Quiet on the “mandate” front

August 31, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Bush, Obama!, politics straight up | Leave a comment
Tags:

Vase disguise awarded prize at colorful ball in Capitol. Washington D.C. A prize well deserved was awarded to A. Richard Hill who attended Washingtons colorful Bal Boheme Ball last night representing a Louis XIV vase. Receiving honorable mention for the most original costume Hill is shown being introduced by Rep. Sol Bloom of New York.  1937 February 2.  (Library of Congress)

Vase disguise awarded prize at colorful ball in Capitol. Washington D.C. A prize well deserved was awarded to A. Richard Hill who attended Washington's colorful Bal Boheme Ball last night representing a Louis XIV vase. Receiving honorable mention for the most original costume Hill is shown being introduced by Rep. Sol Bloom of New York. 1937 February 2. (Library of Congress)

It’s interesting how the public was repeatedly told that George Bush had a mandate to govern as he saw fit, despite losing the popular vote in 2000 and barely scraping by in the 2004 election, but there is an adamant refusal to acknowledge any mandate conveyed by the American people to Barack Obama in last November’s vote.

Free Speech: What it means, What it doesn’t

August 31, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Posted in civil rights, God machine | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Children of the Washington Public schools were today given an opportunity to see the original constitution of the United States in the State Dept.  February 13 1920.   (Library of Congress)

Children of the Washington Public schools were today given an opportunity to see the original constitution of the United States in the State Dept. February 13 1920. (Library of Congress)

There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what is meant by the terms “free speech” and “First Amendment.”

The latest example of shocking ignorance about core rights and benefits laid out in the United States Constitution which should be easily recited and understood by any citizen capable of tying his or her shoes without accidentally tying the two shoes together comes from Florida where a young woman — and her ignorant father — complains of her suspension from school after she verbally assaulted a fellow student. The misguided young woman claims that she has a Constitutionally protected right to verbally assault a fellow student. In addition to her Constitutional claim, she insists she had good reason for the assault — the fellow student did not conform to her prescribed personal/cultural/social/ethnic/religious code of conduct and dress.

The conduct which so offended Miss Lawrence was (1) not standing for the pledge of allegiance and (2) the wearing of clothing commonly associated with women practicing Islam. She claims that the clothing issue was subsidiary to the inadequate demonstration of patriotism, but you will excuse me if I am disinclined to believe what she says. I have yet to read of any demands that Jewish men be banned from wearing a yarmulke or Catholics be forced to wash their face before leaving the church on Ash Wednesday. She is entitled to her opinions but that doesn’t mean anyone has to care or listen or conform.

I do not stand for or recite “the pledge.” I am offended by demands to prove my loyalty by reciting a ridiculous oath made offensive by inclusion of language which demands recognition of an entity known as “God,” an obvious violation of the “religion” clause of the First Amendment.

The gross (but, unfortunately, typical) misunderstanding of the First Amendment by the hyper-patriotic young woman and her father.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As you can see, the First Amendment is not just about “free speech.” It bars the government from interfering with citizens who gather and share information (“the press”). It bars the government from making laws enforcing particular religious belief or requiring anyone to have a particular — or any — religious belief. It protects our right to sit out on our stoop in the evening (“assembly”) and chat with our neighbors (“speech”). It protects our right to make angry phone calls to elected officials (“petition’).

The First Amendment is not blanket permission for any wanker to get up in someone else’s grill and be an ass. The First Amendment does not guarantee you an audience.

It’s beyond sad that those making the most noise about adherence to Constitutional principles seem to be the ones who are most ignorant about the rights and obligations set forth in our country’s most important founding documents.

Michael Steele: Perfect Reflection of the GOP

August 27, 2009 at 11:13 am | Posted in politics straight up | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Successive steps in the production of blades, scabbards, and manufacture of welded damask steel at the Zlatoust plant. Types of soldiers sabers.  Forms part of: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress).

Successive steps in the production of blades, scabbards, and manufacture of welded damask steel at the Zlatoust plant. Types of soldiers' sabers. Forms part of: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress).

Steve Benen says that it is understatement to say that Michael Steel “reflects poorly on the party, its agenda, and its ability to be serious about public policy.”

I say Steve Benen is wrong. Michael Steele is a perfect reflection of today’s GOP.

What we have lost.

August 26, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Posted in senate | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

A man willing to stand up for those of us who struggle to make ends meet.

Thanks, First Draft

American Political Terrorists

August 26, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Posted in politics straight up | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,
Family walking on highway, five children. Started from Idabel, Oklahoma. Bound for Krebs, Oklahoma. Pittsburg County, Oklahoma. In 1936 the father farmed on thirds and fourths at Eagleton, McCurtain County, Oklahoma. Was taken sick with pneumonia and lost farm. Unable to get work on Work Prjects Administration and refused county relief in county of fifteen years residence because of temporary residence in another county after his illness.  1938 June.  Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration photographer (Library of Congress)

Family walking on highway, five children. Started from Idabel, Oklahoma. Bound for Krebs, Oklahoma. Pittsburg County, Oklahoma. In 1936 the father farmed on thirds and fourths at Eagleton, McCurtain County, Oklahoma. Was taken sick with pneumonia and lost farm. Unable to get work on Work Prjects Administration and refused county relief in county of fifteen years residence because of temporary residence in another county after his illness. 1938 June. Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration photographer (Library of Congress)

Steve Benen directs readers to an on-point column by Steven Perlstein that pretty well nails the political problem this country faces. But it’s not just health care reform, Republicans are putting party before country at every possible moment, even if it means interfering with national security and foreign policy .

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems. [emphasis mine]

Republicans would apparently be undisturbed by a return to the conditions evident in the photograph above if it got them back in control of the government which they despise.

RIP: Senator Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009

August 26, 2009 at 9:05 am | Posted in Obituary, senate | Leave a comment
Tags: ,
Edward Moore Kennedy, ca. 1968.  Yousuf Karsh, photographer (Library of Congress)

Edward Moore Kennedy, ca. 1968. Yousuf Karsh, photographer (Library of Congress)

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

– Senator Edward M. Kennedy, August 1980

The office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is asking the public to, in lieu of flowers, donate money to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, a new project of the University of Massachusetts that will be located next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

AKM informs us:

Senator Kennedy’s last wish, which he wrote to the Massachusetts Legislature recently was that the Governor be allowed to appoint a temporary senator to fill his seat when he passed. Keeping a strong progressive voice in that Massachusetts Senate seat will be critical to the health care debate, and there are those who will seek to put roadblocks up and keep the seat vacant for the next five months. Please click HERE and sign a petition to the Massachusetts Legislature asking them to fulfill the Senator’s last wish.

I absolutely agree that the Governor should be able to appoint a temporary senator. In fact, this morning I phoned my state rep, state senator and the Governor’s office to let them know exactly that. I was informed that the Legislature plans on screwing around until some time in September. If you are a Massachusetts resident, sign the petition and phone and/or write your state rep and senator. It is important that Senator Kennedy’s legacy not be squandered because the United States Senate is short one strong voice.

Trivializing Death & Despair

August 21, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Posted in health, politics straight up | Leave a comment
Tags:
Two U.S. soldiers looking at dead prisoners on railroad train at unidentified concentration camp in Germany.  1945 April.  U.S. Army Signal Corps photo.   (Library of Congress)

Two U.S. soldiers looking at dead prisoners on railroad train at unidentified concentration camp in Germany. 1945 April. U.S. Army Signal Corps photo. (Library of Congress)

AKM has a personal story to illustrate the mendacity of Republicans bent on stopping healthcare reform through trivialization of the actions of Hitler and the Nazi Party that you really should read:

I remember as a child I was not allowed to watch Hogan’s Heroes. It wasn’t a joke in my house. There was nothing funny about prisoner of war camps. There were no handsome well-fed prisoners with secret tunnels under their bunks, and pirate radio equipment who always managed to play their captors for the fool. There were frightened, emaciated young men whose minds and bodies were broken an ocean away from home, who were shot on fences , and who ate cats, and watched their friends die. There was nothing to laugh about. Those were Nazis.

Surgery, c.1922  (Library of Congress)

Surgery, c.1922 (Library of Congress)

Comparing healthcare reform efforts to Hitler’s policies is one of the more disgusting smears coming from Republicans. It’s shameful that they put their political party ahead of their country and fellow countrymen.

Every evil that the Republicans ascribe to the current healthcare bill is already experienced by Americans under our current for-profit system. Just ask the doctors.

This is because private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume one-third (31 percent) of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year, enough to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

What happened to “Country First”?

August 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Posted in health, senate | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Penasco, New Mexico. Doctor Onstine, medical doctor, writing a prescription in the clinic operated by the Taos County cooperative health association.  1943 Jan.  John Collier, photographer  (Library of Congress)

Penasco, New Mexico. Doctor Onstine, medical doctor, writing a prescription in the clinic operated by the Taos County cooperative health association. 1943 Jan. John Collier, photographer (Library of Congress)

Last fall the public was treated to a lot of hoopla by the McCain campaign and its Republican enablers about “Country First.”

It seems that it was indeed just a slogan.

Once John McCain lost the election, “Country First” went out the window. The Republican Party is currently demonstrating that they are indeed the party of Limbaugh, preferring that Americans not get the decent health care reform they voted for last November.

My disappointment with President Obama is directly related to his insistence that Republicans have a hand in shaping healthcare reform. What he apparently doesn’t understand, but is all too obvious to a simple person like me, is that Republicans have no interest in shaping a bill that will succeed in doing what the average person wants it to do — make decent medical care available to everyone, regardless of income, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.

Retired senior citizens carrying pro-medicare signs, picket outside the Hotel Americana during the American Medical Associations 114th annual convention.  1965

Retired senior citizens carrying pro-medicare signs, picket outside the Hotel Americana during the American Medical Association's 114th annual convention. 1965

Almost worse than the President’s misguided bipartisanship on this issue is that too many Congressional Democrats are working hand in hand with the Republicans against you not being bankrupted because you ended up seriously ill.

Put alleged Democratic Senator Max Baucus (202-224-2651) and Republican Senator “Chuck” Grassley (202-224-3744) on speed dial. Call them every day until they make access to healthcare for every American a priority.

This Day In History: Keeping It In The Family

August 20, 2009 at 11:12 am | Posted in Historical, senate | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,
Black successor takes oath. Washington, D.C., Aug. 20. Vice President Garner administering the oath to Mrs. Bibb Graves, wife of the Governor of Alabama, who was yesterday named U.S. Senator from Alabama to succeed Hugo L. Black, newly appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In the photograph, left to right: Vice President Garner, Governor Bibb Graves, Mrs. Graves, and Senator John H. Bankhead, 2nd Senior Senator from Alabama, 8/20/37 (Library of Congress)

Black successor takes oath. Washington, D.C., Aug. 20. Vice President Garner administering the oath to Mrs. Bibb Graves, wife of the Governor of Alabama, who was yesterday named U.S. Senator from Alabama to succeed Hugo L. Black, newly appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In the photograph, left to right: Vice President Garner, Governor Bibb Graves, Mrs. Graves, and Senator John H. Bankhead, 2nd Senior Senator from Alabama, 8/20/37 (Library of Congress)

Dixie Graves stepped into the national spotlight in August 1937, during her husband’s second term as governor of Alabama. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had appointed Alabama U.S. senator Hugo L. Black to the Supreme Court that month, setting the stage for an historical event in Alabama, the appointment of a new junior senator. Following Black’s departure from the Senate, Governor Graves was empowered to appoint an interim senator until a special election could be held. Graves had numerous possible candidates, most of whom were political supporters from previous elections. But Graves was an astute politician and strategist and made a decision to favor none of the possible candidates over any other. He appointed his wife Dixie, thus solving his difficulties in choosing one ally over another, which could have led to a loss of support for his programs. Also, with the Democrat Graves in the Senate, the president would have a loyal supporter voting for his progressive New Deal legislation. After the appointment was announced, Alabama newspapers and citizens wasted no time in expressing their views. Some were very pleased and thought she would do a better job as senator than her husband was doing as governor. Others denounced the appointment as a political move by the governor to control events not only in the capitol building and the state legislature, but also the U.S. Senate.

During her first week in Washington, Senator Graves proposed a “Peace Bill,” which called for drafting both women and men in time of war. Graves’s resolution stated that when war exists or is imminent, men, women, money, and materials should be available for unlimited use and service and without profit, but the bill was not approved. That same week, the Senate debated an anti-lynching bill, which southern senators filibustered in opposition, prompting an impassioned speech by Graves. Her response was notable because it was the first time that a woman gave a speech on the floor of the Senate and attracted much attention. Lawmakers returned to their seats and other attendees filled the gallery to listen intently to her words. Stating that she abhorred the practice, Graves nevertheless opposed the bill because it would force states to surrender some measure of their sovereignty, or rights.

Dixie Bibb Graves was born on a plantation near Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama on July 26, 1882, and died in Montgomery, Alabama on January 21, 1965. She was the first married female to sit as a US senator. The three female US senators who preceded her were widows appointed to temporarily fill vacant senate seats.

Know Your Presidents: Woodrow Wilson

August 19, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Historical | Leave a comment
Tags: ,
Woodrow Wilson and wife riding in backseat of a carriage to second inauguration, March 5th, 1917 (Library of Congress)

Woodrow Wilson and wife riding in backseat of a carriage to second inauguration, March 5th, 1917 (Library of Congress)

Wilson’s historical reputation is that of a far-sighted progressive. That role has been assigned to him by historians based on his battle for the League of Nations, and the opposition he faced from isolationist Republicans. Indeed, the adjective “Wilsonian,” still in use, implies a positive if idealistic vision for the extension of justice and democratic values throughout the world. Domestically, however, Wilson was a racist retrograde, one who attempted to engineer the diminution of both justice and democracy for American blacks—who were enjoying little of either to begin with.

Wilson’s racist views were hardly a secret. His own published work was peppered with Lost Cause visions of a happy antebellum South. As president of Princeton, he had turned away black applicants, regarding their desire for education to be “unwarranted.” He was elected president because the 1912 campaign featured a third party, Theodore Roosevelt’s Bullmoose Party, which drew Republican votes from incumbent William Howard Taft. Wilson won a majority of votes in only one state (Arizona) outside the South.

What Wilson’s election meant to the South was “home rule;” that is, license to pursue its racial practices without concern about interference from the federal government. That is exactly what the 1948 Dixiecrats wanted. But “home rule” was only the beginning. Upon taking power in Washington, Wilson and the many other Southerners he brought into his cabinet were disturbed at the way the federal government went about its own business. One legacy of post-Civil War Republican ascendancy was that Washington’s large black populace had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances. Wilson’s cabinet put an end to that, bringing Jim Crow to Washington.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.