Day: May 10, 2012

Presidential Courage And Human Rights: From John Quincy Adams To Barack Obama

One of the most important roles of a President is to be a moral leader, a person who sets the standard for what is moral and ethical in public affairs,

And nothing is more important than to have the courage to take leadership on human rights matters, whether in the United States or in other nations.

In that regard, Barack Obama will always stand out for what he did on Wednesday, speaking up for gay rights, including the right to marry.

Who else among our Presidents can be seen as a moral leader on human rights issues?

John Quincy Adams, as President and in his post Presidential career in the House of Representatives, campaigned against slavery and the slave trade, and was censured by the House of Representatives for fighting the gag rule (forbidding discussion of slavery in the House chamber) over and over again. He also represented the slaves aboard the slave ship Amistad, and won the court case for their freedom in 1841.

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a move many thought was unwise and might undermine the Union effort during the Civil War. But he believed that African Americans should be given freedom.

Harry Truman took the earliest steps in promoting civil rights for African Americans in the 1940s when segregation reigned in the South, and he went ahead anyway and promoted integration of the military and of the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

Dwight D. Eisenhower alienated the white South when he sent in National Guard troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce integration of a public high school.

John F. Kennedy followed Eisenhower’s lead, in promoting National Guard intervention at the University of Mississippi and the University of Alabama, to bring about integration, and also proposed a civil rights law that he had to know would be extremely difficult to accomplish.

Lyndon B. Johnson, despite his Southern heritage, became the great proponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, knowing it would turn the white South over to the Republican Party, as it did.

Richard Nixon signed affirmative action into law, which became one of the great advancements in civil rights for women and minorities.

Jimmy Carter became the advocate of promoting human rights overseas, instead of accepting violations by so called “friendly” nations, as part of the business of diplomacy. He was bitterly criticized as naive, but his human rights beliefs remain one of his great legacies.

And now Barack Obama joins this group on Presidential courage in relation to the advancement of human rights! Kudos to him!

Did Barack Obama Go Far Enough On Gay Marriage? Ted Olson Does Not Think So!

In the midst of all the celebration and joy over President Barack Obama’s strong endorsement of the right of gay men and women to marry, he included in his statement on the issue that the matter should be dealt with on the state level, state by state.

But Ted Olson, former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, disagrees.

He and David Boies, the two lawyers involved in the Bush V. Gore election controversy in 2000, are fighting to bring the denial of gay marriage in California, after it was first allowed, to the Supreme Court, with the idea that the Court can determine the constiitutionality of gay marriage, much as they did with interracial marriage in 1967, with the Loving V. Virginia case.

Yes, it is true that 31 states have banned gay marriage in votes of the people of those states, but why should a basic human right, the right to marry, be subjected to a vote of the people?

If this was done about interracial marriage, even today, a majority in many states would ban such a relationship, but it is not the right of anyone to tell others that they cannot have happiness, and this is the point of conservative Ted Olson and liberal David Boies!

There should be a national standard on marriage, and it should be legal and consistent everywhere in the country.

A Supreme Court decision could mandate this and end the issue for good!

And it is certain that such a decision would not prevent churches and synagogues from deciding not to marry gay people, since civil marriage is all that would be covered by such a decision.

Hopefully, sometime soon, the issue of gay marriage by civil method will be resolved in the law in favor of human rights!

Mitt Romney: A Bully, Nasty, Cruel! Character Issues Make Him Unacceptable To Be President!

New information has emerged that Mitt Romney, when a teenager at a private boarding school, acted like a bully, and showed nastiness and cruelty toward two students who were perceived as gay, and also showed elderly abuse of a nearly blind teacher.

Of course, some will say: “Oh come on, have a sense of humor, please! Boys will be boys! You cannot hold teenage pranks and wildness against them later on in life!”

Sorry, but that does not ring for this author!

It is NEVER acceptable to be a bully, as we well realize today, when bullying for being gay, or short, or fat, or unattractive, or shy, or whatever, causes misery, depression, and often suicide of the victims! The scars from being bullied can last a lifetime and mar a person’s happiness!

Romney, along with others who feel guilty about what they did, held down a student and forcibly cut his hair, in one case. That is assault, and should have led to expulsion and legal action against the perpetrators, including Mitt Romney.

In another case, Romney made verbally abusive comments about a supposed gay student being a lady, and personal insults can really hurt, and should not be forgiven!

And in another case, Romney was involved in directing a nearly blind teacher into a door and wall, and having a hearty laugh after it, described as “giggly”! This is abuse of and lack of respect for a teacher, and being insensitive toward a disabled, elderly individual!

These are not laughing matters, and what is more infuriating is that Romney NEVER apologized for what he did, and just went about his life feeling no compassion or guilt, and first denied these events had ever happened. Only when a group of boys from that time all testified to the truth of these allegations did he say he did not remember, but wished now belatedly to apologize for his actions 48 years ago. Unfortunately, this is not enough!

This is an issue of character, as much as putting his dog on the top of his car for hours while traveling on vacation, leading to the dog having an “accident”, and telling us about this in a laughing matter, and saying the dog loved being on the car roof! How could he know that? Many people would call it dog cruelty!

This man is arrogant, feels privileged, has lied constantly on so many issues, and has demonstrated a lack of compassion and guilt for his actions. He is a terrible example for children with his bullying, nasty, cruel ways.

This is not just a childhood or teenage prank. It is a question of decency and character, and Mitt Romney fails the test of leadership.

This alone should be a reason to make sure we do not reward him with the office of the Presidency!

Nicholas Katzenbach Dead: Major Figure In 1960s Issues Under Presidents Kennedy And Johnson

Another veteran of the Kennedy-Johnson era, Nicholas Katzenbach, has died at the age of 90.

Not as well remembered as others, partly because he wished to avoid the spotlight, Katzenbach was actually an extremely important figure, as Under Secretary of State, Deputy Attorney General, and Attorney General.

The author has the memory of Katzenbach confronting Alabama Governor George Wallace in June 1963, at the University of Alabama, when Wallace tried to block the registration of two black students, and Katzenbach took a firm stand, and Wallace stepped aside. Few more dramatic moments have occurred in a public place, with no one sure what would happen!

But Katzenbach was also involved in the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith in 1962; the defense of the Vietnam War before congressional committees; the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy; advice during the Cuban Missile Crisis; passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and struggles with J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, but supportive of Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General before him.

The 1960s era fades ever more in history with the death of Nicholas Katzenbach.