loss of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, my first boss, for whom I worked as a volunteer and paid intern as a freshman and sophomore at Georgetown University from 1974-76.

The announcement hit me like a ton of bricks, but I did not actually cry until my friend Jamin Rubenstein told me by phone that they were talking about Senator Kennedy and “the bag” on National Public Radio. That’s when I lost it and started crying.

“The bag” in Senator Kennedy’s office was kept by his secretary, Angelique, who had to replace it every couple of months. “The bag” was a stuffed, battered briefcase into which any staff member (even me on a few occasions) could insert reading material, which Senator Kennedy would read by the next business day.

Unlike some other Senators, Ted Kennedy read and read and read --- he was a moot court champion in law school and he was quick on his feet on the Senate Floor and in Committee.

Working for “the liberal lion of the Senate” as my first boss (I was eventually promoted to be paid $53/week for two days a week) was one of the defining moments of my life. I started working for EMK the day before my first class at Georgetown, inspired by Ralph Nader’s speech in Gaston Hall, urging us to be involved in public service.

Senator Kennedy’s work ethic was shared by all who worked for him. I remember the pride I felt in working for him, whether it was working in the mailroom, running errands, helping out the caseworkers and press staff or helping the late, great Mary Murtagh with Massachusetts legislation.

In those fun days in the mid 1970s -- pre-fax, pre-Internet, pre-E-mail days --- the quickest means of transmitting information around Capitol Hill (and Washington, D.C.) was often to send an intern.

The EMK staff soon started calling me “Fast Eddie,” knowing that if they needed something picked up or delivered swiftly, I would do it in a DC minute. Ironically, I was not the best physical specimen – I had survived rheumatic fever and had arthritis, but walking a couple of miles around Capitol Hill for EMK’s staff each Tuesday and Thursday was great therapy.

When Mary Murtagh asked me to help EMK and her to end world whaling, I found it easy to get people to talk to me. “This is Ed Slavin in Senator Kennedy’s office” got your calls returned in a DC minute. We learned that 2/3 of all the whales killed in the world were sperm whales, killed only for the oil in their heads (which makes their meat inedible). We learned there was an exact substitute for the oil in the head of the sperm whale -- jojoba, an oil seed plant that grows in the desert in the Southwest. We encouraged USDA to help Indian tribes and farmers to grow it, although Mary was initially skeptical, joking about “Ed’s ho-ho beans.”

I picked up the telephone and called a Vice President of Archer-Daniels-Midlland and asked if he would buy jojoba. He said there was no market for it. I told him that if he bought it, they’d create a market. I just did a Google® search for jojoba – there were about 2,650,000 entries. By the way, the number of whales killed in the world has plummeted from some 30,000 a year to less than 1000 per year. That was partly due to the 1986 Moratorium and thanks in no small part to Senator Kennedy’s concerns about whaling, as expressed by Mary Murtagh, who empowered a 19-year old , who still had braces on his teeth (that would be me) to help find a cure for pelagic whaling. Jojoba helps employ poor Indians and according to Wikipedia, “Because sperm whales are endangered, plantations of jojoba have been established in a number of desert and semi-desert areas, predominantly in Argentina, Australia, Israel, Mexico, Palestinian Authority, Peru, and the United States. It is currently the Sonoran Desert's second most economically valuable native plant (overshadowed only by the Washingtonia palms used in horticulture). “
Working for Senator Kennedy and his top-notch staff taught me that politics is not only fun and full of laughter, but that politics is “the art of the possible” and that, in playwright Tony Kushner’s words, in "Angels in America," “only in politics does the miraculous occur.”
The legacy of Ted Kennedy, the best Senator ever, was best expressed by JFK, who said, “here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”
My heart goes out to the entire Kennedy family as I work through the tears.
Ed Slavin, CIO
Global Wrap LLC
218 Riberia Street, Suite B
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
904-829-5817 (fax)

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