Day: July 1, 2011

Kansas: Historic Center Of Massive Battles And Turmoil Does It Again!

The state of Kansas, center of the Great Plains, is one often overlooked or ridiculed, but it has been a center of massive battles, turmoil, and struggles throughout its history.

Blessed and cursed by its location in the Wheat Belt, Kansas has seen tornadoes, blizzards, drought, hail, floods, and grasshoppers, and was the center of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, forcing many farmers to leave the state and go west to California for salvation!

It is the territory and state where the Civil War began over slavery in the 1850s, before that war erupted nationally, and it was the center of struggles between Indians and whites from 1860-1890.

It was also the original home of the prohibition movement against liquor, and a center of the Populist movement of the 1890s and the Progressive movement of the early 20th century.

Kansas also became the rare example of a non Southern state which adopted racial segregation legally, and it was a case brought by a young black girl, Linda Brown, in Topeka, Kansas, which led to the famous Brown V. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in May, 1954.

And abortion has become a major controversy in Kansas, with Dr. George Tiller, an abortion doctor, murdered in Wichita a few years ago by an anti abortion fanatic.

Now the state government, under right wing conservative Republican Sam Brownback, former Senator, has passed restrictions on abortion, which has led to only ONE abortion center being available in the entire state, a major victory by the so called Pro Life movement, and a major blow to the Roe V. Wade decision of the Supreme Court in 1973.

So the abortion debate rages on in many states, with Kansas again being the center of controversy, as it often has been in its history over the past 160 years!

The Shutdown Of Minnesota Government: Is It A Microcosm Of What Will Happen With The US Government?

Minnesota certainly is the center of controversy recently, what with the contested Senate race between Senator Al Franken and former Senator Norm Coleman in 2008-09; the decision of former Governor Tim Pawlenty to run for President after having presided over a $5 billion dollar state budget deficit; and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann embracing the Tea Party Movement and suddenly emerging as a serious Presidential candidate for the Republican Party.

But now, Minnesota may be a microcosm of what will happen nationally, as the Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, faced with a Republican state legislative majority in both houses, has become engaged in a battle over the budget, forcing the shutting down of much of the Minnesota state government and many of its functions!

Dayton insists that those citizens with more than $1 million income, three one hundreds of one percent of the population, about 7,700 individuals, pay higher taxes, so that budget cuts on education, health care and other essential programs, be limited.

But the Republican legislature, just as on the national level, refuses to consider ANY tax increases, so Dayton is playing it tough, showing courage and conviction!

In a way, it is a microcosm of President Bill Clinton fighting the Republican Congress in 1995, and winning the struggle over Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Bob Dole, after a shutdown lasting a couple of weeks.

The Minnesota debacle may go on for a long time, but Dayton is becoming a model for President Obama, who needs to stand up to the Republicans over the debt limit crisis.

Since constitutionally, the 14th Amendment, Section 4, allows the government to pay its debts no matter whether or not the Congress formally raises the debt ceiling, Obama should declare he will use that constitutional method and wait for the GOP to bend, as they must, or else we have reached a reality level that we are a plutocracy, where the rich dominate and dictate to the rest of us, and that CANNOT be allowed!

Talking tough at his press conference, and comparing the procrastination of the opposition party to his daughters doing their homework ahead of time, Obama angered the Republicans, who did not appreciate being compared to children, but that is exactly what they are doing–acting childish, and not doing their job, and having the gall to suggest that Obama should not do anything other than deal with the fiscal crisis, while in fact, he has to deal with multitudes of issues all of the time, unlike them, who take many holiday breaks and vacations!

Obama has taken fewer vacations or holiday breaks than George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, both infamous for constant vacations and holiday breaks, sometimes leaving the impression that they were away from their responsibilities more than they were on the job!

Mr. President, use Governor Dayton of Minnesota as a model, and give the Republicans “hell” as Harry Truman used to do, and you will win the battle of public opinion as Bill Clinton did in 1995!

The Recklessness And Irresponsibility Of Many State Governments In The Midst Of Economic Hard Times!

At a time when the nation is facing the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, many state governments, particularly those governed by Republicans, are wasting their time, instead of creating job opportunities!

In reality, many states, by their policies, or lack of them, are creating MORE unemployment, and promoting division among their citizens!

Instead of dealing with real issues, many states are appealing to the emotions and prejudices of their citizens, promoting hysteria and disarray in the process!

States are busy doing the following:

1. Passing legislation to make abortion more difficult to obtain.
2. Working against gay marriage rights or civil unions.
3. Enacting legislation against “Sharia” or Muslim law, a total “red herring” exploiting fear, where there is no chance of such law becoming part of the American legal system.
4. Making English an “official” language, a strike against immigrants, both legal and illegal.
5. Cracking down on illegal immigration in ways that will have to come to the Supreme Court, as to whether they are constitutional.
6. Setting out to destroy labor union rights of public employees, who have served their states and communities loyally, but now are being made “scapegoats” for economic hard times.

So, these are hard times in the states, being made worse by the narrow mindedness and prejudices of the population, being stoked by irresponsible politicians!

The Sharply Divided Supreme Court And The Future: Crucial Cases Coming Up!

The US Supreme Court demonstrated two tendencies in the past term just ended: Support of corporation rights at the expense of the public interest, and absolute worship of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech in ways many just shake their head at in wonderment!

But if there is controversy over some of the Supreme Court decisions of the term now over, just wait to the next session of the Court in 2011-2012!

What kinds of “hot” issues are to show up for oral argument and decision in the next term?

1. The Obama Health Care Plan’s constitutionality
2. Affirmative Action
3. Illegal Immigration
4. Gay Marriage

It seems as if no one is leaving the Court, although one would have thought that Ruth Bader Ginsberg might have retired, so it will be the same nine member, equally divided Court, with Anthony Kennedy the swing vote on many cases, deciding some of the most controversial areas of political debate in this country, and deciding if we are moving ahead, or falling back into the 20th, and maybe, the 19th century!