Archive for May, 2010
The author will be on vacation from May 29 to June 8, so there will be no commentary for the next eleven days!
Upon my return from Seattle, and an Alaska cruise, I will catch up on important events and controversies!
Until then, happy reading, and hopefully a resolution of the BP oil spill, and avoidance of war in Korea, and no more attempted terrorist attacks on the homeland! Is that asking too much?
Last night, the House of Representatives adopted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as part of a military spending bill, just hours after the Armed Services Committee in the Senate agreed to such an outcome by a vote of 16-12, including Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Final action by the Senate is expected within weeks.
With Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, having signed on, the end of this discriminatory policy is within reach, after the final military review due by December of this year!
At a moment when there should be rejoicing, however, Senator John McCain of Arizona is creating barriers after having promised to back the change IF the military apparatus went along with the change. He and others in the Republican party continue to create obstructionism on the issue. It is sad to see McCain give up all his principles and dignity in his struggle to keep his Senate seat in the upcoming Arizona primary in August against former Congressman J. D. Hayworth!
But in addition to McCain’s delay tactics, right wing homophobes are creating propaganda and myths to try to stall the change in military policy!
Among their tactics are to claim:
1. Homosexual assault will multiply, with soldiers being fondled and having oral sex done on them in their sleep!
2. HIV tainted blood will become a widespread crisis in the military!
3. Adolf Hitler had a gay military, which was more brutal and vicious than a straight army would have been!
These ideas and assertions are totally outrageous and deplorable! We are being told that straight soldiers will be so deeply asleep that they will be attacked without their knowledge! This assumes that gays are so aggressive that they will bother with straight soldiers who have no desire for sexual contact! Also, the facts are that all soldiers are regularly blood tested, and anyone trying to be a soldier who is HIV positive is not allowed to serve! Also, the idea that gays were part of a special group under Adolf Hitler belies the fact that gays were one of the three groups of people specifically labeled and marked for mass execution, along with Jews and gypsies, and were required to wear pink triangles to identify them!
It is time for these despicable assertions by people who claim to be for the “family” and to have “Christian values” to be totally repudiated as simply signs of hate and intolerance!
It is amazing how time heals wounds!
Considering the “bad blood” that existed between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the Presidential primary race of 2008, and the strong criticism and attacks of her husband, President Bill Clinton against Obama, sometimes reaching an extreme stage, it is something to behold how both Clintons now defend President Obama to the hilt!
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a very loyal, supportive cabinet member, and has done a brilliant job in conducting foreign policy around the world, although of course, there is always room for criticism on some specifics, depending on one’s vision of the world!
But also, Hillary Clinton has now made clear her support of the President on budgetary matters and the national debt, comparing the much better economic conditions that her husband left to President George W. Bush, as compared to the sad situation financially that President Obama inherited from President Bush!
Additionally, President Clinton, in a commencement speech at Yale University, denounced the “birthers” and their continued assertion that President Obama was not born in the United States! He made reference to how the state of Hawaii has gone to all limits to prove that Obama was born in the 50th state, and how outraged he personally is that the mythology about Obama being born in Kenya continues to exist!
So the former Presidential couple have become fast supporters and advocates of the 44th President, and that is a good thing, and makes both Clintons look far better than they appeared during 2007-2008!
In the midst of overwhelming domestic issues, including the month long crisis over the British Petroleum oil spill and its effect on the Gulf of Mexico, and the resulting threat to the economic survival of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and possibly the whole Atlantic coast as well, Barack Obama cannot afford to ignore burgeoning foreign policy crises!
One would think that we are referring here to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, which certainly remain areas of great challenges for the United States!
But the fact that so many of our “native” terrorists seem to have had a connection to Pakistan makes that Muslim nation the center of great attention and concern by our government as well!
Add to that the continuing problem of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and their defiance of the West! Add to that the constant challenges of dealing with two super powers, in the sense of size and influence–China and Russia!
Also, now add to that list the growing threat of North Korea, which has been held responsible for an attack on a South Korean ship, which led to the death of 46 people on the vessel, and the reaction by both Koreas, leading to a real fear that another Korean conflict could be in the offing! When one realizes the devastation brought on by the Korean War from 1950-1953, the thought of a major war, which would engulf US forces there, and would require a full scale response by the United States in support of South Korea, is totally terrifying, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility!
Then add the problem of Venezuela, Somalia, Yemen, Burma, and even Mexico and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it is enough to say: “Why would anyone want the job of President of the United States?”
As Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post points out today, former Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska has become quite a star in the country, between her best selling book, her political appearances and endorsements, and her public speeches!
But what has NOT happened is a learning curve, the gaining of knowledge and facts about public affairs!
This is a woman who resists gaining information about public issues; has her own distorted view of reality; and loves to blame the media for her plight of being seen as a KNOW NOTHING, when it is all due to her own unwillingness to LEARN and become INFORMED, as any potential Presidential candidate must be!
Palin is milking the system as any good “capitalist” would do, earning an estimated $12 million so far this year, but she has done absolutely nothing to contribute anything positive or enlightening to public discourse! She has her “fans”, and knows how to play to the “crowd” for her own financial enrichment, but she utilizes “applause lines” without realizing that she often has a detrimental effect on dealing with the many public problems we face!
Rather than having an open mind, she is only comfortable in interviews on her sponsoring news channel, Fox News! She avoids interviews with anyone considered mainstream, or those who might challenge her world view or her ego!
To imagine such a vacuous individual as a serious presidential candidate, or God forbid, as our President is enough to engender nightmares, and this is not said to promote laughter, but serious consideration by the Republican party! This is not an issue of being “fair”! It is an issue of considering the interests and security of the American people!
We are NOT a nation who can experiment with someone who has less curiosity and interest than the average community college student or high school graduate! We NEED the BEST among us to lead our nation, not the so called “average Joe or Sally”!
Yesterday, a step was taken that should soon bring the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the US military!
Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, an Iraq War veteran, introduced an amendment to the military appropriations bill, which is also cosponsored by Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee!
It calls upon Congress to pass repeal, but the amendment provides a delay in implementation until December, after a full study has been completed by the military, headed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff head, Admiral Mike Mullen.
It seems as if the only barrier now to passage is two fold: Some Democrats seem unwilling to endorse the idea, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Jim Webb of Virginia. Also, there is a search for a few Republicans to sign on, including Scott Brown, who so far seems resistant, even though his state (Massachusetts) allows gay marriage and is highly in favor of the end of the military ban on gays.
Additionally, House Republicans and many Senate Republicans seem willing to vote down the military appropriations bill if the amendment proposed by Murphy, Lieberman, and Levin is included in it!
It is absolutely amazing how most Republicans will constantly vote against anything that favors minorities or gays! How can they call themselves representative of the American people when they demonstrate so much bias, and willingness to discriminate?
The hope is that the ban on gays in the military is, indeed, nearing, its end!
The continuing crisis over the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is making it very obvious what must be done, not just involving BP, but really all corporations, whether in energy, banking, automobiles, insurance, as well as all other industries and areas of the economy!
The answer is that the “sweetheart” deal between politicians and the capitalist business world MUST stop! If this is not a clear indication that we have allowed the aura of “capitalism” to dominate our political system, and allowed the glorification of unregulated business and industry to destroy our country, then what will finally convince us that the answer is NOT the Tea Party Movement that is anti government, but rather a “Government of the People, By the People, and For the People”!
We need a “progressive” government that will never again allow the kinds of abuses in all fields of capitalistic business and industry that led to the Great Depression of 1929-39, and again has led to the Great Recession of 2007 to who knows what year we will finally recover!
Tens of millions of Americans have become victims of unbridled capitalism and poor regulation! There is a place for private capitalism, but under strict regulation and oversight, with no corruption by government bureaucrats!
This is not calling for socialism or loss of economic freedom, but instead for economic and social responsibility of all fields of business and industry to the American people! We need to demand a responsive government, as well as a responsible capitalistic system that pursues the profit motive, but with a sense of ethics and morality, and the effects of what they do upon average Americans, who just want a fair shake and a chance to be part of the American dream!
Right now, in 2010, millions of Americans are being cheated, and being denied that opportunity, and that is a crime of massive proportions!
As the Progressives of the early 20th century advocated and pursued, we want a country with economic opportunity, social justice, and political democracy!
A high school history teacher in Georgia, Catherine Ariemma, used absolutely horrible judgment by having her students dress up as the Ku Klux Klan in order to teach her students about racism!
This was done without notice to administrators, parents, or other students, and the “Klan” students walked into the cafeteria as African American students were eating lunch, and this display obviously shocked them!
This teacher had to be totally stupid to believe that this is the only way to teach a concept such as racism! What about showing a film about racism? What about reading documents about racism?
For a teacher to do this without authorization, and displaying such poor judgment, she should, at the least, be suspended and fined, but realistically, one has to wonder about her ability to teach! It is arguable that she should be fired, and told to find another profession! This is totally inexcusable behavior that can have a deleterious effect, not only on the African American students who were the victims, but also the white students who were involved in the display of Ku Klux Klan clothing and behaviors!
States Rights Vs. The Federal Constitution: Senator Robert Menendez, The Tea Party Movement And Recall
The Tea Party Movement is at it again, now challenging New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez by pursuing a recall campaign in the New Jersey State Supreme Court.
More than a decade ago, New Jersey passed a change in its state constitution, allowing for recall of members of Congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and it has not been challenged in court since its inception.
There is no debate over the fact that the recall concept can be utilized in any state, if put into its constitution, against STATE officials, such as the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and other office holders. While rarely used, it certainly received great attention due to the California recall against Governor Gray Davis in 2003. Also, Mayor Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, Ohio, faced a recall vote in 1979, which he won, and today he is a Congressman from Cleveland who has run for President twice!
But NEVER in American history has a sitting member of either house of Congress been subject to recall, as they are FEDERAL officials, not state officeholders, and only their own legislative bodies may judge their fitness for office, and whether they should be seated, censured, or expelled!
The Tea Party Movement claims that the Tenth Amendment comes into play here, but they are totally off base, and IF the state supreme court were to rule in their favor, the case would have to go to the US Supreme Court, which it is hard to imagine would rule in their favor. Such a scenario would lead to true chaos in the halls of Congress, as one must realize that the true constitutional manner to register disillusionment with a member of either house of Congress is to vote them out when House members come up for election every two years, and when Senators come up for election every six years!
Just the fact of unhappiness with a series of votes should NOT be the basis for a recall vote! It is a victory of chaos and anarchy, and TOTALLY unconstitutional!
This is just further evidence of how reactionary and loony and anarchistic the right wing populism of the Tea Party Movement is becoming, something that the Republican party should reflect upon as more of a curse, than a blessing to them, and the whole political system!
The Republican party is expected to gain seats in both houses of Congress in the midterm elections of 2010, as it is traditional and normal for the party out of the White House to gain seats at the midpoint of the Presidential term.
But the GOP lost seven special elections for the House of Representatives since the election in 2008, including the seat held by the late John Murtha in Pennsylvania, where an aide to Murtha kept the seat in Democratic hands by a hefty margin! While they finally won the special election in Hawaii, in the district where President Obama was born, they only won 40 percent of the vote, with two Democrats in an open election dividing the other 60 percent, so it is expected that one of these Democrats in November will reclaim the traditional House Democratic seat for the next Congress.
Also, the Tea Party Movement is a true burden, as it can distort the GOP record and its stands on issues, as most Republicans are NOT libertarian or anarchistic! For instance, the nomination of Rand Paul for the Senate seat in Kentucky is causing private grief and discomfort for Mitch McConnell and main stream Republicans across the country, who don’t know quite how to react to Paul!
Other Tea Party favorites across the country also are expected to cause headaches for the Republicans, including Sue Lowden in Nevada, who is thought to be a “loose cannon”, who makes the likelihood of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid keeping his seat more of a likely scenario than thought just a few months ago!
Will the Republicans be able to gain the support of moderates and independents as conditions likely improve economically over the next five months, and with Barack Obama still keeping his personal popularity?
But on the other hand, when one considers that many people, who Obama campaigned for, have lost their gubernatorial races (Virginia, New Jersey) and Senate races (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania), one has to also wonder does Barack Obama have coattails?
Obviously, there is a lot to think about and analyze and observe about the American political system over the next five months!