Gay Rights

The Tough Battle Ahead On Supreme Court Replacement For Justice Anthony Kennedy

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative but moderate on such issues as gay rights and gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, flag burning, and the use of the death penalty, leaves the Senate in a tough battle for confirmation of whoever Donald Trump appoints as his replacement.

The fair thing to do would be to postpone the appointment and confirmation hearings until after the midterm elections of 2018, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented hearings and a vote on Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, a Presidential election year. But it is clear McConnell has no such intentions to treat this situation in the same manner as he did two years ago.

So the question is whether there is any possibility of stopping a Trump appointment, and it seems pretty gloomy and very little chance to intervene and delay or prevent a confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice.

With only 49 votes, the Democrats need one or two Republicans to join them in opposition, and for all Democrats, including more moderate and conservative members of the caucus, to stay loyal, even in an election year where 10 Senators who are running for reelection are from Trump carried states.

The saddest part of all this is that now we will have FOUR Supreme Court Justices–two by George W. Bush and two by Donald Trump–selected by Presidents who massively lost the popular vote in the elections in 2000 and 2016 when the Electoral College went to them.

Six of the last seven Presidential elections have seen the popular vote won by Democrats, all but 2004 since 1992, but the power over the future of the Supreme Court has been lost for the long term, for the next 30 years, beyond the theoretical lifetime of this author and blogger, and of many people who are 40 or over right now!

California Has Larger Economy Now Than The United Kingdom (Great Britain), Fifth Largest In World

As of last month, the state of California officially is the world’s fifth largest economy.

The Golden State just passed the United Kingdom (Great Britain), and is now only surpassed by four nations: The United States, China, Japan, and Germany.

Who would ever have thought when the US fought Mexico in the late 1840s, gained control of California in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, and saw the Gold Rush begin, starting the development of California population so rapidly, that California became a state by 1850, that this mega state would develop an economy larger than all but four nations?

California today has 40 million people, one out of every eight Americans, and has a technology sector in Silicon Valley, and is the world’s entertainment capital in Hollywood.

California is also the nation’s major agricultural sector in the Central Valley agricultural heartland.

It also has become a major positive in the economy after the collapse during the Great Recession. Financial services, real estate, manufacturing, and the information economy are all major pluses in the California economy.

Its economy is one seventh of the entire nation’s economy, and the job growth from 2012-2017 is one sixth of the entire improvement of the country.

The major areas of economic growth are in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Its Congressional delegation, by far the largest, consists of 53 House Members and 2 Senators, and a substantial number of them—16 in the House—play a major role in Congress.

The outgoing Governor, Jerry Brown, is seen by many as possibly the greatest Governor in the nation right now, having presided over the revival of the California economy in the past eight years.

California has also led the fight against Donald Trump on such issues as immigration and sanctuary cities; gay rights and gay marriage; and climate change and global warming.

And Nancy Pelosi. the former Speaker of the House from 2007-2011, and Minority Leader since then; and Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader now angling to be the next Speaker of the House if the Republicans retain the majority, are both from California.

So California is, in so many ways, a nation onto itself, and could sustain itself if need be, but at the same time, the future could be three Californias, as the state initiative process has led to a possible ballot question in November, that would set up three states instead of one–Northern California; Southern California; and California, which would consist of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Each state would have about one third of the population of 40 million.

Whether this occurs or not, California will continue to be a major part of the world economy and the American political system.

Why Don’t Republicans Abandon Donald Trump, And Promote A “True Believer”, Mike Pence?

A growing question, in the midst of ever expanding Donald Trump corruption regarding Russian Collusion, Obstruction Of Justice, Violation of the Emoluments Clause, Stormy Daniels Scandal, and the Michael Cohen controversy, is why Republicans do NOT abandon Trump, and promote a “true believer”, Vice President Mike Pence.

For those of us are who progressives, the thought of a President Mike Pence is a horror, as Pence is clearly a man who promotes theocracy in a manner that is clearly dangerous.

This is a man who was losing, at least in polls, his original plan for reelection as Indiana Governor in 2016, when Donald Trump “rescued” his career, by selecting him as his Vice Presidentila running mate.

Pence had a record of being allied with the Tea Party Movement while a Congressman, that arose in the wake of the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Pence had a record of promoting the tobacco industry, and denying that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer.

Pence had a record of advocating conversion therapy to undo the “sin” of being gay or lesbian, even though he has denied that, but it is fact that he was and is a vehement opponent of gay rights and gay marriage, and that he wears his evangelical Christianity on his sleeve.

Pence had a record of being a leading misogynist, vehemently opposing the right of a woman to choose in regards to abortion, and his wife Karen has had a strong influence on his thinking on this, and on issues involving women’s equality in other areas.

Pence has a very good relationship with Republican leaders and many conservatives, as well as right wing evangelical leaders, so it would seem logical that at some point, the pressure will be on for these groups to pressure Trump to resign.

An upcoming meeting of right wing evangelicals, scheduled for Tuesday June 19 with President Trump, could become the motivation to tell Donald Trump the gig is up, and that if he does not resign, that the move will be on to force him out.

That day will mark 23 days after the length of time of Zachary Taylor in the White House in 1849-1850 before his death, a total of 492 days. So on the 515th day of his Presidency, one might expect the pressure to grow on Trump, and to lead to his resignation shortly after, making him the fourth shortest term of any President in American history!

A total of 10 Presidents have served less than a full term, but seven of them had at least two years and five months, but the likelihood of Trump lasting two years to January 20, 2019, can now be seen as extremely unlikely. And to expect him to last five more months to June 20, 2019, and surpass the fourth shortest Presidency, that of Warren G. Harding from 1921-1923, is certainly a long shot!

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!

Trump-Putin Summit Meeting A Clear Sign That Putin Has Trump In His Grasp, Undermines Trump Legitimacy As President

The Trump-Putin Summit Meeting yesterday at the G-20 Summit is a clear sign that the Russian autocrat has our President in his grasp, and has undermined Trump’s legitimacy as our President.

All the intelligence agencies are absolutely certain that Russia intervened in our 2016 Presidential election, and helped Trump to win.

Trump has been unwilling to agree to the reality and the facts, calling it “fake news”.

Different versions of the meeting by the Russian Foreign Minister and our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have emerged from the meeting, and the question is whether Trump really pressed the issue with Putin, and whether he will simply accept their version that they did NOT interfere in our election. A “robust” and “lengthy” discussion, as depicted by Tillerson, apparently was a distortion of the meeting, another lie of the Trump Presidency!

The idea that we had a summit meeting with only Tillerson as an observer, with his close past ties with Russia when he was head of Exxon Oil, is an outrage, when we should have had H. R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser, and or James Mattis, our Secretary of Defense, in the meeting. Between Trump and Tillerson, we had a grand total of 12 months experience in diplomacy, compared to many decades of experience by Putin and his Foreign Minister. This is an outrage that everyone should be alarmed about, and one can be sure many Republicans and conservatives in and out of Congress are truly alarmed!

IF Trump does not continue to challenge Putin and resist their propaganda, he will be permanently harmed, and we will have to worry that he is in league with them to help promote his fortunes, by their planned interference in our midterm elections in 2018 and the Presidential Election of 2020.

Can one even imagine the reaction if Barack Obama had colluded with Russia, or George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton?

Can one imagine how the far Right conservatives and the evangelical Christian Right, which have embraced Vladimir Put as a “Friend”, based on support of guns and opposition to gay rights, would have reacted if, in particular, Obama had done what Trump has done, promote a “bromance” with a man responsible for deaths of journalists and opponents, as revealed by Richard Engel in a one hour special on MSNBC last evening, part of a new series titled “On Assignment”?

The idea that men and women who profess religion could unite with a totalitarian dictator such as Putin only shows the corruption of right wing evangelicals, such as Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham! The idea that right wing commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, among others, would just accept that Putin is no danger to America, is also a true example of how lacking in substance these characters are, only concerned about making as much profit as possible on their propaganda, and no concern about American national security!

The way things look now, Donald Trump is truly the “Manchurian Candidate”, and we are permitting the Russians to infiltrate and undermine our political system with equanimity, instead of with alarm!

The End Of The Supreme Court Term: Any Retirements Coming?

This is the last week of the present Supreme Court session, and Court watchers are wondering if we are about to see a sharp swing to the Right, with the potential retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan nearly 30 years ago, and a crucial swing vote ever since on the Court.

Kennedy has been on the conservative side about two thirds of the time, and on the liberal side one third of the time, and without him, for instance, there would have been no advancements on gay rights and gay marriage, as he was the crucial fifth vote.

His vote this week may decide whether the Muslim ban of Donald Trump is upheld, or prevented, as it has been by several circuit courts around the nation.

Kennedy has been the unpredictable vote all by himself in the past decade, since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court at the end of 2005.

For a decade before 2005, it was said the Court was the “O’Connor-Kennedy Court”, and now for the past 12 years, it has been the “Kennedy” Court, more than the Roberts Court, as traditionally, the Court is described by the name of its Chief Justice.

Since Kennedy will be turning 81 in one month, and is the second oldest member of the Court, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 84, but has made clear she is going nowhere, and hopes to stay on the Court until 2021, so that hopefully a future Democratic President in 2021 can choose her successor.

So if Kennedy does retire this week, it will mark a sharp move to the Right, which will undermine constitutional law for the next generation!

The Positive Contributions Of The Barack Obama Presidency

So here we are on the last full day of the Barack Obama Presidency, which I have been writing about since August 2008, and just about daily since 2010.

Barack Obama has been an historic President, and will end up in the top ten of our 44 Presidents over time, if not immediately.

Barack Obama was the most pilloried President since Richard Nixon, but for no good reason, and a lot of it was based on pure racism, sorry to say, but the truth.

But Obama brought us a dignified, classy persona to the White House, as did his wife Michelle.

He gave us the biggest expansion of our health care system, and much of it will survive the Donald Trump and Republican onslaught in the end.

He gave us the concept of limited military involvement, after decades of too many interventions overseas, and ended our involvement in Iraq, and cut back dramatically on the unwinnable war in Afghanistan.

He gave us the possibility of ending the threat of Iran as a nuclear power, and opened up a new relationship with Cuba, after 55 years of ignoring reality.

He accomplished through the use of technology and drones the elimination of thousands of terrorists worldwide, and took the gamble to bring justice to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

He started moving the focus of American foreign policy to Asia and the Pacific, and kept good relations with America’s NATO allies, and kept Russia’s Vladimir Putin on edge. about how America would react toward his aggressive stands.

He made climate change worldwide a crucial focus, and participated in international agreements, and accepted science over conspiracy theories, and made us realize global warming was a danger to American national security.

He took an economy that was the worst since the Great Depression, what is called the Great Recession, and turned it around, with the greatest job growth over eight years in American history, the greatest stock market growth, and the greatest drop in the unemployment rate that has occurred in any administration.

He accomplished in health care what Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt to Franklin D. Roosevelt to Harry Truman to John F. Kennedy to Lyndon B. Johnson to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush had been unable to do.

He brought about the revival of the American auto industry, and advanced the rights of workers to overtime pay and increased minimum wage, and the rights of consumers through the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

He advanced women’s rights, including to equal pay, and gave DREAM kids a reprieve from possible deportation, and promoted the idea of universal pre school and community college education, and worked to try to deal with the student loan crisis.

He advocated fair treatment of Muslims in America, and became the champion of gay equality in the military, gay rights in society, and gay marriage and transgender rights.

He became a great advocate of the environment, adding to our national parks and national forests and endangered sites, and continued the tradition of earlier exceptional environmental Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton before him.

He utilized executive orders to expand the rights of the American people, and worked for legal and judicial reform, and appointed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

He cared about the weak, the powerless, and the forgotten groups in American society, and set a good moral basis in his own life and that of his family, becoming a model for young people as to how a President should conduct himself.

He avoided lashing out at those who promoted bigotry, and also showed emotion after his failed attempts at immigration reform and gun safety legislation. He had real tears, emotions, and sincerity in the Oval Office, which has hardly ever seen that, and hard to think of any earlier President quite like Obama.

He also faced the greatest number of threats of any President since Abraham Lincoln, as delineated in my Assassinations book, and demonstrated great courage and equanimity in waking up every day, knowing he was a target for hate mongers who wished him and his family ill will.

And finally, he had two terms of office without any hint of a personal, or otherwise, major scandal!

So Barack Obama was a FINE MAN, a different spelling of this author’s and blogger’s last name, and he will rise in the Presidential rankings to the top ten, and likely higher in the middle of the top ten at some point in the future, as he was truly a transformational President!

Goodbye, President and Mrs Obama, we will miss you, and wish you many decades of good health, prosperity, and happiness, as you continue to contribute to American betterment! God bless you both!

The Positive Contributions Of The Joe Biden Vice Presidency

Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, is leaving public life after 44 years in the federal government, 36 as a US Senator from Delaware, and 8 years as Vice President.

Joe Biden is a true national treasure, who if not for the death of his son, Beau Biden, in May 2015, might have run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, and might very well have defeated Hillary Clinton, and then won the election in the crucial states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Although Biden will be 78 in 2020, he has the energy, the knowledge, the experience needed to defeat Donald Trump, and he just might return to the Senate in 2018, if Tom Carper follows through on his plans to retire.

So it is not yet time to say Biden’s career is over, although in elective office, it might be, but he will play a public role because it is in his blood to do so, and he will not stay silent when he sees wrongs being done by the Donald Trump Administration.

The alliance of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was the closest one in American history, possibly matched by Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, who in two days will have both survived the amazing total of 36 years since the Presidency and 40 years since their election in 1976!

Obama utilized Biden’s connections on Capitol Hill; and gave Biden an office in the White House, as Carter had done for Mondale; and had weekly lunches with Biden as Carter did with Mondale.

Joe Biden was a true Presidential Advisor, full time participant, and trouble shooter, and was not afraid to disagree with Obama, particularly on foreign policy, his expertise, but was always a loyal part of the team once a decision had been made by the President.

Biden’s warm, sincere personality was lovable, and he was able to work across the aisle on Capitol Hill with Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and other influential Republicans, and the entire Senate honored him recently for his cordial and effective role in the Senate.

Biden took the lead on gay rights and gay marriage; protection of women against violence; immigration reform; environmental advancements; gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre; and the War on Cancer after his son died of that horrendous disease. Foreign leaders also, totally, respected him.

Joe Biden could be regarded as the greatest Vice President in American history, and his lifelong contributions will mark him in history as a very special political leader!

Thank you for your service to the nation and to Barack Obama, Vice President Biden!

Vice President Mike Pence: Could Be Most Engaged And Active Vice President Yet!

It seems more likely by the day that Vice President Elect Mike Pence could be the most engaged and active Vice President yet!

The Vice Presidency began to grow under Richard Nixon under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, because Ike was willing to delegate authority, and Nixon was smart and ambitious.

Nixon was the first Vice President to play a major role in policy making.

Walter Mondale under Jimmy Carter; George H. W. Bush under Ronald Reagan; Al Gore under Bill Clinton; Dick Cheney under George W. Bush; and Joe Biden under Barack Obama all added to the office of Vice President, but now it seems as if Donald Trump, who does not have a clue on anything in government, may be leaning on Mike Pence, who served 12 years in the House of Representatives, before becoming Indiana Governor over the past four years.

The good thing about Pence is that he is smart, intelligent, experienced in government, fully qualified, if need be, to take over the Presidency.

He is not Dan Quayle under George H. W. Bush, or Sarah Palin, who was the VP running mate of John McCain.

But despite his abilities, we must realize that Pence is a theocrat, who always says that his evangelical Christian faith is the most important thing in his life, and utilizes his right wing Christian beliefs to oppose abortion rights and gay rights in a vehement fashion. He also does not believe in climate change and science generally, and also promoted the idea that tobacco does not cause lung cancer, a preposterous idea.

So one would not wish to see Pence end up in the Presidency by plan or by circumstance, but in the meanwhile, he could be the single most important player in the Donald Trump administration over the next four years.

Mike Pence And Donald Trump: A Horrible Partnership With No Future!

The team of Mike Pence and Donald Trump is a horrible partnership with no future.

Mike Pence will not be in government after 2016, as he was not running for reelection as Governor of Indiana, and was seen as likely to lose another term, being way behind in public opinion polls, after he signed a law limiting gay rights, which had to be changed due to business and public opposition.

Also, his anti abortion views were causing greater restrictions on a woman’s right to determine her own future in Indiana, more than in many other states.

Pence is a religious right wing freak, who puts his religion before anything else, and he fails to understand that we have separation of church and state ingrained in our political system by the Founding Fathers.

He also flirted with the Tea Party Movement in Congress in his last years in the House of Representatives before running for the Indiana Governorship in 2012.

Pence is seen by many as a potential Presidential candidate in 2020 in the wake of the Donald Trump disaster, but he is no shining star for the GOP future, and if he is, somehow, the nominee, the Republican Party would end up in a massive Electoral College defeat once again.

It is also clear that Mike Pence is uncomfortable in his role as Vice Presidential running mate, and probably thought of quitting several times, when Donald Trump contradicted him, including once in the Presidential debates, and also after the sexual abuse charges leveled against Trump by 10 women, and the Access Hollywood tape.

It seems he would have little impact on Donald Trump’s thinking or policies, were, God forbid, Trump to become President.

But Donald Trump has dug his own grave, and is taking Mike Pence and the Republican Party down with him!