Would history have been different if Teddy Kennedy had read “The Art of Manliness” blog?

Can you imagine how different American history would have been if Edward Kennedy had read The Art of Manliness blog and learned how to escape from a sinking car?  There’s a very good chance that, without a negligent homicide in his past, he might have been president.  After all, in Democrat circles, he was considered the Kennedy’s last fair-haired boy, and that was despite the blood on his hands.

I need our collective brains to help me create a list of embarrassments to the Democrats

The Democrats are kvelling about Todd Akin.  Indeed, at the New York Times, one enterprising writer has put together a list of a handful of Republicans who hold views that are outside of the mainstream (or who articulate arguably valid views in invalid ways).  A cartoonist has also put together a crude cartoon that shows a doggy crate in which the RNC will hide “unsightly reminders of your party’s past.”  Here’s what I need from you:  help putting together well-sourced evidence showing that the Dems have some people of their own with views outside of the mainstream, not to mention an unsightly past.  My memory being shaky, I thought I could use help from the collective knowledge that is the Bookworm Room.

Here’s my start:

Teddy Kennedy is one of the unsightly past winners.  It was bad enough that he was cheating on his wife, but he made it worse when, probably under the influence of alcohol, he drove off a bridge, walked away from the car leaving a young woman in it, and then forget to get help for her.  Mary Jo Kopechne took several hours to suffocate in the cold and dark.

If we’re counting dead Democrats, there’s the Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops, Sen. Robert Byrd.  (This article from Slate, written in the wake of Byrd’s death, is fascinating, because it manages to make a bloodless recitation out of what ought to be an appalling insight into the Democrats’ past.)

There’s Hank Johnson, currently representing Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, who was worried that overpopulation could cause the island of Guam to tip over.

Maxine Waters represents California’s 35th Congressional District.  She’s responsible for quite a few gems that put her outside of the American mainstream.  A short list includes (a) her deep and abiding love for Fidel Castro; (b) her demand that the U.S., 149 years after slavery ended, give reparations to this generation of American blacks; (c) her insistence that the CIA created the crack cocaine epidemic amongst American blacks; (d) her devout wish that the Tea Party go “straight to Hell,” and (e) the fortune her family made off the political perks she sent their way.

And then my memory fails me.  I’m sure that there are more serving Democrats or deceased “lions” who have advanced views or engaged in conduct that, in a normal world, would get a column in a major American publication anxious to show that the entire party is a collection extremist nut cases.


As if we needed any more proof that the “Lion of the Senate” was a disgraceful human being

Teddy Kennedy may be a lion of the Left, but, boy!, he sure is a poor excuse for a human being:  manslaughterer, plagarizer, alcoholic and, as he admitted himself, compulsive, completely immoral womanizer.  BTW, it’s not the sheer number I find offensive.  It’s his boast that he preyed on his own friend’s wives.  What a sleazeball — and this is the man the Democrats try to advance as a reason to pass a health care bill that can destroy our economy and will destroy the most innovative health care system in the world.

The destructive forces of green energy

Our travels this weekend took us over the Altamont Pass, home of one of America’s largest windmill farms.  The children were amazed by the endless vista of spinning windmills, and my husband waxed rhapsodic about the clean energy.  Being contrary, I mentioned that the windmills kill lots of birds.  Indeed, I said, there was something of a conundrum, because people who care about birds also care about clean energy, and here they were, faced with a clean energy source that kills birds.

It seems I’m not the only one who’s noticed that conundrum.  With exquisite timing, today’s WSJ has an op-ed on precisely that topic:

On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.

ExxonMobil is hardly alone in running afoul of this law. Over the past two decades, federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. In July, for example, the Oregon-based electric utility PacifiCorp paid $1.4 million in fines and restitution for killing 232 eagles in Wyoming over the past two years. The birds were electrocuted by poorly-designed power lines.

Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year.

A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.


Why aren’t wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds? “The fix here is not easy or cheap,” Mr. Lee told me. He added that he doesn’t expect to see any prosecutions of the politically correct wind industry.

This is a double standard that more people—and not just bird lovers—should be paying attention to. In protecting America’s wildlife, federal law-enforcement officials are turning a blind eye to the harm done by “green” energy.

On the subject of wind farms, a little imp also urged me to say that there must be a few other problems with them, since Teddy Kennedy refused to have them built anywhere within sight of his home in Hyannisport.  Mr. Bookworm first denied that this was true.  When I convinced him of its truth, he then said that it was perfectly reasonable for Kennedy to preserve his view and shift those ugly windmills elsewhere.  He did not concede that “elsewhere” might be less efficient or impair someone else’s view.  In fact, it’s perfectly possible that shifting them would be both more efficient and aesthetic.  I just enjoyed my spouse’s assumption that, if Kennedy said “no,” that possibility must be the reality.

Brave? Yes. Unique? No.

If you stop at the first paragraph of this AP article, you might think that Teddy Kennedy is the only person on earth who has ever faced a cancer surgery as daunting as the one he underwent (emphasis mine):

Bravery in the face of cancer? Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has given it new meaning. Few things require as much courage as being wide awake and aware, lying perfectly still for hours, while surgeons methodically slice out bits of your brain.

In fact, although this approach to surgery is not common, Teddy is by no means the only one who has done it:

To avoid cutting through vital areas controlling speech, doctors often return the patient to consciousness and stimulate tissue in the planned surgical path with a probe.

“We’ll have them do language tests like hold up pictures, name objects, repeat words, hold a conversation,” Ewend explained.

After that, the patient is usually put back under while the tumor is cut out, which takes about three to four hours.

However, Kennedy was awake for the removal of the tumor, his doctor’s statement says. That usually means local rather than general anesthesia.

His head would have been in a vise-like device and he’d have to remain very still for hours while the doctors poked, probed and sliced away the cancer, using his responses to guide them.

“That’s the best way you can determine if you’re incurring neurological impairment” as the operation proceeds, said Dr. Kevin McGrail, neurosurgery chief at Georgetown University Medical Center.

“It’s a safe way to do the operation, but it can sometimes be very stressful on the patient,” who is aware of what’s going on even though it is not painful, he said.

As it happens, I am extremely impressed by the fact that Teddy was willing to do this, although I can understand the motive too: the best surgical outcome. Frankly, I don’t know if I could have done that, even sharing his motive. Let me say again, therefore, that I am not writing this to denigrate Teddy’s courage in the face of what seems to be an incredibly uncomfortable and frightening procedure.

My beef — as it almost always is — is with the way in which the media spins things like this (and I’m confident that the spin would have been . . . um, different if Cheney had been the one undergoing surgery). That first paragraph makes it sound as if Kennedy is unique in the history of cancer patients and that no one, absolutely no one, has ever demonstrated this type of courage before. Courageous? Definitely. Unique? Only in AP’s eyes, and that’s true despite the fact that their own article gives the game away.

On the subject of bravery in surgery, I’d like to recommend to you Fanny Burney’s experience. She was a late 18th/early 19th century courtier and writer in England who, in 1811, underwent a radical mastectomy — without anesthetic. Here is her description of that surgery (which is not for the faint of heart):

Yet – when the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast – cutting through veins – arteries – flesh – nerves – I needed no injunctions not to restrain my cries. I began a scream that lasted unintermittingly during the whole time of the incision – & I almost marvel that it rings not in my Ears still! so excruciating was the agony. When the wound was made, & the instrument was withdrawn, the pain seemed undiminished, for the air that suddenly rushed into those delicate parts felt like a mass of minute but sharp & forked poniards, that were tearing the edges of the wound – but when again I felt the instrument – describing a curve – cutting against the grain, if I may so say, while the flesh resisted in a manner so forcible as to oppose & tire the hand of the operator, who was forced to change from the right to the left – then, indeed, I thought I must have expired.

I attempted no more to open my Eyes, – they felt as if hermetically shut, & so firmly closed, that the Eyelids seemed indented into the Cheeks. The instrument this second time withdrawn, I concluded the operation over – Oh no! presently the terrible cutting was renewed – & worse than ever, to separate the bottom, the foundation of this dreadful gland from the parts to which it adhered – Again all description would be baffled – yet again all was not over, – Dr Larry rested but his own hand, & – Oh Heaven! – I then felt the Knife tackling against the breast bone – scraping it! – This performed, while I yet remained in utterly speechless torture, I heard the Voice of Mr Larry, – (all others guarded a dead silence) in a tone nearly tragic, desire everyone present to pronounce if anything more remained to be done; The general voice was Yes, – but the finger of Mr Dubois – which I literally felt elevated over the wound, though I saw nothing, & though he touched nothing, so indescribably sensitive was the spot – pointed to some further requisition – & again began the scraping! – and, after this, Dr Moreau thought he discerned a peccant attom – and still, & still, M. Dubois demanded attom after atom.

Burney lived another twenty-nine years after that ordeal.