What a U.S. Constitutional Crisis Would Look Like

On 12 January 2017, Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller seemed to be advocating that the President be given supreme power over the Legislative (Congress) and Judicial (Courts) branches of government. This would represent a Constitutional crisis because it attacks the structure and function of our government.

Below are two segments from the “Morning Joe” show (MSNBC) posted to YouTube on 13 Feb 2017.

Video Part 1

Video Part 2

Further Reading

For further reading, see “Branches of Government” on the USA.gov website.

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POLITICS – Transcending the Party Divide

As part of a larger project, we’re compiling examples of bi-partisan collaboration. The following is the audio of a discussion with Iowa legislators Jim Ross Lightfoot and Dave Nagle discussing how past cooperation among legislators and civility helped bring progress. This is audio from the Iowa Public Radio show “River to River” with Ben Kieffer and Emily Woodbury on 25 Jan 2017. This content has been placed here in compliance with fair use to provide the ability to embed it for purposes of social commentary and education in a non-commercial context for limited use.

Marco Rubio Addresses Violence and Intolerance in Politics

Summary

In this video clip, Marco Rubio addresses the recent wave of violence and intolerance in politics. This video is being used for educational purposes and is posted here in compliance with Fair Use guidelines.

Date: 12 March 2016, 10:12 AM ET
Source: NBC News

Trading Privacy and Freedom for Security

Benjamin Franklin Quotes

  • “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  • “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”
  • “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”

Video Synopsis

Must we give up privacy and freedom to gain national security? Would we be safer with a totalitarian police state or fascist dictatorship?

In this video, Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses Apple’s encryption and privacy policies, as well as governance issues, with WSJ’s Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker at the Wall Street Journal’s technology conference in Laguna Beach, California, in October 2015.

This short excerpt video clip is being shared here for educational purposes only in a Fair Use capacity to be used as a supportive curriculum resource for discussions on governance.

Watch the Video

Bernie Sanders FAQ – Q&A

The following is taken from the website ILikeBernieBut.com.

I Like Bernie, But…

… isn’t he a socialist?

Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist. He believes that our current economic system isn’t doing enough for poor and middle-class Americans and that democratic change is needed to create a more fair and just America.

But this isn’t radical or scary! Many of the programs instituted by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson that we take for granted today — such as Medicare, the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, and Social Security — can be considered socialist programs.

… I heard he wants to raise taxes!

If you’re one of the 1.5% of Americans making more than $231,450 a year, your marginal tax rate will go up slightly — money you earn above $231,450 will be taxed at 37% instead of 33%.

If you’re one of the 0.6% of Americans making more than $500,000 a year, your marginal rate will go up from 39.6% to 43%. Above $2,000,000 the rate will be 48%, and above $10,000,000 the rate will be 52%. These are tax increases that will only affect the very, verywealthy.

On the other hand, the vast majority of Americans will see significant savings when factoring in tax and healthcare changes under Bernie’s plans.

… is he even electable?

Absolutely. Bernie probably has a better chance in the general election than Hillary would have:

Bernie performs better than Hillary does in all hypothetical match-ups against Republicans in poll after poll(2.4% better against Trump, 4.6% better against Cruz, and 1.5% better against Rubio, on average).

Bernie significantly outperforms Hillary in surveys of independent voters, and with 30-40% of Americans identifying as independents, they will play the deciding role in the general election.

And Bernie has a big lead in favorability, with a +10% net favorability rating among all Americans, compared to Hillary’s -10% net favorability ratingNopresidential candidate has ever won with a negative favorability rating.

… how could he get anything done with a Republican Congress?

Bernie is actually well-known for his ability to compromise to get things done without sacrificing his values. In the House, he was known as the Amendment King, and passed more amendments — addressing exclusively progressive goals — than any other legislator, by forging cross-party coalitions.

He has earned respect from Republicans ranging from John McCain to the ultra-conservative Jim Inhofe. If any Democratic president can reach across the aisle to work with a stubborn Republican Congress, it’s Bernie Sanders.

… isn’t he too weak on gun control?

Hardly. He has consistent high ratings from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and a D- rating from the NRA.

His position is that a broad consensus of common-sense gun control measures is possible if neither side is alienated through overly divisive rhetoric.

… I heard he wants to get rid of Obamacare!

Bernie wants to expand health care coverage, not get rid of it!

Obamacare has made things a lot better, but it’s only a step in the right direction: Americans are still paying more for healthcare than any other country, and more than 10% of us still don’t have health insurance.

Bernie’s Medicare-for-all proposal will do just what it says — provide coverage for every American citizen, while saving the average American family $2000—$4000 per year. [Try the calculator!]

… does he have any experience with foreign policy?

While Bernie’s main focus is on domestic issues, he has shown remarkable foresight when it comes to foreign policy decisions. He was a member of a small minority voting against the War in Iraq in 2003, arguing in an impassioned speech that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would result in “disaster”. He was right.

… how will he pay for all this?

Every dollar in Bernie Sanders’s proposals is matched by a corresponding dollar raised in revenue — it’s all accounted for.

For example, the $75 billion/year College For All plan will be paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation, while the $100 billion/year Rebuild America Act will be paid for by taxing corporate offshore income.

… aren’t his supporters all young white men?

This is a false narrative that keeps getting pushed. In reality, Bernie has the support of 50% of young women, is viewed more favorably than Hillary by Hispanics and Asian-Americans nationwide, and does better among African-Americans than whites in Pennsylvania and some other states.

And this is not surprising given Bernie’s unwavering commitment to rights for all Americans throughout his life. He took part in MLK’s March on Washington in 1963stood up for the rights of LGBT soldiers in 1995, and has maintained a 100% voting record with Planned Parenthood for his entire career.

… he’s too old!

At 74, Bernie Sanders would be the oldest president ever elected to a first term. But so would Donald Trump. And Hillary Clinton would tie for oldest. As medical science improves, people are able to be fit enough, mentally and physically, to run a country well into their 70s in a way that wasn’t possible before. And Bernie is in very good health.

To learn more about Bernie Sanders’s positions on more than 50 different issues, check out FeelTheBern.org.

You can also watch Robert Reich challenge these critiques of Bernie much better than I can in his recent video.

CONVINCED?

Visit BernieSanders.com

Building a Better Democracy

It’s always been important for me to have people in my life who challenge my views and ideas. I feel it helps me make better, more informed decisions. It motivates me to dig deeper into issues. It helps me find possible faults or weaknesses in my own positions.

In government, governance, and politics, whether at the local level or higher, I think we all realize the value of diversity. As long as people can be civil, it’s really valuable to have a mix of opinions and viewpoints.

You may be familiar with the parable of the blind people and the elephant. The illustration below conveys the basic message of the parable.

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Faith in Democracy is to trust that if we work together, intentionally bringing together representatives of diverse views and agendas, we can arrive at a better understanding and help build a better world. We can be united despite our differences.

As Pope Francis has stated:

“It sometimes happens that complete information is not put on the table; a selection is made on the basis of particular interests, be they politico-economic or ideological. This makes it difficult to reach a balanced and prudent judgement on different questions, one which takes into account all the pertinent variables. Discussions are needed in which all those directly or indirectly affected…can make known their problems and concerns, and have access to adequate and reliable information in order to make decisions for the common good, present and future.” ~ Pope Francis, quote from Laudato Si — On Care for Our Common Home (see on Google Books)*

We all need each other. We’re all responsible for one another. The video below illustrates this principle.

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This article is by Greg Johnson of Iowa City.

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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