Archive for June, 2009
As we finish June, the Republican Party is further self destructing, without any help from Democrats!
Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina, is digging a deeper hole for himself, and making one wonder about his sanity. He keeps on talking about his Argentine lover, who he calls his "soulmate", and who he admits to have met seven, not three times; says he "crossed the line", but did not have sex with several other women over the years; says that he will not leave office because "God" wants him to stay in office; and with all this said, he will attempt to "fall back in love" with his wife, who has already made it clear that her life is centered on her four sons and the building of their character, not on his career.
Rush Limbaugh this week is also acting irrationally, having stated that Mark Sanford was so upset over President Obama and his agenda that it caused him to leave the country to escape the pressure, forgetting that this affair and trips outside the country began under the administration of President Bush, not Obama. Also, Rush said that Obama intended to stay in office beyond 2016, even though the 22nd Amendment only allows any President two complete terms in office, and even if the amendment were changed, it would not affect the President in office at the time. These statements border on lunacy and also paranoia, and it makes one wonder if Rush is about to be admitted to a mental hospital, maybe because he is overdosing on painkillers illegally obtained, as is part of his history!
Michele Bachmann had already said she was worried that filling out the Census of 2010 would lead to too much information in the hands of the government, so that she would not cooperate with the Census Bureau, and suggested that her constituents also refuse to fill out the census forms. Of course, if only a few thousand people follow her lead, it would reduce the Minnesota congressional delegation by one House member, and it would be likely that her district would be merged into another, and she would lose her seat! So, Michele, PLEASE promote this, so we can get rid of you and your moronic presence in the House of Representatives, as you make no contribution, except to promote hate and division in America!
If the Democrats tried to create these characters, they could not do as good a job as the Republicans are in destroying themselves!
Finally, after almost eight long months, and six months since the new Senate convened, former talk show host Al Franken has been declared the winner of the contested Minnesota Senate seat by a unanimous vote of the state Supreme Court.
Also, former Senator Norm Coleman has finally conceded the race, therefore ending the longest struggle for a Senate seat at least in modern times if not all time.
It has been a very frustrating half year as Minnesota has been denied half of its Senate membership despite the fact that Franken was ahead from the original recount onward, but Coleman decided to pursue all avenues and was encouraged by his party and many Senate colleagues.
The margin of victory may have been only a few hundred votes, but democracy did not win out until finally the situation was mercifully ended this afternoon.
This development gives the Democrats 60 votes, IF all of the 58 Democrats and Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders work together, but of course the reality is that there is not unanimity on all legislation and on philosophy, so probably the idea of a filibuster proof Senate is more illusion than reality.
However, the seating of Al Franken, who I believe will add his intellect and personality to the betterment of the Senate, is a good thing, and I applaud the end of the electoral mess today!
The House of Representatives passed the Climate Change bill by the narrow margin of 219-212 on Friday, but losing a substantial number of "blue dog" Democrats while gaining a small number of Republicans.
The highly controversial bill is designed to deal with the long range problem of global warming and move the nation away from fossil fuels over a long period of time, and it will likely raise energy costs for most, if not all, Americans.
This is regrettable, but it seems to me unavoidable, as we have been too dependent on fossil fuels and ignored moving on this topic as far back as the Carter Administration. Jimmy Carter had many faults in office, but he looks now like a sage by his attempt to deal with the energy crisis, which was lost when the Congress turned more conservative with the gaining of a substantial number of Republican seats in the midterm 1978 elections.
Our failure to come to grips with the energy and environmental crisis thirty years ago has come home to roost, and now we have no choice but to "bite the bullet" and face the crisis head on.
Barack Obama is showing great courage in confronting this issue early on in his term, realizing that if he does not succeed now, it is unlikely that it will be accomplished during this term, and that the odds of success now are the greatest they will be in his time in office. Now it is up to the Senate to face the reality of the energy and environmental crisis and work with the House to pass a bill that can be signed by the President this year.
With the destruction of two potential candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012 (John Ensign and Mark Sanford) due to marital infidelity, the Republican field has narrowed considerably. However, the decline in fortune of some also leads to the growing role of others, as is seen by the appointment by Senate Republicans of John Thune of South Dakota as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth highest position within the party leadership.
This position gives Thune the opportunity to develop policy alternatives for the party in the Senate and put him more onto the national stage. This, plus his good looks, his oratorical ability, his youth, and the fact that there are no other Senators considered likely as presidential candidates at this moment, elevates him to the real possibility of a Presidential candidacy in 2012, if with his big war chest, he can win reelection in South Dakota in 2010, which at this point is seen as likely.
So even with some potential candidates falling off the list, at least one more can now be said to have been added.
President Obama achieved a great result when he announced a few days ago that prescription drug companies had agreed to lower by half the prices of name brand prescription drugs for senior citizens on Medicare.
The problem with the Medicare Part D plan is that there is a "donut hole" where senior citizens have no protection, starting after $2700 in drug costs, and continuing to the threshold of $6100. Now the prices being cut in half for that gap of costs will be a boon to those who certainly cannot afford the expense.
Obama is to be commended for working with the drug companies and getting this concession. Also, the drug companies should be commended for understanding what their responsibility is to senior citizens.
Attorney General Eric Holder testified today before a Senate committee on the need for a federal hate crimes bill to supplement state laws across the country, so as to be certain that no hate crime perpetrator falls between the cracks and avoids prosecution.
This is a necessary step to protect people based not only on race, religion, and national origin, but also disability and sexual orientation. There are growing numbers of cases of attacks on people of Hispanic origin because of the illegal immigration controversy, as well as crimes against gays. The recent spate of hate crimes, including those against the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the murder of the abortion doctor in Kansas, and the murder of the military recruiter in Arkansas, necessitates full prosecution under federal law, as well as state laws, to crack down on this series of disgraceful events.
And yet, in the midst of this reality, we get some conservative Republicans, including Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, questioning the need for such legislation, on the basis of states rights. They seem to be blind to the reality of what is going on, and the administration needs to work full time to overcome this ridiculous opposition and accomplish the passage of this law as soon as possible!
A new CBS poll shows 57 percent of those polled have a positive image of the Democratic party, the highest such rating in the past ten years.
Only 32 percent have a negative rating, and the lower ratings of Democrats over the past ten years were due to the conservative Republican offensive against Bill Clinton and Al Gore, followed by eight years of the Bush Administration, with the Democrats in disarray until the midterm congressional elections of 2006.
This is, obviously, a great development for the Obama Presidency, but the question arises whether they can unite to accomplish the multiple goals of President Obama in this early stage of the term. This is certainly the best opportunity to achieve the ambitious agenda of Obama, but unfortunately, there are major splits in the Democratic party among liberals, moderates, and "blue dog" Democrats, with the latter unwilling to go the distance for the administration on many issues.
It will be a real test for the President and the party to attempt to move ahead despite internal opposition and lack of cooperation from the Republican membership in Congress. We are in a moment of history being made or, maybe, being stalled, as under Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. We can only hope for the best, and we need to unite around the President!
So now it comes out that Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina was unfaithful to his wife, following up on two weeks ago when Senator John Ensign of Nevada was revealed as having an affair with the wife of a Senate staffer.
The Republican Party has seen the collapse of its image in the months since its defeat nationally last fall. Sanford and Ensign were both seen as possible GOP nominees, and now both have lost all credibility. But add to this the embarassments of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin since the election; the claim of Texas Governor Rick Perry that secession was an option for his state; the horrible performance of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in response to Barack Obama’s first address to Congress in February; and the divisive and vehement statements of former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich in recent months.
The Repubican image is now one of promoting family values and, at the same time, being totally hypocritical, and it is really hurting the chances of the party to recover from its 2008 electoral defeat. There is nothing worse than an "holier than thou" image followed up by constant actions that promote total destruction of the message being promoted.
As one looks at the wreckage of the party, it seems the ONLY people left on the list of potential GOP candidates for President would include Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota; Haley Barbour of Mississippi; Charlie Crist of Florida; and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. I would also add Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania as a possible additional candidate. The interesting point here is that all of the above were Governors, and only Crist might be a Senator after the 2010 election. The Republicans in the Senate are such a sorry lot that it is hard to imagine even one of the 40 Republican senators being a Presidential candidate at this time.
As I have said at other times, the Republican party faces the chance that it may become extinct and be replaced by a new, more moderate and mainstream party over time, since it offers little alternative at this point to the opposition administration.
Thank goodness the Supreme Court upheld the continuation of the Voting Rights Act in a case just decided, but it did allow a specific jurisdiction in Austin, Texas, to come out from under the regulation of the law.
This, it seems to me, sets a bad standard for the future, so is regrettable. But even more disturbing, is that one Justice, Clarence Thomas, the only African American member of the court, kept up his prima donna image of resisting his own heritage and experience, by declaring that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states get advance approval of changes in how their elections are conducted, should be declared unconstitutional.
Thomas’s reasoning is that the conditions in the South that led to the Voting Rights Act no longer exists, and therefore the oversight is no longer needed. Thomas seems not to have studied US History and the abuses visited on African Americans in the years after the Civil War, despite the existence of the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed anyone of race or color the right to vote, and yet was totally diobeyed for nearly 75 years.
While certainly those kinds of abuses no longer exist, history tells us that Congress, and even President Bush, in calling for the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006, knew that it was still necessary. The idea that the only minority Justice would be the lone one to call for the repeal condemns him to ricidule and ostracism, something which probably has no effect on this man, indeed an odd duck if there ever was one on the Supreme Court!
Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, may be a conservative in his voting record, but one must say that he is a responsible conservative when it comes to rhetoric and diplomacy.
This weekend, Lugar spoke up in support of how Obama is handling the Iran crisis, and suggested that it was essential that this nation sit down with the Iranian government in order to negotiate on important differences between the two nations.
Instead of demagoguing as many Republicans have been doing, Lugar showed measured judgment, and willingness to be fair in his assessment of events in the Middle East.
For this, I say I applaud Senator Lugar and recognize him for what he has always been: a statesman and man of principle!