Again, my apologies for not posting more often, but the road makes one weary from lots things to see and do along with meeting many great people. Tonight I am in Crescent City, California and tomorrow will be heading to Ashland, Oregon. After that, I will be spending two nights in Eugene, Oregon. I fly back to Paradise from Portland on July 4th (what a great day to fly across our great land)! After a short recovery, I hope to be able to get back to posting on a more steady basis. Until then, be well and happy trails!
I've not forgotten, I simply have not been in a position to sit down and write. I spent the day touring Seattle capped off by a ballgame at Safeco Field. Took the ferry back to Bremerton where I am staying and just wanted to let you all know that I have been reading all of the news on the rulings from the Supreme Court. Please don't hate the High Court, just work to make sure Congress gets back to doing their jobs so that legislation may be enacted to address the 5-4 split decision rulings.
I know Congress is dysfunctional, but it is up to all of us - you and me - to see to it that only representatives that are willing to work for US be returned to Washington in 2014! The system works if we take charge. It's high time we do just that! Please remember, I am on the road through July 4. Until then, I will make every effort to post - at least something. Until then, be well and stay focused on the real problems our great Nation faces. As George Washington once said; "Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it."
As mentioned earlier in the week, I unable to post on a regular basis as I am deep into my travel schedule. After three very productive days in Columbus, Ohio I flew out to Portland, Oregon and into the cloudy and rainy skies of the Pacific Northwest. Despite the weather, the area is absolutely beautiful with glorious views at every turn. After spending a day in and out of a rental car and seeing a variety of water falls and the natural beauty of Mount Hood, I spent a very nice evening eating sushi on the West side of downtown Portland. So now I am off to Seattle in the morning for some more fun in the ... well, clouds. Like everyone else, I am anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court's rulings on DOMA, Affirmative Action and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I hope to be able to comment on the rulings, so hang in there with me. I will do my best to get back online (but no promises). In the interim, thanks for your loyalty and be well. With that, I will leave you with a shot of Multnomuh Falls, Oregon!
Supreme Court of the United States of America
Just like hunting and fishing seasons, we also have United States Supreme Court Ruling Season, and tis the season for the High Court to publicly announce its major rulings for the 2013 Session. Just last week SCOTUS ruled there are limits to patenting human genomes and yesterday, by a 7-2 vote, ruled that states may not impose additional voter identification requirements to those already established by the the National Voter Registration Act. Although Justices Alito and Thomas individually dissented claiming that voting registration requirements are Constitutionally allotted to the States, the majority (represented by Justice Scalia) ruled 7-2 that the federal law "precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself." (see Arizona v. Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. Docket 1271, June 17, 2013 at http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/arizona-v-the-inter-tribal-council-of-arizona-inc/).
According to The Associated Press, the High Court affirmed a previous ruling by the three panel 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that under the Supremacy Clause of the Article VI of the Constitution, federal law preempts State action when it comes to establishing voter registration requirements. So for even the most Conservative political leaders, accepting adherence to the intent of the Framers is an example of strict construction. Hence, the majority opinion by Justice Scalia with the support of 6 other Justices.
Immediate reaction from Conservatives was disappointment with the Court, even though the most Conservative and "Contextual" Justice on the Court (Scalia) wrote the opinion (can you say "Hypocrisy?"). Shortly after the announcement, Texas Senator (Tea Party favorite and Joe McCarthy impersonator) Ted Cruz (R) introduced amendments to the existing National Voter Registration Act to allow for states to independently impose their own voter ID registration requirements. But you can bet the Democrats in the Senate will be using a tactic right out of the Cruz playbook by ensuring no proposed amendments will ever survive a threat of a filibuster. Why else do yo think the Democrats will never agree to tighten the filibuster rules requiring a Super Majority of 60 to sustain a Cloture Vote? They will be using the same tactics employed by the GOP Senators if and when they themselves become part of the Minority in the Senate. And the games continue!
Once again, the Supreme Court ruled using the Constitution as their basis, and some Republicans scream for changes to existing laws. If it was a split decision (5-4) it would be one thing, but a 7-2 ruling? Cruz and his followers are less interested in the Constitution than their individual efforts to pander to their ill-informed and easily manipulated base. If Rush Limbaugh is upset with the ruling, the Supreme Court must have gotten something right. As President Andrew Jackson once said, "All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous judiciary." Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut!
Please note that I will in Columbus, Ohio June 19, 20 and 21. I will be Portland Oregon June 22, 23 and 24. In Seattle, Washington June 25 and 26. Visiting the Oregon Coast June 27 and 28. Seeing the Redwoods in Northern California on June 29. In Ashland and Medford, Oregon June 30 and 31. In Eugene, Oregon July 1, 2 and 3. And then back from Portland, Oregon on July 4. I will try to post during this whirlwind tour, but please do not be too disappointed if I can't. I promise to return to regular postings by July 7. Be well!
I know that literacy campaigns like to push the narratives that "Reading is Fun", but I am no longer sure that is true. In the course of an exam day, I might read about 100 essays for grading, tops. But after today, I have read at least 600 A.P. United States Government and American Politics Free Response Questions ("FRQ's") working for The Educational Testing Service ("ETS") and the College Board here in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now don't get me wrong. I have met a number of serious and dedicated educators from across the continental USA and Hawaii. Sharing stories and comparing "notes" is fun. And learning how to score A.P. United States Government and American Politics exams is invaluable for teaching next year's AP Gov. students.
But let me tell you, sitting down to score FRQ's at 8 am and going until 12:15 only to start again at 1:15 and go to 5:30 is a long, long stretch of time. By 5pm, the words on the page start to blur and additional concentration is required in order to get the task done right.
So the long and short of this posting is to apologize for not posting earlier but to also alert you all that having time to post the rest of this week is going to be tough. So I do apologize and can only hope to be able to check back in later this week. I have been following the news and am anxiously waiting (like everyone else) for the Supreme Court to publish their rulings on DOMA and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So hang in there with me as I slave away in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. Be well.
(c) Armstrong Williams
Well this week sure flew by! Monday night I met new friends at the Nations' Group of Bradenton and on Thursday morning I met some more new friends speaking before the Nations' Group of Sarasota. Both events were great and time seemed to pass all at once. I had a similar feeling this morning when I taped a thirty minute segment on Armstrong Williams' nationally syndicated Conservative radio broadcast "The Right Side." Now don't get too excited, I spoke about my book and did not delve into political narratives. When I mentioned my taping to someone earlier this week, they asked if I was "worried they might cut the tape and use your words out of context?" Hmm, I hadn't thought of that until that moment!
But no worries, the thirty minute interview seemed to last only a few minutes. I honestly thought I was doing poorly because I thought we still had a lot of time left for my segment. It was not until after I hung up the phone that my wife informed me that more than thirty minutes had elapsed and that she thought I was "fantastic!" (She credits yesterday's visit with the Nations Group of Sarasota as a great "warm-up" for the interview). Within a hour, I received a copy of an email from the show's producer to my publisher reading, "Armstrong enjoyed his dialogue with Dan...he was outstanding." "Outstanding?" I didn't call anyone names, didn't use labels, and did not engage in any debate. I simply expressed my views as they relate to my book and there were accordingly, no "fireworks," just the magic of a "dialogue." Now if only our elected officials could accomplish more dialogue and less divisive confrontational rantings and ravings! I will post more on when the segment will be aired as soon as I am notified. I will also attempt to add the interview to my Videos, Podcast & Appearances Page.
I can tell you that I spent over 9 hours today writing for my next book - the working title is simply "New Book" - sorry. I will try to stay in touch with you all via postings as I head to Salt Lake City Sunday to "read" a multitude of College Board Advanced Placement United States Government & American Politics "FRQ's" ("Free Response Questions"). Be well and have a great and safe weekend!
Just when I begin to think the political climate in Washington had reached a new low, members of Congress and their supporting Media have gone even lower! The gap between "taking the high road" and groveling in the mud no longer seems to exist. What am I referring to? GOP members of the Senate publicly declaring that President Obama's nomination of three judges to the D.C. Circuit Court is a flagrant attempt to wrongfully "Pack the Court!" Yep...according to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and GOP Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Obama's nomination of three judges at the same time is an attempt to accomplish "Court-Packing." By using this term (clearly calculated to stir anti-Obama sentiment), Republican leaders have obviously chosen to travel the "low road" of politics.
And how did their favoring For-Profit "Media Machine" react to these statements? Right Wing "flame thrower" Breitbart.com's Ken Klukowski wrote "President Barack Obama is finalizing an aggressive strategy to pack a court." He adds, "Obama cannot enact major liberal legislation now that he’s lost the House and might also lose the Senate next year. Instead, he’s trying to declare law by executive fiat. Whether he gets away with it likely turns on whether he can change Senate rules and then pack the D.C. Circuit with sympathetic judges."
What headline does the Washington Times write for this story? "Republicans prepare to clash with Obama over court ‘packing." But is the nomination of three judges to a federal court an attempt to "pack" a court?
Let it be understood, the D.C. Circuit Court is not like any other Federal Court. The D.C. Court rules on actions of of the Executive as they maintain jurisdiction over actions undertaken by the President. You may recall, it was the D.C. Circuit Court that recently ruled Obama's effort to make "recess appointment" was "Unconstitutional" because the Executive cannot determine when the Senate is in recess and that only the Senate can determine that point. But isn't it universally understood that elections come with obvious consequences, and one of the major consequences of winning the presidency is the Constitutional authority to appoint judges favorable to the elected President's ideology? Hasn't every president enjoyed the right under Article II of the Constitution to appoint justices favorable to their policies? Wasn't it Washington that nominated Federalist judges to the courts, to the ire of his opponents? Wasn't it John Adams that attempted to complete appointments of "federalist" judges before midnight on the last night of his term as president (see Marbury v. Madison)? Wasn't it Ronald Reagan that took the opportunity to fill Supreme Court vacancies by appointing justices favorable to his ideology by nominating William Rehnquist, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy? Can anyone doubt George H.W. Bush's appointment of Clarence Thomas was guided by ideology? Ah, but you might expect a retort that they did not nominate more than one justice at a time, right? Wrong! President George W. Bush nominated John Roberts to serve as Chief Justice on September 5, 2005 and Samuel Alito to serve as Associate Justice on October 31, 2005. Okay, not exactly at the same time, but within weeks of each other! But did Washington, Adams, Reagan and Bush engage in an effort to "Pack" the Supreme Court? Of course not! But truth be damned when it comes to Barack Obama! And the Republicans cannot understand why moderate Americans grow more and more disgusted with them. If the Republicans continue to "overreach" on every issue before them, they run a serious risk of having their limbs fall off.
"Packing" a Court is defined as an effort by an Executive (either a President, Governor or Legislature) by expanding or contracting the number of Judges on a Court's bench. The most famous example of presidential efforts to "pack" a Court was FDR and his attempt to convince Congress to expand the number of Justices on the Supreme Court. The basis for that effort? To tilt the balance in favor of his programs by appointing justices favorable to his depression-era policies. A more recent example of attempts to "Pack" the Court was undertaken by Tea Party Florida Governor Rick Scott, who proposed a measure to the Florida legislature that would split the Florida Supreme Court into two separate divisions, one handling exclusively criminal matters and the other exclusively civil ones. It was no secret that Scott wanted to move the existing justices appointed by Democratic Governors and retained by the electoral process to the "new" criminal division and then appoint "new" justices acceptable to the Tea Party to the "new" civil division. Attempts to add or deduct seats on an existing Court is the only way efforts can be undertaken to "Pack" a Court. But nominating judges to fill vacancies?
McConnell, Grassley and those pushing talking points that Obama is "trying to declare law by executive fiat" are, and I don't take this comment lightly....lying and they should be ashamed of themselves! At a time when we recently had GOP Representative Darrell Issa calling out White House Jay Carney for being a "paid liar" and Fox News reporting that Tom Donilon, National Security Adviser is a "Liar" (heard that one today), perhaps it is high time folks start calling out those in Congress for being "Pinocchios" as well? Remember when Fox News was reporting Hillary Clinton was faking her concussion by claiming she was suffering "Benghazi Fever" instead? Soon thereafter, they went on to claim she was lying about suffering from a blood clot because only a clot close to the brain would require her to continue to stay in the hospital, when she really should have been testifying about her role in the Benghazi non-"scandal." Remember? Remember Right Wing Media claiming they had proof Clinton was seen entering a limo proving she was in fact not hospitalized as claimed? Of course you do. Do you remember hearing apologies from Fox News and their "talking heads" when it was reported Clinton actually was suffering from a blood clot behind her ear requiring her to remain hospitalized? Of course not! Just today they aired a GOP Senator claiming Clinton was "personally responsible for the death trap in Benghazi." Now they claim she had a hand in the murder of Americans? Really? And not a word from the Fox anchor, none!
Am I the only one sick and tired of Media on both sides of the political spectrum creating news out of whole cloth? Am I the only one concerned Media is no longer dedicated to reporting news and educating audiences? As Thomas Jefferson once said, "The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper. We should expect the truth and only the truth from our President, our Senate, our House of Representatives, our Governors, our State Houses and at the very least, our Media. Isn't it time America demand we be taken for a ride only on the "high road?"
As my schedule begins to fill, I find myself with less and less time to post. I promise I will be posting tomorrow...promise. Last night I was with the Nations Group of Bradenton and had a great time and on Thursday, I will be presenting to the Nations Group of Sarasota at the Selby Library in beautiful downtown Sarasota. Friday morning, I will be taping a half-hour segment with Armstrong Williams for his nationally syndicated radio show, "The Right Side." Sunday I fly to Salt Lake City, Utah to spend nine days working as a Reader for the Educational Testing Service. When I get back, I will have less than 3 weeks to complete updates for the Second Edition of "How Our Government Really Works, Despite What They Say." Needless to say, I am very busy! So much for "Summer Vacation!"
Until tomorrow! I will leave you with the most recent photo of me receiving my Silver IPPY Award in NYC. Being with my children made it that much more special! See you back here tomorrow!
I found a photo of protesters in our local newspaper to be quite telling about the current state of our political climate in America. In the photo, a handful of local Tea Party members were holding signs along the Sarasota bay front. What were they protesting? According to their signs, they were demanding the public "Support Second Amendment Rights To Own and Carry Firearms" and "Stop The Deceit By The IRS & FBI & State Department." Really, I kid you not! Last I checked, Florida remains one of the top states in the Union for gun ownership and concealed carry permits. Can anyone tell me where these people got the notion that the Second Amendment is under attack? The other sign seems to reflect a sentiment that the IRS, FBI and the State Department must answer for their collective "scandals". Many in Washington have tried to "pin" these on the Obama Administration. I know, "Rubin, stop your partisan diatribes, no one cares what you think, Fox tells us everything we need to know."
On my flight Friday back from New York, I tuned to Fox News only to find their entire broadcast segment dedicated to wild speculation over President Obama's involvement in the Benghazi tragedy. Even though Obama was giving a speech on Student Loans and Education - broadcasted live on CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC. But Fox News was instead broadcasting speculation relating to Obama's culpability in the alleged Benghazi tragedy. Why has Fox continued beating this drum of scandal? Because it effectively distracts attention from current and relevant national issues. What else can Republicans and their supporting Media do but create political distractions designed to lead folks like those holding the signs at the bay front? Isn't hating Obama the number one priority for our Nation? Isn't it already 2014 election time?
As you know, I attack Fox News a lot, but the attention they get from me is well earned! Despite what some claim, I have attacked CNN and MSNBC for their partisanship, along with Krugman and other print-related pundits. But the breadth of distortions on Fox and the Right Wing ideologically oriented for-profit media is simply amazing to me. People I know that tune into MSNBC, religiously claim they weigh the information obtained on that network against their outward political biases. But viewers of Fox News and readers of The Blaze, The Daily Caller and The Drudge Report never seem to believe they may be misled by distorted news for political gain. Yes, we all have biases based upon our own world views, but the current Right Ring Media has seemingly "gone off the rails" when it comes to reporting the truth. Remember when they reported Obama spent over $200 Million a day for visiting India? Remember when they claimed Chuck Hagel had been paid to speak to a group called "Friends of Hamas?" Remember when they claimed Paul Krugman had declared personal bankruptcy and was therefore not qualified to preach to America about economics and fiscal policy? Remember "Critical Information #6, the prediction of economic ruin under President Obama?" Remember the outrage from the Right when they accused Dan Rather at CBS for reporting an alleged false story about George W. Bush's military service (or lack thereof). Remember Rather was dismissed from CBS because of all of that "outrage?" Remember? Can you sense how badly things have changed in our Media?
The latest "boo-boo" to surface is The Daily Caller's efforts to smear Obama by claiming he lied about his "distance" from the alleged IRS scandal of targeting Conservative groups' applications for 501(C)(4) tax exempt status. Seems The Daily Caller reported that despite claims to the contrary, Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman had lied about the number of times he visited the White House between 2010 and 2012. By using Secret Service visitor logs, the online news outlet deduced that Shulman had visited the White House at least 147 times during that time frame, proving he lied when he previously claimed he had rarely visited the White House. So if Shulman is lying about the number of visits to the White House, surely Obama is lying too! When did fact checking no longer be required before reporting sensationalized rhetoric? Once The Daily Caller claims were published, Fox News and others, including Politico, published articles with headlines linking the IRS "scandal" to Obama. Politico's headline "Shulman's White House Visits Reflect IRS Role" and Fox's Bill O'Reilly called the logs the "Smoking Gun" linking Obama to the scandal like the Watergate Tapes linked Nixon. Except the original claim that Shulman visited the White House at least 147 times has been proven to be incorrect. Will we ever see an apology from these alleged "News" outlets? Only Politico updated their story after The Atlantic report, on page two of their original online article, while keeping their original inflammatory headline.
According to the article entitled "The Fake Story About IRS Commissioner and the White House (see http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/05/the-fake-story-about-the-irs-commissioner-and-the-white-house/276399/), Shulman visited the White House no more than 36 times during that period! Seems The Atlantic points our that every member of the White House Press Pool knows Secret Service logs include visits to the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House where many Executive agencies and policy wonks work and that The Daily Caller and its followers of the story willfully ignored that fact by reporting the "Scandalous" and "Smoking Gun" stories!
The bottom line is that we can no longer trust our Media to serve the public in their once traditional role as the "Fourth Rail" of government whose primary objective was to report the truth about our political process. Instead, they have become communication adjuncts to the political parties, willingly providing divisive fake stories designed solely to promote one political ideology over another and to inflame the passions of ill-informed Americans. Why else would people hit the streets demanding support for possession of firearms under the Second Amendment when no one has proposed a sweeping ban on all firearms? Why else would the much hated and despised IRS only now become a Tea Party boogeyman when it has been hated by Americans since it began collecting taxes in the 20th Century? Why else would news men and women knowingly publish fake reports about government leaders?
If we can no longer trust our Media to be truly honest and true to American values, we will have to find our own pathways to the truth. After all, isn't truth and justice the American Way? As President Abraham Lincoln once said, "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of; the tree is the real thing." Isn't it time for today's Media to return to its traditional role and go back to being the "real thing?"
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a recently retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.