Month: March 2012

Florida In Play For Democrats In 2012: A Shock To Republicans!

Florida has become in many ways the center of right wing conservatism, what with the election of Governor Rick Scott, Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman Allen West in the midterm 2010 elections.

The state legislature is about three fourths Republican as well, and only six Democrats serve Florida in the House of Representatives.

No one is saying that the Democrats are about to take over state politics, as that will be a long haul, but public opinion polls show that Barack Obama leads both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in state polls about the Presidential election, and that Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has a big lead over Congressman Connie Mack IV, and that former appointed Senator George Lemieux is not even in the equation for the upcoming race.

The odds for Lois Frankel to overcome Adam Hasner for the Palm Beach County seat, that West held before he chose to move to a new congressional district in northern Palm Beach County and Martin and St. Lucie Counties, is seen as very good. And West is facing a major challenge in a young, charismatic CPA named Patrick Erin Murphy.

This is probably due to the improving economy, and the growing alienation nationwide of Independents, non Cuban Hispanics, and women to the GOP agenda.

Since Florida is the ultimate “swing state”, this might improve the possibility of Senator Rubio as the Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, even though Rubio keeps on saying that he has no interest, at age 41, rising to that level.

Florida will certainly be paid a lot of attention in this year’s political races!

Conservatives Who Support The Obama Health Care Law: Charles Fried, Laurence Silberman, Jeffrey Sutton

Three major conservative leaders have made clear by statements and actions that they believe the Obama Health Care law is constitutional under the commerce clause of the Constitution.

Charles Fried, who was Solicitor General under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, was highly critical of some of the questioning by conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court this past week. Fried said health care is interstate commerce, and that Congress has the right to regulate interstate commerce. The arguments utilized in questioning are “phony rhetoric” in Fried’s mind.

Judge Laurence Silberman of the DC Court Of Appeals upheld the Obama Health Care law as constitutional in one of the cases brought by states before circuit courts on the way to the Supreme Court, decided on November 8, 2011. He has been a federal judge for 27 years, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1985, and is a good friend, of all people, of Justice Clarence Thomas, who is seen as a guaranteed vote against the Obama Health Care law.

And Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit Court Of Appeals upheld the health care law on June 29, 2011, and is seen as a leader of the conservative Federalist Society! He was appointed by George W. Bush, and is considered a disciple of Justice Antonin Scalia! He is well known as a states rights advocate!

So go figure!

This tells us ANYTHING can happen on this Court decision, and not to come to a conclusion this early that the Obama Health Care law is going to be overturned!

March 30: Important Date In History In Many Ways, Including A Personal One!

Today, March 30, is a very significant date in American history.

It is the day in 1981 that President Ronald Reagan was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt, but survived, recovered, and went on to serve two full terms as the 40th President.

It is also the day in 1867 when Secretary of State William Seward signed the treaty arranging for the purchase of Alaska from Czarist Russia for $7.2 million, becoming infamously known as “Seward’s Folly”, It was fortunate that the United States bought Alaska, because if it had remained Russian, imagine the security problems for Canada and the United States during the Cold War years with the Soviet Union!

And it was the day in 1870 that the 15th Amendment, granting African American men the right to vote, was finally ratified and added to the Constitution. Sadly, the South would soon disobey the amendment, and successfully take away the right to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, guaranteeing federal intervention to insure everyone’s right to vote. Now the Republican Party in many states, including, most grievously the state of Florida under Governor Rick Scott and a dominant state legislature, is making it more difficult for people to register and vote, particularly the elderly, the poor, college students, and the poor.

And, in the mind of this author, March 30 is MOST significant because in 1984, his younger son Paul was born, and has brought joy and pride to his father and brother and uncle now for 28 years!

Chief Justice John Roberts: What He Wants As His Long Term Legacy

There is much speculation about the US Supreme Court and the most important case in a decade–the Affordable Care Act, known by its critics as “ObamaCare”.

Many think Anthony Kennedy is the key vote, but actually, the author would say that Chief Justice John Roberts is the REAL key vote, and there is much speculation that he will join the liberals and Kennedy, the usual swing vote, and might even convince Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito to join as well, on the power of his personality and the respect he engenders on the Court over the past seven years.

Chief Justice Roberts is going to have long career on the Court, and he wants his legacy to be positive, and IF the Court rules against “ObamaCare”, his reputation will be in tatters, and will be irretrievable.

Roberts is considered one of the brightest members of the Court, and although a conservative, he is not extreme as Clarence Thomas, for instance, is.

Roberts wishes to unite and move forward, and has been stung by the horrible reaction to the Citizens United case of 2010, and to the remnants of the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, the damage done to the reputation of the Court BEFORE he arrived as Chief Justice in 2005.

His questioning showed a mind conflicted, but to believe that he will negate the whole law is hard to imagine, as he set aside three days and six hours for this case, highly unusual, and that is, to many observers, a sign that he recognizes how crucial this issue is in itself, and the seriousness with which he takes it..

While no one can read the mind of anyone, expect Roberts to write the opinion and be in the majority, which is likely 6-3, but could be 7-2 or 8-1.

This case will shape the long term future of the Court, and if the law is overturned, the likely result will be, over time, a single payer system, which any conservative would not want.

And remember it was conservatives who led the charge in the time of Bill Clinton for what is now “RomneyCare” in Massachusetts, and “ObamaCare” in America!

Mitt Romney Is Now The GOP Nominee, Or Is He? And If So, Is It Worth Being the GOP Nominee?

Every indication is that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be the GOP Presidential nominee to run against President Barack Obama in November, but is that really true?

Romney has been endorsed by just about everyone imaginable, including, most recently, former President George H. W. Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio these past two days.

Romney has a major lead in delegates over former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and it seems clear that if Santorum cannot win Wisconsin this coming Tuesday and his home state of Pennsylvania on April 24 (a start which defeated him for re-election for the Senate by 18 percentage points in 2006), he is done, although social conservatives adore him.

Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, has only won South Carolina and Georgia, and has now cut back his campaign in a massive way, and is raising money by charging ordinary citizens for signed pictures, a quite despicable, egotistical, and uncouth event, which only adds to his image as an obnoxious individual, who no one really wants to be President, because he simply loves himself too much and comes across as reckless and unstable. But he could present an annoyance at the Tampa Convention of the Republican Party in late August.

So Romney seems safe, even though he is unlikely to gain enough delegates before the convention opens, and is not well liked or trusted by many Republicans..He comes across as awkward, distant, plastic, not genuine nor sincere, and far from lovable!

And Romney tends to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as every time he wins, he or his staff manages to botch the result by what they say in the next 24 hours! He talks too much about his money and assets, shows no concern for the average American who is struggling in this economy, acts like a boss instead of one of us, tries to tell jokes and is not one bit funny, and even when he tries to sing, to match Barack Obama singing like Al Green, he is totally flat and,. frankly, shows he cannot carry a tune, so comes across as ridiculous and embarrassing to himself and others. And also, deciding to build a tremendous mansion in La Jolla, California, tremendously large because of Romney’s five children and numerous grandchildren, and having an elevator for cars, really undermines the concept that Romney can claim to be one of us! Do all families with five or more children and numerous grandchildren need to have so much space, or life is difficult? And why flaunt your wealth when you are facing election, instead of waiting to next year when he is either in or out of the White House, and it would not be a controversial issue, as it is in the election year? Why does Romney not understand this? It is as if he is from outer space, rather than our every day lives.

And another problem, being a Mormon, he has made clear, and we have no reason to doubt him, that he does not smoke, does not drink alcohol, does not drink coffee, does not use illegal drugs, and does not swear.

These “puritanical” characteristics are certainly admirable, but also quite unbelievable! It is one thing not to smoke or use illegal drugs, but to say Romney NEVER has had an alcoholic drink, NEVER has drank coffee, and has NEVER, when angry or banged his toes, sworn or cursed, is beyond human understanding!

How is that possible, no matter what the tenets of the religion of Mormonism are? It makes Romney seem even more distant, more unreal, than if he actually admitted, “OK, I have at times drank liquor, like an occasional coffee, and being human, of course, I have, regrettably, cursed or sworn at times!”

Do we want a perfect President? So what if Barack Obama has smoked, George W. Bush has drank too much in the past, Bill Clinton tried marijuna; all Presidents probably have drank coffee, and probably every President has sworn or cursed?

Presidents are human, and trying to claim perfection, makes Mitt Romney seem ever more impossible to relate to, or believe. And imagine if later we find that Mitt Romney is lying to us!

These are the problems that Mitt Romney faces, as he becomes the nominee, but is behind Barack Obama in EVERY public opinion poll in “swing states”! What is going to convince the American people to vote Mitt Romney in as our 45th President?

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!

Trying To Fathom The Supreme Court On Health Care: The Court Under The Microscope

Yesterday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court led many observers to think that the Court is about to declare the Obama Health Care law unconstitutional this coming June.

Not so fast, ladies and gentlemen! This is hysteria and panic before the fact, with plenty of opportunity after the Court decision, if it is, indeed, negative!

Emphasis was put on Justice Antonin Scalia’s sarcastic comments about mandating broccoli, a totally ridiculous statement! But one must remember that Scalia is a showboat, a maniacal egotist who loves to hear the sound of his own voice, and get everyone’s attention, and one must remember that the Court was issuing an audio of the oral arguments immediately after the event, a very rare circumstance, and that had to be on Scalia’s mind!

Scalia was thought to be a possible vote, but if it is not, so what, as Scalia is, arguably, a hypocrite who is constantly contradictory, utilizing a broad interpretation of the Constitution, when he wishes to, and other times, pontificating on “originalism”, the idea that we must literally follow the Founding Fathers as they saw things in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention.

More importantly, the view of Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts will be the crucial votes, and although Kennedy and Roberts both expressed some reservations about the Obama Health Care bill and the mandate contained within it, there were also key comments by both that indicated a mind open to consideration of the constitutionality of the law.

Kennedy is usually the swing vote, and seemed conflicted, which can be seen as a good sign, and Roberts seemed very evenhanded, and is known to want to be in the majority, and probably write this most important decision of the past decade, and aware that the Supreme Court does not look very good in the eyes of many people based on recent cases, particularly the Citizens United Case of 2010, on top of the Bush V. Gore case of 2000.

The argument is that if Kennedy goes to the majority, then Roberts will join, and the vote would be 6-3.

And one must point out that the four defenders of the legislation were excellent in their arguments supporting the legislation, with Justice Stephen Breyer, a true intellectual, particularly outstanding in his arguments, but joined by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

So, with one more day of oral arguments, it is not time to give up on support of the legislation, and also realize that one cannot always judge how members of the Court will vote, based on oral argument alone, as often, what is being done is to test both sides in the case, and sometimes, purposely mislead on intentions, in the process of asking the lawyers in the case to defend their side.

This decision is far from certain, but progressives should feel optimistic about it at this point, and simply wait patiently to see the result, knowing that the cause is just and compassionate, and that those of us who support it are on the right side of history with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society!

The Conservative Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich, And Mitt Romney: All Supportive Of “Individual Mandate” In The Past!

The big argument against the Obama Health Care law is that it is unconstitutional to require an “individual mandate” of all citizens, that they be required to buy health insurance or be assessed a penalty on their income tax returns.

And yet, this is PRECISELY what the conservative Heritage Foundation advocated on the issue of health care as early as 1989!

This is what Newt Gingrich advocated when interviewed on NBC by Tim Russert in 1993!

This is what Mitt Romney advocated in Massachusetts, when they passed the model for the Obama Health Care plan in 2006, and still praised two years ago when the health care law was passed by Congress!

So therefore, the idea of the “individual mandate” is a CONSERVATIVE and REPUBLICAN idea, but now bitterly attacked when the Democrats and Barack Obama achieve it after decades of debate about the need for health care coverage for all Americans!

What does this make the Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and many other conservative and Republican leaders?

It makes them total HYPOCRITES, not worthy of our respect and support!

The Horrific Racial Record Of Florida: From Rosewood To Trayvon Martin!

Florida is in the center of controversy again, due to the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman a month ago.

This is another example of African Americans being killed without a sense of justice in a state with a horrific record historically on the issue of race.

We like to think, particularly those of us who live in the Sunshine State, that Florida has come a long way from the “Old South” mentality of the past.

But in actual fact, much of the state, north of Palm Beach County, is still perceived as different from South Florida, with an attitude and mentality more like Alabama or Georgia, if not Mississippi! And even South Florida has its ghosts of prejudice and racism!

This is the state that has tried to hide its racial past, both then and even now!

This is the state of Rosewood, a black settlement on the Gulf of Mexico, 140 miles west of Sanford, where the town was destroyed and multiple numbers of blacks were killed by a white mob in 1923, simply on the suspicion that a black man had assaulted a white woman. This was a well hidden story until recent years, when the few survivors were paid compensation for what they went through.

This is the state that in 1934 saw one of the most heinous lynchings of a black man, Claude Neal, in this case in the Florida Panhandle, who was castrated, tortured for hours with tremendous cruelty, and his fingers displayed as souvenirs.

This is the state where a spokesman for the NAACP was killed, along with his wife in 1951, by a bomb exploding under their bed, because they were trying to register voters and get equal wages for black teachers.

This is the state of a lynching by Fort Lauderdale police officers in 1960, and of Miami police killing a motorcyclist in 1979, arrested for speeding, but being handcuffed and beaten with nightsticks until he expired.

In all of the above cases and more, juries found the perpetrators not guilty, or there was no trial at all.

Florida has a lot to answer for, and this Trayvon Martin case may be going down the same path, as George Zimmerman was not questioned by the police at the time; he was not tested for drug use; he was not given medical care for his wounds, which might have explained what really happened a month ago; Treyvon Martin’s body was not identified as more than John Doe for a few days, as the police failed to call the last callers on his cell phone; and the police department now seems to be out to trash Trayvon Martin for his youthful shortcomings, rather than look at what George Zimmerman did against the statements of the 911 contact who told him to stop interfering and leave it to the police to investigate the purpose of Trayvon Martin being in the gated community in Sanford.

Florida will take a long time, if ever, to recover from the damage done to its reputation by yet another racial bias case, nearly as heinous as its long disgraceful racial history, as outlined above!

The Supreme Court And Public Opinion: Not The Job Of The Judiciary!

A new poll, commissioned by the New York Times, shows that 38 percent want the 2010 Health Care law overturned entirely; 29 percent want the requirement that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance overturned; and only 26 percent want to keep the entire law in place.

At the same time, when it comes down to specifics, the American people support the law. 85 percent approve the requirement that health insurance companies cover those with existing medical conditions or illnesses; 68 percent support allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26; and 77 percent support offering discounts to reduce the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, called the “donut hole”.

At the same time, 48 percent say they find confusing how the law will affect them and their families, while 47 percent say they understand the law.

What does this tell us? It tells us that the American people, as a whole, have no clue as to what this law does, and this is partially the fault of the Obama Administration and the Democrats, but it is also the fault of the opposition Republicans, conservative talk radio, Fox News Channel, and the powerful corporate interests that want the law defeated, and really don’t care about the fact that 50 million Americans have no health care except the emergency room, if they end up there. And if they die because of lack of health care, so be it, is the attitude of these special interest groups.

And now there is discussion of the fact that the United States Supreme Court should overturn the law because of the uneducated and confused public opinion.

But that is NOT the job of the Supreme Court, to listen to public opinion, but instead to LEAD public opinion in the proper direction!

If the John Roberts led Supreme Court overturns the law, they will be condemned in history for having kept us the ONLY major industrial democracy in the world to refuse to cover all citizens on a question of life and death!

The Supreme Court is not designed to be popular, and neither are the circuit courts below them. Their job is to interpret the Constitution, and do what is right for the American people, whether popular or not..

If one had polled public opinion, and in some cases it was actually done, the following would not have occurred:

End of racial segregation in public schools in 1954
Provide for privacy rights for couples to use contraceptives in 1965
End of ban on interracial marriage in 1967
Allowance of abortion rights in 1973
Provision to advance women and minorities because of past discrimination in 1977
Giving of privacy rights to gays and lesbians, not just straight people in 2003

These are an issue of social justice and what is right morally, and the same situation applies to the issue of health care.

Popularity should NEVER be a factor in court decisions, and if the Court is unpopular, so be it!

That is why the courts are not elected, as the ignorance and emotion of the masses should never be a basis of constitutional interpretation or human rights.

The Supreme Court has made America a better place, precisely because it has done what the American people may not have appreciated at the time, but was a necessary action, over and over again!