Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, 1932-2009

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, 1932-2009

Senator Edward M. Kennedy died on Tuesday night at the age of 77. Senator Kennedy was a member of one of the country’s most influential political families and one of the most effective senators in American history. The death of Senator Kennedy, who had been battling brain cancer, was announced Wednesday morning in a statement by the Kennedy family, which was already mourning the death of the Senator’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver just two weeks ago.

Ted Kennedy’s Senate Web Page today is emblazoned with the quote from his address to the Democratic National Convention in 1980, after his presidential campaign had come 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.”

You can read more in The New York Times here.

2008 Democratic National Convention Tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Funeral: Eulogy by President Obama

(Part I)

(Part II)

Slide Show: A Ted Kennedy Retrospective

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The 2008 Denver National Democratic Convention: Live Blogging


Dave Stewart: American Prayer

The Democratic National Convention: Live Blogging

Michelle Obama Addresses the Democratic National Convention

Michelle Obama presented the first major address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver on Monday evening. Speaking to the delegates, Michelle described herself as a daughter, sister, wife and mother, no different from many other women. She told an exuberant crowd in the convention center that she and her husband feel an obligation to “fight for the world as it should be” to assure the promise of a better life both for their own daughters and for all children.

Michelle Obama talked about tucking her daughters Malia and Sasha into bed at night. “I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they, and your own sons and daughters, will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming,” she said.

Michelle Obama: We Listen to Our Hopes and Dreams

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: Hope Rises Again, the Dream Lives On

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, struggling with brain cancer, arrived at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night in a triumphant appearance that evoked 50 years of party history. No was sure until the very last moment whether Senator Kennedy actually would be able to make a personal appearance at the convention, given the severity of his illness. Kennedy arrived at the convention site shortly before darkness fell, accompanied by a large group of family members. He walked a few halting steps to a waiting golf cart, which drove him into the arena.

After a speech was given by his niece Caroline Kennedy and a video tribute to him was shown, Senator Kennedy walked slowly to the lectern, limping slightly, with his wife, Victoria, who kissed him and left him there. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and many people were seen wiping tears from their eyes; they cheered for almost two minutes until he settled them down.

My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here,” said Senator Kennedy, his voice booming across the hall. “And nothing–nothing–is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” A stool that had been slipped behind him went unused during his 10-minute speech. And while Kennedy spoke slowly and at times haltingly, his voice was firm and he was in command of this moment, gesturing and sounding very much like the man who enraptured the party’s convention 28 years ago.

There is a new wave of change all around us,” he said, “and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination–not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation. And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama, and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause.”

Invoking his parting remarks to the 1980 Democratic National Convention as he ceded the presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter, he promised that “the dream will never die. The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy: Hope Rises Again, the Dream Lives On

Music Audio: We Are The World


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Obama Saddened by News of Senator Kennedy’s Condition

Senator Barack Obama’s Response:

Michelle and I were saddened to hear the news about Senator Kennedy’s condition today, and we plan on doing whatever we can to support him, Vicki, and the entire Kennedy family during this time. Senator Kennedy has been a fighter for his entire life, and I have no doubt that he will fight as hard as he can to get through this. He has been there for the American people during some of our country’s most trying moments, and now that he’s facing his own, I ask all Americans to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.”

Obama Responds to News of Senator Kennedy’s Condition

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Obama’s Heroic Crusade: Tuesday’s Going to Be Super!

Barack Obama Speaks: One Voice

The Amazing UCLA Obama Rally Changed the Course of the Presidential Campaign

Two days before before the closest thing America has ever had to a national primary, four extraordinary women put on what many observers feel was the best campaign rally in the last 20 years of presidential politics. The preeminent event in UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion began like every other Barack Obama event, chants of Yes We Can and signs praising the power of hope. Senator Obama was campaigning on the East Coast Sunday, but by the time this rally ended, Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey and Maria Shriver had defined the challenge that Hillary Clinton will face if she wins the Democratic nomination. She’ll have to figure out how to preserve the energy and excitement that Obama has stirred in his supporters, especially in once-marginalized younger voters.

The most recent polls from California suggest that Senator Obama has cut deeply into what had been a double-digit lead for Mrs. Clinton in the biggest delegate prize of Tuesday’s primaries. Certainly, in that moment at the rally, the Obama campaign seemed to have a monopoly on what is fashionable and glamorous in California.

Before the event got into full swing, giant screens were showing a video by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. A visually diverse lineup of celebrities, which included the actresses Scarlett Johansson and Amber Valletta, the rapper Common, the singer John Legend, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, recited and sang along with a film of a speech that Senator Obama gave on the night that he lost the New Hampshire primary.

The crowd was screaming with delight when it saw Caroline Kennedy, who brought her uncle Senator Edward Kennedy and now, remarkably, her cousin Maria Shriver, California’s First Lady, to the Obama campaign. Caroline Kennedy previewed Maria Shriver’s surprising appearance by urging Democrats to “step out of your lives and into this moment in history.”

Ms. Winfrey spoke to the most emotionally fraught aspect of this contest. “Now look at this campaign. The two front-runners are a black man and a woman,” she said. “What that says to me is we have won the struggle and we have the right to compete.”

Obama: A Fierce Campaigner

Senator Obama has been a fierce campaigner during the last 10 days. After winning in South Carolina, Obama has dashed through 16 states, but he hasn’t stayed very long. He’s held more than one stop in only two states (California and Missouri). Eight of the states that he’s visited, Hillary Clinton never touched. Favoring huge, 20,000-person rallies over intimate affairs, Obama’s strategy has been simple: get his face in front of as many people as possible. Huge crowds turned out in New Jersey, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota and Colorado. Since that strategy means he can’t linger very long in any one state, he has supplemented his rallies with a massive advertising budget. Obama’s Super Bowl ad buy was more impressive for its audacity than its content. All of this seems to be helping; his poll numbers have been jumping nationwide, even though he hasn’t held a press conference day since his big win in South Carolina.

The Super Bowl Ad: “Join”

Snapshots: Getting to Know Him

A Video Photo Album

The UCLA Obama Rally: Maria Shriver Endorses Barack Obama

In a very dramatic moment at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, California First Lady Maria Shriver stepped out onto a stage that had already seen its share of celebrities, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder among them, and announced that she was backing Barack Obama. It has been reported that Shriver was waiting backstage wavering over whether she should make her support public, and then she finally walked out onto the stage.

Shriver told the crowded gymnasium that she had not intended to be at the rally, and had come straight over after going horse riding with her daughter. She joked about her appearance, wearing riding clothes, without makeup and without having her hair done, as she added her support for Obama. “If Barack Obama was a state he’d be California,” Shriver said, drawing roars from the crowd. “I mean think about it: diverse, open, smart, independent, oppose tradition, innovative, inspiring, dreamer, leader.”

And she spoke about the themes of optimism and collective action that Obama has sought to build his campaign around. “He’s not about himself. He’s about the power of us and what we can do if we come together,” Shriver said. “He is about empowering women, African Americans, Latinos, old people, young people. He’s about empowering all of us.

Shriver, a former network television journalist, also acknowledged some uncertainty over taking such a public stand. “Sometimes, when you follow your own truth and your own voice, it’s scary,” she said. “But that’s all you can do.”

Shriver was on the stage with Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy and Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Shriver said that she had made the decision in the morning. “I wasn’t on the schedule,” she said, “and I thought to myself when I woke up this morning, I thought, there’s no other place I should be than right here.”

California First Lady Maria Shriver Endorses Barack Obama

The Oprah Winfrey who aroused the crowd at UCLA on Sunday was far different from the Oprah who made her political debut endorsing Obama in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in December. In her first steps on the campaign trail, Oprah was unexpectedly tentative, almost shy. But on Sunday, Oprah had clearly found her voice. She was much more like the woman that we watch on television every day: sharp, funny, opinionated, but fed up with women who tell her she’s a “traitor” for endorsing Obama over Clinton.

After Iowa, there were some women who had the nerve to say to me, ‘How could you, Oprah, how could you?‘” The talk show star mimicked her critics, affecting a pinched nasal accent. “‘You’re a traitor to your gender.’ I was both surprised by that comment and insulted. The truth is, I’m a free woman,” Winfrey told an enthralled crowd. She repeated “I’m a free woman” three more times.

Being free means you get to think for yourself and you get to decide for yourself what to do. So I say I am not a traitor, I am just following my own truth, and that truth has led me to Barack Obama.” She came back to the theme later, talking, again in a mock accent, about women who say, “‘I’m a woman, I have to vote for a woman.'” She disagreed, strongly asserting that, “As free women, you have the right to change your mind. You’re not a traitor because you believe and see a better way.”

Oprah Winfrey: Now We Are Free

Stevie Wonder at the UCLA Obama Rally

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The Celebrity Music Video: “Yes We Can

Josh Groban: You Raise Me Up

Barack Obama: Change We Can Believe In

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Senator Edward Kennedy to Endorse Obama for President

Senator Edward M. Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama for president tomorrow, breaking his year-long neutrality in order to send a powerful signal of where the legendary Massachusetts Democrat sees the party going, and who he thinks is best to lead it.  Senator Kennedy is scheduled to appear with Obama and Kennedy’s niece, Caroline Kennedy, at a morning rally at American University in Washington tomorrow to officially announce his support.  Today, The New York Times gave a detailed report about Senator Kennedy’s planned endorsement of Obama for President of the United States:

“Senator Edward M. Kennedy intends to endorse the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama during a rally on Monday in Washington, associates to both men confirmed, a decision that squarely pits one American political dynasty against another.

The expected endorsement, coming after Mr. Obama’s commanding victory over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, may give Mr. Obama further momentum in his campaign for the nomination.

As Mr. Obama flew here on Sunday, he smiled when asked by reporters about Mr. Kennedy’s plans, saying: “I’ve had ongoing conversations with Ted since I’ve got into this race.”  He learned of Mr. Kennedy’s decision through a telephone call on Thursday, aides said, three days before the South Carolina primary.

Of all the endorsements in the Democratic Party, Mr. Kennedy’s is viewed as among the most influential.  The Massachusetts senator had vowed to stay out of the presidential nominating fight, but as the contest expanded into a state-by-state fight — and given the tone of the race in the last week — associates said he was moved to announce his support for Mr. Obama.”

You can read the full version of The New York Times report here.

Update:

The San Francisco Chronicle has just announced its endorsement of Obama for President.  You can read the full editorial statement here.  In addition, here is the video of Obama’s January 17th meeting with the Chronical Editorial Board:

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President Bush Vetoes Legislation Banning Waterboarding

Update:

On Saturday, March 8, 2008, President Bush announced that he had vetoed legislation that would have banned the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods, such as waterboarding, to break suspected terrorists because it would end practices that he said have prevented attacks.

The bill he rejected provides guidelines for intelligence activities and has the interrogation requirement as one provision. It cleared the House in December and the Senate last month. Supporters of the legislation say it would preserve the United States’ ability to collect critical intelligence, while also providing a much-needed boost to country’s moral standing abroad. The bill would have limited CIA interrogators to the 19 techniques allowed for use by military questioners. In 2006, the Army field manual in 2006 banned using methods such as waterboarding or sensory deprivation on uncooperative prisoners.

President Bush’s veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said in a statement on Friday. “Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world.”

“ENHANCED” INTERROGATION

The Origins

In the medieval form of waterboarding, a victim was strapped to a board and tipped back or lowered into a body of water until he or she believed that drowning was imminent. The subject was then removed from the water and revived. If necessary the process was repeated.

Although in a technical sense there are actually several other forms of water-based interrogation, all variants have in common that the victim reliably almost drowns but is rescued or re-animated by his captor just before death occurs. The technique is designed to be both psychological and physical. The psychological effect is inherent in the fact that the victim is given to understand that he shall be killed outright by dint of enforced drowning unless his cooperation as demanded is indeed produced promptly. This perception reinforces the interrogator’s control and gives the victim sound cause to experience mortal fear.

The physical effects are extreme pain and damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and sometimes broken bones because of the restraints applied to the struggling victim. The psychological effects can be long-lasting.

Modern Waterboarding

The modern practice of waterboarding, characterized in 2005 by former CIA director Porter J. Goss as a “professional interrogation technique“, involves tying the victim to a board with the head lower than the feet so that he or she is unable to move. A piece of cloth is held tightly over the face, and water is poured onto the cloth. Breathing is extremely difficult and the victim will be in fear of imminent death by asphyxiation. However, it is relatively difficult to aspirate a large amount of water since the lungs are higher than the mouth, and the victim is unlikely to actually die if this is done by skilled practitioners. Waterboarding may be used by captors who wish to impose anguish without leaving marks on their victims as evidence. Journalists Brian Ross and Richard Esposito described the CIA‘s waterboarding technique as follows:

The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda’s toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last over two minutes before begging to confess. “The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law,” said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.

In the United States, military personnel are taught this technique, ostensibly to demonstrate how to resist enemy interrogations in the event of capture. According to Salon.com, SERE instructors shared their torture techniques with interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp. According to the CIA’s own description of the waterboarding torture technique, the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

Waterboarding has often been described in the media in a “matter-of-fact” manner. In the past, The Washington Post has simply referred to waterboarding as an interrogation measure that “simulates drowning.” But what does waterboarding look like? Below is a photograph taken by Jonah Blank last month at Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The prison is now a museum that documents Khymer Rouge atrocities. Blank, an anthropologist and former Senior Editor of US News & World Report, is the author of the books Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God and Mullahs on the Mainframe. He is a professorial lecturer at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and has taught at Harvard and Georgetown universities

This photo shows one of the actual waterboards used by the Khymer Rouge:

What follows below is a demonstration of a “waterboarding.” It certainly captures the essence of this technique that is now directly authorized by the president, and used by the CIA at the behest of the president and vice-president. If you believe that what you are watching is “severe mental or physical pain,” then it is torture under U.S. law, and the U.N. Treaty. It is undeniably a violation of the Geneva Convention. If it is torture, according to the president himself, then it be should stopped. At this moment in history, let us at least look at what is being done by the government and call it by its proper name.

Waterboarding: A Live Demonstration

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