Story 1: Mainstream Media Mob Electronic Lynching of Dr. Ben Carson — Attempted Assassination Fails — Limbaugh Unmasked The Perpetrators — The Conservative Right Strikes Back — Videos
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LIMBAUGH: CARSON IS VICTIM OF ‘ELECTRONIC LYNCHING’
Media ‘telling an outright lie’ in ‘an assassination attempt’
Talk-radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh shredded Politico and accused the news site and mainstream media of coordinating an “assassination attempt” against Dr. Ben Carson on Friday.
In fact, Limbaugh went even further, calling the onslaught of attacks an “electronic lynching being conducted against the Republican African-American candidate by a majority-white mainstream American liberal media.”
In a damning accusation Friday, Politico claimed Carson’s campaign “admitted he did not tell the truth” about having been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
A Carson spokesperson made a response to an inquiry by Politico into the veracity of a story in the surgeon’s autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” that the then-17-year-old was offered a full scholarship after a meeting in 1969 with Gen. William Westmoreland in 1969.
Politico reported West Point had no record of either Carson’s application or admission.
However, a Carson spokesman told the Daily Caller on Friday, “The Politico story is an outright lie.”
Doug Watts said, “The campaign never admitted to anything,” and Carson “[N]ever said he was admitted or even applied” to West Point.
“I want to show you how this works. I want to share with you some headlines that have run during the course of this program,” Limbaugh said, blasting Politico as a “liar,” and listing the following media reports Friday:
In a press conference late Friday, Carson ripped into combative reporters:
If you look at one of the websites that West Point has today, it says government offer for full scholarship to West Point. So they use that very language themselves. So almost 50 years ago, they may have been using that language as well.
They were very impressed with what I had done. I had become the city executive officer in less time than anybody else had ever done that. They were saying, “You would be a tremendous addition to the military, and we can get you into West Point with a full scholarship. I simply said, “I want to be a doctor. I really appreciate it. I’m very flattered.” And I moved on. So it didn’t go on any further than that. …
I think what it shows, and what these kinds of things show, is that there is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything. They have been talking to everybody I’ve ever known, everybody I’ve ever seen, [saying], “There’s got to be a scandal. There’s got to be something. He’s having an affair, there’s gotta be something.” They are getting desperate. So next week it’ll be my kindergarten teacher who says that I peed in my pants. I mean, this is just ridiculous. But it’s OK because I totally expect it.
Dr. Carson explained that, as the top ROTC student in Detroit 50 years ago, he was invited to “a number of events because of my position.” In that role, he was invited to meet Gen. Westmoreland.
“That was also a time, as I recall, that several of the high brass told me that I would be somebody that they would be interested in in the military. It was an offer to me. I interpreted it as an offer. … They told me this was available to me because of my accomplishments and that they would be delighted for me to do it. And I told them immediately that my intention was to become a physician. It always has been, and I was very honored but I would not be pursuing that.”
Carson said he “made it clear” in his book that he, in fact, only applied to one college because he had just enough money for one application fee.
When relentlessly pressed about his childhood years, Carson told reporters, “My prediction is that all of you guys trying to pile on is actually going to help me, because, when I go out to these book signings and I see these thousands of people, they say, ‘Don’t let the media get you down. Don’t let them disturb you. Please continue to fight for us.’ They understand that this is a witch hunt. …
“Let me just say one thing. I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running. In fact, I remember just the opposite. I remember people just [saying], ‘Oh well, we won’t really talk about that. We won’t talk about that relationship. Well, Frank Marshall Davis, we don’t want to talk about that. Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, we don’t really know him. You know, all the things that Jeremiah Wright was saying, oh, not a big problem.’
“[Obama] goes to Occidental College, doesn’t do all that well, and somehow ends up at Columbia University. His records are sealed. Why are his records sealed? Why are you guys not interested in why his records are sealed? Why are you not interested in that? Let me ask you that. Can somebody tell me why? … Now you’re saying that something that happened with the words ‘a scholarship was offered’ was the big deal, but the president of the United States, his academic records being sealed is not? Tell me how there’s equivalence there.”
Carson told reporters he wouldn’t “sit back and let you be completely unfair without letting the American people know what’s going on.”
New front-runner Ben Carson faces closer scrutiny of his life story
By David Weigel and David A. Fahrenthold
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson — now making the transition from living legend to scrutinized candidate — faced new questions Friday about the way he tells his powerful life story.
For years, Carson has said he was offered a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy when he was a high-achieving high school Army ROTC cadet in the late 1960s. But Carson never applied to West Point, was never accepted and never received a formal scholarship offer. In fact, West Point does not offer scholarships; all cadets attend free.
The story was first reported Friday by Politico. Carson responded to the resulting controversy by saying that when he spoke of an “offer,” he referred to informal, verbal statements of encouragement from military leaders he met through the ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps .
“I was told that because of my accomplishments, they would be able to manage to get me into West Point and that I wouldn’t have to pay anything,” Carson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said he decided not to apply and went to Yale University instead to pursue medicine. “There was no application process [at West Point]. I never even started down that path,” Carson said.
Carson’s campaign cast the episode as new evidence of persecution of the candidate by the news media. Tension between Carson and the media came to a boil Friday night in Florida, where at a combative news conference the candidate asked why President Obama had not been subjected to such scrutiny.
“The words ‘a scholarship was offered’ were a big deal, but the president of the United States’ academic records being sealed is not?” he said.
The original Politico report declared that Carson had “fabricated” a story about “his application and acceptance” at West Point. It also claimed that the candidate had “admitted” the fabrication.
Carson’s campaign vehemently denied those statements.
The Politico story seemed to mischaracterize a small but key detail in the way Carson has told the story. In many cases, Carson implied only that he received a formal offer from West Point. He never said explicitly that he had been accepted or even that he had applied.
“It gives journalism a bad name,” said Armstrong Williams, Carson’s close friend and business manager. “It only fits into Dr. Carson’s narrative of a witch hunt” by the media.
By mid-afternoon, Politico posted a new version of its story that no longer included the wording that Carson had “fabricated” a part of his biography. Later in the day, the news site posted an editor’s note stating that the story should have made clear that Carson never claimed to have applied for admission to West Point.
“We continue to stand by the story,” Politico spokeswoman Lauren Edmonds said in a statement. “We updated it to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response to the New York Times and other new details, which underscore the validity of our original reporting.”
As the day went on, conservative media voices chimed in to agree with Carson. “It’s almost like the Politico is the official leak machine for the Republican establishment,” Rush Limbaugh said on his syndicated radio show. Radio host and blogger Erick Erickson replaced an entire post about “the beginning of Ben Carson’s end” with one about a “demonstrably false” Politico report.
Carson, 64, achieved worldwide fame for his daring surgeries at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and for his story of rising out of poverty in southwest Detroit. This week, as Carson has challenged Donald Trump for the lead in the Republican presidential primary contest, there has been a new focus on Carson’s personal beliefs and on the way he tells his life story.
First, the Web site BuzzFeed posted a 17-year-old video of a commencement speech in which Carson offers an alternative theory about why the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. In Carson’s telling, they were not built to be tombs, as historians and archeologists say. Instead, they were built for grain storage, in keeping with the biblical story of Joseph, in which the patriarch counseled the pharaoh to store up grain for years of famine.
Carson told CBS News this week that he still believes that the pyramids were granaries, saying the proof was in sealed chambers inside the structures. “You would need that if you were trying to preserve grain for a long period of time,” he said.
Then, CNN sought to verify a key part of Carson’s life story: that, as a young man in Detroit, he had committed acts of violence, including smashing a boy’s nose with a thrown rock, attempting to stab a friend in the abdomen and threatening his own mother with a hammer during an argument.
CNN interviewed nine people who knew Carson during his childhood and who said that the violent incidents did not fit their recollections of him.
Carson said CNN did not speak with the right people. “I was generally a nice person,” he told the network. “It’s just that I had a very bad temper. So unless you were the victim of that temper, why would you know?”
It was an unusually odd situation: a presidential candidate insisting, in the face of skepticism, that he really did have a history of violence.
The part of Carson’s life at issue Friday — the “offer” he got, or did not get, from West Point — is a story that Carson has told repeatedly in books, interviews and speeches.
He tells it in the context of his rapid rise through high school Army ROTC, which ended with him as the top-ranking cadet in Detroit.
“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote in his 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands.” “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school.”
In that account and others, Carson seems to rely on loose, broad definitions for the words “offer” and “scholarship.”
In fact, applicants to West Point must be sponsored by a member of Congress or the secretary of the Army. If accepted, they attend tuition-free: There are no “scholarships” at West Point beyond the benefits that all cadets get.
Doug Watts, a spokesman for Carson’s campaign, said Carson never completed the process for acceptance by West Point and never had an official sponsor. Indeed, in “Gifted Hands,” Carson makes clear that he actually applied only to one school: Yale.
“Each college required a ten-dollar non-returnable entrance fee sent with the application,” Carson wrote. “I had exactly ten dollars, so I could apply only to one.”
Still, his campaign spokesman said, it was proper to say Carson had an “offer” of a scholarship because military leaders had told him that his acceptance would be a sure thing.
“He was told by the ROTC commander that he could have an appointment,” Watts said. “Dr. Carson rejected the offer, did not apply or pursue admission. Had he done so, and been accepted, that would have been tantamount to a scholarship, the same that all cadets receive.”
In one of his books, Carson also made a similar claim about a scholarship offer from another school.
“The University of Michigan had offered me a scholarship, but I wanted to go farther from home,” he wrote in his 1999 book, “The Big Picture.”
A spokesman for the University of Michigan, Rick Fitzgerald, said he could not confirm that account. The university no longer has records from that time. Carson’s camp said the scenario was similar to that involving West Point: He had decided to apply elsewhere and never submitted an application.
Exclusive: Carson claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied
Republican hits POLITICO story, later admits to The New York Times he wasn’t offered aid.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday conceded that he never applied nor was granted admission to West Point and attempted to recast his previous claims of a full scholarship to the military academy — despite numerous public and written statements to the contrary over the last few decades.
West Point has occupied a central place in Carson’s personal story for years. According to a tale told in his book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by the offer of a “full scholarship” to the military academy.
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West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.
“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such,” she said.
When presented by POLITICO with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded he never applied.
“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
In an interview with The New York Times following the POLITICO story, Mr. Carson said: “I don’t remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”
“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.’”
Carson would have needed to seek admission in order to receive an offer of free education from West Point. Also, according to West Point, there is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the military academy, as Carson represented in his book.
An application to West Point begins with a nomination by a member of Congress or another prominent government or military official. After that, a rigorous vetting process begins. If offered admission, all costs are covered for all students; indeed there are no “full scholarships,” per se.
The statement from Carson’s campaign manager on Friday went on to say: “There are ‘Service Connected’ nominations for stellar High School ROTC appointments. Again he was the top ROTC student in Detroit. I would argue strongly that an Appointment is indeed an amazing full scholarship. Having ran several Congressional Offices I am very familiar with the Nomination process.
“Again though his Senior Commander was in touch with West Point and told Dr. Carson he could get in, Dr. Carson did not seek admission.”
Ben Carson has repeatedly claimed he was offered a full scholarship from West Point. He conveys the story in at least two other books, “You Have a Brain” and “Take the Risk.” Carson repeated his West Point claim as recently as Aug. 13, when he fielded questions from supporters on Facebook.
And in October, Carson shared the story with Charlie Rose: “I had a goal of achieving the office of city executive officer [in JROTC]. Well, no one had ever done that in that amount of time … Long story short, it worked, I did it. I was offered full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal dinners, but decided really my pathway would be medicine.”
The Carson campaign pushed back against POLTICO’s story after its publication, with Carson himself telling Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The Brody File” that the media “will go through all lengths trying to discredit me.” According to a tweet from the show, Carson said, of the mainstream media, “they’ll ask my kindergarten teacher, ‘did I ever wet my pants.’”
The concession from Carson’s campaign comes as serious questions about other points of fact in Carson’s personal narrative are questioned, including the seminal episode in which he claimed to have attempted to stab a close friend. Similarly, details have emerged that cast doubt on the nature of Carson’s encounter with one of the most prominent military men of that era.
The West Point spokeswoman said it certainly is possible Carson talked with Westmoreland, and perhaps the general even encouraged him to apply to West Point. However, she said, the general would have explained the benefits of a West Point education without guaranteeing him entry.
In “Gifted Hands,” Carson says he excelled in his ROTC program at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, earning the respect of his superiors — just a couple years after anger problems led him to try to murder a friend. He attained the rank of second lieutenant by his senior year of high school and became the student leader of the city’s ROTC programs.
In May of his senior year, he was chosen to march in the city’s Memorial Day parade.
“I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present,” he wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt” — his high school ROTC director — “introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
But, according to records of Westmoreland’s schedule that were provided by the U.S. Army, the general did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson. In fact, the general’s records suggest he was in Washington that day and played tennis at 6:45 p.m.
There are, however, several reports of an event in February of that year, similar to the one Carson described. Then, Westmoreland was the featured guest at a 1,500-person banquet to celebrate Medal of Honor recipient Dwight Johnson. The event drew prominent guests, including the governor at the time, the mayor of Detroit, the president of Ford Motor Company and nine previous Medal of Honor awardees, according to an Associated Press account of the event.
Carson, a leader of the city’s ROTC program at the time, may have been among the invited guests at the $10-a-plate event.
Carson’s later retelling of the events in this period of his life downplays his meeting with Westmoreland and that event’s link to a West Point acceptance. In his January 2015 book, “You Have a Brain,” — a book geared toward teenagers — Carson again recalls his rapid rise through his high school ROTC program to become the top student officer in the city.
“That position allowed me the chance to meet four-star general William Westmoreland, who had commanded all American forces in Vietnam before being promoted to Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.,” he wrote. “I also represented the Junior ROTC at a dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners, marched at the front of Detroit’s Memorial Day parade as head of an ROTC contingent, and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
Carson has said he turned down the supposed offer of admission because he knew he wanted to be a doctor and attending West Point would have required four years of military service after graduation.
Cecil Murphey, who ghostwrote “Gifted Hands,” told POLITICO that his memory of Carson’s exchange with Westmoreland was hazy.
“My gut response is that it was not a private meeting, but there were others there,” he said in an email. “The general took a liking to Ben and opened doors.”
Ben Carson admits he lied about West Point scholarship, insists stories about troubled childhood are true
BY MEG WAGNER
Ben Carson admitted Friday that he lied about earning a prestigious scholarship to West Point while controversy over the validity of his troubled kid-to-renowned doctor narrative reached a crescendo.
The 2016 GOP candidate said he fabricated a part of his 1996 autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” in which he claimed he was given a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy just hours after he rebuked accusations that he lied about his violent outbursts as a child and teenager.
In the nearly 20-year-old book, Carson boasted about his transformation from rage-filled boy to refined neurosurgeon, describing how he once tried to hit his mother with a hammer and attempted to stab one of his friends to death.
His former classmates, however, said they don’t remember the Republican as a rough kid.
“I don’t know nothing about that,” Gerald Ware, Carson’s classmate at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, told CNN. “It would have been all over the whole school.”
Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson claimed in his 1996 book that he had a violent childhood full of moments of ‘pathological anger.’
CNN spoke with nine people Carson grew up with. Not one remembered the Republican’s self-proclaimed violent outbursts.
While Carson slammed the CNN report, calling it a “bunch of lies” and “pathetic,” he did admit that there is at least one falsehood in the book: A story about how Gen. William Westmoreland offered the then-17-year-old a full-ride to West Point.
Carson said that as the leader of his high school’s Junior ROTC program, he attended a 1969 Memorial Day dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners. There, he met with General Westmoreland.
“Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” he wrote.
Carson may have met Westmoreland at the 1969 banquet — which was held in February, not May — but the general would not have promised the student a scholarship, West Point told POLITICO. All costs are covered for admitted West Point students, so “full ride” scholarships don’t exist.
Carson was “introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors” at a banquet, Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett said. While they may have discussed application process, Carson never applied or received a scholarship.
Instead, he attended Yale University before going on to the University of Michigan’s medical school.
West Point said it has no records of Carson applying to or enrolling in the academy.
Carson admitted he “doesn’t remember all the specific details” of meeting Westmoreland.
Ben Carson’s Violent Childhood Called Into Question as Classmates Don’t Remember
NY Daily News
“Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point,” Carson told the New York Times.
Despite the scholarship lie, Carson defended the rest of the book Friday, saying all the stories about his violent childhood are true.
In the 19-year-old book, Carson claimed he once tried to strike his mother with a hammer as they argued over clothing. His brother Curtis stepped in and disarmed the boy before he could physically harm their mother.
Carson also said he physically attacked at least two of his school friends.
In the seventh grade he hit a boy named Jerry with a lock after he teased Carson for saying something “stupid” in English class.
Carson wrote that he was given a “full scholarship” to West Point.
“I swung at him, lock in hand. The blow slammed into his forehead, and he groaned, staggering backward, blood seeping from a three-inch gash,” Carson wrote.
Two years later, in the ninth grade, he tried to stab a friend who he identified in the book only as “Bob.” The blade stuck Bob’s belt buckle, breaking the blade and leaving the teen unharmed.
“I was trying to kill somebody,” Carson wrote of the knife attack, calling it a moment of “pathological anger.”
The teenage Carson ran to the bathroom after the failed stabbing and prayed. Since then, he has never had a problem with his temper, he claimed in the book.
Carson’s classmates remembered him as introverted and studious — someone who was more likely to be found in the library than in the middle of a schoolyard fight.
Carson’s classmates have described him as a quiet, shy student, not an angry young man.
“He was a quiet, shy kid, not too outgoing,” said his junior high and high school classmate Jerry Dixon. “Bennie stayed home a lot or went to the library to work.”
Dixon said he is not the Jerry the doctor-turned-politician beat with a lock — and said he had never even heard of such an incident.
Carson refused to reveal the names of his victims in a Friday interview on CNN, saying to name them would be “victimizing.”
He admitted that he changed the names in his autobiography, but maintained both “Bob” and “Jerry” are real people who will only be identified if they chose to come forward on their own.
“Tell me what makes you think you’re going to find those specific people?” Carson asked CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “What is your methodology? Because I don’t understand it.”
Carson’s campaign adviser Armstrong Williams also refused to identify the candidate’s alleged victims or provide any kind of documentation showing disciplinary actions for his claimed school fights.
“Why would anyone cooperate with your obvious witch hunt?” Armstrong Williams wrote to CNN in an email last week, the day before Halloween. “No comment and moving on…… Happy Halloween!!!!!”
Donald Trump quickly weighed in on his rival’s controversy.
“The Carson story is either a total fabrication or, if true, even worse-trying to hit mother over the head with a hammer or stabbing friend!” he tweeted Thursday.
Ben Carson prepared to board his campaign bus after appearing at a book signing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday.Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A report on Friday said Ben Carson had acknowledged never having applied to West Point, raising questions about his repeated assertions that he had turned down a scholarship to attend the military academy.
According to the report, in Politico, West Point had no record that Mr. Carson, who has been leading in some national polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, had applied. When Politico approached Mr. Carson’s campaign with the information, his campaign manager, Barry Bennett, in a statement, explained that Mr. Carson had considered an offer to receive help getting an appointment to the academy, but he did not apply.
In repeated references to West Point over the years, Mr. Carson has strongly implied that he had a standing offer to attend.
In his statement, Mr. Bennett said, “Dr. Carson was the top R.O.T.C. student in the City of Detroit.”
Referring to Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the Army chief of staff at the time, Mr. Bennett added: “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as R.O.T.C. city executive officer.”
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his R.O.T.C. supervisors,” Mr. Bennett said. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in R.O.T.C. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, Mr. Carson said: “I don’t remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine.”
“It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.’”
Mr. Carson has recounted the episode of being offered a scholarship at various points in telling his triumphant personal story. (Technically, West Point does not offer scholarships; it is free to attend.)
In his recent book, “You Have a Brain,” Mr. Carson described how he decided which college to attend: “I still had the scholarship offer from West Point as a result of my R.O.T.C. achievements.”
“But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (it was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me. I often wonder what might have happened had they said no.”
The revelation came just a couple of days after a CNN report questioned the accuracy of Mr. Carson’s accounts of violent episodes in his youth, which are central to his often-told story of personal redemption through faith and hard work, one that has made him a favorite of evangelical Christian voters. On Friday, shortly before the Politico report was published, Mr. Carson attacked the CNN report as a “bunch of lies.”
Ben Carson defends his telling of an informal offer from West Point
By David Weigel
Ben Carson defended his long-told story of a “scholarship” to West Point today, responding to scrutiny by saying that he merely had received an “informal” offer of a free ride to the military academy.
“Because I had done so extraordinarily well you know I was told that someone like me [could] get a scholarship to West Point,” Carson told the New York Times. “It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.'”
Allies of the former neurosurgeon, who has slowly risen to the top of 2016 Republican primary polls, had been making a similar case all day. The argument — which depends on a careful parsing of verbs — is that he never applied, even after being told he’d be a sure-thing candidate. The point, which found many takers in conservative media, was that the controversy could be dismissed as a witch hunt.
That reasoning came together Friday morning, after Politico published a story titled “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship.” After confirming that Carson had never applied to West Point, and that a meeting Carson described with Gen. William Westmoreland apparently did not happen when the candidate had claimed, the story quoted Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett’s new explanation.
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett said. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
West Point cadets must be sponsored by a member of Congress or the Secretary of the Army. But Doug Watts, a spokesman for the campaign, said that Carson never completed — nor claimed to have completed — the process for acceptance into West Point, and those never had an official sponsor.
“He was told by the ROTC Commander that he could have an appointment,” explained Watts. “Dr. Carson rejected the offer, did not apply or pursue admission. Had he done so, and been accepted, that would have been tantamount to a scholarship, the same that all cadets receive.”
In an interview, Carson’s close friend Armstrong Williams argued that Politico had written a false headline off of Bennett’s accurate quote.
“In the story itself, the campaign does not say Dr. Carson applied to West Point,” Williams said of Politico. “Dr. Carson boasts about his scores in ROTC. Westmoreland encourages him to apply. As Dr. Carson says, they were impressed by his scores, but he never applied. They said to him, we could get you in. This guy got into Yale — obviously he could have got in. The headline was a fabrication.”
Carson, whose steady rise to the top of presidential primary polls has started to draw media scrutiny his way, is depending on a loose interpretation of the word “scholarship.” There is no tuition at West Point; there is no equivalent of a “scholarship” as generally understood at most universities. In his memoir “Gifted Hands” and in anecdotes about the offer, Carson never says that he “applied,” only that some “scholarship” came his way after a meeting with Westmoreland and “congressional medal winners.”
“I was offered a full scholarship to West Point,” Carson wrote. “I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going. As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted. The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school.”
That description of the offer came with its own problems — it is not, for example, impossible for a West Point graduate to complete his service, then become a doctor. But Carson’s allies insist that the gap between “applying” and being offered a “scholarship” debunks the Politico story. Indeed, in “Gifted Hands,” Carson repeatedly described how he had only $10 to submit with a college application, limiting his choices.
“Each college required a ten-dollar non-returnable entrance fee sent with the application,” Carson wrote. “I had exactly ten dollars, so I could apply only to one.”
In an August 2015 Facebook post, Carson described that situation again, to tell a questioner that he applied only to Yale.
“I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point,” wrote Carson. “But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (It was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me.”
Williams, who had not spoken to Carson since Politico’s story went online, insisted that it was “shoddy journalism” and oversold what Carson himself had claimed.
“It gives journalism a bad name,” said Williams. “It only fits into Dr. Carson’s narrative of a witch hunt.”
On Friday afternoon, conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, and Sean Hannity criticized the coverage that had made Carson out as a dissembler. But at least one of his rivals sense a political opportunity in the scrum.
“Well, I think it’s really the beginning of the end,” said Donald Trump in an interview.
In two of his books — the popular “Gifted Hands” as well as a newer book entitled “You Have a Brain” — Carson tells the West Point story as part of his aspirational life that began in poverty in Detroit and continued through a decorated career as a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon.
Now we know that story is, at best, somewhat misleading. It is of course possible that Carson was either led to believe he might have been given a scholarship to the military academy if he had applied or simply misunderstood a conversation he participated in. That is the direction the Carson team appears to be headed, saying in a statement of his meeting with then-Gen. William Westmoreland: “He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
Regardless of whether the West Point story is a simple misunderstanding or something more nefarious, what it will do is raise this simple question: What else in Ben Carson’s remarkable biography might not be totally, 100 percent accurate?
Even before the West Point story broke, Carson was dealing with suggestions that his recounting of his tough childhood highlighted by a terrible temper and a series of altercations with his mother — among other people — might not be true.
A CNN report, which was based on interviews with nine people who knew Carson as a young man, argues that the violent portrait he paints of himself doesn’t jibe with the person they knew. “All of the people interviewed expressed surprise about the incidents Carson has described,” reads the CNN story. “No one challenged the stories directly. Some of those interviewed expressed skepticism, but noted that they could not know what had happened behind closed doors.”
Carson spent Thursday insisting that the people who were directly involved in these purported attacks weren’t the people that CNN had spoken to and, therefore, the report had no merit.
Now, with the West Point story raging, Carson will come under even more pressure to explain some of the fuzzier parts of his personal biography. And if any other inconsistencies or outright falsehoods come out amid that heightened scrutiny, it could spell curtains for a Carson campaign that has just moved into the pole position in the Republican primary race.
With question over West Point offer, Ben Carson feels the glare of the front-runner’s spotlight
Timothy M. Phelps
retired Baltimore neurosurgeon Ben Carson has reached the top in several recent national polls, he is also experiencing new scrutiny as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.
On Friday, his name dominated political news with a Politico report that his campaign “admits fabricating a West Point scholarship” in his autobiography, though that reference was later taken out of the story. The story also quoted a West Point spokeswoman as saying the famous military academy had no record of an application from Carson.
Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, said in an interview that Carson’s book,“Gifted Hands,” was accurate when Carson wrote, “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
“I would not have used the word ‘full scholarship.’ I would have said ‘nomination,’ but it’s not a fabrication, it’s not a lie,” Bennett said in an interview. At West Point, tuition and other expenses are paid by the government.
Bennett said that Carson, who he said was the top high school Junior ROTC officer in Detroit, was offered a nomination to West Point by ROTC officials in the city. He said he did not have names, but that the campaign and others are trying to locate them to corroborate Carson’s story.
Later, Carson told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that his account of the West Point episode “could have been more clarified. I told it as I understood it.”
Also, Theresa Brinkerhoff, the chief of media relations at West Point, said that a comment she made to Politico was “misconstrued.”
Politico wrote that West Point had no record of Carson applying to the academy, but Brinkerhoff said in an interview that the academy does not keep records beyond three years if a candidate does not attend the school. The academy has no way of knowing whether Carson applied, Brinkerhoff said.
In the end, Bennett confirmed that Carson had not applied. In his book, Carson wrote that he never had any interest in any career other than medicine. “I remembered the scholarship offer from West Point. A teaching career? Business? None of these areas held any real interest,” he said.
Clearly, however, Carson has left an impression that the offer to go to the academy came from West Point itself. On Facebook in August, Carson took a question from someone named Bill, who “wanted to know if it was true that I was offered a slot at West Point after high school. Bill, that is true. I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point. But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school.”
Carson went to Yale.
Carson was also involved in a contentious interview Friday morning on CNN. Anchor Alisyn Camerota badgered him about reports by the network that it had been unable to locate some childhood friends or family members Carson mentions having assaulted in his autobiography.
In his book, Carson says he once tried to stab a person he refers to as Bob. On Friday, Carson told CNN that person was really a family member by another name who did not want to be identified. Other childhood friends mentioned in the book could decide for themselves whether to come forward, he said.
Bennett said the political attacks were a function of national polls over the past week showing him ahead of Donald Trump and all other Republicans for the nomination.
“Somewhere, there is a panicked candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination who is spreading a lot of dirt,” Bennett said.
Story 1: Part 1: The Decline and Fall Of The Democratic Party Under Liar In Chief Obama — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in 2016 Presidential Election — Two Party Tyranny — What Difference Does It Make? — Donor Class Wins No Matter Who Wins — Make America Great Again! –Videos
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ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 1 of 3
Art Thompson, CEO of The John Birch Society, takes you into the new healthcare law. He identifies a pattern of government broken promises, revealing that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Find out what’s really in the new law and what you can expect long term.
ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 2 of 3
ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 3 of 3
John Birch Society: Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine, explains how President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an “an all-out assault on our national sovereignty,” and how It would unconstitutionally transfer legislative powers from the U.S. Congress, our state legislatures, and our city and county governments to multi-national corporations and unaccountable international bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization, or WTO. Incredibly, it also would transfer judicial powers from our federal and state courts — which are bad enough — to globalist TPP judges at regional tribunals and the WTO.
DECLINE of EMPIRES: The Signs of Decay
Archie Bunker on Democrats
Archie Bunker predicts conditions under Obama
George Carlin – It’s a big club and you ain’t in it
Obama Job Approval Steady in 27th Quarter at 45.9%
by Jeffrey M. Jones
Average 45.9% approval similar to 46.1% in prior quarter
Obama has been under 50% approval for most of his presidency
Approval midrange compared with other presidents’ 27th quarters
PRINCETON, N.J. — President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in his 27th quarter in office, from July 20 to Oct. 19, averaged 45.9%, essentially unchanged from his 46.1% average for the prior quarter.
Obama’s daily approval ratings also varied little within his most recent quarter, averaging 46% nearly every week during the quarter. There were just two modest but notable exceptions. In late August, as U.S. stocks fell in response to concerns about problems in the Chinese economy, his weekly approval rating dipped to 44%. And in late September it rose to 48% during the week of Pope Francis’ U.S. trip, which included a widely covered visit with Obama at the White House.
Since he became president nearly seven years ago, Obama has averaged 47% job approval. There have been only five quarters when he had majority approval, with four of those occurring during the first year of his presidency, the so-called “honeymoon phase” when new presidents tend to be rated positively. The only other time Obama’s quarterly approval exceeded 50% was perhaps the most consequential one — the 16th quarter, in which he was re-elected.
Obama’s 27th Quarter Midrange Compared With Other Presidents
Obama is the sixth post-World War II president to serve a 27th quarter in office. Two of these — Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton — were rated quite positively at this stage in their presidencies, with average approval ratings of 65.3% and 59.7%, respectively.
In contrast, Harry Truman (23.0%) and George W. Bush (33.2%) were decidedly unpopular at the same point of their presidencies. Truman’s 27th quarter average is the worst quarterly average for any president in Gallup’s polling history.
Obama’s 27th quarter average, along with Ronald Reagan’s, is between these two extremes. Reagan averaged 47.0% approval, slightly better than Obama’s 45.9%.
After presidents have served nearly seven years in office, Americans’ opinions of them are pretty well-established and unlikely to change unless a major international or domestic crisis occurs. Clinton’s and Bush’s approval ratings did not change between their 27th and 28thquarters. Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan saw modest improvements of a few percentage points.
Americans’ opinions of Obama have been steady this year, holding near 46%. If his approval ratings do not improve dramatically during the remainder of his presidency, his full-term approval rating average, currently 47%, will rank among the lowest for post-World War II presidents, tied with Gerald Ford’s and better than only Truman’s (45.4%) and Jimmy Carter’s (45.5%).
Obama’s relatively low approval ratings may be as much a function of the era in which he is governing as it is a reflection on his leadership, management and decision-making. There have been relatively few international crises that helped to boost his public support, as the 9/11 attacks and Iraq War did for Bush, and as similar crises have done for other presidents. Arguably the only “rally event” in Obama’s presidency was the capture of Osama bin Laden. Obama also took office during the Great Recession, and the economic recovery since it ended has been slow and uneven.
But Obama is also governing in a time of extreme partisan polarization. In Congress, that has meant political gridlock since Democrats lost control of the U.S. House in the 2010 midterm elections. In the American public, it is evident in his historically low support from the opposition party. Obama’s average 13% approval rating among Republicans is on pace to be the lowest job approval rating from the opposition party by a full 10 percentage points, behind Bush’s average 23% approval rating among Democrats. By comparison, Clinton averaged 27% approval among Republicans, and presidents before Clinton averaged 40% approval from the opposition.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 20-Oct. 19, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 45,663 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
In U.S., New Record 43% Are Political Independents
by Jeffrey M. Jones
Record 43% of Americans are political independents
Democrats maintain edge among those with a party preference
Democratic advantage smaller in 2014 than in 2013
PRINCETON, N.J. — An average 43% of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014, establishing a new high in Gallup telephone poll trends back to 1988. In terms of national identification with the two major parties, Democrats continued to hold a modest edge over Republicans, 30% to 26%.
Since 2008, the percentage of political independents — those who identify as such before their leanings to the two major parties are taken into account — has steadily climbed from 35% to the current 43%, exceeding 40% each of the last four years. Prior to 2011, the high in independent identification was 39% in 1995 and 1999.
The recent rise in political independence has come at the expense of both parties, but more among Democrats than among Republicans. Over the last six years, Democratic identification has fallen from 36% — the highest in the last 25 years — to 30%. Meanwhile, Republican identification is down from 28% in 2008 to 26% last year.
The latest results are based on aggregated data from 15 separate Gallup telephone polls conducted throughout 2014.
These changes have left both parties at or near low points in the percentage who identify themselves as core supporters of the party. Although the party identification data compiled in telephone polls since 1988 are not directly comparable to the in-person polling Gallup collected before then, the percentages identifying as Democrats prior to 1988 were so high that it is safe to say the average 30% identifying as Democrats last year is the lowest since at least the 1950s.
Republican identification, at 26%, is a shade higher than the 25% in 2013. Not since 1983, the year before Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election victory, have fewer Americans identified as Republicans.
The decline in identification with both parties in recent years comes as dissatisfaction with government has emerged as one of the most important problems facing the country, according to Americans. This is likely due to the partisan gridlock that has come from divided party control of the federal government. Trust in the government to handle problems more generally is the lowest Gallup has measured to date, and Americans’ favorable ratings of both parties are at or near historical lows. Thus, the rise in U.S. political independence likely flows from the high level of frustration with the government and the political parties that control it.
Democrats’ Edge in Party Identification and Leaning Shrinks
Although independents claim no outright allegiance to either major party, it is well-known that they are not necessarily neutral when it comes to politics. When pressed, most independents will say they lean to one of the two major parties. For example, last year an average of 17% of Americans who initially identified as independents subsequently said they “leaned” Republican, 15% were independents who leaned Democratic, with the remaining 11% not expressing a leaning to either party.
Since partisan leaners often share similar attitudes to those who identify with a party outright, the relative proportions of identifiers plus leaners gives a sense of the relative electoral strength of the two political parties, since voting decisions almost always come down to a choice of the two major-party candidates. In 2014, an average 45% of Americans identified as Democrats or said they were Democratic-leaning independents, while 42% identified as Republicans or were Republican-leaning independents.
That the three-point Democratic edge was down from six points in 2013, and among Democrats’ smaller advantages the past 25 years. Democrats usually hold an advantage in this combined measure of party affiliation. In fact, the only year Republicans held a notable edge since Gallup began tracking independents’ political leanings was in 1991, the year Republican President George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings soared after the United States’ victory in the Persian Gulf War. Democrats’ high point came in 2008, in the final year of George W. Bush’s administration and the year Barack Obama was first elected president.
However, the three-point Democratic advantage for all of 2014 obscures the change that occurred during the year. On a quarterly basis, Democrats started out 2014 with a five-point edge, similar to their advantage in 2013. That dipped to two points by the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, likely in response to Republicans’ success in the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans held a slight advantage of one point.
Since 2008, Americans have been increasingly reluctant to identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party, and now a record 43% claimed political independence in 2014. Given historical trends, 2015 could bring a new record, as the percentage identifying as independents typically increases in the year before a presidential election, averaging a 2.5-point increase in the last six such years.
Although Democrats typically have an advantage in partisanship, that edge shrunk in 2014 and in the last months of the year the parties were essentially on equal footing. With each party controlling part of the federal government — Democrats the presidency and Republicans the Congress — they each will have a say in how the nation addresses its major challenges in the coming year. However, in recent years divided control of government has more often than not resulted in partisan gridlock, and Americans’ frustration with the frequent political stalemate is evident. Continued frustration with the government would likely encourage more Americans to identify as independents this year.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted January-December 2014, with a combined random sample of 16,479 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
New Emails Reveal Obama White House Worked on Concocting Benghazi Lie DURING the Attacks
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said on Thursday that the Obama White House was contacting YouTube owner Google during the Benghazi terrorist attacks, working on the false narrative even before Americans were out of harm’s way and before the intelligence community examined available evidence.
The still classified Obama State Department email, according to Issa, shows that the Obama White House rushed to settle on the false narrative of the anti-Islamic YouTube video instigating the attacks, which was completely at odds with the conclusions reached by reports from the ground.
This new evidence destroys the Obama White House claims, communicated by Obama spokesman Jay Carney, that the White House obtained the false narrative from CIA talking points, since, according to Congressman Issa, the communication with YouTube was conducted by the Obama White House before any CIA talking points were concocted.
The subject line of the email, ironically sent at 9:11 p.m. (the attacks took place on 9/11/12) on the night of the attack, was “Update on Response to actions – Libya,” hours before the attack had ended.
“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence,” Issa said.
Issa has called for the Obama White House to declassify the email.
According to Issa, one of the items noted in the email stated, “White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advise ramifications of the posting of the Pastor Jon video.”
Issa scolded current Secretary of State, Democrat John Kerry, for just now turning over a classified version of the email, some 20 months after the attack, while calling on the regime to release a unclassified copy.
“Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry and the State Department continue to try to keep this information from the public, only turning this document over to Congress last month. While the information I have cited from this email is clearly unclassified, the State Department has attempted to obstruct its disclosure by not providing Congress with an unclassified copy of this document that redacted only classified portions outlining what the Department of Defense and the Secretary of State were doing in response to the attack in Benghazi that night.”
“This tactic prevents the release of the email itself,” said Issa.
Paul Ryan officially declares candidacy for House speaker
Rep. Paul Ryan officially announced his bid Thursday night to become the next House speaker after securing backing from the three major political factions inside the House GOP conference.
“I never thought I’d be speaker,” Ryan wrote in a letter to his Republican colleagues. “But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve — I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”
The Wisconsin Republican snapped up endorsements from a centrist Republican caucus called the Tuesday Group as well as from the more conservative Republican Study Committee.
“After hearing Paul lay out his vision for the future of the Republican conference, I am confident that he is the right person to lead the House going forward,” Rep. Bill Flores, chairman of the RSC, said in a statement Thursday. “He has the policy expertise, conservative principles and strong values we need in our next speaker.”
The endorsements came after Ryan won support from most members of the House Freedom Caucus — a group of about 40 hard-line conservatives — late Wednesday night.
“I’ve spoken with many of you over the past few days, and I can sense the hunger in our conference to get to work,” Ryan wrote. “I know many of you want to show the country how to fix our tax code, how to rebuild our military, how to strengthen the safety net, and how to lift people out of poverty. I know you’re willing to work hard and get it done, and I think this moment is ripe for real reform.”
Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, announced Tuesday he would run for the top leadership job if he got support from all GOP factions. He gave his colleagues until Friday to decide whether to support him.
He had repeatedly said he did not want the job but was pressed to run by Republicans who see him as the best candidate to unite the GOP conference.
“Whatever our differences, we’re all conservatives,” Ryan wrote in his letter. “We were elected to defend the constitution. We share the same principles. We all believe America is the land of opportunity — the place where you should be able to go as far as your talents and hard work will take you.”
Republicans will choose a new speaker next week — voting in conference next Wednesday to pick their nominee and on the House floor next Thursday. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is set to resign next Friday.
The rebellious Freedom Caucus was Ryan’s biggest obstacle to becoming speaker. He did not win the group’s official backing because he fell short of its requirement that at least 80% of its members agree on an endorsement. He won support from about 70% of caucus members.
The caucus’ qualified support, combined with endorsements from the other two GOP groups, are enough to clear Ryan’s path — and possibly end the weeks-long leadership scramble inside the House GOP conference.
Eighty-one percent of Republican insiders say that the likelihood that Trump becomes their party’s nominee is more today than it was a month ago.
The odds that Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination are going up.
Eighty-one percent of Republican insiders say the likelihood that Trump becomes their party’s nominee is more today than it was a month ago, and 79 percent of Democrats said the same. That’s according to the POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan survey of top strategists, operatives and activists in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Story Continued Below
“I can’t even describe the lunacy of him as our nominee. But reason has not applied to date in this race, and my hopes are fleeting that it will ever surface,” lamented an Iowa Republican, who like all participants was granted anonymity in order to speak freely.
“Predictions of his demise keep not coming true,” added a New Hampshire Republican.
Asserted a South Carolina Republican, “Donald Trump being the GOP nominee is now within the realm of possibility.”
Twenty-two percent of Caucus Republicans said Trump has a 50-50 shot at becoming the Republican nominee; the same percentage said he has a 30 percent chance. The rest of the respondents were divided, with the majority saying his odds are still less than 50 percent. But more than 8-in-10 GOP respondents said those are better odds than they gave Trump a month ago.
The results are notable because they represent a big shift in the thinking of POLITICO Caucus insiders, who this summer were deeplyskeptical of Trump’s staying power.
“Trump will be among 3-4 finalists well into April; of that there is no doubt,” an Iowa Republican said.
Added a New Hampshire Republican, who like all participants responded via an online survey: “Numbers are numbers and you have to give them credence. I remain skeptical that he has the ability to turn people out, come primary day, but I [have] been wrong about this campaign every step of the way so far.”
Several insiders pointed to both Trump’s persistent leads in polls and evidence of organization on the ground.
“I think he’s now mounting a serious campaign,” a South Carolina Republican said. “His stump speech had matured and even though the novelty of his candidacy is wearing off, his straight talk is appealing to people who are so sick of being lied to by the political class.”
Another Iowa Republican agreed, saying, “The more time that goes by that he continues to lead — the more likely it is he wins. That simple. Also, comparatively, he is building a real campaign. More so than many others.”
“Not sure why anyone should be so surprised that Trump’s campaign is getting so serious in terms of infrastructure build-out,” a New Hampshire Democrat said. “Trump may be a jerk, but he is an extremely successful jerk. He has the means and the smarts to compete everywhere — and he is not slowing down.”
That’s not the case in Nevada, noted several Republicans there, who said they see little evidence of a strong Trump ground game there.
But, one Republican from that state admonished: “He has demonstrated that he is durable in a way that Herman Cain, Michele [Bachmann] and Newt Gingrich were not. … A lot can happen in the next few months, but it is time for everyone to stop whistling past the graveyard and realize that this is real and he could be our standard-bearer.”
However, several insiders also predict that, though his odds have improved, the rest of the Republican Party will coalesce against him if he still appears to be a serious contender for the nomination when voting begins.
“Maybe, just maybe, Trump wins an early contest or two. That will trigger a much stronger Stop Trump movement,” a New Hampshire Republican said. “The party will nominate Bob Dole — in 2016 —before it will nominate Trump. And a Trump nomination would result in a third candidate emerging.”
Several insiders also said Trump couldn’t withstand waves of scrutiny stemming from attacks launched by super PACs and big donors that, they said, may be just around the corner.
“The summer of Trump has lasted longer than conventional wisdom suggested it would,” a South Carolina Republican said. “It’s going to take a sustained, multi-pronged paid media effort to educate voters that Trump is not a conservative and has flip-flopped on practically every issue. Major donors are quickly getting to the place where they are ready to fund such an effort.”
All eyes on Jeb
The pressure is on for Jeb Bush in next week’s GOP debate, insiders said. Forty-seven percent of Republicans, and 41 percent of Democrats, said the former Florida governor is the candidate with the most riding on the contest, set for next Wednesday in Boulder, Colo.
“Jeb really needs a knock-out performance — it needs to be all him with nobody even close. Otherwise those fumes he’s on are going to evaporate even quicker,” a New Hampshire Republican said.
An Iowa Republican said he doesn’t even need to go that far, but he does need to step up his performance.
“Riding at 6 percent in the polls has rattled Jeb’s donors and volunteers,” this insider said. “He doesn’t need a breakout performance, but he needs to be in the mix and in the top tier of the debate or risk getting shoved to the background and overshadowed by Rubio and others seeking to win over mainstream Republican voters.”
Marco Rubio was a distant second choice for which candidate was under the most pressure for a strong debate, pulling in 13 percent of the overall Republican vote and 24 percent of the Democratic vote.
“Rubio has been the one constant at third place, and it’s time he breaks out of that and starts cutting into Trump/Carson,” a South Carolina Democrat said. “It’s no longer ‘early’ and it’s not the final stretch, but this is the part of the horse race where jockeys know they have to start making their moves if they want to be in position to win.”
Fire-breathing scourge of Wall Street on the campaign trail — and reliable friend of Wall Street in the boardroom. That’s Hillary Clinton — and the big-money crowd thinks it’s in on the game.
For all her populist rhetoric against hedge-funders and the like, Clinton has received more donations from CEOs than any candidate in the GOP — you know, the party of the greedy rich.
More than 760 of Clinton’s presidential donors have listed their occupation as CEO or some variation, according to a Big Crunch analysis of federal election forms.
That’s as many as have given to Republican hopefuls Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz combined.
And it doesn’t even include people like hedge-fund CEO Robert Mercer, who prefers to list himself as a “financial consultant” — or those who’ve given instead to pro-Hillary super-PACs. (Or all the folks who’ve bought goodwill over the years by giving to the Clinton Foundation.)
Surprising? No. We’re talking about a woman who’s made millions from hefty six-figure fees for speeches to, among others, groups headed by those same CEOs.
She’s also raked in many millions more for her campaign from corporate lawyers, lobbyists and bankers.
Still, that hasn’t stopped her from declaring, “Wall Street, you’ve had your president. Now we need a president for Main Street.”
And never mind what that seems to imply about the guy in the Oval Office now. Or that just one of her speeches costs four times the average American’s salary.
Wall Street gets it. The fat cats figure she’s just saying what she must to placate her party’s Sanders-Warren hard-left wing.
As one hedge-fund manager told Politico: “Nobody takes it like she’s going after them personally.”
It’s just Hillary being Hillary. Which is to say, all things to all people.
A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now afflicting millions of conservative Americans. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45thpresident. Their denial is just as strong now as it was a month ago, before Clinton began a run of political victories that have enhanced her prospects, all while the roller derby/demolition derby that is the Republican nomination contest has continued to harm the GOP’s chances of winning back the White House.
To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. Bernie Sanders could still upend her in Iowa, New Hampshire, or both, which could throw the nomination battle into unadulterated bedlam. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what.
But October has been good to Clinton: a glittering debate performance, the decision of potential rival Joe Biden not to run (greatly simplifying her path to the nomination), the vanquishing of Republicans during her daylong Benghazi hearing, and a solid turn at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night. All have improved Clinton’s odds of cruising into the White House twelve months hence, and have thrown into sharper relief some of the advantages she has had all along.
To state the obvious, Clinton faces two tasks to become commander-in-chief: get enough delegates to beat Sanders and then sew up 270 electoral votes. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.
Here, then, are some of the advantages the Democratic frontrunner has now, many of which have been ignored or discounted by the people who want to beat her so badly they can’t think straight:
Hillary has shown she can handle Bernie Sanders, despite his plucky persona, raw grassroots appeal, and authentic authenticity.The Vegas debate and Clinton’s improved poll standing has given her and her team a revived notion that Sanders will end up a nuisance rather than a real threat. She has confidence she can face him down in the three debates remaining before Iowa. Without Biden in the race, Clinton is not going to have to play three-dimensional chess and can focus her energies on Sanders alone.
Bernie has shown he doesn’t quite understand how to play big moments in the big leagues.First the debate and now the Jefferson-Jackson dinner—Sanders prepared more for both evenings than the organic Vermonter normally would for any political event, but even his advisers concede that neither occasion represented the kind of performance that Sanders will eventually have to present if he is going to stop the prohibitive front-runner. He was very strong Saturday night but aides say they are still having trouble fully convincing him that not all campaign events are created equal.
Hillary is getting better at managing (and shaking off) the personal pang of her likability deficit.At the J-J dinner, in her recent television interviews, and in her Benghazi testimony, she is showing more of her real self (even the all-too-human tetchy, the airily dismissive, the lordly—without knee-jerk defensiveness or wide-eyed guile), and not getting tied in knots over how she is coming off. While this version of Hillary is still nails-on-a-chalkboard to her conservative critics, it is a huge improvement over the recent past and probably enough to win under the right circumstances.
Biden’s withdrawal means Clinton will lock up even more commitments from the Democratic establishment, giving her even more super delegates and making it easier to bounce back if Sanders wins Iowa, New Hampshire, or both. I reported in August that Clinton’s camp already had in hand private commitments from enough of the elected and party officials who are automatic delegates to the national convention next summer (so-called super delegates) that she was one fifth of her way to the nomination. That number has increased significantly in recent weeks and will go up now that Biden has passed on the race. This allows Team Clinton to make a robust argument about her inevitability and gives it a squadron of surrogates from the left, center, and right of the Democratic Party to wound Sanders, buck her up if she stumbles, and, eventually, argue that the senator should get out of the competition if she wins early.
Hillary has massive support from labor unions.The party’s most important constituency group in terms of ground troops and campaign resources is now moving decisively towards Clinton, also giving her more working-class cred and undermining one of Sanders’ strongest rhetorical plays—that she is out of touch with the economic grassroots. And long-invested unions will provide her important foot soldiers in the general election battlegrounds, as they have since time began for Democratic presidential nominees.
Hillary could be the de facto Democratic nominee by Feb. 8. Her team privately believes that, given the way expectations have been set up, even narrow wins in the two first-voting contests would not be discounted. Clinton has robust field operations in both states and could diligently grind her way to victories. Even Sanders’ top aides acknowledge that, barring other factors, it could be game, set, match if Hillary starts the voting year with twin wins, giving Brooklyn ample incentive to go all in there and try to put it away early.
Hillary’s husband now seems fired up and ready to go.Although a little rusty over the weekend in Iowa in his 2015 campaign trail debut, accounts from aides to both Clintons suggest the former president has learned lessons from his performance eight years ago, when he arguably hurt his wife’s chances as much as he helped her. He has been kept in the loop on the campaign’s thinking, receives polling information on a regular basis, and has participated in some strategy discussions with the team. The campaign seems happy with him, and he seems happy with the campaign, and that is a big change from 2008. Both campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook have good and confident relationships with the FPOTUS, who seems less ambivalent than last time about becoming the First Lad.
Hillary’s campaign is much less tense and fractious than was the 2008 team. There are fraught moments in Brooklyn, as in any campaign, and Clinton’s donors can get restive awfully quick, but this year’s model is one of relative peace and tranquility. Zen masters Podesta, Mook, and communications chief Jennifer Palmieri set the “been there, done that, seen that, dealt with that” sensibility.
Hillary’s team at last is convincing rich Democrats to come around to the super-PAC game.Clinton loyalist Guy Cecil is now topping Priorities USA and he has brought in a new cast of folks to supplement holdovers such as Paul Begala, Jim Messina, and Harold Ickes, all of whom have experience rubbing shoulders with the mega-wealthy and prying seven-figure checks out of their hands. Cecil knows how to leverage hot buttons like the Koch brothers and the threat of more conservative Supreme Court justices and unified GOP control of Washington to maintain momentum and encourage the participation of those previously reluctant to muck about in the big money world that many liberals despise and disdain.
Hillary has a first-class opposition research team that is saving nuggets to use once Republicans pick their nominee.Oppo veteran Christina Reynolds heads an operation that can afford to play a long game, teasing out incremental research in conjunction with allies such as the Democratic National Committee but knowing full well that holding back powerful tidbits until the late spring or summer, when the eventual Republican nominee will be most vulnerable, is supremely smart. The research operations of the Republican presidential campaigns, on the other hand, are currently focused on each other (although the independent group America Rising is hoping to make up the gap).
The Republican nominee is more likely to emerge bloodied, broke, and behind. A nominating calendar and delegate rules designed to avoid the kind of extended intra-party fight that crippled Mitt Romney’s general election effort will almost certainly be no match for a fifteen candidate field, a number of whom can make a decent argument that they’ll win the prize. The ferociousness and deep pockets of gladiators Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and the possibility that the party establishment will end up intervening with tens of millions of dollars in negative TV spots means a long, gory slog that might not find resolution until after the national convention in Cleveland in mid-July. (Of course, if Trump is ultimately the nomination victor, then “broke” should not be a factor.)
As the nominee, Hillary will effectively control the DNC and will exercise free rein over the convention.Even with Sanders a remaining foe, Hillaryland is coordinating fundraising with the national and state parties, strategizing about installing allies at the party headquarters in DC, and gaming out what the Philly convention will look like. If Clinton is the standard bearer, make no mistake: Brooklyn will convert the DNC into its wholly owned subsidiary and will take over every jot and tittle of convention planning and execution. This type of control typically leads to less friction and a smoother running enterprise, including on-message convention speakers.
Republicans are erroneously convinced they can beat Clinton solely with talk of Benghazi, e-mails, and other controversies that have nothing to do with the economy and the real lives of real people.Nowhere does the Fox News-Rush Limbaugh echo chamber more hurt Republican chances of beating Clinton than in the politics of scandal and controversy. To paraphrase the famous line attributed to Pauline Kael: everyone who conservatives know think the Clintons should be in prison. The problem is that swing voters don’t share that view in sufficient numbers to actually warrant banking a victory on placing those arguments front and center. Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgement that the Benghazi committee was set up to damage Clinton politically has not just polluted the select committee’s efforts; it also means that one of the most effectively tried-and-true Team Clinton defenses (that any controversy that swirls around her is a ginned up political attack because Republicans don’t want to talk about real issues) has got legs straight through next November.
Hillary is ready for the debates.She won’t have as many debates in which to hone her skills as the eventual GOP nominee, but she has many other edges, including her 2008 experience; the fact that going forward she will face only one or two opponents—rather than nine or so—on the debate stage (much closer to the dynamics in a general election); her professionalized and experienced debate prep team (many of whom worked the same gig for Barack Obama); and her own fearsome, dogged, and scrupulous preparation.
Hillary’s pollster knows how to find issues that test 80-20 or 70-30, and the candidate knows how to translate them on the stump.While Republican presidential candidates thrash around competing to see who can be the most anti-immigrant, pro-tax cuts for the wealthy, anti-abortion and gay marriage, and pro-climate change-denying, Clinton’s pollster and strategist Joel Benenson is busy finding topics she can talk about in a general election that garner overwhelming support from the public across the political spectrum and will put the GOP nominee on the defensive. Nothing makes a Clinton running for president more confident and effective than having mainstream boldface issues to use as a cudgel.
Obama’s approval rating is holding at a level that would make Clinton’s path much easier. Yes, the economy is not going gangbusters. Yes, ObamaCare is not universally popular (to say the least). Yes, the world is filled with dangerous hot spots and looming, chilling threats. But barring some major change in his fortune, Obama’s current approval rating of around 46% is likely to sustain through Election Day, a high enough figure, history suggests, to keep him from being a drag on his party’s nominee and chosen successor.
Hillary’s team is already thinking about general election targeting.One of the pages Brooklyn has taken from the Obama playbook is to start thinking about the general election early. That includes using contests in caucuses and primaries states that will be battlegrounds next November to build up a team, target data, establish media relationships, and keep it all humming after the nominating contest and throughout the duration. It also includes living by the dictum “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours let’s negotiate over,” hawkishly protecting the nearly 250 electoral votes and voting groups Democrats have won consistently over the last several cycles while looking to expand the targeting efforts demographically and geographically.
Hillary would inherit a considerable demographic edge in a general election. Republicans have done next to nothing, and clearly much more harm than good since Mitt Romney lost in 2012, to make in-roads with the so-called coalition of the ascendant. Clinton would almost certainly have an overwhelming edge with African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT voters, young people, and single women, and the future contours of the Republican nomination fight are not likely to make the party’s challenge with these groups any easier.
Hillary would also inherit a considerable Electoral College edge in a general election.The Democrats don’t have quite the Electoral College “lock” that the GOP had in the ‘70s and ‘80s but it is pretty close. A strong Republican nominee could make Clinton play defense in states such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado. But the safe Democrat states would give her a huge leg up, and demographic changes mean Clinton could be playing offense in places such as Georgia and Arizona under the right circumstances. Political pros in both parties believe some of the leading Republican contenders would give Clinton a chance to surpass her husband’s 1992 electoral vote total of 370 if they are her eventual competition.
Clinton advisers are well aware of these many advantages. They are staying largely mum for now, preferring to let the candidate’s recent positive media coverage speak for itself and not relinquish any tactical advantage of surprise.
They also know the FBI probe into her e-mails, Bill Clinton’s portfolio, or something new and super controversial could upend her standing at any time. And the raucous Republican nomination process could yet yield a strong general election opponent for her. This list is not meant to gloss over the considerable challenges Clinton is sure to face even if everything goes as planned on her side—not to mention if things start to go south. And a few savvy Republican operatives are ringing the alarm bell in private strategy sessions, urging the party to try to address as many of these deficits as soon as possible.
But don’t be surprised if reports soon surface mirroring what happened almost exactly eight years ago, when Clinton asked top advisers to secretly begin planning her vice presidential selection process—and her presidential transition. Republicans would surely see those steps as wildly premature, but given all of Clinton’s advantages now, she may consider it simply prudent planning.
Story 1: Watermelon President Obama and Pope Francis — Green on The Outside and Red On The Inside — Neither Is An Authority On Science, Economics, Or Democides — Cosmic or Social Justice Is Using Coercion and Force To Steal — Leads To Democide and Genocide — Videos
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
Pope Francis in the USA- Welcome ceremony and visit to the President
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Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We can no doubt expect more of the same during his visit to the United States.
Pope Francis is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals. He is, in a sense, the culmination of that trend.
There has long been a political left among Catholics, as among other Americans. Often they were part of the pragmatic left, as in the many old Irish-run, big city political machines that dispensed benefits to the poor in exchange for their votes, as somewhat romantically depicted in the movie classic, “The Last Hurrah.”
But there has also been a more ideological left. Where the Communists had their official newspaper, “The Daily Worker,” there was also “The Catholic Worker” published by Dorothy Day.
A landmark in the evolution of the ideological left among Catholics was a publication in the 1980s, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled “Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”
Although this publication was said to be based on Catholic teachings, one of its principal contributors, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, said: “I think we should be up front and say that really we took this from the Enlightenment era.”
The specifics of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter reflect far more of the secular Enlightenment of the 18th century than of Catholic traditions. Archbishop Weakland admitted that such an Enlightenment figure as Thomas Paine “is now coming back through a strange channel.”
Strange indeed. Paine rejected the teachings of “any church that I know of,” including “the Roman church.” He said: “My own mind is my own church.” Nor was Paine unusual among the leading figures of the 18th century Enlightenment.
To base social or moral principles on the philosophy of the 18th century Enlightenment, and then call the result “Catholic teachings” suggests something like bait-and-switch advertising.
But, putting aside religious or philosophical questions, we have more than two centuries of historical evidence of what has actually happened as the ideas of people like those Enlightenment figures were put into practice in the real world — beginning with the French Revolution and its disastrous aftermath.
Both the authors of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter in the 1980s, and Pope Francis today, blithely throw around the phrase “the poor,” and blame poverty on what other people are doing or not doing to or for “the poor.”
Any serious look at the history of human beings over the millennia shows that the species began in poverty. It is not poverty, but prosperity, that needs explaining. Poverty is automatic, but prosperity requires many things — none of which is equally distributed around the world or even within a given society.
Geographic settings are radically different, both among nations and within nations. So are demographic differences, with some nations and groups having a median age over 40 and others having a median age under 20. This means that some groups have several times as much adult work experience as others.
Cultures are also radically different in many ways.
As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?
In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.
A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.
Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.
Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s “Bleak House”) and other matters.
George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. He is also a contributor to FOX News’ daytime and primetime programming.View Archive
And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet anotherU.N. Climate Change Conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be.This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.
The saint who is Francis’s namesake supposedly lived in sweet harmony with nature. For most of mankind, however, nature has been, and remains, scarcity, disease and natural — note the adjective — disasters. Our flourishing requires affordable, abundant energy for the production of everything from food to pharmaceuticals. Poverty has probably decreased more in the past two centuries than in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.
Matt Ridley, author of “The Rational Optimist,” notes that coal supplanting wood fuel reversed deforestation, and that “fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food.” The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today. Sixty-three percent of fibers are synthetic and derived from fossil fuels; of the rest, 79 percent come from cotton, which requires synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. “Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides derived from fossil fuels,” he says, “are responsible for at least 60 percent of today’s global food supply.” Without fossil fuels, he says, global cropland would have to increase at least 150 percent — equal to the combined land areas of South America and the European Union — to meet current food demands.
Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world’s 14th highest per-capita gross domestic product in 1900 to 63rd today. Francis’s agenda for the planet — “global regulatory norms” — would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.
As the world spurns his church’s teachings about abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and other matters, Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of “sustainability.” Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’s seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30.
Francis’s fact-free flamboyance reduces him to a shepherd whose selectively reverent flock, genuflecting only at green altars, is tiny relative to the publicity it receives from media otherwise disdainful of his church. Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy’s very different salvific mission.
He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.
Obama’s welcoming speech to Pope Francis, and the pope’s reply
President Barack Obama’s remarks came first Wednesday morning at the White House. Pope Francis’ own comments are below the president’s.
Good morning! What a beautiful day the Lord has made! Holy Father, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. Our backyard is not typically this crowded – but the size and spirit of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70 million American Catholics . . . and the way your message of love and hope has inspired so many people, across our nation and around the world. On behalf of the American people, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome you to the United States of America.
Today, we mark many firsts. Your Holiness, you have been celebrated as the first pope from the Americas. This is your first visit to the United States. And you are also the first pontiff to share an encyclical through a Twitter account.
Holy Father, your visit not only allows me, in some small way, to reciprocate the extraordinary hospitality you extended to me at the Vatican last year. It also reveals how much all Americans, from every background and of every faith, value the role that the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America. From my time working in impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church in Chicago to my travels as president, I’ve seen firsthand how, every day, Catholic communities, priests, nuns and laity feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, educate our children and fortify the faith that sustains so many.
What is true in America is true around the world. From the busy streets of Buenos Aires to remote villages in Kenya, Catholic organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners, build schools and homes, and operate orphanages and hospitals. And just as the Church has stood with those struggling to break the chains of poverty, it has given voice and hope to those seeking to break the chains of violence and oppression.
And yet, I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person. In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.
You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concern. You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and as societies, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity – because we are all made in the image of God.
You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart – from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life. It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, those who have suffered and those who seek redemption.
You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace. Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere and a better life for the Cuban people. We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women and children; and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy.
You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty. Yet around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned. Churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.
And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.
Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example. And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency. All of us may, at times, experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance between how we lead our daily lives and what we know to be true and right. But I believe such discomfort is a blessing, for it points to something better. You shake our conscience from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and give us confidence that we can come together, in humility and service, and pursue a world that is more loving, more just, and more free. Here at home and around the world, may our generation heed your call to “never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!”
For that great gift of hope, Holy Father, we thank you, and welcome you, with joy and gratitude, to the United States of America.
Good morning. Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of the all Americans. As a son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.
I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue in which I hope to listen to and share many of the hopes and dreams of the American people. During my visit, I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of goodwill, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty. That freedom reminds one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.
Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded, which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities, our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honor it.
We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.
Mr. President, the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom.
I would like all men and women of goodwill in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.
Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America.
I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.
During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.
We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home. The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.
Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!
Obama to Bask in Pope’s Aura, But Francis Wants Economic Justice
When Pope Francis meets Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, the president will bask in his guest’s moral authority and iconic popularity. But the first pontiff from Latin America is likely to exploit those assets to pressure his host on U.S. global economic leadership.
On Francis’s first full day in the country, Obama and as many as 15,000 guests will welcome him on the South Lawn of the White House. For the president, it’s an opportunity to showcase the pope’s support for his initiatives on income inequality, immigration and climate change.
“These are issues that are going to define our future, and the pope I think is providing an incredible sense of motivation that they can and must be addressed,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in a conference call with reporters. “The pope’s voice could not be more timely and important.”
Contentious issues involving Church doctrine on the family — such as abortion rights and contraception coverage — will be swept under the carpet of the Oval Office. But the pope, who called for “a poor Church for the poor” on his election, is expected to elevate his concern for the downtrodden and the excluded for a global audience.
“There are points of tension, and the role of the U.S. as a world leader in economic justice is certainly going to be an issue — how much the U.S. is doing will be on the pope’s mind,” said veteran Vatican watcher John Thavis, author of The Vatican Prophecies. “The U.S. is in a position to drive some of these discussions, and the pope would like to see some leadership.”
At the White House on Wednesday morning, crowds began gathering well before sunrise to clear the security checkpoints before assembling on the South Lawn. A group of drummers banged on their instruments near the Treasury Department, and a man with a bullhorn disrupted the quiet near Lafayette Square on the north side of the White House complex.
Lines for those holding tickets to the White House ceremony grew after the gates opened at 5 a.m. Yellow and white Vatican flags were flying alongside U.S. flags around the White House ready for Francis’s arrival.
The political heft of the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics will be underscored by crowds that security officials expect to be comparable to a presidential inauguration. Some 150,000 people may congregate on the route of his “popemobile” along the National Mall. Much of downtown Washington will be closed to traffic.
Francis faces a balancing act in crafting his message for the extraordinary pulpit that his first visit to the U.S. affords. He will be the first pope to address Congress, on Thursday, and then speaks to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. He must tailor his criticisms of capitalism’s excesses for a country in which the philosophy is nearly a faith.
“He will make it clear that he is not attacking capitalism as an economic theory, but the way it plays out in the real world — he sees masses of people excluded from the benefits of capitalism, and I think he will say that greed cannot be a motivator in human society,” Thavis said.
In one small symbol, Francis chose a humble Fiat 500L to travel from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, where his plane landed, to the Vatican envoy’s residence in the city. The compact car was dwarfed in his motorcade by the Secret Service’s hulking sport utility vehicles.
The Argentine pope’s priorities are reflected even in his choice of language. At the White House, he will deliver the first speech of his visit in English. But 14 of the 18 speeches scheduled in the country will be in his native Spanish.
“He’s more comfortable that way,” his spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said at a briefing last week. He’s also better able to reach the nation’s largest immigrant group in the language, a top item on his agenda.
It’s also in Spanish that Francis will celebrate his first Mass in the U.S. on Wednesday, and canonize a saint on U.S. soil for the first time, Hispanic missionary Junipero Serra.
Persuading the Hierarchy
Earlier in the day, Francis will speak to approximately 300 U.S. Catholic bishops at a prayer service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, known to many Americans as the site of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral Mass.
Those remarks are significant, as it is the church’s U.S. hierarchy that is responsible for follow-through on Francis’s priorities through Sunday sermons, religious education programs, Catholic school curricula and parish activities, said Father Tom Reese, a Jesuit priest and a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter.
“The bishops in the United States over the past 10 years have tended to focus on abortion, gay marriage and this religious freedom issue. He wants them to move in a different direction,” Reese said. “He’s not going to succeed unless the rest of the church gets behind him, particularly the bishops and the priests.”
Pope Francis and President Obama have both dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate, and that commonality will be central to their meeting Wednesday during the pope’s first visit to the United States, a White House spokesman said hours before Obama left to greet the pontiff as he landed at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday afternoon.
“[B]oth men have talked, quite publicly, about their commitment to social justice,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in previewing their Oval Office meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. “And both men have dedicated their, not just their careers, but their lives, to that effort.”
“Certainly the kind of commitment that we’ve seen from Pope Francis is unique and singular,” Earnest allowed “but I think the values that both men live out have some common ground.”
Earnest talked about how Obama turned down high-paying jobs upon graduating law school to instead work in Chicago’s poor South Side, and how Francis is known for advocating on behalf of impoverished communities in his home country of Argentina before ascending through the Roman Catholic Church’s ranks.
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“And you know, the president actually worked quite closely with other Catholics in that community, and the president has talked about that quite a bit … this has been a value that has animated the president’s career choices since he was a young man.”
Earnest said Francis’s story is similar.
“[P]rior to rising through the leadership ranks of the Catholic Church … Pope Francis earned a reputation in Latin America [as being someone] willing to roll up his sleeves” to help the less fortunate, “particularly those who were economically destitute,” Earnest said.
Earnest said many in the administration are looking forward to greeting Francis because they feel they are working toward the same goals.
They’re “animated by the same kinds of values that animate the pope,” Earnest said about White House staffers. “And I think that’s why the opportunity to have Pope Francis, somebody who shares those values, here in this building tomorrow, makes for a really special day.”
A crowd of 15,000 is expected to welcome Francis at a ceremony on the White House lawn Wednesday morning.
According to press reports, several hundred people were on hand at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base to watch “Shepherd One” land and cheer the pope as he deplaned.
“We love Francis, yes we do,” people reportedly chanted. “We love Francis, how about you?”
In addition to Obama, First Lady Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden his wife Jill, and their extended families, nearly 20 other dignitaries were on hand at Andrews, including all of the Washington and Baltimore areas’ Catholic bishops.
“Ho, ho, hey, hey, welcome to the USA,” the larger crowd chanted, welcoming Francis on his first trip ever to the United States.
Pope Francis’ chartered plane from Cuba touched down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters paid him the rare honor of meeting him at the bottom of the stairs on the red-carpeted tarmac. Presidents usually make important visitors come to them at the White House.
Emerging from the aircraft to loud cheers from a crowd of hundreds, the smiling 78-year-old pontiff removed his skullcap in the windy weather and made his way down the steps in his white robes.
He was welcomed by a military honor guard, chanting schoolchildren, politicians, and Roman Catholic clerics in black robes with vivid sashes of scarlet and purple. Joe Biden, the nation’s first Catholic vice president, and his wife were among those who greeted him.
Eschewing a limousine, the pope climbed into the back of a little Fiat sandwiched between huge black SUVs. He promptly rolled down the windows, enabling the cheering, whooping crowds to see him as his motorcade took him to the Vatican diplomatic mission in Washington, where he will stay while in the nation’s capital.
The choice of car was in keeping with his simple habits and his stand against consumerism. His decision to roll down the windows reflected his penchant for trying to connect to ordinary people despite the tight security around him.
During his six-day, three-city visit to the U.S., the pope will meet with the president on Wednesday, address Congress on Thursday, speak at the United Nations in New York on Friday and take part in a Vatican-sponsored conference on the family in Philadelphia over the weekend.
The Argentine known as the “slum pope” for ministering to the downtrodden in his native Buenos Aires is expected to urge America to take better care of the environment and the poor and return to its founding ideals of religious liberty and open arms toward immigrants.
During the flight, Francis defended himself against conservative criticism that his condemnation of trickle-down economics makes him a communist.
“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he said. He said some may have misinterpreted his writings in a way that makes him sound “a little bit more left-leaning,” but he said that’s wrong.
Joking about doubts in some quarters over whether he is truly Catholic, he said, “If I have to recite the Creed, I’m ready.”
Francis is the fourth pope ever to visit the United States.
Francis’ enormous popularity, propensity for wading into crowds and insistence on using an open-sided Jeep rather than a bulletproof popemobile have complicated things for U.S. law enforcement, which has mounted one of the biggest security operations in American history to keep him safe.
The measures are unprecedented for a papal trip and could make it nearly impossible for many ordinary Americans to get anywhere close to Francis.
For all the attention likely to be paid to Francis’ speeches, including the first address from a pope to Congress, his more personal gestures — visiting with immigrants, prisoners and the homeless — could yield some of the most memorable images of the trip.
“What the pope does in the United States will be more important than what he says,” said Mat Schmalz, a religious studies professor at Holy Cross college in Worcester, Massachusetts. “There are a lot of things he will say about capitalism and about wealth inequality, but many Americans and politicians have already made up their minds on these issues. What I would look for is a particular gesture, an unscripted act, that will move people.”
In Cuba, Francis basked in the adulation of Cubans grateful to him for brokering the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the communist island.
On the plane, though, he told reporters he will not use his speech to Congress to call specifically for the U.S. to lift the Cold War-era trade embargo against Cuba.
He arrives at a moment of bitter infighting across the country over gay rights, immigration, abortion and race relations — issues that are always simmering in the U.S. but have boiled over in the heat of a presidential campaign.
Santeria practitioners undergo a brief fit of spirit-induced convulsions during a ceremony to attrac …
Capitol Hill is consumed by disputes over abortion and federal funding for Planned Parenthood after hidden-camera videos showed its officials talking about the organization’s practice of sending tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers. While Francis has staunchly upheld church teaching against abortion, he has recently allowed ordinary priests, and not just bishops, to absolve women of the sin.
Francis’ visit comes three months after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, putting U.S. bishops on the defensive and sharply dividing Americans over how much they should accommodate religious objectors. The pope has strongly upheld church teaching against same-sex marriage but adopted a welcoming tone toward gays themselves, saying, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about a supposedly gay priest.
Americans are also wrestling anew with issues of racism. A series of deaths in recent years of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement has intensified debate over the American criminal justice system. Francis will see that system up close when he meets with inmates at a Pennsylvania prison.
U.S. bishops, meanwhile, expect Francis will issue a strong call for immigration reform, a subject that has heated up with hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric from some of the Republican presidential candidates, especially Donald Trump.
Francis, the first Latin American pope, will be sending a powerful message on that front by delivering the vast majority of his speeches in his native Spanish.
“Our presidential candidates have been using immigrants as a wedge issue,” Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said. “It’s our hope that the visit of Pope Francis will change this narrative.”
Francis’ most eagerly watched speech will be his address to Congress. Republicans and many conservative Catholics have bristled at his indictment of the excesses of capitalism that he says impoverish people and risk turning the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.” Many conservatives have likewise rejected his call for urgent action against global warming.
Nevertheless, Francis enjoys popularity ratings in the U.S. that would be the envy of any world leader. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week found 63 percent of Catholics have a favorable view of him, and nearly 8 in 10 approve the direction he is taking the church.
Just how far Francis presses his agenda in Washington is the big question.
Paul Vallely, author of “Pope Francis, The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism,” predicted both “warmth” and “some finger-wagging” from the pope.
“He won’t necessarily confront people head-on,” Vallely said, “but he’ll change the priorities.”
Pope Francis visits U.S. amid legal challenges to religious freedom
By Dave Boyer –
Pope Francis is arriving in the U.S. at a time when the faithful are facing broad challenges in court over the limits of religious liberty.
From the administration’s contraception mandate under Obamacare to the fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, church-affiliated institutions and individuals are confronting litigation to compel them to carry out policies contrary to their religious beliefs.
Some observers say the pope, with whom President Obama claims to hold a special relationship, shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak out in defense of religious liberty in the U.S.
“This is the time, right now,” said Joseph Prud’homme, director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. “I think it’s an opportunity for the pope to speak clearly about the right of religious liberty in this country.”
From his behind-the-scenes role in brokering the restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the U.S. to his issuing of an encyclical on the environment in June calling for renewable-fuel subsidies and energy efficiency, Francis has appeared to many to be on the same page with much of Mr. Obama’s agenda.
“He has established a considerable bridge with the secular left with his encyclical on the environment,” Mr. Prud’homme said. “And using that kind of bridge, he needs to now walk across it and say very clearly that the right of religious freedom needs to be guaranteed and the right of individuals to follow their conscience needs to be protected.”
Francis addressed the issue of his ideological leanings Tuesday on the plane from Cuba, saying that while some glosses on his writings and words may have created a view that he is “a little bit more left-leaning,” such narratives are wrong.
“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he asserted, referring to more than 120 years of church criticism of the excesses of capitalism, repeated in various ways by every pope since Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum.
White House aides said the president’s meeting with the pope in the Oval Office on Wednesday will focus on their shared values and won’t address policy specifics.
“Their focus in the context of this meeting will not be about politics, not about specific policies, but rather about the kinds of values that both men have dedicated their lives to championing,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “There is no plan or strategy that’s been put in place to try to stage an event that will advance anybody’s political agenda.”
Mr. Earnest, addressing the Islamic State’s persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq, said one of the values that Mr. Obama shares with Pope Francis “is a commitment to religious liberty — standing up for the rights of religious minorities around the world.”
“That has long been a value that President Obama has prioritized,” he said.
Whether or not it was timed to coincide with the pope’s arrival, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell gave a speech Tuesday at Howard University’s College of Medicine on progress made under the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court is increasingly likely to take up one or more challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate. A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled last week that forcing two Missouri organizations to offer contraceptive coverage to employees — even indirectly — would violate the groups’ religious freedoms.
Every other appeals court to consider the issue has ruled in opposition to the 8th Circuit, and the Supreme Court usually steps in to resolve such splits. The other courts have said the administration has done enough to accommodate the objections of religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations such as universities, hospitals and charities.
The Becket Fund’s petitions to the high court involve the Little Sisters of the Poor and Houston Baptist University, both of which are challenging the mandate on religious grounds. The court is expected to decide in October whether to hear one or more of the cases.
“I think it’s unlikely that the court would refuse to address the issue, which is affecting hundreds if not thousands of religious organizations across the country,” Mr. Baxter said.
“The administration shouldn’t be picking and choosing between religious organizations. The bishops who run the dioceses around the country have been exempted from the mandate, there’s no reason why the nuns, like Little Sisters of the Poor, or other religious organizations shouldn’t also be exempt,” he said.
The stone tablets, as opposed to the commandments inscribed on them, are called לוחות הברית: Luchot HaBrit, meaning “the tablets of the covenant”.
Passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy
The biblical narrative of the revelation at Sinai begins in Exodus 19 after the arrival of the children of Israel at Mount Sinai (also called Horeb). on the morning of the third day of their encampment, “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud”, and the people assembled at the base of the mount. After “the LORD came down upon mount Sinai”, Moses went up briefly and returned and prepared the people, and then in Exodus 20 “God spoke” to all the people the words of the covenant, “even ten commandments” as it is written.
The people were afraid to hear more and moved “afar off”, and Moses responded with “Fear not.” Nevertheless, he drew near the “thick darkness” where “the presence of the Lord” was to hear the additional statutes and “judgments”, (Exodus 21–23) all which he “wrote” in the “book of the covenant“ which he read to the people the next morning, and they agreed to be obedient and do all that the LORD had said. Moses escorted a select group consisting of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and “seventy of the elders of Israel” to a location on the mount where they worshipped “afar off” and they “saw the God of Israel” above a “paved work” like clear sapphire stone. (Exodus 24:1–11)
And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
The mount was covered by the cloud for six days, and on the seventh day Moses went into the midst of the cloud and was “in the mount forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:16–18) And Moses said, “the LORD delivered unto me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORDspake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” (Deuteronomy 9:10) Before the full forty days expired, the children of Israel collectively decided that something happened to Moses, and compelled Aaron to fashion a golden calf, and he “built an altar before it” (Ex.32:1–5) and the people “worshipped” the calf. (Ex.32:6–8)
After the full forty days, Moses and Joshua came down from the mountain with the tablets of stone: “And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” (Ex.32:19) After the events in chapters 32 and 33, the LORD told Moses, “Hew thee two tablets of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tablets the words that were in the first tablets, which thou brakest.” (Ex.34:1) “And he wrote on the tablets, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.” (Deuteronomy 10:4)
According to Jewish tradition, Exodus 20:1–17 constitutes God’s first recitation and inscription of the ten commandments on the two tablets, which Moses broke in anger with his rebellious nation, and were later rewritten on replacement stones and placed in the ark of the covenant; and Deuteronomy 5:4–20 consists of God’s re-telling of the Ten Commandments to the younger generation who were to enter the Promised Land. The passages in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 contain more than ten imperative statements, totalling 14 or 15 in all.
Traditions for numbering
Different religious traditions divide the seventeen verses of Exodus 20:1–17 and their parallels at Deuteronomy 5:4–21 into ten “commandments” or “sayings” in different ways, shown in the table below. Some suggest that the number ten is a choice to aid memorization rather than a matter of theology.
S: Septuagint, generally followed by Orthodox Christians.
P: Philo, same as the Septuagint, but with the prohibitions on killing and adultery reversed.
T: Jewish Talmud, makes the “prologue” the first “saying” or “matter” and combines the prohibition on worshiping deities other than Yahweh with the prohibition on idolatry.
A: Augustine follows the Talmud in combining verses 3–6, but omits the prologue as a commandment and divides the prohibition on coveting in two and following the word order of Deuteronomy 5:21 rather than Exodus 20:17.
L: Lutherans follow Luther’s Large Catechism, which follows Augustine but omits the prohibition of images and uses the word order of Exodus 20:17 rather than Deuteronomy 5:21 for the ninth and tenth commandments.
All scripture quotes above are from the King James Version. Click on verses at top of columns for other versions.
The Ten Commandments concern matters of fundamental importance in both Judaism and Christianity: the greatest obligation (to worship only God), the greatest injury to a person (murder), the greatest injury to family bonds (adultery), the greatest injury to commerce and law (bearing false witness), the greatest inter-generational obligation (honor to parents), the greatest obligation to community (truthfulness), the greatest injury to moveable property (theft).
The Ten Commandments are written with room for varying interpretation, reflecting their role as a summary of fundamental principles. They are not as explicit or detailed as rules or many other biblical laws and commandments, because they provide guiding principles that apply universally, across changing circumstances. They do not specify punishments for their violation. Their precise import must be worked out in each separate situation.
The Bible indicates the special status of the Ten Commandments among all other Old Testament laws in several ways. They have a uniquely terse style. Of all the biblical laws and commandments, the Ten Commandments alone were “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). And lastly, the stone tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:21).
In Judaism, the Ten Commandments provide God’s universal and timeless standard of right and wrong, unlike the other 613 commandments in the Torah, which include, for example, various duties and ceremonies such as the kashrut dietary laws and now unobservable rituals to be performed by priests in the Holy Temple. They form the basis of Jewish law. Jewish tradition considers the Ten Commandments the theological basis for the rest of the commandments; a number of works (starting with Rabbi Saadia Gaon) have made groupings of the commandments according to their links with the Ten Commandments.
The traditional Rabbinical Jewish belief is that the observance of these commandments and the other mitzvot are required solely of the Jewish people, and that the laws incumbent on humanity in general are outlined in the seven Noahide laws (several of which overlap with the Ten Commandments). In the era of the Sanhedrintransgressing any one of six of the Ten Commandments theoretically carried the death penalty, the exceptions being the First Commandment, honoring your father and mother, saying God’s name in vain, and coveting, though this was rarely enforced due to a large number of stringent evidentiary requirements imposed by theoral law.
The arrangement of the commandments on the two tablets is interpreted in different ways in the classical Jewish tradition. Rabbi Hanina ben Gamaliel says that each tablet contained five commandments, “but the Sages say ten on one tablet and ten on the other”, that is, that the tablets were duplicates. This can be compared to diplomatic treaties of Ancient Egypt, in which a copy was made for each party.
According to the Talmud, the compendium of traditional Rabbinic Jewish law, tradition, and interpretation, one interpretation of the biblical verse “the tablets were written on both their sides”, is that the carving went through the full thickness of the tablets, yet was miraculously legible from both sides.
Use in Jewish ritual
The Ten Commandments on a glass plate
During the period of the Second Temple, the Ten Commandments were recited daily. The Mishnah records that in the Temple, it was the practice to recite them every day before the reading of the Shema Yisrael (as preserved, for example, in the Nash Papyrus, a Hebrew manuscript fragment from 150–100 BCE found in Egypt, containing a version of the ten commandments and the beginning of the Shema); but that this practice was abolished in the synagogues so as not to give ammunition to heretics who claimed that they were the only important part of Jewish law, or to dispute a claim by early Christians that only the Ten Commandments were handed down at Mount Sinai rather than the whole Torah.
In later centuries, rabbis continued to omit the Ten Commandments from daily liturgy in order to prevent a confusion among Jews that they are only bound by the Ten Commandments, and not also by many other biblical and talmudic laws, such as the requirement to observe holy days other than the sabbath.
Today, the Ten Commandments are heard in the synagogue three times a year: as they come up during the readings of Exodus and Deuteronomy, and during the festival of Shavuot. The Exodus version is read in parashat Yitro around late January–February, and on the festival of Shavuot, and the Deuteronomy version in parashat Va’etchanan in August–September. In some traditions, worshipers rise for the reading of the Ten Commandments to highlight their special significance though many rabbis, including Maimonides, have opposed this custom since one may come to think that the Ten Commandments are more important than the rest of the Mitzvot.
In printed Chumashim, as well as in those in manuscript form, the Ten Commandments carry two sets of cantillation marks. The ta’am ‘elyon (upper accentuation), which makes each Commandment into a separate verse, is used for public Torah reading, while the ta’am tachton (lower accentuation), which divides the text into verses of more even length, is used for private reading or study. The verse numbering in Jewish Bibles follows the ta’am tachton. In Jewish Bibles the references to the Ten Commandments are therefore Exodus 20:2–14 and Deuteronomy 5:6–18.
The Samaritan Pentateuch varies in the Ten Commandments passages, both in that the Samaritan Deuteronomical version of the passage is much closer to that in Exodus, and in that Samaritans count as nine commandments what others count as ten. The Samaritan tenth commandment is on the sanctity of Mount Gerizim.
The text of the Samaritan tenth commandment follows:
And it shall come to pass when the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land of the Canaanites whither thou goest to take possession of it, thou shalt erect unto thee large stones, and thou shalt cover them with lime, and thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this Law, and it shall come to pass when ye cross the Jordan, ye shall erect these stones which I command thee upon Mount Gerizim, and thou shalt build there an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones, and thou shalt not lift upon them iron, of perfect stones shalt thou build thine altar, and thou shalt bring upon it burnt offerings to the Lord thy God, and thou shalt sacrifice peace offerings, and thou shalt eat there and rejoice before the Lord thy God. That mountain is on the other side of the Jordan at the end of the road towards the going down of the sun in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah facing Gilgal close by Elon Moreh facing Shechem.
Christians believe that the Ten Commandments have divine authority and continue to be valid, though they have different interpretations and uses of them.Through most of Christian history, the decalogue has been considered a summary of God’s law and standard of behavior, and has been central to Christian life, piety, and worship.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
In Roman Catholicism, Jesus freed Christians from Jewish religious law, but not from their obligation to keep the Ten Commandments. They are to the moral order what the creation story is to the natural order.
The Eastern Orthodox Church holds its moral truths to be chiefly contained in the Ten Commandments. A confession begins with the Confessor reciting the Ten Commandments and asking the penitent which of them he has broken.
Even after rejecting the Roman Catholic moral theology, giving more importance to biblical law in order to better hear and be moved by the gospel, early Protestant theologians still took the Ten Commandments to be the starting point of Christian moral life. Different versions of Christianity have varied in how they have translated the bare principles into the specifics that make up a full Christian ethic. Where Catholicism emphasizes taking action to fulfill the Ten Commandments, Protestantism uses the Ten Commandments for two purposes: to outline the Christian life to each person, and to make each person realize, through their failure to live that life, that they lack the ability to do it on their own.
A Christian school in India displays the Ten Commandments
The Lutheran division of the commandments follows the one established by St. Augustine, following the then current synagogue scribal division. The first three commandments govern the relationship between God and humans, the fourth through eighth govern public relationships between people, and the last two govern private thoughts. See Luther’s Small Catechism and Large Catechism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
One Mormon fundamentalist faction, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), offers a unique version of the Ten Commandments that is not found in any other religious tradition—including other Latter Day Saint churches. In his Book of the Law of the Lord, which Strangite founder James J. Strangclaimed to be the long-lost Plates of Laban described in the Book of Mormon, Strang offers a commandment which no other version of the Ten Commandments has: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” (which appears in the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus 19:18 and five times in the New Testament). In his “Note on the Decalogue,” Strang asserted that no other version of the Decalogue contains more than nine commandments. He equally speculated that his fourth commandment was lost perhaps as early as Josephus‘ time (circa 37-100 AD). Strang’s version of the Decalogue (together with the rest of his teaching) are rejected by the mainline LDS Church, together with all other non-Strangite Mormon factions.
“Say: “Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to indecent deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. And come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah. thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.”
Another Chapter of The Qur’an also includes a version of the Ten Commandments in Al-Isra According to Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas °the verses of Chapter 17Al-Isra are the Quranic version of the ten CommandmentsCommandment 1Verse 22 “Set not up with Allah any other ilah (god), (O man)!”Commandment 2Verse 23 “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” Verse 24 “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.”Commandment 3Verse 26 “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .”Commandment 4Verse 29“And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.”Commandment 5Verse 31 “And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.”Commandment 6 Verse 32 “And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.”Commandment 7Verse 33 “And do not kill anyone which Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause.”Commandment 8Verse 34 “And come not near to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength.”Commandment 9Verse 35 “And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight.”Commandment 10Verse 36“And follow not (O man i.e., say not, or do not or witness not, etc.) that of which you have no knowledge (e.g. one’s saying: “I have seen,” while in fact he has not seen, or “I have heard,” while he has not heard). Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allah).”
Until the 2nd and 3rd century, Christians kept the Jewish Sabbath, which occurs from Friday night to Saturday night each week. Observing the Sabbath on Sunday, the day of resurrection, gradually became the dominant Christian practice from the Jewish-Roman wars onward. Before then, Christianity was predominantly still a Jewish sect. The Church’s general repudiation of Jewish practices during this period is apparent in the Council of Laodicea (4th Century AD) where Canons 37–38 state: “It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them” and “It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety”.
Canon 29 of the Laodicean council specifically refers to the sabbath: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the [Jewish] Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema (excommunicated) from Christ.”
Significant voices among academic theologians (such as German Old Testament scholar Albrecht Alt: Das Verbot des Diebstahls im Dekalog (1953)) suggest that commandment “you shall not steal” was originally intended against stealing people—against abductions and slavery, in agreement with the Talmudic interpretation of the statement as “you shall not kidnap” (Sanhedrin 86a).
In Christianity’s earliest centuries, some Christians had informally adorned their homes and places of worship with images of Christ and the saints, while some thought it inappropriate. No church council had ruled on whether such practices constituted idolatry. The controversy reached crisis level in the 8th century, during the period of iconoclasm: the smashing of icons.
In 726, Emperor Leo III ordered all images removed from all churches; in 730, a council forbade veneration of images, citing the Second Commandment; in 787, theSeventh Ecumenical Council reversed the preceding rulings, condemning iconoclasm and sanctioning the veneration of images; in 815, Leo V called yet another council, which reinstated iconoclasm; in 843, Empress Theodora again reinstated veneration of icons. This mostly settled the matter until the Protestant Reformation, when John Calvin declared that the ruling of the Seventh Ecumenical Council “emanated from Satan”. Protestant iconoclasts at this time destroyed statues, pictures, stained glass, and artistic masterpieces.
The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Theodora’s restoration of the icons every year on the First Sunday of Great Lent. Eastern Orthodox tradition teaches that while images of God, the Father, remain prohibited, depictions of Jesus as the incarnation of God as a visible human are permissible. To emphasize the theological importance of the incarnation, the Orthodox Church encourages the use of icons in church and private devotions, but prefers a two-dimensional depiction as a reminder of this theological aspect. Icons depict the spiritual dimension of their subject rather than attempting a naturalistic portrayal. In modern use (usually as a result of Roman Catholic influence), more naturalistic images and images of the Father, however, also appear occasionally in Orthodox churches, but statues, i.e. three-dimensional depictions, continue to be banned.
The Roman Catholic Church holds that one may build and use “likenesses”, as long as the object is not worshipped. Many Roman Catholic Churches and services feature images; some feature statues. For Roman Catholics, this practice is understood as fulfilling the Second Commandment, as they understand that these images are not being worshipped.
For Jews and Muslims, veneration violates the Second Commandment. Jews and Muslims read this commandment as prohibiting the use of idols and images in any way. For this reason, Jewish Temples and Islamic Mosques do not have pictures of God, saints or prophets.
Some Protestants will picture Jesus in his human form, while refusing to make any image of God or Jesus in Heaven.
Originally this commandment forbade male Israelites to have sexual intercourse with the wife of another Israelite, though Israelite men were not forbidden to have sexual intercourse with the slaves belonging to their own household. Sexual intercourse between an Israelite man, even if he was married, and an unmarried or unbetrothed woman was not considered as adultery. This concept of adultery stems from the economic aspect of Israelite marriage, as adultery constituted a violation of the husband’s exclusive right to his wife, whereas the wife, as the husband’s possession, had no such right.
Critical historical analysis
Critical scholarship is divided over its interpretation of the ten commandment texts.
In Julius Wellhausen‘s classic documentary hypothesis of the formation of the Pentateuch (see JEDP), first published in 1878, Exodus 20-23 and 34 were composed by the J or Jahwist writer and “might be regarded as the document which formed the starting point of the religious history of Israel.” Deuteronomy 5 then reflects King Josiah’s attempt to link the document produced by his court to the older Mosaic tradition.
In a 2002 analysis of the history of this position, Bernard M. Levinson argued that this reconstruction assumes a Christian perspective, and dates back to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe‘s polemic against Judaism, which asserted that religions evolve from the more ritualistic to the more ethical. Goethe thus argued that the Ten Commandments revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai would have emphasized rituals, and that the “ethical” Decalogue Christians recite in their own churches was composed at a later date, when Israelite prophets had begun to prophesy the coming of the messiah, Jesus Christ. Levinson points out that there is no evidence, internal to the Hebrew Bible or in external sources, to support this conjecture. He concludes that its vogue among later critical historians represents the persistence of this polemic that the supersession of Judaism by Christianity is part of a longer history of progress from the ritualistic to the ethical.
By the 1930s, historians who accepted the basic premises of multiple authorship had come to reject the idea of an orderly evolution of Israelite religion. Critics instead began to suppose that law and ritual could be of equal importance, while taking different form, at different times. This means that there is no longer any a priori reason to believe that Exodus 20:2–17 and Exodus 34:10–28 were composed during different stages of Israelite history. For example, critical historian John Bright also dates the Jahwist texts to the tenth century BCE, but believes that they express a theology that “had already been normalized in the period of the Judges” (i.e., of the tribal alliance). He concurs about the importance of the decalogue as “a central feature in the covenant that brought together Israel into being as a people” but views the parallels between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, along with other evidence, as reason to believe that it is relatively close to its original form and Mosaic in origin.
According to John Bright, however, there is an important distinction between the Decalogue and the “book of the covenant” (Exodus 21-23 and 34:10–24). The Decalogue, he argues, was modeled on the suzerainty treaties of the Hittites (and other Mesopotamian Empires), that is, represents the relationship between God and Israel as a relationship between king and vassal, and enacts that bond.
“The prologue of the Hittite treaty reminds his vassals of his benevolent acts.. (compare with Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”). The Hittite treaty also stipulated the obligations imposed by the ruler on his vassals, which included a prohibition of relations with peoples outside the empire, or enmity between those within.” (Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me”). Viewed as a treaty rather than a law code, its purpose is not so much to regulate human affairs as to define the scope of the king’s power.
Julius Morgenstern argued that Exodus 34 is distinct from the Jahwist document, identifying it with king Asa’s reforms in 899 BCE. Bright, however, believes that like the Decalogue this text has its origins in the time of the tribal alliance. The book of the covenant, he notes, bears a greater similarity to Mesopotamian law codes (e.g. the Code of Hammurabi which was inscribed on a stone stele). He argues that the function of this “book” is to move from the realm of treaty to the realm of law: “The Book of the Covenant (Ex., chs. 21 to 23; cf. ch. 34), which is no official state law, but a description of normative Israelite judicial procedure in the days of the Judges, is the best example of this process.” According to Bright, then, this body of law too predates the monarchy.
Hilton J. Blik writes that the phrasing in the Decalogue’s instructions suggests that it was conceived in a mainly polytheistic milieu, evident especially in the formulation of “no-other-gods-before-me” commandment.
If the Ten Commandments are based on Hittite forms that would date it somewhere between the 14th-12th century BCE. Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein andNeil Asher Silberman argue that “the astonishing composition came together … in the seventh century BCE”. Critical scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann (1960) dates the oral form of the covenant to the time of Josiah. An even later date (after 586 BCE) is suggested by David H. Aaron.
Some proponents of the Documentary hypothesis have argued that the biblical text in Exodus 34:28 identifies a different list as the ten commandments, that of Exodus 34:11–27. Since this passage does not prohibit murder, adultery, theft, etc., but instead deals with the proper worship of Yahweh, some scholars call it the “Ritual Decalogue“, and disambiguate the ten commandments of traditional understanding as the “Ethical Decalogue”.
According to these scholars the Bible includes multiple versions of events. On the basis of many points of analysis including linguistic it is shown as a patchwork of sources sometimes with bridging comments by the editor (Redactor) but otherwise left intact from the original, frequently side by side.
Richard Elliott Friedman argues that the Ten Commandments at Exodus 20:1–17 “does not appear to belong to any of the major sources. It is likely to be an independent document, which was inserted here by the Redactor.” In his view, the Covenant Code follows that version of the Ten Commandments in the northern Israel E narrative. In the J narrative in Exodus 34 the editor of the combined story known as the Redactor (or RJE), adds in an explanation that these are a replacement for the earlier tablets which were shattered. “In the combined JE text, it would be awkward to picture God just commanding Moses to make some tablets, as if there were no history to this matter, so RJE adds the explanation that these are a replacement for the earlier tablets that were shattered.”
He writes that Exodus 34:14–26 is the J text of the Ten Commandments: “The first two commandments and the sabbath commandment have parallels in the other versions of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). … The other seven commandments here are completely different.” He suggests that differences in the J and E versions of the Ten Commandments story are a result of power struggles in the priesthood. The writer has Moses smash the tablets “because this raised doubts about the Judah’s central religious shrine”.
According to Kaufmann, the Decalogue and the book of the covenant represent two ways of manifesting God’s presence in Israel: the Ten Commandments taking the archaic and material form of stone tablets kept in the ark of the covenant, while the book of the covenant took oral form to be recited to the people.
United States debate over display on public property
European Protestants replaced some visual art in their churches with plaques of the Ten Commandments after the Reformation. In England, such “Decalogue boards” also represented the English monarch’s emphasis on rule of royal law within the churches. In the United States, images of Moses and the tablets of the Decalogue also claim biblical roots to U.S. law (as on the pediment of the Supreme Court building in Washington). Images of the Ten Commandments, then, have long been contested symbols for the relationship of religion to national law.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Fraternal Order of Eagles placed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Ten Commandments displays in courthouses and school rooms, including many stone monuments on courthouse property. Because displaying the commandments can reflect a sectarian position if they are numbered (see above), the Eagles developed an ecumenical version that omitted the numbers, as on the monument at the Texas capitol (shown here). Hundreds of monuments were also placed by directorCecil B. DeMille as a publicity stunt to promote his 1956 filmThe Ten Commandments. Placing the plaques and monuments to the Ten Commandments in and around government buildings was another expression of mid-twentieth century U.S. civil religion, along with adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century in the U.S., however, Decalogue monuments and plaques in government spaces had become a legal battleground between religious as well as political liberals and conservatives. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State launched lawsuits challenging the posting of the ten commandments in public buildings. The ACLU has been supported by a number of religious groups (such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the American Jewish Congress), both because they do not want government to be issuing religious doctrine and because they feel strongly that the commandments are inherently religious. Many commentators see this issue as part of a widerculture war between liberal and conservative elements in American society. In response to the perceived attacks on traditional society, other legal organizations, such as the Liberty Counsel, have risen to advocate the conservative interpretation. Many Christian conservatives have taken the banning of officially sanctioned prayer from public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court as a threat to the expression of religion in public life. In response, they have successfully lobbied many state and local governments to display the ten commandments in public buildings.
Those who oppose the posting of the ten commandments on public property argue that it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In contrast, groups like the Fraternal Order of Eagles who support the public display of the ten commandments claim that the commandments are not necessarily religious but represent the moral and legal foundation of society, and are appropriate to be displayed as a historical source of present-day legal codes. Also, some argue like Judge Roy Moore that prohibiting the public practice of religion is a violation of the first amendment’s guarantee offreedom of religion.
U.S. courts have often ruled against displays of the Ten Commandments on government property. They conclude that the ten commandments are derived from Judeo-Christian religions, to the exclusion of others: the statement “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” excludes non-monotheistic religions like Hinduism, for example. Whether the Constitution prohibits the posting of the commandments or not, there are additional political and civil rights issues regarding the posting of what is construed as religious doctrine. Excluding religions that have not accepted the ten commandments creates the appearance of impropriety. The courts have been more accepting, however, of displays that place the Ten Commandments in a broader historical context of the development of law.
One result of these legal cases has been that proponents of displaying the Ten Commandments have sometimes surrounded them with other historical texts to portray them as historical, rather than religious. Another result has been that other religious organizations have tried to put monuments to their laws on public lands. For example, an organization calledSummum has won court cases against municipalities in Utah for refusing to allow the group to erect a monument of Summum aphorisms next to the ten commandments. The cases were won on the grounds that Summum’s right to freedom of speech was denied and the governments had engaged in discrimination. Instead of allowing Summum to erect its monument, the local governments chose to remove their ten commandments.
Maat, 42 confessions, ‘ The negative confession ‘ (1500 BCE) of Papyrus of Ani, also known as The declaration of innocence before the Gods of the tribunal from The book of going forth by day, also Book of the dead
The Communist Manifesto (originally Manifesto of the Communist Party) is an 1848 political pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in the German language as Manifest der kommunistischen Partei) just as the revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.
The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then finally communism.
A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism.
— Opening sentence
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto is divided into a preamble and four sections, the last of these a short conclusion.
The introduction begins by proclaiming “A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre”. Pointing out that parties everywhere—including those in government and those in the opposition—have flung the “branding reproach of communism” at each other, the authors infer from this that the powers-that-be acknowledge communism to be a power in itself. Subsequently, the introduction exhorts Communists to openly publish their views and aims, to “meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself”.
Bourgeois and Proletarians
The first section of the Manifesto, “Bourgeois and Proletarians”, elucidates the materialist conception of history, that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Societies have always taken the form of an oppressed majority living under the thumb of an oppressive minority. In capitalism, the industrial working class, or proletariat, engage in class struggle against the owners of the means of production, thebourgeoisie. As before, this struggle will end in a revolution that restructures society, or the “common ruin of the contending classes”. The bourgeoisie, through the “constant revolutionising of production [and] uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions” have emerged as the supreme class in society, displacing all the old powers of feudalism. The bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat for its labour power, creating profit for themselves accumulating capital. However, by doing so the bourgeoisie “are its own grave-diggers”; the proletariat inevitably will become conscious of their own potential and rise to power through revolution, overthrowing the bourgeoisie.
Proletarians and Communists
“Proletarians and Communists”, the second section, starts by stating the relationship of conscious communists to the rest of the working class. The communists’ party will not oppose other working-class parties, but unlike them, it will express the general will and defend the common interests of the world’s proletariat as a whole, independent of all nationalities. The section goes on to defend communism from various objections, such as the claim that communists advocate “free love“, and the claim that people will not perform labour in a communist society because they have no incentive to work. The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands—among them a progressive income tax; abolition of inheritances; free public education etc.—the implementation of which would be a precursor to a stateless and classless society. List of short-term demands, also known as the ten planks:
1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
Socialists and Communist Literature
The third section, “Socialist and Communist Literature”, distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at the time—these being broadly categorised as Reactionary Socialism; Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism; and Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism. While the degree of reproach toward rival perspectives varies, all are dismissed for advocating reformism and failing to recognise the pre-eminent revolutionary role of the working class. “Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Opposition Parties”, the concluding section of the Manifesto, briefly discusses the communist position on struggles in specific countries in the mid-nineteenth century such as France, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany, this last being “on the eve of a bourgeois revolution”, and predicts that a world revolution will soon follow. It ends by declaring an alliance with the social democrats, boldly supporting other communist revolutions, and calling for united international proletarian action.
Only surviving page from the first draft of the Manifesto, handwritten by Marx
Friedrich Engels has often been credited with composing the first drafts which led to the Communist Manifesto. In July 1847, Engels was elected into the Communist League, where he was assigned to draw up a catechism. This became the Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith. It contained almost two dozen questions that expressed the ideas of both Engels and Karl Marx at the time. In October 1847, Engels composed his second draft for the League, The Principles of Communism (which went unpublished until 1914). Once commissioned by the Communist League, Marx combined these drafts with Engels’ 1844 work The Condition of the Working Class in England to write the Communist Manifesto.
Although the names of both Engels and Marx appear on the title page alongside the “persistent assumption of joint-authorship”, Engels, in the preface to the 1883 German edition of the Manifesto, said it was “essentially Marx’s work” and that “the basic thought… belongs solely and exclusively to Marx.” Engels wrote after Marx’s death:
I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years’ collaboration with Marx I had a certain independent share in laying the foundations of the theory, but the greater part of its leading basic principles belongs to Marx … Marx was a genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not be by far what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name.
Despite Engels’s modesty in this quotation, he made major contributions to the Manifesto, starting with the suggestion to abandon “the form of a catechism and entitle it the Communist Manifesto.” Moreover, Engels joined Marx in Brussels for the writing of the Manifesto. There is no evidence of what his contributions to the final writing were, but the Manifesto bears the stamp of Marx’s more rhetorical writing style. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Engels’s contributions justify his name’s appearance on the title page after Marx’s.
In late February 1848, the Manifesto was anonymously published by the Workers’ Educational Association (Communistischer Arbeiterbildungsverein) at 46 Liverpool Street in the City of London. Written in German, the 23-page pamphlet was titled Manifest der kommunistischen Partei and had a dark-green cover. It was reprinted thrice and serialised in the Deutsche Londoner Zeitung, a newspaper for German émigrés. On 4 March, one day after the serialisation in theZeitung began, Marx was expelled by Belgian police. Two weeks later, around 20 March, a thousand copies of the Manifestoreached Paris, and from there to Germany in early April. In April–May the text was corrected for printing and punctuation mistakes; Marx and Engels would use this 30-page version as the basis for future editions of the Manifesto.
Although the Manifesto ’s prelude announced that it was “to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages”, the initial printings were only in German. Polish and Danish translations soon followed the German original in London, and by the end of 1848, a Swedish translation was published with a new title—The Voice of Communism: Declaration of the Communist Party. In June–November 1850 the Manifesto of the Communist Party was published in English for the first time when George Julian Harney serialised Helen Macfarlane‘s translation in his Chartist magazine The Red Republican. (“A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe”, her version begins, “We are haunted by a ghost, the ghost of Communism…”) For her translation, the Lancashire-based Macfarlane probably consulted Engels, whose own English translation had been abandoned half way. Harney’s introduction revealed the Manifesto ’s hitherto-anonymous authors’ identities for the first time.
Immediately after the Cologne Communist Trial of late 1852, the Communist League disbanded itself.
Soon after the Manifesto was published, Paris erupted in revolution to overthrow King Louis Philippe. The Manifesto played no role in this; a French translation was not published in Paris until just before the working-class June Days Uprising was crushed. Its influence in the Europe-wide revolutions of 1848 was restricted to Germany, where the Cologne-based Communist League and its newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung, edited by Marx, played an important role. Within a year of its establishment, in May 1849, the Zeitung was suppressed; Marx was expelled from Germany and had to seek lifelong refuge in London. In 1851, members of the Communist League’s central board were arrested by the Prussian police. At theirtrial in Cologne 18 months later in late 1852 they were sentenced to 3–6 years’ imprisonment. For Engels, the revolution was “forced into the background by the reaction that began with the defeat of the Paris workers in June 1848, and was finally excommunicated ‘by law’ in the conviction of the Cologne Communists in November 1852”.
After the defeat of the 1848 revolutions the Manifesto fell into obscurity, where it remained throughout the 1850s and 1860s. Hobsbawm says that by November 1850 the Manifesto “had become sufficiently scarce for Marx to think it worth reprinting section III … in the last issue of his [short-lived] London magazine”. Over the next two decades only a few new editions were published; these include a Russian translation by Mikhail Bakunin in Geneva c. 1863 and a 1866 edition in Berlin—the first time the Manifesto was published in Germany. According to Hobsbawm, “By the middle 1860s virtually nothing that Marx had written in the past was any longer in print.”
In the early 1870s, the Manifesto and its authors experienced a revival in fortunes. Hobsbawm identifies three reasons for this. The first is the leadership role Marx played in the International Workingmen’s Association (aka the First International). Secondly, Marx also came into much prominence among socialists—and equal notoriety among the authorities—for his support of the Paris Commune of 1871, elucidated in The Civil War in France. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly in the popularisation of the Manifesto, was the treason trial of German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leaders. During the trial prosecutors read the Manifesto out loud as evidence; this meant that the pamphlet could legally be published in Germany. Thus in 1872 Marx and Engels rushed out a new German-language edition, writing a preface that identified that several portions that became outdated in the quarter century since its original publication. This edition was also the first time the title was shortened to The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), and it became the bedrock the authors based future editions upon. Between 1871 and 1873, the Manifesto was published in over nine editions in six languages; in 1872 it was published in the United States for the first time, serialised in Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly of New York City. However, by the mid 1870s the Communist Manifesto remained Marx and Engels’ only work to be even moderately well-known.
Over the next forty years, as social-democratic parties rose across Europe and parts of the world, so did the publication of the Manifesto alongside them, in hundreds of editions in thirty languages. Marx and Engels wrote a new preface for the 1882 Russian edition, translated by Georgi Plekhanov in Geneva (but later attributed to “the heroic Vera Zasulich” by Engels). In it they wondered if Russia could directly become a communist society, or if she would become capitalist first like other European countries. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels alone provided the prefaces for five editions between 1888 and 1893. Among these is the 1888 English edition, translated by Samuel Moore and approved by Engels, who also provided notes throughout the text. It has been the standard English-language edition ever since.
The principle region of its influence, in terms of editions published, was in the “central belt of Europe”, from Russia in the east to France in the west. In comparison, the pamphlet had little impact on politics in southwest and southeast Europe, and moderate presence in the north. Outside Europe, Chinese and Japanese translations were published, as were Spanish editions in Latin America. This uneven geographical spread in the Manifesto ’s popularity reflected the development of socialist movements in a particular region as well as the popularity of Marxist variety of socialism there. There wasn’t always a strong correlation between a social-democratic party’s strength and the Manifesto ’s popularity in that country. For instance, the German SPD printed only a few thousand copies of the Communist Manifesto every year, but a few hundred thousand copies of the Erfurt Programme. Further, the mass-based social-democratic parties of the Second Internationaldid not require their rank and file to be well-versed in theory; Marxist works such as the Manifesto or Capital were read primarily by party theoreticians. On the other hand, small, dedicated militant parties and Marxist sects in the West took pride in knowing the theory; Hobsbawm says “This was the milieu in which ‘the clearness of a comrade could be gauged invariably from the number of earmarks on his Manifesto'”.
The Bolshevik (1920) by Boris Kustodiev.Following the 1917 Bolshevik takeover of Russia Marx/Engels classics like theCommunist Manifesto were distributed far and wide.
Therefore the widespread dissemination of Marx and Engels’ works became an important policy objective; backed by a sovereign state, the CPSU had relatively inexhaustible resources for this purpose. Works by Marx, Engels and Lenin were published on a very large scale, and cheap editions of their works were available in several languages across the world. These publications were either shorter writings or they were compendia such as the various editions of Marx and Engels’Selected Works, or their Collected Works. This affected the destiny of the Manifesto in several ways. Firstly, in terms of circulation; in 1932 the American and British Communist Parties printed several hundred thousand copies of a cheap edition for “probably the largest mass edition ever issued in English”. Secondly the work entered political-science syllabi in universities, which would only expand after the Second World War. For its centenary in 1948, its publication was no longer the exclusive domain of Marxists and academicians; general publishers too printed theManifesto in large numbers. “In short, it was no longer only a classic Marxist document,” Hobsbawm noted, “it had become a political classic tout court.”
Even after the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in the 1990s, the Communist Manifesto remains ubiquitous; Hobsbawm says that “In states without censorship, almost certainly anyone within reach of a good bookshop, and certainly anyone within reach of a good library, not to mention the internet, can have access to it.” The 150th anniversary once again brought a deluge of attention in the press and the academia, as well as new editions of the book fronted by introductions to the text by academics. One of these, The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition by Verso, was touted by a critic in the London Review of Books as being a “stylish red-ribboned edition of the work. It is designed as a sweet keepsake, an exquisite collector’s item. In Manhattan, a prominent Fifth Avenue store put copies of this choice new edition in the hands of shop-window mannequins, displayed in come-hither poses and fashionable décolletage.”
Soviet Union stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Manifesto
A number of 21st-century writers have commented on the Communist Manifesto ’s continuing relevance. Academic John Raines in 2002 noted that “In our day this Capitalist Revolution has reached the farthest corners of the earth. The tool of money has produced the miracle of the new global market and the ubiquitous shopping mall. Read The Communist Manifesto, written more than one hundred and fifty years ago, and you will discover that Marx foresaw it all.” In 2003, the English Marxist Chris Harman stated:
There is still a compulsive quality to its prose as it provides insight after insight into the society in which we live, where it comes from and where its going to. It is still able to explain, as mainstream economists and sociologists cannot, today’s world of recurrent wars and repeated economic crisis, of hunger for hundreds of millions on the one hand and ‘overproduction’ on the other. There are passages that could have come from the most recent writings on globalisation.
However, not all scholars have praised it. Revisionist Marxist and reformist socialist Eduard Bernstein distinguished between “immature” early Marxism—as exemplified by the Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in their youth—that he opposed for its violent Blanquist tendencies, and later “mature” Marxism that he supported. This latter form refers to Marx in his later life acknowledging that socialism could be achieved through peaceful means through legislative reform in democratic societies. Bernstein declared that the massive and homogeneous working-class claimed in the Communist Manifesto did not exist, and that contrary to claims of a proletarian majority emerging, the middle-class was growing under capitalism and not disappearing as Marx had claimed. Bernstein noted that the working-class was not homogeneous but heterogeneous, with divisions and factions within it, including socialist and non-socialist trade unions. Marx himself, later in his life, acknowledged that the middle-class was not disappearing, in his work Theories of Surplus Value (1863). The obscurity of the later work means that Marx’s acknowledgement of this error is not well known.
George Boyer described the Manifesto as “very much a period piece, a document of what was called the ‘hungry’ 1840s.”
Many have drawn attention to the passage in the Manifesto that seems to sneer at the stupidity of the rustic: “The bourgeoisie … draws all nations … into civilisation … It has created enormous cities … and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy [sic!] of rural life”. As Eric Hobsbawm noted, however:
[W]hile there is no doubt that Marx at this time shared the usual townsman’s contempt for, as well as ignorance of, the peasant milieu, the actual and analytically more interesting German phrase (“dem Idiotismus des Landlebens entrissen”) referred not to “stupidity” but to “the narrow horizons”, or “the isolation from the wider society” in which people in the countryside lived. It echoed the original meaning of the Greek term idiotes from which the current meaning of “idiot” or “idiocy” is derived, namely “a person concerned only with his own private affairs and not with those of the wider community”. In the course of the decades since the 1840s, and in movements whose members, unlike Marx, were not classically educated, the original sense was lost and was misread.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Story 1: President Trump — The Political Elitist Establishment (PEEs) of The Democratic and Republican Parties and Mainstream Media Worst Nightmare — American People Want Immigration Law Enforcement and Ending Birthright Citizenship aka Anchor Babies — American People Including Trump Democrats, Trump Republicans and Trump Independents Will Elect Trump — PEES are Panicing — Videos
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Article I describes the design of the legislative branch of US Government — the Congress. Important ideas include the separation of powers between branches of government (checks and balances), the election of Senators and Representatives, the process by which laws are made, and the powers that Congress has. See more…
…To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
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Are Trump’s immigration views out of the mainstream?
By BYRON YORK
Donald Trump set off yet another wave of anguish and frustration among Republican political elites Sunday with more provocative statements about immigration, along with the release of a Trump immigration plan influenced by the Senate’s leading immigration hawk. But there are indications Trump’s positions on immigration are more in line with the views of the public — not just GOP voters, but the public at large — than those of his critics.
“Donald Trump: Undocumented Immigrants ‘Have to Go,'” read the headline at NBC News, where Trump appeared on “Meet the Press.” “They have to go,” Trump told moderator Chuck Todd, referring to immigrants in the U.S. illegally. “We either have a country or we don’t have a country.” At the same time, Trump unveiled a brief immigration position paper, created in consultation with Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, calling for, among other things, an end to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.
Some of Trump’s presidential rivals, and no doubt many in the GOP establishment, were appalled. “Our leading Republican is embracing self-deportation, that all of the 11 million have to walk back where they came from, and maybe we’ll let some of them come back,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said on CBS. “I just hope we don’t go down that road as a party. So our leading contender, Mr. Trump, is going backward on immigration. And I think he’s going to take all of us with him if we don’t watch it.”
But are Trump’s views on immigration as far out of the mainstream as Graham suggests? Are they out of the mainstream at all? A recent academic paper, by Stanford professor David Broockman and Berkeley Ph.D candidate Douglas Ahler, suggests a majority of the public’s views on immigration are closer to Trump’s than to the advocates of comprehensive immigration reform.
The Broockman/Ahler paper, published in July, is about more than just immigration; it examines the range of public opinion on several issues. On each, the authors gave a scientifically-selected group of respondents a broad range of policy options. On immigration, they listed seven possibilities, ranging from open borders to shutting down all immigration. These are the options Broockman and Ahler presented to respondents:
1. The United States should have open borders and allow further immigration on an unlimited basis.
2. Legal immigration to the United States should greatly increase among all immigrant groups, regardless of their skills. Immigrants already in the United States should be put on the path to citizenship.
3. Immigration of highly skilled individuals should greatly increase. Immigration by those without such skills should continue at its current pace, although this immigration should be legalized.
4. Immigration of highly skilled individuals should greatly increase, and immigration among those without such skills should be limited in time and/or magnitude, e.g., through a guest worker program.
5. The United States should admit more highly skilled immigrants and secure the border with increased physical barriers to stem the flow of other immigrants.
6. Only a small number of highly skilled immigrants should be allowed into the United States until the border is fully secured, and all illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. should be deported.
7. Further immigration to the United States should be banned until the border is fully secured, and all illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. should be deported immediately.
Here are the results Broockman and Ahler got: 4.7 percent supported Option One; 17.4 percent supported Option Two; 10.8 percent supported Option Three; 12.0 percent supported Option Four; 17.0 percent supported Option Five; 13.8 percent supported Option Six; and 24.4 percent supported Option Seven.
The largest single group, 24.4 percent, supported the most draconian option — closed borders and mass deportation — that is dismissed by every candidate in the race, including Trump. Add in the next group that supported Option Six, which would allow only a “small number” of highly skilled immigrants to enter the U.S. and also involve mass deportations, and the number increased to 38.2 percent. Then add Option Five, which would allow only highly skilled immigrants while physically blocking the border, and the number increased to 55.2 percent.
“Many citizens support policies that seem to fall outside of the range of policy options considered in elite discourse,” Broockman and Ahler conclude.
Trump’s immigration stance appears to fall somewhere between Option Five and Option Six, perhaps a little closer to the latter. It’s probably fair to say that, if Broockman and Ahler are correct, a majority of Americans — not just Republican voters, but all Americans — hold views that are consistent with Trump’s position, or are even more restrictive. Opponents like Graham portray Trump’s immigration position as far out of the mainstream, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Donald Trump is making immigration a nightmare for Republicans
By Francis WilkinsonBloomberg
Donnald Trump has an immigration policy. It’s based on dubious assertions and would be fabulously expensive, but as a statement of goals it’s largely coherent. And it may mark a very, very dangerous turning point in the Republican presidential primary.f
There are two main facets of illegal immigration: border security, encompassing both the nation’s geographic border and its ports and airports, and the fate of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. All Republican candidates support varying degrees of increased border enforcement, repeating “secure the border” as a charm to ward off the evil eye of the right wing.
The party is otherwise fractured. Legal immigration is a sticky point, pitting Republican donors against the party’s sizable wing of immigration restrictionists. And the question of what to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., most of whom have been here for a decade or more, is even stickier. Polls show that a majority of Americans support some kind of path to legalization. But Republicans are more opposed — and opponents are particularly vocal.
Among the top presidential contenders, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich seem squarely in the legalization camp. But many of their competitors oppose such “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. They have plenty of support. Earlier this year, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to rescind President Barack Obama’s executive actions easing deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.
If a path to legalization or citizenship is foreclosed, two options remain: continuing the status quo, leaving 11 million people residing illegally in the U.S. Or deporting them. Even the most virulently restrictionist Republicans have avoided explicitly calling for the latter. Instead, they typically suggest that the fate of the 11 million is an issue to be addressed only once “a secure border” is in place. “A secure border” being largely a matter of conjecture, there is no way to know how or when the second phase — dealing with the 11 million — might ever be attempted, let alone resolved. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio each have offered muddy views on the issue.
The dodge works so long as Republicans are allowed to remain vague. But Trump just broke the party compact: He got specific.
Trump’s plan is an assault on legal and illegal immigration across multiple fronts. He wants to shut off employment to illegal immigrants by expanding the e-verify system, which checks the legal status of job applicants (and job holders), nationwide. He wants to “impound” remittance payments from illegal wages, undermining a key rationale of illegal employment. He calls for an end to birthright citizenship, but also a limit on issuing new green cards and new restrictions on hiring high-skills immigrants. He wants to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents working to root out undocumented immigrants.
If your goal is to drive millions of undocumented immigrants south across the border, Trump’s plan looks like a winner. In effect, Trump would significantly increase deportations while enacting enforcement policies intended to bring about Mitt Romney’s vision of mass “self-deportation.” It’s an easy set of concepts for voters to grasp and for debate moderators to probe. Which of the other candidates will sign on? Which side are they on: mass deportation or mass law-breaking? Walker said Tuesday that Trump’s blueprint is “very similar” to his own plan.
Amusingly, Bush and Kasich may be the chief beneficiaries of Trump’s astringent effect. They’ve already defined the soft side of the party on immigration. But now the hardliners must come clean: Do they ratify what establishmentarian Bush has been saying all along? Endorse Trump’s new standard? A hypocrite’s dodge threatens to become a Hobson’s choice.
Trump has been leading the Republican pack in polls, with about a quarter of the vote. Now, with his first real policy proposal, he has almost certainly solidified his hold on the party’s most virulently anti-immigrant voters. Only 9 percent of Republicans in a July CNN/ORC poll said illegal immigration would be their top issue in voting for a president. But drawing hard, punitive lines against people on the margins never seems to lose its appeal to the Republican base.
It will be difficult for an eventual Republican nominee to navigate Trump’s challenge without alienating either the anti-immigrant cohort that he is energizing or mainstream voters. And it could get worse. What if Trump gets specific on other policies? Taxes. Health care. Retirement security. Climate change. Bombing Iran.
My Bloomberg View colleague Jonathan Bernstein calls Republicans a “post-policy” party for their reliable reluctance to fashion policies that are structurally sound and politically viable. The key is maintaining a perpetual fog. (Repeal and replace Obamacare! With something. Pass Paul Ryan’s budget! As long as it doesn’t become law.)
In the greatest irony, Trump has the capacity to exploit the void, forcing vaguer Republican candidates to respond to his specific proposals. He is making immigration a nightmare for Republicans. Other bad dreams could follow.
Francis Wilkinson writes on politics and domestic policy for Bloomberg View.
Touting constitutional amendments on the campaign trail is more likely to rally voters than to produce changes in the law.
MATT FORD AUG 19, 2015
Birthright citizenship has been a bedrock principle of American civic society since Reconstruction. But it is steadily gaining opponents among the 2016 GOP contenders. Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Bobby Jindal have called for an end to automatic citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants; Chris Christie and Scott Walker have voiced their own doubts; and it’s a central element of Donald Trump’s new immigration plan.
The Fourteenth Amendment, for its part, is clear on the scope of birthright citizenship: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Redefining the Citizenship Clause, either by legislation or by constitutional amendment, seems all but impossible today. “The only thing a politician could promise that would be harder would be, say, promising to build a giant, hundreds-of-miles-long wall and getting another country to pay for it,” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump drily notes. But like the proposed Great Wall of Mexico, feasibility may not be the point. It’s all about getting votes.
Donald Trump’s Immigration Principles Would’ve Barred His Own Grandfather
The last constitutional amendment used to resolve a political controversy was the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933, which reversed prohibition. Constitutional amendments since then have reformed either presidential election and succession procedures (the Twenty-second, Twenty-third, and Twenty-fifth) or elections themselves (the Twenty-fourth and Twenty- sixth). The Twenty-seventh and most-recently ratified amendment, which addresses congressional pay, lay dormant for over 200 years before a college student revived interest in it.
Indeed, since the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982, no major social or political movement has seriously attempted to amend the Constitution to accomplish its goals. The anti-abortion movement, for example, generally focuses on limiting abortion’s scope through legislation and on supporting presidential candidates who will appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. Opponents of capital punishment universally argue that the death penalty already violates the Eighth Amendment; advocating a separate constitutional amendment would undermine that argument. The gay-rights movement made the case that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause protects their rights, a position adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges in June.
But recent history shows the electoral value of proposing constitutional amendments. In 2003, the gay-rights movement scored two major legal victories: the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws nationwide in Lawrence v. Texas and Massachusetts’s highest court legalized same-sex marriage under that state’s constitution. For conservatives at the time, the Supreme Court’s trajectory seemed obvious—and so did the solution. As the 2004 election loomed, the conservative National Review forecasted that the spectacle of same-sex marriage would hurt Democratic candidate John Kerry. At the time, the American electorate was still broadly hostile to marriage equality.
To hammer home this connection, the National Review pointed to the Federal Marriage Amendment. First proposed in 2002, the FMA would constitutionally define marriage as existing only between a man and a woman. A path to ratification would be arduous, the magazine argued, but the struggle would bring its own benefits. “Constitutional amendments must be approved by a two-thirds vote of Congress and three quarters of the state legislatures,” it eagerly noted. “That means every political candidate, from the state level up, will be asked to take a stand.” In essence, the 2004 election would become “a national referendum on gay marriage.”
If John Kerry is elected, gay marriage will surely be nationalized by the end of his term. A Bush defeat would take the wind out of the sails of the campaign for the Federal Marriage Amendment, assure liberal judges that no serious consequences will arise from nationalization, and bring more Goodridge-style liberals onto the courts. A Bush victory, on the other hand, would keep the FMA alive, would help signal the courts that they’ve gone too far, and would stop the proliferation of activist judges on our courts.
Evangelicals took credit when Bush trounced Kerry that fall, although some dispute their impact. But their perceived role went unrewarded when Congress didn’t pass the FMA after Bush’s reelection; Democrats then retook both houses in 2006, forestalling future attempts. As public acceptance of same-sex couples grew in the Obama years, most GOP candidates abandoned the amendment. (Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said last year that he still supports it, however.)
Republicans aren’t alone in using constitutional amendments to stir up their base, although they do it particularly effectively. After Al Gore was defeated in the 2000 presidential election despite winning the popular vote, some congressional Democrats proposed a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. Those efforts lost steam after Barack Obama trounced John McCain and Mitt Romney with significant margins of electoral votes. A similar movement emerged after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FECthat struck down limits on corporate and union election spending. Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposed one of several amendments in 2011; Hillary Clinton said she would only appoint justices who pledged to overturn the ruling.
Could birthright citizenship still be undone? There’s a strain of legal thought that argues that a constitutional amendment wouldn’t be necessary. In 1985, Yale law professors Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith proposed that congressional legislation could clarify that the right does not extend to the children of undocumented immigrants. It’s not a completely heretical idea—Richard Posner, a prominent federal judge in the Seventh Circuit, endorsed it in 2010—but it’s not a mainstream one, either. When Congress considered similar legislation in 1995, Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger told members that a bill “that would deny citizenship to children born in the United States to certain classes of alien parents is unconstitutional on its face.” Although a constitutional amendment to achieve the same goal could not itself be unconstitutional, Dellinger also argued it “would flatly contradict the Nation’s constitutional history and constitutional traditions.”
Would the Supreme Court uphold a narrower view of birthright citizenship today? Curtailing the Citizenship Clause’s scope would be a seismic shift in constitutional law, beyond even Citizens United or Obergefell. The justices may also be reluctant to weaken a constitutional amendment explicitly designed to override a previous Supreme Court ruling—especially if that ruling was Dred Scott. But recent history shows that the easiest way to change the Constitution is not to amend it, but rather, to change the composition of the Court that interprets it. With three justices of the current Court turning 80 years old before the 2016 election, the next president might be able to do just that.
Anchor baby is a pejorative term for a child born in the United States to a foreign national mother who was not lawfully admitted for permanent residence.There is a popular misconception that the child’s U.S. citizenship status (acquired by jus soli) legally helps the child’s parents and siblings to quickly reclassify their visa status (or lack thereof) and to place them on a fast pathway to acquire lawful permanent residence and eventually United States citizenship. This is a myth. Current U.S. federal law prevents anyone under the age of 21 from being able to petition for their non-citizen parent to be lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence. So at best, the child’s family would need to wait for 21 years before being able to use their child’s US citizenship to modify their immigration status.
The term is generally used as a derogatory reference to the supposed role of the child, who automatically qualifies as an American citizen and can later act as a sponsor for other family members. The term is also often used in the context of the debate over illegal immigration to the United States to refer to children of illegal immigrants, but may be used for the child of any immigrant. A similar term, “passport baby”, has been used in Canada for children born through so-called “maternity” or “birth tourism“.
It is generally considered pejorative. In 2011 the American Heritage Dictionary added an entry for the term in the dictionary’s new edition, which did not indicate that the term was disparaging. Following a critical blog piece by Mary Giovagnoli, the director of the Immigration Policy Center, a pro-immigration research group in Washington, the dictionary updated its online definition to indicate that the term is “offensive”, similar to its entries on ethnic slurs. As of 2012, the definition reads:
n. Offensive Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child’s birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother’s or other relatives’ chances of securing eventual citizenship.
The decision to revise the definition led to some criticism from illegal immigration opponents.Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that advocates tighter restrictions on immigration, argues that defining the term as offensive is inaccurate and is done for purposes of political rhetoric; according to Krikorian, “‘[An anchor baby] is a child born to an illegal immigrant,'” and the revision of the definition to state that the term is offensive was done to make a political statement. According to Fox News:
Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based organization that seeks to end illegal immigration, said the revised definition panders to a small but vocal group of critics who are “manipulating the political, cultural and now linguistic landscape” of the United States. “Publishing word definitions to fit politically correct molds surrenders the language to drive an agenda,” Dane told FoxNews.com. “This dictionary becomes a textbook for the open borders lobby.”
Professor of Law at the University of Florida, Pedro A. Malavet, said that the dictionary’s reclassification of the term “anchor baby” to a term that is considered offensive was “right”.
According to the Double-Tongued Dictionary, written by American lexicographerGrant Barrett, the term “anchor baby” means “a child born of an immigrant in the United States, said to be a device by which a family can find legal foothold in the US, since those children are automatically allowed to choose United States citizenship.” In response to a reader comment, Barrett claimed that the term is used to refer to a child of any immigrant, not just children of illegal immigrants.
In 2012, UtahAttorney GeneralMark Shurtleff, in a meeting designed to promote the 2010 Utah Compact declaration as a model for a federal government approach to immigration, said that “The use of the word ‘anchor baby’ when we’re talking about a child of God is offensive.”
Maternity tourism industry
As of 2015, Los Angeles is considered the center of the maternity tourism industry; authorities in the city there closed 14 maternity tourism “hotels” in 2013. The industry is difficult to close down since it is perfectly legal for a pregnant woman to travel to the U.S.
On March 3, 2015 Federal Agents in Los Angeles conducted a series of raids on 3 “multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses” expected to produce the “biggest federal criminal case ever against the booming ‘anchor baby’ industry”, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution indicates that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizenship for nearly all individuals born in the country, regardless of their parents’ citizenship or immigration status. However, some, like Edward Erler argue that since the Wong Kim Ark case dealt with someone whose parents were in the United States legally, there is no valid basis under the 14th Amendment for the practice of granting citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants: “Even if the logic is that Wong Kim Ark became a citizen by birth with the permission of the United States when it admitted his parents to the country, no such permission has been given to those who enter illegally.”
Statistics show that a significant, and rising, number of illegal aliens are having children in the United States, but there is mixed evidence that acquiring citizenship for the parents is their goal. According to PolitFact of the St. Petersburg Times, the immigration benefits of having a child born in the United States are limited. Citizen children cannot sponsor parents for entry into the country until they are 21 years of age, and if the parent had ever been in the country illegally, they would have to show they had left and not returned for at least ten years; however, pregnant and nursing mothers could receive free food vouchers through the federalWIC (Women, Infants and Children) program and enroll the children in Medicaid.
Parents of citizen children who have been in the country for ten years or more can also apply for relief from deportation, though only 4,000 persons a year can receive relief status; as such, according to PolitFact, having a child in order to gain citizenship for the parents is “an extremely long-term, and uncertain, process.”Approximately 88,000 legal-resident parents of US citizen children were deported in the 2000s, most for minor criminal convictions.
Some critics of illegal immigration claim the United States’ “birthright citizenship” is an incentive for illegal immigration, and that immigrants come to the country to give birth specifically so that their child will be an American citizen. The majority of children of illegal immigrants in the United States are citizens, and the number has risen. According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, an estimated 73% of children of illegal immigrants were citizens in 2008, up from 63% in 2003. A total of 3.8 million unauthorized immigrants had at least one child who is an American citizen. In investigating a claim by U.S. SenatorLindsey Graham, PolitiFact found mixed evidence to support the idea that citizenship was the motivating factor. PolitiFact concludes that “[t]he data suggests that the motivator for illegal immigrants is the search for work and a better economic standing over the long term, not quickie citizenship for U.S.-born babies.”
There has been a growing trend, especially amongst Chinese visitors to the United States, to make use of “Birth Hotels” to secure US citizenship for their child and leave open the possibility of future immigration by the parents to the United States. The U.S. government estimates that there were 7,462 births to foreign residents in 2008 while the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 40,000 births are born to “birth tourists” annually. Pregnant women typically spend around $20,000 to stay in the facilities during their final months of pregnancy and an additional month to recuperate and await their new baby’s U.S. passport. In some cases, the birth of a Canadian or American child to mainland Chinese parents is a means to circumvent the one-child policy in China;Hong Kongand the Northern Mariana Islands were also popular destinations before more restrictive local regulation impeded traffic. Some prospective mothers misrepresent their intentions of coming to the United States, a violation of U.S. immigration law; however, it is not illegal for a woman to come to the U.S. to give birth.
On August 17, 2006, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn used the term “anchor baby” in reference to Saul Arellano, in a column critical of his mother, who had been given sanctuary at a Chicago church after evading a deportation order. After receiving two complaints, the next day Eric Zorn stated in his defense in his Chicago Tribune blog that the term had appeared in newspaper stories since 1997, “usually softened by quotations as in my column”, and stated that he regretted having used the term in his column and promised not to use it again in the future.
On April 15, 2014, during a televised immigration debate between San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro and Texas Senator Dan Patrick, Dan Patrick came under criticism when he used the term “anchor babies” while describing his own view of some of the immigration issues the state of Texas faced.
On November 14, 2014, CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo used the term on New Day: “Breaking overnight, President Obama has a plan to overhaul the immigration system on his own — an executive order on anchor babies entitling millions to stay in the U.S. Republicans say this would be war. Is the word “shutdown” actually being used already?” Chris Cuomo later apologized for the comment, ” OK, now, do they? Because let’s think through what this issue actually is on the other side of it. This issue is called the “anchor babies.” I used that term this morning. I shouldn’t have. It’s ugly and it’s offensive to what it is. What it really goes to is the root of the most destructive part of our current immigration policy, you’re splitting up families. They come here, here illegally, they have a baby, and the family gets split up. Maybe the kid stays. We don’t have a workable formation. This goes to the heart of the Latino vote because it shows a real lack of sympathy. You have to come up with some kind of fix. So why avoid this one? Don’t you have to take it on?”
The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution on July 9, 1868, the citizenship of persons born in the United States has been controlled by itsCitizenship Clause, which states:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Statute, by birth within U.S.
As of 2011, United States Federal law (8 U.S.C.§ 1401) defines who is a United States citizen from birth. The following are among those listed there as persons who shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
“a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” or
“a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States”
“a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person”
There are special provisions governing children born in some current and former U.S. territories or possessions, including Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal Zone, theVirgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. There are also special considerations for those born in Alaska and Hawaii before those territories acquired statehood. For example, 8 U.S.C.§ 1402 states that “[a]ll persons born in Puerto Rico on or after January 13, 1941, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, are citizens of the United States at birth”.
According to 8 U.S.C.§ 1408 persons born (or found, and of unknown parentage, under the age of 5) in an outlying possession of the U.S. (which is defined by 8 U.S.C.§ 1101 as American Samoa and Swains Island) are U.S. nationals but not citizens, unless otherwise provided in section 1401. The U.S. State Department publication titled Acquisition of U.S. Nationality in U.S. Territories and Possessions explains the complexities of this topic.
Statute, by parentage
Under certain circumstances, children may acquire U.S. citizenship from their parents. From 1940 until 1978, a child born abroad who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth but had only one U.S. citizen parent had to fulfill a “retention requirement” of residing, or being physically present, in the United States or its outlying possessions for a certain number of years before reaching a specified age. Otherwise the child would not retain the U.S. citizenship (hence the name “retention requirement”). The retention requirement was changed several times, eliminated in 1978, and subsequently eliminated with retroactive effect in 1994.
Children born overseas to married parents
The following conditions affect children born outside the U.S. and its outlying possessions to married parents (special conditions affect children born out of wedlock: see below):
If both parents are U.S. citizens, the child is a citizen if either of the parents has ever had a residence in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth
If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is a U.S. national, the child is a citizen if the U.S. citizen parent has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the child’s birth
If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is not, the child is a citizen if
the U.S. citizen parent has been “physically present” in the U.S. before the child’s birth for a total period of at least five years, and
at least two of those five years were after the U.S. citizen parent’s fourteenth birthday.
Children born overseas out of wedlock
There is an asymmetry in the way citizenship status of children born overseas to unmarried parents, only one of whom is a U.S. citizen, is handled.
Title 8 U.S.C.§ 1409 paragraph (c) provides that children born abroad after December 24, 1952 to unmarried American mothers are U.S. citizens, as long as the mother has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least one year at any time prior to the birth.
8 U.S.C.§ 1409 paragraph (a) provides that children born to American fathers unmarried to the children’s non-American mothers are considered U.S. citizens only if the father meets the “physical presence” conditions described above, and the father takes several actions:
Unless deceased, has agreed to provide financial support to the child until he reaches 18,
Establish paternity by clear and convincing evidence and, while the person is under the age of 18 years
the person is legitimated under the law of the person’s residence or domicile,
the father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing under oath, or
the paternity of the person is established by adjudication of a competent court.
8 U.S.C.§ 1409 paragraph (a) provides that acknowledgment of paternity can be shown by acknowledging paternity under oath and in writing; having the issue adjudicated by a court; or having the child otherwise “legitimated” by law.
Because of this rule, unusual cases have arisen whereby children have been fathered by American men overseas from non-American women, brought back to the United States as babies without the mother, raised by the American father in the United States, and later held to be deportable as non-citizens in their 20s.The final element has taken an especially significant importance in these circumstances, as once the child has reached 18, the father is forever unable to establish paternity to deem his child a citizen.
This distinction between unwed American fathers and American mothers was constructed and reaffirmed by Congress out of concern that a flood of illegitimate Korean and Vietnamese children would later claim American citizenship as a result of their parentage by American servicemen overseas fighting wars in their countries. In many cases, American servicemen passing through in wartime may not have even learned they had fathered a child. In 2001, the Supreme Court, by 5–4 majority in Nguyen v. INS, first established the constitutionality of this gender distinction.
Throughout much of the history of the United States, the fundamental legal principle governing citizenship has been that birth within the territorial limits of the United States confers United States citizenship, although slaves and the children of slave mothers, under the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, were excluded. The United States did not grant citizenship after the American Civil War to all former slaves until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which was subsequently confirmed by the Fourteenth Amendment. American Indian tribal members are not covered specifically by the constitutional guarantee. Those living in tribes on reservations were generally not considered citizens until passage of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, although by that time nearly two-thirds of American Indians were already citizens.
English common law
Birthright citizenship, as with much United States law, has its roots in English common law.Calvin’s Case, 77 Eng. Rep. 377 (1608), was particularly important as it established that, under English common law, “a person’s status was vested at birth, and based upon place of birth—a person born within the king’s dominion owed allegiance to the sovereign, and in turn, was entitled to the king’s protection.” This same principle was adopted by the newly formed United States, as stated by Supreme Court Justice Noah Haynes Swayne: “All persons born in the allegiance of the king are natural-born subjects, and all persons born in the allegiance of the United States are natural-born citizens. Birth and allegiance go together. Such is the rule of the common law, and it is the common law of this country as well as of England…since as before the Revolution.” United States v. Rhodes, 27 Fed. Cas. 785 (1866). However, Calvin’s Case is distinguishable, as a Scotsman was granted title to English land as his King and England’s King (James) were one and the same. Calvin was not born in England. Moreover, inCalvin’s Case, Lord Coke cited examples in which the native-born children of parents, either invading the country or who were enemies of the country, were not natural-born subjects because the birth lacked allegiance and obedience to the sovereign.
Justice Roger B. Taney in the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford 60 U.S. (How. 19) 393 (1857) held that African Americans, whether slave or free, had never been and could never become citizens of the United States, as they were excluded by the Constitution. The political scientist Stuart Streichler writes that Taney’s decision was based on “a skewed reading of history.”. Justice Benjamin R. Curtis in his dissent showed that under the Articles of Confederation, free blacks had already been considered citizens in five states and carried that citizenship forward when the Constitution was ratified.
The first section of the second article of the Constitution uses the language “a natural-born citizen.” It thus assumes that citizenship may be acquired by birth. Undoubtedly, this language of the Constitution was used in reference to that principle of public law, well understood in the history of this country at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, which referred Citizenship to the place of birth. At the Declaration of Independence, and ever since, the received general doctrine has been, in conformity with the common law, that free persons born within either of the colonies, were the subjects of the King; that by the Declaration of independence, and the consequent acquisition of sovereignty by the several States, all such persons ceased to be subjects, and became citizens of the several States … The Constitution has left to the States the determination what person, born within their respective limits, shall acquire by birth citizenship of the United States…
1862 opinion of the Attorney General of the United States
In 1862, Secretary of the TreasurySalmon P. Chase sent a question to Attorney GeneralEdward Bates asking whether or not “colored men” can be citizens of the United States. Attorney General Bates responded on November 29, 1862, with a 27-page opinion concluding, “I conclude that the free man of color, mentioned in your letter, if born in the United States, is a citizen of the United States, …[italics in original]” In the course of that opinion, Bates commented at some length on the nature of citizenship, and wrote,
… our constitution, in speaking of natural born citizens, uses no affirmative language to make them such, but only recognizes and reaffirms the universal principle, common to all nations, and as old as political society, that the people born in a country do constitute the nation, and, as individuals, are natural members of the body politic.
If this be a true principle, and I do not doubt it, it follows that every person born in a country is, at the moment of birth, prima facie a citizen; and who would deny it must take upon himself the burden of proving some great disfranchisement strong enough to override the natural born right as recognized by the Constitution in terms the most simple and comprehensive, and without any reference to race or color, or any other accidental circumstance.[italics in original]
Civil Rights Act of 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared: “…all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.” (“Indians not taxed” referred to tribal members living on reservations.)
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
“The word ‘jurisdiction’ must be understood to mean absolute and complete jurisdiction, such as the United States had over its citizens before the adoption of this amendment. Aliens, among whom are persons born here and naturalized abroad, dwelling or being in this country, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States only to a limited extent. Political and military rights and duties do not pertain to them.”
The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 provided “That all noncitizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States”. This same provision (slightly reworded) is contained in present-day law as section 301(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (8 USC 1401(b)).
“Nothing is better settled at the common law than the doctrine that the children even of aliens born in a country while the parents are resident there under the protection of the government and owing a temporary allegiance thereto are subjects by birth..”
The Slaughter-House Cases
In the Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S.36 (1873) — a civil rights case not dealing specifically with birthright citizenship — a majority of the Supreme Courtmentioned in passing that “the phrase ‘subject to its jurisdiction’ was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States”.
Elk v. Wilkins
In Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S.94 (1884), the Supreme Court denied the birthright citizenship claim of an American Indian. The court ruled that being born in the territory of the United States is not sufficient for citizenship; those who wish to claim citizenship by birth must be born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The court’s majority held that the children of Native Americans were
“no more ‘born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,’ within the meaning of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations.”
Thus, Native Americans who voluntarily quit their tribes would not automatically become U.S. citizens. Native Americans were granted U.S. citizenship by Congress half a century later in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which rendered the Elk decision obsolete.
Since the majority of Canadians live in the relatively thin strip of land close to the long border with the United States, Canadians in need of urgent medical care are occasionally transferred to nearby American medical centers. In some circumstances, Canadian mothers facing high-risk births have given birth in Americanhospitals. Such children are American citizens by birthright.
In these circumstances, Canadian laws are similar to those of the United States. Babies born in Canada of American parents are also Canadian citizens by birthright.
In both of these situations, the birthright citizenship is passed on to their children, born decades later. In some cases, births in American hospital (sometimes called “border babies“) have resulted in persons who lived for much of their lives in Canada, but not knowing that they had never had official Canadian citizenship. This group of people is sometimes called Lost Canadians.
Another problem arises where a Canadian child, born to Canadian parents in a US border hospital, is treated as a dual citizen and added to the United States tax base on this basis despite having never lived, worked nor studied in that nation. While Canadian income tax is only payable by those who reside or earn income in Canada, the US Internal Revenue Service taxes its citizens worldwide. Campobello Island is particularly problematic as, while legally part of New Brunswick, the only year-round fixed link off the island leads not to Canada but to Lubec, Maine — leading to many Canadians whose families have lived on Campobello for generations not being able to claim to be born in Canada.
During the original debate over the 14th Amendment Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan—the sponsor of the Citizenship Clause—described the clause as having the same content, despite different wording, as the earlier Civil Rights Act of 1866, namely, that it excludes American Indians who maintain their tribal ties and “persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.” Others also agreed that the children of ambassadors and foreign ministers were to be excluded. However, concerning the children born in the United States to parents who are not U.S. citizens (and not foreign diplomats), three senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee ChairmanLyman Trumbull, the author of the Civil Rights Act, as well asPresidentAndrew Johnson, asserted that both the Civil Rights Act and the 14th Amendment would confer citizenship on them at birth, and no senator offered a contrary opinion.
Most of the debate on this section of the Amendment centered on whether the wording in the Civil Rights Act or Howard’s proposal more effectively excluded Aboriginal Americans on reservations and in U.S. territories from citizenship. Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin asserted that all Native Americans are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, so that the phrase “Indians not taxed” would be preferable, but Trumbull and Howard disputed this, arguing that the U.S. government did not have full jurisdiction over Native American tribes, which govern themselves and make treaties with the United States.
Edward Erler argues that since the Wong Kim Ark case dealt with someone whose parents were in the United States legally, there is no valid basis under the 14th Amendment for the practice of granting citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants: “Even if the logic is that Wong Kim Ark became a citizen by birth with the permission of the United States when it admitted his parents to the country, no such permission has been given to those who enter illegally.” Angelo Ancheta, by contrast, criticizes the “consent-based theory of citizenship”, saying that “The Fourteenth Amendment was designed to ensure citizenship for ‘all persons’ born in the United States, particularly in response to ambiguities in legal status that attached to being the descendants of an outsider class, namely slaves.”
In the late 1990s opposition arose over the longstanding practice of granting automatic citizenship on a jus soli basis as fears grew in some circles that the existing law encouraged parents-to-be to come to the United States to have children in order to improve the parents’ chances of attaining legal residency themselves. Some media correspondents and public leaders, including former congressman Virgil Goode, have controversially dubbed this the “anchor baby” situation, and politicians have proposed legislation on this basis that might alter how birthright citizenship is awarded.
The Pew Hispanic Center determined that according to an analysis of Census Bureau data about 8 percent of children born in the United States in 2008 — about 340,000 — were offspring of illegal immigrants. In total, about four million American-born children of illegal immigrant parents resided in this country in 2009, along with about 1.1 million foreign-born children of illegal immigrant parents. The Center for Immigration Studies—a think tank which favors stricter controls on immigration—claims that between 300,000 and 400,000 children are born each year to illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Bills have been introduced from time to time in Congress which have sought to declare American-born children of foreign nationals not to be “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”, and thus not entitled to citizenship via the 14th Amendment, unless at least one parent was an American citizen or a lawfulpermanent resident.
Both Democrats and Republicans have introduced legislation aimed at narrowing the application of the Citizenship Clause. In 1993, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced legislation that would limit birthright citizenship to the children of U.S. citizens and legally resident aliens, and similar bills have been introduced by other legislators in every Congress since. For example, U.S. RepresentativeNathan Deal, a Republican from the State of Georgia, introduced the “Citizenship Reform Act of 2005” (H.R. 698) in the 109th Congress, the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2007” (H.R. 1940) in the 110th Congress, and the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009” (H.R. 1868) in the 111th Congress. However, neither these nor any similar bill has ever been passed by Congress.
Some legislators, unsure whether such Acts of Congress would survive court challenges, have proposed that the Citizenship Clause be changed through aconstitutional amendment. Senate Joint Resolution 6, introduced on January 16, 2009 in the 111th Congress, proposes such an amendment; however, neither this, nor any other proposed amendment, has yet been approved by Congress for ratification by the states.
The most recent judge to weigh in on the issue as to whether a constitutional amendment would be necessary to change the policy is Judge Richard Posner who remarked in a 2003 case that “Congress would not be flouting the Constitution if it amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to put an end to the nonsense.” He explained, “A constitutional amendment may be required to change the rule whereby birth in this country automatically confers U.S. citizenship, but I doubt it.” Posner also wrote, that automatic birthright citizenship is a policy that “Congress should rethink” and that the United States “should not be encouraging foreigners to come to the United States solely to enable them to confer U.S. citizenship on their future children.”
Professor Edward J. Erler of the California State University has argued that “Congress began to pass legislation offering citizenship to Indians on a tribe by tribe basis. Finally, in 1923, there was a universal offer to all tribes. Any Indian who consented could become an American citizen. This citizenship was based on reciprocal consent: an offer on the part of the U.S. and acceptance on the part of an individual. Thus Congress used its legislative powers under the Fourteenth Amendment to determine who was within the jurisdiction of the U.S. It could make a similar determination today, based on this legislative precedent, that children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens are not subject to American jurisdiction. A constitutional amendment is no more required now than it was in 1923.” Some others have disagreed with this interpretation, contending that while Congress can define territories (such as an Indian Reservation) as US jurisdiction, it has no power to define people as under US jurisdiction aside from where they were born.
Republicans in the State of Arizona have indicated an intention to introduce state legislation which would seek to deny American citizenship to Arizona-born children of illegal immigrant parents by prohibiting the issuance of a birth certificate unless at least one parent has legal status. However, critics argue that the child or parents could immediately sue the state for discrimination and that the federal courts would immediately force the state to issue the birth certificate.
A report by an organization called the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) in 2012 asserted that revoking birthright citizenship would be bureaucratic, expensive, would result in a national ID card, and would not slow illegal immigration. Under current law, if a citizen parent gives birth in a foreign country, they must prove their own citizenship in order for their baby to have citizenship. The NFAP estimated this to cost $600 per baby, not including legal fees. The report alleged that if birthright citizenship were eliminated, every baby in the United States would be subject to this cost. For the four million babies born each year in the U.S., this would total $24 billion per year. In addition, currently the US government does not keep any record of births, instead using the records of individual states to issue passports. The report alleged that the end of birthright citizenship would leave the states unable to verify whether a new baby should be granted citizenship, requiring the federal government instead to issue birth certificates, and likely a national ID card. Finally, the report claimed that eliminating birthright citizenship would not reduce illegal immigration. The report said that immigrants come to the United States for economic reasons, and illegal immigrants cannot use a citizen child to be granted citizenship. The report also said that all proposals to end birthright citizenship, aside from a constitutional amendment, would be unconstitutional and quickly be overturned in court. The Center for Immigration Studies disputed these conclusions, asserting in its own 2012 report that the NFAP’s claims were “unsupported”, that a bureaucratic overhaul would not be necessary, and that ending automatic birthright citizenship would not cost parents money, result in a caste system, or create stateless children.
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The Benghazi Committee’s Belated Interest in Hillary’s Hidden E-mails
By Andrew McCarthy
In assessing the Benghazi select committee headed up by Chairman Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), there are two possibilities, and they are not mutually exclusive: (1) The committee is just a Potemkin probe erected by the Republican establishment to get restive conservatives to pipe down, and (2) the committee is incompetent.
The panel, of course, was commissioned by the Republican-controlled House to investigate the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2012, attack in which al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists killed Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans — information-management officer Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, cohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKkkTXSfygontract employees whose valor saved dozens of lives during the siege.
The select committee’s ten sleepy months of operation have not warranted much attention — except to observe its lethargy. But questions about it arise thanks to the newly erupted Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal. Mostly, it is one question: Why is the scandal newly erupted?
The Benghazi massacre was the lowlight of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Suddenly this week, the public was informed, for the first time, that during those four tumultuous years, she conducted State Department business through a private e-mail system designed to evade government record-keeping requirements. The scheme is redolent of Clintonian hypocrisy: Even while Mrs. Clinton was exclusively using personal e-mail, she admonished State Department personnel that doing so was prohibited as a major security breach, and she forced the resignation of the U.S. ambassador to Kenya for, among other things, using private e-mail for public business. The scheme’s revelation has been redolent of tendentious Clintonian parsing: Suspicions that Mrs. Clinton violated not only e-mail retention regulations but also criminal laws are being countered by lawyerly dilations on the definition of a “government record.”
And who wouldn’t want to relive That Nineties Show?
In Washington’s best headline-grabbing fashion, Chairman Gowdy leaped on the latest Clinton scandal to announce that his Benghazi committee, on Wednesday, issued subpoenas for all of Clinton’s communications related to Libya. On the same day, the committee subpoenaed the State Department “for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” and issued “preservation letters” to telecom firms directing them to retain potentially relevant documents.
What on earth took them so long?
In announcing the new subpoenas, Gowdy, a highly experienced prosecutor with a real courtroom flair, offered his signature biting barbs that sweep conservatives off their feet. Mrs. Clinton “did not use personal email in addition to government e-mail,” he inveighed, “she used personal e-mail in lieu of government e-mail.” He authoritatively explained that she had more than one private e-mail account. He scalded the State Department for its inability to account for Clinton’s communications because they neither have them nor control access to them — only Clinton does.
Just the fiery outrage we’ve come to expect from Congressman Gowdy.
But for all the big wind, there never seems to be much rain. Speaking of which, Gowdy let something else slip while unburdening himself to Politico: he and his committee have known since last summer that Mrs. Clinton conducted business by private e-mail.
So what you’re just finding out now, Gowdy has known for at least six months. So what did he do about it? According to Politico, “He said the committee has worked with Clinton advisers and the department to gain access to documents relating to the Benghazi attacks.”
Fabulous! Gowdy just got finished railing about how Clinton used private e-mail precisely to avoid the government-mandated paper trail. So what’s he been doing about it for six months? Discussing the matter with Clinton’s loyal staffers — i.e., people who helped her carry out the scheme — and with the State Department — i.e., the people he just got done telling you have neither the relevant e-mails nor access to them.
Gowdy just got finished railing about how Clinton used private e-mail precisely to avoid the government-mandated paper trail. So what’s he been doing about it for six months? Discussing the matter with Clinton’s loyal staffers — i.e., people who helped her carry out the scheme — and with the State Department — i.e., the people he just got done telling you have neither the relevant e-mails nor access to them.
But that’s not the half of it. Unanswered questions abound:
What mission was so important to Obama and Clinton that it was worth assigning American personnel to work in Benghazi, a notorious hotbed of anti-American jihadism?
Was the United States involved in facilitating the transfer of arms from jihadists in Libya to jihadists in Syria?
Why were Americans kept in Benghazi despite months of terrorist attacks on the U.S. facilities and other Western targets?
Why during those months, when other nations had the good sense to withdraw their forces because Benghazi was too dangerous, did the Obama administration not only maintain ours there but also reduce security?
Why, in particular, did Secretary Clinton turn a deaf ear to Ambassador Stevens’s personal pleas for more protection?
Why, in light of the history of attacks and the ratcheting up of terrorist threats on the eve of the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, were military assets not moved closer to hot spots like Benghazi and placed on high alert?
Why in the aftermath of the terrorist attack did the administration concoct for public consumption a fraudulent story framing the siege as a “spontaneous protest” over an anti-Muslim video, rather than an attack by jihadist terrorists?
Why, when it is now clear that the State Department knew from the first moments of the siege that a terrorist attack was underway, and knew within the first hours that the local al-Qaeda affiliate was claiming credit, did Secretary Clinton put out a press statement blaming the video?
What administration officials were involved in the Justice Department’s shameful S.W.A.T.-style arrest and prosecution of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the video producer?
It has been ten months since the Benghazi select committee was appointed. We have no answers.
When Trey Gowdy took this high-profile assignment, he vowed to conduct it with energetic prosecutorial rigor. That has been the excuse for the paucity of public hearings over the last ten months: they are too busy meticulously scrutinizing documents and lining up witnesses to conduct hearings.
Indeed, the few short hearings the committee has held focused on the recommendations of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigation. Not only was that an utter waste of time in light of how discredited the ARB report is; the committee also steered clear of evidence that Mrs. Clinton’s top aides o
Story 1: Obama’s Non-Transparent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler Refuses To Testify Before Congress or Publish Online The Proposed Draft Internet Regulations Pertaining To Net Neutrality (332 Page Final Draft) Before Voting on Thursday, February 26, 2015 — Government Bureaucrats Messing With The Internet and Freedom of Speech — Time To Abolish The FCC — It Is All About Money and Power — Videos
Three Democrats Voted For Government Regulation, Taxation and Control of Internet
FCC’s Ajit Pai: Net Neutrality is a “Solution That Won’t Work to a Problem That Doesn’t Exist”
Internet Rejoices as FCC Imposes Strict Net Neutrality Rules
Sources: Wheeler Tweaks Net Neutrality Plan After Google Push
GOP Leader Slams FCC Ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
Sen. John Thune hammered the Federal Communications Commission ahead of a vote on net neutrality rules Thursday, which the South Dakota Republican termed a “partisan-line vote.”
“This will be the first time … where the Internet is going to be subject to the heavy-hand of regulation as opposed to the light touch that’s been utilized for so long up until this point,” Thune said. “And I hope that Feb. 26 doesn’t go down in history as the time when the Internet moved from something that was driven by free-market innovation to something that’s driven by bureaucratic decision making.”
The Truth About ‘Net Neutrality’ – FCC Rules Tomorrow. Please watch, & please circulate!
Net Neutrality will destroy the internet
The Truth About Net Neutrality
Limbaugh on “Net Neutrality”: Obama Exploits Ignorance of Young People to Seize Control of Internet
FCC Chairman Details His Net Neutrality Proposal
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan would apply to ISPs and wireless carriers. It will go to a full vote later this month.
FCC Chairman Signals New Net Neutrality Rules – IGN News
President Obama’s Statement on Keeping the Internet Open and Free
President Obama Makes Strong Pro Net Neutrality Statement…But Why?
Net Neutrality Explained. Simply and Accurately!
HOUSE CHAIR DEMANDS FCC NET NEUTRALITY GAG ORDER LIFTED
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler make public the details of the proposed net neutrality regulations that will regulate the Internet under the same rules as the old AT&T monopoly.
Chaffetz also asked the FCC Chair to appear and answer questions at the House Oversight hearing Wednesday, prior to the planned Agency vote on the draft rules now scheduled for Thursday.
The 332-page final draft FCC order was only delivered to the four other FCC commissioners three weeks ago. When Wheeler delivered the document, he took the unusual step of issuing a “gag order” to prevent its release before the FCC vote.
The FCC was forced to revisit “net neutrality” rules because the agency’s egregious 2010 effort at writing “Open Internet Rules” was thrown out in January 2014 by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Verizon v. FCC. Although the appeals court agreed the FCC had the authority to regulate broadband services, they rejected the FCC’s potentially biased micro-managing of the Internet.
Chairman Wheeler tried to ramrod President Obama’s net neutrality proposal through the FCC on May 15, 2014. It was understood at the time that Wheeler was trying to maximize FCC breadth for the new rules by basing the legal authority of his proposal on parts of both Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But the day before the meeting, his fellow Democratic Commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, pushed back on the rush to regulate after being bombarded by consumers who wanted to preserve an open Internet.
In a blog post at the time, Commissioner Clyburn noted, “over 100,000 Americans have spoken” via email, calls and letters. Commissioner Rosenworcel added that she also wanted the FCC to delay consideration of the rules after the torrent of public response.
Breitbart reported on February 9 in “Republican FCC Member Warns Net Neutrality is Not Neutral” that Ajit Pai, as one of two Republican Commissioners on the FCC, tweeted, “I wish the public could see what’s inside.” Pai included a selfie of himself holding the huge document in front of a picture of Obama. The posture of the photo was clearly meant to depict the president as George Orwell’s “Big Brother.”
Pai later released a statement: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” he said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
The Breitbart article generated over 4,600 comments and set off a firestorm on the Drudge Report as the public realized that the FCC process seemed fundamentally biased due to a lack of transparency and full disclosure prior to such an important regulatory vote. The public was also incensed that the free-for-all Internet was about to be subject to up to $16 billion a year in FCC user taxes and fees.
Congressman Chaffetz also sent Wheeler a letter questioning whether the FCC had been “independent, fair and transparent” in fashioning the rules to supposedly protect Internet content. “Although arguably one of the most sweeping new rules in the commission’s history, the process was conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review,” Chaffetz added.
Representative Chaffetz included in the letter that there is a precedent for the FCC Chairman to make rules public before a vote. In 2007, Chairman Kevin Martin released to the public new media ownership rules, and the entire FCC testified in a House hearing prior to the final vote.
An elected official who supported the FCC postponement in 2007, Chaffetz notes, was Senator Barack Obama. “He specifically noted while a certain proposal ‘may pass the muster of a federal court, Congress and the public have the right to review any specific proposal and decide whether or not it constitutes sound policy. And the commission has the responsibility to defend any new proposal in public discourse and debate.”
With political fireworks going off yesterday, Republican FCC commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai late in the day asked Wheeler to postpone Thursday’s vote and release the draft Internet regulatory proposal for a 30 day public comment period.
Dear FCC: Rethink The Vague “General Conduct” Rule
BY CORYNNE MCSHERRY
For many months, EFF has been working with a broad coalition of advocates to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new Open Internet rules that would survive legal scrutiny and actually help protect the Open Internet. Our message has been clear from the beginning: the FCC has a role to play, but its role must be firmly bounded.
Two weeks ago, we learned that we had likely managed the first goal—the FCC is going to do the right thing and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, giving it the ability to make new, meaningful Open Internet rules. But we are deeply concerned that the FCC’s new rules will include a provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion: the so-called “general conduct rule.”
According to the FCC’s own “Fact Sheet,” the proposed rule will allow the FCC to review (and presumably punish) non-neutral practices that may “harm” consumers or edge providers. Late last week, as the window for public comment was closing, EFF filed a letter with the FCC urging it to clarify and sharply limit the scope of any “general conduct” provision:
[T]he Commission should use its Title II authority to engage in light-touch regulation, taking great care to adhere to clear, targeted, and transparent rules. A “general conduct rule,” applied on a case-by- case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice “harms” consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of “harm” (for those who can afford to engage in it). What is worse, it could be abused by a future Commission to target legitimate practices that offer significant benefits to the public . . .
Accordingly, if the Commission intends to adopt a “general conduct rule” it should spell out, in advance, the contours and limits of that rule, and clarify that the rule shall be applied only in specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, if a recent report from Reuters is correct, the general conduct rule will be anything but clear. The FCC will evaluate “harm” based on consideration of seven factors: impact on competition; impact on innovation; impact on free expression; impact on broadband deployment and investments; whether the actions in question are specific to some applications and not others; whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.
There are several problems with this approach. First, it suggests that the FCC believes it has broad authority to pursue any number of practices—hardly the narrow, light-touch approach we need to protect the open Internet. Second, we worry that this rule will be extremely expensive in practice, because anyone wanting to bring a complaint will be hard-pressed to predict whether they will succeed. For example, how will the Commission determine “industry best standards and practices”? As a practical matter, it is likely that only companies that can afford years of litigation to answer these questions will be able to rely on the rule at all. Third, a multi-factor test gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence.
We are days away from a final vote, and it appears that many of the proposed rules will make sense for the Internet. Based on what we know so far, however, the general conduct proposal may not. The FCC should rethink this one.
FCC Chair Refuses to Testify before Congress ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
by ANDREW JOHNSON February 25, 2015 10:19 AM
Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.”
Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) criticized Wheeler and the administration for lacking transparency on the issue.
“So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.”
The vote on the new Internet regulations is scheduled for Thursday. The FCC’s two Republican commissioners have asked Wheeler to delay the vote to allow more time for review. The changes would allow the commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility, setting new standards that require the provision of equal access to all online content.
President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules
President Obama today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality, the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally.
The President has been a strong and consistent advocate of net neutrality since his first presidential campaign.
President Obama’s plan would reclassify consumer broadband services under what’s known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act. It would serve as a “basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.”
The plan involves four commonsense steps that some service providers already observe:
No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player—not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling”—based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
Ultimately, the FCC is an independent agency and the decision is theirs alone. But President Obama believes his plan is the best way to safeguard the incredible resource the Internet has become for all of us — so that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company has the same chance to succeed as established corporation’s, and so that access to a high school student’s blog isn’t unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.
Nearly 4 million public comments were submitted to the FCC as part of the latest comment period, with overwhelming support for the principles the President is calling for.
Story 1: American People Do Not Trust Big Government Democratic and Republican Parties and The Political Elitist Establishment In Washington — New Political Party Formed When Independents Represent 50% or More of Voters — When? 2022 or 2024 — Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Constitutional Government, Consumption Tax Replacing All Federal Taxes, and Stopping All Legal and Illegal Immigration Exceeding 1 Million Persons Per Year, Replacing The Warfare and Welfare State With A Peace and Prosperity Economy — Jobs For Everyone — I Have A Dream — The Winner Takes It All — Part 1 — Videos
ABBA – I Have A Dream (From The Late Late Breakfast Show, England 1982)
U.S. partisanship shifts to net-Republican after midterms
GOP also made gains after 1994 and 2002 midterms
Democrats made gains following 2006 midterms
PRINCETON, N.J. — Since the Republican Party’s strong showing on Election Day last month, Americans’ political allegiances have shifted toward the GOP. Prior to the elections, 43% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while 39% identified as or leaned Republican. Since then, Republicans have opened up a slight advantage, 42% to 41%, representing a net shift of five percentage points in the partisanship gap.
The pre-election results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 17,259 U.S. adults, conducted between Oct. 1 and Nov. 4. The post-election interviews are based on 12,671 interviews conducted Nov. 5-30.
There have been similar “bandwagon” effects for the winning party in the past, including after the 1994 and 2002 midterm elections, when Republicans benefited, and after the 2006 election, when Democrats made gains.
The most dramatic shift occurred after the 1994 midterms, in which Republicans picked up more than 50 seats in the House of Representatives to gain a majority in that chamber for the first time in 40 years. Before the 1994 elections, Democrats enjoyed a four-point advantage in party affiliation, but after the GOP wave, Republicans emerged with a 12-point margin, for a total shift of 16 points in the gap.
In 2002, Republicans capitalized on the popularity of George W. Bush to accomplish the rare feat of having the president’s party gain seats in Congress in a midterm election. After that strong showing, partisanship moved from a five-point Democratic edge to a four-point Republican margin.
Four years later, with Bush’s job approval rating stuck below 40%, Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress. An already strong Democratic partisanship advantage of 14 points swelled to 22 points after the election.
Not every “wave” election has produced a distinct shift in a party’s advantage. The 1998 and 2010 midterms were also notable for their outcomes, but did not produce any apparent change in Americans’ basic party loyalties. In 1998, Democrats gained seats in the House even with a Democratic president in office. In 2010, Republicans gained a net of 63 seats in the House to win back control of that chamber. That year, the shifts in party allegiances seemed to be in place before the election, with the smallest Democratic edge seen in any recent midterm year. Consequently, in 2010 it appeared that shifts in party allegiances drove the election results, whereas in other years the election results seemed to produce shifts in party affiliation after the election.
The bandwagon effect can largely be explained by the amount of positive publicity given to the victorious party after its success. However, it is unclear why there would be a bandwagon effect following most midterm elections but not all of them.
No Clear Historical Pattern on How Long Post-Midterm Party Gains Last
One key question is how long the effects persist when they do occur. A review of the three elections with obvious bandwagon effects reveals no consistent pattern.
The 1994 Republican surge in partisanship was the largest and the longest lasting. Republicans maintained a healthy eight-point advantage in partisanship through December 1994, and an average four-point advantage from January through March 1995. By April, Democrats had regained a slight edge, and for the most part held it throughout the remainder of the year.
The 2002 Republican gains were fairly short-lived, evident in November and December and largely gone by January 2003. However, when the Iraq War commenced in March, Republicans saw another surge in partisanship.
The 2006 Democratic gains were the most brief, disappearing by December — though that still left the party with a healthy 12-point edge in partisanship.
The 2014 midterms were an unqualified success for the Republican Party. The GOP took control of the Senate and expanded its majority in the House, giving Republicans control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 2006. And that success has caused Americans to view the Republican Party more favorably than the Democratic Party, as well as to say congressional Republicans should have more influence than President Barack Obama over the direction the nation takes in the next year. Americans are also now more likely to align themselves politically with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party.
It is not clear how long these good feelings toward the GOP will last. That could be influenced by what Republicans do with their enhanced power. While they are unlikely to achieve many of their major policy objectives with a Democratic president in office, how they and the president navigate the key issues facing the nation over the next two years will go a long way toward determining where each party stands heading into the 2016 presidential election.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 5-30, 2014, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 12,671 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Obama job approval among whites aged 18 to 29 is down to 34%
White millennials’ approval only 3 points above older whites’
Obama approval remains much higher among nonwhite 18-29s
PRINCETON, N.J. — President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in 2014 among white 18- to 29-year-olds is 34%, three points higher than among whites aged 30 and older. This is the narrowest approval gap between the president’s previously strong support base of white millennials and older white Americans since Obama took office.
By contrast, the president’s approval rating was nine percentage points higher among younger whites in 2009, and 10 points higher in 2010. Additionally, while the president’s approval among younger whites matched his overall national rating in his first two years in office, it is now eight points below the national average. These data underscore the gradual erosion of the disproportionately strong support Obama received from young white voters as he took office in 2009 and ran for re-election in 2012.
The data are based on yearly averages from Gallup’s Daily tracking, including 2014 data through November.
Obama’s support among white millennials has factored into his two presidential election successes. Exit polls conducted after the 2012 election, for example, showed that Obama received 44% of the vote of white 18- to 29-year-olds, about six points higher than he received among whites aged 30 and older. Obama’s 45% job approval rating among 18- to 29-year-old whites in 2012 mirrored these voting results closely. But the president’s 11-point drop among white 18- to 29-year-olds since 2012 is almost double the six-point drop among the national population and among older whites.
Younger Whites’ Approval Now Closer to All Other Age Groups
From a broader perspective, there is relatively little difference today in Obama’s job approval ratings among whites in any of the four major age groups. Whites aged 30 to 49, as well as those 65 and older, have given Obama a 31% approval rating so far in 2014, with 50- to 64-year-olds coming in at 32% and 18- to 29-year-olds at 34%. The spread among age categories was slightly larger in the earliest years of the Obama administration.
Support Down, but Still Higher Among Nonwhite Than Among White Young People
Although Obama’s approval rating has dropped among black, Hispanic and Asian 18- to 29-year-olds from 2009 to 2014, just as it has among white millennials, the president maintains a much higher level of support among these groups than among whites. Specifically, Obama’s approval is 80% among young blacks, 68% among young Asians, and 55% among Hispanic 18- to 29-year-olds — contrasted with his 34% approval among white young adults.
Age affects Obama’s approval ratings differently among each of these racial and ethnic groups. Obama does slightly less well among black young people than among older blacks, and significantly better among Asians younger than 50 than among those who are older. There is little significant difference in his approval rating by age within the Hispanic population.
While Obama is significantly more popular among nonwhites than among whites, he was able to count on proportionately stronger support from young whites than older whites in his 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns. Now, his support among white millennials appears to be waning, and these young Americans give Obama an approval rating that is only marginally higher than that among older whites.
These findings demonstrate the general importance of race and ethnicity when one talks about Obama’s job approval ratings by age. Obama continues to enjoy higher approval ratings among all 18- to 29-year-olds — regardless of race or ethnicity — than he does among the general population, but this is largely attributable to younger age groups in the U.S. being disproportionately composed of nonwhites. In other words, a big part of the age gap in Obama’s approval ratings today is attributable not so much to differences in approval within racial or ethnic groups, but to the fact that the white population in the U.S. skews older, while the nonwhite population skews younger.
The white vote has become an increasing challenge for Democratic presidential candidates in recent years, as well as Senate candidates in many Southern and swing states. Just this past weekend, a lack of strong support among white voters was instrumental in incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s loss in Louisiana’s senatorial runoff election. That loss gives the Republicans control of every southern Senate seat from Texas to the Carolinas. While Democrats are likely to be helped in coming years by a growing Hispanic population, Democratic presidential candidates — and senatorial candidates in many states — will continue to need the votes of a substantial minority of white voters in order to put together a winning coalition. Thus, Obama’s continuing loss of support among younger white voters highlights one of the potential challenges ahead for Democratic candidates in 2016.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey from 2009 through November 2014, with random samples of approximately 355,000 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia for each of the 2009-2012 yearly samples; approximately 175,000 adults for 2013; and 163,847 adults for Jan. 2-Nov. 30, 2014. For results based on the total sample of national adults in each yearly average, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. The margin of sampling error for each year’s age subgroups varies by sample size.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Bar Chart Data Source: Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) published by the U. S. Treasury Department. WE DON’T MAKE THIS UP! IT COMES FROM THE U. S. GOVERNMENT! NO ADJUSTMENTS.
The MTS published in October, reports the final actual expenditures for the previous FY. This chart shows FY2014 actual spending data. Here is the link to download your own copy from the Treasury Department web site.
The chart normally shows the proposed budget line for the next fiscal year (FY2015 started 1 October 2014), but Congress has not passed a “budget” for FY2015; we’re still using continuing resolutions to fund the federal government.
The Congressional Budget Office reported on the Federal Debt and the Risk of a Financial Crisis in this report on the non-budget.
NDAC Challenge: Look at the bar chart to find items that are growing and items that are being reduced. Example: One of the largest growth departments is at the Department of Agriculture; it handles Food Stamps (SNAP). You pay taxes, your money is paying for food stamps.
NDAC studies the Budget Proposals submitted to the U.S. Senate each year by the President of the United States and by the House of Representatives. The budget submissions include Budget Historical Tables published by OMB. Expenditures are shown in Table 4.1, scroll way right to find current years actuals and estimates. Our analysis is discussed on the home page of this web site.
— “Deficit” vs. “Debt”—
Suppose you spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a “budget deficit”. So you borrow (ie; use your credit card). The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you spend more than your income, another deficit, you must borrow some more, and you’ll still have to pay the interest on your debt (now larger). If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don’t have any money left over for anything else. This situation is known as bankruptcy.
“Reducing the deficit” is a meaningless soundbite. If theDEFICIT is any amount more than ZERO, we have to borrow more and the DEBT grows.
Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress’s appropriations. Here is a direct link to the Congressional Budget Office web site’s deficit analysis. We have to pay interest* on that huge, growing debt; and it dramatically cuts into our budget.
Cut spending??? What would you cut?
[All federal expenses are shown on the chart above].
And there is a lot of missing money! Where is it?
The Treasury Department has the third largest expense in the federal budget. Only Defense andentitlement programs (run by Departments of Health and Human Services, HUD, and Agriculture (food stamps)) spend more. As the debt increases, so does the interest payment. Entitlement spending is the largest item in our federal budget. Do you have “Compassion” for lower income earners?
In FY2013 the U. S. Treasury Department spent$416 Billion of your money on interest payments to the holders of the National Debt.
Compare that to NASA at $17B,
Agriculture at $156B,
Labor at $80B,
Transportation at $76B!Can the federal budget be balanced? Here’s a video about that.
When you buy something, all the companies involved in producing and delivering it, were charged a wide range of taxes, and those costs are part of the price ofeverything you buy. The price of everything you buy will go up to cover any business tax increases.You are paying those corporate taxes! Read more about the proposed Energy Tax increases. So don’t forget that the price of fuel is in the cost of everything.
The “Economic Stimulus” is shifting us from an “economic crisis” to a debt crisis!Consider this; if businesses could print their own money and give it away to customers so they could buy the products, many folks would be happy for a while; but the businesses would go bankrupt. Well, that’s what our government is currently doing, printing and giving away money.
It has been reported that about 50% of Americans pay no income tax. But, if those folks buy anything, they pay “embedded taxes”*. Here is a video about taxation.
*[About 22% of the price of any product you buy is because of taxation on the companies that were involved in that product being produced and being at a place where it could be bought; and that’s before local sales taxes were added.] Every company must cover ALL its costs (including taxation) in the price of its product; or it will go bankrupt.
Healthcare… some proponents want to pay for the new plan by taxing insurance companies.Insurance companies do not pay taxes. To a corporation, tax is just another cost. So policy premiums will go up to cover the cost.
Government Programs always cost more than originally predicted. What about Healthcare?
**The Government cannot provide anything to anyone without first taking money from someone else to pay for it.
“For society as a whole, nothing comes as a ‘right’ to which we are ‘entitled’. Even bare subsistence has to be produced…. The only way anyone can have a right to something that has to be produced is to force someone else to produce it… The more things are provided as rights, the less the recipients have to work and the more the providers have to carry the load.” Thomas Sowell, quoted in Forbes and Reader’s Digest.
According to Mr. Kneeland, “…all dollars come from the people. Where do [you] think Coca-Cola gets the money to pay its taxes, Exxon gets its money to pay the Exxon Valdez fines, Denny’s gets the money to pay its Justice Department fines, or even Microsoft gets the money to defend itself? It all ultimately can come from only one place, and that’s from individuals.” ED: When you buy a product, the price of that product has to cover ALL the costs to get that product to you.
“A politician cannot spend one dime on any spending project without first taking that dime from the person who earned it. So, when a politician votes for a spending bill he is saying that he believes the government should spend that particular dollar rather than the individual who worked for it.” Neal Boortz.
“There is no such thing as government money – only taxpayer money.” William Weld, quoted in Readers Digest.
“Who will provide the roof to protect you from the rain, the heat to comfort you from the cold, and the coffee to fill your stomach when the damn, greedy capitalists are all gone?” – David Berresford, Thursday, May 20, 2010, Canada Free Press.
SOCIAL SECURITYis not part of the Federal Budget (General Fund). It is a separate account from the General Fund, and has its own source of income (“Payroll Tax”). Social Security payments go in the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF), and should NOT be counted as general revenue. The SSTF is supposed to be used to pay benefits. But, the Government is under NO OBLIGATION to pay Social Security benefits, and has even borrowed substantially fromtheSSTF for general operations!As of August 2010, there is less being paid into the Social Security Trust Fund than is being paid out to beneficiaries. Social Security is now using its “surplus”.Other Government agencies borrowed from that trust fund, and now have to pay it back. But they already spent it! So how will they pay it back? Through bailouts and taxes. Here is a “must read” about the problem. Your payroll taxes are going into a bottomless hole!The Social Security Administration’s FAQ page about the Trust Fund, and their latestReport (May 2011) explain it well.Beware the term “Social Security Surplus”; there is no such thing. Social Security is aPonzi Scheme, there is never more in the Trust Fund than will ever be needed.
The Government does not have any money, it does nothing to earn money (maybe defense). Government takes money from you and borrows more (from your children), then spends that! The bailouts of 2008 and 2009 are purely deficit spending. Expect to see enormous deficits in the forseeable future, leading to much more debt.Interest payments on that growing debt will become the largest item in the federal budget. On C-SPAN, President Obama boldly told Americans: “We are out of money.”
In 1913, when the Federal Reserve was created with the duty of preserving the dollar, one 20-dollar bill could buy one 20-dollar gold piece. Today, fifty 20-dollar bills are needed to buy one 20-dollar gold piece. Under the Fed’s custody, the U.S. dollar has lost 98 percent of its value. The dollar is the storehouse of our wealth. Has the Fed faithfully safeguarded that storehouse? Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power let us hear no more of trust in men, but bind them down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.”
A perfect storm of historic dysfunction combined with a lame-duck Congress, a looming power change in the Senate, a budget deadline, the holidays and the countdown to the 2016 elections has not prodded lawmakers to make compromises or to do their basic budgetary work. It has, however, led to a brand-new Washington term. Enter the “cromnibus.”
That’s the name being assigned to a tortured GOP strategy to stick it to President Barack Obama and make a bold statement on immigration and border security – all while avoiding shutting down the federal government right before the holidays, a tactic that didn’t work out so well for the GOP when it happened last year.
Described as a trial balloon, the approach was floated by House Speaker John Boehner at the party’s Tuesday morning meeting last week. The GOP plan goes like this: Congress would pass an omnibus funding bill to keep almost the entire government running into September 2015. However, the Department of Homeland Security – the department that deals with the implementation of Obama’s executive action on immigration, which the Republicans hate – would limp along on a mere continuing resolution that would fund it until sometime next March. That would give Republicans time and opportunity to pressure the Obama administration into backing off its executive action somehow – or at least isolate the DHS budget so Republicans, who next year will control both the House and Senate, could deny the funds needed to implement the action. Meanwhile, House members were given a chance, before recessing for the year, to take what is widely regarded as a show vote to undo the executive action.
This way, lawmakers explained, House Republicans can vent about border security, Obama and the use of an executive action to grant temporary legal status to more than 4 million people in the country illegally, all without suffering the political consequences of another government shutdown.
Boehner acknowledged that there’s no easy way for congressional Republicans to undo Obama’s executive action; rank-and-file members have thrown around ideas ranging from refusing to provide funds to implement the action to a lawsuit or impeachment.
Each has its logistical and political complications: Refusing to fund Homeland Security could make Republicans look like they don’t care about the safety of the nation’s citizens; a lawsuit (even if the House is deemed to have standing to sue) could cause a political backlash; and impeachment could lead to a repeat of 1998, when a similar action against former President Bill Clinton backfired against the GOP.
In countering Obama on immigration, the GOP has to weigh the interests of the Hispanic community against the ideals of the party’s base.
And Republicans must be mindful of two important constituencies in 2016 – the GOP base, which wants the action undone and might reject a presidential primary candidate who won’t commit to doing so, and the Hispanic community, which might align itself even more firmly against Republicans if the GOP commits to a policy that would break up families living here with temporary legal status.
“We’re looking at a variety of options, both for right now and when Republicans control both houses of the Congress next year,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters. “Frankly, we have limited options and limited abilities to deal with it directly.”
Thus, GOP strategists have proposed the “cromnibus,” a compromise that would keep nearly all agencies and programs humming along until next September (since Congress has been unable to pass any of the appropriations bills that make up the federal budget) and avoid a government shutdown that would occur if nothing is done before the current continuing resolution expires Dec. 11.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security would be put on a short budgetary leash until March. By that point, Republicans reason, they will be running both chambers of Congress and will be able to pass legislation excising funding for the part of the department that deals with the new executive action, killing it by starvation.
“The most effective thing we can do is to limit spending,” says Rep. John Fleming, R-La. While Fleming says Obama is assuming excessive powers as the nation’s chief executive, “we’ve got our own power – the power of the purse,” he adds.
But Fleming, like some other House conservatives, is irked by the idea that the House should wait until next year to go full-force against the immigration action – meaning Boehner may need House Democrats to get such a plan approved.
“I don’t think anybody wants a shutdown,” says Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. But “I think we have significant leverage.”
The simmering rebellion by House conservatives means Boehner is likely to continue to face the same internal divisions he’s had since 2011, when a wave of new tea party-aligned lawmakers gave the GOP the House majority and demanded a rightward turn in the way the party ran things. That pressure largely drove the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 – a development polls showed Americans blamed on Republicans. So would the public also blame the GOP if Homeland Security does not get the cash it needs to keep Americans safe?
“Republicans are blamed for everything, anyway – what difference does it make?” Fleming says.
However, Senate Democrats are determined not to end their reign with a shutdown, even if the GOP gets blamed for it. Getting almost all of the government funded until next fall would be “a big accomplishment,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters.
Moreover, the GOP needs to worry about overreach, Democrats say. Any specific effort to undo the executive action is likely to be vetoed by Obama. That leaves Republicans in the same position as they were with the Affordable Care Act. They could hold a series of votes opposing it or defunding it, but none would get signed into law. And the difference with immigration, notes Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is that the substance of the order (as opposed to the process) is indeed popular with the public, in a way Obamacare is not.
“You’re talking about changing the trajectory of a family’s destiny for generations – that’s deep,” Cummings says.
Opposing Obama’s order as executive overreach might excite the GOP base, but Hispanic families are equally excited about the opportunity to stay intact in the U.S., he adds. For Boehner, the challenge may be keeping his Republican family united.
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