Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Daily Strike-5/3/09-Sunday Shows/Jack Kemp

Good Sunday and welcome to the Daily Strike. Make sure you read our previous entry and that you leave some comments.

SUNDAY TALK SHOWS: As always on Sundays, most of today's news comes from the talk shows. Arlen Specter, the newly Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, made the most headlines in his appearance on Meet the Press. He denied a Wall Street Journal report that he had told President Obama of his intentions to be a "loyal Democrat." I guess he proved that this past week by voting against Obama's budget proposal and the "cramdown" amendment to the housing bill. He also claimed that his decision had as much to do with "principle" as it did his need to get reelected. He says that the Republican party has moved too far to the right, and that he identifies more with views of the Democratic party. I have to say I have my doubts. It's not like the GOP's move to the right happened overnight. Specter says that he will maintain his political independence, and that he won't hesitate to filibuster when he disagrees. The biggest test on this political independence will be when health care reform comes up. With Democratic Senator Ben(edict) Nelson coming out against the public option, Specter's vote will be crucial should the Democrats try to pass reform under regular order. They would need neither Specter nor Nelson if they use reconciliation procedures.

Specter and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), both talked about Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice David Souter. Both men expressed their desire that Obama look outside the court system to find someone with more "real-world" experience. Leahy also denied that Democrats tried to filibuster Bush appointee Samuel Alito, saying their effort was a "cursory vote" that had no chance of being successful. Republican Senators, obviously wanting to reserve their right to filibuster, disagreed. Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) both separately said this morning that the GOP reserves the right to filibuster if Obama's nominee is too left-wing. My guess is that no matter who Obama appoints, they try and paint him or her as "too left wing."

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Acting head of the CDC, Richard Besser, appeared on two separate shows to talk the administration's response to the swine flu. Besser said that the administration is pleased that the virus hasn't spread more quickly, and at this point, is not looking more severe than your average seasonal flu. All three cautioned, though, that the virus remains dangerous and denied that the government has overreacted.

Finally, the always politically astute Mitt Romney claimed on CNN's State of the Union that if Obama nominates a justice who "would legislate from the bench," the GOP might have to "stand up and scream." Have fun with that one.

JACK KEMP: Former NFL star, Congressman, and GOP Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp passed away last night at the age of 73. My political differences with Kemp were pretty extensive. He was one of the first contemporary politicians to promote "supply-side economics" and was a key player in convincing future President Reagan to pursue supply-side tax cutting policies if he won the White House. Kemp called himself a "bleeding-heart conservative." However, I think it's important to acknowledge some of Jack Kemp's strong positions on issues affecting racial minorities, and his brave push for anti-poverty legislation against the objections of his "screw the poor" political party. Kemp had seen the effects of racial discrimination as a football player, and became motivated to advocate for minority rights throughout his political career. Kemp supported affirmative action programs, and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. He also was one of the major drivers in making Martin Luther King Jr. day a national holiday. Kemp also was a supporter of civil rights for gays and lesbians. Kemp supported the concept of "enterprise zones." The idea was to exempt companies from paying certain taxes if they relocated to troubled inner-city areas. The desired effect was that urban centers would be revitalized by newly-located businesses. I'm not sure how I feel about the policy, or whether its implementation has been affected, but I do admire Kemp's genuine concern for the plight of racial minorities. The Republican party right now has absolutely no solutions for problems affecting minority groups. They would rather deny the problem altogether, or more commonly, blame the victims. I think they would benefit from someone like Jack Kemp, who although I disagreed with most of his policies, admirably made the empowerment of minority groups a major cause of his political career.

I was very touched reading this letter Kemp wrote to his 17 grandchildren after Barack Obama won the Presidential election.

That's it for today, join us tomorrow morning for the Weekly Strike!

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