Tuesday, June 8, 2010


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!


Vigilante said...

Welcome back, Jack!

TomCat said...

Welcome home, Jack.

What a magnificent idea. My only suggestion is to make your one and two spots a tie.

Tim McGaha said...

I had the privilege to attend a lecture given by Dr. Salk when I was a high-school senior. He was well along in years then, but was still sharp as a tack. One of the greats, by any measure you care to use.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Vig!
The only reason Keith won by a whisker was becauie of his benevolent activism. But I get your point and basically agree. :-)
You are a lucky man to have had that privilege. He was definitely one of the all-time greats!

Beach Bum said...

Welcome back Jack, Crist is actually looking good right now. Down here in Florida on vacation and Rubio has some "issues" that may cause his campaign to implode.

Talked with a few Floridians and Crist is still popular and they like his responses to the oil spill.

Marc McDonald said...

Welcome back, Jack. I enjoyed reading this piece, it is uplifting. Keith Olbermann offers the best show on TV: hard-hitting, intelligent, brave----all the things that the rest of the MSM lacks.

TRUTH 101 said...

When it was time to stand up and vote for the health insurance bill. The first bill since the 60's I think that offers real progress in helping Americans live better lives, Snowe and Collins chickened out and sided with the Working American hating republican party.

No offense Jack but when it comes to real issues that separate true Democrats for republicans I don't think Snowe or Collins deserve any recognition.

Lisa G. said...

Impressive list Jack, but where is Alan Grayson? He should be on there too for speaking up and not taking corporate or PAC money. He's a brave soul out there is a pack of spineless Dems.

Jack - glad you are back and hope everything went as well as could be expected.

Jack Jodell said...

Beach Bum,
Thanks for the encouraging news from Florida. While I wouldnl't necessarily vote for Crist, he is a far better alternative than that teabagger Rubio. Let's hope a three-way split develops and the Dem is elected!
Thank you, sir. I agree wholeheartedly, although I believe Rachel Maddow runs an almost impossible to measure the distance close second.
Truth 1201,
I see your point and agree, buth both DO veer off from the hardcore right wing ideologues on occasion and that is a good and healthy thing.
Lisa G,
Thank you for your kind words, and you're right---Alan Grayson definitely should have made this list for his forceful and commonm sense stands on behalf of the average everyday working American and small businessperson. We could use a Congress full of Graysons!

mud_rake said...

Glad to have you back at your keyboard, Jack. The memories and lessons from your mother will endure in your heart forever.

Thanks for this post. All too often we [I] concentrate on the negative in life. It is right and just to uplift others who have shown wisdom and courage.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Welcome home Jack!

BB is right... Crist is getting this die hard liberal's vote. Meek is a play for pay Dem, the rest are freakin' outrageous. Great piece. I so agree with your choices! Too many times 'progressive' folks seem to eschew KO (Olbermann) because he's dramatic. He's my hero. I don't agree with him every time, but when I do it's fully. Maddow is a gift... her complete shows' talents for getting to the heart of it and the research! Gods! she's able to crave it out. Great choices.

Stimpson said...

Sorry for your loss, Jack.

I like Olbermann, too. Funny how that fraud SE Cupp got away with calling him 'crazy' a few weeks ago on Maher's HBO show. She really should have been challenged to tell us all how Olbermann is in any way the left equivalent of Beck with Beck-like crazy over-generalizations and conspiracy orientation.

I agree with Truth that Snowe and Collins, though not such bad eggs compared to the likes of Cantor and Boehner, don't belong on the list.

Cheers from Canada.

Mycue23 said...

I've been away for so long, I missed the fact that you lost your mother. I can't tell how sorry I am for your loss. There's not a lot I can do for you all the way from NY, but please fell free to let me know if you need anything. I lost my Dad a couple of years ago and I know how painful it is, so I'm feeling for you.

Urban Pink said...

Hi Jack, thanks for visiting my blog and Im thrilled to find yours. I'm so in agreement with your profile statement about wealth and can't fathom why the right keeps defending global, not even American, monopolies. What a special relationship you have with your mom, bless her, and thanks for sharing it with us.

SJ said...

Welcome back Jack,
you've been in my thoughts, I'm glad to have something to read from you again.
I'm wishing you the absolute best my friend.
-Sandy Jimenez

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks for your kind words and for the appreciation you expressed for this post having been on the positive side. Like you, I tend to focusd on the negative stuff (because there's a ton of stuff out there that needs fixin' badly). But at least once a year I try to accentuate the positive instead of only trying to eliminate the negative. :-)
Thanks, Gwendolyn. It's great how we're usually on the same page with so much of this stuff. I think a Crist win is absolutely necessary to revitalize the GOP and short curcuit the teabagger faction.
Cheers right back to you there in Canada, our saner-than-we-are northern neighbor! Good hearing from you again. Ol' Cupp's head is clearly empty, and SHE's crazy to even suggest that Olbermann, filled with fact and logic as he is, resembles that irrational and paranoid Beck in any manner.
Thank you for your very kind words, and sorry about your dad. As for your thoughtful offer, simply go on being the logical, passionate, and conscientious man you are. The world needs far more like you. I hope someday we can meet face to face (along with SJ, too), and we can all munch a bunch and spill a few together! I know I would enjoy that! :-)
Hi Urban Pink. Thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad we're on the same page about wealth and monopolization. You'll be hearing more from me in the future, and I hope to hear more from you, too.

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you, my friend. I hope someday you, Mycue23, and I will all be able to meet for a night long batch of brew and stew somewhere, and there we will have a most deliciously enjoyable discussion!

TomCat said...

Dang! My earlier comment appeared and my later duplicate disappeared. Maybe drinking that tea effected me more than I thought.

Jack Jodell said...

Ewwwww---Tea is bad (if it has anything to do with politics) :-)

Tim said...

Great idea!
All we need now is conviction.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Tim.
Along with conviction, we also need positive action! :-)

John said...

In that picture, Jonas Salk looks just like Larry David from the upper lip up. I tested this theory on two different people. I covered the bottom half and asked "who is this?" They both answered: "Larry David."

Of course, the resemblance was so striking that my first impression was that you mixed the two of their images, so I Google-d Jonas Salk Images. Behold, what I found:

Comedian Larry David, of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame, does a stand-up bit supposing what it must have been like to live next door to the mother of Dr. Jonas Salk.
-- The Jewish Chronicle

So what does it mean? Simple. Larry David found a cure for polio.


Oso said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm happy you had such a wonderful mom and such a close relationship with her. Something a lot of people aren't able to achieve so you are blessed.

Welcome back.