My sincere thanks to all who offered their kind thoughts and prayers for my terminally ill mother, my family, and myself. She passed away May 26, and I now have a terrible gaping hole in my heart and my life. We thought alike and had the same sense of humor. I will miss, and always treasure, her insight and wisdom. Rest assured, the thoughtfulness of you, my fellow bloggers and readers, as well as from all of my other friends and relatives, has been most appreciated and provided me with great comfort during some very dark days. I love ya all, folks, and thank you for enriching my life! :-)
Regular followers of this blog know I have had a propensity to focus on many of the problems in our country as well as on those whom I believe are contributing, or have contributed to, those problems. I have done so to draw attention to the many flaws we have in this country, in hopes that an improvement can be made. I will continue doing so on a regular basis.
Near year's end each year, I post an annual December feature, which I call "Bozo of the Year." It portrays some of the fools and clowns in public life whose antics were so outlandish that they were deserving of ridicule. In a similar fashion each June, I take an opposite approach and do a different annual feature, which spotlights those individuals of today or in the past whose contributions to humanity and/or our country have been so spectacular, courageous, and/or noteworthy that they should be lauded near and far as good examples of what we as humans can achieve, if we only put our minds to it. After all, not everything going on in the world is doom and gloom. So here is the second installment of this annual mid-year feature I call the "Head and Heart Awards." The individuals shown here have used their heads and hearts to produce great things for humankind, or have shown themselves to be beacons of light in a sea of darkness. They should serve as inspirations to us all to DO something, to take a principled stand, using OUR heads and hearts, on behalf of our fellow brothers and sisters, rather than simply sitting back complacently enjoying the relatively good life we have experienced here in the United States.
Honorable mention for the award this year goes to Dr. Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine. His repeated efforts in the face of many failures would alone make him eligible for a Head and Heart Award, but the fact that he DONATED his successful discovery to humankind and medical science rather than capitalizing on it and enriching himself makes this man extraordinary! Can you imagine anyone alive today performing such an unselfish act? They broke the mold when they made this fine doctor!
The state of Maine has a history of producing independent-minded female Senators. Republican Margaret Chase Smith was a good example of a moderate Republican who bucked her party's base in the 1950s to reject the paranoidal tendencies of McCarthyism. Though not in Senator Chase Smith's league as of yet, today's Republican Senator Susan Collins has shown similar independence from her modern-day ultra-conservative party. Her good sense in doing what is best for her constituents and the country at large instead of blindly following rigid reactionary ideology places her head and shoulders above moist of the rest of her Republican pack.
Another moderate Maine Republican Senator in the Collins and Chase Smith mode is Olympia Snowe. This blogger encourages her to set herself apart from the conservative crowd even more than she has done to date!
This year's "near miss" for the Head and Heart Award is Wendell Potter, a former Vice President of Corporate Communications for health insurance giant CIGNA. After a 2007 tour of a rural Virginia free clinic revealed to him thousands of people unable to afford, or having been excluded from getting health insurance, this highly moral and conscientious man resigned his position and began a crusade for universal, government-run health care. He appeared on many TV shows to expose health insurance industry dodges and exclusionary practices, and even testified before Congress. Speaking before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on September 15, 2009, Potter told them that if Congress "fails to create a public insurance option to compete with private insurers, the bill it sends to the president might as well be called the Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act." Congress should have listened, but instead passed the flawed bill that is now on the books. Mr. Potter should be commended for his decency, compassion, and courage. He put patients before profits, which is exactly what should be done! It is a shame that far too many Congresspersons lack his qualities.
This year's third place spot goes to Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist. Unlike disgraceful Republican Governors of Louisiana's Bobby Jindal's, Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty's, or Mississippi's Haley Barbour's ilk, Crist didn't neglect his needy constituents by playing politics with and denouncing President Obama's Stimulus Package. Instead, he sensibly took the federal aid offered him and used it for the benefit of his needy citizens. He courageously publicly supported the stimulus plan and saw it for what it was: a wholly necessary move to aid hurting people. Regrettably, his common sense and courage may end up costing him a shot at the U. S. Senate seat from Florida, as the Florida GOP, hijacked by insane teabaggers and far right elements, has all but abandoned him for the ultra-conservative Marco Rubio. Crist, the people of Florida, and the entire country deserve much better!
Second place for this year's award goes to MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow. Ms. Maddow's heart is always in the right place: on the side of the downtrodden and those with little or no voice. But this brilliant Rhodes scholar is continuously raising the bar on televised political discussion. She puts forth the tough questions, as when she asked GOP Kentucky senate hopeful Rand Paul point blank for his position on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She consistently digs deeper, and explains the issues at hand more analytically and clearly, than nearly any other political commentator. The woman is phenomenal!
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is the recipient of this year's Head and Heart Award - by a whisker - over Rachel Maddow. A political fraternal twin of Maddow, Mr. Olbermann took the health care reform bill debate by the horns and actually got thousands of uninsured, needy people free health care at various free clinics he set up across the country over the past year. He used his show to solicit contributions for these clinics and appealed to doctors and medical technicians to attend these weekend clinics. Instead of complacently sitting on his laurels like the entire Fox "News" crew and almost all other TV commentators, Olbermann's action led to direct and much-needed benefit for thousands of the unfortunate. That makes him this year's winner, in my book ---a man who used his head AND heart to directly benefit many needy people he had never even met! This world could use many, many more Keith Olbermanns!