Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 15, 2010

The miraculous rescue of the Chilean coal miners reaffirms the potential for triumph in the human spirit. The spiraling inane insanity of political discourse that has conferred legitimacy to birthers and tea partiers and Nazi wannabees is breathtaking in its capacity to dismay. And the beat goes on:

Clarence and Ginni
A few mainstream news articles have begun to focus on the rather interesting story of Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The facts are that Mrs. Thomas, affectionately known as Ginni, is the founder and head of Liberty Central, a nonprofit political action group that committed to “ending the tyranny of Barack Obama” and other right wing of the right wing principles.

While no one can deny the freedom of speech rights of Mrs. Thomas, the appearance of propriety is critical to the legitimacy of jurisprudence and there can be no doubt that the spouse of a Supreme Court justice appearing of Fox News with a Lady Liberty crown and braying about the need to reclaim America and hurling epithets at the President of the United States has to cause one to wonder.

I wonder, for example, if there is any way that a nominee to the Supreme Court would be confirmed if their spouse engaged in these kinds of high profile political forays – regardless of political affiliation or philosophical point of view.

Further, there is the very real matter of the Citizens United case which was decided by the Supreme Court. Citizens United held that corporations can make unlimited campaign and public contributions since corporations have the same rights to free speech as citizens.

This contorted perversion of the Constitution has not only skewed the political landscape throughout this country, it also legitimized an unlimited flow of funds to —- you guessed it — Liberty Central, a 501© (4) corporation that does not have to disclose its corporate donors, including the two companies that provided her with $550,000 to get her hatchet job operation started a few years ago.

One would think that, at the very least, the esteemed Justice Thomas (the favorite Supreme Court Justice of Sharron Angle, by the way) would have recused himself from the Citizens United case as its outcome directly affected the work of his wife. But there is no shame and very little observation of propriety on the right wing of the right wing and Justice Thomas chimed in with his fellow Blocks of Granite on the Supreme Court, Justices Roberts, Alito, and Scalia to make certain that this godforsaken decision went forward.

What is most distressing is that the Thomas-Thomas-Liberty Central connection is not news and has not been revealed through investigative reporting. These facts are known and have been known for quite awhile.

And then think about the hue and outcry if the wife of Justice Stephen Breyer, a noted progressive on the Supreme Court, was a regular contributor to Truthout or The Huffington Post or Point of View.

Clearly we are in an era where the right wing of the right wing doesn’t even pretend to adhere to basic principles of propriety and decency. And just as clearly, the progressive cohorts in the political fray have yet to find their voice.

Dazed and Amazed
Every day there are polling reports and surveys to the effect that Republicans and their Tea Party progeny are “enthusiastic” about voting in the November 2nd midterm elections and Democratic Party supporters are lukewarm and reluctant on the subject.

I confess to being dazed and amazed by this continuous news flow. The G.O.Tea Party has been very clear in setting forth its agenda to roll back each and every legislative achievement of the Obama Administration to date – from health care, to nuclear disarmament, to equal pay for women. The right wing of the right wing has declared its intention to dismantle key elements of government like the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.

Some avatars of the right have questioned the constitutionality of unemployment insurance (Joe Miller – Alaska) and the need for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Rand Paul – Kentucky). Others have engaged in such reprehensible personal conduct (Carl Paladino – New York) and have made their fortunes promoting misogyny and violence (Linda McMahon – Connecticut).

And I am dazed and amazed at the reported apathy of the progressive and moderate sectors of the electorate. Can it be that people simply don’t believe Joe Miller when he says that he thinks that unemployment insurance is unconstitutional and that he will not vote for any legislation that is not expressly permitted in the Constitution (a document that was written over two hundred years ago)? Can it be that the promise of Senate and House of Representatives populated by former witches (Christine O’Donnell – Delaware) and Nazi wannabees (Rich Iott – Ohio) is not enough to get people to go to the polls and vote?

I understand that political battle fatigue may have set in given the all out assaults from the right wing of the right wing and its Fox News megaphone. But now is not the time to retreat and hunker down. There is a promise of a darker tomorrow on the horizon. Stemming the tide of witches and wrestlers and Nazi wannabee and strict constitutional constructionists is not simply another cause.

There is a cause for alarm right now and if there was ever a time for mobilization and taking a stand against the outrageous proposition that this country was better in some mythical past, now is the time.

Or to be perfectly accurate, November 2nd is the time.

Burn Baby Burn
Recently, in Obion County, Tennessee a residence burned to the ground while the fire department stood by. What was the reason for their inaction?

The owners of the home had not paid an annual $75 fee for fire protection service. The family in question had paid in previous years, had forgotten this year and offered to pay on the spot. The firemen refused the payment and the home burned to the ground.

That eloquent voice of the right wing of the right wing, Glenn Beck, praised the Tennessee firemen for standing up for what is right and teaching a lesson to Americans who would “sponge” off their fellow citizens. As bizarre and heartless as this statement seems, Mr. Beck was supported by his fellow travelers who call themselves conservatives and libertarians.

Terms like cruel, heartless and clueless come to my mind. But keep in mind that the point of view expressed by Mr. Beck and his colleagues is held by many who would put into action these views if the G.O.Tea Party and the Blocks of Granite on the Supreme Court have their way.

VOTE ON NOVEMBER 2nd!!!

Have a great weekend!

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