(Indiana) Republicans’ LGBT protections bill draws criticism on both sides

(Yesterday GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal suspended his campaign as noted here. – Admin.) IndyStar.com By Tony Cook, Stephanie Wang and Chelsea Schneider 11/17/15 Republicans unveil sexual orientation, gender identity bill In the opening salvo of what is likely to be … Continue reading

Bernie Sanders on media, Medicare, middle class, Iraq War, Keystone Pipeline…

(Yesterday Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC “Meet the Press,” interviewed, among others, presidential contender Bernie Sanders and the exchange follows. The transcript of the entire program is here. – Admin.) CHUCK TODD: Let me move to the other side of … Continue reading

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Kim Davis Is Not a Patriot

The gathering of Davis’ supporters and their anti-American signs are no different from the “Death to America” rallies we see in some foreign countries (Additional info about presidential contenders Cruz, Huckabee, Jindal, Paul and Walker has been published here.) Time.com … Continue reading

Here Are 21 Policy Highlights From the First 2016 Republican Debate

The Daily Signal By Melissa Quinn and Natalie Johnson, News Reporters 8/7/15 The 2016 primaries are in full momentum following months of build-up, officially kicking off on Thursday night in prime-time as the ten leading Republican candidates squared off for … Continue reading

Goshen, Indiana is a flashpoint in LGBT rights fight

Battle in small town signals upcoming statewide debate How a small Indiana city became a gay rights battleground IndyStar.com By Stephanie Wang 8/3/15 GOSHEN — In a cradle of conservatism about 150 miles northeast of Indianapolis, a powerful lobbyist stood … Continue reading

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders backs Greek voters

Sanders backs Greek voters

“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity,” he says.

By Hanna Trudo

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed support for Greeks who voted against creditors’ calls for austerity measures in exchange for new loans by widely rejecting such demands on Sunday.

“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly,” Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement on his website.

The referendum was part of broader efforts to back Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is expected to attempt to try to negotiate better terms for his financially beleaguered nation.

“In a world of massive wealth and income inequality, Europe must support Greece’s efforts to build an economy which creates more jobs and income, not more unemployment and suffering,” Sanders’ statement reads.

The Vermont senator, a socialist, has a recent history of speaking out against global stakeholders’ policies that affect Greece.

On Wednesday, he criticized the International Monetary Fund in an interview with The Huffington Post, stating, “It is unacceptable that the International Monetary Fund and European policymakers have refused to work with the Greek government on a sensible plan to improve its economy and pay back its debt.”

Earlier Sunday, Sanders sat for an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. Sanders, who has been drawing increased attention as he has gained on front-runner Hillary Clinton in the polls, addressed his own domestic financial priorities, building on the language he has become known for in recent months.

“My Cabinet would not be dominated by representatives of Wall Street,” Sanders said.

“I want a Cabinet that is focused on rebuilding the crumbling middle class, demanding that the wealthiest people and large corporations become part of America, and do not live as an island unto themselves,” he added.

He pointed to former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich and New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman as knowledgeable sources of information.

Sanders also addressed issues involving tax rate hikes, stating: “In my view, we ought to break up the major financial institutions. We have to do away with these corporate tax havens. And, yes, we have to raise individual tax rates substantially higher than they are today.”

He also spoke about same-sex marriage.

“I voted against the DOMA act, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, way back in 1996 that was signed by President [Bill] Clinton, because I think, if people are in love, they should be able to get married in this country, in 50 states in America. And I strongly support what the Supreme Court recently said.”

Commentary: Reagan’s gift of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy

Commentary: Reagan’s gift of Kennedy

By Michael Leppert

Ronald Reagan was posthumously vital to a landmark week in America.  It has been commonplace for some time for some Republicans to refer to themselves as “Reagan Republicans.”  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has now established the standard for that descriptive.

It’s weeks like these that should inspire Americans to study exactly how the U.S. Supreme Court has been assembled.  The politics of it are fascinating and have taken nearly 30 years and five presidents to implement.  I will admit that even as someone who has worked in politics for 20 years, only in recent time have I been able to even name the nine members of the high court.  After the rulings on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality this week, I am pretty sure that shortcoming of mine has ended forever.

The court is currently made up of five members appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democrats.  That would imply that conservative members of the public should be happy with this court.  Obviously that is not the case.  In Thursday’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, joined the four Democrat appointees in the landmark decision.  The next day, Kennedy joined the Democrats again on the marriage equality decision, writing the majority opinion which will be quoted and cited repeatedly for the foreseeable future.  It really is that good.

In the partisan climate of today, it seems awkward to some, and maddening to others, to have a Republican appointee to the court side with the Democratic appointees so often and so prominently.  But the nation’s path through the nomination process in 1987 and 1988 to replace retiring Justice Lewis Powell is a vital episode in history that calls for a review this week.  Justice Kennedy was President Reagan’s third nomination to fill that vacancy, and while he was confirmed by the Senate 97-0, it marked the end of a dramatic stretch of D.C. politics that is worthy of a book or two.  Actually, I think there are more than a couple of books on it.

So who remembers Robert Bork?  Oddly, I do.  I also vividly remember the process and fight that Judge Bork went through in his attempt at being confirmed following his nomination to the high court.  It was three weeks of high drama highlighted by a controversial floor speech by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy blasting Bork’s qualifications.  But in today’s context, it is ironic that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which leads the confirmation process, was none other than our eventual and current vice president, Joe Biden.

Bork came from the Nixon administration and played a vital role in the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, the illegal firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  When Nixon ordered his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire him, he resigned instead.  The order then fell to Deputy AG William Ruckelshaus, an Indiana native, who also refused to carry out the order and resigned as well.  Next up was Bork, who did fire Cox, leading to Nixon’s private promise to nominate him to the court.  Nixon resigned before he could deliver on that promise.  But 14 years later, Reagan nominated him, even though politically he shouldn’t have.  To say Bork had baggage would be an understatement, and the Senate defeated the nomination as Democrats had promised, on a 58-42 vote.

Reagan followed this up with his nomination of Douglas Ginsburg (no relation to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), but his nomination was withdrawn nine days later after controversy stirred over his public admission to marijuana use.

After all of that came the nomination of Anthony Kennedy.  There was some concern in Washington that the Senate was not going to confirm any nomination made by Reagan in his last year in office.  But Kennedy won the support of conservatives and liberals as being fair and balanced.  He has gained a reputation of looking at international law for guidance on certain issues such as human rights and has been given the label of a “swing vote” on the panel, a nickname he hates.  Until this week, my favorite quote of his came from a 2010 Associated Press interview when he said that “an activist court is a court that makes a decision you don’t like.”  How fitting that quote seems this week.

The point is that the process of becoming nominated and confirmed as a Supreme Court justice is rigorous and appropriate.  Politicos of all types, who had hoped for different outcomes this week, have been suggesting that this “activist” court, Kennedy in particular, should be held to some different process.  There are presidential candidates talking about impeachment and disbanding the court.  Now all of those suggestions are just silly.  Our process is not broken and the results this week were not wrong.

President Reagan needed to fill the vacancy before he left office and in this case, the third time was the charm.  In reading and relearning some of the positions Reagan held all of those years ago, I expect that our former president would be far from disappointed in his last appointee’s recent landmark opinions.  Of course, that suggestion might agitate conservatives a little as well.  In any case, thank you Mr. President, you picked a good one this time.

The ACA decision was a big one.  But I can’t remember any court decision in my life that has caused a celebration like the marriage equality one.  It was a decision that took a long, long time to be made starting with the assembly of a court that seems to have a clearer vision of America today than our current Congress does.

During our celebrations in the days that follow, please don’t forget how this group of nine people were assembled.  In the case of Reagan and Kennedy, we should be particularly appreciative.  Only a nominee that was historically special could have answered the call to serve that was made to him in late 1987.

Sometimes in politics the most important things that ever happen are not obvious.  The date of the marriage equality decision will appear on high school history exams.  Justice Kennedy’s path to the court should be a part of the same lesson.

(Michael Leppert is a public and governmental affairs consultant in Indianapolis and writes his thoughts about politics, government and anything else that strikes him at IndyContrariana.com.)