START Treaty

Mainstream Republicans An Endangered Species: Bad Omen For The Future

The Republican Party, in its mad dash to the far right, is about to consume its few mainstream members in the US Senate.

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is facing a likely Tea Party opponent, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch was booed at the recent CPAC convention, despite his solidly conservative voting record over the past 35 years.

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has lost the support of the Tea Party, which originally was thrilled by his winning of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in 2010, and may also face a primary challenge.

But the repudiation in Indiana of Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republican and foreign policy expert, by his own party leadership, is a major blow to a Senator who could be called more than a politician, instead a statesman.

Lugar made enemies voting for the START Treaty with Russia, opposing a ban on earmarks, and supporting Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. He has been called Barack Obama’s favorite Republican.

So Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, not a Tea Party leader, is challenging Lugar, although it is believed that Governor Mitch Daniels and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence may stay neutral in the primary race due on May 8, 2012.

Will Lugar get the message and decide to retire after 36 years? It seems unlikely, but his loss would be a major blow to moderate conservatism and the future of the Republican Party image nationally.

Senator Richard Lugar: Endangered By The Tea Party Movement In The Republican Party! :(

America benefits by having two strong political parties, which understand that compromise is part of politics, and that “crossing the aisle” to work with the opposition party is not treason!

Unfortunately, with the rise of the Tea Party Movement, the Republican Party has been radicalized to the far right, unwilling to accept any Republican who does not follow the extremist agenda of the Tea Party Movement.

Therefore, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Richard Lugar of Indiana are all facing likely challenges in the primaries in 2012, when they all have a difficult re-election contest for their Senate seats.

The one who seems the most endangered is Lugar, truly one of the rare gems of the Senate.

Lugar is certainly a conservative, but he is a “respectable” conservative willing to cross the aisle and work with Democrats.

Acknowledged as a true expert on American foreign policy, and as a thoughtful individual, the author has always had respect for Senator Lugar, and he is well regarded by his own colleagues, and has often been seen as a potential Secretary of State.

Lugar cooperated with Barack Obama in the Senate on various issues, and just recently, he supported the DREAM Act, the START Treaty with Russia, and voted for both of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees–Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

For this, he has been condemned by Tea Party activists in Indiana, admittedly a state which is much more conservative traditionally than other Midwestern states.

So it seems clear Lugar will have a major primary challenge and might lose his seat, which would be a tremendous loss for his party and the Senate’s reputation.

We need more Richard Lugars in the Senate, if that body is to retain an image of being a serious minded, respectable institution. There are too many firebrand extremists in that legislative body, embarrassing the Republican Party and insuring deadlock and stalemate.

The Heroes And The Goats Of The “Lame Duck” Session Of Congress

The recent “lame duck” session of Congress saw some real heroes and some real goats.

The heroes would include Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana; and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Schumer and Gillibrand used their talents and persuasive abilities to accomplish the passage of the September 11 First Responders Medical legislation. Gillibrand, particularly, became noticed as a truly courageous figure, after much doubt about her after being appointed by Governor David Paterson over more well known and prominent candidates to succeed Hillary Clinton.

Joe Lieberman proved how useful he can be, pursuing the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military with a fierceness and principle rarely seen in any Senator.

Bernie Sanders proved how wonderful a human being he is, fighting for the common people, and against the corporations and the wealthy, and his eight and a half hour filibuster was inspiring.

Richard Lugar gave evidence again that he is one of the best Senators of modern times, pushing for the START Treaty, supporting gays in the military, and being one of three Republicans to support the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, he will probably suffer a primary challenger as a result in 2012, but he is in so many ways, a Senator’s Senator, much like Ted Kennedy was in the recent past!

And Lisa Murkowksi found a new independence as a result of her tough re-election contest as an independent, and courageously supported gays in the military, the DREAM Act, and the START Treaty.

At the same time that the above Senators showed conviction and decency, the following demonstrated how disgraceful some political figures can be, and can be termed as “goats”: Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

All of the above demonstrated bitterness, anger, pettiness, narrow mindedness, and extreme partisanship at a time when a group of Senators of their party actually displayed bipartisanship on the START Treaty, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ending in the military, and the September 11 First Responders Medical legislation.

So congratulations are in order for the first group of Senators above, and a chorus of boos for the second set above!

An Amazing, Historic Day: Triple Victory And Culmination Of Brilliant Lame Duck Session, One Of Greatest Performing In American History! :)

December 22, 2010, will go down in history as an extremely rare day in American history, as THREE major accomplishments came to fruition in just a few hours! ๐Ÿ™‚

The signing of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for the military in a morning ceremony was a great civil rights victory, the greatest since 1965.

The ratification of the START Treaty with Russia was President Obama’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment in office, and won 13 Senate Republican supporters, winning 71-26 in the afternoon. This was an important step forward in gaining Russian support for dealing with the growing threat presented by Iran.

And then, in an ultimate vote of conscience, the Congress gave justice to September 11 First Responders by passing medical care legislation for those heroes who worked so hard under difficult conditions after the tragic attack on the World Trade Center.

This day just culminates a fantastic Lame Duck Session, in which unemployment compensation extension was accomplished, along with continuation of tax cuts that already existed (but unfortunately with continued tax cuts to the top two percent, which will add nearly a trillion to the national debt, but a necessary compromise under the circumstances), and a food safety bill which gives the Food and Drug Administration more authority over the subject than at any time since 1938 under the New Deal.

The only major failure and loss was the DREAM Act, which Obama made clear, at a triumphant, confident, press conference, was still a major goal to be accomplished in the 112th Congress, which seems doubtful.

But Obama certainly revived from the major defeat in the midterm elections just six weeks ago, and is seen as having made a “comeback”, which means no one should underestimate his ability to get things done, and to accomplish his goals, because as he said, when he feels strongly about some issue, he is “persistent”!

So we should all congratulate Obama and his party for having done what seemed to be the impossible–REAL accomplishments in a Lame Duck session, which many Republicans thought was a useless waste of time! HOW WRONG THEY WERE !

Arizona Badly Served By John McCain And Jon Kyl: A Longing For The Times Of Barry Goldwater! :(

Arizona has been badly served by its two Senators–John McCain and Jon Kyl– who have become so right wing, anti immigrant, anti gay, out to do anything to prevent any social or economic progress or foreign policy advancements! ๐Ÿ™

McCain was once considered a moderate and a maverick, but that now seems long gone, and McCain himself so labeled himself as never having been a maverick as he ran a right wing campaign to hold on to his Senate seat this year. ๐Ÿ™

McCain showed a lack of leadership during the financial panic of 2008, chose the absolutely most disastrous possible Vice Presidential running mate in Sarah Palin, and has constantly reneged on what he believed in and advocated during his earlier years in the Senate.

Jon Kyl also originally was perceived as a moderate, but has lately become a bitter man like McCain, and is blocking the START Treaty, fought against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as vehemently as McCain, and is also leading the fight against the September 11 First Responders Medical legislation, a shameful action, which lowers the esteem any reasonable person can have of Kyl! ๐Ÿ™

When one compares these two present Arizona Senators to past Senator Barry Goldwater, the classical Mr. Conservative, one has to actually wish for the “good old days” of the 1960s, when Goldwater stood on principle, but cooperated with John F. Kennedy, and later came out for abortion rights and gay rights, and said regarding the military that as long as a soldier can shoot straight, who cares if he is straight?

Goldwater may have been a conservative, but he was never a bitter, hateful obstructionist on so many issues as John McCain and Jon Kyl have now proved to be! ๐Ÿ™

It just goes to show how far the Republican party has moved from the mainstream where it was located in the 1960s, 1970s, and even the 1980s! ๐Ÿ™

Vice President Joe Biden On Way To Becoming Most Influential Vice Presidency In History! :)

The Vice Presidency has been growing in authority and influence since the days of Richard Nixon in that office, the first Vice President to have a great impact on a Presidency.

After Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, George H W Bush, Al Gore, and Dick Cheney added to the office in so many ways.

But it looks likely now that Joe Biden may eventually be seen as the most influential and powerful Vice President, even surpassing the role of Dick Cheney under President George W. Bush.

Originally a rival of Barack Obama for the Presidency, Biden is rapidly becoming more significant, particularly now that the Congress will be divided for the first time since 1987.

Biden, with his contacts on Capitol Hill, and good relations with members and leaders of both political parties, is the perfect person to negotiate for the administration, and comes across as a more “affable fellow” than Rahm Emanuel was, or really, any other person around President Obama.

Biden has been involved in the negotiations over the tax package, and also is working hard on the START Treaty that is soon coming up for a vote, and requires GOP support to pass with a two thirds vote.

Biden and Obama have truly bonded over time, and while Biden might not win every battle, as with Afghanistan policy, who can say that Obama will not eventually go Biden’s direction and lower our involvement in that forsaken nation?

Biden is totally loyal to Obama and a great team player, and he is proving to be a tremendous asset in so many ways.

And his big plus is everyone likes Joe, while many detested Dick Cheney.

Personality can get one far in politics, and Joe Biden has always been a “nice guy” who can get things done, and proves that it is not always true that “nice guys finish last”.

The Bernie Sanders Filibuster Against The Obama-GOP Tax Deal: An Honest Expression Of Frustration, But Not Ultimately A Winning Strategy! :(

As the author writes, Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is conducting a filibuster against the tax deal negotiated by the Obama Administration with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader, and others.

In an unprecedented move, Congressional Democrats are staging a revolt against what their own party’s President has done, and the anger and venom felt by many progressives and liberals seems to have no limit.

They feel that the President has surrendered to the GOP, and that the tax deal is unacceptable, but the Republicans are “holding hostage’ all action on other issues, and already have prevented a final vote on the DREAM Act, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the START Treaty, and the September 11 First Responders Medical legislation.

As the author has stated before, there are many problems with the proposed tax legislation, but continues to feel that the shortness of time prevents a major rebellion against the proposal, as if it is not done, unemployment compensation extension will be prevented, along with failure on the above list of priorities.

So while the author is sympathetic to what Senator Sanders is doing, and what Chuck Schumer, Anthony Wiener, Gary Ackerman, Jerrold Nadler, Mary Landrieu, and numerous others in both houses of Congress are expressing, it seems an unwise action, and it is certainly unusual to see progressives and liberals utilizing the filibuster tactic!

Hopefully, some tinkering with the legislation can be arranged, but major change will have to wait for the election results of 2012. Meanwhile, President Obama is meeting today with former President Bill Clinton to gain advice as to how to deal with this messy situation, similar to what Clinton faced after the disastrous midterm losses of 1994.

Republican “Blackmailing” Of Congressional Agenda: Hostage To Tax Cuts For The Wealthy! :(

Immediately after the White House conference this week of Democratic and Republican leaders to promote cooperation over the next two years with a split Congress, Republican leaders made clear that they would NOT cooperate during the Lame Duck session on ANYTHING, unless the Democrats and President Obama agreed to extend the so called Bush tax cuts to all taxpayers, rather than the Democratic plan to only give tax cuts to all but the top two percent of taxpayers!

So the GOP is holding “hostage” the following: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military; the START Treaty; the DREAM Act for undocumented children of illegal immigrants; unemployment compensation extension for those who have run out of benefits completely; and even a child nutrition bill for the poor and needy school children! ๐Ÿ™

The Republican leadership in the Senate has no limits to its arrogance and willingness to hold up action until they get what they want! Barack Obama apologizes to them, and they respond by making his life a total nightmare! ๐Ÿ™

It is one thing to be the “loyal opposition”! It is another thing to promote a total blockade, a total refusal to cooperate on the emergency conditions that exist in this country, and only be concerned that super wealthy people continue to gain a greater concentration of wealth unseen in the entire history of this nation! ๐Ÿ™

Is this a country for only the top two percent, the millionaires and the billionaires, or is this a government “of, by and for the people”, including the middle class and the poor, the sick, the elderly, the young, the disabled, what was called in the past the “common man” during the time of Andrew Jackson, and the “forgotten man” during the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt?

This is a bad omen for the 112th Congress, when it now looks more likely than ever that NOTHING will be accomplished, and the nation will suffer for it as the bad economic conditions continue to plague the future of America! ๐Ÿ™

A Tragic Betrayal By The Republican Party On Crucial Issues In Lameduck Session! :(

The nation is seeing how hard hearted, lacking in compassion, mean spirited, and narrow minded that the Republican Party of 2010 really is on so many issues in the lame duck session of Congress! ๐Ÿ™

It seems unlikely that there will be an extension of unemployment compensation to desperate people who have no source of income, in a time of the worst economic conditions since the 1930s! But meanwhile, the GOP is standing firm to continue tax cuts to the wealthy, adding to the national debt over the next ten years! ๐Ÿ™

The possibility of giving children of illegal immigrants an opportunity to have a decent future in America and move toward citizenship via the DREAM Act proposal sadly seems to be failing also to gain adequate GOP support! ๐Ÿ™

The movement toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military also seems about to fail, despite Pentagon backing! Sadly, Senator John McCain is leading the fight against change, although in the past, he was supportive of the possibility of ending discrimination against gays in the military! ๐Ÿ™

And despite the appeal of Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana that his party back the START Treaty with the Russian government, as a way to promote the cutting back of nuclear stockpiles and make a safer world, it also seems unlikely to gain enough Republican votes to make it through the Senate by the two thirds majority needed for a treaty! ๐Ÿ™

The Republican Party of 2010 seems ready, now with a majority in the House of Representatives next year, to continue the total obstructionism that marked their performance in 2009-2010! ๐Ÿ™

This is a gloomy foreboding of the next two years–that nothing will be accomplished, with the only question being who will be blamed in 2012 for this sad state of affairs–the GOP, the Democrats, or Barack Obama!

Former Senator John Danforth, Senator Richard Lugar, And The Collapse Of The GOP As A Respectable Party! :(

Former Republican Senator John Danforth of Missouri, a well respected moderate conservative, has denounced the turn of the GOP toward the extreme right Tea Party Movement, and has declared that the Republican Party of history may be lost forever!

Danforth is particularly scathing of the refusal of the Republicans in the Senate to cooperate on the ratification of the START Treaty with the Russian government, an action denounced also by the very respectable and acknowledged expert on foreign policy, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar!

Lugar’s opposition to his own party on the START treaty, and to the Tea Party Movement, has led to a move to try to defeat him in 2012, a move that Danforth bitterly opposes as the end of rational policy and principle by the party that he sees rapidly deteriorating! ๐Ÿ™

Danforth and Lugar are a few of the rare remnants of the Republican Party which once was a respectable mainstream party, but is rapidly descending into darkness as an extreme right wing, regressive party that is trying to return America to the era of the 1920s or the Gilded Age! ๐Ÿ™

If Richard Lugar is in trouble, the country is the loser! ๐Ÿ™