Archive for November, 2010
In a very important move, the US Senate today passed significant Food Safety legislation by a vote of 73-25, a rare case of support by both parties!
The most extensive reform in this field since the 1930s, the legislation would allow the Food and Drug Administration to have new powers to force recalls, to increase inspections, oversee farming production, and hold companies accountable for their practices!
Action could be taken to prevent people from getting sick, rather than reacting after the fact of food poisoning!
Also, food imports would be monitored by the FDA, something not possible before!
While the House bill passed last year is stronger, the thought is that they will accept the Senate bill to insure that greater regulation can take place, even if it is not a perfect piece of legislation!
56 Democrats were joined by 15 Republicans and two Independents to pass the bill! The earlier Senatorial privilege delaying the bill that was initiated by Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was, thankfully, overcome!
The one disappointment is that 25 Republicans voted No, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Thune, among others! What kind of way to justify a No vote can only be imagined!
The nation is seeing how hard hearted, lacking in compassion, mean spirited, and narrow minded that the Republican Party of 2010 really is on so many issues in the lame duck session of Congress!
It seems unlikely that there will be an extension of unemployment compensation to desperate people who have no source of income, in a time of the worst economic conditions since the 1930s! But meanwhile, the GOP is standing firm to continue tax cuts to the wealthy, adding to the national debt over the next ten years!
The possibility of giving children of illegal immigrants an opportunity to have a decent future in America and move toward citizenship via the DREAM Act proposal sadly seems to be failing also to gain adequate GOP support!
The movement toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military also seems about to fail, despite Pentagon backing! Sadly, Senator John McCain is leading the fight against change, although in the past, he was supportive of the possibility of ending discrimination against gays in the military!
And despite the appeal of Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana that his party back the START Treaty with the Russian government, as a way to promote the cutting back of nuclear stockpiles and make a safer world, it also seems unlikely to gain enough Republican votes to make it through the Senate by the two thirds majority needed for a treaty!
The Republican Party of 2010 seems ready, now with a majority in the House of Representatives next year, to continue the total obstructionism that marked their performance in 2009-2010!
This is a gloomy foreboding of the next two years–that nothing will be accomplished, with the only question being who will be blamed in 2012 for this sad state of affairs–the GOP, the Democrats, or Barack Obama!
Senator John McCain showed his better side today in the Senate chamber when he rose to praise in an effusive way his colleague, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who was defeated in November by a Republican and Tea Party favorite Ron Johnson!
Without a doubt, the defeat of Senator Feingold was the worst loss for progressives of anyone in either house of Congress! McCain paid tribute to his partner in the McCain Feingold legislation, which unfortunately, has now been destroyed by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United Case!
But McCain also paid tribute to the principles and convictions of Senator Feingold, calling him courageous and dedicated, inspiring, a great role model and irreplaceable!
The country is the loser in the forced retirement of Senator Russ Feingold, and hopefully, somehow, we will see Russ Feingold in some other capacity in the future, as his wisdom and brilliance is sorely needed in the American future!
South Dakota Senator John Thune, often seen as a “dark horse” for the Presidency in 2012, and judged by the author to have the best chance to be that “dark horse” nominee, has now been judged by several political bettors to be the third most likely nominee of the GOP for 2012, just behind Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin!
His good looks, his “Presidential” appearance, his newness on the national scene, his lack of controversy, and his defeat in 2004 of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, all are seen as pluses for 2012! Instead of being a retread from earlier campaigns, Thune is seen as a fresh face who looks like a President should look, and comes across as more moderate even though he is a conservative!
So even though he ranks way down in the listing with only two percent recognition right now, don’t underestimate John Thune’s potential for 2012!
It could be the best opportunity for the GOP to offer an alternative candidate who could possibly win the mainstream, so sorely needed if the party is to have a real chance to win the Presidency!
Former Senator John Danforth, Senator Richard Lugar, And The Collapse Of The GOP As A Respectable Party! :(
Former Republican Senator John Danforth of Missouri, a well respected moderate conservative, has denounced the turn of the GOP toward the extreme right Tea Party Movement, and has declared that the Republican Party of history may be lost forever!
Danforth is particularly scathing of the refusal of the Republicans in the Senate to cooperate on the ratification of the START Treaty with the Russian government, an action denounced also by the very respectable and acknowledged expert on foreign policy, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar!
Lugar’s opposition to his own party on the START treaty, and to the Tea Party Movement, has led to a move to try to defeat him in 2012, a move that Danforth bitterly opposes as the end of rational policy and principle by the party that he sees rapidly deteriorating!
Danforth and Lugar are a few of the rare remnants of the Republican Party which once was a respectable mainstream party, but is rapidly descending into darkness as an extreme right wing, regressive party that is trying to return America to the era of the 1920s or the Gilded Age!
If Richard Lugar is in trouble, the country is the loser!
A Move Toward A Centrist Political Party, Called “No Labels”, And The Role Of Michael Bloomberg And Joe Scarborough!
At Columbia University in New York City, on December 13, a centrist group is going to form a “No Labels” centrist movement to promote civility in American politics.
Among those who will engage in this new movement are the following: Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City; former Republican Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough, MSNBC talk show host of “Morning Joe”; retiring Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana; Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; Democratic Senator Debby Stabenow of Michigan; former Republican Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia; Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut; Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles; and former Republican Governor Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey, among others!
The group is against hyper partisanship, and promotes civility, calm, reason, and cooperation. Prominent fundraisers are involved in the new movement, and the hope is to form chapters in all 50 states.
There is growing speculation that Mayor Bloomberg might run as an independent for President, and some even speculate that Joe Scarborough might seek the Presidency or run with Bloomberg for Vice President on an independent party ticket, although the “No Labels” group claims that is not the purpose of the organization being formed!
One thing for sure: Joe Scarborough has begun a full scale attack on the incompetence and inadequacy of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a possible candidate for the Presidency by the Republican Party, joining many others who feel the same way, including not only Barbara Bush and Karl Rove, but also conservative columnists Mona Charen, David Frum, and Peggy Noonan.
Certainly, if Bloomberg were to run, being the wealthiest political figure in the nation, with billions of dollars in assets, he could fund his own campaign, but the question is could he win over the country with his overly liberal views on social issues, and being a New York Jew! In an early poll, it shows he would only win about eleven percent of the vote, but in a dry run with President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, Obama would be the beneficiary, as Bloomberg would hurt Romney more than he would hurt Obama!
Here we are four weeks after the election, and still the Governorship race is not settled in Minnesota!
Democrat Mark Dayton, former Senator, leads Tom Emmer, the Republican and Tea Party favorite by a little over 8,000 votes, and the recount is still on, with Emmer challenging the result since it is within one percent or less of a lead held by Dayton.
This recount brings back memories of the Minnesota Senate race of 2008, which was ultimately won by Al Franken over Senator Norm Coleman by just a few hundred votes, after lawsuits and recounts that went on for six months!
Minnesota, once the state of such luminaries as Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Eugene McCarthy, and Paul Wellstone, today is the true epitome of a state with a split personality!
It has two Democratic Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, but it has had Tim Pawlenty, a very conservative Republican as its governor, and Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party and conservative Congresswoman, as another major factor in the increasingly conservative GOP, and the voters have been truly evenly split about the direction of the state, leading to the excruciatingly close results in these statewide elections!
Minnesota is truly now a microcosm of the political state of the nation, and it is not a promising political climate for the future!
As a result of the midterm elections of 2010, we see California becoming a state where Republicans are a dying breed, failing to win one statewide office, not gaining even one House seat, and losing any control over what the state legislature does in either house! It is hard to believe that at one point, the Republicans dominated the governorship and House and Senate seats, and that this was the state of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon!
But at the same time, the Democrats lost a couple of House seats in Florida, no longer have any influence in the state legislature, and failed to gain one statewide office, as the Republicans swept over the Democrats in all but black and Jewish areas of the Sunshine state. It is hard to remember that this was the state that once elected Bob Graham, Rubin Askew, and Lawton Chiles!
And Georgia, once the state of Jimmy Carter and Sam Nunn saw an equivalent GOP sweep, as did Texas and Oklahoma and Kansas among others!
At the same time, New York remained a dominant stronghold for the Democrats, as also occurred in Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, among other states!
Finally, the Midwest saw a major GOP gain in such states as Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa!
What this all tells us is that the nation is becoming more and more divided politically, as we see the development of two nations–the Northeast Atlantic Coast and the Pacific Coast as Democratic strongholds more than ever before, and the South and the Great Plains and much of the Mountain West more Republican, and the Midwest tending in the direction of the GOP!
The political flux is amazing, having witnessed what seemed like a permanent GOP gain in the early Bush II era, succeeded by what looked like a permanent Democratic gain under Obama, followed by what now seems like a major Republican gain that could be long lasting due to reapportionment being affected by their triumphs in the state legislative battles of 2010!
A Pentagon report on the issue of gays serving openly in the military is due out this week, and it is clear that 70 percent have no problem with the concept, much greater than earlier feelings toward Jews and African Americans in the 1940s and women in the 1970s and 1980s!
It is time for the Senate to follow the House of Representatives and end this discriminatory practice which is hurting our ability to fight terrorism and to recruit talented soldiers with specific skills needed in the military!
With Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen supportive of the change, and many others who were against the change in the past coming out for it, it is time for the Republicans to stop their resistance and support the change!
Since the military, by nature, is not a democracy in any case, it should not have been necessary to survey troops, as in the end, military forces follow orders and have to cope with whatever their commanders demand of them!
But now that the survey shows widespread support and tolerance, it is time for immediate action on this matter!
At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed, and millions are facing the loss of their homes, all of this caused by Wall Street, the banks, and the powerful corporations, we get news that the corporate world has seen its best quarter of economic growth and profits in the sixty years since such records have been kept!
While the elite flaunt their wealth and arrogance in the face of the “little people”, who they have helped to exploit and put into dire poverty and desperation, the country faces a social crisis of massive proportions, and yet it is the corporate wealthy who spent extreme amounts of money to put their Republican allies back into power on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives!
Against any regulation or reform of the Obama Administration, the intent of the super rich is to continue the exploitation of the masses that they have been engaged in during the past decade!
No amount of arrogance seems to be enough, as no matter how much profit these corporations make, and no matter how much personal materialism the super rich gain, it is never enough!
The level of selfishness and greed is unlimited, but there are signs that the social tensions that are rising as people become cornered and desperate might reverberate on all of us in increased bloodshed and violence by victims who see nothing to lose!
The situation we face is extremely scary, as constant exploitation could lead to violent revolution and destruction of the entire society, all because of the small percentage of the population who possess no ethics, no conscience, no morals in their pursuit of personal gain!
What a sad commentary it is that the American capitalistic system could be sowing the seeds of its own destruction through unwillingness to realize limits in the public interest!