Affirmative Action

Mitch McConnell, Longest Serving Senate Leader, To Leave, After Tremendous Damage Done Over The Years! :(

Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who has served longer in party and Senate leadership than anyone in American history, will leave his role in the Senate after the Presidential Election of 2024.

Arguably the single most important Senate leader since Lyndon B. Johnson was Majority Leader from 1955-1961 before his rise to the Vice Presidency and Presidency, McConnell single handedly caused tremendous damage in so many ways.

Among them was his refusal to allow a Supreme Court nominee by Barack Obama in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia; McConnell’s ramming through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett in the Fall of 2020 before the election after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; his promotion of a massive number of right wing judges onto the federal courts; and his unwillingness to vote to convict Trump on impeachment charges in the days before the end of the Presidential term after the horrendous events of January 6, 2021.

The extremist right wing tilt of the Supreme Court, and its moves against abortion, affirmative action, and promotion of lack of regulation of guns, is primarily due to this man, and he will not look good in the annals of history, for having helped emboldened Donald Trump, even though Trump does not appreciate what McConnell did!

Away For Two Weeks, And The World Changes, Not For The Better! :(

Having just returned from my vacation with my older son after watching nine baseball games at eight baseball stadiums from Washington DC to Chicago, it is clear while I have been away that the nation and the world have changed, and not for the better.

Russia under Vladimir Putin is in turmoil after a challenge to the government by a militia group, creating more international instability. And demonstrations in France have gone large after the killing of an Algerian Arab French citizen by police, making clear that racism is alive and well in not just the United States but world wide!

And then, domestically, the Supreme Court has shown once again just how extreme they are, and presenting a constitutional crisis, as the Bush I and II appointees, along with the Trump appointees, have declared war on precedent and progress, trying to bring America back to the 18th century “originalism”, which many scholars make clear is totally preposterous!

The majority Court Justices have been shown to have massive financial and ideological conflicts of interest with no means for accountability, and with Chief Justice John Roberts losing all of whatever reasonable reputation he has had over the years, with his refusal to testify on ethics violations by himself and the other Republican Justices, particularly, but not only, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Between the attack on abortion rights a year ago, and now the end of affirmative action; the denial of student college debt relief; and allowing religion to interfere with the basic human rights of gays and transgenders, and arguably, other groups that any person in any business or industry could decide to refuse to interact with in daily life, is clearly the most dangerous time in constitutional history since the Civil War!

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday: Republicans Backtracking On Civil Rights!

Today is the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, and yet, the Republican Party is doing everything imaginable to backtrack on Civil Rights!

The Supreme Court, with Republican appointments controlling six of the nine seats, is working very hard to negate the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, and so much more, and among those most promoting backtracking is African American Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who is a total disgrace on the issue of civil rights, which actually advanced his career!

Republican Governors, led by Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas, and other governors, mostly in the South, are mandating that teachers cannot discuss race and ethnicity, and the truth of American history, because some white children might feel “bad”, as if history should be totally sanitized!

This includes literature as well being censored, an absolute outrage, with the goal of keeping young people ignorant, and complying with the demands of many prejudiced white parents, who do not want their children exposed to truth and facts!

It also includes the goal of making it harder for poor people and those of color to be able to vote, a backtracking on the Voting Rights Act of 1965!

So we have Republicans mouthing quotes of Martin Luther King, Jr, but working assiduously to promote a white supremacy version of history and literature, in a nation becoming less white by the decade!

This is a human tragedy of massive proportions, and must be resisted by decent and educated people who do not want a sanitizing of our history and literature, and instead, a full accounting for past shortcomings, in order to promote a better future in a multiracial society!

Affirmative Action On The Block Before The Supreme Court

Affirmative Action has been a social policy for the past half century, and has allowed many people of color and women, who had been denied equality throughout American history, to have the opportunity to advance educationally, and enter many fields of work where they had been denied entrance.

Unfortunately, others, who were Caucasian, or male, or even Asian American ethnicity, lost opportunities that might have been theirs if there was no affirmative action programs.

So this issue is very complicated, but in the long run of history, it could be argued that affirmative action has been a positive concept, as unfortunately, there will always be those who are on the short end of any social change.

But, it is hard to believe that those who have been denied have not managed to succeed, just in a different manner and circumstance, as life is a challenge, and one cannot always gain everything one wants.

So, overall, it would be helpful if some form of affirmative action survived in the Supreme Court, as it now considers this issue, although it seems unlikely that it will survive this right wing Court in the present circumstances!

The Supreme Court Opens Its Most Controversial Term In Decades!

Today is the opening day of the Supreme Court term, and it likely will be its most controversial term in decades.

With a solid right wing tilt of six Justices, the Court seems likely to go against public opinion on many areas of constitutional law, including

Affirmative Action
Gay Rights
Voting Rights
Environmental Regulations
Religion
Free Speech
The Powers of State Legislatures

Public opinion image of the Supreme Court has dropped dramatically, and there have been massive negative reactions to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in late June which declared abortion unconstitutional, nearly 50 years after Roe V Wade was decided in 1973.

The minority liberals on the Court, specificially Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have been very outspoken in their criticism of the extremist agenda of the present Court, the most conservative, by far, since the 1920s!

There is much to fear as basic constitutional rights are being eliminated, it seems, with glee, led by Justice Samuel Alito (appointed by George W. Bush) and Clarence Thomas (appointed by George H. W. Bush), but joined in by the three Donald Trump appointees (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett) in most decisions, leaving Chief Justice John Roberts almost as an outsider, having little impact on trying to tame, to some extent, the rightward swing of the Court!

The only good news is the coming to the Court of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African American female in the history of the Supreme Court, and the fact that all three liberals now on the Court are women, along with Amy Coney Barrett.

But the future of constitutional law is in danger from the extremist agenda of the majority, an alarming situation!

The Supreme Court Reputation In Tatters, And Chief Justice Roberts Seems Clueless!

The US Supreme Court reputation is in tatters among all thinking, decent people, as the right wing extremist majority, made dominant by the appointments of Donald Trump, work to take away basic freedoms and rights!

The Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, taking away abortion rights from women after 49 years, reversing a precedent, is an outrage!

And the threat exists that contraception, gay marriage, and interracial marriage rights could be taken away in the near future, along with affirmative action, and environmental protections.

Chief Justice John Roberts seems clueless to this, and has lost control of his Court, and his name in history, as the leader of the Court, will be negative long term, unless he can bring pressure on other members to stop the extreme right wing tilt, which is making the Court look like a lawless institution!

Donald Trump Presidency Far Worse Than Richard Nixon Presidency, Which Had Positive Developments

The Presidency of Richard Nixon has long been understood to have been the most dangerous time of Presidential abuse in American history, but now with Donald Trump out of office, it is clear that the 45th President was much more abusive, and much more negative, than the 37th President a half century ago!

Nixon was involved in many illegal actions, culminating in the Watergate Scandal, but more more than just that scandal, and he was facing impeachment and removal from office had he not resigned.

But Nixon also made some major advancements in domestic policy making, signing into law Democratic initiatives that he could have vetoed, and would not have become law, including;

The Environmental Protection Agency
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

He also supported Affirmative Action, and appointed Associate Justice Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court, and also, in foreign policy, opened up to mainland China, and accomplished the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviet Union.

Even though Nixon’s negatives, causing more indictments and convictions than any President, were major in other actions, he ranks in the mid to low 20s in ranking among Presidential scholars for his positive initiatives.

Donald Trump ranks near the bottom of listings of Presidents, and was ever more lawless, with many revelations yet to come, and he also set out to destroy much of the Nixon domestic accomplishments. And the fact that he was impeached twice, and lost the popular vote massively twice, adds to his negatives!

So Donald Trump elevates Richard Nixon, and even Presidents seen as primarily disasters, including George W. Bush!

The Tough Battle Ahead On Supreme Court Replacement For Justice Anthony Kennedy

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative but moderate on such issues as gay rights and gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, flag burning, and the use of the death penalty, leaves the Senate in a tough battle for confirmation of whoever Donald Trump appoints as his replacement.

The fair thing to do would be to postpone the appointment and confirmation hearings until after the midterm elections of 2018, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented hearings and a vote on Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, a Presidential election year. But it is clear McConnell has no such intentions to treat this situation in the same manner as he did two years ago.

So the question is whether there is any possibility of stopping a Trump appointment, and it seems pretty gloomy and very little chance to intervene and delay or prevent a confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice.

With only 49 votes, the Democrats need one or two Republicans to join them in opposition, and for all Democrats, including more moderate and conservative members of the caucus, to stay loyal, even in an election year where 10 Senators who are running for reelection are from Trump carried states.

The saddest part of all this is that now we will have FOUR Supreme Court Justices–two by George W. Bush and two by Donald Trump–selected by Presidents who massively lost the popular vote in the elections in 2000 and 2016 when the Electoral College went to them.

Six of the last seven Presidential elections have seen the popular vote won by Democrats, all but 2004 since 1992, but the power over the future of the Supreme Court has been lost for the long term, for the next 30 years, beyond the theoretical lifetime of this author and blogger, and of many people who are 40 or over right now!

July 2 An Historic Day In So Many Ways!

July 2 is an extremely historic day in American history in so many ways, more than typical.

July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, with the document being printed, and beginning to be signed on July 4.

July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed Morrill Act, granting land for state agricultural colleges.

July 2, 1863, Second day of Battle of Gettysburg, turning point battle of Civil War.

July 2, 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot and mortally wounded by Charles Guiteau, died 79 days later on September 19, 1881, a tragedy I devote a chapter to in my Assassinations book, now out in paperback from Rowman Littlefield.

July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, most path breaking and historic civil rights law in American history.

July 2, 1986, the Supreme Court upheld Affirmative Action in two cases.

23 Years Since Richard Nixon’s Death, Final Total Repudiation Of His Positive Legacy In Domestic Affairs

Richard Nixon died on Earth Day 1994, at the age of 81.

He died, knowing that the Watergate and related scandals under his Presidency, would damage his reputation forever.

But Nixon also left a positive legacy, which now, a generation later, is, finally, totally repudiating his time in office.

Nixon, for all his faults, was the most “liberal” or “progressive” Republican President since Theodore Roosevelt, and no Republican President since has been anywhere near as much so.

Nixon could have prevented a lot of reforms, with his veto, but instead went along with a Democratic controlled Congress, and signed into law the following:

The Environmental Protection Agency

The Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Large increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as the Food Stamp Program.

Enactment of the Supplemental Security Income program, providing a guaranteed income for elderly and disabled citizens.

Signed into law various environmental laws, and expanded national park land protection under the Department of the Interior.

Signed into law Title IX, guaranteeing equal access and opportunity to women in all educational and recreational activities in colleges and universities and public schools.

Signed into law the addition of Affirmative Action to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for women, and ethnic minorities, in education and in employment–race, color, sex, religion, national origin.

Nixon also endorsed the proposed Equal Rights Amendment for women, also backed by his successor, Gerald ford, but opposed by Ronald Reagan, and failing of being added to the Constitution during the Reagan Presidency.

Finally, one of Nixon’s four Supreme Court appointments, Justice Harry Blackmun, turned out to be a very progressive member of the Court, and was the author of the majority opinion in Roe V. Wade, the abortion case, which has continued to divide Americans 44 years later, and which the Republican Party is attempting to bring about its reversal, with one step being the addition of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Now, in 2017, President Trump and the Republican controlled 115th Congress seem to be on the road to destruction of all of these major achievements under Richard Nixon, a true travesty of justice.

We are witnessing the most reactionary, right wing extremist Congress and Presidency in American history, and progressives must fight tooth and nail to prevent this destruction of the “good side” of Richard Nixon’s legacy.