Friday, December 7, 2012

Example of the Right Wing’s Excessive Influence

Consider the vote in the Senate early this week to ratify a United Nations Treaty that would have established a standard of care for disabled people around the world. The treaty was based on the law as it exists in the United States and would have been a tremendous step forward in urging such care globally. A two-thirds majority was needed to ratify the treaty. Here’s why it failed.
by Charlie Leck

The Senate listened courteously to one of its former greats this week. Bob Dole was brought before them in a wheel chair. He appealed to the Senate to pass, or ratify, this U.N. treaty, telling his audience how important it would be for disabled people around the world. He reminded them that the treaty called for the same standard of care as the law that he wrote and sponsored some years ago in the Senate (The Americans with Disabilities Act). The treaty had been signed previously by President George W. Bush. More recently it was signed by President Barack H. Obama. It only awaited ratification by the Senate.

The United Nations treaty is known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

One would think the vote would have been a slam dunk, but there arose such a clatter on the floor, in the form of very brief speeches by rightists that urged Senators to vote against ratification, that the issue failed passage by a mere three votes.

A bunch of skunk Republicans voted against it. The horrible stink over the matter remains and repulses almost all sensible and caring people.

From the outside, recently presidential candidate and known right-wing-whacko, Rick Santorum, was sending messages to the august body, with a straight face, indicating that the treaty “is a direct assault on us and our family!”

Er! What? Heh? “Could you repeat that part about the thing with the stuff?”

Honest to God? How would you like to be President of the United States and have to deal with such stupidity and simple-mindedness?

The vote in the Senate, you can be sure, was not about urging better care for the disabled around the world. The vote, in reality, was about the United Nations itself and this was another opportunity for the crazy right to take a slap at this international institution that it so despises. Period! End of sentence!

Go down the list of votes against ratification and you will find the extreme right wing of American politics represented there in all its inglorious stubbornness. The list is also one that includes some of the more radical opponents of the United Nations.

The vote was 61 in favor of ratification and 38 opposed. Of course, it takes 67 votes to ratify. All the votes against were cast by Republicans. A significant list of distinguished Republicans voted for the measure, including John McCain (AZ), Richard Lugar (IN), Scott Brown (MA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and John Barrasso (WY).

But, Senator Jim Inhofe (OK) voted against it because he thought it “impinged upon our sovereignty.” Excuse me, could you repeat the part about the…. Oh, forget it!

The following Republican Senators were among those who voted against it: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Senator Thad Cochran (MS), Senator Jim DeMint (SC), Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), Senator Johnny Isakson (GA), Senator Mike Lee (UT), Senator Jerry Moran (KS) and Senator Marco Rubio (FL). A full list of Senators voting against the treaty is just below.

To get a real sense of why these Senators voted against approving the treaty, you need only listen carefully to the words of Senator Inhofe: “I have been an advocate of human rights around the world; however, I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society.”

Uh? Excuse me! Never mind!

Michael Farris, who founded and currently chairs an association that defends and encourages home schooling (HSLDA) was staunchly opposed to the treaty provision and urged his members to tell Senators to vote against it. He argued that it “would undermine U.S. sovereignty and erode parental rights.”

What the….? You gotta be kidding me!

Be aware that 126 nations around the world have ratified this treaty. Those nations include Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, India and Luxembourg. If you want to see a complete list of nations that have signed and/or ratified the measure, you can do so here.

This is all crazy!
A bunch of crazies, in the minority, are dictating to the U.S. Senate. They are repulsive bigots who will cause the nation nothing but problems in the coming years because they have the right to filibuster virtually any proposed law that comes before the body in which they serve.

Full list of the Senators who voted Nay!
Here is a list of the 38 U.S. Senators who voted against ratification of the treaty and the one Senator who did not vote! Please note that every single vote in opposition was cast by a Republican. The most disappointing “no votes,” as far as I am concerned came from Grassley (IA), Hatch (UT) and Hutchinson (TX). These are Republican Senators for whom I hold some sense of admiration. In terms of voting against the will of the Senator’s own state, I would highlight Rubio (FL) and Johnson (WI).

Alexander (TN)                       Inhofe (OK)
Blunt (MO)                                 Isakson (GA)
Boosman (AZ)                          Johanns (NE)
Burr (NC)                                   Johnson (WI)
Chambliss (GA)                        Kyl (AZ)
Coats (IN)                                  Lee (UT)
Coburn (OK)                             McConnell (KY)
Cochran (MS)                           Moran (KS)
Corker (TN)                              Paul (KY)
Cornyn (TX)                             Portman (OH)
Crapo (ID)                                 Risch (ID)
DeMint (SC)                              Roberts (K)
Enzi (WY)                                  Rubio (FL)
Graham (SC)                             Sessions (AL)
Grassley (IA)                             Shelby (AL)
Hatch (UT)                                Thune (SD)
Heller (NV)                                Toomey (PA)
Hoeven (ND)                            Vitter (LA)
Hutchinson (TX)                     Wicker (MS)

Kirk (IL) abstained

In the next two weeks, I will write short (paragraph) biographies of each of these U.S. Senators, so that I can understand them better and, perhaps, figure out why they would cast such negative, backwards looking votes.
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