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The fall of Donald Trump

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.

Bob Marley

Introduction

It’s been a long 2 years and eight months for the American people to have endured and suffered from a degenerate mafia style miscreant in the White House. President Donald Trump has turned out to be the worst President and lowest rated President in American History. Nancy Pelosi, ever the political pragmatist, finally saw the light of day when she came to support the Congress in opening an official and formal investigative inquiry into Donald Trump’s behavior while President.

No less than five congressional committees are charged with some aspect of Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry. If there is some kind of irony here, it is that Donald Trump turned out to be  his own worst enemy. His narcissistic personality, his complete lack of knowledge, and his failure to respect the rule of law, has now put himself in great jeopardy of being removed from office.

This is not to say that he doesn’t have some supporters, such as the “Grand Old Ostrich Party” soon to be replaced by more moderate, liberal and progressive democrats in 2020. The trouble with the Republican Party goes back to the 1994 mid-term elections with their Contract with America. All their ideas and proposals failed to materialize. As President Bill Clinton said at the time, the Republican’s contract with America was in reality more like a contract on America. Donald Trump missed the mark; he should have drained the swamp of Republicans, whom since 1994, have seldom contributed anything substantial in terms of policy for the American people.

Dante once said, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Republican leadership is a real misnomer; in the modern era they have yet to show any real leadership that wasn’t self-serving. This was supposed to be the frugal political party. Yet over several decades they turned out to be the real big-spenders. Cowardice is their creed and denial is their plan of action for keeping their head in the sand. Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio is a master of denial. After all, he denied awareness of a sexual predator that molested eight of his own wrestling team members while he was an assistant coach at Ohio State University.

The Republicans also have no basis for criticizing democrats. If you remember, Republicans tried to “Deep-Six” Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi Investigation. They spent and wasted over 4+ million dollars of the taxpayer’s money ironically, as a “Witch Hunt,” in order to cast aspersions and crucify Hillary Clinton as she was running for President. This inquiry resulted in no charges at all, although Republicans were not above character assassination of the country’s first female presidential candidate. This was the real purpose of their inquiry. They could care less about the truth.

 

What areas for charges are there against Trump?      

A few days ago I was talking with a close friend and realized we were both on the same page when it came to Donald Trump. We collectively thought that an itemized listing of criminal charges was needed so that the American people could see, in black and white, the extensive number of criminal acts he may have committed while in office.

But above all, it must be remembered that impeachment is a political act or process, whether or not criminal acts are involved. Even though quid-pro-quo may have, or may not have, been part of the phone call to the Ukraine President, it is not necessary for impeachment. His intent is more important than any other consideration. Criminal charges are only part of the process if they are warranted.

Most Americans don’t fully understand the politics of impeachment. That said, they do understand the meaning of someone committing a criminal act. For that reason, I think it would be helpful to enumerate a listing of the possible criminal charges Donald Trump might be charged. And Trump friends along with Trump Administration people, need to be cognizant of the fact that aiding and abetting someone who has engaged in criminal behavior leaves them open to facing criminal prosecution as well as the President. Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsay need to stay as far away as they possibly can from Donald Trump as the country goes down the road of impeachment.

One might ask, why is it the Republican Party feels it doesn’t have other options if Donald Trump is impeached. Whether you like him or not, Mike Pence would make a good lame duck president until he too is removed from office in 2020. However, since he was aware of Trump’s crimes, he too may be removed from office shortly after Trump is removed. Say hello to President Pelosi.

This president is really unhinged. In the whistleblower controversy he is threatening those who supplied him with information with being treasonous spies deserving of the death penalty. His thoughts are eerily similar to Republican President Richard Nixon who once said, in an interview with David Frost in 1977, that a president is above the law.

The fact that the President tried to solicit a favor from a foreign government was and is a very serious violation of his oath of office. Some might say where Russia is concerned, Trump is treasonous as well. As more is learned in the months ahead, more information on the Trump/Putin connection may well actually lead to charges of Treason against President Trump, the Benedict Arnold of our time.

Does anyone really believe Donald Trump wasn’t involved in soliciting help from the Russians in 2015-2016? You’d have to be the most naïve person on the face of the planet to believe collusion with the Russians didn’t occur.

If you think back to the days Trump was building his real estate empire, evidence such as civil lawsuits showed he cheated contractors and others left and right. He also engaged in much fraud in his business dealings. Trump University was a real boondoggle! of fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit.

Independent Counsel Muller is not at fault for failing to prove collusion. This is because any prosecutor will tell you proving conspiracy is one of the most difficult crimes to prove. In fact there is no legal crime of collusion; it is legally called conspiracy. Mueller did his best; he was nonetheless certainly very successful in laying out charges of Obstruction of Justice leveled upon Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s admission of wanting a favor from a foreign government is technically violating the Emolument Clause of the United States Constitution. “The emoluments clause, also called the foreign emoluments clause, is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives.”

Donald Trump right now is in real deep Do-Do over violating the Emoluments Clause in areas beyond just the Ukraine scandal and violations. Trump is already facing two lawsuits, both as the president and as an individual, for allegedly violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bans elected officials from financially benefitting from foreign governments.

The Whistleblowers complaint is now available for inspection; it can be found online. However, the Inspector General’s official review report has yet to be released. More information is also needed on Rudy Giuliani and his role in this impeachment inquiry. In addition it has now been revealed (as of September 30, 2019) that William Barr, the Attorney General and confidant of Donald Trump, sought help from foreign governments to probe of CIA/FBI activities related to 2016 election.

If that isn’t Treason I don’t know what is. William Barr needs to be taken into custody by agents from his own department, or taken into custody immediately by The U.S. Secret Service. Either way will work.

Possible Trump charges under Investigation

I first want to say such a listing of charges at this point in time is probably pre-mature. But here is a possible initial list subject to change: Some of these offenses cited are interwoven with others. For now, these offenses include:

Extortion

The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

This includes demanding money with menaces. Other synonyms include: · exaction · extraction · blackmail · shakedown

 

Bribery

Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. Bribery is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

Essentially, bribery is offering to do something for someone for the expressed purpose of receiving something in exchange. Gifts of money or other items of value, which are otherwise available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is not bribery.

Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other residential electric customers. Giving the rebate to influence them to look favorably on the electric utility’s rate increase applications, however, would be considered bribery.

 

Conspiracy to Commit Extortion

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 701; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

 

Ten counts of Obstruction of Justice

Here are the 10 events Mueller investigated for potential obstruction of justice charges:

  1. The firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. At the time he was dismissed, Comey was leading the bureau’s probe of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  2. Trump’s efforts to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions take control of the Russia investigation. After Sessions recused himself, Trump expressed anger at the fact that Sessions was unwilling to “protect him” from the probe.
  3. Trump’s attempt to have Comey go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had made false statements about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. The president had a one-on-one meeting with Comey during which he asked him to think about “letting Flynn go.”
  4. The campaign’s response to Russia’s outspoken support for then-candidate Trump. According to the report, Mueller focused on the campaign’s reaction to Russia’s involvement in the WikiLeaks release of damaging Democratic Party emails and the president’s denying he had Russian business contacts.
  5. Trump’s attempts to remove the special counsel. Trump reacted to Mueller’s appointment by telling advisers that it was “the end of his presidency,” according to the report. Then, in June 2017, the president called White House Counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to remove Mueller over conflicts of interest. McGahn refused.

President Donald Trump at an Opportunity Zone conference with state, local, tribal and community leaders on April 17. On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s final report on the Russia investigation. Before the report was released, Barr cleared the president of obstruction of justice.

  1. Trump’s efforts to “curtail” Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel investigated several instances where Trump attempted to affect the course of the probe. In one instance, Trump told his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell Sessions to publicly say the investigation was “very unfair” to the president.
  2. The president’s efforts to “prevent public disclosure of evidence.” Specifically, the special counsel took issue with Trump’s attempt to mislead the media about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian lawyer at Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
  3. Trump’s denial of having directed McGahn to remove the special counsel. When the press began reporting in early 2018 that the president had told McGahn to get rid of Mueller, Trump directed White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the stories.
  4. Trump’s conduct toward Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. When Flynn began cooperating with prosecutors, Trump’s personal counsel asked Flynn’s attorney for a “heads-up” if Flynn had damaging information on the president. Then, when Manafort was found guilty, Trump defended him as a “brave man” and declined to rule out a potential pardon.
  5. Trump’s attacks on his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. After Cohen implicated Trump in campaign finance crimes and began cooperating with Mueller, the president publicly attacked him as a “rat” and a fraud.

 

Violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause

The following information was obtained from Wikipedia sources:

Emoluments Clause may refer to the following clauses of the United States Constitution:

  • The Foreign Emoluments Clause, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, also called the Title of Nobility Clause.
  • The Domestic Emoluments Clause, Article II, Section 1, Clause 7, also called the Presidential Emoluments Clause.
  • The Ineligibility Clause, Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause

The Title of Nobility Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution,[1] that prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility, and restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the consent of the United States Congress. The Clause is subject to interpretation.[2] Also known as the Emoluments Clause, it was designed to shield the federal officeholders of the United States against so-called “corrupting foreign influences.” The clause is reinforced by the corresponding prohibition on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and more generally by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.

The Domestic Emoluments Clause

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

The president’s salary, currently $400,000 a year,[11] must remain constant throughout the president’s term. The president may not receive other compensation from either the federal or any state government.

The Ineligibility Clause

The Ineligibility Clause (sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause,[1] or the Incompatibility Clause,[2] or the Sinecure Clause[3]) is a provision in Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution[4] that makes each incumbent member of Congress ineligible to hold an office established by the federal government during their tenure in Congress;[5] it also bars officials in the federal government’s executive and judicial branches from simultaneously serving in either the U.S. House or Senate. The purpose of the clause is twofold: first, to protect the separation of powers philosophy (upon which the federal frame of government is built); and second, to prevent Congress from conspiring to create offices or increase federal officials’ salaries with the expectation that members of Congress would later be appointed to these posts.[6][7]

Paying Hush Money to three women

What crimes were committed by a President paying hush money to three women? Here are four legal opinions on 1 aspect of it:

On Trump arguing that the money didn’t come from his campaign:

FOLEY: It doesn’t matter where the source was; what matters is intent. The fact it came from personal funds doesn’t immunize him from criminality, but it could be a subsidiary fact to the ultimate question of what was done for campaign purposes? Cohen asserts that Cohen made the payments at the candidate’s direction for “purposes of influencing the campaign.” If those facts are true, that would be a violation.

SPIES: If it wasn’t the candidate’s money but somebody else’s personal money, it would have to be reported. And if corporate money were used, it would be an impermissible accepted corporate contribution that should have been reported.

TOKAJI: Regardless of whether they were from Mr. Trump’s personal funds or from some other source, there’s an obligation to disclose. To report expenditure or contributions, as the case may be. That wasn’t done.

SMITH: If they’re not campaign expenditures, they’re not subject to disclosure. My view is that this is not campaign expenditure, and once you hit that point, it doesn’t matter how you paid for it.

Final Comments

It’s my value judgment that all of us need to show more kindness to our fellow human beings and lead a life worth living by helping others. What I’ve just said about myself is a value. And values, whatever they constitute, are the cement that holds communities, states and countries together.

Where ever they appear, values are a product of culture or learned behavior in small social groups (like the family). The differences or similarities we see in other people are also a product of culture. In our culture now we are a divided nation. Our actions are different and so are our values. Said another way, most of our actions or behaviors are dictated by our values and beliefs.

And yet we all strive to be individuals not just members of a group. What makes America so great is that our founding fathers saw democracy as a good way of handling our differences. Explaining the origins |of democracy as a concept is beyond the scope of this Blog.
.

I have been covering this President and his behavior since 2015. At times I’ve felt compassion for a fellow human being so mentally disturbed. It’s really sad that some people suffer in life this way. Life’s tough enough without having the additional burden of illness, either mental or physical.

At other times I’ve felt nothing but repulsion for a man that has done so much harm to people. At this level of angry feeling I’ve found myself thinking the president is a wretched human being. His core followers raise even more problems for the country, and have generated much alienation among the populace. All of this consternation is occurring because a “psychiatrically challenged” President is running the country. This has happened for four years now ever since he announced he was running for the nation’s highest office. And yet he received, and continues to receive, unconditional support from many in the public, especially Republicans.

Not all conservative Republicans are bad people; it’s just that there aren’t many good ones. I’m not talking about the GOP of long ago whose congressmen and senators had honor and respectability. I’m talking about a gaggle of misfits (Tea Party and Freedom Caucus) that invaded the government and Congress in 1994 and later in 2010. Like Donald Trump they have no place in a modern forward-looking democracy.

I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.”

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will become much clearer. Why does such an identity issue lead us to another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.

Both explanations may explain the existence of the Trump supporter. However, a more detailed explanation of Hoffer’s book and the theory of Identity Fusion will be explained in a later Blog. Limitations of space dictate I not cover these topics right now. However, stay tuned!

The bottom line for me is this. I don’t care whether President Donald Trump resigns from office or is removed by congressional impeachment. He just needs to be removed from office, plain and simple. You can think of the last 2 years and eight months as a national nightmare or temporary excursion and detour from our sanity as a nation.

It’s about time we all get back on track as a nation. There are real problems out there, worldwide and domestically. Our future survival as a country and as a species may well depends on what the country does over the next 25 years.

In this connection It is my belief that the young with courage and moral determination (like 16 year old Greta Thunberg) will lead us out of the valley of climatic death that lies ahead. Always the optimist, I hope I’m right. I also hope Donald Trump is impeached shortly or resigns from office.

 

                                                              

 

 

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Why Donald Trump has a Snowball’s Chance in Hell of being Re-elected to the Presidency in 2020

 

Introduction

The above is certainly a catchy title for a Blog, wouldn’t you say? You may think I’m making a rhetorical pronouncement or that I’m expressing myself tongue-in- cheek. Actually no, I’m dead serious!

Donald Trump’s election was, in the first place, a social disgrace that lowered the stature of this country’s presidency by a thousand fold. This was perhaps the greatest mistake ever made by a voting public in the history of the United States. It was tantamount to committing an act of Treason against our country in all its foreign hidden influences as well as the subsequent overt attempts by the president to undermine our Constitution and the social, political, and economic institutions the American people value.

However, all voters have immunity in a democratic society from prosecution because no one can predict the unintended consequences of any act including the simple act of voting. Yet, although not in legal jeopardy, voters should nonetheless take personal responsibility for the outcome of their vote. Interesting enough some original Trump voters have already begun to see the light and to take responsibility for their failure and lack of good judgment in the 2016 election.

Within the first few months of his presidency Donald Trump lost a substantial amount of support among his original base. Among the people who voted him into office, a large percentage of independent voters and women have since abandoned him. This is why he is the least popular president in United States history. Some initial supporters saw early on the true nature of the man they had just elected to office: a con man, charlatan, bombastic egotistical pretentious pantywaist, a belligerent isolationist, a dogmatic racist that showed his true beliefs by housing discrimination against blacks in the 1970s, and who is also a degenerate chauvinist pig with a mafia-boss mentality.”

Four Factors of Importance

There are four factors in understanding how Donald Trump got elected and in understanding how Donald Trump will be removed from office..

Why Donald Trump Got Elected

At least two factors played a crucial role in getting Donald Trump elected: (1) some voters liked him because he appeared to be overly candid and a plain-speaking person, and (2) Rust Belt voters, particularly blue-collar white voters, in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and rural parts of New York voted for him because of personal and economic reasons like unemployment.

  Factor 1—Plain-Talking Man    

Because one speaks his mind candidly doesn’t make one necessarily right. It could mean some people don’t engage their mind before they speak. Candid talk and talking with feelings doesn’t mean the talker is especially bright or insightful. Donald Trump isn’t especially bright or insightful. There are exceptions. President Harry S. Truman was a plain-speaking man who was bright and, at times, rather insightful (The Buck Stops Here!).

Harry S. Truman was a real President. Donald Trump is not. Choose your presidents carefully folks. Can you for one moment imagine Donald Trump saying “The Buck Stops Here!!!) He’s much more likely to tweet or say, “The Blame Goes Everywhere Else But Here!!!).

 Factor 2—Rust Belt Voters

Ironically, the unemployment rate in the country was already outstanding at the time of the election due in part to the economic policies of President Barrack Obama. The overall unemployment rate in the United States hovered around 5% in 2016 and  in many of the Rust Belt states that elected him.

However, within the Rust Belt states, he won primarily among blue-collar white voters because these voters, as a sub-group of each state’s population, had high unemployment rates throughout various industries,

Many economic and social reasons, going back to the 1950s, were responsible for the decline among Rust Belt blue-collar workers. One very important factor was population changes. Most notably population declines in the Rust Belt states went from 38% of the U.S. population in 1950 to just 28% by the year 2000.

By any standard economic prosperity requires at least an optimal level of growth in population. Rust Belt states have been in decline not just last year, or the year before, but closing in on more than 68 years since these population changes began to occur.

There are many other social and economic factors have been responsible for their decline. In effect, Blue-collar workers failed to adapt to a changing set of factors besides population changes. In an opinion piece January 6, 2017 in Forbes Magazine titled, “The Rust Belt Didn’t Adapt And It Paid The Price,” Talking about some of these other factors Adam Millsap reported, “the invention of air conditioning and people’s preference for milder winters and more sun, cheaper housing in the South and more market-friendly economic policies in other states are the most common.”

To paraphrase Adam Millsap, many other factors were involved in Rust Belt state declines including lack of innovation in various industries and ultimately overwhelming control  among unions, followed by loss of control (impacting wages) in such unions as the (USW) United Steel Workers and the United Auto Workers (UAW). These two unions were able to use threat of widespread strikes to obtain higher wages, which increased production costs for Rust-Belt firms. When you combine lack of innovation, union control and then emasculation and the lack of ability to change with the times, you’ve just created a recipe for disaster. The problems confronting the Rust Belt States didn’t start in 2016. The problems have been around for nearly seven decades. Donald Trump won’t really solve their problems but he saw an opportunity to exploit Rust Belt voters with his rhetoric and campaign promises. On March 26, 2018 Eugene Robinson published an opinion piece for the Washington Post. This is what he said,” Washington • President Donald Trump’s most urgent political problem doesn’t involve Robert Mueller, Stormy Daniels, Vladimir Putin or the hundreds of thousands of voters who marched for gun control. Rather, it’s that his diehard supporters might be starting to realize how thoroughly he has played them for suckers.”

Why Donald Trump will be removed from Office

Factor 3—The Criminal Indictments

Factors three and four relate to why Donald Trump will not be re-elected to a second term as President. This is aside from him quitting in the interim, or being overthrown at a 2020 Republican Convention by another candidate, or removed because of increasing dementia.

One would have to be totally naïve or engage in wishful-thinking not to see the writing on the wall.

Donald Trump is going to be impeached after the 2018 mid-term elections. It won’t be done by Republicans as they are doomed anyway whether they impeach Trump or not. It is the classic Catch-22 for Republicans in Congress.

 

In addition, hard core Freedom Caucus members have their own set of problems to worry about.  These ultra-conservative types are running scared when it comes to the Mid-term election in 2018.

In addition, it is not outside the realm of possibility that Freedom Caucus legislators (they only vote against people and programs never for them) who do nothing to earn their pay except engage in malicious behavior might soon be a target for criminal investigation in Mueller’s investigation.

Behind the scenes this wayward group of malcontents is guilty of Obstruction of Justice when they overtly as well as surreptitiously attempt to derail Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement and influence in the 2016 election. Only time will tell whether this group is deserving of not only not being re-elected to public office, but also whether they deserve to be indicted and sent to prison.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller certainly has his work cut out for him. Like all good prosecutors there can be no doubt he is doing a diligent job putting a case together in his search for the truth. Wherever this case takes him, his process will continue to be the relentless pursuit of all facts and any evidence of wrong-doing.

Until Mueller reveals what he knows and how he is going to proceed after indictments, all of us can only speculate beyond the indictments already handed down.

Intuitively, my suspicion is that the President of the United States is going to be indicted criminally for: Money Laundering, Obstruction of Justice, and violation of the Emolument Clause under the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in addition to his violating any other campaign finance laws.

Factor 4—Public Rejection of Donald Trump

The last factor is about the rejection of Donald Trump at the upcoming 2018 Mid-term elections across the country. This will be measured by whether the democrats retake the House of Representatives and the United Senate. Newsweek recently reported on the Trump presidency in 2020.

“Most voters are not thrilled by the prospect of eight years of President Donald Trump, with a new poll showing the majority of Americans would like to see a different candidate in 2020.

A November 2017 survey conducted for the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication by RABA Research found that 54 percent of respondents do not feel Trump should run again in 2020, with almost a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) believing their party should pick another presidential hopeful.

Unsurprisingly, a vast majority of Democrats do not want to see a Trump 2020 bid, Some 84 percent of Democrats oppose any Trump attempt to run in 2020. with just 16 percent backing a run for a second term for the incumbent president.

“Not many polls have historically asked about re-election so early in a President’s term, as favorability tends to drop over time,” said University of Delaware’s Lindsay Hoffman, director of the National Agenda Series in a statement on Tuesday.”

Conclusion

Since the scandal news on Donald Trump is such a daily event these days across the country, I think it is incumbent on every voter to explore other options. Everyone has their own ideas about this, but I’d like to have people consider two or three excellent scenarios.

The first is a Joe Biden/Corey Booker ticket and secondly, a Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket. In the event Joe Biden does not wish to run for President, I think a Corey Booker/Kamala Harris ticket would work very well for the country.

Change is always difficult for many people including when they go to the poles every two to four years. But the political changes presented above represent something that would not only be good for the country; it would be great for the country. Likewise removal of the Republican Freedom caucus and most other Republicans would not only be good for the country; it too would be great for the country.

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Donald Trump’s Presidency in Jeopardy
Impeachment Now on the Horizon

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. The Constitution, Article I, Section 3: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.
Donald Trump’s approval rating is at a 70-year low; it is now at 36 percent. In the months ahead there is a high probability that the presidency of Donald Trump will come to an end in impeachment or resignation. It will be the culmination of an intensive investigation by the Special Prosecutor and intelligence committees in both the House and Senate.
When it comes to criminal charges (and this is my best guess) many people in the Trump Administration, including Donald Trump himself, will be charged with criminal offenses or violations of constitutional law or other federal laws. Without boring my audience and re-hashing all of the things that have led to a failed Trump presidency, I think this Blog would better serve an audience by going over the impeachment process that will be carried out, factors related to the motivation of the Russians to hack our election, and something rather unique in all this, i.e., the concept of “life imitating art” or “art imitating life.” This latter concept will be explained against the backdrop of the strange, often bizarre relationship between the reality of a Trump presidency and the fantasy of the entertainment industry of which he was a part. Explanation will follow shortly.
In addition, it will be important to describe what this author believes was the real underlying motivation of Vladimir Putin to direct a cyber-attack against the United States during and preceding the American presidential election of 2016.
I doubt that President Trump will be removed from office because of treason because the United States is not currently in a “declared war.” However, sharing classified information (top secret, secret, or confidential) with officials of a foreign (albeit enemy) country is a federal crime tantamount to espionage. In addition, the following crimes may come into play during the impeachment process of Donald Trump. These crimes include:
• Obstruction of Justice
• Abuse of Power
• Violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause
• Espionage
• Violation of federal laws related to financial or political corruption including illegal campaign finance laws and regulations

The following is an article by Charlie Savage for the New York Times, dated May 17, 2017 and describes how the impeachment process works.

How the Impeachment Process Works
Background
“WASHINGTON — The account from the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey of President Trump pressing him to drop an investigation into Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, has escalated talk among the president’s critics that his actions may amount to obstruction of justice and grounds for impeachment.
Asking F.B.I. to drop an investigation is obstruction of justice, Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. ‘Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense.’
But several legal specialists across party lines cautioned that talk of impeachment was premature while the facts remained unclear; the White House has denied that Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Comey to drop the case.
Still, the early chatter has heightened interest in how the impeachment process works. Here’s what you need to know:
What is impeachment?
The Constitution permits Congress to remove presidents before their term is up if enough lawmakers vote to say that they committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Only three presidents have been subjected to impeachment proceedings. Two were impeached but acquitted and stayed in office: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 and 1999. A third, Richard M. Nixon in 1974, resigned to avoid being impeached.
What is the process?
First, the House of Representatives votes on one or more articles of impeachment. If at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which essentially means being indicted. (In both the Nixon and the Clinton cases, the House Judiciary Committee considered the matter first.)
Next, the proceedings move to the Senate, which holds a trial overseen by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.
If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president.”
What are the rules?
There are no standard rules. Rather, the Senate passes a resolution first laying out trial procedures.
‘When the Senate decided what the rules were going to be for our trial, they really made them up as they went along,’ said Greg Craig, who helped defend Mr. Clinton in his impeachment proceeding and later served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama.
For example, Mr. Craig said, the initial rules in that case gave four days to the Republican managers to make a case for conviction, followed by four days for the president’s legal team to defend him — essentially opening statements. The Senate then decided whether to hear witnesses, and if so, whether it would be live or on videotape. Eventually, the Senate permitted each side to depose several witnesses by videotape.
The rules adopted by the Senate in the Clinton trial — including limiting the number of witnesses and the length of depositions — made it harder to prove a case compared with trials in federal court, said former Representative Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican who served as a House manager during the trial and is also a former United States attorney.
‘Impeachment is a creature unto itself,’ Mr. Barr said. ‘The jury in a criminal case doesn’t set the rules for a case and can’t decide what evidence they want to see and what they won’t.’
What are the standards?
The Constitution allows for the impeachment and removal of a president for ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ But no controlling authority serves as a check on how lawmakers choose to interpret that standard, which makes it as much a question of political will as of legal analysis.
In the case of Mr. Clinton’s trial, for example, Robert Byrd, a Democratic senator from West Virginia at the time, told his colleagues that he thought Mr. Clinton was clearly guilty of perjury but that removing him from office was a bad idea.
‘To drop the sword of Damocles now, given the bitter political partisanship surrounding this entire matter, would only serve to further undermine a public trust that is too much damaged already,’ he said. ‘Therefore, I will reluctantly vote to acquit.’
Mr. Clinton was impeached by a Congress in which the opposition party controlled both the House and the Senate. In Mr. Trump’s case, his party controls both chambers, making it more politically unappealing for them to vote to impeach him.
What about the 25th Amendment?
Adopted in 1967, the 25th Amendment provides another mechanism for removing a president. It is geared toward dealing with a president who becomes too disabled to carry out the duties of the office, as opposed to presidential lawbreaking.
Under its procedures, if the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet tell Congress that the president is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,’ the vice president immediately becomes the acting president. If the president contests that finding, but two-thirds of both chambers of Congress side with the vice president, the vice president remains the acting president for the rest of the term.”
What really is the underlying motivation of Russia’s Interference in U.S. Elections?
Donald Trump’s financial dealings that relate to the Emolument Clause of the United States Constitution may transcend the country of Russia. Payments may be coming into the coffers of Donald Trump financial holdings from many countries.
However, it is clear that Russia is the pivotal country when it comes to hacking into a democratic country’s election, and whose motivation to engage in collusion with the Trump campaign not only occurred but was spearheaded by the Kremlin’s top man: Vladimir Putin.
If you’re not familiar with the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 U.S. law, here is the most important thing to understand: Russian President Vladimir Putin and everyone in his orbit hate it.
“A purely political, unfriendly act,” Putin called it at the time, and he has been railing against it ever since.
Congress wanted to punish Russian human rights abusers by barring them from entering the U.S. This followed the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died at age 37 in a Moscow prison where he was held — and allegedly beaten — after accusing Russian officials of massive tax fraud.
The law symbolized the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia. Days after Congress passed it, the Russian parliament responded by banning American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.
In a bizarre 2013 trial, a Russian court went even further, convicting Magnitsky of tax fraud — four years after he died.

Politics
Donald Trump Jr. Meeting Included Russian Lobbyist:
The Magnitsky Act re-emerged as a front-burner topic this week in connection with the investigations surrounding President Trump’s campaign and possible links to Russian meddling in last year’s presidential race.
Russia has lobbied hard for repeal of the act. That’s what Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya said she was doing when she met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York.

Politics
Trump Says He Would Invite Putin to White House ‘At the Right Time:’
News broke Friday that she was accompanied at that meeting by Russian-American Rinat Akhmetshin. He is known as a skilled political operator who has worked in both the former Soviet Union and the United States on behalf of his clients, according to a U.S. journalist who has known him for two decades.
Akhmetshin has also spoke freely about his past in Soviet military intelligence, according to the journalist, Steve Levine, who works for Axios in Washington.

Politics
5 Questions Raised By Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails:
However, in remarks to The Associated Press, Akhmetshin said he served in a military unit that was part of counterintelligence but was not trained as a spy.
Levine first encountered Akhmetshin in Kazakhstan. There, in 1998, he provided Levine with confidential banking and legal documents pointing to financial corruption by the country’s president.

Politics
Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails about Meeting with Russian Lawyer: Annotated
“His signature is to be able to drill very, very deeply in the former Soviet Union, in a very knowing way,” Levine said. “Here in Washington, he’s this very unusual character, who may be the most skilled lobbyist I’ve met.”
Akhmetshin is, he added, “someone who can ingratiate himself with members of Congress and their staffs, power figures here, and make things happen.”
Levine said they’ve been in touch periodically over the years, including in brief email exchanges in recent days as Akhmetshin’s name began to surface in media reports.
Akhmetshin, who has become a U.S. citizen, has aggressively lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. Just a few days after his meeting with Trump Jr. in New York last year, Akhmetshin was in Washington to promote a movie called The Magnitsky Act — Behind the Scenes.
The film was shown at the Newseum in Washington on June 13, 2016. It offers the Russian government’s version of events and claims that Magnitsky was not mistreated by Russian authorities.
Trump Jr. has also said that — to his disappointment — last year’s meeting with the Russians focused on the Magnitsky Act. Trump Jr. was told in advance the meeting would produce critical material on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. When the topic turned out to be the U.S. law, he considered it a waste of time.
Analysts have offered many theories on why Russia wanted to meddle in the U.S. presidential election: to undermine the credibility of the U.S. vote or to harm Hillary Clinton, whom Putin blamed for the protests leading up the Russian presidential election in 2012.
Rarely mentioned is the Magnitsky Act, a relatively obscure matter inside the U.S. but a major frustration for Russia’s leadership.

Life Imitates Art and Vice-Versa
Here we are in the summer of 2017, six months into the presidency of Donald Trump. As I think back over the last two years of this nightmare with Donald Trump, I am convinced he lives in a childish fantasy of his own creation, ego-driven, and propped up by those around him in his close circle of “want to-be” important people.
Nationally, his supporters have dwindled to only 36% as of July 17, 2017. With the failure of his administration to repeal and replace Obamacare even his remaining supporters will never benefit from a low-cost comprehensive health care plan. This is unfortunate since a disproportionate number of his supporters are in dire need of good health care, particularly psychiatric mental health services.
It is both beguiling and perplexing to know that a degenerate womanizer and misogynist, white nationalist racist, crude, anti-intellectual buffoon could ever be elected president of the United States. And yet, here we are! Doesn’t say much for the intelligence and moral fiber of a sizeable portion of the American electorate— now does it?
He has tarnished the status of the highest office in the land and that, my friends, is unforgivable. He has taken a great American institution and turned it into garbage. I cannot help but see the quixotic (foolishly impractical, unrealistic, or capricious) parallel between the real life Donald Trump and the fantasy world he lives in.
There is an old expression that “art imitates life.” Ironically, sometimes the reverse is true, i.e., life imitates art. But in the make-believe world of art we often watch on television or in the movies, fantasy often parallels what’s going on in the real world. And television or movies often draw on material from the real world. It’s almost symbiotic in nature. Oscar Wilde seemed to believe however that this observable parallel was not equal.
Oscar Wilde Statement in 1889
Life imitating art. Anti-mimesis is a philosophical position that holds the direct opposite of Aristotelian mimesis. Its most notable proponent is Oscar Wilde, who opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”
Sometimes the symbiotic relationship between life and art is fortuitous, at other times it seems like it is planned. For example script writing drew from current day events some of its planned material in the award winning TV drama series House of Cards (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright).
The U.S. version of this series gives us an inside look at the greed and corruption in American Politics. Recently Vanity Fair looked at the similarity between Donald Trump and House of Cards president Frank Underwood (initials F.U.).
On May 30th Yohana Desta wrote the article. Titled “Trump vs. Underwood: 7 Times House of Cards Hit a Little Too Close to Reality.
Trump vs. Underwood: 7 Times House of Cards Hit a Little Too Close to Reality
Season 5 of the hit political series mirrored the Trump administration in a number of eerie ways.
Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Season 5 of House of Cards.
House of Cards has always pulled from the headlines. The political Netflix series, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, thrives on mirroring the more conniving side of U.S. statecraft, combing through American history to find story lines that feed and shape its White House narrative. The new season debuted Tuesday morning at a time when the country’s current president, Donald Trump, is besieged by allegations of obstructing justice and colluding with Russia, among other claims. Numerous moments in this latest installment of House of Cards reflected this moment in history perhaps a little too well. From Senate investigations to startling political tactics, here’s all the times this season might have hit too close to home.

1. Everything is a “distraction”
In Episode 1, Washington Herald editor Tom Hammerschmidt dismisses one of Frank Underwood’s political tactics as merely a “distraction” to the underlying issues at play. In most circumstances, that would be a fairly benign thing to say, but it’s a pointed choice of words that’s hard to ignore in an age when Trump’s critics have urged people not to get “distracted” by the president’s tweets or outlandish comments, and his Trump’s supporters have argued that all the chaotic “distraction” is actually part of his master plan.
Of course, the season ends with Underwood revealing that a large amount of the chaos that takes place actually is part of his master plan—but that’s a rather Machiavellian feat that Trump himself will likely not achieve.

2. All the executive orders!
Presidents throwing their weight around with executive orders are nothing new, but the incessant signing of new orders (some of them incendiary and arguably unconstitutional) is now a hallmark of Trump’s first 100 days. There are shades of his bullishness in Episode 2, when Frank Underwood declares an executive order for protecting “voting centers” and enforcing strict border restrictions, invoking “Section Blah Blah of the Blah Blah Act and Section Blah Blah of Title Blah Blah, Paragraph Bullshit Bullshit.”
The episode is bookended with Underwood secretly manufacturing a fake hack by terrorist group I.C.O., using it to prod the government to make a declaration of war. Hacks, terrorist attacks, and war talks! Where have we heard this all before . . . ?

3. A suspicious election
No TV drama about a presidential election would be complete without absurd twists and turns. This season of HoC crafts a presidential race filled to the brim with scandal, illicit behavior, and shocking results, premiering just a few months after the U.S.’s own wild election in which Trump came out the victor over expected winner Hillary Clinton. In the show, Underwood prevails over projected winner Will Conway, who wins the popular vote, but, of course, Underwood wins the race by rigging the election in vital Electoral College states and engaging in voter suppression. In the real world, the Department of Justice and both houses of Congress are investigating potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and improper contact with members of Trump’s campaign, with new reports surfacing about their alleged collusion. (And voter suppression tactics figured in U.S. history long before Trump.)
The next episode shows how American citizens are reacting to the election, featuring a group of protesters banding together outside the White House and chanting “Not my president!” and holding signs that read “Never Underwood.” Both actions mimic the actual chants and signs seen during anti-Trump protests.
Later in the season, as Conway sinks deeper into a petulant downward spiral after losing the election, his adviser tries to cheer him up by saying, “You lost—but more than half the country still considers you their president.” Though Conway’s post-election temperament is miles away from Clinton’s reflective grace, it’s tough to imagine that people haven’t bolstered her spirits with the same kind of encouragement.
4. Acts of Russian aggression
House of Cards has already done a Russia-obsessed season, which would have been too on the nose had it premiered now. But it’s not done with Viktor Petrov, its version of Vladimir Putin, just yet. He turns up in the second half of the show as Russia approaches an American research facility stationed in Antarctica, poking around for oil. “It’s a brazen act of aggression,” Secretary of State Catherine Durant says in the episode. Her quote brings to mind actual acts of Russian aggression, such as recent reports of Russian fighter jets doing barrel rolls over U.S. planes, and flying close to a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft.
This event also leads to a long line of backdoor negotiations with Russia, which might make some folks in the current administration (cough, Jared Kushner, cough) a bit uncomfortable.
5. A president under investigation
In Episode 9, scorned Congressman Romero decides to relaunch the committee investigating Underwood’s potentially impeachable offenses. With the Trump administration under its own investigation—and talk of impeachment fluttering around, just as they do for Underwood—it’s hard not to compare the two.
The investigation in the show also leads to the questioning of F.B.I. deputy director Nathan Green, who’s deeply entangled in the Underwood administration and has done a number of illegal things. Hey, does anyone remember if there’s anything crazy going on with the real world F.B.I. right now?
6. A gas attack in Syria
Episode 10 features a devastating gas attack in Syria, which the Underwood’s try to use to their political advantage. The attack eerily mirrors the recent chemical attack in Syria, which was one of the worst in the country’s history. Season 5 was already wrapped by the time the attack happened, so the show didn’t directly pluck from the headlines for that. However, it’s still a surprising (and incredibly sad) example of how the show veers dangerously close to real life.
7. “Welcome to the death of the age of reason.”
Those are the intimidating words Underwood snarls to the camera in this season’s penultimate episode during his committee testimony. “There is no right or wrong, not anymore. There’s only being in and then being out,” he says. His words, sadly, invoke the current age of “alternative facts.” Underwood’s message rings particularly true when held up against Trump’s own behavior. The current president is prone to making outlandish, verifiably false or simply unfounded remarks in interviews and on Twitter, while also waging a war against the media (#FakeNews), leaving his team to scramble and smooth out his claims. Meanwhile, the rest of the country anxiously watches and waits for whatever fresh hell is coming next.
Final Comments
The colossal failure of the country to elect a real president in 2016 will continue to dishonor and haunt us long after the last stench of Donald Trump is removed from the White House. With the mid-term elections around the corner, it is time for democrats around the country to gear up for a good fight against republicans who, besides Donald Trump, have also let the country down.
Needless to say the role of the new DNC head will be critically important in trying not just to elect more democrats, but to convince people of the United States that their interests come first in this sometimes chaotic world we all live in.
A final moment of reverie for this author, please. The character of Donald Trump we’ve all seen many times in our lives. It is like “art imitating life.” A daydream I had has kept re-occurring over the last two years. But my original stimulus for this daydream occurred more than 60 years ago.
In 1957 I was a freshman in high school. One important movie made in 1957 was an academy award-winning movie (Best picture, Best Director, Best Actor) known as Witness for the Prosecution.
It starred the great English actor Charles Laughton, along with Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Power. I won’t sidetrack my readers by going into a detailed recounting of the plot. It was based on a very clever book by the much esteemed Agatha Christie originally written in 1925.
I connect this movie’s most dramatic court room scenes to Donald Trump. Imagine if you will Donald Trump (the Prevaricator-in- Chief as President) was being grilled by a Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Laughton). What a field-day that would be if, like the movie, when Sir Wilfred says to Trump in Laughton’s surly special voice, “ Were you lying then, are you lying now, or are you not in fact a chronic and habitual Liar? In the movie Charles Laughton screaming the word liar—was absolutely deafening.

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Principled Constitutionalism and Gay Marriage

 

Background   

On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of gay marriage. It was an historic event that thrilled the gay and lesbian communities as well as for those who were in the forefront of protecting America’s civil rights and liberties. Proponents loved the decision while opponents cried foul. Those who cried foul were very vitriolic in their condemnation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority decision on gay marriage. There were even public statements from the dissenting Justices on the Supreme Court (Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and Scalia).

What is kind of amusing is that the dissenters on the court could have kept their dignity as Justices by simply remaining silent.

Instead, they came out of the woodwork like a bruised termite to give voice to their own personal underlying value judgments in a smoke screen couched in constitutional jargon to support their own political viewpoint and biases. The same just as easily could have happened with the Justice Kennedy majority had the decision been reversed in favor of no constitutional right to gay marriage.

One could say from a sociological point of view that a justice’s personal or political values dictate court decisions, not the written words of the U.S. Constitution. However, all Supreme Court justices (liberal or conservative) follow their own way when doing a legal analysis of a case. While analytical steps (gathering facts, reviewing case law and statutory law, etc.) may be the same, the legal analysis always follows a specific theory of Constitutional interpretation. It is Constitutional Interpretation theories that really matter when trying to understand the thought processes of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Because of this approach a Justice can see the same words in the Constitution, yet derive a different meaning and conclusion based on which category of constitutional interpretation they personally subscribe to. So what are these theories?

The Main Categories of Constitutional Interpretation

The Constitution emerged after several months of debate in 1787, during which the Founders sought to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Several centuries have passed since the Constitution was formed, and in the intervening time, multiple questions and debates have arisen over its meaning and interpretation.

There are two main categories of constitutional interpretation: Originalism and Non-Originalism. These two categories are admittedly broad. But in general terms, the first seeks to interpret the Constitution by looking closely at the text, the influencing documents and the historical context in which it was written. The second looks at the Constitution as a living document the interpretation of which needs to take into account changes in social norms, economic and political circumstances.

According to one proponent, Originalism “means that the constant touchstone of constitutional law should be the purposes and values of those who had the authority to make the Constitution—not of those who are charged with governing under it and abiding by it.” An oft-cited variation of Originalism is Strict Constructionism, which focuses interpretation on the technical, exact meaning of the words in the Constitution. Past and present examples of justices who hold the Originalism viewpoint include Justice Hugo Black, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Judge Robert Bork. The later Judge Bork was a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judge and a Reagan conservative nomination to the highest court. However, he failed to achieve confirmation.

Non-Originalism, on the other hand, is sometimes referred to as Loose Constructionism or Pragmatism, and its proponents often support the idea of a “‘living constitution’ … [which] evolves, changes over time, and adapts to new circumstances.” Past and present examples of justices who hold this view include Justice Harry Blackmun, Justice William Brennan, Justice William O. Douglas, and Judge Richard Posner.

The first debates over proper constitutional interpretation arose among the Founders themselves. In 1788, while the Constitution was awaiting ratification, Alexander Hamilton stated that the interpretation of the Constitution was to be left in the hands of the courts.

Nearly 30 years later, James Madison noted the bias that was possible in interpreting the Constitution, both for those present during its formation, like himself, and for those removed from the process, but eager “to find in its text an authority for a particular measure of great apparent Utility.” Finally, Thomas Jefferson weighed in on constitutional interpretation methods with the following statement:

“On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”

In the years following the Founding generation, the courts and other constitutional scholars continued to approach constitutional interpretation with caution. For example, Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution suggested that Americans interpret the Constitution in a straightforward, rational manner while cautiously appealing to the Founders’ contemporary context in matters lacking clarity. Additionally, court cases such as Pollack v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. (1895), South Carolina v. United States (1905), and Ex Parte Grossman (1925) all cited the need to look into the historical circumstances surrounding the Founding Fathers in order to make accurate judgments.

However, as the 20th century advanced, the idea that the Constitution needed to be interpreted in light of the nation’s changing times and circumstances began to take precedence in the Court system. Chief Justice Earl Warren put this concept into words in 1958 when he stated, “The [Eighth] Amendment must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Justice William Brennan championed this idea as well by declaring that it was “arrogance” to say that modern justices could know what the Founders intended, therefore the Constitution should be interpreted according to the changing ideas of different generations. In the eyes of current Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, this type of constitutional interpretation demanded that “the courts show a special solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged.”

Due to these developments in the judicial review process, the types of judges nominated to the court system are increasingly scrutinized concerning their constitutional viewpoints. Unfortunately, Originalism vs. Non-Originalism constitutional interpretation has come to be viewed largely along ideological lines, with Conservatives generally advocating for an Originalism position and Progressives advocating for a Non-Originalism position.

The material in this topic traces the historical methods of constitutional interpretation from the era of the Founding to the present. It examines the various forms of constitutional interpretation today while also presenting the arguments for and against each. How the public views these two ways of interpreting the Constitution will be presented in the next section.

Americans Divided on How the Supreme Court Should Interpret the Constitution

By Jocelyn Kiley

Jocelyn Kiley is associate director of research at the Pew Research Center, where she primarily works on U.S. public opinion about politics.

 

“Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided about how the U.S. Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. And there are many differences across demographic groups – especially when it comes to religious affiliation.[1]

About half of the public (49%) say the decisions of the Supreme Court should be based on its understanding of what the Constitution “means in current times,” while roughly as many (46%) say decisions should be based on what the Constitution “meant as it was originally written.”[2]

But Republicans—by more than two-to-one (69% to 29%)—say the justices should base their rulings on the Constitution’s original meaning rather than on what it means in current times. Democratic opinion goes the other way: 70% say the court should base its rulings on an understanding of the Constitution’s meaning in current times (26% say rulings should be based on the document’s original meaning).[3]

These differing views of how the court should interpret the Constitution may account for some of the partisan differences in opinions of the court itself seen in the Pew Research Center’s latest survey.[4]

And these opposing views on constitutional interpretation are even starker along ideological lines. Fully 92% of those who are consistently conservative on a 10-question scale of political values, along with 72% of those who are mostly conservative on this scale, say interpretation should be based on original intent. By contrast, 83% of those with consistently liberal political values, and 70% of those who are mostly liberal, say the justices’ rulings should be based on the Constitution’s meaning in current times (the items used in the 10-item scale can be found in Pew Research’s report on Political Polarization in the American Public).[5]

To some extent, the ideological split in the public’s views mirror the ideological divide of the court itself. The originalism position is most closely associated with Justice Scalia, one of the court’s conservative justices. Justice Scalia has often publicly stated his view that interpretation should be based on the document as originally written. Though there are differences among the conservative justices on this question, the view that the current meaning should be taken into account in constitutional interpretation is more closely associated with the positions of the court’s liberal justices.[6]

Among the public, there are also sizeable differences in views of constitutional interpretation, not just by ideology but also by education, race, age and religion.[7]

For example, while 62% of those with post-graduate degrees say constitutional interpretation should be based on the document’s meaning in current times, those who have not graduated from college are more divided on the question (46% current meaning, 49% as originally written). And while about six-in-ten African Americans and Hispanics (61% each) say the  Court should base its interpretation of the Constitution on the document’s meaning in current times, only 44% of whites say so.[8]

But some of the starkest divides are along religious lines. Nearly three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants (73%) say the justices should base their rulings on the original meaning of the Constitution. By contrast, just 44% of white mainline Protestants, 42% of Catholics and 37% of Black Protestants share this view. By nearly two-to-one (63% to 34%), more of those who are unaffiliated with a religious tradition say justices should rule based on the Constitution’s meaning in current times. And — in contrast to other demographic differences — religious differences on this question remain significant even when partisanship and ideology are taken into account.[9]

The Problem with saying or believing the U.S. Constitution’s interpretation on “current times” is a choice on a questionnaire is that term was not defined in any way.

A closer inspection of this issue is provided following the next article on the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution. It is instrumental to regard what the original framers of the U.S. Constitution had intended.

This is an important consideration since it’s obvious that the simple original words and language of the U.S. Constitution were denied or ignored by conservative judges when considering the Patriot Act. With regard to gay marriage rights, current conservative judges may be disingenuous when they totally disregarded the original language and words used by the framers of the United States Constitution in addition to ignoring the concepts underlying modern day interpretation of the United States Constitution.

In addition, besides the words of the Constitution, it is vitally important to understand what the framers of the U.S. Constitution had really intended the Constitution to be about. We are left with their words, but it must be combined with what we know to be their intent.

This may become clearer as you read the next article on the Framer’s Constitution. Remember, one of the original Founder’s principles was “Equal Justice under the Law.” Their intent seems pretty clear. Such a principle was to apply to every citizen since its first words are “We the People.” The more I think about the U.S. Constitution the more I realize what an extraordinary document it is and how extraordinarily brilliant our Founders were.

What Was the Intent of the Framers of the United States Constitution?

The Framers’ Constitution

George Stone & William Marshall

“The Framers of the American Constitution were visionaries. They designed our Constitution to endure. They sought not only to address the specific challenges facing the nation during their lifetimes, but to establish the foundational principles that would sustain and guide the new nation into an uncertain future.[10]

The text of the Constitution reflects this vision. It defines our most fundamental freedoms in general terms: “freedom of speech,” “due process of law,” “free exercise” of religion, “equal protection of the laws,” “cruel and unusual punishment.” The Constitution sets forth governmental powers in similarly general terms: Congress may regulate “commerce… among the several states;” the president will “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and the courts are authorized to decide “cases” and “controversies.”[11]

These phrases are not self-defining. The Framers understood that they were entrusting to future generations the responsibility to draw upon their intelligence, judgment, and experience to give concrete meaning to these broad principles over time. As Chief Justice John Marshall observed almost two centuries ago, “we must never forget it is a Constitution we are expounding…intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs.”[12]

Marshall’s interpretative understanding reflects an approach that is true to what we might call “The Framers’ Constitution.” It recognizes that the Constitution sets forth broad principles and that the central challenge of constitutional interpretation is to define and then give life and substance to those principles in an ever-changing society. The principles enshrined in the Constitution do not change over time. But the application of those principles must evolve as society changes and as experience informs our understanding.[13]

American constitutional law has long followed the path set by Chief Justice Marshall. As technological means of surveillance became more sophisticated, for example, the meaning of “search” in the Fourth Amendment came to include invasions of privacy that do not involve a physical trespass.

The provision granting Congress the power to maintain the nation’s “land and naval Forces” was eventually seen as authorizing an air force. The guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” in the Fourteenth Amendment was understood in later decades as prohibiting discrimination against not only African Americans but women, and gays and lesbians as well. “Commerce…among the several states” came to be seen differently as the nation’s economy became more complex and integrated across state lines.

The concept of “liberty” was recognized as encompassing not only freedom from physical restraint, but also freedom from undue government intrusion into such fundamental personal decisions as whether to bear or beget a child or how to raise and educate one’s children.[14]

But how should we give concrete meaning to the open-textured provisions of the Constitution? The best answer, grounded in the vision of the Framers and in the wisdom of John Marshall, has a long and honorable tradition in American constitutional law. This answer has two elements. First, at the very core of the Framers’ Constitution is the recognition that, in a self-governing society, courts must generally defer to the preferences of the majority[ We now have a majority—60%— of citizens approving of gay marriage]. Although courts may always review governmental action to guard against the arbitrary or unreasonable, the starting point must be a presumption of judicial modesty. This is an essential tenet of any theory of principled constitutionalism.[15]

Second, respect for the Framers’ Constitution requires us to recognize that although the Framers thought majority rule to be the best system of government, they knew it to be imperfect. They understood that political majorities may be tempted to enact laws that entrench their own authority; that in times of crisis people may panic and too readily sacrifice both fundamental freedoms and structural limitations; and that prejudice, hostility, and intolerance may at times lead governing majorities to give short shrift to the legitimate needs and interests of political, religious, racial, and other minorities.[16]

The Framers intended courts to play a central role in addressing these concerns. When proponents of the original Constitution argued in 1789 that a bill of rights would be pointless because political majorities would run roughshod over its guarantees, Thomas Jefferson responded that this argument ignored “the legal check” that could be exercised by the judiciary.

When James Madison faced similar concerns when he introduced the Bill of Rights in the first Congress, he maintained that “independent tribunals of justice will consider themselves…the guardians of those rights [and]…will be naturally led to resist every encroachment” upon them. And in Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton stated that constitutional protections and limitations could “be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice,” which must “guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors which…sometimes disseminate among the people themselves.”[17]

This understanding of the Framers’ Constitution found expression in the modern era in a series of Supreme Court opinions in the 1930s and ’40s. In the Court’s famous footnote four in Carolene Products (1938), for example, the Court suggested that there are some circumstances in which there may be “narrower scope” for the usual “presumption of constitutionality.” Specifically, the Court noted that “more exacting judicial scrutiny” may be appropriate when legislation “restricts those political processes which can ordinarily be expected to bring about repeal of undesirable legislation” and when laws disadvantage groups like “religious” or “racial minorities,” because “prejudice” against such groups “tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect” them.

Put simply, the majority recognized in Carolene Products that courts should not be so quick to defer to the outcome of the political process when there is good reason to believe that that process itself may have been tainted. The Court added another element to this understanding in Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942), in which the Court invalidated a law authorizing compelled sterilization. Noting that the right to procreate is one of “the basic civil rights of man,” the Court held that government action that substantially restricts the exercise of such a right must be subjected to heightened scrutiny to ensure that the limitation on the right is truly necessary.[18]

Following this approach, the Supreme Court has properly departed from the presumption of judicial restraint when governing majorities disadvantage historically vulnerable groups (such as African Americans, ethnic minorities, political dissidents, religious dissenters, women, and persons accused of crime), as when they use their authority to stifle critics, entrench their own political power, or undermine the constitutional structure of checks and balances; and when they substantially restrict the exercise of constitutionally protected rights.

In such circumstances it is necessary and proper for courts—Madison’s “independent tribunals of justice”—to exercise a “more exacting judicial scrutiny” in order to protect our most fundamental freedoms and guard against those malfunctions of majority governance that most concerned the Framers. This, too, is an essential tenet of principled constitutionalism.[19]

Invoking this understanding of judicial responsibility, the Supreme Court has issued a series of landmark decisions that faithfully interpret and apply the Framers’ Constitution. These decisions ended de jure racial segregation, recognized the principle of “one person, one vote,” forbade government suppression of political dissenters, established an effective right to counsel for persons accused of crime, struck down government discrimination against women, limited the authority of government to interfere with women’s reproductive choices, and upheld the right of “enemy combatants” to due process of law, to cite just a few examples. These decisions animate the most fundamental aspirations of our Constitution in circumstances in which judicial intervention is both necessary and proper.[20]

     For the past half-century, however, conservatives have argued that the Supreme Court has gone too far in its efforts to preserve the vitality of self-governance and protect the rights of those most in need of judicial attention. In the 1960s, they condemned what they derided as “judicial activism” and demanded the appointment of judges committed to a more capacious form of judicial restraint.

     But although judicial restraint in appropriate circumstances is essential to principled constitutionalism, its sweeping, reflexive invocation by conservatives would abdicate a fundamental responsibility that the Framers entrusted to the judiciary and would therefore undermine a critical element of the American constitutional system. It is no more appropriate for judges to refuse to enforce the Constitution against intolerant or overreaching majorities than it is for the president to refuse to defend the nation against enemy invasion.[21]

Perhaps recognizing that a theory of unbounded judicial restraint is constitutionally irresponsible, political conservatives next came up with the theory of “originalism.” First popularized by Robert Bork, Edwin Meese, and Antonin Scalia in the 1980s, originalism presumes that courts should exercise judicial restraint unless the “original meaning” of the text clearly mandates a more activist approach. Under this theory, for example, it is appropriate for courts to invoke the Equal Protection Clause to invalidate laws that deny African Americans the right to serve on juries, but not to invalidate laws that deny women that same right, because that was not the “original meaning” of the clause.[22]

Originalism, however, is fundamentally flawed. First, because those who enacted the broad foundational provisions of our Constitution often did not have any precise and agreed-upon understanding of the specific meaning of “freedom of speech” or “due process of law” or “regulate Commerce…among the several States” or “privileges or immunities” or “equal protection of the laws,” it is exceedingly difficult to know with any certainty what they did or did not think about concrete constitutional issues.

As a consequence, judges purporting to engage in originalist analysis often project onto the Framers their own personal and political preferences. The result is an unprincipled and often patently disingenuous jurisprudence. There is no evidence for the claims advanced by originalists, for example, that the original meaning of the Equal Protection Clause prohibited affirmative action or that the original meaning of the First Amendment included the notion that corporations (which were both strongly regulated and highly distrusted at the time) had a constitutional right to spend unlimited capital to influence political elections. Both of these claims, however, are central to today’s conservative legal agenda.[23]

The second problem with originalism is even more disqualifying, for it reveals the theory to be internally incoherent. Originalism asserts that those who crafted and ratified our Constitution intended the meaning and effect of their handiwork to be limited to the specific understandings of their time. But this view erroneously attributes to the Framers a narrow-mindedness and shortsightedness that belies their true spirit.

As Justice Louis Brandeis observed more than 80 years ago, the Framers believed “courage to be the secret of liberty.” They were not timid men. [24]Moreover, originalism ignores that those who framed our Constitution were steeped in a common-law tradition that presumed that just as reason, observation, and experience permit us to gain greater insight over time into questions of biology, physics, economics, and human nature, so too would they enable us to learn more over time about the content and meaning of the principles they enshrined in our Constitution.

Indeed, the notion that any particular moment’s understanding of the Constitution’s provisions should be locked into place and taken as constitutionally definitive would have seemed completely wrong-headed to the Framers, who held a much bolder and more confident conception of their own achievements and aspirations.[25]

For these reasons, the conservative doctrine of “originalism” has been largely discredited as a serious method of constitutional interpretation. This is not to say, however, that the views of the Framers are irrelevant. To the contrary, their values, concerns, and purposes, as reflected in the text of the Constitution, must inform and guide the process of constitutional interpretation, but in a principled and realistic manner. They must be considered as the Framers themselves understood them—as a set of general principles and aspirations, rather than as a collection of specific and shortsighted “rules.” To be true to the Framers’ Constitution, we must strive to implement faithfully the Framers’ often farsighted goals in an ever-changing society. That is central to any theory of principled constitutionalism.[26]

We have now entered a new and even more troubling phase of conservative constitutional jurisprudence. It is best characterized as “conservative activism.”

Justices who readily dismiss constitutional claims by women, political dissenters, and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, but at the same time aggressively strike down affirmative action programs, restrictions on corporate political expenditures, regulations of commercial advertising, federal civil rights laws prohibiting age discrimination and domestic violence, and the laws of the state of Florida in the 2000 presidential election, are unmistakably using the power of judicial review in a highly selective and politicized manner that cannot credibly be justified by any principled theory of constitutional interpretation.

Despite all of the conservative rhetoric about originalism, “strict construction,” “judicial restraint,” “applying rather than making the law,” and “calling balls and strikes,” this pattern of decisions raises grave questions about the considerations that actually drive the jurisprudence of our conservative justices.[27]

Constitutional interpretation is not a mechanical enterprise. It requires judges to exercise judgment. It calls upon them to consider text, history, precedent, values, changing social, economic, technological, and cultural conditions, and the practical realities of the times. It requires restraint, wisdom, empathy, intelligence, and courage. Above all, it requires recognition of the judiciary’s unique strengths and weaknesses, a proper appreciation of the reasons for judicial review, and a respectful understanding of our nation’s most fundamental constitutional aspirations and how we hope to achieve them.[28]

It is time for a new era of principled constitutionalism. It is time to return to the Framers’ Constitution.

Final Comments

In this straight author’s opinion, one cannot achieve meaningfulness in viewing the Constitution through either the prism or lens of “current times” or just the words left by the founders in the original document. Meaningfulness must be based on both. However, in addition, the general principles outlined by the original framer’s Constitution, should give clarity as to the Framer’s intent i.e., what they viewed as important.

While not specifically mentioning same-sex marriage in the text of the Constitution, its general principles provide for such a decision on gay marriage in the modern era by modern day Justices.

What I’m saying is that three things mattered in the decision on gay marriage two weeks ago; (1) a modern day viewpoint, (2) the actual original words of the Constitution itself, and (3) the intent of the Framers of the Constitution as reflected by their guiding principles.

A good constitutional legal analysis will be based on all three ways of interpretation. Another way of looking at this is to analytically embrace the concept and importance of Principled Constitutionalism. Why? It’s because the guiding principles outlined by the Framers gives real clarity in decision-making. Clarity is not achieved by politically based value judgments.

As an aside, people who oppose gay marriage based on religious beliefs are assuming that beliefs trump conduct. This is simply not the case. People have an absolute right to believe anything they want. They also have an absolute right to be an unmitigated bigoted buffoon filled with prejudice. Any and all beliefs, after all, are simply “a dime a dozen.” When one crosses the thin line between beliefs and actual behavior, our legal system has something to say about that.

While religious beliefs are protected under the U.S. Constitution, discriminatory behavior based on those beliefs is not. That’s called discrimination under the law, and is prohibited by the equal protection clauses under the 14th Amendment.

This Blog has been a brief overview of Principled Constitutionalism, Constitutional Theories and Interpretation, and Gay Marriage. Those interested in a more thorough look at Justice Kennedy’s legal reasoning should visit the following link:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/seema-iyer-breaks-down-obergefell-v-hodges

As George Stone & William Marshall wrote in their article above—the theory of Originalism as espoused by conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court is highly flawed. But we must remember this: It’s okay to be an anachronistic conservative in this day and age. After all—nobody is perfect!


 

 

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/31/americans-divided-on-how-the-supreme-court-should-interpret-the-constitution/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-r-stone/conservatives-constitution-_b_959277.html

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

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Should California be the Next State to Ban Sharia Law?

Background

There is great controversy brewing in the United States these days concerning the use of Sharia law in American courts. Most Americans are not even aware that foreign law can be used in an American Court. Sharia law is based on the religious teachings found in the Quran and the pronouncements of Islam’s originator—The Prophet Muhammad.

Our law of the land is, of course, the U.S. Constitution and the various laws at the federal, state and local jurisdictions.

The most basic question Americans are asking themselves is this: With jihadists in a foreign land using Sharia law to violate human rights everywhere, why in the hell is the United States condoning the use of such an abusive, archaic, demeaning set of legal canons?

The answer to this question should be a “no-brainer” until one realizes the fact that some foreign laws (such as Sharia) are being used in some American courts.

Laws based on religion or religious thought is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state. The added features to this issue is that foreign laws are not American laws, and Sharia law arose in the Muslim world, not in the United States.

These 16 States Have All Introduced Legislation to Ban ‘Sharia Law’

     The following is an article by Jason DeWitt of Top Right News from February 9, 2015.

     “Muslims are determined to push their religious doctrines on the American people.”

 

 

“Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis and several airports have kicked out blind passengers with guide dogs (dogs are “unclean” in Islam). Somali Muslims on welfare have demanded that their free food comply with “Islamic requirements.”

Muslim groups have demanded that their women be permitted to wear full face and body coverings even on driver’s licenses.

And Muslim pressure groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have pushed to force Sharia Law on our courts and law enforcement — with some U.S. judges insanely agreeing to comply.

A New Jersey judge recently cited Sharia Law in refusing to grant a Muslim woman a restraining order in a horrible case of sexual assault and abuse, because her husband said his abuse was acceptable “according to his Muslim beliefs.”

In Texas, a group of unlicensed Muslim “judges” have set up an “Islamic Tribunal” which they say will “resolve disputes” in law, family and businesses using, of course, Sharia Law — not the U.S. Constitution.

Well, some states are fighting back. As far back as 2010 Sixteen U.S. states have introduced legislation to ban or restrict Sharia law.

The list was compiled by the radical, terror-linked CAIR — which meant it to condemn the states, but to most Americans, it will bolster those states as somewhere they would want to live.

Ironically, CAIR claims they oppose Sharia Law in America. So why is it that any time a state wants to ban Sharia from inside its boundaries, CAIR fights it and cries “Islamophobia”? Because they want Muslims to only be subject to Sharia, not our laws. Herman Mustafa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas CAIR branch was most revealing when he brazenly said: “If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land.” 

Well the following states are saying: no damn way.

Alabama became the latest state to ban Sharia law when voters overwhelmingly passed a measure adding an amendment to the state constitution. CAIR said that the motion was “virulently racist” and shows “outright hostility towards Muslims.” Alabamans apparently didn’t care what they said.

The list of all 16 states is:

  • Alabama (two bills)
  • Arkansas
  • Florida (two bills)
  • Indiana (two bills)
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi (four bills)
  • Missouri (two bills)
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma (seven bills)
  • South Carolina (two bills)
  • Texas (six bills)
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming (two bills)

And hopefully in 2015, the list will get longer.

It depends on you. Tell your state reps you want Sharia banned in your state next.”

 

Human Rights in Islamic Countries

     Human rights in Islamic countries have been a hot-button issue for many decades. According to the Global Network for Rights and Development, the United Arab Emirates is the only one of 48 Muslim-majority countries with human rights comparable to Western democracies.

International Non-governmental Organizations (“INGOs”) such as Amnesty International (“AI”) and Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) consistently find human rights violations in Islamic countries. Amongst the human rights issues that are frequently under the spotlight are gay rights, the right of consensual sex outside of marriage, individual freedom of speech and political opinion. The issue of women’s rights is also the subject of fierce debate.

The fundamental reason why Islamic countries are ranked so lowly in human rights indicators such as The International Human Rights Rank Indicator (“IHRRI”) has to do with how Western democracies and the Islamic world approach the topic of human rights. While the concept of human rights in Western democracies was developed over centuries through Western experience and grounded in the idea of faith, human rights in the Islamic world is based on the Qur’anic ideal of human dignity. As a result of this differing basis, it is impossible for Islamic countries to measure up to the standards of human rights set by Western democracies since their views and understanding of human rights differ from their Western counterparts, thus resulting in different practices in their societies.

When the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) in 1948, Saudi Arabia refused to sign it as they were of the view that sharia law had already set out the rights of men and women. To sign the UDHR was deemed unnecessary. What the UDHR did do was to start a debate on human rights in the Islamic world. Following years of deliberation, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (“OIC”) adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights.

International Human Rights Rank Indicator

The International Human Rights Rank Indicator (IHRRI), which combines scores for a wide range of human rights, is produced by the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD); ratings in the table below are as of 11 October 2014.

All Muslim countries have a human rights rating less than 53%, with the notable exception of United Arab Emirates, whose rating (61.49%) is similar to many Western democracies; for comparison, Sweden is the highest-rated country worldwide with 89.13%, and the US is rated 69.23%.

Population percentage figures below are from the Pew Research Center report The Future of the Global Muslim Population, as of 27 January 2011; all majority Muslim countries (with population over 50% Muslim) are listed.

Country Muslim % of total population International Human Rights Rank Indicator rating
Afghanistan 99.8 27.96%
Albania 82.1 52.15%
Algeria 98.2 33.49%
Azerbaijan 98.4 44.40%
Bahrain 81.2 47.03%
Bangladesh 90.4 47.20%
Brunei 51.9 29.99%
Burkina Faso 58.9 41.14%
Chad 55.7 21.68%
Comoros 98.3 37.89%
Djibouti 97 37.31%
Egypt 94.7 42.67%
Gambia 95.3 35.80%
Guinea 84.2 38.90%
Indonesia 88.1 29.29%
Iran 99.7 36.22%
Iraq 98.9 30.42%
Jordan 98.8 45.83%
Kazakhstan 56.4 47.09%
Kuwait 86.4 48.25%
Kyrgyzstan 88.8 38.55%
Lebanon 59.7 42.53%
Libya 96.6 36.95%
Malaysia 61.4 52.10%
Maldives 98.4 48.17%
Mali 92.4 30.58%
Mauritania 99.2 40.01%
Mayotte 98.8 37.47%
Morocco 99.9 50.92%
Niger 98.3 35.60%
Oman 87.7 45.73%
Pakistan 96.4 38.61%
Palestine 97.5 44.93%
Qatar 77.5 47.80%
Saudi Arabia 97.1 27.08%
Senegal 95.9 29.17%
Sierra Leone 71.5 21.51%
Somalia 98.6 22.71%
Sudan 71.4 30.21%
Syria 92.8 23.82%
Tajikistan 99 40.11%
Tunisia 97.8 50.47%
Turkey 98.6 47.64%
Turkmenistan 93.3 43.04%
United Arab Emirates 76 61.49%
Uzbekistan 96.5 36.77%
Western Sahara 99.6 27.55%
Yemen 99 41.91%

Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam

[CDHR]

The CDHR was signed by member states of the OIC in 1990 at the 19th Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Cairo, Egypt. It was seen as the answer to the UDHR. In fact, the CDHR was “patterned after the UN-sponsored UDHR of 1948.” The object of the CDHR was to “serve as a guide for member states on human rights issues.” CDHR translated the Qur’anic teachings as follows: “All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the basis of race, color, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True religion is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human integrity.” On top of references to the Qur’an, the CDHR also referenced prophetic teachings and Islamic legal tradition.

While the CDHR can be seen as a significant human rights milestone for Islamic countries, Western commentators have been critical of it. For one, it is a heavily qualified document. The CDHR is pre-empted by sharia law – “all rights and freedoms stipulated [in the Cairo Declaration] are subject to Islamic Sharia’s.”

In turn, though member countries appear to follow sharia law, these laws seem to be ignored altogether when it comes to “[repressing] their citizens using torture, and imprisonment without trial and disappearance.” Abdullah al-Ahsan describes this as the Machiavellian attempt which is “turning out to be catastrophic in the Muslim world.”

Individual countries

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been under the human rights spotlight for a number of decades, receiving increased attention from the early 1990s onwards. Much of the period between the 1940s to 1980s was characterized by Saudi’s perceived passivity on the issue as well as its refusal to sign the UDHR. The period thereafter has seen a significant uptake on the matter. It all began with Saudi’s handling of the Second Gulf War in 1991, which created much unhappiness and opposition amongst its citizens. Thereafter, a group of Saudi citizens attempted to establish a non-governmental human rights organization called the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (“CDLR”).

Within weeks of its formation, Saudi authorities arrested many of its members and supporters. Following the release of its main founder and president Alma sari, the committee was reformed in London where it received attention from human rights organizations worldwide. CDLR’s work shed much needed light on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia that was previously clouded in secrecy.

The events which have followed since the early 1990s such as the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States of America, has further impacted the issue of human rights in Saudi, more so than any other country. Since these events, Saudi has steadily opened itself up to scrutiny by international agencies; they have also participated and engaged the human rights front more actively.

Amongst them, the country has allowed visits from Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups. Saudi has also joined the international human rights legal arrangements which means that the country is legally subject to Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (“CEDAW”), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”).

While some have lauded the progress made, others have remained highly critical of the country. In a 2013 human rights review of Saudi by Country Watch, it is said that Saudi has a “poor record of human rights” with the country’s law “not [providing] for the protection of many basic rights”. The report goes on to detail the many shortcomings in the country such as corruption, lack of transparency, the presence of corporal punishments and the lack of separation between the three branches of the State i.e. Judiciary, Executive and Legislature.

Pakistan

The human rights situation in Pakistan is generally regarded as poor by domestic and international observers. Pakistan is a center of Islamic fundamentalism. The human rights record of Pakistan was particularly grave under the dictatorship of the US-supported General Zia.

General Zia introduced Sharia Law which led to Islamization of the country. The current regime in Pakistan has been responsible for torture, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations. Honor killings are also common in Pakistan.

Turkey

Turkey is considered by many as being the exemplary country of the Muslim world where a satisfactory compromise is made between the values of Islamic and Western civilizations.

One of the main reasons cited for Turkey’s significant improvement in its human rights efforts over the past few decades is the country’s push towards satisfying European Union pre-conditions for membership. In 2000, AI, on the back of visits made to the country to observe human rights practices, found that Turkey was demonstrating signs of greater transparency compared to other Muslim countries. In 2002, an AI report stated that the Turkish parliament passed three laws “…aimed at bringing Turkish law into line with European human rights standards.”      The same report further noted that “AI was given permission to open a branch in Turkey under the Law on Associations.”

Some of the latest human rights steps taken by Turkey include: “the fourth judicial reform package adopted in April, which strengthens the protection of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and the fight against impunity for cases of torture and ill-treatment; the peace process which aims to end terrorism and violence in the Southeast of the country and pave the way for a solution to the Kurdish issue; the September 2013 democratization package which sets out further reform, covering important issues such as the use of languages other than Turkish, and minority rights.”

Further progress was also recorded on the women’s rights front where Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe Convention against Domestic Violence. Also, in 2009, the Turkish government established a Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women to look at reducing the inequality between the sexes.

Despite all these advancement, there are still many significant human rights issues troubling the country. In a 2013 human rights report by the United States Department of State, amongst the problems to receive significant criticism were government interference with freedom of expression and assembly, lack of transparency and independence of the judiciary and inadequate protection of vulnerable populations.

Human Rights Watch have even gone as far as to declare that there has been a “human rights rollback” in the country.

According to the report, this has taken place amidst the mass anti-government protests which took place in 2013. Under the current leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ruling party has become increasing intolerant of “political opposition, public protest, and critical media.”

 

Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the worst human rights records of any country in the world. Amongst the most serious human rights issues plaguing the republic are “the government’s manipulation of the electoral process, which severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press; and disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, tortured, or killed.”

In 2014, Human Rights Watch reported that despite changes to the penal code, the death penalty was still liberally meted resulting in one of the highest rates of executions in the world. On top of that, security authorities have been repressing free speech and dissent. Many opposition parties, labor unions and student groups were banned and scores of political prisoners were still locked up.

The country has generally closed itself off to outside interference. The government has refused the request of the United Nations to have Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed report on the human rights situation in the country though they did however announce that two UN experts would be allowed to visit in 2015.

     The above information was obtained from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. For those interested one can learn the Origins of Islamic law from the Constitutional Rights Foundation website.

 

Comments

 

     My politics have always been very complex. I am an ultra-liberal when it comes to human rights and civil rights. And, I’m a card-carrying member of Amnesty International. Being a former U.S. Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I can say that when it comes to national defense, homeland security, veteran’s issues, military families and wounded warriors my politics are conservative.

 

     The idea of the need to ban Sharia Law in deference to American law and the U.S. Constitution, is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue—It is an American issue.

 

     From a legal point of view, the operation of Sharia Law in the United States is unconstitutional as it violates the separation of church and state. From a moral point of view Sharia Law is an archaic notion of justice, best left back in the sixth century A.D.

 

     Sharia law is currently fostered by misogynist totalitarian regimes that indiscriminately murder and torture their own people based on intolerance of all human rights spelled out in 1948 by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

 

     There have been efforts over the years since 1948, on the part of Islamic countries (OIC) in the United Nations, to scrap or seriously modify the 1948 (post World War II) Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

 

     In the aftermath of 9-1-1 we, as a country, still have to fight with fundamentalist extremists worldwide. But, even more important there are now dangers everywhere on the home front from Boston to Texas. Some of these dangers are homegrown, but some terrorist activities against the United States may still be precipitated from Islamic terrorist groups outside our borders.

 

     What is needed in California now is an amendment to the state’s constitution to ban Sharia Law in any form. 

 

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ELECTION YEAR POLITICS

AND THE ECONOMY

[Part VI-A]

The final segment of my six part series will be composed of a Part VI-A and a Part VI-B. In Part VI-A I present the accomplishments of the Republican Party and provide a biography of their candidate in 2012—Mitt Romney.

In Part VI-B I will suggest who I think should be elected  president of the United States on November 6, 2012. I will post Part VI-B a few days after people have had a chance to digest the data in Part VI-A. I am not going to tell you who to vote for; that is now up to you. What I will do is explain, in detail, the reasons why I’m voting as I am.

I will explain as best I can both the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate in a final conclusions section. Everyone may or may not come to the same conclusion as I have. Hopefully, since the economy is the main issue, I hope everyone makes intelligent use of the material I’ve provided about how the economy really works, and integrates such knowledge into each person’s value framework and political preferences. No one can predict the future but as voters, let’s give it a good shot as to who we think will best serve as president of the United States during the next four years.

                                Accomplishments of the Republican Party

In this author’s opinion the accomplishments of the Republican Party fall into two areas: (1) signed legislation that became law, and (2) bills introduced giving you some idea as to what they wanted to do for the American people.

The Republican Party, of course, did not have control of the White House between 2008-2012. However, they did regain control of the House of Representatives in November, 2010. And, they did propose major legislation in a number of areas. Many of their Bills they proposed failed to pass muster in the Senate, and on several occasions President Obama promised to veto many of the major types of legislation proposed by the Republicans.

If one defines accomplishments as bills that become laws, then by that standard they failed miserably in terms of doing something useful for the American people. It may be one of the reasons why the Republican Party is often called “the Party of No.”

 I believe, in all fairness, the voter needs to evaluate The Republican Party in a different way. Since you are comparing a party with lots to show for it, the only other remaining way to evaluate Republican contributions to the country is to usefully look at their ideas as reflected in the Bills they put forward. If you agree with those ideas you’ll still have a basis for comparison to President Obama’s accomplishments. If you don’t like what was proposed by the Republicans, then perhaps you have a clear choice in November, 2012.

So what major legislation did the Republican Party propose before the Congress during the last four years.

MAJOR LEGISLATION PROPOSED BY THE REPUBLICANS

 I found five major pieces of legislation proposed by the Republican Party during the last four years. A sixth bill actually became law in 1998. That law was the Defense of Marriage Act. It is discussed here because it was followed during the last four years as the Respect for Marriage Act, which failed to become law.

Most Republican bills seem ideological in nature. Only two seem to relate to economics. Along with the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 the bills are the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion, the Protect Life Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act which was a new version of the original Defense of Marriage Act.

One bill was actually bi-partisan in nature and was the Stop Online Piracy Act. The one bill that tackled spending issues, the debt ceiling, and balancing a budget was the only truly economic bill proposed by the Republican Party. That bill was the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011.

Collectively, these legislative efforts are the ideas of the Republican Party.

Defense of Marriage Act

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Public Law 104-109, 110 Statute 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. & 7 and 28 U.S.C. & 1738C is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996.

Under the law, no state or other political subdivision of the U.S. may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state. Section 3 of DOMA codified the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns. This section has been found unconstitutional in two Massachusetts court cases and a California bankruptcy court case, all of which are under appeal.

The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had determined that Section 3 was unconstitutional and, though it would continue to enforce the law, it would no longer defend it in court. In response, the House of Representatives undertook the defense of the law on behalf of the federal government in place of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Respect for Marriage Act

The Respect for Marriage Act, or RFMA (H.R. 1116, S. 598), was a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and allow the U.S. federal government to provide benefits to couples in a same-sex marriage; the bill would not compel individual states to recognize same-sex marriages. It was supported by former U.S. Representative Bob Barr, original sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, and former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Until 1996, the federal government customarily recognized marriages conducted legally in any state for the purpose of federal legislation. Following an unsuccessful law suit aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii, the United States Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act one section of which forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

H.R. 3567

a) repeals section 1738C of title 28 of the United States Code

b) amends Section 7 of title 1 in the United States Code to read:

(a) For the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State. (b) In this section, the term ‘State’ means a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any other territory or possession of the United States.

No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3) is a bill that was introduced to the 112th Congress of the United States in the House of Representatives by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois). Although the bill is a bipartisan effort, most of the 173 co-sponsors were Republicans. The bill’s stated purpose was “[t]o prohibit taxpayer funded abortions and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.”

In large measure, it would render permanent the restrictions on federal funding of abortion in the United States laid out in the Hyde Amendment. The bill passed the House on May 4, 2011 by a vote of 251-175; however, because it was not expected to pass the Senate, the bill was largely a symbolic one.

Controversy over language about rape

The text of the most recent version of the Hyde Amendment provides an exception for cases of rape, stating that its prohibitions shall not apply “if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.” The rape exception in H.R. 3 uses somewhat different language, stating that its limitations shall not apply “if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.” Some women’s rights groups have questioned the addition of the qualifier “forcible” to the word “rape” in H.R. 3, noting that it excludes many forms of rape and “takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.”

One critic, Mother Jones, alleged that the bill is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Republican Party to change the legal definition of rape.

Another critic, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) criticized the legislation, too. An article in The Raw Story had this to say about her reaction to HR 3. “The Florida Democrat, a rising star in her party and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, is a leading voice on women’s issues.

And she didn’t mince her words in an interview with The Raw Story, fiercely denouncing GOP colleagues over H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” ‘It is absolutely outrageous,’ Wasserman Schultz said in an exclusive interview late Monday afternoon. “I consider the proposal of this bill a violent act against women…” She continued, “It really is — to suggest that there is some kind of rape that would be okay to force a woman to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, and abandon the principle that has been long held, an exception that has been settled for 30 years, is to me a violent act against women in and of itself,” Wasserman Schultz said.” “Rape is when a woman is forced to have sex against her will, and that is whether she is conscious, unconscious, mentally stable, not mentally stable,” the four-term congresswoman added.”

Critics insist that HR 3 would directly diminish the rights of women who have fallen victim to rapes that are not considered “forcible” by the bill, as well as increase the danger of these types of sexual abuse occurring.

TalkingPoints Memo reported, “In an interview with the anti-abortion site LifeNews, Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, admits the language in the House’s No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act “would not allow general federal funding of abortion on all under-age pregnant girls.”

However, the bill’s text does not offer a definition of “rape” nor of “forcible rape.” Responding to the criticism about the language used in the rape exception clause, bill co-sponsor Dan Lipinski (D) stated, “The language of H.R. 3 was not intended to change existing law rearding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so. Nonetheless, the legislative process will provide an opportunity to clarify this should such a need exist.”

Protect Life Act

The Protect Life Act (H.R. 358) is a bill introduced to the 112th United States Congress in the House of Representatives by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA). The bill had 121 co-sponsors, including 6 Democrats. It would make several amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The bill was initially referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, of which Pitts is the ranking majority member. The committee approved it 33 to 19.

On October 13, 2011, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill; however, it was judged unlikely to pass the Democratic Senate, and President Obama stated that he would veto it if it reached his desk.

The following are the provisions of the bill.

Provisions

  • Ban the use of federal funds to cover any costs of any health care plan that covers abortions. (This would extend previous restrictions on abortion coverage, which currently ban the use of federal funds for abortion and require federal funds and abortion-related funds to be kept separate.) Require the Office of Personnel Management director to make sure no health plans that fall under the Exchange cover abortions.
  • Require any entity offering, through a federal exchange, a health care plan that covers abortions to also offer an otherwise identical one that does not cover abortions.
  • Prohibit government agencies from “discriminating” against health care providers who refuse to undergo, require, provide, or refer for training to perform abortions.
  • Allow remedies to be sought in court for violations of PPACA abortion provisions.

Stop Online Piracy Act

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the sites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A similar bill in the U.S. Senate is titled the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).

Proponents of the legislation state it will protect the intellectual-property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites. Claiming flaws in present laws that do not cover foreign-owned and operated sites, and citing examples of “active promotion of rogue websites” by U.S. search engines, proponents assert stronger enforcement tools are needed.

Opponents state the proposed legislation threatens free speech and innovation, and enables law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single blog or webpage. They have raised concerns that SOPA would bypass the “safe harbor” protections from liability presently afforded to Internet sites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Library associations have expressed concerns that the legislation’s emphasis on stronger copyright enforcement would expose libraries to prosecution. Other opponents state that requiring search engines to delete a domain name could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented censorship of the Web and violates the First Amendment.

On January 18, 2012, the English Wikipedia Reddit, and an estimated 7,000 other smaller websites coordinated a service blackout, to raise awareness. In excess of 160 million people viewed Wikipedia’s banner. Other protests against SOPA and PIPA included petition drives, with Google stating it collected over 7 million signatures, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and a rally held in New York City.

In response to the protest actions, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated, “It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users and arm them with misinformation,” and “it’s very difficult to counter the misinformation when the disseminators also own the platform.”

The sites of several pro-SOPA organizations such as RIAA, CBS.com, and others were slowed or shut down with denial of service attacks started on January 19. Self-proclaimed members of the “hacktivist” group Anonymous claimed responsibility and stated the attacks were a protest of both SOPA and the United States Department of Justice’s shutdown of Megaupload on that same day.

Opponents of the bill have proposed the Online Protection and Digital Trade Act (OPEN) as an alternative. On January 20, 2012, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith postponed plans to draft the bill: “The committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation … The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011

The proposed Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011 (or HR 2560) was a bill put forward in the 112th United States Congress by Republicans during the 2011 U.S. debt ceiling crisis. The provisions of the bill included a cut in the total amount of federal government spending, a cap on the level of future spending as a percentage ofGDP, and, on the condition that Congress pass certain changes to the U.S. Constitution, and an increase in the national debt ceiling to allow the federal government to continue to service its debts.

The bill had the support of Republicans and much of the Tea Party movement. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 19, 2011, but was rejected by the President and the Senate. The Senate voted to table the bill on July 22. President Obama had promised to veto the bill had it proceeded further.

The Republican Candidate in 2012

The Republican cadidate running for the Office of the President of the United States in 2012  is former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney.

 

Biography

Born Willard Mitt Romney onMarch 12, 1947, in Detroit,Michigan and raised in Bloomfield Hills,Michigan, Romney attended the prestigious Cranbrook Schoolbefore receiving his undergraduate degree fromBrighamYoungUniversityin 1971. He attended Harvard LawSchool andHarvard Business School and received both a law degree and an M.B.A. in 1975.

Mitt Romney married Ann Davies in 1969; they have five sons, Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.

Entry into Politics

The son of George Romney, Michigan governor and Republican presidential nominee (he was defeated by Richard Nixon in 1968), Mitt Romney began his career in business. He worked for the management consulting firm Bain & Company before founding the investment firm Bain Capital in 1984. In 1994, he ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts but was defeated by longtime incumbent Edward Kennedy.

In 1999, Romney stepped into the national spotlight when he took over as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. He helped rescue the 2002 Winter Olympics from financial and ethical woes, and helmed a successful Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002.

In 2004 Romney authored the book Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games.

Masachusetts Governor

Romney parlayed his success with the Olympics into politics when he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003. During Romney’s term as governor, he oversaw the reduction of a $3 billion deficit. Romney also signed into law a health care reform program to provide nearly universal health care forMassachusetts residents.

2008 Presidential Run

After serving one term, he declined to run for reelection and announced his bid for U.S.president. Romney made it through Super Tuesday, winning primaries inMassachusetts, Alaska, Minnesota, Colorado and Utah, before losing the Republican nomination to John McCain. In total Romney spent $110 million on his campaign, including $45 million of his own money.

Romney continued to keep his options open for a possible future presidential run. He maintained much of his political staff and PACs, and raised funds for fellow Republican candidates. In March 2010, Romney published a book titled No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. The book debuted on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

2012 Campaign

At a farm in New Hampshire on June 2, 2011, Mitt Romney announced the official start of his 2012 campaign. A vocal critic of President Barack Obama, Romney has taken many standard Republican positions on taxes, the economy and the war on terror. Romney’s critics charge him with changing his position on several key issues including abortion, which he opposes, and health care reform—he opposed President Obama’s health care reform program, which was similar to theMassachusetts plan Romney supported as governor.

From the start of his campaign, Romney emerged as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. He showed more mainstream Republican appeal than Tea Party-backed competitors such asTexas governor Rick Perry. In January 2012, Romney scored a decisive victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary. He captured more than 39 percent of the votes, way ahead of his closest competitors, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman.  As the race has continued, Rick Santorum became his greatest competition, winning several states. But Romney had been able to secure a substantial lead in the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

In April 2012, Romney benefitted from a narrowing of the field when Santorum announced he was suspending his campaign. He publicly paid tribute to his former rival, saying that Santorum “has proved himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation.” After Santorum’s departure, Romney only had two opponents left—Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. But neither seems to have enough support to gain the necessary delegates to take the nomination from Romney. In May, 2012 Newt Gingrich departed from the campaign.

Post Script

At this point every reader of this six part series should now be armed with enough knowledge to make an informed intelligent decision as to who should be elected to the White House this coming November. Good luck in how you arrive at that decision. In a few days following the posting of this Part VI-A, I will present how I plan to vote this coming November. Based on all the knowledge presented in this series I will explain all the reasons why I have selected one candidate over the other. And, I will present such reasons in terms of both strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

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ELECTION YEAR POLITICS

AND THE ECONOMY

[Part V]

In this Part V of my six part series I describe the accomplishments of President Barack Obama during most his first term as president.

In a final section (Part VI-B) I will bring all of the knowledge gained in the entire series together and render a decision as to who I’m voting for (and consistent with writing a blog called the Reasoned Society) with the reasons why I have reached a decision in casting my vote in favor of one candidate over the other. Ultimately, you will also have to decide who you will vote for in the upcoming presidential election in November, 2012.

The Accomplishments of President Barack Obama

 

By some accounts (Florida Professor of American Studies Robert P. Watson of Lynn University) President Obama’s accomplishments now total 244 since he took office. Here is just a few of the significant accomplishments of the president during his first term in the White House.

 

  • Overhauled the food safety system;
  • Approved the Lily Ledbetter “Equal Pay” for women rule;
  • Ended “Don’t Ask/Don’t  Tell” discrimination in the military;
  • Passed the Hate Crimes bill in Congress;
  • Saved the auto industry from bankruptcy which included General Motors and Chrysler;
  • Appointed two progressive women to the U.S. Supreme Court including the first Latina;
  • Pushed through the Affordable Health Care Act, outlawing denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, extending until age 26 health care coverage of children under parent’s  plans, steps toward “Medicare for All;”
  • Expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) health care for children. This helped to cover 4 million more lower-income children;
  • Pushed through a $789 Billion economic stimulus bill that saved or created 3 million jobs and began task of repairing the nation’s infrastructure;
  • Overhauled the credit card industry, making it more consumer friendly;
  • Established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and used a recess appointment to keep it on track in the face of GOP attempts to derail it;
  • Also outmaneuvered GOP in naming two members of the National Labor Relations Board blocked by the Republicans in their attempt to shut down the NLRB;
  • Won two extensions of the debt ceiling and extensions of unemployment compensation in the face of Republican threats to shut down the U.S. government;
  • Pulled troops out of Iraq and began drawing down of troops in Afghanistan;
  • Signed an omnibus public lands bill that allowed for 2 million more acres to be declared wilderness. It added 1,000 miles designated for scenic rivers, and added lands for national trails;
  • Signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act;
  • Signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expanded the scope of AmeriCorps;
  • Signed an executive order easing restrictions on the use of federal money for embryonic stem cell research;
  • Created greater transparency in government by creation of White House visitor logs, a ban on lobbyist gifts, or allowing lobbyists from serving on advisory boards, and restrictions on the hiring of lobbyists.
  • Obama persuaded BP to put up $20 billion as a guarantee that the Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the spill would be compensated.
  • In 2011 President Barack Obama gave the order for Navy Seals commandoes to take out Osama Bin Laden, the architect of 911. They were successful and Osama Bin Laden is dead.

 

Washington Post Editorial

Back in 2010 an editorial was written by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. This was written less than half way through President Obama’s first term in office. I think it’s worth repeating here:

In less than two years in office, the Obama Administration has made some incredible progress, from passing historic health reform to reining in Wall Street and fighting to create new jobs. Even so, sometimes it can feel like all of the day-to-day news is focused on the negative, without much emphasis on the real changes the President has made with the help of supporters around the country. For a look at some of the great accomplishments in just the past few weeks—including troops leaving Iraq, bringing the auto industry back from the brink of collapse, and containing the oil spill in the Gulf.

This is a radical break from journalistic convention, I realize, but today I’d like to give credit where it’s due — specifically, to President Obama. Quiet as it’s kept, he’s on a genuine winning streak. It’s hard to remember that the inauguration was just 19 months ago. Expectations of the new president were absurdly high. If Obama had done back flips across the Potomac River, when he reached the other side he’d have faced probing questions about why it was taking him so long to cure cancer, solve the Arab-Israeli conflict and usher in an age of universal peace and prosperity. But look at what he’s accomplished in just the past few weeks. Let me highlight four recent headlines.

“Last U.S. combat troops leave Iraq”: Obama campaigned as an early and vocal opponent of the Iraq war, calling it a distraction from the more important conflict in Afghanistan. When he took office, there were about 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq on the heels of George W. Bush’s combat surge. Obama said he would bring our combat forces home and he did — ahead of schedule…. “General Motors to launch stock offering”: One of the many crises Obama faced when he took office was the imminent collapse of an iconic industrial giant….Obama ended up pouring $50 billion into the company, acquiring a 61 percent ownership stake.

Critics complained about the advent of “Government Motors” and raised the specter of bureaucrats in Washington holding public hearings to redesign the Corvette. But now, after making more than $2 billion in profits so far this year, the restructured company is confident enough to sell stock on Wall Street — and begin repaying the government’s investment. The company was saved, workers kept their jobs, and taxpayers are going to get their money back. That’s nice work.”Gulf oil spill contained”: When BP’s Deepwater Horizon well went rogue, the Obama administration was criticized for being slow off the mark. Some of the criticism was justified — the initial response did seem unfocused. But the administration managed to turn things around and quiet any talk of “Obama’s Katrina.”

Obama persuaded BP to put up $20 billion as a guarantee that the Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the spill would be compensated….

And finally, “President wades into mosque controversy”: Yes, I’m serious. Supporting the mosque in Lower Manhattan didn’t score any political points. But Obama saw his duty to uphold the values of our Constitution and make clear that our fight is against the terrorists, not against Islam itself. Instead of doing what was popular, he did what was right.

He still hasn’t walked on water, though. What’s wrong with the man?

 

Post Script

You will have to decide as a voter in a few months whether President Obama’s accomplishments during his first term in office justifies his being re-elected to a second term. In giving your vote you will also have to compare the president’s accomplishments to those of the Republican Party during the last four years.

In addition, you will have to decide whether the campaign promises of Mitt Romney appeal to you so much that you would support a change of course for the country. After Part VI-A and Part VI-B you will be in a good position, in terms of being an informed voter, to make such an important decision. And, you can be proud of yourself that you took the time to become better informed; it is the only really intelligent approach a citizen can take during so important an election as to who should become President of the United States.

 

 

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