Privacy Rights

Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention Anniversary On July 19 A Reminder Of Struggles American Women Still Face In 2017!

On this day in 1848, 169 years ago, the Women’s Rights Convention took place in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, with about 200 women attending.

It was a two day convention to “discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women”.

The convention condemned slavery, and advocated women suffrage, along with property rights, education rights, equality in marriage and over children, and the rights of women to employment at a decent wage, all very advanced ideas for the time.

The idea that a group of women spoke up for their basic human and legal rights was seen at the time as revolutionary, and it would take to 1920 and the 19th Amendment for women to gain the right to vote nationally.

Here we are a century later, and still the fight for women’s equality is far from over, with the clear attack on women’s rights by Donald Trump, Mike Pence, the Republican Party, and right wing Christianity, including on equal pay, sexual harassment and assault, education, and court battles over privacy rights, including abortion rights and the equal treatment of lesbians.

We have an openly sexist and misogynistic President and Vice President, and even within the Republican Party, its women members, particularly in the US Senate, are shown lack of respect and equality in how they are regarded and treated by their male colleagues.

The fact that three women Republican Senators–Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia–helped to kill the attempt to end ObamaCare without protection for constituents on their health care, is leading to Trump being critical of them, and his disrespect for women is legion.

So the battle for women’s rights is suffering from retreat from earlier accomplishments, and the struggle goes on, and both women and men need to work together on fighting for those basic human rights for women, against women such as Ann Coulter, who has advocated repeal of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment, as we near a century since its addition to the Constitution.

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.

53 Years Since Eisenhower “Military-Industrial Complex” Farewell Address

On this day in 1961, three days before leaving the Presidency, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the last military career President we have had, warned of the dangers of the “Military-Industrial Complex” interfering with the basic civil liberties of our nation, and undermining our sense of privacy from government intrusion.

Tragically, that “Military-Industrial Complex” warning has come true, as we have seen surveillance programs by the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, on all citizens, due to the fight against terrorism since September 11, 2001.

Barack Obama, who criticized the early stages of this intrusion under George W. Bush, has doubled down on what Bush has done, and expanded it, although today, he is giving a speech offering limitations on such intrusions, without giving up the right and authority of the federal government to continue to do what they have been doing, which was revealed by Edward Snowden.

So the issue of liberty versus security continues to be a divisive issue, which will have a deleterious effect on the legacy and historical image of Barack Obama, with the possibility that, in the long term, he will be given slack by scholars, much like Abraham Lincoln has been treated by many experts, in his violations of civil liberties during the Civil War, 150 years ago, a time when our nation was in equal, if not greater, danger!

Time For Change: Pope Francis View Needs To Be Accepted By Republican Party, Conservatives, And Evangelical Christians!

Pope Francis has moved the Catholic Church a tremendous distance by his revolutionary statements, declaring it is time to stop obsessing on contraception, abortion, and gay rights!

Instead of promoting hate, division, prejudice, and discrimination, he says it is time to learn to understand and accept different viewpoints, and to avoid condemnation, which makes the lives of millions of people more stressful and torturous.

This is a welcome change, which is certain to cause problems for Pope Francis within the conservative, hard line structure of the Vatican, and the Pope needs to be applauded for promoting an open minded, tolerant attitude that he knows will be vigorously opposed by right wing elements within the Church.

But his bold move opens up another avenue. This is the time for the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and for the evangelical Christians who promote hate, to stop doing that, and to accept that the world is changing, and that accepting contraception, abortion, and homosexuality is not going to destroy the world!

Rather, it is the narrow minded, hateful and intolerant attitudes of these groups which is causing violence, bloodshed, discrimination, and intolerance, against the message of Jesus Christ, and undermining the stated belief of the right wing for less government intervention, which should, therefore, stop interference and the promotion of making life more difficult for gays, women, and privacy rights of the American people!

Will the Catholic Church hierarchy, the Republican Party, conservatives, and evangelical Christians listen to what Pope Francis has uttered?

Sadly, probably not, and the battle for human rights and equality will rage on, ironically against the narrow mindedness of those who claim to believe in freedom and love!

Public Safety And National Security Versus Right To Privacy

Libertarians and Barack Obama critics are up in arms over the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation authority to gain records of phone calls, emails, voice mails, and all other evidence that could possibly prevent future terrorist attacks, claiming it is a loss of the right to privacy, and that privacy should overrule public safety and national security.

But, as much as this author wishes we lived in a world without terrorism, the reality is that the number one priority of the government is to promote public safety and national security, and if one is NOT engaged in terrorist or criminal activity, what do we have to hide from the government? Why such a protest if nothing we are doing is illegal?

Believe me, after Benghazi, we see the reaction because we failed to stop a terrorist attack, but now some of the same critics are trying to stop the government from protecting Americans on the false idea that somehow, we all have something to hide, and that the government should not be able to track terrorist or criminal actions, in the name of that privacy.

When we discover, however, that liberals from Diane Feinstein on the left to Lindsey Graham on the right, and all of the Intelligence Committee members of the US House of Representatives and US Senate knew about this, and approved of it, the screams and yells of people such as Rand Paul, who lives in his own fantasy world, ring hollow, as making a person such as him our President would undermine our public safety and national security, and we are not about to do such a stupid thing as to consider such a wing nut as Paul for the Presidency!

It is better to do what the NSA and FBI are doing, than it was to torture suspects in the way that George W. Bush promoted, as it will protect our nation, and yet uphold our belief in international law and common decency by the banning of torture methods which produce little substantial evidence, but shame us in the eyes of the world!

In history, Barack Obama will be seen as doing what was necessary and essential, just as much as Abraham Lincoln was bitterly attacked during the Civil War, but is now seen as justified in his restrictions on civil liberties!

Supreme Court DNA Ruling An Attack On Privacy Rights

In a very disturbing decision, the Supreme Court on Monday, by a 5-4 vote, allowed for police to collect DNA samples whenever anyone is arrested, seeing it as equivalent of photographs and fingerprints, and allowing its collection in a national data base.

The combination of those in favor included Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority decision, along with Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts , and surprisingly, Stephen Breyer.

The four in opposition were Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and surprisingly, Antonin Scalia.

The attack on constitutional rights is alarming, and the Court majority seems to have no problem with that! Again, very disturbing!

Parental Upbringing Of Children And Pop Culture Must Share Blame For Violence With Gun Industry And NRA

As the nation faces the reality of massive gun violence, there is no question that the gun industry and the National Rifle Association must take some of the blame for the carnage.

But it is more complicated than that. The lack of proper parental upbringing of children is very evident as well, as anyone who observes the way children are allowed to behave in public places, and often has lack of parental supervision for a myriad of reasons, can testify to. Being a parent is a very difficult job, as this blogger can testify to, but in this age we are living in, too often parents abdicate their responsibilities for convenience, or in order to be “popular”. One cannot see parenting as a popularity contest, and one cannot be a “friend” of his children, but instead must be their model for future behavior and responsibilility.

At the same time, “pop culture”—meaning violent video games, and constant production of violent movies by Hollywood—must share a large load of the responsibility for instilling in children the images of constant violence with guns and other destructive instruments that promote death. Children are witness to constant carnage from a very young age, and for mentally unstable children and adults, this can lead to acting out in real time, as we sadly have seen multiplying in recent years. More intervention on mental health matters must be pursued, and if someone is shown to be dangerous, he or she must be reported to authorities, and privacy rights cannot win out over public safety, as too often has happened in recent tragic events.

So those in the video games industry, and directors in Hollywood who enrich themselves on the promotion of bloodshed and violence must be held accountable, and the American people have already indicated that these industries have a responsibility to prevent their profit motive from adding to the tragedy of gun violence, as much as the gun industry and the National Rifle Association.

Ultimately, better parenting is required, so as to monitor children utilizing video games, and the desire to watch violent movies. If people, with their money, refuse to buy video games and to attend showings of violent movies, those industries will have to reform themselves, due to the action of parents and adults.

It is time for action, not just talk!

Robert Bork, Controversial And Rejected Supreme Court Nominee, Dead: Brings Back Memories And Reflections On Effect On Supreme Court

Twenty five years ago, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, former Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General under President Richard Nixon, as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. His death was announced today by his son.

Bork had become controversial for firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate Scandal, as ordered by President Nixon. But he also became controversial for the judicial viewpoint known as “originalism”, which contended that judges and Justices should always interpret the Constitution solely on the basis of what the Founding Fathers enunciated in the 18th century, and not consider changing times in their decisions.

This alarmed progressives, liberals, labor supporters, African Americans, women, environmentalists, and others who saw him as a threat to progress on race and gender, and also on privacy rights, including abortion and contraceptives, of which he vehemently was on record as an opponent of such rights not contained in the original Constitution. Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden became major critics, and his nomination became a massive controversy, and made it that future Supreme Court nominees would be examined with a “fine tooth comb”, making them less willing to be as forthcoming as Bork was in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Bork also believed in no limitation on police rights, and thought evolution should not be taught in public schools as fact, therefore promoting fundamentalist religion as part of the curriculum of schools. He was confrontational in his approach, giving as good as he received in the pursuing debate. He displayed no problem with the growth of monopolies, and had no interest in the rights of gay men and women.

After a bitter battle, he was rejected, and this affected the future Court, as Anthony Kennedy became the new appointee the following year, and now after almost 25 years on the Court, has become in recent years the “swing” vote on many cases, therefore having a major impact on constitutional law.

Do not forget that Kennedy’s vote on Gay Privacy rights, in Lawrence V. Texas in 2003, transformed the gay rights movement, and it is thought likely that his vote will call for the allowance of gay marriage when the cases presently before the Court come up for consideration in March, and decision in June!

There is no way that Robert Bork would have been a “swing” vote on the Court, and might very well have been MORE conservative and right wing than either Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas have turned out to be, so it was a great moment when Bork, with his radical right agenda, wishing to turn back the decisions of the Earl Warren and Warren Burger Courts that expanded individual rights from the 1950s through the 1980s, was soundly rejected!

NAACP Endorsement Of Gay Rights And Gay Marriage As Another Civil Rights Struggle: Major Victory!

The leading, and most reputable, Civil Rights organization in America, the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP), has just endorsed gay rights and gay marriage as equivalent of another civil right, as much as the African American struggle for equality in the 1950s and 1960s.

This is a major victory for gay rights and gay marriage, and will help bring over many African Americans, who because of religious beliefs, have opposed such developments in California, North Carolina, and elsewhere, helping to cause defeats of referendums on the issue of gay marriage.

There were already signs of a beginning of a new attitude among blacks on the topic, and this will only help the progression toward something that will become more and more the norm over time, and in 40 years, we will look back with amazement at the opposition, just as was so with interracial marriage in the 1960s.

The “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment was utilized by the NAACP to justify their stand for gay marriage as a civil right.

This is the way that could be utilized in the future by the Supreme Court, and if a case came up in the short term, such as the California case pursued by Ted Olson and David Boies, the Court COULD rule in favor by a vote of 5-4,. assuming that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who made the majority in 2003 for gay privacy rights in Lawrence V. Texas, were to vote the same way.

One could say that Anthony Kennedy’s vote in 2003 had a great effect in spurring the rapid development of the gay rights movement in the intervening nine years from then to now!

So a Supreme Court endorsement of gay marriage could be in the offing sooner, rather than later!

The Opportunity For A Final Repudiation Of Rick Santorum: The Pennsylvania Primary On April 24

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is expected to lose the Wisconsin Primary big time tonight, along with Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Most of the GOP establishment has now backed Mitt Romney, although some seem reluctant and doubtful about the former Massachusetts Governor.

Santorum has become ever more vicious in his attacks on Romney, and has made it clear that he intends to stay in the race, despite daunting odds against him. He believes he will win his home state primary three weeks from now, and talks about how the month of May should be a good month for him.

This is part of Rick Santorum’s growing image as delusional!

We can look forward to the strong likelihood that Pennsylvania, which rejected Santorum for a third term in the US Senate in 2006, by a 17 point defeat, one of the all time record losses in percentage for a sitting US Senator, will repudiate him again, embarrassing him to the extreme.

But then, knowing Santorum’s delusions, he might not be embarrassed, and might continue to campaign into May, showing he is out of touch with reality.

The best gift possible for Mitt Romney, and for progressives nationwide, would be a smashing defeat and repudiation of a man who is not only delusional, but also a social totalitarian, desirous of taking away our privacy rights, in his mad dash toward promotion of a theocracy in America!