Archive for May, 2011
As May ends, and as Sarah Palin exploits the American people with her bus tour of great historical sites in the Northeast, acting similarly to a person who has never visited these sites and is wide eyed in a naive way about what she sees, but at the same time is toying with us about a possible Presidential candidacy, it is time for a respite from the political “battles”!
Therefore, the “Progressive Professor”, while keeping track of events in public affairs over the next week, will be away on vacation in Montreal and Quebec City, Canada from today, May 31, to June 7.
Upon my return, commentary will resume about events and controversies that may have arisen in my absence, with the certainty that there will be topics worthy of discussion. So until a week from now, the best of wishes to all my readers, and look forward to seeing you on my website after I return!
There has been a divided response to President Obama’s proposal that Israel and the Palestinians come to an agreement to return to the pre 1967 War boundary lines, but with agreed upon “land swaps” to create viable, contiguous boundaries for both Israel and a Palestinian state.
Many major Jewish organizations, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, criticized the statement, with Netanyahu doing so eyeball to eyeball in the Oval Office before cameras, and also in a speech to a joint session of Congress, allowing the Republicans in Congress to attack the President’s stand.
Of course, it was all politics on the part of Netanyahu to keep the control of his unstable coalition government in Israel, and also politics on the part of the Republicans, who are so used to lies and deception on a regular basis!
The fact is that earlier Prime Ministers of Israel, including Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, had understood what Obama said, and George W. Bush had made the same statement a few times during his Presidency, along with Bill Clinton in his last year in the White House!
The understanding was clear to those who wished to notice, that Obama was NOT calling upon Israel to give up stable boundaries, and therefore the statement about “land swaps”, which is very different from the unstable situation before the 1967 war.
Also, Obama understood the need for Arab recognition of Israel, and that Israel could not deal with a terrorist government of Hamas as part of a Palestinian negotiating team, and that the US would be against recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations until the Palestinians recognized Israel’s right to exist!
Obama was not demanding any territorial concessions, unless agreed to by the participants in the negotiation, and it is clear that division of Jerusalem, or return of the Golan Heights is unlikely.
But Israel trying to continue to have control of heavily Palestinian territories in the West Bank would be a long term nightmare, and as long as areas of Jewish settlement are secure in Israeli hands, the argument is that Israel is fighting a losing demographic battle with the Palestinians, and should not want occupation of areas that are hard to govern, so should wish for peace, as long as they have a willing partner, which right now seems highly unlikely, in any case.
All that Obama is trying to accomplish is the movement forward in negotiations, but with understanding that there is no quick or easy fix likely at any time in the future!
Today is Memorial Day, when we honor the sacrifices of our veterans in all of our wars and military engagements, and there is not any way to fully repay these heroes who have kept us free, and preserved our democracy and way of life!
But in the midst of honoring them, the facts are clear: We talk up a great storm of praise for our military warriors, but do not treat them properly once they return home!
We have lost about 1,700 in Afghanistan, and about 4,400 in Iraq, who made the ultimate sacrifice, leaving behind bereaved wives, children, parents, siblings, and friends, who will never be the same after the loss of their loved ones.
But we also have about 35,000 veterans of the recent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have in many cases been severely injured, losing limbs and often part of their skulls, and have a tough time adjusting to their handicaps.
But also, we have many veterans who have emotional and mental problems caused by their combat experiences, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and have difficulty coping with every day civilian life as a result. We also have 156 veterans who have committed suicide in the past year, as well as 5 percent of all veterans being homeless, and an unemployment rate among veterans of 27 percent!
More needs to be done regarding education, health care, housing, and personal intervention by trained personnel who can help veterans in emotional trouble, and we cannot allow budget matters to interfere, as long as we continue to fund defense industries with projects often full of waste, fraud and abuse!
Human needs must be paramount in respect of the contributions that our veterans have given to this nation!
Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, the greatest single loss for liberals and progressives in the 2010 Midterm Elections, is way ahead in a Wisconsin poll in the battle for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Senator Herb Kohl, and that is good news!
Feingold, who is now operating the political action committee called Progressives United, has not said that he would seek to return to the Senate, but the feeling among liberals and progressives is that he is essential as part of their message for the political future of the Democratic Party.
Always a bit of a rebel on the left, along with Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Feingold represents the heritage of Wisconsin Progressivism started by Robert La Follette, Sr., continued by his sons Robert La Follette, Jr. and Philip La Follette, all Republicans, and carried on by Democrats including William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson!
All pressure needs to be brought on Feingold to assure that he makes the race, and returns to the Senate, representing a state which has had misfortune with Governor Scott Walker and his anti labor legislation, and Congressman Paul Ryan, with his plan to to destroy Medicare as we know it!
President John F. Kennedy was born on this day in 1917, and certainly, when the centennial of his birth occurs in 2017, it will be a time of national celebration that no President of the past 50 years can match except Ronald Reagan, who had his centennial in February!
But it is not just the anniversary of Kennedy’s birth that should be noted, but the fact that the week that he was about to turn 44, he announced in a speech to Congress his goal of landing a man on the moon before 1970!
Such a goal seemed impossible of achievement in just over eight years, but the miracle was that the United States had made a commitment and was going to achieve it with the drive of JFK and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson!
With the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, Americans landed on and walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, the most significant scientific achievement of the 1960s!
Kennedy and space will always be linked, even though, tragically, Kennedy was assassinated only two and a half years after giving that speech to Congress on May 25, 1961. His legacy in that regard will last for the ages!
We are in the silly season again, but not it is not Donald Trump playing games with us about running for President. Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC correctly predicted early on that Trump would NOT run for President, and that lots of media time was being wasted on him!
Instead, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has never finished any political office she was appointed or elected to, is playing games with the American people, announcing a bus tour of historic sites in the Northeast, including Antietam, Gettysburg, Philadelphia and ending up in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary in the Presidential Election of 2012.
Lawrence O’Donnell has again told us to stop wasting our time speculating about Palin, as he says, just like Trump, she will NOT run for President in the end. This is excellent advice from a wise commentator, and makes total sense.
As the author has stated in earlier entries on this blog, Palin does not have the intellectual capacity to take on the burdens of becoming President, and it is likely that were she to occupy the Oval Office, the country would be put into great danger, and she might very well get up and leave suddenly, fulfilling her life story of quitting when things get tough or the criticism becomes heavy.
This woman is a mental case, who should never have been given a platform by John McCain in 2008. She is mediocrity at its worst, an example of an ignorant, stupid, petty, lazy woman, with a sense of entitlement, who exploits everyone around her, as shown by two recent books about her.
As O’Donnell stated, if Fox News Channel really believed Sarah Palin was planning to run, they would have removed her from the channel, as they did with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, but failed to do with Mike Huckabee, who ended up not running, and Palin. She is not about to give up a regular network show and the money that she makes doing it, and getting lots of exposure to boot, which she craves.
Also, she can make speeches all over the place and have a reality television show and publish two books, and become wealthy in just a few years, enough to afford a mansion in Arizona, meaning the “good life”!
Why would she want to subject her family to the exposure that she herself has condemned as unfair to their happiness and privacy?
Why would she wish to run and face defeat and repudiation, and lose some of her magic hold on the one third of the nation which adores her?
If she runs and loses the nomination, she is damaged goods, and will never have the same allure as someone who MIGHT run!
Why would she run when she has shown she is extremely sensitive to criticism or analysis, and refuses to be interviewed by the mainstream media?
Would she wish to be blamed for the destruction of the Republican Party, and go down in history as having caused its demise?
By hinting she might run, she can exploit the situation and make loads of money and get attention, but eventually, just as with Trump, she will decide that she has milked it for all it is worth, and it is time to trim her sails and go back to the “good life” John McCain has given her by putting her on the map of politics!
It is clear that Sarah Palin will NOT run, but if she does, she will destroy the Republican Party, and be condemned in history for what she has done! Don’t hold your breath that she is running, because you will die first!
With reapportionment of seats about to take place in the House Of Representatives, based on the census figures, some states are gaining seats, while others are losing seats.
The Sun Belt is gaining seats, as they have done every decade since the 1950s, while the Frost Belt Northeast and Midwestern states, specifically the large ones, are losing seats.
This leads to some House members being gerrymandered into races against fellow members of the House of the same party, leaving the reality that some will be pushed out of their positions either by primary elections, or by reality setting in that they cannot compete in a primary or election in the new district and have a good chance of victory.
Such a circumstance is now faced by Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich, one of the most liberal and most controversial Democrats in Congress.
Kucinich, who was Mayor of Cleveland, acquiring the name “Dennis the Menace”; member of the Cleveland City Council later; and then has been a Congressman from Cleveland for eight terms, is faced with elimination unless he chooses to move somewhere else in another state which is gaining seats.
Kucinich, a national figure because of having competed for the Presidency in 2004 and 2008, was recently in the Seattle area of Washington State, which will gain a seat, trying to measure whether it was a good fit for a Congressional race, with Seattle being a progressive stronghold.
While it is required that a member of the House of Representatives must have a residence in the district he or she represents, in the year of reapportionment, the member can move into the district AFTER he or she has been elected, as often, even for members who keep their congressional seat, the boundaries have changed because of reapportionment, so new housing arrangements must be made, but it can be AFTER being elected to the new district seat.
The question is whether it is proper for Kucinich to do what he plans to do, and the answer is yes!
Why is that? Well, Washington State does not have a residency requirement in the state for someone to run for public office, much like New York State, which has had three non residents or “Carpetbaggers” run for and win a Senate seat–Robert Kennedy in 1964, James Buckley in 1970, and Hillary Clinton in 2000.
While there is no recent case of a “Carpetbagger” Congressman, it is not illegal or a first time situation, and what it all comes down to is that this is based on democracy! What the people of that particular new Congressional district in Seattle want, they are entitled to get. If the case can be made by a native Washingtonian that he or she should be elected over a well known Congressman from Cleveland, Ohio, it will rule the day!
The word “Carpetbagger”, originating as a derogatory term in the Reconstruction South, should not be looked at in such a manner, as even most of the so called “Carpetbaggers” in the Southern states, who were Congressmen, Senators, or Governors, actually performed well in office, and the term is therefore just political propaganda to be ignored as a myth of American history!
Today Is The 100th Anniversary of The Birth Of Hubert H. Humphrey, America’s Liberal Political Icon!
Today is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Hubert H. Humphrey–Strongest supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Co Founder of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota, Mayor of Minneapolis, Promoter of the Civil Rights Movement, Co Founder of the Americans For Democratic Action political organization, Senator from Minnesota, Presidential candidate in 1960, Vice President under Lyndon B. Johnson, Presidential nominee in 1968, Senator from Minnesota again, advocate of many government programs including Medicare, education, Peace Corps, and over 300 other laws–and a man who was the political hero and icon of the author as a young man, and helped to shape the author’s views and ideas on politics and government!
Humphrey inspired many people with his infectious enthusiasm for government activism and decency, but lost a lot of support when he supported Lyndon Johnson on Vietnam policy during his term as Vice President, believing loyalty was essential, despite private doubts about the policy being pursued in Vietnam.
Because of that war, Humphrey led a divided party in 1968, and could not continue the Great Society programs of Johnson, and he was called all kinds of terrible epithets, rather than the long held name he loved, the “Happy Warrior”!
When Humphrey died in 1978, the author wept, and wondered why this wonderful man had been taken from us at the young age of 66 by cancer, while Ronald Reagan, born the same year, would go on to become President and promote programs that in many ways are the center of the troubles we have today in our economy and foreign policy. Not that the author ever wished harm on Reagan, but he has always wondered why Humphrey had to be taken from us at such an early age, instead of contributing to the political debate of the future!
So on this centennial anniversary of the birth of this giant figure in American history, let us honor his memory and dedicate ourselves to the revival of his vision and insights!
The 2010 Census reveals that Upper New England and West Virginia have replaced Florida as the oldest population states.
Maine is now the oldest state in average age, followed by Vermont, West Virginia and New Hampshire.
What this also reveals is that these four states, all of which are among the most “Anglo white” states, have aged due to lack of reproduction by whites in the general population nationally. This is connected to the reality the country at large is becoming less Anglo and white as a whole, with the reproduction rate of minorities much higher, along with the immigration of people of Hispanic and Latino heritage seeing a dramatic increase.
America is becoming more diverse every year, and by 2040-2050, the Anglo white population will be less than a majority.
All this affects the Republican Party in a detrimental way, and if they continue their present policy stands, they will be “dinosaurs” in thirty years, as the Democrats will have the edge in most states, although maybe not in these states that are less diverse!
2011 will be remembered as the year of the “Bully” Governors, who declared war on public service employees, and took away long held union collective bargaining rights, and promoted disrespect and lack of appreciation of the role that police, firefighters, nurses, teachers and others have in our lives every day.
But now, public opinion polls demonstrate a rising public reaction against these governors, with all looking at statistics that make it clear that were they to face the voters just months after being elected, they would be soundly defeated!
Scott Walker of Wisconsin has only a 43 percent rating, while the “dean” of the “Bully” Governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has been in office one year longer and has had people in his party clamoring him to run for President, has only 40 percent behind him.
Meanwhile, John Kasich of Ohio is down to 33 percent, and Rick Scott of Florida is at the lowest with 29 percent in favor of his performance, as compared to 57 percent against!
And, as reported earlier, Christie was ordered by a state Supreme Court decision to provide an additional $500 million for funding of poor school districts.
Meanwhile, Walker’s anti union legislation has been declared unconstitutional by a state judge!
There is definite “buyer’s remorse” by voters who either failed to vote in many of these state elections, or did not realize what they were doing when they did vote.
And a state representative in Alabama, outraged over the attack on teachers and public education, has switched from the Republicans to the Democrats in protest of what has happened. And in Jacksonville, Florida, usually a Republican city, a Democrat was elected mayor for the first time in 20 years, along with a Democrat winning in a special legislative election in New Hampshire for an open seat. All this comes at the same time that a Democrat was elected in a NY 26 special House election, as reported earlier.
So the tide is turning, and it gives the Democrats hope of winning back the House of Representatives in 2012, needing only 24 seats to win control!