Archive for June, 2011
The Republican Party loves to use the Constitution in an abusive way to prove its points and its agenda.
This includes the demagoguery to refuse to agree to any tax increases to deal with the national debt and the debt ceiling!
Well, now, Bruce Bartlett, a former financial adviser and senior policy analyst to President Ronald Reagan, has pointed out that the 14th Amendment, Section 4, solves the issue as it states:
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
If that is the case, and many constitutional specialists believe that is so, then the argument is that the President of the United States can decide to so declare after all negotiations have been attempted and failed, and that would resolve the issue, and insure that all pensions and payments would be made no matter what the national debt becomes, rather than the constant threats, politics, and blackmail that the opposition constantly employs!
And the answer is that the American people, including the wealthy among us, will have to face reality that taxes are going to go up, in order to promote economic stability and growth, and that this is the price of keeping our freedom and liberty, to be socially responsible to the needs of a nation of more than 300 million in the early 21st century!
Lingering Debate About Obama Being A Muslim, And Yet US Is Fighting Al Qaeda and Taliban In Six Muslim Nations!!
There remains even now an underlying belief of some Americans that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, out to undermine Christian values and American democracy and freedom.
This comes despite the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the addition of troops to Afghanistan by President Obama in December 2009.
This comes despite his constant sending of drones and CIA operatives into SIX Muslim nations, and his cooperation with NATO in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
This comes despite the killing of more high level Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership than under George W. Bush.
Realize that we are involved in some form militarily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and now, as revealed this morning, in Somalia with armed drones!
How in the world can critics still claim that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, when he is condemned by Al Qaeda, as well as many Muslim leaders? If anything, he has engaged the United States against Muslim nations and radicals MORE than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan combined!
And yet the poison and lies continue, and it is not just by right wing extremists, but by so called “responsible” and “sensible” Americans who should hang their heads in shame!
Grover Norquist is a name that most people will not know, but he is, at this point of time, the most dangerous man in America, as the biggest enemy of a stable economic future!
Norquist heads the Americans For Tax Reform lobbying group, the most powerful organization aggressively pursuing denial of ANY tax increases in any form for ANY reason. He does not care anything at all about the debt crisis and the urgency of dealing with the extension of the debt ceiling by August 2, which if not accomplished will cause a massive collapse of the American and world wide economy!
To Norquist, the goal is always to cut taxes to the bone, to “starve the beast”! Whether it is defense, social security, medicare, medicaid, the environment, education, health care, government agencies, or whatever, Norquist insists that government must live on less, despite the reality of the world we live in!
All government would have to cut spending by up to 40 percent immediately were we to follow the advice of Norquist, a totally irresponsible and reckless action! Unfortunately, the Republicans in both houses of Congress seem enslaved by his lobbying activities, and are committed to refuse to consider ANY tax adjustments, and so the die is cast, and we will be facing a far greater economic collapse now than in 2008, if there is not some bending on the part of Republicans!
As Barack Obama stated today in his press conference, both the Democrats and Republicans have to be willing to sacrifice some of their “sacred cows”, in order to come up with a solution. Some spending must be cut, but some tax increases and adjustments are also unavoidable!
The Republican Party has actively been promoting amendment after amendment to the Constitution in the past two years, and the thought has emerged that it is time to re-introduce the failed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, passed through Congress in 1972, reaching 35 states ratification by 1976, and then collapsing, with no more support, and failing of ratification by 1982, three states short of adoption.
Women have seen their fortunes change amazingly these past four decades, and are now the majority of the work force, attending universities at a higher percentage than men, and entering all of the professions in tremendous numbers, with them being the majority in more and more occupations.
Women have been “liberated” from the old controls that religion and conservative values put on them, and there are even many Republican women in the House of Representatives and a few in the US Senate.
So why not promote the adoption of the amendment which would put women into the Constitution directly, for only the second time, after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote after a 72 year battle in 1920?
Even the arguments used by evangelist Jerry Falwell and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, among others, no longer have any validity, as if they had justification at the time of the ERA!
These and other critics argued that passage of the ERA would:
1. Promote Lesbian marriage–which now exists in six states and Washington, DC.
2. Advocate Unisex public toilets–which now exist all over the nation in shopping malls and many hotels and other public restroom locations.
3. Allow the involvement in combat situations of women in the military–which now occurs on a regular basis.
With all of the great advancements of woman in the past two generations, this is the time to institutionalize what has happened by laws and by natural evolving over that time!
We should put Republicans on the line for a modern Equal Rights Amendment, make them stand up for human rights for women, at a time when Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are potential future Presidents! They, the other women in the Republican party in Congress, and the men of the party, need to show that they believe in true EQUALITY for women and have no problem making it a permanent part of the US Constitution, that they claim they revere!
The Supreme Court majority has gone amuck with the First Amendment guarantee of “free speech”!
The Court backed the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket its anti gay propaganda at the funerals of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans!
It allowed “Crush” videos that depict animal cruelty in the past term, the production of videos that show small animals being tortured or killed for the sexual gratification of viewers!
Now it allows minors to be able to buy and use violent video games that depict extreme violence, bloodshed, and promote war situations as acceptable for children, without their parents’ approval, claiming the rights of minors were being limited by the state of California!
The comparison was made to movies, television, and books that have depicted such graphic images, but video games have a far greater hold and impact on children than any of these, and supposedly, there are ratings systems on these forms of media!
So children cannot get sexually explicit material, based on decisions of the Court years ago, but extremely violent video games are alright. But, of course, tobacco and alcohol are banned at the same time!
These are inconsistent messages, and make it much more likely that we will see greater amounts of graphic violence, as now children not only often have parents who ignore the importance of their roles, but now government is looking the other way as well, not setting a standard for children, who do NOT have all the rights of adults, and should not have the right to purchase violent video games without the consent of their parents!
The standards of decent behavior have deteriorated further and further, to the detriment of America and its future!
In 1967, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in Loving V. Virginia, declaring interracial marriage constitutional. At the time, there was still widespread feeling among the American people, particularly whites, that interracial marriage should not be allowed, with three out of four in a 1968 poll so declaring. And nearly the same percentage, 73 percent, of all races felt the same way in 1968.
It is clear, also, that a majority of people, particularly whites, were not supportive of the Supreme Court decision in 1954, Brown V. Board of Education, which mandated the end of segregation of the races in public education.
Often, the Supreme Court is ahead of the country in formulating change, and of course, conservatives resent that. But without the Court intervening, progress would be slower or completely halted.
Therefore, with the decision of New York State to allow gay marriage, it is time for gay rights advocates to bring a case to the higher court!
But, of course, there is fear that the conservative Court would rule against it, but that is seen as highly unlikely.
No one can be sure how Justices would vote, but even if one considers that Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts might vote against, the odds are that Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg would vote in favor.
That leaves Justice Anthony Kennedy, the true centrist on the Court, who more often votes with the conservatives, but often sides with the liberals. And when one considers that Kennedy was the decisive vote in Lawrence V. Texas in 2003, granting privacy rights to gay couples, one has hope that he would continue to support gay rights, including marriage.
Kennedy also supported the rights of gays to stop being treated as a group deserving discrimination in the Colorado Constitution in Romer V. Evans in 1996, and also in a Circuit Court case in 1980, he showed concern about mistreatment of gays.
The timing is crucial, as Ruth Bader Ginsberg may leave the Court soon, and in the next term in office, if a Republican won the White House, both Ginsberg and Kennedy might be replaced, based on their ages, and the opportunity for a Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage might have passed!
And remember, unlike interracial marriage, a majority of Americans in a recent poll support the concept of gay marriage, a massive switch from just a few years ago!
So bring on a Supreme Court case and soon!
As if there have not been enough attacks on state and local government employees and their salaries and benefits, now the attack is beginning on Congressional employees, who are the backbone of our Congress, and whom without, our Congress could not operate!
The average Congressional employee is grossly underpaid, as compared to what could be gained in private employment, but these men and women, primarily in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, feel a calling to serve their country by working for members of Congress!
Without these dedicated public servants, Congress could not operate, as they are the substance and the solid base of every Congressman and Senator and all House and Senate committees!
These are people with excellent educations and skills that keep every Congressional office operating, and keep their member of Congress up to date and informed about the myriad of issues that each member of Congress faces daily!
Does anyone think any member of either house of Congress could do their job without their dedicated staffs? How does one think legislative action is accomplished, that research is done, that speech writing is achieved, that scheduling is set up, that constituent services are smoothly arranged?
If, with pay lower than normal for the talents and skills needed, it is made impossible for a Congressman or Senator to use his or her discretion to pay bonuses to his or her staff members who deserve it for long hours and often constant attention to their work even when supposedly off from the job, then we will see a mass exodus of the best and the brightest from employment on Capitol Hill, and the nation will be the worse for it!
This commentary is based on the reality of what the author knows from years of study and reflection on the American political system, plus the experience of his older son, David Feinman, having devoted three years to the service of the constituents of the 19th Congressional District of Florida under Congressman Robert Wexler!
With the passage of gay marriage rights in the New York State legislature, the debate is again beginning about the opposition of religious groups, the call for a vote of the people on the issue, and talk of a federal constitutional amendment to prevent gay marriage nationally, and in the states.
Only once has a constitutional amendment been passed to limit human rights–the 18th Amendment ban on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages–and it was repealed by the 21st Amendment fourteen years later.
The purpose of amendments has always been to improve on human rights, not restrict human rights, and gay marriage is a human right!
Organized religion has often been opposed to human rights internationally, as well as in this country, as witness the religious groups which supported slavery, racial segregation, and denial of equality for women. Of course, not all religious groups promoted denial of human rights, and there are glorious crusades on the opposite end of these issues that dignify America’s history as a country improving its human rights record over time. But should any religious group or individual views on gay marriage be determinant of such a human right existing? The answer is clearly NO!
Should the American people be able to vote on the issue of human rights, and deny unpopular groups their basic human rights? Again, the answer is NO, as it is clear that if one had had a vote on interracial marriage in the 1960s, the vast majority would have opposed it, but so what? It is none of anyone’s business what other adults do in their personal lives and for their personal happiness!
It is likely that large percentages of Americans today do not like interracial marriage, do not like racial integration, do not like that women have become so equal with men, but that is a personal thought, and should not rule on the issue of human rights!
Human rights should be inviolable, not subject to anyone’s whims or prejudices! No one should be able to deny or take away anyone’s human rights under any circumstances, as this is democracy and human freedom on its grandest scale!