Day: April 11, 2010

Minnesota Embarrassment: Michele Bachmann And Tim Pawlenty!

The state of Minnesota has had many distinguished public figures serve in its state government and in Congress.

Among famous Minnesotans in politics have been Harold Stassen, Henrik Shipstead, Orville Freeman, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, and Paul Wellstone.

Now, unfortunately, we have a Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, only in Congress since 2007, but already notorious for outrageous, divisive, and often crazy public statements and actions, including reasserting this week that President Barack Obama is “anti American”!

We also have outgoing Governor Tim Pawlenty, a likely seeker of the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012, who is wasting taxpayer money by signing on to a federal lawsuit being brought by at least a dozen Attorneys Generals, to prevent enforcement of the new Health Care reform legislation. Pawlenty is exploiting the situation, therefore presenting himself as a hard line conservative, joining mostly with southern leaders who want to promote “states rights”, an image that reminds one of slavery and segregation and nullification, terms that should be only referred to as part of our history’s sad record. Pawlenty has, apparently, no concern for people with pre-existing conditions, or for those dropped by their insurance companies, or those who receive a tremendous jump in premium costs, or for young people who will have no coverage after college, or for many others, altogether 32 million Americans, who do not seem to matter, as long as others have health care!

Minnesota cannot be proud of either Bachmann or Pawlenty, and hopefully, Bachmann can be removed from office as not being concerned that her district in Minnesota is the poorest, most deprived when it comes to health care and employment and foreclosures! And it seems highly unlikely that Tim Pawlenty will make very much progress in his quest to become our President! Certainly, Minnesota and the nation can do much better!

Michael Steele’s Negative Effect On The Republican Party Fortunes

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has been a lightning rod, due to his comments and actions. He has become an albatross around the Republican Party’s neck, but despite discontent by many, he is unlikely to be removed as head of the RNC before his two year term ends in January, 2011. It seems obvious, however, that he will not have an opportunity to serve another two year term, simply because of his ability to blunder in major ways!

Fund raising has not been going well under his leadership, and he has become the center of controversy by the fact that money was authorized to be paid to an aide who went to a lesbian bondage nightclub in Los Angeles, and also by his publication of a book without any notice to party leaders, and seemingly making bad judgments on a regular basis beyond these examples.

Instead of promoting the party, he has become a problem, and this has led religious conservatives to move away from supporting the party financially. Also, such Republican campaign operatives as Alex Castellanos, Ed Rollins, and David Frum have called for his resignation, as a necessity so as not to harm the party message, and its opportunity to gain the maximum number of seats in Congress and the governorships in the upcoming elections of 2010.

But Michael Steele clearly will not budge, and the fact he is African American makes it difficult for the mainstream of the GOP to call for his ouster. So Michael Steele will be a major factor, probably bad, for Republican fortunes this fall!

One cannot recall any national chairman becoming the center of such controversy as Steele has become, with maybe the exception of Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, who was Democratic National Chairman in the second Bush term. While he sometimes said what should have been left unsaid, he was very successful in raising funds and electing Democrats nationally, so can be forgiven for his verbal slippages. Will the same be said about Michael Steele after the midterm elections? We shall see, but highly doubtful!

The Debate Over The Supreme Court Nominee: Elena Kagan Most Likely Choice!

Even before Barack Obama chooses a Supreme Court nominee to replace Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, a furious debate is beginning over what should be the credentials of that individual.

One issue is whether we need religious balance, as when Stevens leaves, there will be no Protestant nominees, despite the fact that half the country is Protestant! In the past, the thought was that there should be a Jewish seat, a Catholic seat, an African American seat, and a woman’s seat. Now we have two Jews, six Catholics, one African American, two women, and even an Hispanic on the Court! So should the nominee be Protestant, as one of the leading candidates, Diane Wood, happens to be?

Then there is the issue of how liberal the nominee should be, as certainly the Supreme Court has become much more conservative over the years, and with a liberal President, one would assume he would choose a liberal nominee. If this is the major factor, then Diane Wood comes across as the most liberal nominee, more than Elena Kagan or Merrick Garland, the other two most mentioned!

Then, there is the issue of whether the nominee should be from outside the judiciary, with Elena Kagan being the one of the top three in speculation who has been a professor, Harvard Law School Dean, and now Solicitor General of the United States, the government’s lawyer before the Supreme Court!

Also, however, there are some who think what is needed is an elected political official, which has put Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri into the speculation! Notice all of these elected officials past or present are women!

So that brings up the idea that with two women on the Court, maybe it should be a man who is selected, but only Judge Merrick Garland is mentioned very much, and he would be regarded as more moderate than Kagan or Wood, at least by reputation!

So what it comes down to is that President Obama must decide what matters most to him. He has made it clear that he wants a person who can make coalitions with others on the Court, as Justice Stevens often did with Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy. That would seem to make Diane Wood or Elena Kagan the best choices! He also wants someone who would make decisions, taking into account the struggles of everyday ordinary Americans. Again, the indications are that Kagan or Wood would be the best choices in that regard!

My prediction is that he will select Elena Kagan, the Solicitor General, a Jewish woman who is liberal but not as controversial as Diane Wood, and who has already been voted upon by the Senate Judiciary Committee for her nomination to be Solicitor General, and who is a person who has not served as a judge, bringing some outside experience from her position now, and her years as a professor and Harvard Law School Dean.

Kagan’s nomination would cause fewer problems in the Senate, and put a woman not yet 50 on the Court, allowing for the possibility of a long term on the bench. She would be an excellent choice, and that is more important than having an elected official, or a Protestant or even a man! 🙂

Historic Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaty Signed Between Russia and US!

This past Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed an historic treaty with President Medvedev of Russia, cutting back nuclear arsenals by one third, and working to limit the access to nuclear weapons of rogue nations, such as Iran and North Korea.

Obama wants this to be the first step toward the achievement of the elimination of nuclear weapons over a generation, in order to make the world safer than it has been since the dawn of the nuclear age.

Earlier nuclear arms agreements were signed by Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan and the first President Bush, so this is just another step toward the ultimate goal of saving the world from nuclear annihilation. This should be applauded, but instead, conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel and Republicans in Congress are attacking the treaty as unwise and counterproductive.

This is not some left wing “radical” move, as the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen have endorsed what Obama has done. Would anyone say either man is “soft” on our national defenses? Of course not! It is just part of the same, old, hysterical, irresponsible rhetoric that has been promoted by the opposition throughout this administration’s short history, with the opposition forgetting that President Reagan made it a major goal, publicly, to work toward the end of nuclear weapons. So Obama is fulfilling part of the goal of a President very different than he was in his direction and tone in office!

But try to tell that to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who criticized and ridiculed the President’s ability and knowledge in the area of nuclear weapons, as if she has any expertise at all on ANYTHING in international affairs, let alone domestic affairs! 🙁

President Obama’s reaction was to say that he would more likely listen to his military advisers than to Sarah Palin! 🙂 Well said, Mr. President! 🙂

“The Progressive Professor” Reaches The Milestone of 20 Months And 1,000 Entries!

Today, April 11, marks 20 months of this political blog, and this entry is the 1,000th I have placed since August 11, 2008!

Exactly 8 months ago, August 11, 2009, the name “The Progressive Professor” was born, and it has, both in the year before the new name, and in the eight months since, been an absolute delight to express my thoughts on the political issues of the difficult times we live in!

I have been very appreciative of all of the participants in this blog, some of whom I know, and many who I do not personally know, for their interest and willingness to express their views on the controversies at hand!

Many have been supportive, while some have been critical, and I have tried, when necessary, to respond to the criticisms in an appropriate manner! The number of participants have increased as time has passed, and I hope there will be much more interaction in the future, but I appreciate every one of the 413 comments (so far) that have been made!

My pace of entries has increased so that since the new name was adopted eight months ago, I have ranged from approximately 70-80 entries per month. I intend to keep up this pace, except that when I go on vacation, there will be gaps where I will be unable to respond to events on a timely basis. Otherwise, I intend to continue the trend of having at least one entry every calendar day!

I wish to remind readers of this blog that I have a convenient list of more than 100 links that will be of great use to you, as they are to me! So this blog can be useful to you in more ways than one!

So continue your reading, and your reactions to my blog entries, and I hope there will be many more participants as time goes by! 🙂 Thank you very much for reading! 🙂