U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, the Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat, whose political career spanned five decades, and who was the architect of the single-bullet theory adopted as the U.S. government’s official explanation of the President John F. Kennedy assassination, died today at the age of 82. Senator Spector, whose political evolutions included rallying for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, only to call for the repeal of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that bans theÂ federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, 13 years later. Senator Specter died ofÂ complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, according to his sonÂ Shanin Specter.
Arlen Specter, who served from the state of Pennsylvania, managed to be a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat throughout his career, a high-wire act that became impossible in this decade’s vast partisan extremism, and lost his final election, running as a Democrat, in 2010.
Senator Specter, despite serving as a Republican during most of his time in the U.S. Senate, was an original co-sponsor of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), that wouldÂ prohibit job discrimination based onÂ sexual orientation, andÂ a co-sponsor of theÂ Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Senator SpecterÂ ultimately voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning service in the military by openly-gay service members, and called in 2009 for the repeal ofÂ DOMA, although his stated position did not favor same-sex marriage, but civil unions for same-sex couples.
Senat0r Specter’s rating from NARAL on the right of a woman to choose grew from 20% in 2005 to 100% in 2008. He received a 76% rating from the NAACP, and introducedÂ theÂ Comprehensive Immigration Reform ActÂ of 2006, which would have created a “pathway to citizenship” to undocumented immigrants. He also grew from opposing health care reform to supporting it, voting for Obamacare, even though he “took credit for helping to defeat President Clinton’s national health care plan.”
Senator Specter’s elected political career began when he became the 19thÂ District Attorney of Philadelphia, in 1966, but in 1963, then-CongressmanÂ Gerald FordÂ recommended Specter to serve onÂ theÂ Warren Commission.
As an assistant counsel for the commission, he co-authoredÂ the “single bullet theory,” which suggested the non-fatal wounds to Kennedy and wounds toÂ Texas GovernorÂ John ConnallyÂ were caused by the same bullet. This was a crucial assertion for the Warren Commission, since if the two had been wounded by separate bullets within such a short time frame, that would have demonstrated the presence of a second assassin and therefore aÂ conspiracy. [Wikipedia]
The L.A. Times adds:
In 1987, Specter helped thwart the Supreme Court nomination of former federal appeals Judge Robert H. Bork â€” earning him conservative enemies who still bitterly refer to such rejections as being “borked.”
But four years later, Specter was criticized by liberals for his tough questioning of Anita Hill at Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination hearings and for accusing her of committing “flat-out perjury.” The nationally televised interrogation incensed women’s groups and nearly cost him his seat in 1992.
Specter, who had battled cancer, was Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator whenÂ DemocratsÂ picked then-U.S. Rep.Â Joe SestakÂ over him in the 2010 primary, despite Specter’s endorsements by PresidentÂ Barack ObamaÂ and other Democratic leaders. Sestak lost Specter’s seat to conservative Republican Rep. Pat Toomey by 2 percentage points.
“The former Democrat was not shy about bucking fellow Republicans,” the Times adds:
In 1995, he launched a presidential bid, denouncing religious conservatives as the “fringe” that plays too large a role in setting the party’s agenda. Specter, who was Jewish, bowed out before the first primary because of lackluster fundraising.
Despite his tireless campaigning, Specter’s irascible independence caught up with him in 2004. Specter barely survived a GOP primary challenge by Toomey by 17,000 votes of more than 1.4 million cast. He went on to easily win the general election with the help of organized labor, a traditionally Democratic constituency.
“He enjoyed a good martini and a fast game of squash, and was famous for parsing his words to wiggle out of tight spots,” the New York Times notes:
During Mr. Clintonâ€™s impeachment on charges of perjury and obstruction, Mr. Specter, objecting to what he called a â€œsham trialâ€ without witnesses, signaled he would vote to acquit.
But a simple â€œnot guiltyâ€ vote would have put him directly at odds with Republicans; instead, citing Scottish law, Mr. Specter voted â€œnot proven,â€ adding, â€œtherefore not guilty.â€
Image vi Wikipedia:
Arlen SpecterÂ of the Warren Commission reproducing the assumed alignment of the single bullet theory. Original caption: “Photograph taken at garage, following reenactment of aseasainatlon on May 24, 1964, depicting probable angle of declination of bullet which passed through President Kennedy and Governor Connally.”Â
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Pelosi Delivers Brutal Response After McCarthy’s Acting Replacement Orders Her to Vacate Her Office Immediately
Within hours of Kevin McCarthy being ousted as Speaker of the House late Tuesday afternoon, his hand-picked acting successor, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ordered Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi to vacate her Capitol Hill offices “by tomorrow.”
McHenry, whose title technically now is “Speaker Pro Tempore,” is a staunch McCarthy ally who worked diligently behind the scenes in January to help the now-former Speaker get elected on the fifteenth attempt, had an aide issue the order.
“‘Please vacate the space tomorrow, the room will be re-keyed,’ wrote a top aide on the Republican-controlled House Administration Committee,” Politico reported Tuesday night. “The room was being reassigned by the acting speaker ‘for speaker office use,’ the email said.”
Politico adds that “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ staff helped Pelosi’s office make the move, according to a spokesperson for the former speaker.”
Pelosi, who was honored with the title “Speaker Emerita” in 2022 by the House Steering and Policy Committee in an effort to help unite the House, did not vote for or against McCarthy’s ouster. She remained in California to attend the funeral of her friend and colleague, the late U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
But Pelosi, the first and only woman Speaker of the House, who served from 2007 to 2011 and again from 2019 to 2023, did not take McHenry’s order lying down.
“With all of the important decisions that the new Republican Leadership must address, which we are all eagerly awaiting, one of the first actions taken by the new Speaker Pro Tempore was to order me to immediately vacate my office in the Capitol,” Pelosi said in a statement, according to Politico’s Nicholas Wu. “Sadly, because I am in California to mourn the loss of and pay tribute to my dear friend Dianne Feinstein, I am unable to retrieve my belongings at this time.”
“This eviction is a sharp departure from tradition. As Speaker, I gave former Speaker Hastert a significantly larger suite of offices for as long as he wished,” She noted.
“Office space doesn’t matter to me, but it seems important to them,” Pelosi added. “Now that the new Republican Leadership has settled this important matter, let’s hope they get to work on what’s truly important to the American people.”
‘Radical Left Marxists’: Trump Launches Attack Hours After Judge Imposes Gag Order
Just hours after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron imposed a limited gag order and directed Donald Trump to remove his social media post targeting and attacking, by name, the judge’s law clerk, the ex-president Tuesday evening issued an attack targeting the legal system, and apparently, by extension, Attorney General Letitia James.
Judge Engoron’s Tuesday order barred Trump from “posting, emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff,” as Politico reported. The judge’s gag order did not extend to any officer of the court, witnesses, or anyone else involved in Attorney General James’ $250 million civil fraud case against Trump.
“Consider this statement a gag order forbidding all parties from posting, emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff,” Engoron said Tuesday afternoon. “Failure to abide by this order will result in serious sanctions.”
Judge Engoron had announced in court: “This morning one of the defendants posted to his social media account a disparaging, untrue and personally identifying post about a member of my staff.”
“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I will not tolerate them in any circumstances,” Engoron added.
Politico described Trump’s social media post as “a message alleging [the law clerk] ‘is running this case against me.’ The message was pulled from an account on X with fewer than 200 followers. Trump then linked to an Instagram account for Greenfield’s campaign for a judgeship in Manhattan civil court.”
“’How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately!!’ Trump added. He also posted a photo of her alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and referred to her as ‘Schumer’s girlfriend.'”
And while the judge ordered the social media post taken down, there’s nothing that can be done about the email blast Trump sent to “millions” of his supporters that included the post, as The New York Times reported.
Tuesday evening, despite having already been given one gag order, Trump appeared to tear into the legal system and Attorney General Letitia James in a series of false claims.
After claiming James’ civil lawsuit against him was unconstitutional and election interference, Trump wrote the decision to apply that statute to him “was done by Radical Left Marxists design, and is not the America we know.”
“It is so unfair that I am being tried under Section 63(12), which is unconstitutionally being used to punish me because I am substantially leading Crooked Joe Biden in the polls,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “It is a Consumer Protection Statute, and not meant, at all, for Election Interference purposes, which is what this is all about! Under this Section of the law, I am not even entitled to a JURY (there is no checking of a box alternative!).This was done by Radical Left Marxists design, and is not the America we know. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
As The New Yorker reported last week, the law Trump is referring to was “passed at the behest of one of” James’ “Republican predecessors, Jacob Javits.”
‘Terrorist Attacks’: Murphy and Cornyn Slam House GOPers Over McCarthy Ouster
After U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and seven of fellow far-right House Republicans voted to oust their own Speaker of the House for supporting a bipartisan vote to keep the federal government of the United States from a shutdown, a powerful Senate Republican and Democrat are both strongly denouncing the work of the few GOP extremists who toppled Kevin McCarthy.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a hard-core Republican of Texas and a former member of the Senate Republican leadership team, blasted the eight House Republicans for their “terrorist attack,” and warned it will happen again.
“We saw a similar thing happen to Boehner, Ryan, and now McCarthy. I’m sure the next speaker is going to be subjected to the same terrorist attacks,” Senator Cornyn said, according to HuffPost’s Igor Bobic.
Responding to a Texas radio talk show host from his official social media account, Sen. Cornyn added, “A handful [of] House members just want to blow up the institution and themselves in the process. Sad.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) called the ouster “a deeply embarrassing moment for America. A consequence of a Republican Party that has become so radicalized that it can no longer function as an organized political party.”
“Nobody should be rooting for this circus,” added Sen. Murphy in video recorded as he watched the House voting to remove McCarthy as Speaker. He warned that the ouster of McCarthy will now take the House away from the critical work of keeping the government open after November 17, “instead of working on a budget.” And he warned that no new funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war have been authorized.
“These are life and death stakes,” Murphy said, lamenting this “makes us look so weak and foolish around the world.”
Let me tell you about the real world consequences of Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as Speaker. No one should celebrate this day. This level of dysfunction is terrible for America. pic.twitter.com/7NsQrz7Pro
— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 3, 2023
Watch Sen. Murphy’s remarks above or at this link.
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