Civil Rights Act Of 1964

The Attack On Transgenders In The Military A Major Step Backward On Human Rights, And Must Be Resisted In Any Way Possible!

The decision of Donald Trump to declare that transgender individuals are not to be allowed to serve in the military is a major step backwards on human rights.

Transgender men and women have served in the military heroically in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they serve in the military in Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other advanced democracies with no troubles or complications.

This is simply an appeal to the bigoted Religious Right of Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and other preachers who claim wrongly to speak for Jesus Christ, who would reject their prejudice and hypocrisy.

It is also an attempt to take attention off the failed Health Care attempts to destroy ObamaCare, and also to take people’s minds off the investigation of the Russian collusion of the Trump campaign and Presidency.

It undermines the great progress made on gay rights and gay marriage, and now, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions is arguing that gays and lesbians and transgenders should not be considered as covered under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a total outrage!

Leave it to the right wing whackos, and we might see a future situation where women’s rights to an abortion, and even interracial marriages, might be reversed by a right wing Supreme Court majority.

It is good to see that the military is not, at least at this point, obeying a tweet of our unstable President, and hopefully, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff will fight against it, and convince Trump that this will undermine military discipline and morale, and endanger the declared Transgenders already out in the military.

One can sadly expect more prejudice and discrimination against transgenders now in society, and some will die as a result.

Ironically, this bigoted, ignorant, and prejudiced statement by Trump occurred on the 69th anniversary of Harry Truman integrating the military in 1948, and one can be certain that if Truman were alive, he would have appropriate salty language visited upon Trump, and would probably wish to give Trump a swift kick in his rear end and in his private area as well, something million of Americans would cheer!

July 2 An Historic Day In So Many Ways!

July 2 is an extremely historic day in American history in so many ways, more than typical.

July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, with the document being printed, and beginning to be signed on July 4.

July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed Morrill Act, granting land for state agricultural colleges.

July 2, 1863, Second day of Battle of Gettysburg, turning point battle of Civil War.

July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot and mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau, died 79 days later on September 19, 1881, a tragedy I devote a chapter to in my Assassinations book, now out in paperback from Rowman Littlefield.

July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, most path breaking and historic civil rights law in American history.

July 2, 1986, the Supreme Court upheld Affirmative Action in two cases.

23 Years Since Richard Nixon’s Death, Final Total Repudiation Of His Positive Legacy In Domestic Affairs

Richard Nixon died on Earth Day 1994, at the age of 81.

He died, knowing that the Watergate and related scandals under his Presidency, would damage his reputation forever.

But Nixon also left a positive legacy, which now, a generation later, is, finally, totally repudiating his time in office.

Nixon, for all his faults, was the most “liberal” or “progressive” Republican President since Theodore Roosevelt, and no Republican President since has been anywhere near as much so.

Nixon could have prevented a lot of reforms, with his veto, but instead went along with a Democratic controlled Congress, and signed into law the following:

The Environmental Protection Agency

The Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Large increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as the Food Stamp Program.

Enactment of the Supplemental Security Income program, providing a guaranteed income for elderly and disabled citizens.

Signed into law various environmental laws, and expanded national park land protection under the Department of the Interior.

Signed into law Title IX, guaranteeing equal access and opportunity to women in all educational and recreational activities in colleges and universities and public schools.

Signed into law the addition of Affirmative Action to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for women, and ethnic minorities, in education and in employment–race, color, sex, religion, national origin.

Nixon also endorsed the proposed Equal Rights Amendment for women, also backed by his successor, Gerald ford, but opposed by Ronald Reagan, and failing of being added to the Constitution during the Reagan Presidency.

Finally, one of Nixon’s four Supreme Court appointments, Justice Harry Blackmun, turned out to be a very progressive member of the Court, and was the author of the majority opinion in Roe V. Wade, the abortion case, which has continued to divide Americans 44 years later, and which the Republican Party is attempting to bring about its reversal, with one step being the addition of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Now, in 2017, President Trump and the Republican controlled 115th Congress seem to be on the road to destruction of all of these major achievements under Richard Nixon, a true travesty of justice.

We are witnessing the most reactionary, right wing extremist Congress and Presidency in American history, and progressives must fight tooth and nail to prevent this destruction of the “good side” of Richard Nixon’s legacy.

The South’s Continuing Impact On Impeding Democracy With Voter Restriction Laws

The South lost the Civil War, but they continue to dominate American politics.

It used to be that the South was Democratic, and that they promoted slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching.

Then, we had a Southern President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who accomplished the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the Southern wing of Democrats in Congress bitterly opposing it, and many of them, plus much of their population, abandoning the party and going to the Republicans.

Under Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, they found a home, and worked to undermine voting rights and civil rights, often with the support of those Presidents.

The state governors and legislatures became Republican controlled, and worked to limit civil rights and voting rights, and the Republican majority Supreme Court in 2013 cut back on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

As a result, Southern states and many midwestern and mountain states under Republican governors and legislatures started to pass new restrictive laws designed to undermine voting of minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics-Latinos.

This led to law suits and now decisions by federal circuit courts in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and earlier, Texas, to declare such restrictive laws unconstitutional, a major victory which could affect the Presidential Election of 2016.

There will likely be an appeal to the Supreme Court, a clear cut reason to make sure that the Democrats win the White House and the US Senate, as the outcome for this election is uncertain, and the future of the Court and voting rights in the future hangs in the balance.

It seems likely that the present Court might split 4-4 without Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, and that would uphold the lower court decisions declaring such laws to be unconstitutional, but no certainly of that.

The South is crucial in our nation’s politics as they hold 22 seats in the US Senate, 31 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives (138 out 435), and 162 electoral votes in the Presidential race. And this does not include the Border states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, and Oklahoma, which tend to the same politics of exclusion toward minorities and voting rights.

Old Urban-Rural Battle Among States Now Battles Between Cities And Rural Areas Within The States!

The story of much of American history is the struggle and battles between the growing urbanization in America, and the desire of small town, rural America to keep “traditional values”.

So the South, heavily rural historically, has always held back against reform and change, and switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in the half century since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

But now, in 2016, we are seeing a revolt, an uprising of growing urban areas and university towns in the South against “traditional values”!

So we see urban areas in many Southern states promoting becoming “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants; supporting gay and transgender rights; calling for minimum wage laws to be reinforced and to promote raises; and working to undermine the Confederate flag as an appropriate symbol in 21st century America!

These growing urban areas include such locations as Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta, Athens and Savannah, Georgia; Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Oxford, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock and Fayetteville, Arkansas; Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee; San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, Texas; and Louisville, Kentucky. The Democratic Party is growing in these areas, and African Americans and Latinos are a good percentage of that growth, and university towns are also part of the massive changes that are occurring toward progressive change.

But the rural dominated Republican legislatures are passing state pre-emption laws that deny these localities the ability to set up their own regulations and laws. Ironically, it means these Republican states are fighting to take away local controls, while fighting on the national level against centralized authority of the federal government!

150th Anniversary Of 13th Amendment, Ending Slavery: Abraham Lincoln’s Enduring Legacy!

Yesterday, December 9, was the 150th Anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, lobbied for and pushed through by the efforts of President Abraham Lincoln, his most enduring legacy!

The Republican Party and its first President were totally principled and decent in what was done 150 years ago, and yet slavery in a different form would continue, with a century of legal segregation of the races, until Lyndon B. Johnson engineered the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And unjust imprisonment of African Americans. as well as people of other races and ethnic backgrounds and poor people of all races, due to inability to have proper legal representation and a biased legal system, including private prisons, means that slavery in a different form has always existed and still flourishes in 2015!

And the Republican Party and its conservative ideologues have completely destroyed the heritage of a party with great Presidents and a list of great members of Congress and governors who carried on the early tradition of the Republican Party a century and a half ago.

Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, if they came back to 21st century America, would be shocked at what has happened to their party!

So the fight against the mean spirit and lack of compassion and empathy of the modern GOP is a continuing one, as we celebrate the official end of slavery a century and a half ago!

The Destruction Of The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives Under Republican Control Since 1994

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and is the top constitutional officer in the legislative branch of government.

The Speaker is chosen by the majority party in the chamber, and he has responsibilities which include introducing the President of the United States at a State of the Union address, and all other special speakers to a joint session of Congress, including foreign government leaders.  The Speaker has been second in line of succession to the Presidency since the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

The Speakership has had its major figures historically, including those for whom House Office Buildings are named: Joseph Cannon, Nicholas Longworth, Sam Rayburn, and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  It also has had a President, James K. Polk, and two Vice Presidents, Schuyler Colfax and John Nance Garner, as Speakers.  It also had three Presidential nominees, John Bell, James G. Blaine and Henry Clay.

Henry Clay was the greatest single figure in the whole history of Congress, who ran for President three times, including against Polk in 1844.  It also has had Thomas B. Reed, who promoted the growth of the office to its all time greatest authority, continuing under Joseph Cannon.

It also had John McCormack, who played a major role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and much of the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson.  Had there been no 25th Amendment passed in 1967, Carl Albert would have succeeded Richard Nixon when he resigned in 1974.  Were it not for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be Speaker, there would have been no ObamaCare legislation passed in 2010.

It was a rebellion of progressives in the Republican Party in 1910 , in combination with the minority Democrats, that created a “revolution” in House rules, stripping the Speaker of the absolute control of events that existed under Thomas B. Reed and Joseph Cannon, but still the office has played a major role in American history.

Since the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, after 40 years of being in the minority, and keeping control except for 2007-2011, the Speakership has become an office of disaster and controversy.

First, Newt Gingrich became very confrontational with Bill Clinton, and caused crisis after crisis, until he was forced to resign, with his private scandalous love life being discovered as Bill Clinton faced impeachment for his own scandalous love life.  Bob Livingston was supposed to succeed Gingrich, but his own private scandalous love life prevented that, so Dennis Hastert, a back bencher, became Speaker, lasted longer than any Republican in the position, and avoided most controversy, until now in retirement we have learned of his abuse of male students while a teacher and wrestling coach in high school in the years before he engaged in politics.

John Boehner came into the Speakership under Barack Obama, and faced a Tea Party rebellion, which prevented ability to negotiate, and finally, he lost the confidence of his party, and decided to resign, but his planned successor, Kevin McCarthy, self destructed in the past two weeks, and decided yesterday that he would not run for Speaker, uncertain of support of the Tea Party element.  So now Boehner is back temporarily, and there is a major crisis among House Republicans as to who would be acceptable as an alternative, with Paul Ryan, head of the House Ways and Means Committee and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, being pressured to take the job, but not wanting to take it.

The Speakership is in crisis, and the Republican Party has done great damage to the position in the past 21 years, and besmirched the historical reputation of the position and of the House of Representatives, and the only way to retrieve it is the hope that, somehow, the Democrats can regain control in 2016, but considered highly unlikely!

From Strom Thurmond To Paul Thurmond: Is The Civil War Finally Over In The South?

South Carolina, which started the Civil War at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, MAY have finally conceded defeat on June 23, 2015, with the courageous speech by State Senator Paul Thurmond, son of the notorious segregationist and racist Governor and Senator Strom Thurmond, who made his career on racial division.

A burden to the Democratic Party, when Lyndon B. Johnson was able to overcome Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans, and courageously get through Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Senator Strom Thurmond quickly switched to the Republican Party, and over the next generation, the Confederate South transferred its loyalties to the Republican Party, despite their hatred of the party because of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

The Republicans welcomed and embraced the segregationists, and did whatever they could to appeal to the prejudices of many Southern whites, rather than elevate them to a level of tolerance and open mindedness.

And when the Supreme Court damaged the Voting Rights Act in a 2013 decision, it was Republican state legislatures and Governors who rushed to pass voter restriction laws, designed to harm African Americans and other minorities, as well as the poor, reminding us of what had happened after Reconstruction ended in the late 19th century. They were not afraid to show their purpose, to deny people the vote on flimsy grounds, and showed no conscience.

This sudden transformation after the Charleston Massacre is what finally brought out the truth, that the Republicans have been promoting racism, and even after the disaster, many Republican office holders and Presidential candidates were slow to react.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was hesitant to call for removal of the Confederate Flag, but finally did so under duress, but it was state Senator Paul Thurmond, son of Strom Thurmond, who showed true courage and guts in denouncing what his father had stood for, and saying the flag must be removed.

There are still plenty of bigoted Southerners in South Carolina and elsewhere, who rushed to buy Confederate flags, shirts, and other paraphernalia, but thank goodness that Walmart, Ebay, Amazon and other retailers announced the end of such sales yesterday.

It is time for the Republican Party nationally to stop voting restriction laws, and truly compete for the African American vote and the Hispanic-Latino vote too, and also to stop the attack on women and on gays and lesbians, as they are now the party of so much hate. The white racist vote is rapidly declining, and the GOP is living in the past, reveling in its promotion of narrow mindedness and intolerance!

We are all in this together as a nation, and the Republican Party must change dramatically, and must repudiate the Tea Party Movement whackos, or it will expire in the near future!

The Clown Bus Group Of Republican Presidential Contenders, Part III: The US Senate

In two earlier entries, we have discussed five “losers”, who were or are Republican Governors, but are not to be seen seriously as qualified to be President for various reasons; and three non office holders who think their medical and business careers make them Presidential material, but only in their deluded minds.

In Part III today, we will look at four figures who have served in the US Senate, three still there, and one who left nearly a decade ago.

First, we have Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a look alike for Joseph McCarthy, the old Communist witch hunter of the 1950s. Cruz had no problem shutting down the government in 2013, and continues to call for every part of ObamaCare to be repealed, despite the fact that Texas has more people who have no health care, including Medicaid. Cruz is a very evil man; a very nasty man; a very dangerous man to give executive power to; a man who thinks he is extremely brilliant, simply based on his Princeton and Harvard Law School degrees; a Senator disliked by just about all of his Republican colleagues; a man who would divide America and the Republican Party with his destructive Tea Party extremism.

Then we have Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is the son of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian champion. The two Pauls have a lot of young people who seem to adore them, as they both hate government, and both are isolationists in foreign policy. Rand Paul is an optometrist, who set up his own association, rather than go through the national organization, and it makes one wonder as to his true skill as an eye doctor. He has blundered on so many issues, and does not come across as very bright; has shown lack of concern for the poor in his own state; has made statements against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as being enforceable; has led filibusters in the Senate that have made one wonder about his ability to get along with others; but at the same time, has shown concern about privacy rights and the issue of minor drug offenses that has imprisoned so many young people, many of them African American. So despite his faults, he has some redeeming values, but he is not highly regarded by the Republican establishment, and to believe a libertarian will be nominated and elected President requires hallucinations by those who imagine such an event happening.

Then we have South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is the major “hawk” in the Senate, along with his good friend, Arizona Senator John McCain. There is not a war or country that Graham and McCain do not wish to intervene in, and both are diametrically the opposite of Rand Paul on foreign policy. While Graham has some more humane views on some issues domestically, he has no real support that could win him the nomination for the Presidency, and many hold it against him that when in the House of Representatives, he led the move toward impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.

And then we have former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who lost his Senate seat in 2006 by a landslide; who won the Iowa Caucuses in 2012; but who is a right wing extremist on social issues, and is committed to disobey a Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, which is pending, if he becomes President. Santorum is infamous for outrageous, narrow minded views, as he is the favorite of the Religious Right, and his social views would take back America to many decades earlier. His chances of being the nominee are the lowest of these four Senators, all of whom are embarrassments to the historical traditions of the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower!

So we have covered now 12 of 16 potential Republican nominees, and further analysis of the four remaining candidates—one Senator, one former Governor, and two sitting Governors—will be forthcoming soon.

Rand Paul: An Interesting, But Flawed Candidate For President Who Cannot Fulfill His Promises!

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky became the second declared candidate for President yesterday, and he gave a fiery speech, surrounded by his admirers who are clearly very loyal and committed to him.

But to believe that Rand Paul can become the GOP nominee for President, and occupy the White House after January 20, 2017, requires a lot of illusion, and “smoke and mirrors”. It will, most certainly, NOT happen!

Rand Paul has appealing elements, no question about it. These include the need to protect our civil liberties from government encroachment by the National Security Agency; the need to rebuild our economy and help forgotten Americans to gain economic advancement, both middle class and poor; the need to stay out of foreign intervention unless essential, and avoid so many bases and expenses overseas, including no more increased spending on foreign aid; and changing the law enforcement system, including the unfair justice system that imprisons too many young African Americans for overly severe jail terms.

But at the same time, Rand Paul talks about balancing a budget, by cutting fundamental programs that are an entitlement for Americans through their payment of taxes (including Social Security and Medicare); has no solution for health care for millions on ObamaCare and those without ObamaCare and not able to gain Medicaid; talks about limiting federal intrusion in our privacy, a goal almost impossible to accomplish in an age of terrorism; has expressed doubts about the civil rights laws, including the basic one passed in 1964 under Lyndon B. Johnson; has to deal with the influence of his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul who is much more controversial with his public record of actions and utterances that many Paul supporters seem to be aware of; and has major opposition and criticism from the massive hawkish influence within his party in the Senate and from the neoconservatives, who seem to want war with Iran, and do not want to cut defense spending dramatically, if at all!

Additionally, Rand Paul is anti abortion and anti gay marriage, and while that will please the Republican Party, it will undermine his opportunity to attract a majority of women and young people, despite the fact that many young people claim to be libertarian, but mostly because they are truly ignorant of what the true nature of libertarianism is. Libertarianism will NOT gain power in America, and is a bankrupt philosophy not achievable in the real world!

Rand Paul will certainly make the Presidential race more interesting, but his connection to the Tea Party will also undermine him, and no scenario that is realistic puts him down as the 45th President of the United States!