US Congress

Congressman John Dingell Of Michigan Becomes Longest Serving Member Of Congress In History On June 7!

Michigan Congressman John Dingell becomes the longest serving member of Congress in American history on June 7, having served over 57 years, and about 21,000 days, and 25,000 votes.

The nearly 87 year old Congressman won a special election to replace his father. who had passed away.

Dingell will break the record of longevity of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

The Congress will celebrate the event on June 13, when there will be a ceremony in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol, honoring Dingell.

This is an event unlikely to be surpassed, although one cannot be sure of what the future might hold, as to another Congressional member breaking the record!

The Future Of Student College Loan Rates Will Affect The Economic Future Of America!

It is more than ever essential, for long term economic success, for a young person to attend college, by every measure and statistic.

It is also becoming more and more expensive to attend college, even public colleges and universities.

The college student loan system has the capability to bankrupt millions of students, who will spend up to 30 years of their work lives paying down their college loans.

IF the interest rate is overly high, it can have a dramatic effect on the American economy long term, as many college graduates will be unable to afford a home, buy a car, spend money on consumer goods, and decide to have the expense of children.

IF we make going to college the equivalent of a form of economic slavery, it will discourage people from attending college, and will embitter those who have, and now are saddled with unsustainable debts.

That is why, at the least, the low interest rates agreed to in 2007–3.4 percent on government loans–needs to be continued, rather than the planned 6.8 percent.

But in 2007, the Republicans agreed to join the push for lower interest rates, but this time might not do so on political and ideological grounds.

Keeping the interest rate low will cost the taxpayers, but benefit the nation at large.

A greater goal should be the forgiveness of a large amount of student debt as an expense for now, but a method to promote economic growth in the long run.

Education should never be an issue of money alone, as without promotion of educational opportunity, not only the individual suffers, but the nation at large!

Earth Day, The Environment, And Republicans From TR And Nixon To James Inhofe And Mitt Romney!

The Republican Party under Theodore Roosevelt a century ago promoted conservation and growth of national parks.

The Republican Party under Richard Nixon promoted the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and expanded on the air and water pollution legislation of Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Republican Party under Ronald Reagan, despite his wish to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency, and having a terrible record on the environment, possibly the worst of modern times, actually came to realize the dangers of global warming, which became part of the national security agenda in 1985 and after.

The Republican Party under George H. W. Bush, and then Democrat Bill Clinton, continued to deal with the issue of global warming.

It seems clear that once Al Gore, an environmental champion before, during, and after serving as Vice President under Bill Clinton, lost the Presidential Election of 2000 in the Supreme Court, it became the clarion call of those who would deny global warming and climate change, to push against any such crusade, and to condemn environmentalists on principle, much of it based on fake science promoted by right wing Evangelical Christians, with their leading champion being Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, but certainly joined by others in the Republican Party in both houses of Congress.

So we have even Mitt Romney now straddling the fence, refusing to take a strong stand on the environment, global warming, and climate change, and about to give a commencement speech next month at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia, where denial of environmental crisis, and even of evolution, runs rampant.

Look how far the GOP has fallen from the time of TR and Nixon to the present–a true national tragedy playing itself out, and certain to have a negative impact on the future of this country and the planet!

Shocking, Horrible, Unacceptable Scandal In The Secret Service: What Have We Come To Regarding Presidential Security?

A very shocking, horrible, and unacceptable scandal has erupted in the Secret Service, the agency responsible for the safety and security of the President and his family, the Vice President and his family, Republican Presidential candidates during the Presidential campaign, and others assigned protection by the US government!

Up to a dozen Secret Service agents have been sent home from the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia, where Barack Obama is attending, in a nation infamous for drug cartels and violence that could endanger the President, because of accusations of consorting with prostitutes and covering up their illicit activities.

While supposedly none of these agents were directly involved with the personal protection of the President, it is still alarming and distressful that prostitutes apparently were brought back to the hotel the President was due to stay at, an utterly reckless violation of Presidential security.

What have we come to that those who are given the most responsible job, bar none, of anyone involved in any security detail in this nation, could be so reckless, irresponsible, and endanger the health and safety and security of our President? This is absolutely mind boggling beyond belief!

The author has often wondered whether the President, whoever he is, and specifically President Obama at this point, is in danger from “rogue” elements in the Secret Service who could be engaged in plots against the President, even at the point of realization that some of those might have to sacrifice their own lives to accomplish their despicable plan to murder the President of the United States! Particularly the fact that Obama is our first African American President, and is highly controversial, and causes tremendous polarization politically through no fault of his own, but simply the reality of politics in 21st century America, is enough to cause the author great concern and worry for his safety and security, and that of his wife and children, and other government and political leaders!

There is absolutely no room for error, no room for blunders, no room for any “hanky panky” by Secret Service agents at any time while employed by the US government to do the most important and responsible job that anyone has in this nation!

There can be no forgiveness if the charges are true, and the agents need to be exposed, prosecuted, and given prison time as a warning to others who might have irresponsible and reckless ideas about their role as Secret Service agents!

We need people in the Secret Service who are totally dedicated to their jobs, and never allow themselves to be compromised in any way at any time while in employment by the US government!

It is not acceptable to say “boys will be boys”, that all men, and even women, have sexual urges that must be acted upon! If that is the mentality, then get another kind of employment, but NOT in the Secret Service!

There will be a need for a full investigation, totally non political, by a joint committee of both houses of Congress, so that this will never happen again, as it has become the biggest scandal in the history of the Secret Service, and stains the record of those dedicated agents, both past and present, who have dedicated their lives, and in some cases lost their lives, in their commitment to service and protection of our top government officials!

Mitt Romney: Total Opportunist, Totally Unprincipled!

So now Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, has what he has wanted all of his life: to be the nominee of the Republican Party for the Presidency of the United States!

Now the problem is to WIN the Presidency from a man who is one of the great orators and political “animals” of the modern Presidency, right up there with Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Each of the above had his shortcomings and weaknesses, but each knew how to inspire and motivate people, and have people believe in them and their principles.

Mitt Romney has no such problem, no such oratorical gift, no such ability to inspire and motivate people, and no principles he will not abandon in his mad dash to be President!

Mitt Romney offers himself as a chameleon who will change his views on a moment’s notice if he believes it will help promote his desire to be President!

But by being so inconsistent, so changeable, so lacking in embarrassment that he has totally changed his views and repudiated his record as Governor of Massachusetts, he makes it difficult for anyone to feel a commitment to go out there and vote for Mitt as a principled political leader who one can know how he would conduct himself as President.

Mitt Romney is phony even when he laughs, even when he tells a joke, even when he attempts to sing. One finds himself embarrassed for him, that he cannot look at tapes of himself and wince at how he appears to the American people.

This is a man of unknown quality, an intelligent man for sure, a good family man for sure, probably a lot of fun to be around in private according to his wife’s testimony, a man of strong religious principle for sure, and a man who if he was not running for President might come across as genuine if he was not seeking your vote.

But he is asking us to vote for him without having any clue as to whether he will go back to being a moderate, or remain on the right wing of the Republican Party. We do not know if he would be willing to gut the social safety network that even George W. Bush expanded. We do not know if he would be able to get along with right wing Republicans in Congress, or would be his own man and break with the extremism that they represent.

We do not know how he would shape the Supreme Court, whether he would pick moderates or make the Court so right wing that it would set us back for two generations of time.

We do not know how he would communicate with the media, and through them, with the American people on a daily basis. He certainly would have a tough act to follow, lacking the charisma and personality of Barack Obama.

Would Mitt Romney be willing to preside over the dissolution of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as we know it? Would he be unwilling to work with our European allies, and be ready to commit troops to ever continuous war in the Middle East? Would he be someone who would resist religious influence to promote an intrusion in government beyond the wishes of the Founding Fathers? Would the Mormon Church gain a special foothold in government, and be able to promote its backward, resistance to change, mentality with a Mormon in the White House, or would Romney, like John F. Kennedy, make clear that he happens to be a Mormon, but is not the Mormon President, not dedicated to the church’s advancement in a nation that is a country of all religions and also, no religious beliefs?

What it comes down to is that Mitt Romney as President would be a total “blank slate”, an unknown, who we would have no idea of what kind of President he would turn out to be.

The question is whether the American people want to gamble on a man who is so much an unknown quantity, due primarily to his chameleon nature!

The betting is clearly that the answer will be NO!

Barack Obama On The Attack Against Republicans And Conservatives: Critical Of The Supreme Court And The Paul Ryan Budget Plan

Barack Obama has gone on the offensive against conservative and Republican philosophy, both on the Supreme Court and in Congress.

Already throwing down the gauntlet to the Supreme Court yesterday, Obama pointed out that the commerce clause and Supreme Court case history and two Circuit Court Judges (Laurence Silberman and Jeffrey Sutton) are a call for backing the Obama Health Care law, and it is clear that IF the Court declares it unconstitutional, the Court itself will be an issue in the upcoming Presidential campaign of 2012. And it is certain that the KEY issue of 2012, no matter what happens, is to realize that the future judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and the lower courts matter more than ANYTHING economic or foreign policy related, because the judiciary is a lifetime appointment!

If we are upset over a 5-4 Court to the right, imagine a 7-2 Court under a Republican President when and if Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer, both in their 70s, leave the Court over the next four to eight years!

But today, President Obama is also mounting a full scale assault on the Paul Ryan budget plan adopted by the House Republican majority for the second year in a row, which includes massive tax cuts to the rich beyond the Bush tax cuts, and major cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and all other domestic spending programs that benefit the poor and the struggling middle class, as well as the elderly.

Obama is calling it today’s “Social Darwinism”, the prevalent philosophy of the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, a period being matched and surpassed with the growing concentration of wealth in the top one percent of the population in the past ten years, and now threatening to be even more concentrated under the budget plan of the House Budget Committee Chairman.

And with the growing possibility that Ryan might be the Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, the future of the nation is at stake on the Supreme Court and lower courts, and also on the Presidential and Vice Presidential level, along with the Congressional actions in future years.

This is a battle for survival of the middle class, and the continuation of understanding the plight of the poor, as class division and the potential for class warfare grows!

Republicans, Women And Hispanics: Antagonism Self Induced And Irretrievable!

The Republican Party has been suicidal in this Presidential campaign, and likely nominee Mitt Romney, as well as Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, have all effectively killed off the chances of the party wooing large percentages of two key voting groups–women and Hispanics.

Joe Scarborough, former Florida Congressman and host of Morning Joe on MSNBC has warned the party of the self induced damage they are doing, but the party leadership and candidates have been tone deaf to it.

And now a new series of polls show Mitt Romney way down in percentage with both women and Hispanics, and with seven months to go, no one, realistically, can see how the former Massachusetts Governor is going to turn the tide in his favor.

Trying to appeal to the right wing has harmed Romney in the nation, while not convincing the right wing to like him.

In the South and Midwest, in more rural and evangelical Christian areas, Romney has been unable to win, or promote loyalty for his candidacy. It is still doubtful that large numbers of these voters will come out for Romney in the Fall campaign.

So the story goes that he must pick a very conservative running mate for the Vice Presidency to appeal to these right wingers, but if so, it will only guarantee that Romney will lose the middle, the center of the population–including women, Hispanics, and also the all important Independents.

Without women, Hispanics, and Independents, how is Romney going to win the all important “swing states” in the South, the Midwest, and the Mountain States, as well as New Hampshire?

The answer is that the election is effectively over, as Romney cannot appeal to the “swing states” adequately, and cannot count on strong right wing support either.

What it comes down to is that Romney, by being a person who one cannot trust as to his views and beliefs, has effectively alienated the middle, while not being trusted even now by the right wing of his party.

And if, by some miracle, Romney won, he would see his dark hair turn grey quickly, as he would have no natural constituency to support him!

The Democrats would fight to weaken him, and the Republicans would feel no loyalty, and would work to move him to the extreme right, making it impossible to get anything done!

If one thinks Barack Obama has had troubles getting things done, imagine a President Romney trying to get things done, whether with Democratic or Republican control of the Congress!

The Supreme Court On Trial IF It Destroys Health Care Reform: Creation Of A Constitutional Crisis

The US Supreme Court is in the midst of a crisis of massive proportions, if it destroys the Obama Health Care reform in June.

It will create a crisis in health care for about 50 million Americans, and affect young adults, senior citizens, and people with pre-existing conditions in a massively negative way.

It will undermine the major effort of the Obama Administration to bring health care into the 21st century, and on the same level as every other democratic nation in the world, many of whom have had national health care for all for decades.

It will also put the Supreme Court as an institution on trial, as it is already perceived as overly partisan, with many of the decisions decided on party line vote, based on which party’s President chose the members of the Court.

It will also make it even more obvious that the election will have the effect of deciding the future direction of the Court, based on which party gains the Presidency and has control of the US Senate. This has always been true, and has been mentioned by this author numerous times on this blog.

This Court could undermine public faith and respect for the institution itself, doing even more damage than the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, and the Citizens United case of 2010.

The Court has been a hot political issue in the past in election years, including:

1800-Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams, with the power of the Court a key issue, and Adams’ last minute appointment of Chief Justice John Marshall leading, despite opposition of Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, to a very powerful Supreme Court shaped by Marshall.

1860–The election of Abraham Lincoln, who attacked the Dred Scott decision that stated that a slave owner could take his slave anywhere in the United States, and helping to lead to the secession of the South, and the coming of the Civil War.

1876–An election where the popular vote loser, Rutherford B. Hayes, was chosen by a committee which included five Supreme Court Justices, when no one was able to win the contested electoral votes of three Southern states–Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida.

1912 and 1924–Third party (Progressive Party) candidates Theodore Roosevelt and Robert La Follette, Sr., respectively, proposed limitations on the powers of the Supreme Court .

1936–Franklin D. Roosevelt made the Court an issue because of its constant declaration of New Deal laws as unconstitutional, and tried to “pack” the Court by a proposal to add six new Justices for each one on the Court over the age of 70, an idea soundly defeated in 1937.

1968–Richard Nixon campaigned against the “liberal” Court of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who then had to swear him as President in January 1969, but retired shortly after.

2000–The Supreme Court on a partisan vote stopped the vote count in the state of Florida, thereby awarding George W. Bush the Presidency over Al Gore, with a margin of victory in Florida of 537 votes statewide.

2012 could be another such case of a President confronting a defiant Supreme Court to the will of the majority in Congress and the American people!

Republicans And Women: Going Backwards From 1920 To Now

With the massive assault on women’s rights being waged by Republicans in the Congress and in the Republican state governorships and legislatures and on conservative talk radio, one would think that the Republican Party has always been this way.

But actually, just the opposite is true!

It was a Republican and a woman, Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin of Montana, who sponsored the woman suffrage amendment, which became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.

It was a vast majority of Republicans in Congress who promoted the proposed Equal Rights Amendment , along with the vast majority of Democrats, when it passed in 1972 and went to the states.

It was President Richard Nixon who gave his strong endorsement to the ERA after its passage in 1972.

It was President Gerald Ford who campaigned for the ERA when he became President in 1974.

It was First Lady Betty Ford who not only campaigned for the ERA, but also supported other feminist causes and the reproductive rights of women, despite conservative criticism.

When one particularly looks at the contributions of Gerald and Betty Ford to the advancement of women’s rights, there has to be nostalgia for the “Good Old Days”!

But ironically, supposedly, as time passes, things get better, right?

But in the case of women’s rights and the Republican Party, the situation is the reverse: the past is far more advanced than the present.

But Republicans will pay the price this fall, when millions of self respecting women will march to the polls, ignore even their “religious” and “good Christian” husbands who want to keep them subservient, and will vote out the Republicans who are taking away the rights of women, and vote in more women and more men who believe in true equality of the genders!

Mitt Romney Does Not Work Well With Others: Forecast Of An Isolated Presidency If He Wins

Mitt Romney, the front runner in the Republican Presidential nomination race, has already revealed himself to be very stiff, formal, and aloof from the problems of ordinary Americans.

Now we are learning that he is much the same in dealing with other politicians.

Romney acts as if he is the Chief Executive Officer of a corporation, who isolates himself in his plush offices, makes policy with just a few aides, and then expects that everyone will follow his lead and avoid challenges at group meetings, where he expects to announce his decisions on policy, and everyone joins in unison in support of the initiatives he has promoted. He does not like criticism or alternative ideas, as he has great confidence in his own ability and intellect.

This was Mitt Romney as a corporate leader, and it is the prescription for disaster if he is President of the United States.

One might ask how one can conclude that this is so. The answer is that we have learned that this was his approach in his one term as Massachusetts Governor from 2003-2007!

Having to deal with a Democratic state legislature which was 85 percent against him, one would think he would realize that he had to deal with the opposition by getting to know members of the legislature, and conducting lots of meetings trying to bridge the gap in a bipartisan way, but that was not Romney’s style at all.

Interviews with Massachusetts politicians who served under Governor Romney reveal a man who avoided contact with them; never learned the faces or views of most of them; avoided socializing with legislators; came across as emotionally remote; overused the veto pen to no effect, but set a record of 844 vetoes, the most in Massachusetts history; worked as an outsider from the beginning to the end of his governorship; openly criticized legislative leaders that he needed to work with and in the process turned them away from any cooperation efforts with him; acted as a control freak in wanting every action of the legislature to go through the governor’s office; and failed to give recognition to those legislators present at public events (a policy that Barack Obama is a master of).

It is clear that Mitt Romney may be a corporate leader of great talents and skills, but that is NOT going to get things done with the US Congress, whether his own party controls, or particularly if the opposition party has control, which is probably quite likely, or a split Congress, which would create a nightmare scenario far worse than the one Barack Obama faces now with the 112th Congress.

Face the facts, Mitt Romney can only relate to wealthy people of corporate mentality, to his family, and to the Mormon Church. With the kind of obscene wealth he has, he can go on enjoying his life, but we need a more hands on President of the United States to deal with the rest of us folks, and we already have one named Barack Obama!

In other words, Mitt Romney is no Franklin D. Roosevelt, no Lyndon B. Johnson, and no Ronald Reagan! He is more like Herbert Hoover or Calvin Coolidge, and we know where that ended up!