Month: June 2010

Rick Barber, GOP Congressional Candidate In Alabama, A Total Embarrassment! :(

This has been an unusual year, what with all of the Tea Party Movement activities, and the candidacies of such luminaries as Rand Paul in Kentucky, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and others! :(

But it is possible that the author has just witnessed the absolutely worst, looniest candidate who could be imagined to exist in the “real” world! :(

I am referring to the interview, just a short time ago on Chris Matthews’ show on MSNBC, of Republican Congressional candidate Rick Barber in the 2nd District race in Alabama, who is facing a runoff for the GOP nomination! :(

Barber has been calling for revolution against the national government, and utilizing the Founding Fathers (in the form of actors) in his campaign commercials! :(

He agreed to an interview with Matthews, and advocated getting rid of the 16th Amendment (Income Tax), and promoting instead a national sales tax of 23 percent! :(

Barber came across as totally asinine, stupid, moronic, dense, irrational, and any other insulting adjective one could conjure up! :(

He makes Rand Paul and Sharron Angle look like geniuses, and yet as a Congressional candidate in Alabama, which has become very GOP oriented, he has a good shot at being elected to the House, replacing a Democrat, and joining such luminaries as Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Steve King of Iowa, and other nutcakes who embarrass themselves and the House of Representatives every time they utter a statement to the media or on the floor of the chamber! :(

Why is it that in a country of 300 plus million people, that we cannot get intelligent, sensible people in the Republican party to run for public office? These loony candidates and office holders do a great injustice to the historic traditions and reputation of the Republican party! :(

The GOP, now 156 years old, deserves far better than it is receiving, as a major political party which has traditions to honor and respect! :(

Rand Paul And Creationism: Refusal To Answer Question On Age Of The Earth! :(

Rand Paul, the GOP and Tea Party Movement nominee for the Senate in Kentucky, is facing a new controversy! :(

He was asked how old the Earth is, and did he believe, as Creationists believe, that we are on a planet which is only 6,000 years old?

His refusal to answer indicates his awareness that this is a loaded question, considering the number of evangelical Christians who truly believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, and that mankind inhabited the earth alongside dinosaurs! :(

This creationist belief continues to dominate fundamentalist Christian belief, despite the preposterous nature of the idea, and defies all scientific evidence that refutes it! :(

There is even a Creationist Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, just seven miles west of the Cincinnati, Ohio airport! :(

Rand Paul is not the only Senate nominee or Senator or Congressman who clearly believes in Creationism! Many believe it, or claim to believe it when asked, including several of the GOP Presidential candidates in 2008! And Senators such as Oklahoma Senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn have proudly proclaimed their beliefs in the concept! :(

The thought that intelligent people could totally defy the realities of scientific research is just as amazing as those who say that there is no climate change or global warming! :(

The old saying is that you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink!

The fact that Rand Paul will not answer the question will, ironically, probably help him win support from the Religious Right, which furiously promotes Creationism! However, it is hoped that there are enough people in Kentucky who will use their brains, rather than their religiosity, when they vote for US Senator in November! :(

Idaho Moves To The Lunatic Right: A Call To Nullification And Repeal Of The 17th Amendment!

The state of Idaho is remembered in its past for having had a couple of outstanding Senators (Republican William Borah and Democrat Frank Church), and a conservationist minded Governor who became an exceptional Secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter (Cecil Andrus).

But Idaho, otherwise, is primarily recalled as the home of the Idaho Potato and of a number of white supremacist, racist groups, who feel comfortable in a state with a very small percentage of minorities!

Idaho has moved now to the Lunatic Right, if one examines the Republican state convention’s actions and resolutions!:(

The GOP wants to return to the right of nullification, which John C. Calhoun of South Carolina advocated, almost caused civil war under Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, and was a factor in the Civil War in the 1860s! Supposedly, nullification died as a result of the Union victory in that war, but suddenly it has reared its ugly head again!:(

The state convention also called for the repeal of the direct election of Senators, a democratizing idea that became part of the Constitution in 1913, but which now is opposed by the Tea Party elements who dominate that state’s GOP, just as in Utah a month ago. So the state legislatures should again control the Senate, even though the state corruption level and corporate control was endemic at the time! Is this progress toward the people having the final say on their Senators? The answer is obvious! :(

Additionally, the Republican party calls for retaking national parks and other public lands back from the US government, reversing what Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Cecil Andrus and other environmentalists spent their public life promoting! How that is to be done is not made clear! :(

Idaho Republicans want to promote the full enforcement of the Tenth Amendment with emphasis on state sovereignty being dominant, as if the state is an independent entity, which it is not, under our Constitution! :(

Really bringing back the 19th century, another proposal is to promote “hard money”, the use of gold and silver, instead of paper money, as the legal tender utilized by Idaho citizens! This is truly a loony idea, with no means of enforcement!

Socially, Idaho Republicans want to promote traditional marriage, but specifically say that transgender individuals should also not be allowed to marry, thereby failing to recognize the reality of some people being born in a way that no one would wish on their worst enemy! Is there a need to discriminate against such individuals? :(

Idaho Republicans are going the way of states including Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and South Carolina–putting all these states on a short list of states that are moving toward the lunatic fringe! :(

The intelligent citizens of these states need to speak up and to defend the good name of their states, as the GOP is certainly NOT doing so, instead inviting ridicule! :(

Republican Senators Attack Thurgood Marshall’s Judicial Philosophy! :(

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has handled herself well today, her first full day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee!

But it is obvious that Republican Senators are out to condemn the judicial philosophy and reputation of the first African American to serve on the Court, Thurgood Marshall, appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, and serving until his retirement in 1991! :(

Kagan served as a law clerk under Marshall, and reveres him in an appropriate way! But, of course, conservatives hate him, as he was the lawyer in the Brown V. Board of Education case in 1954, and was an unabashed liberal on the Supreme Court! His goal was to care about the average American, not just the rich and powerful, which unfortunately is who the Republicans care about when it comes to the law! :(

To Republicans, “activist” conservatives such as the four on the Court now, are just fine and, of course, are NOT “activist”! :(

But god forbid to have “activist” liberals such as Marshall, or William Brennan, or Earl Warren, or Harry Blackmun, or Louis Brandeis on the Court, because they might actually shape the Court to do what is best for the people, rather than the corporations that this conservative Court so adores! :(

As the New Republic declared today, the Supreme Court desperately needs a Louis Brandeis to shape the future of constitutional law!

The question is whether Elena Kagan has the potential to do that, and how the future of the Court might be affected by an activist in the mold of Thurgood Marshall or Louis Brandeis! It seems possible that she could, indeed, fill that role! But of course, there is no way to forecast the future, but we can hope for the best!

Rapid Rail System Needed For Economic Growth And To Get Off Oil Obsession!

America is in deep trouble economically, and the unemployment rate is not expected to improve anytime soon! :(

America is in desperate need of creation of employment producing something, and the ideal thing to do is develop a nationwide rapid rail system to promote economic growth and get the country off its oil obsession!

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln continued to promote the development of the Transcontinental Railroad, which changed the whole economy of the country for the long run!

Dwight D. Eisenhower became the promoter of the greatest public works project in history, when he advocated the Interstate Highway system, which led to the greatest economic expansion in American history, in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s!

An updated transportation system that could move people rapidly and with convenience and less cost than automobile driving would revolutionize the country’s economy long run, and make the country less dependent on foreign oil and domestic oil drilling!

President Obama needs to promote this rail system as part and parcel of the economic growth that would revive the American economy sooner, rather than later!

The Supreme Court And Gun Rights: An Activist Conservative Court! :(

The Supreme Court yesterday, in its final day of decisions before the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, dealt a blow to sanity by extending gun rights beyond the Washington DC case of two years ago to Chicago, and by implication, to other big cities where gun violence is widespread and frequent!

The National Rifle Association hailed the ruling as a winner for gun owners, but it is actually a victory for more extensive death by gun fire than it is a victory for individual rights to own a gun! :(

This activist conservative Supreme Court has distorted the meaning of the Second Amendment which was meant to cover militias in the states, not the right of citizens to own an unlimited number of handguns, leading now to over 275 million handguns in private hands!

With the growing diversity of our population, and the tensions that grow between people based on race, ethnicity and religion, gun violence will grow! :(

One of the biggest groups that will suffer from this are the youth of America in the cities, with Chicago an excellent example of the dangers of being minority youth in that city, with 258 shot last year, and 32 dying! :(

Chief Justice John Roberts led the traditional 5-4 majority, including Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy. It is ironic that Roberts, in his confirmation hearings five years ago, talked about a Justice being an “umpire” calling balls and strikes, rather than hitting or pitching, and yet this Court has become the most activist in a conservative direction since the 1920s and early 1930s! They are doing extremist things, of the kind that if activist liberals did so, the Republicans in the Senate would condemn them!

Conservatives love to talk against activism on the Court, but it is conservative activism that is harming democracy and stability in this nation!

This is important to consider as the Republicans set out to attack nominee Elena Kagan as too activist! If Kagan’s record is called activist, then we need more of that to balance off the extremists in charge of the Supreme Court in a very difficult economic time, too reminiscent of the Great Depression! :(

The Passing Of Senator Robert Byrd: A Mixed Legacy!

Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the longest serving Senator in US history, and the longest serving Congressional member in American history, passed away this morning at the age of 92 years and seven months!

There is no question that Senator Byrd was a path breaking and historic Senator in the history of that chamber! He served nearly four years longer than Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who had set the longevity record! By serving 51 and a half years in the Senate and six in the House of Representatives, he broke the record late last year of Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona, who had served 56 years combined in both houses of Congress!

Senator Byrd also showed a tremendous amount of growth in his half century in Congress! He came in as a former Ku Klux Klansman in his youth and as an opponent of civil rights, and conducted a long filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964! :( But he came to recognize the wrong of what he had done and believed, and changed his mind and his actions in later years, and even said he was wrong in 1964!

This was a man who came up from poverty and poor white heritage, went to law school later in life, and never forgot what it was to be poor, and he showed it toward his home state’s poor!

He was Senate Majority Leader for a period of time, and long time Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he diverted billions of dollars to his home state, one of the poorest in the nation, something that his home state deeply appreciated!

But of course, this was highly controversial, and Byrd became known as the Senator of “pork” or what is now called “earmarks”, which he saw as perfectly legitimate, but is now decried even by those who utilize it the most, and are showing their hypocrisy! :(

Byrd became infamous for inappropriate comments over the years, but he was also acknowledged as an expert on the US Constitution, and published four volumes on the history of the Senate! He revered the institution, and always made it clear that he served WITH eleven US Presidents, NOT UNDER them!

He believed that the Congress had to stand in the way of too much presidential power, and was bitterly opposed to Richard Nixon during Watergate, and George W. Bush during the buildup to the Iraq War!

Byrd was not afraid to speak his mind, and did not care how the media or his colleagues in either party reacted to his thoughts and ideas! He was truly a man of courage and principles, even though many might not agree with some of them!

He was, by his longevity, Senate President Pro Tempore, which meant he was technically third in line of Presidential succession under the Congressional law of 1947!

This is a man who had been against liberalism and everything it represented, but over time became close to the “Liberal Lion”, Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts! Byrd wept when Kennedy was ill and when he passed away ten months ago! He became well respected and honored even by those who did not share his viewpoints and partisanship!

Senator Byrd was NOT a great Senator in the sense of creation of legislation or having a tremendous effect on the evolution of the Senate, but he added a lot to the chamber by his presence and his wisdom as the years went by!

He will be missed, despite his mixed legacy, and this is a time to honor him with a state funeral worthy of one of the leading figures in Senate leadership history!

“The Progressive Professor” Away For Long Weekend, Back On June 28!

I will be away from later today (Thursday) to Monday morning June 28, visiting my son in Washington, DC, and exploring nearby Baltimore, specifically Camden Yards (home of the Baltimore Orioles), the Babe Ruth Birthplace, historic sites and museums, and the Inner Harbor area.

Of course, news and politics continues, and I will catch up on whatever transpires after I return! :)

Progress On Gay Rights Under Obama Accelerating!

Gays and lesbians have been unhappy with the pace of change on gay rights, having expected more immediate action by the Obama Administration.

But, 17 months into the term of the President, real progress is being made, and the rhetoric has also been upgraded by both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates!

On Tuesday, both Obama and Clinton spoke up in strong language at a gathering of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans at the White House to commemorate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month!

Obama outlined what has been done: a hate crimes law; extension of federal benefits to gay employees; promotion of an employee discrimination bill; extension of medical leave to gay parents of sick or newborn children; the push on to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military; access to HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment around the world; assistance to human rights activists who are gay or promote gay rights and are persecuted around the world; and the providing of information by American embassies in Africa and elsewhere on the treatment of gays and lesbians in those countries.

Hillary Clinton emphasized at the gathering that gay rights are part of human rights, and President Obama was cheered and applauded vigorously by the attendees, as they realize his administration is really making progress that no one could have imagined before his election!

The Potential Influence Of Nikki Haley In GOP Politics In 2012!

South Carolina Republicans nominated 38 year old state representative Nikki Haley for Governor on Tuesday, and it has attracted a lot of interest!

Why, one might ask? There are several reasons!

First, Haley would be the first woman governor in South Carolina history!

Secondly, she was accused of sexual liaisons with two different men, and denied both, and it had no effect on her being chosen by the voters!

Third, she was backed by outgoing Governor Mark Sanford, whose reputation has been in the toilet since it was revealed he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina, behind the backs of his wife and fellow South Carolinians, who wondered where had disappeared for a period of days last year!

Fourth, she was endorsed by Sarah Palin, and is seen as a similar conservative rallying point for many Republicans nationwide! She could also help Palin in the South Carolina presidential primary in 2012!

Fifth, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made a major financial and campaigning commitment to Haley, and might also be helped in return by Haley in a 2012 Presidential race!

Sixth, Haley is an Indian American, and would become the second person from that Asian country (after Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana), to become a high ranking leader as the Governor of another Southern state, improving the image of the Palmetto state, which it badly needs!

Seventh, the fact that Haley was born as a Sikh, and converted to Methodism at age 24, became an issue when her primary opponent, and evangelical Christians, brought up the issue of whether she was a “good Christian”! By overcoming that religion issue, the issue of religion mattering in choosing a nominee may have been retired as a controversy, which could help Mitt Romney (a Mormon) if he competed in the Republican nomination contest in 2012!

Finally, Haley is another attractive conservative woman, just like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, but it is hoped she will come across as more substantive and less divisive than her cohorts! :(

Some feel that IF she is elected Governor, she could be a candidate for Vice President, and in the long term, the Presidency!

Imagine–a young, attractive woman of Asian Indian heritage–as a possible future national leader! Certainly, she will be worthy of notice and attention! For her sake, hopefully, she will not self destruct as others have been prone to do! :(