US Senate

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Rousing Speech On “Eleven Commandments Of Progressivism”!

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, on a book tour for her recent publication, but also rousing progressives with her inspiring ideas, gave a speech last week at Netroots Nation, the progressive gathering often seen as the alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held annually.

Warren summarized the views of those who are progressives and liberals, including:

The need for regulation of Wall Street.

The belief in science, and its role in preserving our environment.

Neutrality on the internet, not favoring powerful corporations.

Raising the minimum wage, therefore allowing a full time worker to avoid living in poverty.

A livable wage for fast food workers, with public support for them being demonstrated.

The avoidance of crushing college loan debt for students, by arranging realistic debt payments.

Protection of Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, so that retired workers can live in dignity.

Equal pay for equal work for men and women.

Promotion of equality in marriage, including gay marriage.

The need for immigration reform, as immigration is part of the story of American history.

The belief that women should control their own bodies, and corporations should not control the private lives and medical care of any of their workforce.

Also, her conclusion about conservatives is so appropriate, that they will do whatever they need to do to protect their own interests, and would say to all of the rest of us that you are on your own!

Left In Democratic Party Not Comfortable With Hillary Clinton, Looking Elsewhere For Primary Challenge!

Hillary Clinton may be the runaway favorite in most polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination for 2016, but we have never seen a non-incumbent to compete without an opponent in their party’s battle for the Presidential nomination.

So we are starting to feel, see, and sense that there will be challengers to Hillary, and the speculation has become wide and deep that any or some of the following will, indeed, challenge the former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady:

Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia
Governor Jerry Brown of California
Former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont
Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri (totally new to any speculation)
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado

There is discontent with Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street; her gaining as much as $275,000 a speech before wealthy donors and groups; and the image of her as a “hawk” in foreign policy. She is seen as part of the “Establishment”, and as not sufficiently understanding of the plight of the middle class and the poor. Her husband worked against the left, sticking to a centrist viewpoint in his years in the White House, and while there are salutes for him as a former President, the Left is looking for someone more in the line of doing more for the poor and middle class, and staying out of foreign wars, and regulating Wall Street.

So that is the appeal of Warren, Sanders and O’Malley in particular, but the idea of Brown coming back, mentioned in an earlier blog entry, is fascinating, and Dean trying again after 12 years is also intriguing! And imagine a “Nixon”, not related to the former President, running from the “heartland”, the state of Missouri, which was always on the winning side of every election from 1900 to the present, except 1956, 2008, and 2012, but close in the first two years!

And of course, Hillary could decide, ultimately, NOT to run, and then it is a true donnybrook in the making for the Democrats in 2016!

Could there be a surprise in the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes? After 2008, who can say?

A Rational, Sensible Proposal: Two Californias, Two Texases, Two Floridas, Two New Yorks, Northern Virginia And Washington DC Unified As A State!

There has been a lot of speculation and discussion about the creation of new states, and this was discussed in a post on July 4 on this blog.

However, despite the move toward a ballot measure to create SIX Californias, it will NOT happen, and neither will five Texases, nor three New Yorks, nor two Marylands, nor two Illinoises, nor two Pennsylvanias, and even another suggestion, two Colorados!

However, it is NOT unreasonable to suggest that there could be a division of the following states into two states each–California, Texas, Florida, and New York.

A Northern and Southern California would make sense, as the state is overly large, with 38 million people, with a division being the North California state would include San Francisco and Sacramento and the Silicon Valley, and Central California, while South California would include Los Angeles and San Diego, and the heavily populated areas around LA and San Diego.

A Northern and Southern Texas might be divided along the following lines—North Texas being the Panhandle and West Texas along with Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area; and South Texas including East Texas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio and down to the Rio Grande River boundary line except for the Western area around El Paso, which would be in North Texas.

A division of New York would be the New York City counties, along with Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland Counties, a total of nine counties, with the other 53 counties North of the city of New York (including Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester) being named New Amsterdam, the original Dutch colony name.

A division of Florida would be Northern Florida and Central Florida as North Florida, and South Florida being the counties of the Keys, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.

Finally, a good idea would be to add Northern Virginia to Washington DC, name it Columbia, and revive the old failed amendment for statehood for DC, by adding those northern Virginia suburbs to the nation’s capital, and ending the discrimination against the 700,000 residents of DC, by making them part of a state, with the state known as North Virginia!

No more Congressional seats in the House of Representatives would be created, except for the addition of the District of Columbia to the Northern Virginia suburbs, so there would be 436 House members, instead of 435. However, there would then be 55 states, creating ten new US Senators; requiring 56 instead of 51 Senators to be a majority; 61 instead of 55 to end filibuster on executive branch nominations; and 66 instead of 60 Senators to end all other filibusters.

Commentary on this is welcome!

Senator Elizabeth Warren And Senator Rand Paul Gaining Attention In 2016 Presidential Race!

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul are gaining a lot of attention for the 2016 Presidential race with their recent speeches and campaigning.

Warren, a freshman Senator, who gained fame from her campaign for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has stirred the imagination of left wing Democrats, who are unhappy with the comparatively centrist campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Warren has made issues of unemployment compensation, raising the minimum wage, attacking Wall Street, and calling for revising the college student loan system, which has effectively enslaved millions of students in unending college loan debt, due to high interest rates.

She comes across as folksy, not bad for a former Harvard professor, and has gained large audiences in red states such as Kentucky and West Virginia, where she has campaigned for candidates Alison Lungergan Grimes and Natalie Tennant for Senate seats. Remember, however, that she was born and lived for years in Oklahoma.

She is a new face, in the sense of national exposure, but only two years younger than Hillary Clinton.

Paul, the son of former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, has gained attention by his attack on Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who have both called for returning troops to Iraq. Paul makes it clear that America should not return to involvement in Iraq, and he seems to have the American people on his side, based on public opinion polls. He comes across as principled, while neocons attack him as isolationist, which he denies.

It is still hard to imagine either Warren or Paul gaining the nominations of their parties for 2016, but anything is possible, and they are certainly adding a lot of interest into the race!

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!

It Is Time For Republicans To Condemn Sarah Palin, With John McCain In The Lead!

Arizona Senator John McCain gave us Sarah Palin as a national figure in 2008, by choosing the obscure Alaska Governor as his Vice Presidential running mate.

In the past six years, Sarah Palin has contributed absolutely NOTHING to political discourse, and has worked to undermine any sense of cooperation and unity!

Palin has demonstrated how stupid, ignorant, and moronic she is on a regular basis!

She quit her job as Governor once an investigation into spending on her part began, and yet she has the gall to criticize Barack Obama, and show total lack of respect for the office he holds, along with the man.

In a recent poll, 54 percent said that Sarah Palin should just go away, and shut her mouth!

She has been an embarrassment to herself, her family, and the party that gave her the opportunity to become famous, and to earn millions on books she did not write, and reality shows that made us realize just how dimwitted she is!

It is hard not to roll one’s eyes as Sarah Palin becomes more ridiculous and inane by the day!

It is time for Republican leaders to repudiate her, and let her go to the right wing Tea Party Movement, which she has sided with, undermining the few responsible Republicans that are left in that party. The candidates she has backed are just as stupid, ignorant, inane, and literally dangerous, with their extremist views, that are undermining the rights of the poor, the minorities, women, labor, and the environment.

Senator McCain, you have continued to be supportive in public of Sarah Palin out of loyalty, but it is time to drop the false image, and for you to denounce this woman for calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama. You have already said there are no grounds for such an action, therefore disagreeing with her, without attacking her.

You need now, Senator McCain, to be a profile in courage and tell her she is wrong, and that she needs to leave the political scene. You can be sure that she would bite the hand that fed her fame, but it would make her look even worse by doing so, and would make you look better in history, for admitting you made a mistake in selecting her to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency!

Allen West And Sarah Palin: Quite A Team On Impeachment!

Former one term Florida Congressman Allen West and former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin are leading the charge to impeach President Obama!

These two are such a comedy team!

West was pushed out of the military for his reprehensible behavior with a prisoner of war in the Iraq conflict, and has shown definite delusional behavior, a mentally ill man, who served only one term in Congress, but has gained a following from the extremist right wing, with his reckless, loony statements about many issues, but focusing his attention on the President.

Palin has been an embarrassment since John McCain picked her out of obscurity to run for Vice President, and she guaranteed that he had no chance to win the Presidency, because it was immediately clear that this woman has no knowledge base, is a total fool, and an annoyance for many Americans to listen to and watch as part of the news. She has never made any contributions in any form to public discourse, and is an embarrassment not only to herself, but to the Republican Party and womanhood itself!

A new poll shows that 54 percent want Sarah Palin to go away, and only conspiracy theorists and lunatics admire Allen West.

Each served for just a couple of years in public office, and one would wish that both would simply disappear from the political scene, as they will be condemned in history as whackos, and they both undermine the concept of public service!

And what they want, the impeachment of Barack Obama, is based on no credible case; will cost the taxpayers lots of wasted money; will undermine the Republican Party legitimacy; and will end up with Obama staying in office, standing strong against hate and prejudice unseen since the time of Abraham Lincoln!

And, as has been stated before, even if West and Palin and their ilk accomplished their goal of kicking Obama out of the Oval Office, he would be replaced by Vice President Joe Biden, who would proceed to be elected to one of two terms of his own, following similar policies and ideas of his boss, so what is gained by this caper, except the elevation of Joe Biden to the Presidency?

It is clear that West and Palin, and all those other whackos who want impeachment, have no clue or understanding as to what they are doing, and its implications! Ignorance and stupidity reign instead, in the brains of these two characters and those who follow and believe in them!

Two Experienced National Presidential Campaigners Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton For Democratic Presidential Nomination: Al Gore And Jerry Brown!

The basic belief that goes around in political circles is that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic Presidential nomination for the asking, and has more experience and background than anyone who could possibly run against her in the primaries, with the major exception of Vice President Joe Biden!

But it is also noted that, actually, there are two very experienced Democrats who have run for President before, along with Hillary and Joe, and yet few are paying any attention to these two men!

I am talking about former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the Presidency in 2000 to George W. Bush, despite having won the national popular vote by about 540,000, but losing the contested election in Florida in the Supreme Court case of Bush V. Gore. Also, Gore sought the Presidency in 1988, before losing the nomination to Michael Dukakis.

I am also referring here to three time Democratic Presidential seeker, California Governor Jerry Brown, who sought the nomination in 1976 and again in 1980 against Jimmy Carter, and against Bill Clinton in 1992!

Both are tested, although both are from “long ago” in many people’s minds, since Gore has never tried for public office since 2000, and sixteen years is a very long time in politics. One could say that Hillary and Joe are also from “long ago”, but they have continued to hold public office consistently since the new century began, with Hillary only “retiring” in 2013 to write her memoir on her years as Secretary of State!

Jerry Brown goes back much further having been Governor of California at age 35, serving from 1975 to 1983; then later being Oakland Mayor and California Attorney General; and then returning to the Governorship 28 years after leaving it, and becoming the oldest Governor in the history of the state in 2011, and now running for a second term at age 76.

There have been rumors that Brown would love to run again, and dog the Clintons, as he did Jimmy Carter. It would be ironic if he was to challenge Hillary as he did her husband in 1992!

Of course, Brown would be nearly 79 were he to become President in 2017, and Al Gore would be nearly 69, just five months younger than Hillary Clinton, while Joe Biden would be 74 at the time of the inauguration!

One might say that having all these “old folks” running or considering the Presidency is disturbing, and add to that mix, two liberals who are rumored to run, If Hillary chooses not to run, or possibly even if she does—Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who would be 67 on Inauguration Day, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (technically a Socialist), who would be 75.

While we are at it, why not add Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee, to the list, with him being 73 if elected to the Presidency in 2016!

These people, all seven of them, represent a lot of talent and experience and brilliance, but ranging from 67 to 79 is NOT a good trend, particularly with the strong likelihood that the Republican Party will nominate someone much younger, probably by a full generation, or close to it, in years!

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!

Conservative Right Wing Attack On The Constitution: The Threat Of Another Constitutional Convention Wiping Out Constitutional Amendments!

The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution, admitting in the process that there would always be room for improvements, so made clear that amendments were appropriate over time.

So we have had 27 Amendments, including the first ten that make up the Bill of Rights.

When one looks at the amendments, particularly those that came after the Bill of Rights, one realizes that the vast majority of them were “progressive” in tone, designed to expand democracy in America, or else, amendments dealing with the office of the Presidency.

So the “progressive” amendments included the 13th (ending slavery and involuntary servitude); the 14th (promoting due process and equal protection and making African Americans citizens); the 15th (guaranteeing the right to vote for African Americans and others which had been denied that right); the 16th (providing for a federal income tax to raise revenue to deal with mounting social and economic issues); the 17th (granting the people the right to elect their two United States Senators by popular vote); the 19th (guaranteeing women the right to vote); the 23rd (guaranteeing residents of Washington, DC the right to vote); the 24th (preventing a poll tax for voting); and the 26th (guaranteeing young people 18-21 the right to vote).

So nine of the seventeen amendments after the first ten of the Bill of Rights promote progressive change, while the 12th, 20th, 22nd and 25th deal with the office of the Presidency.

The only amendment that was ever passed to limit the freedom of Americans was the 18th (prohibition of liquor), but later repealed by the 21st Amendment.

Now we have the real threat by right wing conservatives, including the Tea Party Movement, who want a new Constitutional Convention to wipe out these “progressive” amendments!

They do not like voting rights for African Americans, other minorities, women, residents of Washington DC (mostly African Americans) and young people; and they are unhappy that African Americans are considered equal under the law, and if they had the ability to do so, they would love to re-enslave poor people, which by corporate power is occurring in an informal way for many minorities, as well as white lower class people struggling every day to survive!

And they wish they could restore the US Senate elections to the corrupt state legislatures, taking away the popular vote. Finally, they hate the federal income tax, even though many of them avoid substantial taxation by having investments, rather than working for a living like most of us do. So they would prefer a sales tax, which is regressive, and would hurt the middle class and the poor much more than the wealthy elite!

But that is exactly the extremist right wing intention—to restore the “good old days” when they were in charge, and everyone had to kowtow to them!

We must not allow such a threat to develop, so the battle for progressivism is never ending, as a result!