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Arlen Specter: A Mixed Bag

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Headlined to None 4/28/09

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To those of us who find nearly everything Conservatives do vindictive and venal, the Republican Senator Arlen Specter has always seemed atypically open minded and generous in spirit. It is a rare moment when Liberals and those to the left of wherever Liberals are, get an opportunity to say something genuinely positive about a Conservative, but that occasion appears to be at hand. Surely the atmosphere in the Republican Party of ideological cannibalism and the seemingly limitless anger fueled by an equally limitless appetite for puerile destructiveness played a key role in Specter’s metamorphosis into a Democrat.

It should be pointed out that when Conservatives have done everything within their power to dismantle and sabotage the US public education system, including No Child Left Behind, their devious obsession with inserting creationism and intelligent design into the curricula of public schools and their mindless hostility toward science, Senator Specter has just introduced (April 28) legislation that seeks to bridge the chasm between a basic scientific discovery and a new health treatment. The Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Act would create an independent agency dedicated to advancing science from the laboratory into practice...

Granted this legislation will be a boon to private medical research companies, it is precisely the kind of government agency focused on promoting medical research and innovation that most Liberals can fully and painlessly support.

Recently, April 26, Sen. Specter published an article in the Detroit Free Press where he stated:

 …the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit declined to stop the deposition of Ashenfelter, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who had been ordered by a federal judge to testify about the source for his 2004 article about a Detroit federal prosecutor who had won a conviction of three defendants on terrorism related charges. The federal judge on Tuesday, however, accepted Ashenfelter's argument that naming his sources would violate his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

At a court hearing earlier this year, Justice Department lawyers said they could not guarantee Ashenfelter would not be prosecuted. Ashenfelter's article quoted anonymous sources alleging that the prosecutor had withheld evidence from the defense and was the subject of an internal probe by the Department of Justice. The verdict against all three defendants was overturned based on evidence mishandling and prosecutorial misconduct.

Clearly, not all Conservatives are in denial about what the Republican Party has allowed to happen in the Justice Department.

Equally important, Senator Specter seems to care about the abysmal state of the relationship between journalists and American jurisprudence.

Conservatives appear to be altogether comfortable with a corporate press polarized along partisan lines while we find ourselves listening to their disingenuous complaints about the biases of a universally liberal press, but we rarely see them actually attempt to defend and strengthen a truly free press in this country.

On the down side, Sen. Specter declined to support Dianne Feinstein’s legislation, Close Guantanamo and Change Interrogation Policies: Bill # S.147.

He also voted for the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed federal electronic searches almost entirely within the executive branch.

Back to the up side for some, he was one of three Republicans to vote for the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 10, 2009. Like so many things up for grabs these days, the verdict is out on that one.

So Senator Spector, 79, a tenacious survivor of Hodgson’s Disease and a scarred veteran of Washington politics, has announced his second go at being a Democrat, a calling he abandoned in 1966. Maybe he can make a difference because even with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, judging from their reluctance in the past to stand up and duke it out on issues that may well weaken their chances for re-election, the Democrats are going to need all the help they can get being faithful to the imperatives of their own convictions.

In closing, one thing can be said about Washington’s brand new Democrat, Arlen Specter, a Jewish kid from Wichita, Kansas, he’s an American original. Well, maybe two things. He is also a very mixed bag.

 

www.abqmurals.com

Richard W. Overfield is an artist/writer currently based in New Mexico after living in Vancouver, Canada for 20 years.His paintings are represented in over 300 public & private collections in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, France, England, Japan & (more...)
 
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