Supreme Court

The Death Of Famed Political Scientist And Historian James MacGregor Burns At Age 95

Sad news has come, that famed political scientist and historian James MacGregor Burns, of Williams College, has passed away at the advanced age of 95.

A professor at Williams College for nearly a half century, and then at the University of Maryland, Burns was the author of some twenty books, as well as a famed textbook in the field of American government, which this author used in his classes over the years, in several different editions.

The first to write a study of his friend, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he was running for President, Burns became most noted for his three volume history of the United States; his two volume study of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1956 and 1970 (which had a profound effect on this author); a study of the three Roosevelts (Franklin, Eleanor, and Theodore); studies of Congress; and also analysis of the Supreme Court. He won the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award for his second volume on FDR (The Soldier of Freedom) in 1971.

There are few scholars in political science and history who have had the massive effect on those fields that Burns had, so he will be missed, but also remembered for his tremendous contributions.

Central Intelligence Agency Spies On All But Four Nations!

The news has come out that the Central Intelligence Agency, created in 1947, and often under attack for its actions, and its illegal doings much of the time, often without knowledge of the President of the United States, has seen its leader in Germany expelled for spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel, including her cell phone.

This action to expel the CIA leader came about without the knowledge of President Barack Obama, and it has caused an embarrassing incident between a friendly nation and the United States.

But it is nothing new for the CIA to go around Presidential control or awareness, and it has been a constant problem, much of it exposed by the Church Committee (headed by Idaho Senator Frank Church) in the mid 1970s!

The CIA is often seen as a shadow government within our government, not accountable to the White House or Congress or the Supreme Court, all in the name of national security.

Thus the National Security Agency and 15 other spy agencies have a budget that is not public knowledge, and we have learned that they are eavesdropping on ordinary Americans in the quest to keep our nation secure, but worrying civil liberties advocates tremendously.

The most interesting revelation coming out of the expose of the German situation is that only four nations, all English speaking, do not have CIA spying going on in their nations–Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand!

So even such allies as Israel, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, among others, are being spied upon regularly!

Voter “Fraud”, Voter Suppression, Civil Rights, And The 26th Amendment!

We hear Republicans claim “voter fraud”, which is a total fraud in itself, as the amount of voter fraud has been shown to be something like one billion of one percent!

There is no voter fraud to speak of, and if we are going to talk about voter fraud, what about the fraud in the vote count in Florida in the Presidential Election of 2000, which benefited George W. Bush over Al Gore; and the reported voter fraud in Ohio in the Presidential Election Of 2004, which again benefited George W. Bush, this time over John Kerry?

It is a fact that only in states that are seen as in danger of turning “blue”, do we see accusations of voter fraud, to insure that a “red” state will stay “red”! So we have seen the Southern states and some Midwestern states, which have passed voter suppression laws, affecting African Americans, Latinos, poor people, the elderly, and now, even the young.

So the classic case, but not the only one, is North Carolina, which now had cut down the number of voting days before Election Day; has stopped same day registration; has decided that early voting on the Sunday before the election shall be ended (what often is the method for black churchgoers to make voting a group event); has required a state ID to vote, something many poor people cannot afford, and often have trouble getting to proper locations if they wish to buy it in person (a requirement); and now is preventing 16 and 17 year old high school students from preregistration; and not allowing college students from other states to use their college address so that they can vote in the state elections of the college or university they are attending and residing in for four or more years!

So we have a law suit against North Carolina, asserting that they are discouraging college and young voters from registering and voting, therefore trying to fix the elections, true voter fraud! And the constitutional case is the 26th Amendment of 1971, which allows 18-21 years old citizens to vote!

This is the new attempt at what used to be called “Jim Crow” laws, and the Republican Party is fully backing such denials in multiple states, right after the Supreme Court, wrongfully, weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forgetting the struggles, bloodshed, and deaths suffered in the battle for voting rights. The ultimate civil right is voting rights!

What is clear is that when the states lose these battles, particularly regarding the 26th Amendment, they are guaranteeing the loss of the young vote for generations, as any intelligent young person voting for the party which worked to suppress its voting rights is as likely as “Hell Freezing Over!”

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

Quinnipiac Poll On Worst President Since WW II Is Sign Of Total Ignorance And Stupidity!

A new Quinnipiac poll for July 4th rates Presidents since World War II, and comes to the asinine conclusion that Barack Obama, engaged in the typical “sixth year” doldrums, is the worst President since 1945!

Really? Give all of us a break! This demonstrates total ignorance and stupidity of American history, and how quickly people forget past Presidents and the records they have in office.

How could Barack Obama be the worst President since 1945, with:

The highest stock market in history, up 150 percent.
Gaining back of all the millions of jobs lost in the Great Recession, plus more jobs created despite GOP obstructionism.
The deficit falling faster than at any time since Eisenhower.
Hunting down and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The capture of the perpetrator of the Benghazi deaths in Libya.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act, giving more Americans health care coverage than at any time in American history.
The passage of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau despite opposition from Wall Street, corporations and Republicans.
The appointment of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
The advancement of environmental protection on the road to the level of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt.
The promotion of the interests of the middle class against the Republican aim to destroy the middle class by lack of action.

Of course, any person could make a list of programs and policies of Barack Obama which have not worked out to their or our satisfaction, including this author.

But come on, compare Obama to George W. Bush:

Two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both causing trillions of dollars in the national debt, and not accomplishing their goals, and the war in Iraq totally unnecessary, a war of choice.
The poor handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and Mississippi and Alabama.
The failed Social Security privatization plan, which would have destroyed the program in 2008.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009, worst since the Great Depression under Herbert Hoover.

And if we are to rate the worst Presidents, how about Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who both did so much harm in office, even while admitting certain positives for both?

And to rate Mitt Romney a better choice, 45 percent, to be President now, after the failed campaign of 2012–face the facts, the American people made the right choice in rejecting Romney, arguably the worst candidate of the Republican Party since Barry Goldwater in 1964. This was a man who lied, lied, lied, constantly, more than any Presidential nominee in American history!

The fact that the poll participants showed no real knowledge of American history is troubling, as to come to such a ridiculous conclusion demonstrates total lack of understanding of what has gone on in this nation in recent years! All they react to is charisma, so that Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton rank the highest, simply based on image!

What do these involved in the poll know about Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush, as well as the Presidents that are rated high, and those rated low in the poll? Clearly, NOTHING!

Greatest Domestic Accomplishments Of Presidents Since FDR

So much attention is usually paid to foreign policy during any President’s administration, but domestic accomplishments are something that needs much more attention.

Following is what this author regards as the greatest domestic accomplishment of each President since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Franklin D. Roosevelt—Social Security Act of 1935

Harry Truman–Integration of the military and Washington DC in 1948

Dwight D. Eisenhower–Appointment of Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1953 and Associate Justice William Brennan in 1956

John F. Kennedy—Integration of University of Mississippi by James Meredith, with federal enforcement in 1962

Lyndon B. Johnson—Civil Rights Act of 1964

Richard Nixon–Creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970

Gerald Ford—Appointment of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975

Jimmy Carter—Environmental Reform and Expansion of Public Lands 1977-1981

Ronald Reagan—Social Security Reform in tandem with Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill in 1983

George H. W. Bush—Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990

Bill Clinton—Appointment of Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994

George W. Bush—Medicare Part D Prescription Law of 2003

Barack Obama—Affordable Care Act of 2010

Discussion and commentary on this list is welcome!

50th Anniversary Of Civil Rights Act: Most Significant Law Since Social Security In 1935!

Today is a day to celebrate, as it is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of Lyndon B. Johnson, the most significant single law passed since Social Security under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935!

The Civil Rights Act has had a massive impact on American society, just as the Social Security Act has had.

And yet, there are those who would love to repeal the Civil Rights Act, as well as those who would love to repeal the Social Security Act.

There are those who hate the idea that African Americans and others are treated equally under the law, and would wish for the return of Jim Crow segregation, just as there are those who hate the “welfare state” represented by the Social Security Act!

The battle for human dignity continues unabated, as the right wing will never give up trying to make America return to the Gilded Age mentality, before workers were given any rights; before immigrants started to have some respect; before women acquired equal rights to vote; before African Americans gained their right to racial equality; and now as gays and lesbians strive to gain total equality and freedom as much as straight people!

This is a moment to applaud Lyndon B. Johnson for the great deeds he accomplished in civil rights and voting rights, and at a time when the reactionary Supreme Court has started to backtrack on the Voting Rights Act, showing a true ignorance of history!

And finally, in the future, in 2060, the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of ObamaCare, the most significant single piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act and the Social Security Act, and Barack Obama will be given the proper respect and admiration that he might never receive in his lifetime!

The Supreme Court Has Gone Too Far!

The majority Republican Supreme Court, an unelected body that acts often as if they are outside of any concern about public opinion, has simply gone too far, in ruling that a corporation is not only a person, and therefore unlimited corporate donations are permitted, but also a corporation can limit access to birth control and contraception on its health care plan, based on the “Christian” values of its owners!

Also, the Court has worked to weaken public labor unions, and set out to undermine voting rights in the South and Midwest, leading to mass violations of voting rights, and new voter limitations for poor people.

This Court has gone amuck, demonstrating that it is involved in a war on woman, labor, blacks, and immigrants, all while being extremely pro corporation and pro religion, when we have separation of church and state as part of our basic constitutional beliefs!

The Court majority is promoting a religious oligarchy of powerful, wealthy corporate leaders, and this will motivate women, workers, blacks, immigrant groups, environmentalists and people of both genders who care about social justice and equality to become politically active and vote in November!

If the people do not react, they will get what they deserve–a government of, by and for the top one percent!

The Senate must remain Democratic for future Court appointments, and the Presidency must stay in the hands of the Democrats, in order to prevent conservative activist nominees in the future, such as Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito represent.

It is likely there will be three to four nominees for the high Court by 2020, so Democrats must have control, but to do that, the people must react to these outrages of the Supreme Court!

Why Such Opposition To Birth Control And Contraception, As It Has Nothing To Do With Abortion?

Hobby Lobby, the corporation which won its case before the Supreme Court today, making it possible for them to avoid having contraception as part of the medical coverage for their employees, is run by a family which professes to be “good Christians.”

What does birth control and contraception have to do with being “good Christians?”

All birth control and contraception means is that a woman should be able to have sexual relations, without the constant fear that she will be pregnant, when it may be inconvenient or problematical, in psychological or economic ways, to become pregnant.

Stopping a pregnancy occurring with an IUD or the “morning after” pill is not the same as having an abortion week or months later, when a fetus has started to develop.

Why should anyone give a damn about a woman having sex, without having to be concerned about pregnancy?

What is is about some “good Christians” that they feel the need to have government or corporations try to control a woman’s reproductive cycle, when it is NONE of their business, what one does with his or her love life?

Why can’t men leave women alone, and let them have human dignity and respect that they deserve? We don’t see a move to deny men the right to Viagra coverage on their medical plans!

Aren’t there enough poor people in this nation, already, who do not need anyone interfering in their desire to AVOID pregnancy?

Isn’t it time for people to stop butting into the private lives of others, and work on solving their own private life problems?

Isn’t it time for clergy to focus on making life better for those who are here and living,and those who are trying to make their lives better by not adding unwanted population, simply due to a sexual experience, be left alone?

Gay Marriage Case Likely On Way To Supreme Court For Ruling One Year From Now!

The issue of gay marriage is likely on its way to the Supreme Court, and almost certainly will be decided a year from now, in the most blockbuster case of 2015!

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has declared gay marriage to be a basic right, and that means marriages can move ahead in the near future in Utah, which brought the case, along with Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and New Mexico!

There is a temporary hold, but it is a major step forward, and insures, almost certainly, that the case will go to the Supreme Court this fall.

And it is ALMOST certain that we will have a Loving V. Virginia (interracial marriage) case result next year, allowing gay marriage everywhere in America, whether religious right wingers like it or not! One must realize that no church or other religious establishment would have to promote it, but civil marriage would move forward.

The belief is that there are four certain supporters of gay marriage on the Court—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

Additionally, Justice Anthony Kennedy was the one who decided the path breaking case of Lawrence V. Texas, which greatly expanded the gay rights movement in 2003!

And it is possible to believe that Chief Justice John Roberts could also add his vote, making the vote next June 6-3!