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The Mission of the 116th Congress

January, 2019

“I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.”

― John Stewart Mill

[John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington, May 31, 1866.]”

 

Introduction

 

The voters of the 2018 mid-term elections have spoken and have made an important move toward restoring democracy in America. It is now time to focus on an agenda for the new 116 Congress. This Congress will convene on January 3, 2019 perhaps even before noon.

It is one thing for candidates in a campaign mode to make promises in order to get elected; it is quite another thing to now face the reality of actually having to govern. Now that the Democrats will be in control of the House of Representatives, everyone is anxiously awaiting the results of the Mueller investigation. As they say, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

A wrench was thrown into the Muller investigation on November 6, 2018 when interim Attorney General Mathew Whitaker was appointed by Donald Trump to replace fired Attorney General Sessions. Unfortunately, the new interim A.G. possesses a strong ideological tie to Donald Trump.

It terms of legal precedent and the United States Constitution, Whitaker’s beliefs about established law make him something of an odd-ball. His fitness for the job has yet to be determined, although there is the strong suspicion he is not qualified and should not be appointed permanent Attorney General. He is also currently under F.B.I. investigation. This is about his involvement as a member of an advisory board for World Patent Marketing (WPM). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently shut down WPM for fraud and scamming people. Some of these people were disabled veterans who were scammed out of their life savings. Whitaker also made legal threats against litigants wishing to sue WPM. Whitaker’s lack of professionalism and history of this company will likely end his position as the interim United States Attorney General.  We’ll just have to wait to see how all of the interactions between Mueller and Whitaker play out during the weeks ahead. I’m hoping that Whitaker too will be indicted by the Mueller team for obstruction of justice if he makes any move to undermine the future indictment of the President of the United States, or any in his administration or family members.

Now What?

In the meantime, the 116th Congress needs to develop and carry out specific goals and objectives to achieve over the next 2 years and beyond. I am going to suggest in the pages ahead what their platform ought to be. They need to be successful in order to convince the American public that they are capable of real change. They need to convince the American public that voting Republican in 2020 would be as catastrophic as it was in 2016. Aside from differing value judgments this is because Republicans seldom succeed at what they undertake.

Why did Republicans nearly always fail during the last 20 years? What is holding back Republicans more than anything else are the groups within the party known as the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. Belonging to these groups must be a “sweet job.” They get paid for putting up roadblocks to everything, then sit back and collect their paychecks all for doing nothing.

Conservatives as a group are historically almost always on the wrong side of history. Just consider at a minimum the issue of Integration back in the 1950s and putting up roadblocks to enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935. On August 14, 1935 The Social Security Act established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, and aid for dependent mothers and children, the blind and the physically handicapped.

This was a monumental piece of legislative reform the likes of which the world could only imagine. It was a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress who spearheaded the creation and passage of the Social Security Act of 1935. Republicans could have been part of this landmark historical achievement. Instead, they sat on the sidelines during this whole event in American History.

The following should be the goals and objectives of the 116th Congress:

Goals

Return Democracy to America

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

 

The Nature of Goals

Goals tend to be end states, the thing one wants to aim for, achieve and bring about. Granted, the above goals need to be more specific, and measurable. Otherwise, goals are simply value judgements and lacking concrete steps and specificity to know when one arrives at the final destination. However, life is seldom clear-cut and well-defined. Ambiguity, normlessness and vagueness are all-to-often our reality when setting goals.

Nevertheless goals, however nebulous at times, can still provide a direction and be something to work for and move toward when trying to achieve that “end state.”  Not to burden my reader with the complexities of goal setting, let me give an example: I want to buy a new jaguar car in January, 2019. This goal is specific, has a time line, and is measurable (either you buy it or you don’t). Compare this goal to one that is more diffuse or vague in nature. “I want to save the world.” This goal is terrible. How does one define “save”? There is no time line and measuring it is not defined or specified, and there is total ambiguity; that is, what does that goal really mean in the first place?

In the world of American party politics goal planning can be very unwieldly, especially when parties are constantly re-defining themselves. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the real motivations and values underlying the goal planning process.

Objectives

Objectives lead one to the strategies or methods developed to achieve one’s stated goals. In January, 2019 the 116th Congress will convene to begin the difficult process of governing by undoing certain things that have been implemented by the Trump Administration. In addition, they will need to simultaneously forge ahead with their own agenda for change and their own set of goals, objectives (including methods and strategies). It is a job of great importance and awesome responsibility. And, leadership will be crucial at every step.

The purpose of this Blog is to explain what I think their goals and objectives ought to be. As a progressive with ultra-liberal values [90% of the time] yet sometimes conservative on national defense and military issues [10% of the time] the following are the objectives I think this new Congress should work on, support and achieve.

 

Goal

Return Democracy to America

Objectives

Impeach Trump

As the late Howard Cosell used to say, “Tell it..Like..It is” Well, enough has already been written about Donald Trump. But I do have something to say about his immoral character. Cutting to the chase, he is a psychiatrically and intellectually challenged individual. He is naïve, dishonest and a gifted liar. He is a classic ego-maniac, narcissistic insecure white racist, and a misogynistic degenerate. He is a sociopathic bully, a phony, a con man, a charlatan who lies every time he opens his mouth. Donald Trump of course only does two things wrong in life: everything he says and everything he does.

To say that he suffers from feelings of inadequacy or inferiority is to point out the obvious. More importantly, he is a criminal, a traitor to his country and deserves to be behind bars. Said another way; he is a menace to civilized society. If that wasn’t enough—just consider the following. He is also the most incompetent, unknowledgeable buffoon to ever be elected to public office in the United States. (Now, I’d like to tell you what I really think of him, but civility demands that I not use any expletives and/or rhetorical commentary). From my perspective as an artist (color me blue) he needs to be in an orange jump suit or a white straight jacket.

The late Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” As we all know, Will Rogers never met Donald Trump. Impeaching Donald Trump is the most important objective for the 116th Congress to address. His removal from Office of the presidency is long overdue.

Eliminate Gerrymandering in the United States

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of voting boundaries to benefit a particular political party. Both gerrymandering and cheating are perpendicular in definition. Although Gerrymandering provides benefits by packing district votes, the method utilizes dishonesty.

In an article by  the AP on June, 25, 2017 a very convincing argument was made that gerrymandering helped the Republican Party in 2016 more than it did the Democrats. It was achieved by political cheating and voter disenfranchisement all in deference to political party. Here is an abbreviated part of this article:

“Analysis: Partisan gerrymandering has benefited Republicans more than Democrats

The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump’s favor.

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it — in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”

Reverse Trump’s Executive Orders

His entire barrage of Executive orders need to be (on day one) reversed and an assessment report undertaken to report all damages done to people and resources. Go to court if necessary to get this objective done.

Create Laws to eliminate all Money from Politics

If this objective is achieved, it will help to finally elevate the status of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate to a status like that of the United States Supreme Court. No more will Americans be able to say, “We have the best politicians money can buy.” Money has tainted politics in America from the very beginning. If politicians ever want to achieve any degree of respectability, they need to eliminate all money in politics.

Eliminate the Electoral College in deference to popular vote only

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Electoral College is an arcane process for electing a president. The election of 2016 is filled with irony. It is incredibly ironic because the Founding Fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. Why? Because they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. So, the Electoral College, no matter how originally perceived, has now failed in the 21st Century to prevent a tyrant from becoming President of the United States.

The Electoral College also created the primacy of its own electoral process, over that of the popular vote. It renders popular vote more symbolic than real or significant. In the 2016 election some 3 million voters were disenfranchised by this arcane Electoral College system. The popular vote should have made Hillary Clinton President of the United States.

The time has arrived for a new Constitutional Amendment on electing presidents. If we pay lip service to the idea that every person’s vote count, then we as a nation ought to damn well mean it. The Electoral College flies in the face of any notion of a true democratic process. Real democracy is not static or immutable; real democracy is capable of counting every vote and making every vote count.

Initiate a new Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

It’s been nearly 100 years since women first earned the right to vote. It was called the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a nation we are long overdue for an Equal Rights Amendment.

Make sure 50% of the leadership roles such as Heads of Committees are held by women

Given the opportunity to show the country just how much more capable Democrats are than Republicans it’s time to set in stone a new egalitarian standard for the nation. Women are truly equal with men. What differences there are between men and women such as height, weight, and muscle mass or “perceived privilege” has absolutely no relevance when compared to innate intelligence, thinking ability or leadership qualities.

Reopen the case against Supreme Court associate justice Brett Kavanaugh. This time a real investigation will be conducted

Although I am in favor of liberal judges rather than conservative ones, the real issue here is trust. During the early part of his confirmation hearing Nominee Kavanaugh said some things that convinced me, when he talked about how he analyzes judicial cases, he seemed very reasonable and objective. He was on point.

It must be pointed out that judicial or legal reasoning is not like any other way of thinking. Legal thinking and analysis needs to be fact-driven and respectful of legal precedent. Highly intelligent judges tend to put their biases aside when analyzing data and the law. I would direct you to previous blogs where I discussed various theories of judicial reasoning and analysis, especially with respect to how the United States Constitution is interpreted.

Sometimes judges on the U.S. Supreme Court change political stripes. And it is true that historically more conservative judges leaned to the liberal side once they were on the highest court, much more than the reverse where a former liberal Court of Appeals judge turned conservative once they were elevated to the highest court.

The following is an interesting article written by Jon D. Hanson and Adam Benforado,

For the Boston Review, dated April 9, 2016.

It is titled, “THE DRIFTERS: Why the Supreme Court makes justices more liberal.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Boston Review. At the time of original publication, Antonin Scalia was still alive. Scalia died this year.

“When Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor left the bench last year, conservatives were in an anxious mood: though pleased at the prospect of shifting the Supreme Court to the right, they were worried by the record of past Republican appointments. The refrain in conservative commentary, repeated with special intensity during the Harriet Mires affair, was: Not another Souter. Not another Kennedy. Not another O’Connor. And they might have added: Not another Blackmun. Not another Stevens. Not another Warren.

They were right to be concerned. While there have been a number of relatively reliable conservative justices over the years—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Rehnquist being prime examples—and some important right-shifting exceptions—notably Felix Frankfurter, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy—the tendency in recent decades to drift leftward has been strong enough to gain both popular and scholarly attention. Indeed, Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has suggested that about one quarter of confirmed nominees over the last half century have wound up “evolving from conservative to moderate or liberal.”

 

Richard Nixon, for instance, thought he was getting solid right-wingers when he appointed Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell, only to find, several years later, Blackmun authoring Roe v. Wade and Powell swing-voting to permit affirmative action in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Coincidentally, in Bakke, Justice John Paul Stevens—then a recent Gerald Ford appointee—wrote a dissent joined by the court’s most conservative members, though a few decades later he would emerge as the most consistently liberal voice on the bench.

Justices O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy—though they remain tied to their conservative mainstays on certain issues, such as federalism—both seem to have embarked on similar leftward journeys, particularly with respect to individual rights and liberties. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, O’Connor struck a resoundingly conservative chord in her early opinions on women’s and racial-minority rights, only to join with liberal colleagues in cases touching on the same issues over the last 15 years—most strikingly in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe’s central holding, and Grutter v. Bollinger, which vindicated a law-school affirmative-action program. Kennedy, also a Reagan appointee, was initially celebrated by conservatives as “Bork without the beard.” Yet he later provided key votes to knock down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas and overturn the death penalty for juveniles in Roper v. Simmons—prompting Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, to rechristen him “the most dangerous man in America.”

There is no doubt that the presidential nomination process greatly influences the large-scale jurisprudential trends in expected directions. Still, that a Supreme Court appointment is both so important—in President Bush’s words, “one of the most consequential decisions a president makes”—and so scrutinized, casts the many examples of unpredicted drift as a real mystery. Why are presidents, and other backers, so often disappointed by the eventual performance of their nominees? And why do so many Supreme Court justices drift to the left, especially on matters of individual rights?

One fashionable theory is that, in our post-Borkean world, presidents must put forward nominees who can survive the contentious confirmation process—thus, ones who have shorter paper trails and less ideological baggage. This “advice and consent” bottleneck allows through only candidates with unpredictable judicial dispositions.

While this has some validity, presidential buyer’s remorse is as old as the process itself and may develop even when a president nominates a lifelong ally or a well-known public figure. By the time of his nomination, Earl Warren had established himself as a dedicated conservative: he had been the attorney general and three-term Republican governor of California and Thomas Dewey’s running mate in the famously narrow loss to Harry Truman and Alben Barkley. In short, Earl Warren hardly seemed an unknown quantity when Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him as Chief Justice in 1953; and yet it was Earl Warren—the same Earl Warren who as attorney general during World War II backed the internment of Japanese citizens —who as chief justice inaugurated a liberal revolution on the court and became a champion of minority rights.”

To read the full body of the article just go online and use the article’s title as your search term.

Now, back to judge Kavanaugh:

That having been said earlier I still think it is important to know if Judge Kavanaugh has any skeletons hanging in his closet. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was very compelling to say the least. In this situation a real investigation needs to be carried out if not by the FBI then perhaps in conjunction with a Congressional investigating committee. Perhaps then either Judge Kavanaugh will be vindicated or he won’t. As Sgt. Joe Friday said in Dragnet long ago, “Just show me the facts, ma’am.”

After the 2020 election install new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court for a total of 15 justices. It’s also important to require a 2/3 vote in the Senate in order to confirm and approve any nominee for the highest court in the land

Rationale

When Roosevelt was reelected in 1936 he had to deal with a Supreme Court that wouldn’t pass his New Deal legislation. He did this by getting passed the 1937 Judicial Procedures Reform Bill. What this bill did was to require all justices on the court to retire at age 70.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about how many justices can compose the court. The number of justices we have now is simply based on prior arbitrary decisions of the U.S. government. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t necessarily have to be composed of just 9 justices.

Roosevelt’s “packing the court plan” worked and a host of New Deal legislation was subsequently approved by the highest court. One could argue that Roosevelt’s political interference to subvert the highest court in the land isn’t any different than current Republican attempts to pack the court with ultra-conservative tainted judges. They’ve done everything they can to subvert an honest process by having no real investigation done by the FBI, hiding Kavanaugh documents during his time with the Bush administration, and only half-heartedly, if at all, showing respect toward witnesses and victims of sexual battery, lewd licentious behavior, and attempted rape.

Goal   

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Objectives

Create a New Tax Plan for the Country

All individual tax rates should be 10%. All Corporate tax rates should go back to 35%. Since January 1, 2018 corporate tax rates are a flat 21%. We can thank the Trump tax plan for that boondoggle. If one adds corporate tax monies that are hidden overseas a lot of tax money is lost by the American people.

All small businesses’ tax rates should be 10%. However, a corporation or small business could reduce their tax burden conditional upon the number and percent of new hires over the number and percent of new hires in the previous tax year. The greater the number and percent of new hires—the greater the tax relief provided.

In these two types of business entities taxes are conditional on results, not promises. In this way all businesses would be incentivized because of conditionality. I recommend small business owners bear a much smaller tax burden since they employ the vast number of workers in this country. Simultaneously, the minimum hourly wage should become $20 an hour, effective January 1, 2020.

Enact a Brand New Immigration Policy with an Ellis Island Approach to integrating non-citizens into society and help them become American citizens.

Under this plan racial or religious profiling as criteria for admission to the United States is dead. Unlike Ellis Island in New York during the early 1900s and before, the 21st Century will require one Processing Center to be along the Canadian border, another in El Paso, Texas, and a third Processing Center near Los Angeles, California.

Develop a Proven and Effective Ground to Air and Sea to Air Missile Defense Program

There is a great need for the 116th Congress to play a leadership role with respect to a viable effective Missile Defense Program. This issue has been a bi-partisan issue that both Democrats and Republicans have worked toward.

The new Congress needs to stay on top of this issue. Given the importance of protecting the nation during an actual nuclear strike by a foreign power, efforts must proactively be implemented including the once defunct Star Wars Program originally proposed by President Reagan. However, it’s time to come into the 21th Century. Call such a program the new Strategic Missile Defense Program or NSMDP. A broader title might be SHIELD, which could apply to all systems directed at countering incoming missiles.

Create a One-Payer Health Care System for all Americans

Currently, Medicare is a single-payer national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. federal government.

It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system through the payroll tax. It also provides health insurance to younger people with some disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Medicare is currently funded by a combination of a payroll tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, and general revenue.

Under this objective the Bernie Sanders model should be enacted into law. It will include a viable and enriched health care benefit system and put every citizen under Medicare. In addition, affordable supplemental insurance could augment anyone’s Medicare program especially for long term care and in-home health care services.

A new enriched Medicare program must provide all medical services from Surgery to Psychiatry. In addition, all drugs, especially ground-breaking experimental cancer drugs will be free-of-charge to everyone covered under Medicare or Medicaid. The federal budget for all medical research should also be quadrupled over current governmental allocations. This is America; therefore we ought to have the best healthcare in the world bar none

Now money is realistically always an issue. I recommend a very first time ever federal national sales tax of 5 percent. Why? The GDP in 2020 will be an estimated 22.23 trillion dollars. Using a 2020 time frame a 5% sales tax would annually raise 1.1115 trillion dollars. But as everyone knows, health care costs are estimated to be 17.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

That 17.9 percent would represent about 3.3 trillion dollars in 2020. Said another way, health care in this country is astronomically expensive. However, mandatory spending cuts by the Trump administration had eliminated a net $2,033 billion (B) over the 2018–2027 periods. This included reduced spending of $1,891B for healthcare, mainly due to the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). Republicans failed to repeal the ACA.

Doing the math 1,891 billion is actually 1.891 trillion dollars. When you add this amount to my sales tax plan, we now have 3.002 trillion dollars which comes close to the 3.3 trillion in healthcare costs. Last year under the Trump administration corporations paid only approximately $400 billion in taxes when corporations still had a tax rate was 35%.  Going back to a 35% tax rate for corporations would close the gap or short-fall. Theoretically, the 3.4 trillion in revenues could be dedicated exclusively to healthcare.

However, obviously my “steal from Peter in order to pay Paul” idea does need a lot of work. Anyone with viable ideas would be welcome to express them in some kind of forum. But this is getting to the heart of what politics is really all about—making hard decisions about scarce resources; it is an ominous responsibility.

Whether one is a Democrat, Republican or Independent, we all need good quality healthcare. Therefore, the 116th Congress has got its work cut out for it. I wish I had better more definitive answers for my readers on the issue of health care and its cost, but I don’t. It is a hard nut to crack. It is doable but will require really tough resource and tax decisions.

Institute a New National Call-in Center for Identifying Hate Groups and White Nationalists

This Call-in Center needs to be directly under the Control of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The “eyes and ears” of 300+ million citizens is much better than a simple string of agency generated leads or criminal acts or events after the fact. In particular, people in rural areas of the country will be pivotal to detecting and reporting hate militia groups hiding in the forests or mountain areas of the U.S. landscape.

Pass a New Law for all 50 states to adopt the Gun Law Restrictions of California and/or Massachusetts

As a registered gun owner from California I can say I had to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to buy my guns. I use my guns primarily for target practice and home protection.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with strong gun laws. Guns should not be in the hands of everybody. And safety is job one for me. Massachusetts has the best most restrictive gun laws in the nation; California is second. Guns are never going to disappear as they are protected by the Second Amendment. You should read former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s case response to District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008). This was a landmark case that made a lot of sense. The Associated Press reported the following back in 2015 following Scalia’s death:

“Opponents of a ban on the kinds of military-style weapons often used in spree killings – most recently in San Bernardino – often say that denying civilians the right to own such guns would violate their Second Amendment rights, or that it is not possible in any case to define such weapons in law.

So let’s turn to an undisputed conservative – one who opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action and so many other liberal agenda items. Is it possible to define the kinds of weapons that should not be in civilian hands, and does regulating them violate the Second Amendment?

Here is Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court reversed a long-held position and ruled that the Second Amendment did give Americans individual right to own firearms. The court said the District’s ban on handguns in private homes went too far, but that regulation of gun ownership was compatible with the Second Amendment:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. ‘Miller’ said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U.S., at 179, 59 S. Ct. 816. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

 

Justice Scalia also wrote:

 

“It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

The prefatory clause, to which the justice refers, of course, is the one about “a well-regulated militia.” The AR-15, used in San Bernardino, is an M-16 knockoff. unusual’ and subject to regulation or an outright ban under the Second Amendment.” So rather than saying “assault weapons,” in the future perhaps we should say “the kinds of weapons that Justice Antonin Scalia has defined as ‘dangerous.

The Mission of the New 116th Congress will be to bring suit where necessary when dangerous weapons are involved. This tact of specificity when creating regulatory legislation (with citations referring to District of Columbia vs. Heller) just might bear fruit.

 

 Double or triple the resources of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in order to investigate all civilian shootings by a Police Officer in the United States

Nearly 1,000 people are killed by police every year in the United States. Putting local police or local district attorneys in charge of investigating their own is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house. It makes no sense at all. All investigations of these killings need objectivity and impartiality. The FBI has several thousand agents nationwide. If they need more agents to investigate killings by police officers—then so be it!

 

Goal

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

Objectives

Make a Formal Apology to our Allies

In addition, after Trump is removed by the 116th Congress it needs to make an unprecedented gesture to the world—a heartfelt apology to all our allies around the world for our countries colossal error in judgment for electing a total buffoon to the White House. Both a verbal and written proclamation of regret needs to be promulgated to the entire world, and in a timely manner.

Institute a strong policy of coordination among the Congressional Judiciary Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to surveil all U.S. Congressmen, Senators, and Federal Court Judges for any corruption.

In conjunction with this, a new Cabinet level Czar of Government Ethics needs to be created with powers of investigation, promulgation of facts, and the authorization to censor, terminate employment, or otherwise convene a grand Jury to charge those whose ethics violations rise to the level of criminality.

In addition any current statutes on Moral Turpitude would now include crimes of omission as well as crimes of commission. As an example of moral turpitude involving crimes of omission consider the example of Representative Jim Jordan failing to report sexual abuse of young collegiate wrestlers at Ohio State University during his tenure there as a wrestling coach.

Convince the United Nations to eliminate all countries to the UN that are based on a dictatorship. Work to destroy all dictatorships in the world and their leaders (tyrants)

The United Nations is an institution that needs to defend its own Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark post-World War II proclamation that was passed back in 1948. It was one of the  most prodigious accomplishments of this multi-nation organization. The HR Proclamation laid out what the world needs to stand for. The United Nations stands as a beacon for the world in spite of the fact some countries are unwilling or unable to adopt the explicit Human Rights Declaration that was promulgated to the world.

It is from the pulpit of the U.N. that it needs collectively to stand up for what it believes in. As a world body of nations, it needs to demonstrate real courage. They could make a too long overdue commitment to oust dictatorships from the United Nations, to isolate and topple them from the rest of humanity. That is the goal. One objective that would follow would be to eliminate all dictators and dictatorships altogether from the face of the earth.

Final Thoughts

Having the power to make societal change is an awesome responsibility especially during an era of so many attacks on Democracy and democratic institutions. I can only hope that the gravity of the situation in American, with its utter lack of leadership in Washington D.C. will soon change course. I hope that the new 116th Congress will show real courage, and act quickly, decisively and responsibly.

 

 

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A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both—Dwight David Eisenhower

Some of the objectives I’m about to describe are my political hopes for 2018 are tongue-in-cheek. But some items I am deadly serious about. One hint: I really do want President Trump impeached early in 2018. Some of the other objectives follow from this. It’s up to you to decide whether the ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are something you’d like to see happen in 2018.
This holiday season each of us sees the future as we would personally like it to be. Here are my wishes and hopes for 2018:

Goal: A Better Country and World

Donald Trump is impeached in early 2018 for Obstruction of Justice and other crimes.

The Freedom Caucus is utterly destroyed in the November, 2018 mid-term elections
After November, 2018 Republicans will cease to exist as a viable political party in the United States.
There will be no war with North Korea.
Black Ops from the CIA will be put in charge to do diplomacy with North Korea: Like the Gambino crime family, Black Ops will make Kim Jong-Un “an offer he cannot refuse.”
The people of Russia will overthrow Vladimir Putin.
The people of Iran will overthrow its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights will become World Law for all nations to adhere to.
The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division will put forth the effort to investigate all police shootings in the United States.
Betsy (Elizabeth Dee DeVos), the educational Czar in the Trump Administration, will be fired.
Jim Jordan, the Republican Congressman from Ohio will be impeached along with his other Freedom Cauca’s cronies for Obstruction of Justice.
Core diehard Trump supporters will be deported from the United States for treasonous acts of disloyalty, lack of voter competence and outright un-American values that are anti-thetical to our country’s laws, the United States Constitution, and the principled institutions of our democracy.
The United States government in 2018 will no longer accept the now defunct “Trickle-Down-Economics Theory” of job creation. Instead its Guiding Principle will be [not promises of job creation] but stipulating and connecting tax breaks to actual jobs created. Otherwise, the tax cut money will be treated as a loan to be repaid to the United States government. Said another way No Business or Corporate welfare or gifts allowed. We want results not promises.

If all of these hopes and wishes were to come to fruition in 2018 it would indeed make America Great Again. Below is a little humor to entertain you as we enter 2018.

  • “So enjoy your victory, Trump voters! Because when you’re dying because you don’t have health insurance to treat the infection you got from a back alley abortion you had to get because of fetal lead poisoning, you can say to yourself, ‘At least I didn’t vote for someone with a private email server.'” –Bill Maher
  • “As you know, Trump is being accused of sexual misconduct by a slew of women. Of course, that is a case of ‘he said’ and ‘she said, she said, she said, she said, she said.'” –Jimmy Kimmel
  • “Trump denied the (groping) allegations, calling them ‘ludicrous’ at a rally today. But here’s the problem for Trump: There’s very good reason to believe he did what he’s accused of. Why? Because an irrefutable, inside source told us so: Donald Trump. Donald Trump is his own Deep Throat. He’s Creep Throat.” –Seth Meyers

Enjoy 2018 everyone!!!

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  The Growing Conflict in America

Muslim Americans Living in a Secular Democracy and a Predominately Christian Country

 [A five-part series]

Part V

 

Introduction

 

By way of deception, thou shalt do war. Israel’s Mossad

 

The United States and much of the civilized world in 2016 is increasingly under attack from radical Islam. The purpose of this fundamentalist jihadist ideology has, as its goal, to either kill or convert all people on earth who don’t support their fundamentalist ideology. They have dreams of world conquest and domination, and a desire to make Islam the one and only religion on the planet. And, they want the entire world to be under Sharia Law, regardless of how much barbarian cruelty is involved. They also want the elimination of all civil rights and human rights worldwide.

 

The first part in understanding these attacks and what to do about them is to recognize that the threats themselves fall into two basic categories: (1) threats involving “civilization jihad” being achieved without guns and bombs. This is the rather insidious attempt to slowly infiltrate and convert the United States into an Islamic state through intimidation and the cry of Islamophobia whenever anyone questions their motives. And, (2) the second category of threats involves both violent jihad here in the United States and abroad.

 

In countering these threats, the United States needs to be fully aware of what is going on here and abroad, and no longer be willing to naively put its head in the sand. We must take decisive action now.  

 

Part IV dealt with the reality of the plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to   infiltrate American society and all its institutions in order to slowly convert the United States into an Islamic state.

    

     This Part V will describe my observations and recommendations as to what to do now. Basically, what actions should our country take? There is growing rage by most Americans that is now being directed at radical Islam worldwide.

 

But such rage is beginning to spill over to eradicate and subjugate any and all who want to internally convert the United States into an Islamic state by way of “civilization Jihad.” Unless we are able and willing to confront our enemies here and abroad, our enemies will ultimately devour us.

 

Nature of Threats

 

Threats abroad have involved more than threats themselves, but actual murder of large groups of people such as in Paris, Brussels, Syria, Iraq, and recently in Pakistan. These attacks have injured and maimed thousands of people worldwide.

 

Violence perpetrated by ISIS and other terrorist groups has resulted in the murder, torture and slaughter of Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other ethnic groups. The United Nations has now recognized and spoken out and declared their acts of violence as genocide. Unfortunately, Americans have a short memory. For now, let me give my cyberspace audience a reminder of what has happened.

 

 

Jihadist Violence in America—Remembering the Slain and Injured

What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing.

George S. Patton

War as I Knew it (1947), Part One, Ch. 1

 

There appears to be quite a definite similarity or overlap between what is happening overseas in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and what has happened here in the United States going back to September 11, 2001.

2001—Terror Hits America Big Time

The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks consisted of suicide attacks used to target symbolic U.S. landmarks.

Four passenger airliners—which all departed from airports on the U.S. East Coast bound for California—were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists to be flown into buildings. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed, with debris and the resulting fires causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, including the 47-story 7 World Trade Center tower, as well as significant damage to ten other large surrounding structures.

A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense) in Arlington County, Virginia, leading to a partial collapse in the Pentagon’s western side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, initially was steered toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.

In total, the attacks claimed the lives of 2,996 people (including the 19 hijackers) and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage and $3 trillion in total costs. It was the deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed respectively.

Suspicion for the attack quickly fell on al-Qaeda. The United States responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror and invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had harbored al-Qaeda.

Many countries strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent terrorist attacks. Although al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, initially denied any involvement, in 2004 he claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as motives. Having evaded capture for almost a decade, bin Laden was located and killed by members of the U.S. military in May, 2011.

Jihadist Attacks on America since 9/11

Today we have a similar situation with Islamic Jihadist attacks; the Boston Marathon Jihadist attack that killed 4 people and injured many others; the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood that killed 13 soldiers and wounded 30 others; the July 15, 2015 attack by a Jihadist at a military recruiting facility and naval center killing four marines and one sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee; the carnage that occurred with the death of 14 citizens and many more wounded, in San Bernardino, California; and, as recently as January 7, 2016, a professed jihadist tried to murder a Philadelphia police officer shooting the officer 11 times. Fortunately, the officer chased him, and then fired back wounding the assailant.

And, internationally, all of this was preceded in 2015 by Jihadist attacks in Paris, France that killed 130 people; Beirut Lebanon where 40 were killed and 200 others injured at a university; a hotel in Mali where 20 were killed; and the downing of a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai desert that murdered 224 passengers.

With all these attacks by radical jihadist Muslim extremists, fear has once again gripped the entire nation. But, so have anger and finally the willingness of our nation to put itself on a war-footing with radical Islamic jihad, whether there is a formal declaration of war or not. If there was a formal declaration of war made by the United States Congress, the country would give the President the powers to engage the enemy with all its might, including strategic nuclear weapons.

What is the Strategy to Terminate the Enemy Abroad?

 

The best way to describe the strategy abroad to defeat ISIS is to first discuss President Obama’s original plan disclosed in September, 2014. It is also important to report on the progress to prosecute the war since then.

 

The President revealed a 4- point plan described as follows:

  1. U.S. airstrikes: Obama said such attacks have already been successful against al-Qaeda in Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.
  2. Support to foreign ground forces: He vowed to send 475 more U.S. troops to Iraq to support local security forces as well as provide military equipment and training to Syrian rebels.
  3. Counterterrorism: The U.S. will work with allies on intelligence and programs to prevent foreign fighters from joining ISIS.
  4. Humanitarian assistance: Aid will go to Muslim, Christian and religious minorities in danger of being driven out of their homes by ISIS.

He stressed the strategy was different than the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

The President stated in his meeting at the White House at that time, “But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists, who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

Current Fight against ISIS in the Middle East

As of early February, 2016 much progress has been made since inception of President Obama’s original 4-point plan a year and a half earlier. This progress includes:

(1)  10,000 strategic air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but also ongoing for years in Yemen and Somalia.in Africa.

(2)  Because of the air campaign strikes, ISIS now has 40% less territory in Iraq and Syria than it did before the campaign. The leadership of ISIS and individual commander’s lives are, on a daily basis, being terminated by American Special Forces, precision air strikes and drones, and also because of increased intelligence gathering and information sharing among all the coalition partners.

(3)  Coalition partners are now making greater contributions to the war effort to destroy ISIS in terms of logistics, ground forces and some humanitarian aid for refugees.

(4)  The money supply for paying ISIS fighters has been cut in half by a precision strike in the city of Mosul. Also ISIS’ finance director, a long time jihadist, was killed in an air strike.

(5)  ISIS is now confronting a shortage of new recruits for ISIS forces.

(6)  New territory is reclaimed by coalition forces every day and roads are being controlled which prevent ISIS from replenishing their own needs.

(7)  Two cities are soon to be reclaimed, and ISIS fighters will be captured or killed. They include the main headquarters city of Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul in northern Iraq near the Turkey border. As soon as these cities are re-taken the others will begin to fall like dominoes.

 

     The above progress cited strongly suggests that President Obama’s plan has succeeded a great deal in the war against ISIS. I believe however that there may be some fine-tuning of his basic approach to destroying and defeating ISIS that may expedite its completion as well as deal with its long-term effects.

 

     Consequently, I’d like to suggest both a short term and a longer term approach to defeating ISIS militarily, but also crippling it from returning in the future.

 

Short-Term Approach

 

First, there is the problem that ISIS fighters are perniciously embedded with Muslim or other captives. Second, ISIS also has a total malevolent stranglehold on the cities it has captured.

 

In my opinion greater use of psychological warfare needs to be employed against ISIS since ISIS morale is at an all-time low due to the precision killing of their leaders, not getting paid as much because of air strikes in Mosul that destroyed their money supply, and knowing that 40% of their forces have been destroyed by airstrikes since 2014.

 

 

In this war, which was total in every sense of the word, we have seen many great changes in military science.  It seems to me that not the least of these was the development of psychological warfare as a specific and effective weapon.

General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

In my opinion, no plan of psychological warfare is ever perfect, but credibility, even when it’s based on a lie, is the key to effective deception. The first step in taking ISIS cities, large or small, is to surround them on all sides so there is no way for ISIS fighters to escape. U.S. warplanes and coalition warplanes can assist in tracking and killing ISIS fighters who try to escape. In addition, in the case of cities like Mosul, Raqqa, Fallujah, and others, all water, food, electricity, and drug sources need to be stopped. U.S. Special Forces could be very useful in carrying out these missions. In addition, the ISIS fighters must not be allowed to sleep. PA systems need to produce very loud irritating blasts of sound 24/7.

 

Psychological drugs have been given to ISIS fighters and others in the past to make them willing to die for their cause without regard to their own safety or desire to live. In essence, when under the influence of drugs supplied by their leadership, they do not fear death. Without a source for these drugs an individual’s greatest need is to survive. Down deep they value their own life.

 

Leaflets would then be dropped on the cities to give ISIS fighters a chance to live. A timeline is made clear to these fighters by giving them 24 hours before a horrible death awaits them. They will be told in the leaflet that they must release all captives in that 24 hour period before hostilities of an unusual nature will occur. If they do, they are told their lives will be spared.

 

You don’t tell them what this horrible death will be; you leave that to their imagination. They will stew during the 24 hours (just a bit of psychological terror). At 24 hours, if they don’t surrender and release the hostages, high-flying crop dusters will go to work spraying the city below with a white powder laced with an active, yet mild form of the influenza strain.

 

In another 24-36 hours people in the city will begin to get sick.

 

ISIS Fighters will be made to think (another leaflet) that you’ve just dropped Ricin (Ricin is very toxic. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans. It can be made in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.) to give them that horrible death. Their own imagination will create in their minds their own worst nightmare.

 

Then begins the waiting game whereby inhabitants begin to suffer the symptoms of influenza (weakness, high temperature, throwing up, diarrhea, that over-all crappy feeling). Without food and water they will soon begin to hallucinate, amplified by their own fear of impending death.

 

They are told over the blasting PA system that medical attention is there for them if they surrender. At this point deception is followed by a “grand lie.” The enemy is told what they have.

 

We broadcast a message that they have been infected with ricin. They are told that in the next few hours they will begin foaming at the mouth and convulsions will soon occur. They are told, however, that if they surrender, then medical attention will help them survive.

 

If ISIS fighters resist anyway, then snipers should be used to pick off any who resist. At this moment tank fire will begin to bombard the city on all sides. Streets will be hit by the shells, not buildings where people are hiding.

 

If all this fails to get ISIS to surrender then recapturing forces would then begin to target buildings with tank fire from every direction. If they try to use captives as shields, snipers will need to separate the “wheat from the chaff.”

 

What I’ve described is just one scenario on how to extricate an enemy from a city using psychological warfare. If ISIS fighters want to die in the end for Allah, then we can help them do that. As General Patton said during WWII, “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

 

This is not of course WWII. ISIS does not have a country; what it does have is an Islamic State trying to overtake other countries and impose their will and their own ideology. Once we kill their Caliphate, tensions in the Middle East may get much better. For now their numbers are dwindling, and it’s time to strike a fatal blow in every city that ISIS, al-Qaeda, or Boko Haram is holding.

Long Term Approach

 

When the shooting ends the war is not over. All survivors from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa need to be helped with aid. Survivors will help us and others to bring all ISIS fighters, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram enemies, and their leaders, to a war crimes tribunal. Survivors will identify and give testimony before these tribunal courts. Court judges will be appointed by the respective presidents from the United States, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Belgium. Rather than being held in The Hague in the Netherlands, these trials should be held in Iraq.

 

Following these initial trials, there needs to be a relentless multi-national approach to track down and capture those enemy combatants or supporters, who fell through the cracks. This would be similar to the efforts made after World War II to track down and capture Nazi war criminals. This process may need to be conducted for many years to come.

 

In addition, the United States needs to end all foreign aid to any country in the Middle East or Africa (ally or not) who supports in any way Sharia Law. Nation building gets a “bad rap” these days, but we must find ways to eliminate or get rid of Islamic religious law (Sharia Law) from the face of the earth. And, in America, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights needs to be in every textbook in America from K-12. All education of Muslim American children need to have all textbooks and teaching materials approved by a secular State Board of Education. All public and private school education in the United States needs to be reviewed every year.

 

 

What is the Strategy to Terminate “Civilization Jihad” at Home?

 

I reported in Part III of this series this piece of social science research finding, i.e., “At the present time, 51% of Muslim Americans, according to the Gatestone Institute (an international policy council), want or would prefer they be governed by Sharia Law.”

 

I find this statistical evidence very troubling. Why? Because it adds fuel to the fire that slightly more than 50% of Muslim Americans prefer Islam’s political aspects of superiority to all other religions and promotes a disingenuous pretense of moderation including perhaps a disdain for America’s laws including the United States Constitution. If more than half of all Muslims in the United States feel this way—we indeed have a very serious problem.

 

There are, of course, wide differences of opinion in the Muslim American Community whereby 49% of those surveyed don’t necessarily go along with Islamic religious laws reflected in the Koran any more than Christians buy into the Old Testament as representing “real Christianity.” The idea of the Old Testament in Christianity is looked upon, even by many evangelicals, as rather quaint in today’s world. Likewise, many Muslim Americans think for themselves and reject the “fundamentalist viewpoint” of Islam or any religion for that matter.

 

I am reminded of the true distinction (See Part IV) of importance pointed out by Robert Spencer who wrote the book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. In his book he said, “Those who are working to advance the subjugation of non-Muslims are not doing it solely by violent means. The common distinction between ‘radical’ and ‘moderate’ Muslims has generally been made between those who are engaged in blowing things up or are plotting to do so, and those who are not. However, the evidence presented in this book shows that the distinction ought to be placed elsewhere: between those Muslims who believe that Islamic law is the perfect system for human society and who are working by whatever means to impose that Islamic law, and those Muslims who support Western pluralistic governments and seek to live with non-Muslims as equals, under secular law, on an indefinite basis.”

 

Plan to Terminate or Disembowel “Civilization Jihadists” in the United States.

 

Because half of Muslim Americans prefer Sharia law to the laws in America, it is clear that these citizens may need to be under close and constant surveillance. In addition, our laws on treason need to be revised and expanded under the Patriot Act to include “civilization Jihad” as Treason.

 

Anyone who plans to overthrow the United States government by whatever means, is guilty of treason and would be subject to the death penalty. Such individuals or organizations in a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the United States by violent or “civilization jihad” means would all be subject to asset forfeiture and confiscation of all properties thereof. This will get the point across to those who want to promote Sharia law in the United States that they will be caught, subject to the harshest of laws, and if found guilty will be subject to very long prison sentences and, following that—deportation from the United States.

 

Where Muslim front groups are concerned, the Justice Department, FBI, and Homeland Security need to make greater use of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate or require scrutiny of all funds in and out of these organizations on a regular basis.

 

The FBI should join forces with the Internal Revenue Service to track where such money is coming from and going to. Rather than wasting resources, the 160 current FBI agents dedicated to investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server account, could be more wisely, prudently, judiciously, and effectively utilized to fight against this internal threat from civilization jihad.

 

Nearly half of all Muslim Americans are pissed off that political jihadists had high-jacked their religion of Islam. Given that Sharia Law is an integral part of Islam, the time has now been reached whereby the social cement of oppression and contamination by Sharia Law should be eradicated or purged worldwide including right here in the United States. Twenty-five states already have proposals, laws or pending legislation to eliminate Sharia Law in the United States.

 

What must be promoted is a kind of “democracy jihad” in reverse. The United States needs very much to make disincentives meaningful against all countries in the world that use Sharia Law. The country can start by ending all foreign aid to all countries that use Sharia Law. As they say, “What goes around comes around.”

 

We Need Muslim American Support

 

 

It will be critical to the country’s effort to destroy our internal threat of “civilization jihad” by enlisting the help and support of the Muslim Reform Movement. Zuhdi Jasser, who has been a target of the Muslim Brotherhood, is co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.

 

Here are their declarations or what they stand for:

Origin of Muslim Reform Movement

Declaration of the Muslim Reform Movement / Signed by AIFD (December 4, 2015)

Preamble

     We are Muslims who live in the 21st century. We stand for a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam. We are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal must defeat the ideology of Islamism, or politicized Islam, which seeks to create Islamic states, as well as an Islamic caliphate. We seek to reclaim the progressive spirit with which Islam was born in the 7th century to fast forward it into the 21st century. We support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by United Nations member states in 1948.   

     We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. Facing the threat of terrorism, intolerance, and social injustice in the name of Islam, we have reflected on how we can transform our communities based on three principles: peace, human rights and secular governance. We are announcing today the formation of an international initiative: the Muslim Reform Movement.

     We have courageous reformers from around the world who have written our Declaration for Muslim Reform, a living document that we will continue to enhance as our journey continues. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.

DECLARATION

 

  1. Peace: National Security, Counterterrorism and Foreign Policy
  2. We stand for universal peace, love and compassion. We reject violent jihad. We believe we must target the ideology of violent Islamist extremism, in order to liberate individuals from the scourge of oppression and terrorism both in Muslim-majority societies and the West.
  3. We stand for the protection of all people of all faiths and non-faith who seek freedom from dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists.
  4. We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.

 

  1. Human Rights: Women’s Rights and Minority Rights
  2. We stand for human rights and justice. We support equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities. We support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
  3. We reject tribalism, castes, monarchies and patriarchies and consider all people equal with no birth rights other than human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Muslims don’t have an exclusive right to “heaven.”
  4. We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny.

 

  1. Secular Governance: Freedom of Speech and Religion
  2. We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations in which we live. We reject the idea of the Islamic state. There is no need for an Islamic caliphate. We oppose institutionalized sharia. Sharia is manmade.
  3. We believe in life, joy, free speech and the beauty all around us. Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights. We reject blasphemy laws. They are a cover for the restriction of freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual’s right to participate equally in ijtihad, or critical thinking, and we seek a revival of ijtihad.
  4. We believe in freedom of religion and the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation, persecution, discrimination or violence. Apostasy is not a crime. Our ummah–our community–is not just Muslims, but all of humanity.

 

Final Comments

This entire five-part series has been to bring some clarity to the current war against radical Islam in the United States and abroad. We are at times between a “rock and a hard place.” That is, on the one hand Islamophobia is real and needs to be curtailed; less innocent Muslims may fear for their lives and are subject to unwarranted and unfair persecution. On the other hand, there are Muslim Americans who would prefer a more fundamentalist perspective on Islam, and want to turn our country into an Islamic state.

Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers, once wrote “give me liberty or give me death.” Liberty and freedom are not free—it comes with a cost. And that cost is vigilance, tenaciousness and the willingness to take anyone on.

Whether we believe it or not, democrats and republicans both love freedom and democracy. We just have differences of opinion as to how to protect our freedoms and defend this country. The things we take for granted such as civil rights, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, often times need protection during times of war but also when there seems to be no apparent threats to the country at all.

This time in the 21st Century, in this country, there are definite threats to our way of life. Nobody can ask you to put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily in this position. We depend on others such as law enforcement, the military, and our government to protect us. But this dependency on others all the time is what leaves us most vulnerable to harm—more than you think. It is time to get your buried head out of the sand and stand up and be tough and resilient. Never has there ever been a time for the nation to pull itself together against our enemies here and abroad.

As I said in Part I in this series, “Americans are not weaklings; Americans are tough, extremely resilient, tenacious and strong-willed. As a nation we are protective of our people, our laws, institutions, and the supreme law of the land—the United States Constitution.” I am reminded again of a famous 20th Century quote from Winston Churchill. It is also a good idea from our perspective in the 21st Century.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

 

Winston Churchill

 

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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. 

 

Read Full Post »

Taking Aim at Violence against Children

Part III

Child Sex Trafficking

Bullying

Corporal Punishment in the Schools

 

Introduction

Part III of this four-part series is about child sex trafficking, bullying, and corporal punishment in the schools.  All of these areas pertain to violence perpetrated against children in the United States. Some predators in this country are out there lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to harm children. Some of these predators are in plain sight like the classroom of many schools. Some of these are simply bullies on the playground, or who also use the internet as a proxy for bullying. Some predators are pragmatic, looking to lure or abduct children for sex trafficking.

School is supposed to be a safe haven for children where learning and educational growth takes place. Unfortunately, what the public believes about schools is not what really takes place there. Predators of all kinds are in waiting for your child to come to school. There are administrators and teachers who are sexual predators by molesting children under their charge. There are female teachers who have been added to state sex offender registration files following arrest and conviction for having sex with their students (usually teenage boys). There are male teachers and coaches who have also been arrested for molesting children (Does Pennsylvania State University and Sandusky come to mind?). School is supposed to be safe for children; sometimes it isn’t.

Child Sex Trafficking

Child sex trafficking is the recruitment, smuggling, transporting, harboring, buying or selling of a child through force, threats, fraud, deception, or coercion for the purposes of exploitation, prostitution, pornography, migrant work, sweat shops, domestic servitude, forced labor, bondage, peonage or involuntary servitude.

Child sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. UNICEF values the global market of child sex trafficking at over $12 billion a year with over 2 million child victims. Trafficking children into the sex industry is done because there is a demand. Predators seek out vulnerable victims and lure them under false pretenses into situations they cannot escape. No matter the reason, children have become sexual commodities to be bought and sold for the pleasure of exploiters. These children are scarred for life and need help.

Sex trafficking exists within the broader commercial sex trade, often at much larger rates than most people realize or understand.  Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues of the overall sex industry, including residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution.

Those committing sex trafficking frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry.

Child Trafficking Statistics

  • Child/Human Trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Child/ human trafficking is the  world’s second largest criminal enterprise, after drugs. U.S. State Department
  • The global market of child trafficking is over $12 billion a year with over 2 million child victims. UNICEF
  • As many as 2.8 million children run away each year in the US. Within 48 hours of hitting the streets, one-third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution and pornography. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • The average age of entry for children victimized by the sex trade industry is 12 years. U.S. Department of Justice
  • Approximately 80% of human trafficking victims are women and girls and up to 50% are minors.  U.S.State Department
  • The average number of victims for non-incestuous pedophiles who molest girls is 20, for pedophiles who prefer boys 100! The Association For the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)
  • 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk every year for commercial sexual exploitation. U.S. Department of Justice
  • 600,000 – 800,000 people are bought and sold across international borders each year; 50% are children, most are female. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade. U.S. Department of State, 2004, Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, D.C.
  • An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year.The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking into the sex industry. U.S. Department of Justice Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons
  • An average serial child molester may have as many as 400 victims in his lifetime. Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Study
  • Child pornography is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States right now.  Nationally, there has been a 2500% increase in arrests in 10 years. FBI
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which helps to identify and locate children in pornography photos and videos, says its staff reviewed more than 10.5 million images in 2009 alone.
  • Reports of exploited children grow every year. In 2009, the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children received more than 120,000 reports on its cyber tip line. In 2010, the number grew to over 160,000 with the vast majority being from child pornography.

Worldwide, 5.5 million children are victims of forced labor and child trafficking. They have been bought and sold, forced into prostitution, or made to work at grueling, dangerous jobs with little or no pay.

To Report Human Trafficking Crimes in Your Area:

For questions, referrals, resources or to report a tip in your area, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or email the organization at NHTRC@PolarisProject.org

 

Bullying

It has been a rather eye-opening experience writing this four-part series to realize sadly that people of all ages and persuasions in our society can really be quite unkind to one another. Bullying isn’t just about children on the playground at school. All throughout one’s life bullying can occur in a number of social contexts including: Cyber bullying, Disability bullying, Gay bullying, Legal bullying, Military bullying, Parental bullying, Prison bullying, School bullying, Sexual bullying, and even Workplace bullying in such areas as academia, blue collar jobs, information technology, medicine, nursing, and teaching.

Because of space limitations, and my emphasis on children, I’m only going to discuss definitions of bullying, psychological characteristics of those who bully, parental bullying, school bullying and discuss the effects of bullying.

In Part IV I will set forth a set of recommendations on how to more effectively take aim at this form of child abuse. Some of the ideas will be my own, but others will come from organizations that want to do something about it.

Definition of Bullying

Bullying is defined as the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. The behavior can be habitual and involve an imbalance of social or physical power. It can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a “target.” Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.

Bullying is detrimental to students’ well-being and development. And, it can take many forms and occurs in many different contexts. A bullying culture can develop in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods. For purposes of this Blog, emphasis will be placed on bullying within the school and its effect on children.

U.S. National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be classified into two categories:

  1. Direct bullying, and
  2. Indirect bullying (which is also known as social aggression).

Psychological Characteristics of Those Who Bully

Studies have shown that envy and resentment may be motives for bullying. Research on the self-esteem of bullies has produced equivocal results. While some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic, bullies can also use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self-esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser feels empowered. Bullies may bully out of jealousy or because they themselves are bullied. Some have argued that a bully reflects the environment of his home, repeating the model he learned from his parents. Sometimes kids who are dominated by their parents often transfer their anger and bully other kids at school or in the neighborhood.

Researchers have identified other risk factors such as depression and personality, as well as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others’ actions as hostile, concern with preserving self-image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions. A combination of these factors may also be causes of this behavior. In one recent study of youth, a combination of antisocial traits and depression was found to be the best predictor of youth violence, whereas video game violence and television violence exposure were not predictive of these behaviors.

According to some researchers, bullies may be inclined toward negativity and perform poorly academically. Dr. Cook says that “a typical bully has trouble resolving problems with others and also has trouble academically. He or she usually has negative attitudes and beliefs about others, feels negatively toward him or herself, comes from a family environment characterized by conflict and poor parenting, perceives school as negative, and is negatively influenced by peers.”

Parental Bullying

Parents who may displace their anger, insecurity, or a persistent need to dominate and control, upon their children in excessive ways have been proven to increase the likelihood that their own children will in turn become overly aggressive or controlling towards their peers.

The American Psychological Association advises on its website that parents who may suspect that their own children may be engaging in bullying activities amongst their peers, should carefully consider the examples which they themselves may be setting for their own children, regarding how they typically interact with their own peers, colleagues, and children.

Do the parents typically motivate their peers and their children with positive and self-confidence building incentives, or do they most often attempt to motivate their peers and children with certain “threats” of one form of “punishment” or “reprisal” or another (emotional or physical blackmail)?

Research indicates that adults who bully have authoritarian personalities, combined with a strong need to control or dominate. It has also been suggested that a prejudicial view of subordinates can be a particularly strong risk factor.

School Bullying

Bullying can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it may occur more frequently in physical education classes and activities, recess, hallways, bathrooms, on school buses and while waiting for buses, and in classes that require group work and/or after school activities.

One factor that is often overlooked is that the bully has an overall inferiority complex.  No matter what the social context, the bully often is actually a coward masquerading as a tough guy.

Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of or isolating one student in particular and gaining the loyalty of bystanders who want to avoid becoming the next victim. These bullies may taunt and tease their target before physically bullying the target. Bystanders may participate or watch, sometimes out of fear of becoming the next victim.

Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers and the school system itself: There is an inherent power differential in the system that can easily predispose to subtle or covert abuse such as passive aggression, humiliation, or exclusion — even while maintaining overt commitments to anti-bullying policies.

Effects of Bullying on Those Who are Targets

Mona O’Moore of the Anti-Bullying Centre at Trinity College in Dublin, has written, “There is a growing body of research which indicates that individuals, whether child or adult, who are persistently subjected to abusive behavior are at risk of stress related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide.” Those who have been the targets of bullying can suffer from long term emotional and behavioral problems. Bullying can cause loneliness, depression, anxiety, lead to low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness.

Bullying has also been shown to cause maladjustment in young children, and victims of bullying who were also bullies themselves exhibit even greater social difficulties. In the long term it can lead to posttraumatic stress syndrome and an inability to form relationships.

There is evidence that bullying increases the risk of suicide. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 children commit suicide every year in the UK alone, because they are being bullied. Bullied students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold carried out the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Since then, bullying has been more closely linked to high school violence in general.

Serial killers were frequently bullied through direct and indirect methods as children or adolescents. Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer and diagnosed psychopath, said the ridicule and rejection he suffered as a child caused him to hate everyone. Kenneth Bianchi, a serial killer and member of the Hillside Stranglers, was teased as a child because he urinated in his pants and suffered twitching, and as a teenager was ignored by his peers.

Corporal Punishment in the Schools

Incidence of Corporal Punishment in the United States

In 2008, 223,190 students received corporal punishment in schools in the 20 remaining states that allow hitting or hurting students. The top ten states in administering corporal punishment included:

Texas (49,197)

Mississippi (38,131)

Alabama (33,716)

Arkansas (22,314)

Georgia (18,249)

Oklahoma (14,828)

Tennessee (14,568)

Louisiana (11,080)

Florida (7,185)

Missouri (5,159)

The top five states listed above accounted for 72.4% of the number of children who were victimized by corporal punishment. All five top states in corporal punishment in 2008 were Red States in the 2012 presidential election. Of the top 10 states in corporal punishment 9 out of 10 of these states were Red States in the 2012 election.

Impact of Corporal Punishment

One area of logical importance is to answer the question, what impact does Corporal Punishment have on academic success of students? On April 15, 2010 a joint HRW/ACLU statement was made in a hearing before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities. The title of their statement fits in very nicely with my question. The title of the statement was “Corporal Punishment in Schools and Its Effect on Academic Success.”

I. Introduction

Dear Chairperson McCarthy, Ranking Member Platts, and Members of the Subcommittee:

On behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), its over half a million members, countless additional supporters and activists, and fifty-three affiliates nationwide and Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, we applaud the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities for conducting a hearing concerning the ongoing corporal punishment of American public school children and its impact on their educational success.

The ACLU is a nationwide, non-partisan organization working daily in courts, Congress, and communities to defend and preserve the civil rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.  For thirty years, Human Rights Watch has investigated human rights violations wherever they occur, including in the United States, exposed the perpetrators, and advocated for change. We are pleased to submit this written statement for the record on the issue of corporal punishment in public schools – a vitally important issue affecting children’s access to high-quality education and a safe and supportive learning atmosphere.

II. The Ongoing Use of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students are subjected to corporal punishment in public schools.[1]  Despite the many problems associated with the hitting or paddling of students, corporal punishment is a legal form of school discipline in 20 states.[2]  Of these, thirteen states have reported that corporal punishment was inflicted on over one thousand students[3] — and eight states reported its use against at least ten thousand students[4]— during the 2006-2007 school year. While significant, these numbers do not tell the whole story.  These statistics only reflect data which has been reported to the Department of Education and they only include the number of students who are subjected to corporal punishment during the school year, not the total number of times that an individual student has been hit over his or her educational career.[5]

Aside from the infliction of pain and the physical injuries which often result from the use of physical punishments, these violent disciplinary methods also impact students’ academic achievement and long-term well-being.[6]  Despite significant evidence that corporal punishment is detrimental to a productive learning environment, there is currently no federal prohibition on the use of physical discipline against children in public school.  In fact, children in some states receive greater protections against corporal punishment in detention facilities than they do in their public schools.[7]  For this reason and others, the ACLU and HRW are encouraged that this subcommittee is seeking to address the problems stemming from corporal punishment in schools.

III. The Disproportionate Use of Corporal Punishment

Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately subjected to corporal punishment, hampering their access to a supportive learning environment.  According to the Department of Education, while African Americans make up 17.1 percent of public school students nationwide, they accounted for 35.6 percent of those who were paddled during the 2006-2007 school year.[8] In A Violent Education and Impairing Education, two joint reports published by the ACLU and HRW detailing the effects of corporal punishment in public schools, interviewees noted the disproportionate application of corporal punishment:

  • One Mississippi high school student described the administration of corporal punishment in her school this way: “every time you walk down the hall you see a black kid getting whipped. I would say out of the whole school there are only about three white kids who have gotten paddled.”[9]
  • A Mississippi teacher also noted the racial disparity in the administration of corporal punishment: “I’ve heard this said at my school and at other schools: ‘this child should get less whips, it’ll leave marks.’ Students that are dark-skinned, it takes more to let their skin be bruised. Even with all black students, there is an imbalance: darker-skinned students get worse punishment. This really affected me, being a dark-skinned person myself.”[10]

Evidence shows that students with disabilities are also disproportionally subjected to corporal punishment. The Department of Education has reported that although students with disabilities constitute 13.7 percent of all public school students, they make up 18.8 percent of those who are subjected to corporal punishment.[11]  In many of these cases, students were punished for exhibiting behaviors related to their disabilities, such as autism or Tourette’s syndrome.[12]  The effects of corporal punishment on students with disabilities can dramatically impact their behavior and hamper their academic performance. In Impairing Education, parents and grandparents of students with disabilities noted the changes in behavior and barriers to educational achievement stemming from the use of corporal punishment:

  • A grandmother of a student who has Asperger’s syndrome withdrew him from his Oklahoma school in part because of the hostile environment stemming from frequent use of corporal punishment: “It made him much more introverted. He very much didn’t want to go to school . . . No one’s supposed to go to school to be tortured, school is supposed to be fun.” [13]
  • A mother of a student with autism reported that her son’s behavior changed after he was struck in his Florida school: “He’s an avoider by nature, before he was never aggressive. Now, he struggles with anger; right after the incidents he’d have anger explosions.”[14]

Hitting any student should be an unacceptable practice, but the disproportionate application of corporal punishment further undermines the educational environment for minority groups and students with disabilities.[15]  A federal prohibition on corporal punishment in public schools is necessary to protect students from the discriminatory impact and the academic harms which it brings.       

IV. The Impact of Corporal Punishment on Students’ Academic Performance

Harsh physical punishments do not improve students’ in-school behavior or academic performance.  In fact, one recent study found that in states where corporal punishment is frequently used, schools have performed worse academically than those in states that prohibit corporal punishment.[16]  While most states demonstrated improvements in their American College Testing (ACT) scores from 1994 to 2008, “as a group, states that paddled the most improved their scores the least.”[17] At the same time “the ten states with the longest histories of forbidding corporal punishment improved the most” with improvement rates three times higher than those states which reported frequent use of corporal punishment.[18]

Many children who have been subjected to hitting, paddling or other harsh disciplinary practices have reported subsequent problems with depression, fear and anger.[19]  These students frequently withdraw from school activities and disengage academically.[20] The Society for Adolescent Medicine has found that victims of corporal punishment often develop “deteriorating peer relationships, difficulty with concentration, lowered school achievement, antisocial behavior, intense dislike of authority, somatic complaints, a tendency for school avoidance and school drop-out, and other evidence of negative high-risk adolescent behavior.”[21]  One Mississippi student interviewed for A Violent Education described the effects of corporal punishment on his attitude towards school:

  • “[Y]ou could get a paddling for almost anything. I hated it. It was used as a way to degrade, embarrass students. . . I said I’d never take another paddling, it’s humiliating, and it’s degrading. Some teachers like to paddle students. Paddling causes you to lose respect for a person, stop listening to them.”[22]

Corporal punishment places parents and teachers in positions where they may have to choose between educational advancement and students’ physical well-being.  For instance, some parents who learn that their children are being struck at public school find themselves without recourse, unable to effectively opt-out from the practice, and unable to obtain legal or other redress when their children have been paddled against their wishes.  Ultimately some parents find that the only way they can protect their children from physical harm is to withdraw them from school altogether.[23]  Similarly, teachers who work in schools where corporal punishment is administered are often reluctant to send disruptive students out of the classroom because they are afraid the students will be beaten.[24]

Moreover, a public school’s use of corporal punishment affects every student in that school, including those who are not personally subjected to hitting or paddling.  The prevalent use of physical violence against students creates an overall threatening school atmosphere that impacts students’ ability to perform academically.[25]  Often, children who experience or witness physical violence will themselves develop disruptive and violent behaviors, further disturbing their classmates’ learning as well as their own.[26]

Corporal punishment is a destructive form of discipline that is ineffective in producing educational environments in which students can thrive. Rather than relying on harsh and threatening disciplinary tactics, schools and teachers should be encouraged to develop positive behavior supports (PBS), which have proven effective in reducing the need for harsh discipline while supporting a safe and productive learning environment.[27] The Positive Behavior for Safe and Effective Schools Act (H.R. 2597) would help states and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) create positive learning environments by allowing them to use Title I funds to develop PBS practices.  This bill would also require the Department of Education to provide assistance and support so that states may fully realize the potential of supportive and flexible behavior discipline practices. By abandoning ineffective and brutal disciplinary practices, and by encouraging the adoption of PBS methods, our nation can provide opportunities for all students to achieve academic success in a supportive and safe school environment.

V. Recommendations

In order to prevent the continued use of violence against children in our schools, we recommend that Congress:

  • Introduce and pass federal legislation prohibiting the use of corporal punishment in public schools, conditioned on the receipt of federal funding.
  • Define corporal punishment as any punishment by which physical force is used with the intention of causing some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.
  • Promote the use of positive behavioral supports by passing H.R. 2597, and provide teachers and school administrators with the tools and resources necessary to develop safe and effective methods for encouraging positive student behavior
  • Provide students and their families with a private right of action to enforce their rights to be free from physical punishment and to a safe and supportive learning environment in administrative or judicial actions.
  • Require all schools and LEAs to report all instances where corporal punishment is used, not just the number of students who are punished in a given year. This data should be collected and disaggregated by student subgroups to assess disproportionate application.
  • Provide funding to those states which implement PBS practices so that teachers may be effectively trained to create safe and supportive school discipline plans.

VI. Conclusion

The use of violence against students is never an acceptable means of punishment – it harms students physically, psychologically and academically.  The use of corporal punishment in schools is interfering with students’ right to be treated with dignity and, as a result, is interfering with their right to a quality education.  By prohibiting the use of corporal punishment and helping states to develop safe and effective behavioral practices, this Congress could help to ensure that our nation’s children are able to achieve their full educational potential in a supportive learning environment.

Research Findings on Youth Violence

There are many reasons why violence and corporal punishment is psychologically and sociologically connected in American society. This and the next section will clarify what that connection is. Sadly, the data will show that there is even a correlation between corporal punishment and school shootings. What follows are some highlights of these connections based on a review of the research literature.  Numerous reports in the popular media have speculated on plausible causes for such extreme youth violence—guns were too available; parents were not involved; boys are socialized to repress emotion; violence permeates the culture; and children are desensitized to the effects of violence by television, movies, and videogames. Causal factors have been suspected across all of the nested systems that Bronfenbrenner (1979) described as composing the ecology of child development and all aspects of what Super and Harkness (1986) have termed the developmental niche. However, there have been relatively few empirical investigations of the cultural contributions to youth violence.

In one such study, Lynch and Cicchetti (1998) examined neighborhood influences in the development and functioning of 7- to 12-year-olds. They found that children displayed more externalizing problems when they had a history of abuse and also lived in neighborhoods characterized by high levels of violence. Said another way, aspects of children’s direct experience (abuse) and the larger environment in which it occurred (violence in the neighborhood, not necessarily involving the child or family directly) interacted to predict levels of externalizing or “acting out” behavior.

Regionally based differences in the cultural sanctioning of violence are evident within the United States. Cohen and colleagues, for example, found Southerners to be more accepting of interpersonal violence in certain circumstances. Compared to students from the North, college students from southern states were more likely to respond with physiologic arousal (increased cortisol and testosterone levels and aggression) to insults and perceived threats to their honor [Cohen et al., 1996].

Southern white males, in particular, tended to endorse the use of violence for protection, defense, and the socialization of children (Cohen and Nisbett, 1994).

 

Research on Corporal Punishment

Of particular relevance to this Blog is the alleged socialization of children by violent means such as corporal punishment, i.e., the intentional infliction of physical pain in the service of discipline. The application of corporal punishment in schools by individuals serving in loco parentis is described. The research on corporal punishment by parents or other caretakers was described in Part II on child abuse. The practice in schools varies regionally.

Physical punishment has been an integral part of American education since its earliest days (Hyman and Wise, 1979). As recently as 1976, only Massachusetts and New Jersey prohibited school officials from using corporal punishment to discipline students. Currently, school corporal punishment is banned in 30 states and permitted in 20.

The practice is widely allowed by state statute or local district policy in 13 states (AL, AR, CO, ID, IN, KE, LA, MS, MO, NM, SC, TN, TX). Although it is permitted in 10 states, the majority of students attend school in districts that have adopted a ban on corporal punishment (AZ, DE, FL, GA, KS, NC, OH, OK, PA, WY) (National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in the Schools [NCACPS], 1997).

Southern states are overrepresented among permitting states (62% compared with 32% of total), and northeast states among the prohibiting (30% compared with 18% of total).

Several sources of evidence suggest that this policy may be linked to violence at school and beyond.

Hyman (1995) argued persuasively that the infliction of corporal punishment on children in schools is part of a larger web of punitiveness and authoritarian beliefs in American society. Not only does this cultural dependency on punitive measures for societal control mitigate against efforts to ban corporal punishment from the schools nationally, it may also amplify negative consequences for children who are so punished. Strauss (1994) described this phenomenon as a “cultural spillover,” arguing that the spillover of violence from one cultural domain to others accounted for observations that statewide homicide rates and assault rates by children in schools varied with the level of school corporal punishment allowed by the state.

Additional empirical evidence has linked corporal punishment to child abuse and extreme punishment. Maltreatment rates in countries such as Sweden, where corporal punishment of children in any setting is legally banned, as well as in countries such as Finland, China, and Japan, where the practice is rare, are significantly lower than in the United States (Belsky, 1980;Strauss, 1994; Zigler and Hall, 1989).

Within the United States, higher rates of child abuse fatalities occur in states that permit corporal punishment in the schools (Arcus and Ryan, 1999). Finally, Streib [cited in Hyman, 1995] found that states reporting the 10 highest rates of school paddlings were also those with the greatest number of youths awaiting capital punishment in the state judicial system.

Although the correlational nature of these data limits causal inference, critics of school corporal punishment have argued that it encourages aggression by (1) promoting the merits of applying violent responses to children’s behavior, (2) framing violence as an acceptable phenomenon, and (3) modeling its use by authority figures (e.g., American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1997; Hyman and Perone, 1998; Society for Adolescent Medicine, 1992).

The chief rebuttal criticism hinges on the complexity of the issue and numerous confounding factors. Three major correlates of the endorsement and use of corporal punishment—poverty, religious views, and geographic region—are also interwoven with each other and with aggression and violence.

The southern region of the United States, overrepresented among states permittingschool corporal punishment and often referred to as the “Bible belt,” has historically been associated with low per capita income and a high prevalence of fundamentalist religious denominations.

The chronic stresses of impoverishment may exacerbate aggressive tendencies in individuals living under such conditions. Poverty in families has been associated with authoritarian parenting and the physical and emotional neglect of children (Tonge et al., 1975). Additionally, families in poverty in which there are also several young children, male children, and drug or alcohol problems, are among those with the highest rates of physical child abuse (Wolfner and Gelles, 1993).

Poverty is also related to religious affiliation. Fundamentalist or conservative Christian denominations are overrepresented among the poor (McDowell and Friedman, 1979), and these religious traditions promote punitive childrearing strategies that endorse the use of corporal punishment (Ellison et al., 1996; Grasmick and McGill, 1994; Greven, 1991; Kilbourne, 1999).

Prevailing fundamentalist childrearing philosophies may also influence public school education, and they have been used as a basis for opposition to reform initiatives stemming from constructivist (e.g., Piagetian) learning models (Berliner, 1997). Hence, any investigation of the association between school corporal punishment and school violence needs to account for at least these correlated factors.

 

Opposition to Corporal Punishment

People reading this Blog should seriously ask this question: Would you want your children or grandchildren enrolled in a school where they run the risk of being hit or hurt? Even as long ago as 230 years, people felt this was a very bad idea and highly unacceptable. Poland in 1783 was the first country in the world to abolish corporal punishment.

In the United States New Jersey outlawed corporal punishment in 1867. Our southern and mid-western states appear, in the 21st Century, to be a “Wee-bit-slow” to get rid of corporal punishment.

At the current time a majority of thirty out of 50 states (60%) have abolished corporal punishment in their schools. What is it about our predominantly southern and mid-western bible-belt conservative states that cause them to tenaciously hold on to school policies that foster and promote child abuse?  Corporal punishment is often described by psychologists as “sloppy behaviorism” and, as an educational policy or tool, has neither scientific merit nor educational value.

Important prestigious national organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the 3.2 million-member National Education Association (NEA) are unanimous in opposing corporal punishment and institutionalized child abuse in the schools.

Here is an excerpt from the April 14, 2010 NEA letter to the House Education and Labor Committee on Corporal Punishment in schools. According to the NEA, “On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association, we write to express our position on corporal punishment and effective school safety strategies, in advance of this week’s Education and Labor Committee hearing on Corporal Punishment in Schools and its Effect on School Success…NEA believes that all educators and students have the right to work and learn in a safe school environment. Educators know that a positive, effective learning environment leads to successful student outcomes. We also know that there is no evidence to support the use of corporal punishment in schools as a strategy that leads to positive student engagement and learning. NEA categorically opposes the use of corporal punishment as a school discipline technique. It is more than ineffective – it is harmful.”

Another letter comes from the United Nations to end the corporal punishment of children. Because of its global importance, I have elected to present it in its entirety.

Statement by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, at the event on Ending Corporal Punishment of Children

Geneva, Palais des Nations – Room XXII
 22 January 2013

Dear Ambassador,
Permanent Representatives,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very honored and delighted to join you in this discussion on how to end the corporal punishment of children.  I thank the Permanent Missions of Finland, Tunisia and Uruguay for organizing this event. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the work undertaken by civil society to bring this issue close to the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and particularly the efforts by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.

We have come a long way since the publication of the UN Study on Violence against Children in 2006, produced by Professor Pinheiro with the support of OHCHR, UNICEF and WHO. As we all know, the UN Study brought to light the tragic reality and magnitude of the problem posed by violence against children, confirming that it exists in every country and takes place in different settings, including the family, the school, institutions and the community.  While six years have passed since then, most of the findings and recommendations of the Study remain valid today. UNICEF’s report on “Child Disciplinary Practices at Home” confirms that violent disciplinary measures are extremely common and that more work is needed to fight violence against children, including corporal punishment, all over the world.

Certainly efforts have been made in a number of regions and countries to implement the UN Study recommendations, and we need to celebrate some of the positive steps. Six years ago, there were only 11 States that had prohibited corporal punishment in all settings. Today, more than 30 States have done so, and 18 others have made public commitments to follow suit.

The UN Study urged States to prohibit all forms of violence against children, in all settings, including all corporal punishment, harmful practices, such as early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called honor crimes, sexual violence, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment, as required by international treaties, including the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The recently adopted General Comment No. 13 of the CRC, on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, reinforces this recommendation.

In addition, this same recommendation has been reiterated by OHCHR in its different reports on child rights to the Human Rights Council. I would like to describe in more detail some references to corporal punishment that feature in our reports, and reflect OHCHR’s position on the matter.

In our latest report, which will be presented to the Council this March, on the right of the child to health, we stress that the burden of mortality and morbidity of children that is attributable to violence is high, particularly during early childhood and adolescence. The report also states that in light of the impact of corporal punishment on children’s health, including fatal and non-fatal injury, as well as psychological and emotional consequences, corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishments in all settings should be prohibited and eliminated.

We also recommend that States review national laws and policies and that comprehensive prohibition of all forms of violence against children be included in legislation. Given the interdependence and indivisibility of rights laid down in the Convention on the Rights of the child, the realization of the right to health is indispensable for the enjoyment of all other rights, and achieving the right to health is likewise dependent on the realization of many of the other rights contained in the Convention.   Thus, if the right of the child to be free from violence (article 19 of the Convention) is not realized, there will be an immediate and negative impact on the child’s right to health.

Similarly in our report on the rights of children in street situations we recommended prohibition of all forms of violence against children living and/or working on the street and implementation of the recommendations made by the UN Study on Violence against children.

Furthermore, in our joint report with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and UNODC on the prevention of violence in the juvenile justice system, we indicated that children in detention are frequently subjected to violence as a punishment for minor offences. We acknowledged that 116 countries have abolished corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions (a positive increase of 10 countries since the UN Study was finalized), but also noted that, despite abolition, violent practices in the juvenile justice system are found in both developed and developing countries. Apart from the use of caning and whipping, children may be punished through confinement in cells for lengthy periods, solitary confinement, food rationing or physical restraints.

Violence against children, including corporal punishment, is a violation of the rights of the child. It conflicts with the child’s human dignity and the right of the child to physical integrity. It also prevents children from reaching their full potential, by putting at risk their right to health, survival and development. The best interests of the child can never be used to justify such practice.  Eliminating violence against children is not only a human rights imperative, but also a means to bring about social changes and attitudes. While appropriate legal frameworks are needed, little will be achieved if we do not work hand in hand to transform attitudes that condone and normalize violence against children, including corporal punishment. The need to promote the values of non-violence and awareness-raising among all those working with children is essential if we want this situation to come to an end.

Let me finish by reinforcing one of the main messages of the UN Study which, without a doubt, we will hear repeated many times today:  violence against children can never be justified and all such violence is preventable.

Many thanks

Connecting Corporal Punishment to Student Deaths in the United States

In 2002 a study was published in the Journal of Aggressive Behavior (28:173–183). Student deaths from school shootings were examined across all 50 states according to the state’s policy on the use of corporal punishment in schools. There was significantly more school shooting deaths found in states allowing school corporal punishment compared with those that do not. The odds of fatal involvement in a school shooting were greatest in states permitting school corporal punishment compared with those prohibiting it (odds ratio, 2.04) or restricting it to districts serving less than half the student population (odds ratio, 1.77). Moreover, the rate of school corporal punishment was moderately correlated with the rate of fatal school shootings both across all states and within the South, the region in which endorsement of school corporal punishment is most prevalent.

The study found evidence that the sanctioning of corporal punishment in the schools is linked with elevated levels of child-directed violence, even when accounting for associated differences in poverty and prevailing conservative Christian ideology both in the United States as a whole and within the Southern region.

Of significance was the finding that children and youths are more likely to die in school shootings in states permitting schools to practice corporal punishment than in states in which the practice has been prohibited. The more physically punitive discipline is practiced in the schools, the more likely students are likely to die in school shootings.

I had to ask myself: why is corporal punishment policy related to school shootings and student murders. The reasons pertain to the fact that corporal punishment policy is a by-product of a historically greater “culture of violence.” This culture of violence (a learned and socially transmitted set of beliefs and behavior from one generation to the next) permeates the social fabric of life in many southern and mid-western states. Any social environment that is more accepting of violence toward children, such as corporal punishment, produces a community over time that reflects deviant cultural norms. Give any profession a free pass to control and/or hurt your child and you open the door directly to exploitation and harm.

In California, prior to that state’s outlawing of corporal punishment, a former student reported that the only thing he learned from the experience of being paddled was to loathe the teacher who did it. Any educational system that reinforces hatred of authority, loathing and fear is highly suspect as not being ready for the all-important mission of education; namely, creating a positive, safe, sound, and valuable educational environment for learning and development.

 

Why Corporal Punishment?

Beyond poverty, backward fundamentalist attitudes, and specific regions of the country, what nexus of influential factors seem to precipitate or connect all the dots that link the philosophy of the region, and aggregate level variables associated with abuse, with those variables that cause teachers and administrators to commit acts of violence against children? What connects the larger structural characteristics of culture with individual acts of violence such as corporal punishment? Well, below is the answer.

There appears to this Blogger to be four major factors that cause teachers and administrators in southern and mid-western states to find corporal punishment rewarding where students are hit or hurt. These factors include: (1) Deviant Cultural Values, (2) History of the South, (3) Professional and Social Incompetence, and (4) Predators in School Settings. Some of the reasons relate to deviant social values reflected in these regions of the United States; other reasons pertain to the tainted philosophies of bible-belt religions (spare the rod and spoil the child and other antiquated nonsense).

Closer to the level of teachers and administrators there is professional and social incompetence (how they interact with young children and students). Finally, lack of school and district wide screening for predators, including sexual predators who wield a paddle, whip, or belt for sadistic or sexual stimulation and satisfaction. Given things like boring holes in paddles so as to increase pain, blistering, and longer-lasting suffering, it is clear that these degenerates are falling through the cracks. Screeners don’t suffer, children do.

Deviant Cultural Values

Institutionalized violence like corporal punishment often mask underlying deviant cultural values in predominantly southern and mid-western states. Corporal punishment has been outlawed in the nation’s prisons, jails, and adult and youth correctional facilities for decades (Supreme Court and District Court rulings). It is ironic in the 21st Century that children in school settings are deemed less important and possess less value for protection from harm— than do our offender populations. This goes back to the phenomena of cognitive dissonance discussed in Part I of this series. The decision of the United States Supreme Court in 1977 to allow corporal punishment in the schools as legal under the U.S. Constitution would be a lot different now. Given the disproportionate administration of corporal punishment to black students and disabled students, and the sexually deviant motivations of degenerate teachers and administrators who enjoy hurting children, it is very likely a Federal District Court or the U.S. Supreme Court would now invoke the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution to end corporal punishment. And, the courts would create remedies of criminal indictment in federal courts for all violators subsequent to their ruling.

One may wonder why do school districts in southern and mid-western states condone violence against children at all? Why do they continue to be an embarrassment before the rest of the nation? Are they really that uncaring, or simply not too bright? Why do they take an on-purpose “blind eye” to all the relevant educational and psychological knowledge available to them? What role have deviant cultural norms motivated school districts in the south and mid-west to deny scientific knowledge that corporal punishment has short and long term effects that are deleterious to a child’s health and well-being? What would cause some educators to bury their head in the sand where corporal punishment is concerned?

Social History of the South

Perhaps the most major reason of all for continuation of deviant cultural values, into the modern era, is rooted in their past. During the racism of “Jim Crow” there was a legacy of extreme violence over others where the murder, beating and whipping blacks occurred during slavery, but also continued in the Post-Construction era following the Civil War with the criminal acts of the Klu Klux Klan. The era of “Jim Crow” is dead, but its legacy lives on, evidently well into the 21st Century.

When the Civil Rights Movement began to exert its powerful influence in the 1960s, reinforced by the Courts, southerners began to feel impotent, lost status nationally and had to come to grips with the dishonor and shame of their past. Faced with the lasting taint of racism these communities and school districts found a way to have control in social life and continue their legacy of human dominance over others. This legacy still portends a disdain for liberalism, civil and human rights.

In southern and mid-western school districts that practice corporal punishment, it would be very instructive to know the race/ethnicity of students victimized by corporal punishment. Are blacks and Hispanics more likely to be victimized by corporal punishment than white students?

Professional and Social Incompetence

One might wonder why it is school districts that prohibit corporal punishment have much higher educational achievement levels on standardized tests than do school districts authorizing violence with corporal punishment.

These differences reflect more than student natural ability. It’s more about the schools involved and their ability (or lack thereof) to use the best teaching and motivational strategies that would achieve higher student scores. One might also wonder what is about the 20 states in the US that condone violence against children, why they fail to heed the overwhelming evidence that corporal punishment is sloppy behaviorism and lacks not even a scintilla of evidence to support it.

Predators in School Settings

At the current time the news headlines are filled with all sorts of school district scandals involving racketeering, corruption, and theft. In addition, it is no secret that teachers have committed serious moral and professional violations, and criminal acts that relate to sex scandals with students. All of this raises the issue of screening. Although not foolproof, this is an important role for school districts to carry out. The greatest failure of school districts around the country is inadequate screening of teachers and administrators or other employees before someone is hired. Screening of educational credentials for teachers is very common at a job interview. Seldom do school districts require psychiatric evaluation prior to someone being hired. This applies to coaching positions as well. Because of this lack of critical screening, sexual predators can find their way into the classroom.

Too many times in the last two decades students have had to endure the unwanted sexual advances of predatory teachers and administrators. Often these predators seek out their victims by going into professions where they can control and dominate their victims. These ready-made work environments include, but are not limited to, professions like teaching, nursing, or the military.

Positions where they can administer corporal punishment to students may also be linked to sexual predation as well, as mentioned above. Hitting and physically harming children in an institutional setting is as much to blame for the United States’ serious problem of child abuse as a parent is with inferior parenting skills. (See definition in Part II of what constitutes physical child abuse). Several states, including some among the 20 that allow it, have entered the names for life of individual teachers and administrators who commit corporal punishment onto their state’s Child Abuse Registry.

Post Script

Well, there are many factors collectively and individually that may be responsible for why corporal punishment still exists in these backward 20 states: (1) the possession of deviant cultural values, (2) a social history of racism and the need to dominate others, (3) lack of professionalism among the educational staff, or simply professional incompetence by failing to read and understand their own profession’s accumulated knowledge about successful student/teacher interaction and good teaching methods, and (4) teachers and administrators who derive pleasure hurting children and may derive sexual satisfaction or be sexually stimulated from hurting children (sadistic impulses). These latter individuals don’t deserve to be employed anywhere, much less in a profession as important as teaching our children. Finally, the surrounding local community or culture may possess or foster bible-belt religious philosophies that are repugnant to a modern culturally mature larger society.

Even in the 21st Century these backward pockets of extreme conservatism often culturally mask an underlying political outlook that is hidden, yet fraught with a lingering veil of racism and deviant values that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of all other Americans. Such a veil still continues to bring lasting shame to these areas of the country.

In Part IV I will report on what is known about the crime of kidnapping children. In addition, a full set of recommendations will be made to address Sex Trafficking, Bullying, and Corporal Punishment in the schools. Where school districts that promote corporal punishment is concerned I am seriously thinking the federal government must eliminate any federal economic help to school districts that promote corporal punishment in the schools. On the other hand, schools districts that ban corporal punishment would receive additional economic support. Teachers and administrators who continue to hurt students will also face arrest and criminal indictment by federal authorities.

If any infant is attacked and brutalized by an adult, law enforcement would be all over the offender lake a “Fly on do-do.” If an adult is attacked on the street and physically harmed, law enforcement will seek out and arrest the offender. When a teacher or administrator beats a child the only difference is a person’s age (school age children). But the behavioral outcome is the same—someone is getting hurt. Very young and adults are protected by the law; school age children don’t seem to be in certain parts of the country. It’s long overdue for such hypocrisy to end. It’s time for the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to apply to all citizens, old and young alike.

 

HRW/ACLU NOTES

 

[1] During the 2006-2007 school year, at least 223,190 students in the U.S. were subjected to corporal punishment.  See U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Civil Rights Data Collection 2006, http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Projections_2006.aspx (last accessed April 1, 2010) [hereinafter Civil Rights Data Collection].

[2] Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas,  Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. See American Civil Liberties Union & Human Rights Watch, Impairing Education 27 (2009), available at http://www.aclu.org/human-rights/impairing-education-corporal-punishment-students-disabilities-us-public-schools   [hereinafter Impairing Education].

[3] Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee & Texas. See id. at 27.

[4] Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. See id, at 27.

[5] Many school districts may fail to report corporal punishment data to the Department of Education, and many incidents may not be recorded in the first place. See American Civil Liberties Union & Human Rights Watch, A Violent Education 45-46 (2008), available at http://www.aclu.org/human-rights-racial-justice/violent-education-corporal-punishment-children-us-public-schools [hereinafter A Violent Education]; Impairing Education, at 30-31.

[6] See generally A Violent Education, at 57; Impairing Education, at 4-5.

[7] Corporal punishment of children in juvenile justice facilities has been prohibited by the Courts of Appeals in several Federal Circuits.  See Nelson v. Heyne, 491 F.2d 352 (7th Cir. 1974), cert. denied 417 U.S. 476 (paddling of children in juvenile detention was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment); Morales v. Turman, 562 F.2d 993, 998 (5th Cir. 1977) (corporal punishment and physical abuse in juvenile detention facilities subject to prohibition as a violation of Eighth Amendment), rev’d on other grounds, 535 F.2d 864 (5th Cir. 1976), rev’d and remanded, 430 U.S. 322 (1977).  See also, Santana v. Collazo, 533 F. Supp. 966 (D.P.R. 1982) (corporal punishment against juveniles in industrial schools and juvenile camps violates Eighth Amendment and is barred “for any reason”), aff’d in part and vacated in part, 714 F.2d 1172 (lst Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 974 (1984).  The American Correctional Association has also issued standards banning use of corporal punishment in juvenile facilities. See also Steven J. Martin, Staff Use of Force in United States Confinement Settings, 22 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol’y 145 (2006).  In addition, corporal punishment and other harsh disciplinary practices are prohibited in publicly-funded non-medical substance abuse and long-term medical care facilities.  See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. § 290jj (banning corporal punishment in “non-medical community-based facilities for children and youth.”); 42 C.F.R. § 483.13 (banning corporal punishment in long-term medical care facilities).

[8] Civil Rights Data Collection, supra note 1. See also A Violent Education, at 5 (“In the same year [2006-2007], in the 13 states with the highest rates of paddling, 1.4 times as many African American students were paddled as might be expected given their percentage of the student population. Although girls of all races were paddled less than boys, African American girls were nonetheless physically punished at more than twice the rate of their white counterparts in those 13 states during this period”).

[9] A Violent Education, at 72 (interview with Abrea T., Dec. 10, 2007).

[10] A Violent Education, at 75-76 (interview with Catherine V., Nov. 7, 2007).

[11] In the 2006-2007 school year, 41,972 students with disabilities were subjected to corporal punishment during the 2006-2007 school year. See Civil Rights Data Collection, supra note 1.

[12] See Impairing Education, at 35-40.

[13] Impairing Education, at 44 (interview with Sarah P.  May 22, 2009).

[14] Impairing Education, at 43 (interview with Anna M., March 9, 2009).

[15] See A Violent Education, at 75.

[16] Michael Hickmon, Study: Paddling vs. ACT Scores and Civil Immunity Legislation (2008), available at http://www.stophitting.com/index.php?page=paddlingvsact.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] See A Violent Education, at 54; Impairing Education, at 42-43.

[20] See A Violent Education, at 54; Impairing Education, at 43-44.

[21] Society for Adolescent Medicine, Position Paper: Corporal Punishment in Schools, 32:5 J. Adolescent Health 385, 388 (2003).

[22] A Violent Education, at 55 (interview with Sean D., Dec. 14, 2007).

[23] See Impairing Education, at 6.

[24] See id. at 5.

[25] See A Violent Education, at 25-29.

[26]  This is often because students who have been subjected to corporal punishment have learned through their experiences that physical violence is an appropriate way to handle conflict. The American Academy of Pediatrics has noted that “corporal punishment may adversely affect a student’s self-image and school achievement and it may contribute to disruptive and violent behavior.” American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on School Health, Corporal Punishment in Schools, 106:2 Pediatrics 343 (2000), available at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;106/2/343.

[27] See, e.g., Stephen P. Safran & Karen Oswald, Positive Behavior Supports: Can Schools Reshape Disciplinary Practices?, 69:3 Exceptional Child. 361 (2003), available at http://www.casenex.com/casenex/cecReadings/positiveBehavior.pdf.

 

 

 

 

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OBAMA’S FIRST POLITICAL BLUNDER:

SWEEPING THE TORTURE ISSUE UNDER THE RUG

[A National Disgrace]

 

  

 

     It shouldn’t take a genius to recognize that willfully initiating, promoting or committing acts of torture, despite whatever rationalizations are attendant to it, is nevertheless a violation of International Human Rights. Whether torture is used against anyone during wartime or peacetime, it is an extremely serious violation of the Geneva Convention articles reached in 1949 by the United Nations. The United States was instrumental in bringing this about and, as a nation, was a signatory to it.

 

     Recently President Obama stated, following release of the U.S. Justice Department’s torture memos, that he preferred that individuals in the CIA who carried out torture, not be prosecuted. One day later he realized his blunder. The choice to prosecute or not lies with the Justice Department, not the White House. What the President failed to understand is that American values, and the opinion of other nations toward the moral integrity of a good and just country like the United States, was not being taken into consideration. Neither did the President show any understanding of American or World History based on the terrible events of World War II.

 

     These sins of omission show not only a failure of presidential moral leadership, but a failure to follow through with campaign rhetoric on accountability in government. It also shows, unfortunately, a serious question of his unwillingness to protect American values around human rights. At a broader level of rationalization, he wanted the country to look past the torture issue so he could concentrate on his massive political spending plan, and economic agenda. By discouraging prosecution of war criminals at home, he has inadvertently dishonored and disgraced this country and its people.

 

      In addition, it was irresponsible to summarily ignore all national and international laws prohibiting torture and all precedents of the United Nation’s prohibition against torture and violations of universal human rights. For a liberal democratic president to have done this is surprizing and has brought shame and dishonor to the very office he holds. The President’s quick, flippant and somewhat dismissive arrogant response to the torture memos, released under the Freedom of Information Act, demonstrates the country didn’t elect the thoughtful, reasoned politician we thought we did. The rationalizations he put forth as to why he didn’t want to prosecute CIA officers, other government officials, and some members of the military, sounded strikingly very similar to the same rationalizations coming out of Germany at the end of World War II. Serious questions remain: Who did the President think he was trying to protect and why? If he was trying to protect ex-President George Walker Bush, his loyalty to the office of the presidency is misplaced. Remember who said this:  “When the president does it, it is not illegal.” (Frost/Nixon)

 

      Since we now have President George Walker Bush’s confession on tape, recently broadcast on the Keith Olbermann MSNBC show, we now know that there was approval at the highest levels of government to commit these war crimes. Those guilty of war crimes do reach all the way from “lacky” levels in the CIA, to military prisons in Iraq and elsewhere, and finally to the White House itself. More blatant rationalizations are currently coming from ex-vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney, who never went beyond his freshman year of college, seems to lack any understanding of law and shows absolutely no remorse for initiating and promoting war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

     How soon do the American people forget history? At the end of World War II many public servants, low-level bureaucrats, military officers, Nazi SS Elite, judges, and high-level government officials were brought to the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal and tried for crimes against humanity. Where German military and concentration guards were concerned, they were not allowed to defend themselves with rationalizations like “We were only following orders, or let’s put this all behind us and look to the future” (sound familiar).    

 

      The Japanese also were tried after WWII for war crimes, including those who used waterboarding to torture prisoners. Crimes against humanity were viewed as great violations of this country’s values to respect life and humanity in general. Policies of torture rob our nation of both dignity and respect. If we fail to act responsibly now as a Nation, and fail to bring to justice all those who were involved in initiating torture policy, promoting or carrying out war crimes in the name of the United States, the consequences of a dishonored nation with a double standard will taint the American image, and thus the American people forever more. According to Alfred W. McCoy in his important book, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, concluded:

 

Finally, as we learned from France’s battle for Algiers in the 1950s and Britain’s Northern Ireland conflict in the 1970s, a nation that sanctions torture in defiance of democratic principles pays a terrible price. For nearly two millennia, the practice has been identified with tyrants and empires. For the past two centuries, its repudiation has been synonymous with the humanist ideals of the Enlightenment and democracy. When any modern state tortures even a few victims, the stigma compromises its majesty and corrupts its integrity. Its officials must spin an even more complex web of lies that, in the end, weakens the bonds of trust and the rule of law that are the sine qua non of a democracy. And, beyond its borders, allies and enemies turn away in collective revulsion. 

 

 

What should be Done?   

 

     Every President has a poor decision during his administration that he wishes he hadn’t made. President Obama is no exception. Protecting war criminals is the worst thing he could have done. It is the biggest blunder of his administration. 

 

     There are already indications coming from sources close to the Department of Justice that indicate high level officials are angry at the President because it is their decision, not the administration’s, whether someone is to be tried, or not tried, for a crime.

 

     In addition to the United States Justice Department, the U.S. Senate should work collaboratively with the Justice Department by holding congressional hearings. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy called three weeks ago for the establishment of a nonpartisan “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against former Bush administration officials in their prosecution of the war on terrorism. Senator Leahy is quoted as saying at a committee meeting, “Nothing did more to damage America’s place in the world than the revelation that our great nation stretched the law and the bounds of executive power to authorize torture and cruel treatment.” He added that “the Commission should have the power to issue subpoenas and offer immunity to witnesses.”

 

   The United States has a long history, long before the Bush administration, of secretly violating international and domestic laws prohibiting the use of torture in interrogations. The U.S. has been very uneven in honoring humanitarian values and both national and international law. Many of these secret crimes went unpunished in the past. It’s time a real message is sent to all people in government and to the world at large: The United States will not tolerate torture under any circumstances.

 

     But now, with the “smoking–gun” evidence mounting with the memos and confessions by both the former President and Vice-President, the nation can now send a permanent message to all future administrations and other nations abroad, that the United States will hold people, no matter what their political or administrative level, accountable for their criminal acts, and specifically for promoting or carrying out torture of prisoners. The first step needed is for the United States Justice Department to prohibit all travel outside the United States for anyone previously employed by the Bush administration. Leaving the country would make them subject to immediate arrest. This would set the initial stage that things are about to happen on the investigative front.

 

    As a nation we must not let war crimes committed in the name of our country go unpunished

 

   The following outlines various passages of International Human Rights laws that are applicable to the issue of torture. Below these passages the various techniques used by war crime criminals within the CIA and in military prisons overseas will be used to compare with what they did. Policy decisions, it must be remembered was done all in the narrow and unimaginative underlying rationalization of national security.

 

 

     In 1948, delegates to the United Nations, led by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the Foundation for all later UN humanitarian conventions. Among its various provisions was Article 5, that “no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.” A year later, the United States also ratified Geneva Convention III Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, with its strong prohibitions against torture. Article 13 states that “prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated, while Article 87 bars “corporal punishment, imprisonment in premises without daylight and, in general, any form of torture or cruelty.”

 

      Accordingly, Article 89 offers an unambiguous ban on harsh treatment: “In no case shall disciplinary punishments be inhuman, brutal or dangerous to the health of prisoners of war.” Later, under Geneva Convention IV Relative to Civilian Persons in Time of War, the United States accepted the broad language of Article 31 which states, “ No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised…to obtain information from them or third parties.” The United States had thus committed itself to a new, strict standard for human rights, whether in war or peace.

 

     Had the Bush Administration, who drafted the memos and legal opinions for the CIA in adopting torture procedures, ever heard of the ratification by the United States as signatories to the various Geneva Conventions or the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Apparently not, for the following was carried out by the underlings in the CIA, military prisons in Iraq, and secret prisons overseas. According to the May 10, 2005 Justice Department memo the CIA and others were advised that the following methods were legal:

 

 

AMERICAN INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES

 

Dietary manipulation:

 

Substituting liquid meal replacements for solid foods

 

Nudity:

 

Used to cause psychological discomfort

 

Walling:

 

Slamming detainee into a wall.

 

Facial slap:

 

Slapping detainees face with fingers slightly spread

 

Abdominal Slap:

 

Striking the abdomen with the back of an open hand.

 

 

Wall Standing:

 

Forcing detainees to stand with feet spread, arms outreached, fingers resting on the wall, not permitted to move.

 

 

Water dousing:

 

Cold water is poured on detainee.

 

 

Sleep Deprivation:

 

Detainee is deprived of sleep for more than 48 hours. Procedures were never followed. Some were forced with sleep deprivation for 11 straight days.

 

 

Waterboarding:

 

Pouring water over face of detainee, who is lying at an angle on his back, head lowered in order to simulate drowning.

 

 

 

People, including government officials, like to use euphemistic terms to mollify others. In this case interrogation techniques is a more acceptable term than the rawness of the term—Torture. So how is the term torture defined anyway? Well, the definition is no mystery. It is defined as,

 

 

“tor·ture [táwrchər]

vt (past and past participle tor·tured, present participle tor·tur·ing, 3rd person present singular tor·tures)

 

1.  Inflict pain on somebody: to inflict extreme pain or physical punishment on somebody 

 

2.  Cause somebody anguish: to cause somebody mental or physical anguish.

 

 

3.  Distort something: to twist or distort something into an unnatural form 

 

 

n

1.  Inflicting of pain: infliction of severe physical pain on somebody, e.g. as punishment or to persuade somebody to confess or recant something 

 

2.  Methods of inflicting pain: the methods used to inflict physical pain on people 

 

3.  Anguish: mental or physical anguish 

 

 

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Final Comments

 

     The issue of torture and the war crimes committed by members of the government in our name isn’t going to go away. The choices are simple. The end does not justify the means under any circumstances, and no amount of rationalization is ever going to change  or alter that. No matter how many times someone tries to gloss over it, torture is a crime against humanity.

 

     Those who have initiated policies to institutionalize interrogation techniques involving torture, otherwise promoted it, or carried it out, should receive the harshest of punishment, namely life in prison. It is not important what position an individual held in our government; those guilty of war crimes need to be brought to justice. It is an unacceptable act of betrayal and disloyalty to the values of the American people, that misguided buffoons in our government, led us down the path toward everlasting national dishonor and disgrace.     

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