Friday, November 10, 2017

Revisiting the Interpretation of the Second Amendment

In the landmark Second Amendment court case,  District of Columbia v Heller, decided on June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court held that:

   1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in the militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within a home.

   2.  Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.  It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever and for whatever purpose:  for example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.  The court's opinion shall not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.  Miller's holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those "in common use at the time" finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.

   3.  The handgun ban and trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment.  The District's total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of "arms" that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense.  Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition––in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute––would fail constitutional muster.  Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.

The above three paragraphs were copied from the syllabus of the case.  Justice Antonin Scalia gave the majority opinion in the 5-4 case.  Justice Stephen Breyer, in his dissenting opinion, gave an ominous warning of things to come:
Far more important are the unfortunate consequences that today's decision is likely to spawn. Not least of these, as I have said, is the fact that the decision threatens to throw into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States. I can find no legal sound basis for launching the courts on so formidable and potentially dangerous a mission. In my view, there simply is no untouchable constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to keep loaded handguns in crime-ridden urban areas.

The italics are mine.  Gun rights advocates firmly believe that the words of the Second Amendment,  shall not be infringed,  means that their Second Amendment right to bear arms is unlimited.  And even though the Heller decision pertained to handguns and other guns "in common use," that untouchable constitutional right now appears to cover everything from the carrying and use of military assault weapons to bump stocks as well.

In May 2013, I wrote about gun control and the Second Amendment in an article titled, A Well-Lobbied Government:  How the NRA Won the Battle Over the Second Amendment.  Republicans turned deaf ears to the parents of the children who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and killed the bill for background checks. Why?  The NRA owns them lock, bump stock, and barrel.  Republican members of Congress are worried that the NRA will put them in their crosshairs and vote them out of office if they even dream of bringing a gun control measure to the floors of Congress.

Since Sandy Hook, there has been mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting.  Yet Congress has taken no action whatsoever to protect the people.  It is time, if necessary, to vote them out of office.  And it is time to revisit the current interpretation of the wording of the Second Amendment.

In the closing remarks of his Opinion of the Court, Justice Scalia said:
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
Justice Scalia was correct in stating that it was not the role of the Supreme Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.  The amendment would have to be repealed by another constitutional amendment; eg. the Twenty-First Amendment was passed to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment.

But think about it for a minute.   Maybe the Second Amendment really is extinct....   From the adoption of the Constitution in 1789 to 2008,  the  interpretation of the Second Amendment was that it pertained solely to a well-regulated militia.  The citizen had an individual right to bear arms in order to fulfill his militia obligations.  Nowhere in the Second Amendment  was the phrase "and for self-defense"  included as a reason for the individual to bear arms.

And when you get down to it,  the creation of the National Guard in the early 1900s effectively made the Second Amendment extinct.  Individuals were no longer required to bear arms to fulfill their civic duties; the government provided the arms.

People do have a natural right––sometimes called a common law right––to bear arms for self-defense.  This right, however, is limited by laws enacted by federal, state, and local legislatures.  Laws, which in the judgement of the legislators, are required for life-saving or safety-related interests.   (Justice Breyer used those very words in italics in his dissenting opinion in District of Columbia v Heller).

The origin of the original law that brought about District of Columbia v Heller is worth revisiting.  Edward D. Jones III, a former FBI agent, wrote an article which appeared in the May 1981 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.  His article was titled, "The District of Columbia's 'Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975': The Toughest Handgun Control Law in the United States –– Or Is It?"  His article is the primary source
for my information provided below:

In 1973, Congress passed the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, and President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law on December 24, 1973.  This law provided for a measure of home rule for the District of Columbia.  A Mayor would be elected and a Council of the District of Columbia would be elected. Congress, however, retained the authority to block any law passed by the D. C. Council.  Moreover, the Home Rule Act limited the legislative power of the Council in nine specific areas, including a four-year prohibition on the enactment of criminal laws.

On June 29, 1976, in an attempt to reduce the district's crime and save lives, the Council of the District of Columbia voted 12 to 1 to pass the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975.  This act restricted city residents from owning handguns that were not registered at the time the law was enacted.  Moreover, handguns that were not restricted by the law had to be kept unloaded and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.  Mayor Walter Washington signed the bill on July 23, 1976.  And then the bill went to Congress for a 30-legislative day review.  The Council claimed that this act was a revision of the district's police regulations, and not related to criminal laws,

Congress had several options:  It could declare the Firearms Control Regulations Act null and void by simply ruling that it was a flagrant disregard of the four-year limitation on the enactment of criminal laws; it could pass a Resolution of Disapproval overturning the act; or it could take no action and the act would become law after the review period expired.

Consideration of handgun control legislation was a hot potato in 1976; it was an election year.  The Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate (66 seats in the Senate), but they were extremely mindful of placing any undue or unnecessary restrictions on firearms acquired for personal protection as stated in Section 101 of the Gun Control Act of 1968:

At the same time, the Democrats did not want to have to publicly disapprove a gun control measure that the District Council, in its judgment, believed was required for public safety.  So Congress attempted to punt! It passed an amendment to the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to extend the four-year prohibition on the Council's enactment of criminal laws another two years to 1979.  President Gerald Ford signed the bill into law on September 7, 1976.

Unfortunately,  the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service advised Congress afterwards that the amendment to the Home Rule Act had no legal effect on the District's Firearm Control Regulation Act:  The District's act had been enacted before the amendment was passed.  Moreover, the amendment did not contain a retroactive clause.   Consequently, Congress took no further action. It did not declare the act a violation of the prohibition on enacting criminal laws.  And it did not pass a Resolution of Disapproval.  The measure simply died in committee. And the act became law when the review period expired. has a copy of the Committee Hearing on the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975.   Committee members and witnesses provided  interesting viewpoints on the purpose of the Council's Firearm Control Regulations Act.

There's a Chronology of the act's passage in the pamphlet's appendix and I've posted it below.  Notice the Committee meetings postponed because no quorum was present?

A June 26, 2008 Washington Post article provides a History of the D. C. Gun Ban.  It would take 30 years, more congressional inaction, and several court cases, but the Firearms Control Regulation Act finally made it to the Supreme Court.  And you know the rest.

If you haven't already read it, now is the time to read Justice Scalia's Opinion of the Court in District of Columbia v Heller.  And go ahead and read the dissenting opinions.  Then think about all the mass shootings we have had.  Now tell me why the right to bear arms needs to be an untouchable right.

We, the People, need to hold our legislators' feet to the fire.  We need to demand that legislators enact laws that provide for the safety of our citizens, while allowing for the reasonable carrying and use of guns by law-abiding citizens.  And they need to do it now!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Sad Proof Truth About My Your President

Donald Trump says he did not say to the wife of the fallen soldier:

"he knew what he signed up for."

Fox & Friends

But a Congresswoman who was in the car says different:

N.Y. Times

The woman who raised the fallen soldier heard those words too:


Who is disrespecting our soldiers and their families now?

You said it, Donald Trump: "Sad!"

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Reckless Gamble in Our Electoral System

This post originally began as a review of a book by James Michener about our Electoral System.  But it is too timely not to copied verbatim from my Contemplations of Moibibliomaniac blog and posted here as well.

The results of the 2016 Presidential election were still weighing heavily on my mind when I first saw this book a few months ago. It was in the storage unit containing the remaining stock of books belonging to my friend George Spiero, who was finally retiring from the book business.   The first paragraph on the front flap of the dust jacket immediately attracted my attention:
   This book is essential reading for any United States citizen who wants to understand our present system of choosing a President and a Vice-President, the dangers inherent in it, and what urgently needs to be done to improve it.

James Michener wrote this book in 1969 after serving as an elector of the Pennsylvania Electoral College for the 1968 Presidential election between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace.  Michener believed that Wallace would win the South and all its electoral votes.  And if neither Nixon or Humphrey attained 270 electoral votes, the election would go to the House of Representatives.  Or not.

Wallace had other ideas.  In what he called "a solemn covenant," Wallace intended to offer Nixon and Humphrey his electoral votes in exchange for certain concessions, one of which surely would be "abandonment of any type of civil rights legislation."

But Michener had an alternative plan.  If neither Nixon or Humphrey attained 270 electoral votes,  and if Humphrey won Pennsylvania, he was going to suggest to the other Pennsylvania delegates that they vote for Nixon instead, thus hopefully enabling Nixon to attain the 270 votes needed.

If, however, the Pennsylvania electoral votes weren't enough to make Nixon the President, the election would then have to go to the House.  But Michener was going to talk the New York delegation into casting their votes for Nelson Rockefeller, making him the third candidate to be considered by the House instead of Wallace.  And if necessary, Michener believed he could convince his Pennsylvania delegates to join the New York delegates in voting for Rockefeller. All these electoral concoctions, by the way, are perfectly legal under the Constitution.  But they surely would have been challenged in the Supreme Court, thus delaying the election of a President.

As it was, Richard Nixon won the 1968 election with 309 electoral votes, and what might have been never did happen.  But the fact that the electoral scenario could have happened so disturbed Michener that he researched the history of the Electoral System and wrote a book about it.  The book, btw, was reprinted by the Dial Press, an affiliate  of Penguin Random House, in 2014, 2015, and in 2016 before the last election.

If you think the Electoral College maneuverings were a mess,  the House system would have been a quagmire.  The three candidates with the highest electoral votes would have moved to the House.  And the House could have chosen anyone of the candidates to be the next President of the United States!  Each of the 50 states had but one vote.  And Michener points out a gross imbalance:  Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming, and Vermont, with a total population of 1,467,000, according to 1968 estimates, would have four votes in choosing the President, and would outvote California, New York, and Pennsylvania, with a population of more than 49 million, but with only three votes (27).

In his book,  Michener tells us about the genesis of the Electoral System and some its flaws that became apparent  as time went on.  The system, according to Michener, was a compromise between large states and small states.  One of the reasons the Founding Fathers had ruled out election solely by popular vote was because, as Eldridge Gerry of Massachusetts said, "The people are uninformed and would be led by a few designing men."  There would still be a "popular vote," but the President would be elected, not by the total of the popular vote but by the vote of men in the electoral vote process who were knowledgable of the credentials of the candidates.  Another reason (which Michener doesn't explicitly state in his book) that the Founding Fathers were against the popular vote was because smaller states were afraid that the larger states would elect their "favorite son."

Michener himself was involved in the election process in 1944 while stationed on Espiritu Santa, an island south of Guadalcanal.  His commander received a directive from President Roosevelt's office that a proper election was to be held, and his commander appointed Michener to organize the vote on the island.  Michener enlisted the aid of commercial artists and plastered the island with signs such as "Your Vote  Is Your Freedom.  Use It."  Prior to the election, a representative from Washington visited the island and observed the voting preparations.  The representative was visibly upset when he saw all the voting signs!  "We want everyone to have the right to vote," he explained slowly.  "But we don't want them to vote."  He didn't believe that the military troops on the island knew enough about the issues or the candidates to render knowledgeable votes.  And he directed Michener to take down all the signs.  Afterwards, the representative expressed his political philosophy to Michener, ending with the following statement:

He concluded with a statement I have never forgotten.  'I believe totally in democracy but I want to see great crowds at the polls in only one condition.  When they are filled with blind fury at the mismanagement of the country and are determined to throw the bastards out.  For the rest of the time I think you leave politics to those of us who really care."

Of the Electoral Plan of our Founding Fathers, James Michener had this to say:
I am surprised that this group of keen politicians and social philosophers should have failed to anticipate the two rocks on which their plan would founder.  First, they did not foresee the rise of political parties or the way in which they would destroy the effectiveness of the electors.  Second, they did not guess that the election by the House would work so poorly.  This blindness on the part of the best leadership this nation has ever produced should give one pause if he thinks that in the next few years our current leadership will be able to come up with corrections that will end past abuses without introducing new.  There could well be unforeseen weaknesses in  our plans that would produce results just as unexpected as those which overtook the first great plan (72).                                                                                                                         
Michener went on to say that "men of high principle" no longer met to decide who should lead the country.  Instead, almost all of them voted the party line, with "winner take all."

Michener noted that  polls taken in the 1960s showed that the general public was in favor of direct popular voting: 1966-63%; 1967-65%; 1968, before the election-79%; 1968, after the election-81%.

There were three times, prior to the publication of Michener's book, when a candidate won the popular vote, yet lost the election: 1824, 1876 and 1888.  I will briefly address the 1876 election because it had the most radical effect on our nation.

Samuel J. Tilden was the Democratic candidate in the 1876 Presidential election.  And his Republican opponent was Rutherford B. Hayes.  Tilden won the popular vote by 251,746 votes, and reportedly won the electoral vote 204 to 165, with only 185 votes needed to win. But the Republicans questioned the validity of the electoral votes of four states:  Florida 4, Louisiana 8, South Carolina 7, and Oregon 1(Oregon had three votes, but two votes cast for Hayes were unopposed).  Two sets of electoral vote returns were submitted to Congress for each state, with some of the returns obviously fraudulent.  As an aside, I'm not surprised that Florida had something to do with a stolen election....
A divided Congress, with the House ruled by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans, could not agree on how to go about electing a President under these circumstances.  So they created an Electoral Commission consisting of members of the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. To make a long story short, the Democrats bungled the proceedings and the Commission chose Hayes to be the next President of the United States.  The House, however, which rightfully held its own election as per the Constitution, had declared Tilden to be the President, and was prepared to nullify the vote of the Electoral Commission.  But a compromise was reached:  Hayes would be recognized as the winner of the 1876 election.  In return, he would end Reconstruction governments in South Carolina and Louisiana and federal troops would be removed from all parts of the South.

This electoral compromise had a profound effect on the recent emancipation of the black population.  Southern states were once again permitted to rule themselves. And the South rose again, with the Ku Klux Klan putting the black man back in his place, and glorifying the efforts of Confederate generals with monuments heralding their place in Southern Society.

In his book, Michener offers four proposals on how to improve our electoral system:  the Automatic Plan, the District Plan, the Proportional Plan, and the Direct Popular Vote.  All four proposals would require  approval of a constitutional amendment: two-thirds of the House and Senate, and ratification by three-fourths of the States.

Under the Automatic Plan, the Electoral College would be abolished.  The electoral votes would be counted the same as usual but would be sent directly to the Senate.  Under several variations of the plan, House elections might be avoided.  A candidate could win with 40% of the Electoral Vote under one plan, and in a run-off election in another.

Under the District Plan,  the Electoral College would be retained.  The electoral votes would be awarded by the popular vote in each district. eg.  If a state had 38 districts, there would be 38 separate district electoral votes and not a winner-take-all electoral vote.  If no candidate obtained 270 electoral votes,   a joint session of Congress would elect the winner from the three top candidates.  All Congressional members would have one vote.

Under the Proportional Plan,  the Electoral College would be abolished.  Electoral votes would be allocated, not by the winner-take-all system, but by allocating the proportional vote gained by each candidate.  The winner would need 40% of the electoral votes, or a joint session of Congress would elect the winner from the top two candidates.

Under the Direct Popular Vote, the Electoral College would be abolished,  electoral votes would not be allocated, and election by the House would not be necessary.  The winner would be the candidate who won the most popular votes cast in the entire nation.

Michener provided appendixes displaying the relevant numbers for each electoral plan.  But his last paragraph regarding the procedures of the electoral process as of 1969 still holds true today, 48 years later:
They must be abolished.  They must be abolished now.  They must be abolished before they wreck our democracy.

Heaven help us.  The Electoral College was never abolished. And the winner of the 2016 Presidential Election is wrecking our democracy.

Donald J. Trump lost the popular vote by 2,865,075 votes, yet, by hook or by crook, he won the election because he had more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton.  Recent events show that he is not "draining the swamp," or guiding our country through his great leadership–the greatest ever–in his opinion.  Instead, he is making a mockery of the Presidency.

Yes.  Our Founding Fathers were wary of the majority choosing a "favorite son." But they were also wary of the actions of factions.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a  majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent or aggregate interests of the community.
                     James Madison The Federalist No. 10
Trump's faction essentially hijacked the Republican Party. And by hook or by crook (Russian interference in our election, voter suppression, etc.),  it gained enough electoral votes to win the election.  One by one, Trump is tossing President Obama's achievements for the good of mankind out the window.  And he is mismanaging our government.
If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat the sinister views by regular vote.  It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society, but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.

                        James Madison, The Federalist No. 10

Unfortunately, the present forms of the Constitution have allowed a minority to exert its will over the majority, and to elect a President who clogs the administration with unqualified members of his administration,  and who convulses the society every time he tweets.  And that is the least of it!

If Michener were alive today, he would say, "it is time to amend our Constitution."  And he would add,  "it is time to throw the bastards out!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Charlottesville: Two Sides to a Story

There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story.
               Donald J. Trump, Trump Tower, Aug 15, 2017

According to Donald Trump, both sides were responsible for the violence at Charlottesville:  the Alt-Right and the Alt-Left.  The Alt-Right was protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee.  The Alt-Left, as Donald Trump now calls them us, was protesting the White Nationalist Rally itself.

On One Side:  Heather Heyer

On the Other Side: James Alex Fields

On One Side:  President Barrack Obama

On the Other Side:  Donald J. Trump

On One Side:  Donald J. Trump

Trump Tower August 15,  2017

QUESTION: Do you think that the -- what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?

TRUMP: Those people -- all of those people -- excuse me. I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. So -- excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see -- and you'd know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you're not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you all -- you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest -- excuse me. You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question, go ahead. QUESTION: Should the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up? TRUMP: I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located.

On the Other Side:  Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard Professor of History,
Quoted in the June 28, 2017 issue of The Atlantic.

     ...Nevertheless, the concerns about erasure of history remain perhaps the most potent objection, espoused not only by irredentist rebels but even by those who declare strong disdain for the Confederacy. And Gordon-Reed offered two rejoinders.

The first was that removing a statue hardly constitutes erasing history. “We’re always going to know who Robert E. Lee is,” she said. “The question is where these monuments are. The public sphere should be comfortable for everybody.” 

But what about the idea that once the Lees and Stonewall Jacksons and P.G.T. Beauregards are pulled down, the revisionists will inevitably start agitating for pulling down monuments to slave-owning Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

But Gordon-Reed, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her book on the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, said it was not hard to draw a bright line separating Jefferson’s generation of Virginians from the ones who tried to secede.

“We can distinguish between people who wanted to build the United States of America and people who wanted to destroy it,” she said. “It’s possible to recognize people’s contributions at the same time as recognizing their flaws.” 

“You’re not going to have American history without Jefferson,” Gordon-Reed said. Alluding not to the demise of the Lenin statues but to the infamous deletion of disgraced figures from Kremlin photographs, she added, “It’s not the Soviet Union.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Some Not-So-Great News Clippings From Down Under

A friend from Australia sent some news clippings to me which portray how Australians view Donald Trump. The articles and political cartoons appeared in The Age, a daily newspaper which has been published in Melbourne, Australia since 1854.

June 2, 2017

June 10, 2017

May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

November 23, 2016

May 19, 2017

June 4, 2017

June 3, 2017

June 6, 2017

June 6, 2017

The only thing "great" about these clippings is the great embarrassment many Americans are feeling because of Donald Trump's actions.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lady Justice Smiling Down

Donald Trump is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
Donald Trump is falling down,
My Fair Lady.

Son in law is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
Son in law is falling down,
My Fair Lady.

Trump Junior's falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
Trump Junior's falling down,
My Fair Lady.

Off to prison we must go,
We must go, we must go.
Off to prison we must go,
My Fair Lady.

See the Lady smiling down,
Smiling down, smiling down.
See the Lady smiling down,
My Fair Lady.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Seeing Red, Feeling Blue, and Turning Purple

Maps of the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Elections
Republicans were feeling ecstatic when they viewed the increase in red in the map after the 2016 Presidential Election!

When Democrats viewed the map after the 2016 Presidential Election, they were feeling blue; they were hoping it was FAKE NEWS.

Hillary Clinton lost six states that Barack Obama won in 2012:  Michigan, Wisconsin,  Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida.  She lost Michigan by 10,704 votes, Wisconsin by 27,257 votes, and Pennsylvania by 44,292 votes.  The third-party candidate, Gary Johnson, drew over 100,000 votes in each of those three states.

The popular vote cartograms from the University of Michigan below show how the areas of the country voted in the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections.  The red areas show where Mitt Romney and Donald Trump received more than 70% of the popular vote.  The blue areas show where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton received more than 70% of the popular vote. The purple areas show where neither party received more than 70% of the popular vote.  There isn't much difference between the two cartograms, but it does explain how Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, yet lost the election.

What is not shown in the maps is what effect the Russian hacking and meddling had on the election.

I wonder how many of those 300,000 plus voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who voted for Gary Johnson were Bernie supporters?  I don't have to wonder if the Wiki Leaks revelation that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders had any effect on the Bernie supporters.  They were pissed!

I wonder how many voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were influenced by the misinformation about Hillary Clinton that was posted on social media by Russian bots?  I don't have to wonder if the Trump camp colluded with the Russians in the election. It's just a matter of Robert Mueller gathering evidence and proving which Trump people colluded with the Russians.

Is it just a coincidence that almost all of Trump's advisers either had previous ties with Russia or had met officials of the Russian government before or after the election?  The list is long:  Michael Flynn, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Carter Page, Roger Stone,  Michael Cohen, and J. D. Gordon.

I also wonder if Cambridge Analytica, the data mining company Jared Kushner hired to assist in the campaign, pinpointed the Russian bots to influence the opinions of voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania?  It's no secret that Steve Bannon was on the board of Cambridge Analytica, or that the company's stated goal was to change audience behavior.

As for Donald Trump, I believe they'll take him away in a straitjacket before Congress has the chance to impeach him for interfering with the investigation.

As for the Republican base, 80% of which still supports Donald Trump,  I wonder if they'll still support him when they no longer have health insurance, much less operating hospitals in rural America.

As for the Democratic base,  a new leader needs to step forward to energize the voters for the 2018 midterm election.  Bernie Sanders is not the answer; he is not a Democrat.

The 2018 midterm election will be a stepping stone to the 2020 Presidential Election.  In both elections, I believe the Democratic base, together with independent voters, will turn the color of the voting map from red to purple, and from purple to blue.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Close Look at Our Old U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

In Fiscal Year 2016, the United States welcomed 84,995 refugees from around the world.  In Fiscal Year 2017, which began on Oct. 1st, the United States was supposed to welcome another 110,000 refugees; however, President Donald Trump has limited the number of refugees to the United States from around the world to 50,000 for Fiscal Year 2017.

According to The New York Times, more than 37,000 refugees have already entered the United States since the 1st of October, leaving only 12,700 slots remaining under President Trump's limit for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Are the purposes of President Trump's ban on travel and his limits on the Refugee Admissions Program purely to enhance security for the United States, or are they simply a means to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Muslims from the United States?

Are the hoops and hurdles of security procedures under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete, already stringent enough?

You be the Judge:

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Application and Case Processing
When UNHCR — or, occasionally, a U.S. Embassy or a specially trained nongovernmental organization — refers a refugee applicant to the United States for resettlement, the case is first received and processed by a Resettlement Support Center (RSC). The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) funds and manages nine RSCs around the world, operated by international and nongovernmental organizations and one U.S. interests section. Under PRM’s guidance, the RSCs prepare eligible refugee applications for U.S. resettlement consideration.
Some refugees can start the application process with the RSC without a referral from UNHCR or other entity. This includes close relatives of asylees and refugees already in the United States and refugees who belong to specific groups set forth in statute or identified by the Department of State as being eligible for direct access to the program.
The RSCs collect biographic and other information from the applicants to prepare for the adjudication interview and for security screening. Enhanced security screening is a joint responsibility of the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security and includes the participation of multiple U.S. Government security agencies.
Officers from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review all the information that the RSC has collected and also conduct an in-person interview with each refugee applicant before deciding whether to approve him or her for resettlement in the United States.
All USCIS-approved refugees undergo a health screening to identify medical needs and to ensure that those with a contagious disease, such as tuberculosis, do not enter the United States. Finally, the RSC requests a “sponsorship assurance” from a U.S.-based resettlement agency that is experienced in providing assistance to newly arrived refugees. Most refugees undergo a brief U.S. cultural orientation course prior to departure for the United States.
Those refugees who are approved by USCIS receive assistance upon arrival in the United States through the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program – a cooperative public-private program made up of a number of participants. The support of millions of Americans is fundamental to the program’s success. Though Congress mandated the program, it is local communities that have ensured the success of the resettlement program by welcoming and helping refugees from around the world.
United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is comprised of:
  • The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Five international or nongovernmental organizations operating Resettlement Support Centers around the world under the supervision and funding of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State
  • Nine domestic nongovernmental organizations with a total of about 350 affiliated offices across the United States.
  • Thousands of private citizens who volunteer their time and skills to help refugees resettle in the United States.
The total processing time varies depending on an applicant’s location and other circumstances, but the average time from the initial UNHCR referral to arrival as a refugee in the United States is about 18-24 months.

I copied and pasted the above information from the Department of State website just in case the information on the website is deleted by the Trump Administration.


Friday, March 10, 2017

The Unaffordable American Health Care Act

On Oct. 16, 2015, Rep Tom Price [R Ga.] introduced H.R. 3762, a bill that would effectively defund the Affordable Care Act.

On Jan. 08, 2016, President Barack Obama vetoed the bill.  And he provided his reasoning in a message to the House of Representatives:

Nevertheless, with H.R. 3762, the Republicans clearly demonstrated that there was a path to repealing the Affordable Care Act if a Republican was elected President of the United States of America in November 2016.

Shit happened.

Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

And now the Republicans are gutting the Affordable Care Act, and trying to replace it.

With few exceptions, the American Health Care Act, as House Speaker Paul Ryan dubs it, isn't much different than H.R. 3762.  And how it will affect health care coverage and insurance premiums won't be much different than what the Congressional Budget Office  reported on January 17, 2017 concerning the effects of H.R. 3762.  Millions of people will lose their health care coverage.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Do You Really Think Flynn Discussed Sanctions with Russia On His Own?

                                      Dec, 22, 23, 24

Dec. 29, 2016

                                              Feb. 15, 2017

                                                      Feb. 16, 2017

Gotta stop those leaks!  America doesn't need to know what's going on!