OTD in History… June 10, 1953, President Eisenhower rejects isolationism in the Cold War

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OTD in History… June 10, 1953, President Eisenhower rejects isolationism in the Cold War

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Getty Images

On this day in history June 10, 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a speech National Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting in Minneapolis where he laid out his “New Look” foreign policy, which rejected isolationism in the Cold War and emphasized nuclear weapons for defense. Eisenhower used his speech to respond to two of his foreign policy critics; Senate Majority Leader Robert Taft (R-Ohio) and Air Force chief of staff Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg. Sixty-five years later, the nation is yet again faced growing isolationism within the Republican Party. President Donald Trump’s presidency is based on an “American First” policy that isolates the country on the world stage and practices protectionism, while he is presently engaged in a trade war with allied nations.

Six months into Eisenhower’s presidency, the United States was still fighting the Korean War, which formed the basis of Taft and Vandenberg’s complaintsto the president. Taft had long been a bone in Eisenhower’s side; Taft was a candidate for the Republican nomination in 1952 and his isolationist views and actions were the reasons Eisenhower decided to run for president. The two were rivals for the nomination, with Taft suspected of trying to block Eisenhower’s nomination at the convention. The two agreed to uneasy peace during the campaign, which did not last once Eisenhower was president. Taft wanted Eisenhower to withdraw from the United Nations, should they fail to make a peace deal with Korea, so that the US can devise their policy to deal with the warring nations which he called “the ‘fortress’ theory of defense.” Meanwhile, Vandenberg objected to Eisenhower’s Defense Secretary Charles Wilson cutting the Air Force’s budget by $5 billion.

Eisenhower “feared,” according to Thomas Zoumaras, in the book, “Reevaluating Eisenhower: American Foreign Policy in the 1950s,” “that an isolationist president would succumb to protectionism.” (p. 156) The President also believed “that world trade and foreign aid, during periods of economic and military crisis would strengthen the anti-Communist alliance system enough to guarantee peace of the U.S. defense budget.” (p. 156) Eisenhower’s “New Look” foreign policy looked to keep the American economy “vital” but “build” defenses to fight the Cold War, maintain nuclear weapons as a “deterrent,” use the CIA for covert actions and maintain and build alliances in the world. Part of the “New Look” policy was the philosophy of “more bang for the buck” when it came to defense spending.

Instead of arguing with Taft and Vandenberg, the President chose to respond to them in his speech National Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting. The speech emphasized national security and did not mention either one by name. Eisenhower declared, “It is no wonder that our national security is so vast a matter-for the struggle in which freedom today is engaged is quite literally a total and universal struggle. It engages every aspect of our lives. It is waged in every arena in which a challenged civilization must fight to live.”

In response to Taft, Eisenhower focused on the Cold War as an international “total struggle,” which “calls for total defense.” The President called the Cold War, “This whole struggle, in the deepest sense, is waged neither for land nor for food nor for power — but for the soul of man himself.” Eisenhower rebuked Taft’s isolationism’s, saying, “There is another theory of defense, another oversimplified concept, which I believe equally misleading and dangerous. It is what we might call the “fortress” theory of defense.” The President emphasized his international approach focusing on “unity,” stating, “We know that only with strength and with unity — is the future of freedom assured. And freedom, now and for the future, is our goal!”

To Vandenburg, he argued that nuclear weapons make the vast arsenals used in World War II useless, and instead, the defense can be more efficient, with the strategy, “fewer planes ‘on order,’ more in the air.” Eisenhower pointed out, “There is no wonderfully sure number of planes or ships or divisions, or billions of dollars, that can automatically guarantee security.” Both Taft and Vandenberg would be out of Eisenhower’s way soon enough; Vandenberg would retire at the end of June, while Taft died of cancer on July 31.

Throughout the Cold War, the US remained internationalists, sometimes too much so. As the country became involved over public objections in conflicts, in Vietnam and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq, Republicans have again developed a more isolationist approach. All of which culminated in Trump’s presidency, which resorts to a large extent to Taft’s views, while ignoring Eisenhower’s successful strategy.

SOURCES

Melanson, Richard A, and David A. Mayers. Reevaluating Eisenhower: American Foreign Policy in the 1950s. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.

McClenahan, William M, and William H. Becker. Eisenhower and the Cold War Economy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a over dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

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Politics May 26, 2018: Donald Trump considered the least ethical president in recent history

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Donald Trump considered the least ethical president in recent history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

(Official White House Photos by Joyce N. Boghosian)

According to the news media’s reporting President Donald Trump has long been treated as unethical, now a new Gallup Poll confirms the American public agrees. According to a Gallup Poll released on Friday, May 25, 2018, only 37 percent of Americans believe Trump has “excellent” or “good” ethical standards with a larger number at 40 percent saying his standards are poor. Trump is the only president in modern history to have the public think so little of his ethics, but have a higher approval rating than the ethic rating. Only the scandal-filled presidency of Bill Clinton elicited such low ratings.

According to Gallup’s poll, only 7 percent of Americans think Trump has excellent ethical standards, 30 percent say they are good, 19 percent say not good, while a majority 40 percent saying they are poor. Only his predecessor President Barack Obama had a low rating in 2013, but not as low with 50 percent saying his ethical standard was “excellent” or “good” and with 32 percent saying, it was poor. The results show that that the public is increasingly questioning the ethical standards of their president.

Trump’s presidency has been marred by scandal; first Russian interference in the presidential election and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the matter. Trump repeatedly calls the probe a “witch hunt” which he wants to be concluded, but so far, there have been “five guilty pleas.” Then since January, Trump has been faced with mounting questions about his involvement with adult film star Stormy Daniels, his personal lawyer Daniel Cohen, paying her off and forcing her to sign a non-disclosure agreement a month before the election. The question remains whether Trump knew about it, considering he repaid Cohen.

Neither has his cabinet behaved with pristine ethics. Trump has a frequent cabinet and staff turnovers, especially in the last six months. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin misused government funds, spending too lavishly, however, Pruitt remains in the administration. The recent nominee for Veterans Affairs Secretary former White House doctor Ronny Jackson was forced to withdraw over a question regarding his prescribing medications. Trump has continued support for both Pruitt and Jackson, emphasized his presidency’s questionable ethics. However, Trump did fire his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who plead guilty to lying to the FBI, a felony charge stemming from Mueller’s probe.

Unlike Trump’s predecessors, who had higher ethics rating than approval ratings, Trump has a higher job approval rating. According to Gallup, President Trump’s approval rating is 44 percent compared to his 37 percent ethic rating. The only other exception was Clinton in January 1994, when his approval rating was 54 percent, but his ethics rating was 43 percent, the closest to Trump’s. Obama in 2013 had a 27 percent approval rating, but a 50 percent ethics rating.

Gallup asked the ethics questions three times in George W. Bush’s presidency from 2002 to 2005, and during that time, his approval rating fell, but his ethics rating remained higher. In 2002, Bush’s approval rating was 69 percent, while his ethics rating was 74 the highest in history, in October 2005 it was 49 to 55 percent. Bush’s polling was the rare exception, with Gallup asking the ethics question in his second term. The question was asked at bookends, in 2002 after his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where he had the highest approval rating in modern history, and in October 2005, just after his mismanaged response to Hurricane Katrina, and flooding in New Orleans that killed 971.

Clinton’s second outing with the ethics rating in October 1994 had him with 50 percent approval rating, but a 57 percent ethics rating. George H. W. Bush had a 63 percent approval rating in May 1989, and a 59 percent ethics rating. The first president Gallup asked the ethics question about, was Ronald Reagan, the question was asked three times in his first term from July 1983 through October 1984. Reagan’s ethical standard remains the same; 64 and then 67, while his approval rating went higher from 44 to 58 percent right before the presidential election. Additionally, the majority of recent presidents had ethics numbers above 50 percent. As CNN noted, “The more popular the president, the more likely people are to say that he runs an administration that is rightly focused on ethics.”

Gallup asks this question very few times during a presidency, often earlier in the first term and not while scandals have consumed a presidency mostly in a second term. Trump’s presidency is an exception, where he was elected amid scandal and questions about Russian interference. The only other recent presidency that has commenced with scandal was Clinton’s, and by the first poll, Clinton had allowed a special prosecutor to investigate the “Whitewater real estate controversy.” The prosecutor ended up being Kenn Starr, the author of the Starr Report used as the basis of Clinton’s impeachment.

Only two of the presidents were mired in scandals during their terms. Ronald Reagan managed to escape unscathed from Iran Contra in 1986. Then Clinton whose scandals with women included accusations of sexual harassment, the Whitewater investigation, and the finally the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to his impeachment and near ouster in 1998. Gallup, however, did not ask the ethic question at the darkest points of the Reagan or Clinton presidencies.

Not asking the ethics questions every year in a presidency at least makes the poll and rating flawed and misrepresenting history and difficult to make comparisons. Either way, Trump’s scandal-filled and mismanaged presidency has definitely affected the public’s view of his ethics, if not the way he performs his duties.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has over a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics May 10, 2018: GOP closing in on Democrats in new 2018 Midterm elections poll with Trump the main issue

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GOP closing in on Democrats in new 2018 Midterm elections poll with Trump the main issue

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Wikipedia Commons

In less than six months before the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats are losing their poll advantage against the Republicans. In less than four months they lost a significant advantage, that indicates that the election could still go either way. On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, CNN / SSRS released a new poll on the midterm elections, that indicated 47 percent of “registered voters” supported their local Democratic candidate versus 44 percent saying they support the Republican candidate. In February, Democrats had a huge 16 point lead, that shrunk in March to six percent and now is three percent, within a poll’s margin of error. President Donald Trump’s approval rating is partially the cause as Democrats have yet to focuses on an issue to rally voters aside from their opposition to the president.

According to the latest poll, American voters still do not know if the GOP should retain control on Congress; the House of Representatives and Senate. Democrats only have a slight edge when it comes over who “the country would be better off” with 31percent versus 30 percent saying the GOP. While 34 percent saying it does not matter who controls Congress, with nearly half of independent voters 48 percent among them.

Still, more Democrats are very enthusiastic about the election versus Republicans, 50 to 44 percent; Republicans have boosted their enthusiasm factor up from 36 percent in March. As CNN notes, “53% of those who are very enthusiastic about voting say they’d back the Democrat in their district vs. 41% who say they favor the GOP candidate.” Ten percent more of enthusiastic voters want that Democrats to control Congress. Enthusiasm is always an important factor in elections as it brings voters to the polls, the extra incentive is necessary especially in midterm elections.

This year’s midterms are definitely a referendum on President Trump, with 64 percent claiming Trump is a very or extremely important factor in their voting this fall, while among enthusiastic voters that numbers jump to 78 percent. Enthusiastic voters are the ones that oppose the president the most with 51 percent wanting a candidate who opposes his policies, versus 46 percent, who want a candidate that agrees with him. Still, those numbers are down from January, 52 percent of voters would support a candidate who opposes Trump versus 41 who support him, the numbers are now 48 to 43 percent.

Helping the Republicans is that Trump’s poll numbers among all Americans are actually holding “steady” at 41 percent approving and 53 disapproving the same as in the last poll in March. The president’s numbers are far better among voters, with a 44 percent approval rating and a 51 percent disapproval rating. However, he is gaining points in his handling of the issues. Meanwhile, six in ten Americans find the country is going in the right direction, 57 percent up eight points from March. More Democrats find the country is going in a good direction, 40 percent up from 25 in February.

Trump’s numbers are improving because of increased Democratic support, especially on the issues. The economy is the issue where Trump has the best approval rating, at 52 percent up from 48 percent. Eleven percent more Democrats approve of the president’s handling of the economy now with 26 percent. Trump’s number is also improving on foreign trade 43 percent up from 38, and immigration 40 percent up from 36. His approval rating has also improved on foreign affairs to 42 percent up from 39 percent. Some of these numbers are the best since his first 100 days in office.

Trump’s best issue in the polls, the economy seems to be the most important issue to voters with 84 percent calling it extremely or very important, that number has grown from February, where 79 percent felt that way. Taxes is a rising issue with 73 percent saying is important, up from 67 percent. Immigration also remains hot-button issue, 76 percent up from 72 percent of voters calling it important. Gun control remains an important issue, 76 percent of all voters consider it important, only down two points from February, when there was a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The 15 point divide between the two parties has virtually faded with 79 of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans calling it an important issue. The rest of the issues have declined in importance; health care down 80 from 83 percent, sexual harassment 58 down from 64 percent, and even the Russia investigation are losing importance 40 down from 45 percent. The changes in importance on issues is mostly partisan based.

The Congressional party leaders in the House on both sides fare worse in their popularity than the president. Only 30 percent view Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi favorably versus 49 percent unfavorable, with only 57 percent of Democrats having a positive view of their leader. Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan fares better with 38 percent viewing him favorably versus 46 percent unfavorably. Ryan numbers are better mostly from greater GOP support, with 67 percent of the party having a positive view of the speaker. Despite voters feeling about their leaders, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably, 44 percent to the GOP’s 39 percent.

While voters usually want candidates that share their views, Democrats care about less about this than Republicans, 76 to 67 percent. Democrats have been facing problems trying to decide which issue they should focus on in the midterm campaign. Most, however, agree an anti-Trump campaign will not be enough. Princeton University historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer told The Hill, believes that vagueness on the issues helps the party, “Politically, their preference is to have some agenda items and some broad ideas that the party will fight for, and enough vagueness that it’s hard to be pinned down. It’s literally a document to rally people, and I think the good ones are written that way.”

Writing in an editorial on CNN, entitled “Democrats, focus on midterms — not Trump impeachment talk,” Zelizer cautions “The biggest challenge for Democrats is to avoid letting anti-Trump fervor drown out their own message.” Democrats need 23 seats to gain control of the House and at least a seven-point poll advantage over the GOP, which they lost in this latest poll. Trump’s improved polls numbers are a hamper to any anti-message against him, get is now also no longer the most unpopular president, his poll numbers are similar to Democratic President Jimmy Carter in May 1978, still, not the most promising comparison to the one-term president. With Trump’s numbers in a “Goldilocks zone,” where he can neither harm nor help his party, and Republicans will have it easier as a result to retain power, while Democrats will have to work harder for control of Congress.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics May 7, 2018: First Lady Melania Trump’s poll numbers surge as she unveils Be Best initiative

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First Lady Melania Trump’s poll numbers surge as she unveils Be Best initiative

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Twitter

While her husband’s poll numbers stagnate, First Lady Melania Trump’s polls numbers are surging to heights only in President Donald Trump’s dreams. According to a CNN / SSRS poll released on Monday, May 7, 2018, Mrs.Trump now has a 57 percent favorability rating, up 10 percent from January. Mrs. Trump’s numbers are better than her husband has ever experienced. The good news in the polls comes as the first lady unveiled her “Be Best” child welfare program in a Rose Garden ceremony.

The first lady’s rise in popularity coincides with President Trump’s scandals, particularly the revelation he had an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2006 just after the birth of first couple’s son, Barron. First Lady Melania is benefitting from the same surge in public approval from members of all political parties as former First Lady Hillary Clinton did 20-years ago when President Bill Clinton was embroiled in a scandal involving an affair with former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

According to the new CNN poll, the first lady has a 57 percent approval rating, while only 27 of respondents have a negative view of her. The numbers have risen because of Democrat approval of the first lady, with 15 percent having a more favorable view of her since January. The numbers have only increased by five percent among Republicans. Despite the increase, still, a majority of Democrats have an unfavorable opinion of Mrs. Trump, 40 to 38 percent.

Melania’s number has risen because of increased support from the nation’s women with an addition of 13 percent, to just seven percent of men. In total, 54 percent of women view the first lady favorably, with only 30 percent not. Melania’s last best polling was in March 2017, when she had a 52 percent favorable rating versus 32 unfavorable. Although first ladies usually have higher favorability than the presidents, the difference between President and Mrs. Trump’s poll rating is more glaring. Trump only has a 41 percent approval rating with a 53 percent disapproval in the same CNN poll.

CNN cites the “sympathy” factor as the main reason Melania’s numbers have increased. Unlike her predecessor, when news emerged of each affair the president had during their marriage, the first lady did not show a united front and did do not stand by her man as Hillary Clinton famously quipped in a 60 Minutes interview during the 1992 presidential campaign. Instead, Melania asserted her independence from her husband. In January, after news of the affair with Stormy Daniels become public, the first First Lady did not join the president on his trip to the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland and she traveled herself to the capital for Trump’s first State of the Union address.

In February, when news broke that the president had another affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2006, the first First Lady chose to travel to Andrews Air Force base to travel with the president. Melania Trump did not want to walk across the White House lawn to Marine One with the president, a photo-op so common in the Clinton era, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In between, especially during the recent state visit from France, Mrs. Trump avoided taking her husband’s hand. Through it all, she has not commented or defended her husband as Hillary famously did so in early 1998. Her stoic silence had garnered her sympathy from the American public.

Despite, the bump in favorability, her husband’s image still tarnished Melania and her numbers are not yet reaching her predecessors at this point in their first term. According to a CNN poll from September 2010 poll, Democrat Michelle Obama had a 62 percent favorable rating and only 25 percent unfavorable. Republican Laura Bush fared even better when a May 2002 CNN / Time poll had her with as 67 percent favorable rating, only 8 percent unfavorable, with 25 percent undecided.

Her poll bumps most resembles Hillary Clinton, whose husband President Bill Clinton faced his whole presidency with scandals and accusations. According to the Pew Research Center, Hillary had a 57 percent favorable rating in July 1994, the same point in her husband’s first term, and after her foray into healthcare policy. However, after the Lewinsky scandal broke and impeachment ensued Hillary’s numbers hit a record high. In March 1998, her favorable rating was 65 percent, in October it fell to 58 percent to rebound to 66 percent in December; a term high as impeachment hearing was going on in Congress. At the same time, President Clinton’s numbers fell to 51 percent.

First Lady Melania Trump’s high poll numbers come as she is coming into her own as the first lady. Two weeks ago she planned every aspect of her first state dinner welcoming France’s President Emmanuel Macron and first lady Brigette. Today, she unveiled her initiative “Be Best” in a Rose Garden speech. According to the White House, “BE BEST will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse.” The child welfare program emphasizes the problems children face with their physical and emotional health, drugs particularly the opioid crisis and cyberbullying on social media. Althotheirhere first lady is announcing her initiative 18-months into her tenure, she has spent her time on events concerning children. She announced in one of her rare presidential campaign speeches in 2016 that she would be focusing on cyberbullying as First Lady.

In her 10-minute speech, with her husband present Melania unveiled her program. Mrs. Trump expressed, “As a mother and as the first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide.” The first lady also explained where the initiative’s name originates, “I feel strongly that as adults we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.”

The most controversial part of the first lady’s program is cyberbullying. Here again, Melania is showing her independence from her husband. The president is well known for his insults on the campaign trail and especially on Twitter and he is considered the nation’s bully-in-chief. The first lady almost seemed to be schooling her husband discussing the initiative, saying, “As we all know, social media can both positively and negatively affect our children. But too often, it is used in negative ways. When children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways and can affect positive change.” That independence from her husband, his scandals, vices, and policies, are why Melania Trump is setting herself apart and gaining the public’s trust.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion, and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 27, 2017: Obama beats Trump as Gallup’s most admired man in 2017, Hillary Clinton still top woman

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Obama beats Trump as Gallup’s most admired man in 2017, Hillary Clinton still top woman

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Although the sitting president is usually the Gallup poll’s most admired for the year, this year is it is not the case. Former President Barack Obama beat out President Donald Trump as the most admired man in the 2017 edition, while 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton remains the country’s most admired woman. Gallup Poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, their annual list of most admired men and women for the year with almost predictable results. For the tenth straight year, former President Obama has topped the list of most admired men, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of most admired women for a record-breaking time. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump came in a close second but missed the honor most sitting presidents experience.

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 17 percent of the vote, down from 22 percent last year, and his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 13 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last ten years. President Obama has the second overall most admired titles besting former Presidents Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) but behind Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). Obama becomes the only the second former president besides Eisenhower in 1967 and 1968 to win the year’s most admired. President Trump came in a rather close second with 14 percent; the third time Trump has ranked second in the poll. This year is the president’s seventh appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Vice President Mike Pence sees his second appearance on the list coming in again at the bottom of the list.

Even as a sitting president Trump cannot eclipse Obama as the most admired man in the country an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed. It is a tradition for the sitting president always to be named the most admired and has been the case for 70 years since the poll originated in 1946. Now only 13 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in his first year of office with only a 37 percent approval rating on his 338th day in office. The last time a sitting president missed the honor was in 2008 when then President-elect Obama edged out President George W. Bush who was seeing extremely low approval ratings at the end of his tenure.

In Gallup’s 71 years issuing the most admired list, sitting presidents have topped it 58 times. Gallup indicates, “Previous incumbent presidents who did not finish first include Harry Truman in 1946–1947 and 1950–1952, Lyndon Johnson in 1967–1968, Richard Nixon in 1973, Gerald Ford in 1974–1975, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George W. Bush in 2008. All but Truman in 1947 and Ford in 1974 had job approval ratings well below 50%, like Trump.”

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2017 Top 10:

1. Barack Obama 17
2. Donald Trump 14
3. Pope Francis 3
4. Rev. Billy Graham 2
5. John McCain 2
6. Elon Musk 2
7. Bernie Sanders 1
8. Bill Gates 1
9. Benjamin Netanyahu 1
10. The Dalai Lama 1
11. Mike Pence 1

Despite losing the election Trump last year, former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 22nd time and 16th year in a row more than anyone ever on the list. Clinton has her lowest showing; however, winning only 9 percent of the vote, last year she had 12 percent for the top spot. Clinton only lost the number one spot in 1995 and 1996 to Mother Theresa and 2001 when First Lady Laura Bush took the position. Clinton has appeared on the list 26 times. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 7 percent. Current First Lady Melania Trump sees her first showing on the list coming in at number 8 but with only one percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2017 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 9
2. Michelle Obama 7
3. Oprah Winfrey 4
4. Elizabeth Warren 3
5. Angela Merkel 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Condoleezza Rice 1
8. Melania Trump 1
9. Nikki Haley 1
10. Duchess Kate Middleton 1
11. Beyonce Knowles 1

This year’s list is seeing some record number of appearances for both the most admired men and women. For the men, Rev. Billy Graham has his 60th top 10 finish having been in the top 10 every year since 1955, except for 1962 and 1976. This is the first year former Bill Clinton has dropped out of the top 10; he appeared on the top 10 for 25 years and remained on top of the list throughout his entire presidency from 1993 to 2001. On the women’s side, Hillary Clinton has the most top honors on the list with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt second with 13 top honors. Queen Elizabeth has the most top 10 appearances of all women with 49, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 30 showings. Gallup does not believe however, Obama and Clinton will hold on to the top spot in future years and believe Trump could attain the position next year.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 12, 2017: Trump has worst first-year presidential approval rating in history but great success with his agenda

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Trump has worst first-year presidential approval rating in history but great success with his agenda

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump is the most unpopular president in modern history with record-low approval ratings his first year in office. (Source: White House Facebook)

As President Donald Trump approaches the end of his first calendar year in office, his approval rating has remained at record lows for a first-year president. Trump’s approval rating has never risen above the 40s and has now settled in the low 30s. According to a new Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, has Trump’s number is a new low even for his presidency with a just a 32 percent approval rate, while his disapproval rating grows to 63 percent. Still, Trump’s numbers are not much different then Pews’ from October where the president had a 34 percent approval rating, and in February just a few weeks into his presidency when he had a 39 percent approval rating. Despite his unpopularity and low approval ratings, Trump is successfully accomplishing his agenda contradicting the usual correlation between popularity and presidential success in the polls.

The Pew poll was taken between November 29 and December 4 and the numbers come as the first arrests begin in special counsel Robert Mueller Russia election interference probe and Trump’s first national security advisor Michael Flynn plead guilty for lying to the FBI. Still, the low numbers appear as the president moves forward with his agenda. Trump experienced first major legislative victory with the first passage of a tax reform bill. Additionally, The Supreme Court decided in his favor of his third travel ban. Trump tenure is seeing the greatest stock market highs in history, as Jeff Greenfield pointed out, “the economy is roaring, too.”

Greenfield in his article “Has Trump Made Approval Polls Meaningless?” published in Politico on Nov. 29, a week before the Pew poll argues, “He is the most disliked president ever at this point in his term. And he’s more consequential than presidents who were twice as popular.”
Greenfield lists many of Trump’s accomplishments up to publication including having nine nominees places on the on federal appeals courts. Trump also had another legal victory when a federal district court sided with Trump’s choice “to place his budget director as temporary head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

In addition, Greenfield pointed in a referendum on his presidency’s Trump candidate for the special Alabama Senate election Roy Moore, who has been accused of improper relationships with teenage girls is leading the polls. Greenfield credits Trump’s success on “support for Trump’s agenda, combined with his still-strong position within the Republican base, has effectively neutered any meaningful GOP resistance to the president’s wretched excesses.”

The Pew poll was also released a day after Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the State of Israel’s capital and decided to move the embassy from Tel Aviv a policy decision that will have a major impact on the Middle East. Trump’s policy victories are not without their controversies and divisiveness between the American public, especially along partisan lines. The president also remains controversial with his impulsive Twitter habits that cause him more harm than his political positions. The Pew poll indicates that the negativity towards Trump comes with the Russia probe and personal style rather policy.

Still, no matter the strange theories, unverified videos or insults the president hurls on Twitter, he can accomplish his agenda because of the strong support from his party, both the voters and on Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. As Greenfield notes, Trump accomplishes his agenda “the same way he won the White House in the first place: by capitalizing on a unique political mix of geography, a last-minute intervention, and the right opponent.”

Among those who disapprove of Trump’s performance in the Pew poll, 14 percent actually find something they are pleased with that the president has accomplished. Of those approving of Trump’s performance, 37 percent are disappointed with something of Trump’s actions. The most popular response has been his personal style and particularly his Twitter habit, with 26 percent claiming his personal style and 14 percent saying his Twitter usage.

There is deep partisan division regarding the Russia probe with only 26 of Republicans and Republican leaners believing there was “definitely or probably” “improper contacts” by senior Trump officials. The number increases threefold when it comes to Democrats and Democratic leaners, with 82 percent saying “improper contacts” probably took place and 49 percent saying they definitely occurred. Both parties scribe to different views as to the importance of the probe with only 19 percent of Republicans finding it important versus 71 percent of Democrats.

After initial tax bills passed in both the House and Senate by partisan lines, the two houses are now nearing a final agreement on their tax reform bill. The House passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on Nov. 16, with a party vote of 227–205, and Senate passed their version with a 51–49 vote, and only one GOP dissension, vocal Trump opponent, Bob Corker (R-TN) opposed the bill and voted with the Democrats.

Pew found that an overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats with 71 and 70 percent respectively find “proposed changes to the federal tax system” are “a very important issue for the country.” The bill unpopular with the middle class from both parties will be Trump’s first major legislative victory after the collapse of the Obamacare repeal efforts. The tax bill, however, still accomplishes one of the GOP’s health care goals repealing the individual mandate requiring all American have health insurance if not they are penalized with a monetary fine.

The worst news Trump is also losing ground with the very base that elected him and makes accomplishing his agenda possible. Trump now only has 76 percent support from Republican voters down from 84 percent in February. Demographically, Trump is seeing his popularity diminish among key groups. Trump is losing ground with Republican voters 50 and older down to 38 percent from 50 percent, and whites 41 percent down from 49 percent. Trump lost the most support from evangelical Protestants 61 percent down from 78 percent.

Still, as Pew indicates “Trump’s job approval rating among members of his own party, while lower today than at the beginning of the year, is in line with those of most of his predecessors.” The main reason behind Trump’s lower numbers is that he has lower approval numbers from the opposing party than his predecessors with an only 7 percent approval from Democrats. No other president in his first year in office had an approval rating in the low 30s.

Trump’s rating is 16 percent lower than the all-time historical low. The previous record holder was Bill Clinton who at the end of 1993 had a 48 percent approval rating. Like his boasts, President Trump has made his mark on the presidency in his first year accomplishing more than his higher-rated predecessors did. Trump does this, because as Greenfield indicates despite being a historically unpopular president” he is “in a position to preside over more consequential changes, at least at this stage in their terms, than presidents like Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama who were elected with clear electoral mandates.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education November 23, 2017: Will American universities continue losing international students to Canada?

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EDUCATION

Will American universities continue losing international students to Canada?

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The University of Toronto in Canada saw the largest increase in international student enrollment this academic year, benefiting the most from the decline to American schools.

With the application period in full swing for the 2018–19 academic year and incoming Class of 2022 freshman class, the question remains if American universities will continue the trend of losing international students. Last year the drop in applications and enrollment was attributed to Donald Trump’s election as president and his immigration policies. Canadian universities benefited from the American loss and received a bump in international applications and enrollments for the 2017–18 academic years. New surveys and reports released by IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact on Nov. 13, 2017, and Universities Canada on Nov. 22 indicate American universities loss seven percent of their international students, while Canadian schools saw an increase in the double digits. The two studies remained on the opposite ends when came to blaming Trump’s presidency for the differing numbers, with American reports downplaying the factor, while Canadian surveys saw a direct correlation.

A new report by the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairsreleased on Monday, Nov. 13, entitled the “2017 Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange” examined at the changing international student rates. The report indicated that just the year prior, the 2016–17 academic year, American universities saw an increase in the peak of total international student enrollment, but a decrease in new international students coming to the US to study.

The 2017 Open Doors report indicates that the US saw a “record” number of international students with 1.08 million studying, the second academic year with over a million students. Open Doors claimed, “This also marks the eleventh consecutive year of continued expansion of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education.” Despite the good news, there were plenty of negatives when looking at the number of new students enrolling; there was a three percent drop from the previous academic year, 10,000 students less to 281,000 new enrollees.

The 2016–17 academic years had only a three percent increase in international students compared to the previous year, the smallest increase since the 2009–10 academic years. Open Door pointed out, “This is the first time that these numbers have declined in the twelve years since Open Doors has reported new enrollments.” The decreases primarily come from two countries Saudi Arabia and Brazil because of the decrease of scholarships. Although the report claims, economic factors trump any political reasons for the decline.

The Open Door gave a glimpse at the present academic year, which shows that the trend is continuing with an additional seven percent loss in new international student enrollees. Although this is the national trend, the results are much different at different universities and colleges. According to IIE, “45 percent of the campuses reported declines in new enrollments for fall 2017, while 31 percent reported increases in new enrollments and 24 percent reported no change from last year.”

International students contribute the most in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, serving as support faculty as research and teaching assistants. IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman commented on the decline, “Students continue to be attracted to the high quality and diverse opportunities offered by U.S. colleges and universities. But it is critical for U.S. institutions to set strategic goals and be proactive in reaching out to students and families in a wide range of countries in the coming year, and for the United States to keep its academic doors open to students from all over the world.”

IIE released another report at the start of the academic year entitled “Shifting Tides: Understanding International Student Yield for Fall 2017.” The study conducted in March 2017, was created in collaboration with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO). The study examined the international enrollment rates at 165 colleges and universities in the different regions of the country.

The results proved that President Trump’s policies had little effect on attracting international undergraduate students going from 26 percent in 2016 to just a two percent drop and 24 percent in 2017. Graduate students, however, were more deterred from studying in the US. Colleges and universities saw a 7 percent drop in international students for Masters’ degrees. Last year the number was 26 percent down to 19 percent of graduate student population this year. According to IIE “38 percent of surveyed institutions indicating a decrease in international student applications, 36 percent seeing an increase and 26 percent seeing no change compared to the prior year.”

The decline happened at 46 percent of the schools that participated, but the results varied in the four regions of the country. The South saw the largest drop in international students, with 5 percent from 35 to 30 percent; however, the Northeast did not see any difference remaining at 24 percent. Regional differences have to do with the politics of the areas and schools. The South is the country’s most conservative area, while the Northeast is the most liberal and home of the Ivy League universities that continually attract international students. Four states attract the most international students, California, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts, but only Texas deep in Trump country saw a decline. Texas’ decline was a huge 18 percent loss in international students this year from the 2016 year, 44 percent down to 35 percent.

The United Kingdom’s Times Higher Education sees the decline in international students enrolling at American schools a trend that is longtime in the making and independent of Trump. Analyst Marguerite Dennis wrote an op-ed last January 2017 entitled, “Dwindling US international student numbers? Don’t blame Trump!” On the eve of Trump inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, 60 percent of international students from 118 countries said a Trump presidency would deter their enrollment in US schools a number that never materialized. Canadian saw a surge in American students visiting their perspective and future student websites. The University of Toronto saw 10,000 visitors the day after Trump’s election, up from only 1,000 the day before when the news predicted democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win the election.

Dennis looked at historical data and found that the decline is a trend 17-year trend in the making commencing in 2001. At that point, the year of the terror attack on the World Trade Center “28 per cent of all international students enrolled” in American schools, by 2014 that number decreased to 22 percent. Dennis attributes two reasons for the decline, less Chinese students enrolling and rising tuition costs. Dennis claims, “In 2014–15, there were 304,040 Chinese studying in the US, 10.8 per cent more than the previous year. However, in 2013–14 the increase was 21.4 per cent.” Additionally, since 2008 tuition at American schools has increased by 28 percent.

IIE claimed that students from the Middle East and India were the most reluctant to enroll in the US because of Trump’s travel ban and were the most concerned about their ability to obtain a student visa. Indian students are fearful of enrolling because an Indian engineering student studying in the Midwest was killed in a hate crime. IIE agrees with Dennis that affordability is a major concern for students coming from “sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Canada, Oceania, Latin America and Asia,” except China.

Canadian universities are benefitting the most from international students’ reluctance to study in the US and a lesser extent in Great Britain. This academic year, Canadian universities saw a “record number” of international students enrolled in their institutions. In Canada, they attribute to the growing number of international applicants directly to Trump’s election and his presidency, and Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union, but they are not certain how to maintain their growing student population and translate it into permanent Canadian residents. The major wave of applications commenced with Trump election, with Canadian schools seeing a bump of 20 percent more international applicants.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, IRCC claims there was a 17.5 percent increase in international students from the fall of 2015 to the fall of 2016. According to the Pie News, “the number of new students entering Canada for the first time reached nearly 270,000 — up 22% from 2015 figures.” Universities Canada released data for the fall 2017 enrollment on Nov. 22, calculating only the number of overseas international students. They determined that there was an 11 percent increase of overseas students in 2017 from 2016. As The Times Higher Education reports “the total number of full- and part-time overseas university students in the country to 192,000.”

Universities Canada took their information from Regional university associations, which include, “The Association of Atlantic Universities, the Bureau de Coopération Interuniversitaire (representing Quebec universities), the Council of Ontario Universities and Universities Canada.” In total 96 institutions shared their data for the survey. British Columbia is the province attracting the most international students with a 15.6 percent increase; the province is the home of one of the country’s top three schools, the University of British Columbia. The Canadian government wants to continue to capitalize on the trend and increase the number of international students to 450,000 by 2022.

Canada’s top schools The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill University are attracting the brunt of the students. This year the U of Toronto had 17,452 international students at the undergraduate and graduate level representing 20 percent of the student population. The numbers are double than those of ten years ago, wherein 2007 they had 7,380 international students compromising only 10 percent of the student population.

The University of Toronto has the most international students on the continent, followed by the US’ New York University, while the UBC is third. UBC had 14,433 international students in 2016 up from 9,144 in 2012. McGill’s numbers are equally impressive, this academic year their international student population hit 30 percent and is over 12,000 out of 41,000 students. McGill noted that the number represents an “over 10 percent increase from last year and 45 percent from 5 years ago.”

The students are coming from 150 countries, the majority from China, India, South Korea, France, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Japan, Brazil, to a lesser extent Turkey. There is also an increase in American students enrolling in Canadian schools. China has the most students in Canada representing 34 percent of the international student population 57,000 students in 2014, followed by India with 14 percent; only three percent of American students come to Canada for a university education.

Applications to Canadian schools surged last fall and winter from American students distraught by Trump’s electoral victory, but those numbers never materialized in enrollments. The U of Toronto saw an increase of 70 percent from American students, McGill had a 30 percent increase from the US and 16 percent internationally, while UBC saw a 26 percent increase in applications from American students. In 2014, Canada hosted 9,000 American students in their universities.

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada claims the increase in international students can be attributed to the country being “known worldwide as a nation that values diversity and inclusion, and our universities are a big part of that.” Davison continued praising the country to the THE, saying, “Students around the globe are increasingly choosing the internationally recognised quality of a Canadian university education, and the benefits for Canada are tremendous.”

In contrast, Richard Levin, executive director of enrolment services and university registrar at the University of Toronto see the enrollment bump being because of the backlash in the US and the UK. Levin told CBC News “Clearly there are things about the international situation — worries about stability, Brexit and the U.S. political environment — that have changed or increased international students’ interest in looking beyond their own countries and beyond the U.S..” Continuing Levin expressed, “Now in places like that, students are looking for alternatives and Canada is presenting as a good one in terms of stability, safety, and inclusiveness.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

History October 25, 2017: Kennedy assassination documents to be released in time for anniversary

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HISTORY

Kennedy assassination documents to be released in time for anniversary

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump has decided it is time for the public to see the long held remaining documents pertaining to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Wikpiedia Commons

Just in time for the 54th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, finally, historians are going to be able to see the last piece of the puzzle. President Donald Trump announced on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, that he would allow the release of the remaining CIA and FBI documents on the 35th president’s assassination. Trump’s decision ends Congress’ 25-year hold on the documents. On Oct. 26, approximately 3,100 files are set for release, adding to the heavily redacted 30,000 that have already been released.

President Trump tweeted on Saturday morning, “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long-blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.” The White House released a longer statement to the press, saying, “The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise.”

Although the documents will enrich research and scholarship on Kennedy’s assassination, historians do not believe that it will change the narrative or conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Historians are concerned that they will give conspiracy theorists a field day. Originally, Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act in 1992 to thwart the release of the documents.

The law was partially inspired by the rampant conspiracy theories set forth in Oliver Stone’s box office hit JFK, which claimed a vast government conspiracy, was behind Kennedy’s assassination with the CIA and FBI at the forefront. The Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) claimed in their report that the film, a “popularized a version of President Kennedy’s assassination that featured U.S. government agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the military as conspirators.”

The bill gave only the president the power to delay the documents release once the bill expired. The president would have been able to do so claiming national security interests. It is rumored that the CIA appealed to Trump to delay the release. Trump friend Roger Stone claimed, “specifically CIA director Mike Pompeo has been lobbying the president furiously not to release these documents.” The agency denied this and issued a statement saying the CIA “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously unreleased CIA information.”

Many were lobbying President Trump to release the documents, among them his friend Stone and Senate judiciary committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Stone like Trump believes there is a conspiracy surrounding Kennedy’s assassination. Stone however, believes the documents “show that Oswald was trained, nurtured and put in place by the Central Intelligence Agency.” Strone says, “It sheds very bad light on the deep state.”

While Grassley recently tweeted his support for the release, writing, “No reason 2 keep hidden anymore. Time 2 let American ppl + historians draw own conclusions.” Earlier, Grassley also introduced a resolution on the Senate floor to release the documents. Grassley argued, “Americans deserve a full picture of what happened that fateful day in November 1963. The assassination of President Kennedy occurred at a pivotal time for our nation, and, nearly 54 years later, we are still learning the details of how our government responded and what it may have known beforehand.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics recently wrote an article in Politico with Philip Shenon entitled, “The JFK Document Dump Could Be a Fiasco.” The article’s subtitle argues, “Later this month, the National Archives is set to release thousands of documents about John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It’s likely to fuel conspiracy theorists for years.” Sabato and Shenon, however, claim that releasing the documents will congest NARA’s website but not doing so would fuel more speculation and theories then releasing them.

Both authors have written books about the assassination, Sabato wrote, “The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy” and Shenon wrote, “A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination” both published in 2013, the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. After President Trump announced his decision on Saturday, Sabato praised Trump on Twitter. Sabato wrote, “Thank you. This is the correct decision. Please do not allow exceptions for any agency of government. JFK files have been hidden too long.”

The documents supposedly cover Oswald’s trip to Mexico prior to the assassination. In September 1963, Oswald traveled to Mexico City where he met with officials at the Cuban and Soviet Union embassies about visiting those respective countries, although he also might have met with Cuban and Soviet spies. It was in Mexico City that Oswald came under CIA radar. It is widely speculated that Oswald discussed his plans to assassinate President Kennedy during the trip.

Investigative journalist Gerald Posner spoke to USA Today about the trip and the documents. Posner is the author of the 1993 authoritative book “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK.” Posner concluded in his study that Oswald acted alone. Although the files will not alter long-held conclusions, they could cause embarrassment for the US and Mexico and hinder already strained relations. Posner commented on this factor, “There may not be deep, dark secrets in there, but the release could be embarrassing to people who were involved. You have to remember that Mexico City in the 1960s was a hodge-podge of intrigue where everyone was spying on everyone else. There may be people who were informing to the CIA at the time who have moved on to careers in politics and business, and the revelation that they were informing will be embarrassing to them.”

Among the documents are also historical gems that are unrelated with any theories about the assassination. Posner recounted, “All of those will cause a flash of excitement. For one thing, there’s supposedly a handwritten letter by Jackie Kennedy about the (JFK) funeral. There’s a letter from (former FBI Director J. Edgar) Hoover that’s been closed for all these years. There’s the testimony of (former CIA counterintelligence chief) James Jesus Angleton from the 1970s before the Church Committee.” The Church Committee was an investigation by Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho, about the FBI and CIA and their plans to assassinate Cuba’s, Fidel Castro.

This past July, NARA already began the process of releasing the documents. According to NARA, they released already, “3,810 documents, including 441 formerly withheld-in-full documents and 3,369 documents formerly released with portions redacted.” Researchers and the media clamored to the NARA site, but many of the documents were difficult to read, many illegible others in code or jargon not comprehensible to the public or even scholars. NARA was supposed to release slowly the documents, but instead opted to wait on Trump’s decision, and now release them all on Oct. 26 and cause a traffic backlog on their website yet again.

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States (1961–63), was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. by Lee Harvey Oswald, while in a Presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas heading towards the Texas School Book Depository. Kennedy was in an open limousine waving at the cheering crowd with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife Nelly when three shots in succession erupted, which hit the Governor, and then the President. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead at 46 years, 30 minutes after the shooting.

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite first broke news of the assassination, tearing up with his announcement of the president’s death. Afterward there was an immediate outpouring of grief by the nation mourning the loss of an idealized young President. In a recent book “The Kennedy Detail” Secret Service agent Clint Hill has said; “It has taken me decades to learn to cope with the guilt and sense of responsibility for the president’s death, and I have made it a practice to keep my memories to myself. I don’t talk to anybody about that day.”

At 2:38 p.m., Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th US president, aboard Air Force One with Jackie Kennedy standing by his side, still wearing the clothes stained with the President’s blood. Police arrested Oswald two hours later. Oswald, a Soviet sympathizer with ties to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee had shot Kennedy from the Texas School Book Depository building. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner fatally shot Oswald, as he was being transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail; Ruby claimed he wanted to spare Jackie Kennedy any further grief.

After three days of national mourning, on November 25, 1963, a state funeral was held for the slain President. It was a preceded by a repose of Kennedy’s body in the East Room of the White House for 24 hours on the 23rd. On Sunday, the 24th, the President’s coffin was carried by the same horse-drawn carriage as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Unknown Soldier before him, to the Capitol building where his body laid in state for 18 hours, with 250,000 people visiting his casket.

On Monday, one million gathered on the route of the processional from the Capitol to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where the funeral was held. Foreign dignitaries from 90 countries, including 19 heads of state came to pay their respects, and millions of Americans watched the funeral on TV, which was covered by the three big networks; ABC, CBS, and NBC. After the Requiem Mass, as the President’s body was carried from the cathedral, three-year-old John Jr. saluted his father’s casket giving the mourning nation an iconic image to remember. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia after the service Jackie Kennedy lit an eternal flame that remains burning over the President’s gravesite.

Kennedy’s assassination was not put to rest with the president on Nov. 25, 1963; conspiracy theories just began their long life. In honor of the 50th anniversary, Fred Kaplan examined the most popular ones in his article, “John F. Kennedy conspiracy theories debunked: Why the magic bullet and grassy knoll don’t make sense.” Even 50 years later, a 2014 poll indicated that 59 percent of Americans still believe there is a conspiracy theory surrounding the enigmatic president’s death. Soon after Kennedy’s successor President Lyndon Johnson commissioned Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to chair an investigation, which resulted in the Warren Commission Report. The report concluded that Oswald alone fired all three shots that hit Kennedy. The public, however, was not satisfied and a flurry of books was published in the wake of the report’s finding. The books introduced and supported a host of conspiracy theories.

A home video fuelled the speculations Abraham Zapruder taped on his 8mm home-movie camera the shooting. The 26-second reel with 486 frames was the only direct recording of the assassination. The graphic shots were not released for the public to view until 1975, when President Gerald Ford decided to make it available. The film was both used as proof by the Warren Commission that Oswald acted alone and conspiracy theorists that he did not.

Among the many theories, the main point of contention was whether one or bullets shot Kennedy and Connally. Since the time between each frame based on the film made it impossible for Kennedy and Connally to have been shot by separate bullets coming from Oswald’s gun, the Warren Commission concluded with some dissension the “single-bullet theory,” claiming the same bullet hit the Texas Governor and then the president. Originally, the report claimed there was “compelling” evidence, but in the end decided on just saying there was persuasive evidence. Without the Warren Commission being definitive, conspiracy theorists clamored to claim there had to have been the second shooter.

The second most popular theory was that one of the shots came from the grassy knoll. Part of this theory rested in the way Kennedy moved when he was shot suggesting the first shot to the neck was from behind, but the second shot to the head was from in front. There was also an audio recording from a Dallas police officer’s microphone radio transmission. The recording seems to indicate four shots were fired not three and that considering the officer’s location one echoed from the grassy knoll. A 1976 House of Representatives Committee determined this from their report, but later the National Academy of Sciences debunked this when they analyzed the tape. The police officer motorcycle was not in the vicinity, and the supposed fourth shot came after the Kennedy had already been hit.

Although most of the conspiracy theories have remained theories, The CIA’s and FBI’s questionable behavior during the time including, coups and killings only add to the speculation as to what will be included in the previously unreleased documents. It might finally uncover Oswald’s motives, which have long been questioned, with many believing it was related to Cuba and Castro, and the Kennedy administration’s desire to overthrow the Cuban dictator in a planned Operation Mongoose. As well, they might reveal more on Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union. These files were so guarded by the CIA and FBI that they never even handed them over to the Warren Commission. Now the public and scholars will finally read this last puzzle, however, if they are anything like the documents released over the summer, they true meaning might still take a while to decode.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics July 23, 2017: America deeply polarized as Trump presidency hits six-month mark

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POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump’s polls at the six-month mark shows discontent especially among Democrats. President Donald J. Trump | July 20, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As President Donald Trump’s hits the six-month mark of his presidency, polarization in the nation is at an all-time high. ABC News and Washington Post released a new poll on Sunday, July 16, 2017, that looked at Trump’s approval rating and followed up with another poll released on Monday, July 17 examining his presidential behavior including his Twitter habits. A Gallup Poll released on July 21, also showed how Trump’s approval rating is below 40 percent mostly because he lacks almost any support from Democrats. According to the new ABC News poll, only 36 percent of Americans “approve of Trump’s job performance,” while the Gallup Poll has Trump approval rating for his second quarter as president at 38.8 percent. The results show that Trump is the most unpopular president at this point in his presidency than any other president in the last 70 years of polling mostly because the nation is the most polarized over Trump than ever in history.

Trump’s approval rate numbers are his lowest and six points lower than they were in April when he reached 100 days of his presidency. Trump has only a 36 percent approval rating in the new ABC News / Washington Post poll entitled “Six months in, the latest poll reveals a record low for Trump,” but a 58 percent disapproval rating. Americans however, approve of the president’s handling of the economy, 43 to 41 percent. According to the Gallup poll entitled “Trump Sets New Low for Second-Quarter Job Approval” Trump’s approval rating for the second quarter of his presidency from April 20 to July 19, is 38.8 percent. In his first quarter, Trump’s approval rating was 41.3 percent. Until President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May his daily tracking approval rating remained in the low 40s, but since then it has remained for the most part in the high 30s.

The only other modern president with such a low poll number at the six-month mark of their presidency was Gerald Ford with a higher, 39 percent in January 1975. Ford, however, was not elected, he became president after Republican Richard Nixon resigned from office, and he faced a backlash for pardoning the disgraced president over the Watergate scandal. Trump also makes a record for highest disapproval rate at the six-month mark, beating President Bill Clinton whose disapproval rating was 51 percent in July 1993.

Gallup does not include Ford in their list and claims Trump’s numbers at this time are closest to Clinton, who had a 44 percent approval rating. The rest of the post-World War II presidents saw over 50 percent approval ratings at the six-month mark, with the average at 62 percent. Looking at all presidential quarters Trump ranks 250th out of 287 quarters. The lower numbers were recorded in later parts of the embattled Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush presidencies.

The gap between Republicans and Democrats’ approval of the president is astounding. According to ABC News, 90 percent of Conservative Republicans and 82 percent of Republicans, in general, approve of the president’s job performance. Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove, with only 11 percent approving. Not many independents approve of the president either with only 32 percent feeling that way.

The Gallup poll shows an even more dramatic partisan divide, only 8 percent of Democrats approve of Trump, which is the lowest opposing party support in the modern history of presidential polling. Trump has support from 85 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Independents. As Gallup indicates that is a 77 percent difference from members of either party. Gallup notes, “The high degree of political polarization in Trump’s approval ratings is one major reason why his overall ratings are historically low. Presidential job approval ratings have become increasingly polarized in recent presidential administrations, but the degree of party separation in Trump’s ratings reaches new extremes.”

Trump has had historically low approval ratings because he has not any support from Democrats, partisan support is key to higher approval ratings. The last two presidents Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush had about 30 percent from the opposing parties. Obama had 28 percent of Republican approving his job in 2009, and Bush had 30 percent of Democrats in 2001, despite another contentious election, which was decided by the Supreme Court. Trump has a low approval rating from independents, lower than from previous presidents, where the average at 53 percent, only Carter had low support, with only 42 percent.

The partisan polarization has grown exponentially since Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency, before and since the 1950s opposing parties used to give a high approval rating to new presidents, a minimum of over 40 percent. The situation changed with Clinton, who received just over 20 percent support from Republicans. Independents also abandoned Clinton with only 44 percent approving of him in 1993. Trump has a problem with Independents as well, with only 36 percent supporting him. Fortunately, for President Trump he has overwhelming support from his party, with 86 percent support whereas the average since 1953 has been 82 percent.

The ABC News poll also looked at Americans’ view of the issues that have plagued Trump ‘s presidency and cause his lagging numbers, the Russia election interference controversy, and the embattled Obama repeal and replace bill going through Congress. The public does not approve of the president’s son, “Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and campaign manager, Paul Manafort” having met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign to gain Intel on opponent Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. The revelation and the Trump Jr.’s emails detailing the meeting set-up confirm that the Trump campaign was talking to Russia and looking for their help.

According to the poll, 63 percent of Americans found the meeting inappropriate. Americans now overwhelmingly believe Russia interfered in the presidential election with 60 percent responding that way, but 40 percent do not think there was any interference. Republicans, however, do not believe Russia helped Trump’s campaign with only 9 percent feeling that way. Meanwhile, a slight majority 52 percent believe the president is interfering with the investigation, while 37 percent believe he is not interfering.

In general, a majority, 55 percent of Americans do not believe Trump is succeeding in his agenda and campaign promises, while only 38 percent say he is making “progress.” One of the president’s biggest campaign promises to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law is also turning into the young presidency’s biggest failure. Although the House of Representatives passed a bill, the American Health Care Act on the second try, the Senate was not satisfied with it. This past month, the Senate failed with two incarnations of the Better Care Act, without either going to a floor debate and vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell than planned to put to a vote a years old House bill that only repeals the health care and replace in two years time., that idea has not garnered enough support for a vote. Trump, however, is demanding that the Senate not only repeal Obamacare but also replace it before the August recess or else the recess should be canceled. Now the Senate with a vote on the House bill and will add amendments.

According to the ABC News poll, Americans prefer keeping Obamacare to any alternative; Congressional Republicans are floating 50–24 percent. The House and Senate bills both cut Medicaid funding for the states. The cuts were the main reason Republican senators came out against the bill, and they were in good company. According to the ABC News poll, 63 to 27 percent of Americans believe, “it’s more important to provide health care coverage for low-income Americans than to cut taxes.”

Americans are not very confident about the president representing the country on the world’s stage either. Around 75 percent of Americans do not trust the president to “negotiate with other world leaders” especially Russia’s Vladimir Putin. While 48 percent of Americans think, the country’s world image and reputation are weaker under Trump with only 27 percent saying, “it has gotten stronger.”

The mirror image is about the same, the world does not like Trump very much. According to a recent Pew Research Survey published on June 26, and entitled “U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership” of the over 37 nations surveyed only 22 percent have confidence in President Trump, while 74 percent have no confidence. The numbers are a sharp contrast to those of Democratic President Barack Obama, where it was the reverse, 64 percent had confidence versus 23 percent saying no confidence at the end of his term in January. The favorable view of the US is also in decline, now it is only 49 percent with a 39 percent unfavorable view. When Obama left office, there was a 20-point difference, with a 69 percent favorable view and a 26 percent unfavorable view. Of the 37 countries polled, only Israel and Russia had a better opinion on Trump’s leadership versus Obama.

Democrats claim that the reason for disapproving President Trump’s job performance has less to do with what he does in office and more to do with his personality and character. Gallup and ABC News/ Washington Post conducted separate polls looking at the way Americans view the president personally. Gallup released their poll “Trump Disapproval Rooted in Character Concerns” on July 13, and according to findings, 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s personality and character, with previous presidents’ disapproval was grounded in policies and job performance.

According to Gallup, only 12 percent base their disapproval on Trump’s performance as president, with 16 percent basing it on policies and issues, but an overwhelming amount of 65 percent say it is his personality and personal characteristics. For Obama at the six-month mark, it was the reverse with 65 percent disapproving of him because of his policies, while it was split with George W. Bush between policies at 31 percent and performance at 43 percent.

Apparently, Trump’s personality was a benefit on the campaign trail but a hindrance to the presidency. As Gallup analyzes, “Trump’s unique personal style, brashness, and disregard for conventional political norms and discourse — while clearly a negative for many during the campaign — helped him stand out from other Republican contenders and ultimately contributed to his victory in November.”

Gallup broke it down and found that under character and personality related, 29 percent disapprove of President Trump because he comes across as “Not presidential/Bad temperament/Arrogant/Obnoxious,” 10 percent say he is “Inexperienced/Doesn’t know what he is doing.” Every other reason was all under 10 percent including “Looking out for himself/Doesn’t consider people’s needs,” “Use of social media/Twitter” and “Untrustworthy” all at 6 percent.

Although 16 percent of Americans cite issues and policies as their reason for disapproving the president, no single issue ranked at over 4 percent including foreign policy and health care, which only garnered 3 percent. According to the poll, 12 percent disapprove of Trump because of broad performance, yet no single reason registered above 7 percent, with the most saying it is because they “Disagree with what he is doing/Doing a poor job.”

In contrast, the reasons Americans approve of the president are almost evenly distributed among the three categories, 38 percent for broad performance, 33 percent for issues and policies and 24 percent for personality and personal characteristics. Only under broad performance does Trump get double digits for specific reasons, the highest is at 12 percent for “Doing a good job/best he can under difficult circumstances,” 11 percent for “Keeping his promises” and 10 percent for “does what is best for America.” The remainder is in the single digits for every category and they represent broad and general reasons.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll entitled “Public to Trump: Lay off Twitter (POLL)” also looked at Trump’s personality finding similar negative responses as Gallup’s poll. As ABC News noted, “70 percent say he’s acted in an unpresidential manner since taking office, 68 percent don’t see him as a positive role model and 67 percent disapprove of his use of Twitter.” Additionally, 57 percent “also say that the more they hear about Trump the less they like him, vs. 29 percent who like him more.” While 56 percent find his unpresidential behavior has a negative impact and is “damaging to the presidency overall.” Here even 38 percent of Republicans claim Trump has not behaved presidential. Only 24 percent of respondents find Trump’s behavior presidential.

Although Trump calls Twitter, his way to deliver his message directly to the American public while bypassing the news media, 67 percent of Americans disapprove of him using the social media site. Looking further at the president’s Twitter post, 68 percent said the tweets were inappropriate, 65 percent find them insulting, while 52 percent went further claiming the president’s tweets are dangerous. In contrast, of those supporting Trump’s tweets, 41 percent found them “interesting,” 36 percent “effective” and 21 percent went as far as saying they were “refreshing.”

Democrats, in particular, do not like or personally approve of the president and they also want him impeached a hope and call that started even before he entered the office and has only gotten louder since he fired Comey. A Monmouth University poll published on July 17, finds that only 39 percent approve of the president, while 52 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump. The poll asked about impeachment especially with the anger surrounding Trump’s son meeting with Russian operatives.

The poll says 40 percent of Americans want the president impeached over the Russia campaign interference controversy. Democrats represent the majority calling for impeachment with 70 percent, followed by 32 percent of independents and only 12 percent of Republicans. In 1973 at the start of the Watergate scandal, only 24 percent of Americans wanted President Richard Nixon impeached. A majority of Americans also found the Russia meeting “not appropriate” with 59 percent saying that, consisting of “86 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents, and 28 percent of Republicans.”

To be fair, the ABC News and Washington Post poll does not have a truly fair and bipartisan pool, which they surveyed. According to their methodology the poll was skewed with responses from 35% Democrats, 35% independents and only 23% Republicans. Naturally, Democrats and Democratically leaning Independents oppose Trump; they have never given him a chance since he was elected. For an entirely, non-biased survey, those responding had to be even distributing and independents had to be truly independent not leaning towards either party.

Americans do not feel any better about the Democrats than the y do about Trump, according to the ABC News / Washington Post poll, a majority of 52 percent said the Democrats “just stands against Trump.” Of Americans that feel that way about the party, 27 percent are Democrats, 55 percent are independents” and 82 percent are Republicans. Americans do feel Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote would not have been better than Trump. A new Bloomberg poll released on July 18, gave Trump a 41 percent approval rating, but Clinton had only a 39 percent approval rating. After a campaign, the losing party nominee’s ratings usually improve, but not Clinton partially because Trump keeps attacking her. Still, 20 percent of Clinton voters now say they did not like her and have an unfavorable view of her but only 6 percent of Trump voters feel the same.

In general, Americans are discontent with the current political situation, whether it is Trump, the Democrats, or the resistance movement. We are facing a political malaise not seen since the 1970s when Democrat Jimmy Carter named a speech those fateful and politically fatal words in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s ouster from the presidency earlier in the decade. On July 15, 1979, Carter delivered his Malaise speech to the nation, “The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America….” His words could easily describe the problem the nation faces again today.

The United States now too is facing a crisis of confidence, but it is a crisis because of partisanship. Three different polls Gallup, Reuters, and even the Conservative Rasmussen Reports all indicate that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied and believe the country is going on the wrong track, direction. According to the latest from Gallup from July 5–9, 2017, only 27 percent of Americans are satisfied with the country direction, while 71 percent are dissatisfied, up from 27 percent the month before. There have been lower numbers even in President Barack Obama’s time, in July 2016, October 2013, and from July 2011 to January 2012. The most recent Reuters poll published on July 20, has 58.8 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, with only 25.8 percent saying the country is moving in the right direction. The Rasmussen poll published on July 17, had similar results with 33 percent of respondents saying, “The country is heading in the right direction,” down from the mid- 40s when Trump first assumed office.

The partisanship is getting so extreme Democrats have no tolerance to speak even with Trump voters and supporters. A new Pew Research Center survey, entitled “Since Trump’s Election, Increased Attention to Politics — Especially Among Women” published on July 20, examined how Americans’ relationship to politics and friendships from opposing parties has affected them since Trump’s election. According to the poll, 47 percent of liberal Democrats find that if they had a friend that supported Trump it would put “a strain on their friendship.” Of all Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, 35 percent say it causes a strain. The feeling is worst among White and College educated Democrats with 40 percent and 44 percent feeling that way.

Republicans are feeling in a good and forgiving mood with their party controlling the White House and only 13 percent say it would “strain on a friendship” if a Democratic friend voted for Hillary Clinton. Never mind a friendship, the partisan sentiment has become so toxic that “68 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters say they find it “stressful and frustrating” to talk to people who have a different opinion of Trump. About half — 52 percent — of Republican and GOP-leaning voters say the same.”

Americans are deeply polarized and unsatisfied with the current state of politics, with Democrats bearing the biggest burden and negative attitudes. The problem is that do not realize that the toxic atmosphere is just as bad as they deem the president is or even worse because it causes tensions in normal interactions. The deep polarization and negativity are not necessary, the economy is doing well and growing, the country and Americans are prospering even with Trump as president.

As long as the United States exists, one party will occupy the White House, while the other sits out on the sidelines. However, the Constitution guarantees elections for president every four years and for Congress every two years, guarantees freedoms for its citizens and a checks balance on each of the three branches of government. No matter Trump’s personality and character, nothing can affect the Constitution. If Americans are dissatisfied, they have put their efforts and strengths toward the next election rather than remain negative. As the polls indicate, no matter Trump’s future in the White House, he will go down in his as the most polarizing president to date.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics May 2, 2017: Trump threatens government shutdown after Congress makes funding deal

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

White House Photo

President Donald Trump is not satisfied with the budget deal Congress made this past weekend and he is threatening a government shutdown. On Tuesday morning, May 2, 2017, President Trump tweeted two posts calling for either changing the filibuster rules in the Senate or a government shutdown so the White House and Congressional Republicans could force a budget without heading to Democrats. Later in the day, Trump backtracked and praised the bill White House Rose Garden at an event honoring the Air Force Academy football team. The threat comes only two days after Congress made a bipartisan deal to fund the government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year aimed at averting a government shutdown on the GOP’s watch.

The disgruntled president took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the Congressional budget deal. Trump wrote in two tweets, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to the president’s concerns at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. Ryan commiserated, “Look, we have a long ways to go between now and September, but I share the president’s frustration. I feel good about the wins we got with the administration in this bill.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the president’s request to change Senate legislative rules to prevent a filibuster at 60 votes to a simple majority. McConnell replied, “That will not happen.” Continuing, the Senate leader explained, “There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar.”

Later, President Trump seemed to have changed his mind about the bill hailing it as a victory. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump expressed, “After years of partisan bickering and gridlock, this bill is a clear win for the American people.” Continuing the President said, “We brought lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle to deliver a budget that funds the rebuilding of the United States military, makes historic investments in border security and provides health care for our miners and school choice for our disadvantaged children.” Trump also praised the increase in funds allotted for border security, claiming, “We achieved the single largest increase in border security funding in 10 years. So we have more money now for the border than we’ve gotten in 10 years,” Trump said. “The Democrats didn’t tell you that.”

At the White House Daily Press Briefing Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney rationalized the President’s first response to the budget deal. Mulvaney explained, “I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try to spike the football and make him look bad. I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take.” The OMB Director did not take a possible government shutdown off the table, saying, “We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats are not going to behave any better than they have the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”

The bipartisan budget deal reached on Sunday evening, April 30, went against President Trump’s wishes in certain key areas. There was no down payment allotted for the proposed border wall with Mexico, an important campaign pledge for the president. Neither did the budget cut funding for Planned Parenthood, something the GOP has wanted to do for a long time. Trump also wanted to cut funding for Obamacare subsidies, the budget will cover them. Sanctuary cities will also remain funded much to the president’s chagrin.

The budget does increase funding to certain key areas. There is a $15 billion increase in military spending, with $1.5 billion going to border security. The National Institute of Health will see a bump of $2 billion in funding. The Environment Protection Agency’s funding remains almost the same, but more funding is going to clean energy and science. Additionally, $68 million goes to New York and Florida to reimburse them for their state spending to protect the president and his family.

The deal also allocates more money to solve some outstanding issues, including miners’ health insurance, Puerto Rico Medicaid, transit infrastructure grants, year-round Pell Grants and fighting the opioid epidemic. There were also funded increases for national disasters in California, West Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Republicans had to cave in to Democrats’ demands on “poison pills” to avert a government shutdown, which would have been disastrous for the GOP because they control Congress and the White House.

Congress was originally set to shut down on April 29, until they passed a short-term spending bill that lasts until Friday, May 5. The House passed the bill 382–30 on Friday, April 28, the Senate followed suit, and the president signed the bill soon after averting a shutdown with a day left to the deadline. Despite his opposition to the new omnibus bill that will fund the government through September, Trump has no plans to force a shutdown now and intends to sign the bill. A budget fight, however, looms over the 2018 fiscal year, and the government could see another shutdown in October.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics April 27, 2017: Trump sees lowest 100-day marks in recent history, but is the milestone that important?

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By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald Trump is planning a big rally to celebrate his first 100-days in office, as polls indicate that the new president has the worst 100-day mark approval rating in recent history. President Trump announced on Saturday, April 22, 2017, via Twitter a “big rally” in Pennsylvania on April 29, the same day as his presidency becomes 100- days old. Meanwhile, Three polls released this week, two on Sunday, April 23, ABC News/Washington Postand NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicated Trump had a 42 and 41 percent approval rating. Days later, on Wednesday, April 26, CNN/ORC pollgave Trump a higher approval rating of 44 percent. Still, these polls show that Trump has the lowest approval rating of all elected post-World War II presidents at the 100-day mark, but does that benchmark really translate into presidential success.

The rally on Trump’s 100th day of his presidency will be held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and is sponsored by his reelection campaign. The rally will also be on the same night as the annual White House correspondents’ dinner, which Trump has long said he will not attend because of his feud with the mainstream media over their coverage of him from the campaign through his presidency. On Saturday, April 22, the president tweeted his followers, announcing the event, “Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it.”

Neither Trump nor is campaign is billing the event as honoring the president’s 100-days. As Trump is approaching his 100-day mark, he is downing playing the importance of the milestone. The previous day, on April 21, Trump called the 100-days a “ridiculous standard.” The President tweeted, “No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!” A White House official commented the milestone is about the voters, not the news media. The official explained, “The media is trying to make this about them when — respectively it has nothing to do with you guys. It’s about focusing on the people.”

Three polls released this past week, gave the public a chance to grade the president. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday, April 23, saw Trump with only a 42 percent approval rating, with 53 percent of American disapproving of his job so far. People who voted for Trump, however, are not feeling buyer’s remorse, 96 percent say it was “the right thing to do,” while only two percent have any regrets.

Trump’s numbers are better when it comes to how Americans view specific actions in his presidency. An overwhelming 73 percent of Americans seem to approve of Trump’s America first policy that has “pressured companies: into keeping jobs in the country. A majority of 53 percent sees Trump as a strong leader. Concerning foreign policy, Trump is getting middling grades with dealing with an aggressive North Korea, with 46 percent approving of his tactics. Despite some good numbers, no other president elected in the post-World War II has had such low approval rating at this point in their presidency.

Another poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday also does not give Trump good grades. The poll found that 46 percent of Americans say the Trump presidency is “off to a poor start,” only 35 percent say it has had a “good or great start,” while 19 percent are in between saying it is a “fair start.” The NBC/WSJ poll also gave Trump a worse approval rating than the ABC News / Washington Post poll with only 40 percent. Trump’s disapproval rating is almost the same at 54 percent. Trump does get some high marks for his foreign policy, 62 percent of Americans approve of his decisive military strikes against Syria after a chemical attack on their citizens, with 50 percent approving of his course against civil-war ridden country.

The CNN/ORC poll released another poll on Wednesday evening, April 26, which found that nearly the 100-day mark, Trump had a 44 percent approval rating and a 54 percent disapproval rating. Trump’s favorability numbers are around the same as his approval rating, with the American public having a 45 percent favorable view of the president and a 53 percent unfavorable view. The numbers are very much partisan, Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the president with 85 percent saying so, while only 8 percent of Democrats say the same.

The poll was mostly negative, with a majority dissatisfied with Trump’s approach to the presidency in almost every facet. His approval ratings on some issues are as low as the 20s and 30s percent, and they have fallen since his election in November. Even his ability to change the country is now negative with only 48 percent believing he can versus 51 percent of Americans saying he cannot. The president, however, is even losing ground within his party with less satisfied with his actions and abilities on different fronts. CNN’s bleak poll indicates the honeymoon is over with Trump and the GOP and that there barely was one with the president and the majority of Americans.

CNN broke down their marks for Trump also by area; some Trump did better while others he lost ground since entering the office. The president has lost points in his handling of immigration and health care, because of his travel bans and his failed first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. On those issues, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s actions. Trump’s numbers are “steady” when it comes to “foreign affairs, national security and the role of commander-in-chief.” Trump is excelling with his handling of the military issues 52 percent approving, the way the country is going 54 percent and the economy at 54 percent approving.

Gallup Poll’s first quarter assessment of Trump’s presidency determined that the president’s average approval is 41 percent, while 46 percent of Americans voted for him. Trump’s approval rating is also approximately 20 percent lower than when other presidents completed their first 100-days, where the average since 1945 is 63 percent. Looking at each post-war president, the numbers show an even larger contrast. The highest showing was John F. Kennedy, who had almost double Trump’s approval rating with 81 percent in April 1961. The lowest numbers were still 17 points higher than Trump, when in April 1989; George H. W. Bush had a 58 percent approval rating.

According to Gallup, here is a rundown of the 100-day approval ratings of all elected presidents since World War II:

Barack Obama 63 Apr 2009
George W. Bush 61 Apr 2001
Bill Clinton 55 Apr 1993
George H.W. Bush 58 Apr 1989
Ronald Reagan 67 Apr 1981
Jimmy Carter 64 Apr 1977
Richard Nixon 62 Apr 1969
John Kennedy 81 Apr 1961
Dwight Eisenhower 74 Apr 1953

President Trump thinks his presidency is successful despite what polls and the press says. Trump has signed up to now 34 executive orders, more than any other president in recent history during their first 100-days. The president has had a Supreme Court Justice confirmed with Neil Gorsuch; on the world stage, he has met with many of the major leaders and asserted his military might in Syria and Afghanistan. Still, the president has not yet had any real legislative success with his major campaign promises, including repealing and replacing Obamacare, tax reform, travel and immigration ban, infrastructure plan or border wall with Mexico.

The White House boasts President Trump signed 28 new laws in first three months but most have minor, including repealing Obama-era rules, personal appointments, veterans’ recognitions, modifying programs, encouraging innovations in government agencies and one extension of an Obama era program. President Trump only saw one major bill extending health care choice for veterans, the tip of the iceberg to Trump’s lofty agenda.

Despite his protests, President Trump is planning a mad dash in the upcoming week before he reaches his 100th day. Congress failed to put the American Health Care Act to a vote in March, and but they plan to introduce the bill with amendments again this week this time with the Freedom Caucus’ endorsement. Trump also outlined his tax reform plan this week, and the White House announced that the president’s infrastructure plan has a summer deadline.

Trump’s major failure has been with his travel ban, which the administration will argue for the second time in Federal Appeals Court after an earlier ban and the present one saw injunctions halting their implementation. The president was also dealt a setback right before his 100-day when a federal judge struck down his attempt to defund sanctuary cities harboring illegal immigrants. The president’s greatest test has an April 29 deadline. President Trump will have a chance to prove his deal making skills and avert a government shutdown, the first budget showdown of his presidency.

The 100-day mark to gauge the early success or failures of the new president started with President Franklin Roosevelt (1933–1945). Roosevelt was elected in the midst of the Great Depression, with almost total economic and bank collapse and15 million or 20 percent of the American public unemployed. In this crisis, Roosevelt set the benchmark having signed 15 bills into law. Roosevelt marked his 100th day with a fireside chat, updating the American public recounted what he has accomplished in 3000 words. In his address Roosevelt explained, “I think that we all wanted the opportunity of a little quiet thought to examine and assimilate in a mental picture the crowding events of the hundred days which had been devoted to the starting of the wheels of the New Deal…We have built a granite foundation in a period of confusion.”

Early success does not mean a successful presidency and neither does early failure doom the presidency. Everywhere you look, journalists and academics are giving Trump grades for this milestone period, and many are unkind as has been the case with coverage and analysis of Trump’s campaign, transition and now presidency.

Some historians do not see the 100-day mark as important. Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University recently told the Atlantic that grading a president at this early stage could be counterproductive. Zelizer analyzed, “Asking how presidents did in the first 100 days, usually tells us little about what is to come and might even create the exact political incentives we need to avoid.”

Meanwhile, Morton Keller, a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University, who wrote the article with Zelizer, concurs, and does not believe historians should rush to early judgments on a Trump presidency. Keller explained, “This is no time to attempt a conclusive assessment of what the Trump presidency is up to, and where it is heading. The media savants who explain politics to the masses appear to be quite certain of their positions, varied though they are. As historians, we are duty-bound to withhold judgment when the available evidence is as varied and conflicting as, just now, it is.”

Another historian that agrees the milestone is not indicative is Fredrik Logevall, “a presidential historian and an international affairs professor at Harvard University” Logevall spoke to the Washington Post telling them, “I think what history tells us is that it’s an arbitrary benchmark. It hasn’t correlated very much with subsequent success or failure. Whether an administration has success or not really depends on the four years, or eight years if you have two terms.”

Other historians are being harsher in their assessments. Presidential historian Robert Dallek told USA Today, “At this point, I’d give him essentially a failing grade.” Dallek pointed out, “There are no legislative accomplishments, zero,” the plan to repeal and replace the Obamacare “seems to be in suspended animation.” Dallek is probably making an extreme assessment than most. Even the mainstream media Trump calls fake news are running articles that share the view that 100-day s do not indicate the successes or failures of an entire presidency neither do they foreshadow what is to come.

While Roosevelt’s legislative accomplishments were unique, other presidents have passed lasting legislation in their first 100 days. Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969), Barack Obama (2009–2017), and George W. Bush (2001–2009). John son and Obama had the best legislative success, because their party, the Democrats concurrently controlled both Houses of Congress, and were popular with their party. Circumstances surrounding their entry to the presidency also made passing their agenda more urgent.

Johnson, who had been Senate Majority Leader when Kennedy tapped him for Vice President, was known as the Master of Senate. Johnson was the first of the two post-war presidents who were not elected; he came into power after Kennedy’s assassination. In his first 100-days, Johnson was able to ride the wave of pursuing Kennedy’s agenda and had legislative victories with most notably the Civil Rights Act. In his first 100 days after he was elected with a landslide victory in 1964, that saw Democratic control of Congress, Johnson continued to have legislative success with the bulk of his Great Society program, including, “the Voting Rights Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, immigration reform, and Medicare and Medicaid.” After the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, Johnson became mired in Vietnam, which ended his legislative strike and any more expansion of his Great Society.

Obama was also able to catch the legislative magic in his first 100-days after his historic election becoming the first African-American president. After the 2008 election, Congress remained controlled by the Democrats, leading to a string of victories for the new president, including, “the Recovery Act, U.S. auto industry bailout, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, and then a year later in 2010, his legacy making legislation the Affordable Care Act. Obama never had more legislative success after Democrats lost the House of Representatives in the 2010-midterm elections. Obama like Roosevelt inherited a country in economic turmoil, this time a Great Recession where Democrats gave him a blank check to pursue his agenda.

When the same party controls the White House, Congress a president can more easily pursue his legislative agenda, that was not the case with Carter, and neither is turning out to be with Trump. The reason, both were outsiders elected against the Washington establishment and then found resistance from within their party in Congress. In 1976, Carter was an outsider with an ambitious agenda that failed in his first 100-days, planned legislation included “tax reform, infrastructure, and energy independence.” Carter did not have the relationship with Congress, the Washington insiders he needed to make his campaign promises a reality. Trump is facing the same problem with the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare; he is facing resistance from not only Democrats but also different factions of the GOP, including the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus.

Both Clinton and George W. Bush had successes and failures early in their presidencies. In 1993, Clinton raised taxes with the help of a Democratic-controlled Congress but faced a backlash for his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military. In 2001, Bush cut taxes as Reagan did 20 years before and laid out the groundwork for his education legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush, however, was later blamed for the 9/11 terrorist attacks for not heeding the signs of a major terrorist attack on the nation. In 1981, Reagan successfully cut taxes, but his 100-days were rocked with an attempted assassination attempt two months after taking office, earning him goodwill with Congress, but cutting his accomplishments in that milestone period.

Foreign policy has been the cause of two post-war presidents stumbling in their first 100-days. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush faced tests too early in their presidencies that were failures. In 1961, Kennedy continued with his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower’s planned coup in Communist Cuba to get rid of its leader Fidel Castro. Kennedy’s Administration altered the original invasion plan and the “Bay of Pigs” became Kennedy’s biggest blunder of his new presidency coming just days before his 100th day. In 1989, Bush also was confronted with Cold War crises and his administration blundered. Bush had to deal with the Tiananmen Square massacre and then later in the year after a failed coup as Kennedy did, but this time, it was in Panama.

In 1993, Clinton probably faced the greatest national security threat in his first 100 days than any other post-World War II president. Just barely a month after Clinton assumed the presidency; terrorists bombed the garage in the World Trade Center in New York. The attack that killed six and injured 1000 saw the perpetrators face the criminal justice system. Clinton never wanted to acknowledge the attack as terrorism, which allowed al-Qaeda to ramp up their attacks on the US. Afterward, there were bombings in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and then in 2000 on the USS Cole. Clinton responded with targeted missile attacks but never did more to solve the increasing problem and danger. Clinton’s actions after the attack might not have seemed like a failure at the time, but in retrospect, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Clinton’s inaction was the greatest 100-days failure because it led to the greatest terrorist attack on American soil.

In the post-World War period, only Ford fared worse in the polls than Trump at the 100-day mark, mostly because he pardoned Nixon after he resigned from the presidency in August 1974, which led to Ford assuming the office. While the other presidents’ had higher approval ratings than Trump does at the 100-day mark, most had some failures or setbacks in that early period and their major legislative successes and the policy that defined their presidencies came later, for other they never could recapture that early success. Periods of crises have led to the most productive first 100-days out of necessity, like Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama.

The problem is the benchmark Roosevelt created has pressured many of his successors, including Johnson, Nixon and even Trump. Despite his successes, Johnson wanted to pass the most legislation as possible; Nixon created the Hundred Days Group and during the campaign, Trump made his “Contract With the American Voter” in a speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The contract was “a 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.”

Trump promised in his contract, “On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities and honesty to our government. This is my pledge to you.” Among those pledges were 10 bills including repealing and replacing Obamacare on his first day in office. The president’s goals were too lofty. Kennedy, although the youngest elected in the post-war period, he was also the wisest when it came to the presidential milestone. In his inaugural address, he expressed, “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration … but let us begin.”

The 100-day mark is too early in a presidency to determine success or failure. Neither is looking at Roosevelt’s accomplishments a fair standard. Each presidency and their time are different. Trump was the only president in history to be elected without a political or military background. The first weeks were chaos not only from within the White House but the negative response from the press and public that made governing difficult. Now, cooler heads are prevailing and despite some negativity and bias, Trump is being treated, as a president should from the press, Democrats, and dissenters within the Republican Party. With that in mind, Trump’s next 100-days could be more worthy of watching and marking than his first.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics April 16, 2017: Gorsuch becomes 113th Supreme Court Justice after historic Senate vote

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Gorsuch becomes 113th Supreme Court Justice after historic Senate vote

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch becomes the 113th Supreme Court justice after two swearing-in ceremonies on Monday, April 10, 2017. Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation on Friday, April 7, was historic as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the “nuclear option” requiring only a simple majority to confirm Gorsuch and future nominees. Gorsuch was sworn in at two ceremonies, the first was a brief 10-minute ceremony at the Supreme Court building, and then one at the White House’s Rose Garden were President Donald Trump spoke first, and then Gorsuch was sworn in. Gorsuch’s wife Marie Louise and their daughters were present at both ceremonies.

Along partisan lines, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice Friday morning, April 7, 2017. The Senate voted 54–45 for confirming President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s confirmation ended a yearlong drama to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February 2016. In the time the Supreme Court acted with only eight justices, this will be the first time the court is again full with nine members. The court also regains its balance of four conservative and liberal justices with Justice Anthony Kennedy serving as the swing vote.

The Senate vote was mostly along partisan lines with only three Democrats breaking ranks and joining their Republican colleagues in supporting Gorsuch’s nomination. The Democrats were Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. These same Democrats voted with Republicans for cloture and in opposition to the Democratic filibuster earlier in the week.

The battle to fill Scalia’s seat was a bitter partisan one. Last year former President Barack Obama promptly nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland to the vacant seat. As it was in an election year, Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused even to consider Obama’s nominee. McConnell believed the next president should fill the seat. Republicans hoped it would be a Republican president since any candidate from a Democrat would have shifted the balanced and created a liberal court.

For over a year, the seat remained vacant as the Supreme Court operated with just eight justices until President Trump entered the office and nominated Gorsuch. Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Graduating in 1991 with former President Barack Obama. Gorsuch has long held conservative views espousing them as an undergraduate writing for the school paper, The Columbia Daily Spectator and co-founding the Conservative The Federalist Paper.

Gorsuch held two clerkships after graduating law school. First for Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then Supreme Court justices, Anthony M. Kennedy and Byron R. White, who retired in 1993. After making partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, Gorsuch returned to University for his doctorate at Oxford University in legal philosophy, which Oxford conferred to him in 2004.

Starting in 2005, Gorsuch served in U.S. Department of Justice as “principal deputy to the associate attorney general.” Gorsuch returned to his birthplace in 2006 when he was appointed by Former President George W. Bush to be “a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.” The Senate confirmed Gorsuch “without opposition.” Gorsuch is also the author of one book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.”

Eleven years later, Democrats still upset over Republicans refusing to consider Obama’s nominee immediately balked at Gorsuch. They deemed him too conservative, and they found him evasive on how he would decide on issues close to Democrats during his confirmation hearing.

When the Senate was scheduled to vote on Gorsuch, Democrats planned to block the vote, by rallying for filibuster gathering 41 Democrats to stand firm in opposition. The rules required 60 votes for cloture, “ending the debate,” and advancing the vote. Republicans controlled the Senate, but with only 52 votes, they needed Democrats to help them meet 60 votes, necessary, only three Democrats planned to vote with Republicans and voted for cloture.

The only way Republicans could confirm Gorsuch was to use the nuclear option, a change of the rules for confirming Supreme Court justices from a 60-vote threshold to a simple majority of 51. The option ends the need for bipartisan cooperation to confirm Supreme Court judges. The concept is not novel; Democrats first invoked the nuclear option in 2013. Then Democrat and Senate Majority Harry Reid invoked the option when Republicans stalled on confirming Obama’s nominees and lower court judges.

McConnell was intent not to let Democrats oppose a qualified candidate. On Tuesday, April 4, he promised: “One way or the other, we will confirm Judge Gorsuch.” On Thursday, April 6, McConnell was still reluctant to go forward with changing the Senate voting rules. McConnell begged Democrats on the Senate floor not to block Gorsuch.

The Senate Majority Leader said, “So let me say this to my Democratic colleagues: If you truly cannot support the nomination of this eminently qualified nominee, then at least allow the bipartisan majority of the Senate that supports Gorsuch to take an up-or-down vote. You already deployed the nuclear option in 2013. Don’t trigger it again in 2017.”

After the vote for cloture had failed by a vote of 55 to 45, McConnell invoked the rules changing “nuclear option.” After a vote to keep the present rules requiring 60 votes had failed 48 to 52, the rules were changed to a simple majority. After a second cloture vote, the motion to advance the nomination passed. The vote ensured Gorsuch would be confirmed after the 30-hour debate period finished.

The vote altered the Senate forever. The only Senate rule left intact requiring 60 votes is for legislation. The nuclear option ensured that bipartisanship was dead in the Senate, neither party when in power could stop the confirmation process for Supreme Court justices. The option already left Democrats powerless to object to any of Trump’s cabinet nominees. Now lifetime appointments affecting the law of the land can be granted with partisan blind faith. Although Gorsuch was qualified and a fitting replacement to Scalia keeping the court balanced, both Democrats and in the future Republicans will remain powerless to stop a candidate less worthy.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics April 16, 2017: Not fake, but the news media is sacrificing accuracy for political bias

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Not fake, but the news media is sacrificing accuracy for political bias

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump and his administration have been waging a war with the mainstream media, calling their coverage fake news, while not necessary fake, their coverage is becoming extremely partisan, and the American public agrees. A recent Gallup poll published on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, found that 62 percent of Americans view political bias mostly favoring the Democrats. The numbers represented a stark contrast to 20 years ago when less than 50 percent saw bias in the in the news reporting. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of fake news, the mainstream media is facing similar criticism as fringe news sources because of their partisan and biased viewpoint. The media’s partisanship is also making them sacrifice accuracy for political favoritism and is being scolded not only by President Donald Trump but also by the American public.

According to Gallup’s latest poll, 62 percent of Americans find “the news media generally favors one political party over the other.” While only 27 percent still believe the news media is still non-partisan. The numbers grew in that last 20 years. According to Gallup in 1995, only 47 percent believed the media was politically biased, with 48 percent saying they are politically neutral. By 2001, the numbers were already changing, with 51 percent saying there is a political bias versus 41 percent saying there is none. In 2003, the numbers reversed to 48 percent saying there was bias versus 46 percent saying there was none. The numbers correspond with the growth of the partisan divide in the country between Democrats and Republicans in presidential approval ratings.

Fast forward to 2017, and Americans believe political bias has taken over the news media. Republicans, however, are feeling the bias more than Democrats are. Now, 77 percent of Republicans believe the news media is politically biased, while in 2003, only 59 percent of Republicans felt that way. Somehow, Democrats do not seem to believe the news media is any more biased than it was in 2003, then and now only 44 percent of Democrats believe the media biased.

Democrats might not be feeling the bias because it is usually in their favor. According to the Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans think the news media favors the Democrats, while only 22 percent believe it favors the Republicans. Republicans are overwhelmingly accusing the news media of the bias, with 88 percent feeling that way. The Democrats seem far more oblivious to the partisan bias in their favor, with 43 percent believing there is a bias towards their party, but 40 percent believe there is bias in the media towards Republicans.

Americans have long felt that the media had a liberal/Democratic bias, in 1995, 53 percent felt there was a bias towards Democrats with 36 percent believing the bias was towards Republicans. In 2001, 57 thought it was towards Democrats, 30 percent towards Republicans, in 2003, the numbers were almost even 48 percent for Democrats and 42 percent for Republicans.

The 2016 presidential election, brought to the forefront fake news and inaccurate reporting, problems that have been lingering for a while. The Gallup poll examined the phenomenon among the mainstream media’s reporting practices. According to their findings, 55 percent of Americans find the mainstream news’ reporting “often inaccurate,” while only 36 percent find their report accurate.

The American public’s trust of the media has a complicated history, and the distrust is hardly new. The distrust has been above 50 percent five other times in the past 30 years. Media distrust was high in 1986, during the Iran-Contra Scandal with 55 percent and again in 1990 with 54 percent. At the end of the decade, distrust also hit a high note in 1999, during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment resulting from the Monica Lewinsky scandal with 50 percent of Americans claiming inaccurate reporting.

Again, in 2000, during the controversial presidential election between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush decided by the Supreme Court with 65 percent where there was the highest rate of distrust until now. Then again, in 2003, during the Iraq War, 58 percent of Americans found the news media inaccurate. The divisive and highly partisan election in 2016 between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton again led to feelings of inaccurate reporting. This election saw the most partisan reporting by the mainstream media and inaccurate polls all tipping the election in Clinton’s favor. Newsweek even prematurely released a special election edition of their magazine with the headline Madame President a nod to a history-making Clinton presidency, which they had to withdraw from sale after Trump’s surprise win.

Trump spent the campaign angry at the news media for the biased reporting in Clinton’s favor. Even after they were proved wrong, the media continued attacking Trump and his victory’s legitimacy. Then, barely a month into his presidency, Trump had enough and waged an all-out war with the news media calling the New York Times, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC News “fake news.” The sources Trump called out used to be the most reliable in the business. They included the biggest name in print the New York Times, the first 24-hour cable news channel, CNN and the original big three networks ABC, CBS, and NBC that American considered the gospel before the explosion of the 24-hour news cycle.

Trump went after the mainstream news media on Twitter calling them the “enemy of the American People!” His fight continued in his speeches, particularly at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and shutting them out of a press gaggle with press secretary Sean Spicer. The war culminated in President Trump and the White House boycotting the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner.

If not entirely fake news, the news media have become hyper-partisan as the Gallup poll proved, that it is clouding their dissemination of the facts before the public, clear of political bias or influence, where they have been demonizing the president and every word, he says. Professional journalism condemned the president’s criticism, but he is right. The media bias is not professional or maintaining standards all Americans no matter their political affiliation expects. If they intend to be partisan, they have honestly given a disclaimer saying the reporting is not objective but biased.

Trump is not alone; Americans are expressing their disdain for the current state of the news media. In another Gallup poll released in September looked at the “amount of trust in the media.” The poll found as ABC News recounts, “that only 32 percent of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media — a new low, that includes 51 percent of Democrats, 30 percent of independents and only 14 percent of Republicans.” The numbers were considered a new low, looking at the partisan breakdown the liberal bias in the media caters to Democrats leaving Republicans profoundly alienated. The numbers are the reason why during the election, conservatives overwhelmingly turned to Fox News to escape the liberal bias, catapulting the network to the top of the rating pack.

Today’s news media are harkening back to the early days of the Republic, where partisan presses that were party sponsored flourished, they remained the norm and majority through the 19th century, only at the dawn of the 20th century did independent non-Party aligned presses proliferated. Although Trump might be the most critical president of the news since Richard Nixon, the comparison is hardly accurate. Nixon’s attacks were while he attempted to stave off and cover up Watergate. Trump is a new president speaking out, during a time when partisanship is polarizing the nation as never before.

As aforementioned, the news media overwhelmingly supported Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign to the point of blindly reporting she was ahead in the campaign polls and was going to win the election. Of the newspapers and magazine editorial boards throughout the country 38 endorsed Clinton, while only two endorsed Trump. The news media ignored the mood among the public where three traditionally Democratic blue states turned red, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin handing Trump the election and the presidency. Since Clinton won the popular vote while Trump won the all-important Electoral College vote, liberals have never been able to forgive him, and are vehemently protesting his every word. For the news media, Trump’s campaign was golden, and attacking has proven beneficial to a business level, at the sacrifice of honest reporting.

Political journalism today, eschews facts, relying more on opinion and editorials while claiming it is factual reporting. The problem might be forgivable when it involves bloggers or aggregate news sites that thrive on the sensational, but it becomes problematic when the new sources Americans rely on interjecting the political feeling into their reporting when striving for objectivity is the objective. In the constant competitive 24-hour cycle, digital be clicked to survive the world, journalism is falling into the trap and sacrificing their principles. These days journalists are being too carried away with the old adage if bleeds it leads and taking it to new levels of bleeding a stone just to lead.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics March 28, 2017: Trump’s record low approval rating first in presidential history

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Trump’s record low approval rating first in presidential history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President Donald Trump’s approval rating numbers are sinking fast. The latest Gallup Poll released on Sunday, March 26, 2017, indicated that the president now has a 36 percent approval rating. The number is ten points less than his high of 46 percent just after his inauguration. Trump may not have the lowest approval rating in Gallup’s history, but it is the lowest so early in a presidential term. The poll comes just after the House of Representatives failed to vote on their Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

After just over two months in office, Trump’s approval rating is tumbling. The president has a 36 approval rating with a disapproval rating of 57 percent. The disapproval rating is not Trump’s highest on record for his short presidency; on March 18, he had a 58 percent disapproval rating. The approval rating number is also lower than his predecessor Barack Obama’s eight-year term. Obama had a 38 percent approval rating; however, it was in late in his first term in 2011 and his second term in office in 2014.

Trump’s first term low is only comparable to Democrat Bill Clinton (1993–2000). Clinton had a 37 percent approval rating during the summer of 1993, six months into his term. Clinton’s approval rating went on to rebound to 56 percent by September. Clinton also ended up serving two presidential terms, and he had one of the highest approval rating averages of all post-war presidents. Clinton’s low numbers early on did signify bad news for his party, the Democrats during the midterm elections. In November 1994, the Democrats lost the House of Representatives to the Republicans.

Gerald Ford (1974–1977) also saw 37 percent approval rating in his first year in office in January 1975, five months after assuming the office upon Nixon’s resignation mostly over his pardon of Nixon. Ford’s story did not have the positive ending Clinton did; Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.

The Gallup Poll was conducted just after the Republicans failed to garner enough support to repeal and replace Obamacare. The repeal was a significant promise Republicans made to their constituents since the health care bill first passed in 2010. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the presidency, the time seemed ripe for a change in the legislation. The conservative House Freedom Caucus, however, found the bill to moderate and too much like Obamacare Lite that their opposition tanked the bill.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was scrambling on Friday, March 24 to garner enough votes to pass the bill, but without the Freedom Caucus or any Democrats intending to vote in favor, the bill simply did not have enough votes, and Ryan decided to pull it upon the president’s request. With Trump’s five-point drop in his approval rating in one week, from 41 percent to 36 percent it is clear, Americans are blaming the president for failing to close the deal.

Trump’s approval rating numbers are not the lowest in presidential history. According to Gallup, the following presidents all saw their numbers below 36 percent during their presidencies. They include “Presidents George W. Bush (25%), George H.W. Bush (29%), Ronald Reagan (35%), Jimmy Carter (28%), Richard Nixon (24%), Lyndon Johnson (35%) and Harry Truman (22%).”

A low presidential approval rating is not all bad news for a president. The entire above-mentioned presidents saw their numbers improve except for Nixon, who went to resign in 1974 the presidency over the Watergate scandal. Trump, however, has his brewing scandal over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign that swung the election to his favor. Inquiries are now trying to determine whether Trump campaign officials or even the president was involved in Russia’s election interference.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics March 10, 2017: Historians predict impeachment Trump presidency will not survive Russia scandal

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Historians predict impeachment Trump presidency will not survive Russia scandal

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The way the Trump campaign transition Russia contact scandal is growing one historian believes Donald Trump will be forcibly removed from office in one of the shortest presidencies in American history. Ronald L. Feinman, a history professor at Florida Atlantic University, revealed his prediction for the longevity of a Trump presidency in a blog post on the History News Network, entitled “Donald Trump Is On His Way to Second or Third Shortest Presidency in American History,” published February 15, 2017. Historian Allan Lichtman, who successfully predicted Trump’s election, also predicts the new president might be impeached. Only the developing scandal with Russia gives these historians fantasy theories a little realism.

According to Feinman, Trump’s presidency would “likely between the 31 days of William Henry Harrison in 1841 (dying of pneumonia) and the 199 days of James A. Garfield in 1881 (dying of an assassin’s bullet after 79 days of terrible suffering and medical malpractice).” At the most, Feinman states Trump’s presidency “is unlikely to last the 16 months and five days of 12th President Zachary Taylor, who died of a digestive ailment while Head of State in 1850.”

Feinman is the author of the recently released book, “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama” (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). Unlike the presidents Feinman wrote about in his book; he believes Trump would be either be impeached or forced to resign, which is why he is accounting for a possible longer “dragged out,” term. One of the possible ways, Feinman sees Trump leaving the presidency besides impeachment or resignation is that “Pence could, even if Trump vehemently opposed it, invoke the 25th Amendment, Section 4 with the approval of a majority of the cabinet, which would make Pence “Acting President.” Some might call it a “palace coup, “ but Pence could make a convincing case that it is too risky to leave Trump in power.”

The Florida Atlantic University professor wrote his post just as Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign because he lied about his contact with Russian officials before Trump’s inauguration and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the contacts. The scandal has clearly grown. Now Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the former Senator from Alabama lied at his Senate confirmation hearing about being in contact with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice before the election.

Other members of Trump’s inner circle including Senior Adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was present at a meeting with the Russian ambassador before the inauguration. At question is whether Trump and his campaign worked with Russia to get him elected. Russia did help Trump by hacking the Democratic National Committee and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s email accounts and then transferring them to WikiLeaks, who posted them online.

Now it has been discovered that Trump met the Russian ambassador during the campaign at a receiving line before delivering foreign policy address at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. During the speech Trump, said, “I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength — is possible.” The White House however, vehemently denied any negotiations between the two at the time in an official statement. Additionally, a senior White House official explained, “If they met, it was in passing at arrival reception hosted by National Interest which [Trump] was present at for all of 5 minutes. We arrived minutes before the speech began and departed immediately after.”

Trump has repeatedly denied any contacts or relationship with Russia, recently stating, “Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything.” Still, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling for investigations, Republicans will have no choice to heed to the demands for the sake of the party, with Senate and House intelligence committees looking into investigations and questioning Flynn. Sessions has already recused himself from any potential investigation the Justice Department may conduct.

Besides the Russia investigation, which had not fully exploded when Feinman wrote his blog post, he listed other causes that could lead to a Trump impeachment. Feinman explained, “Many foreign policy professionals are shaking their head at Trump’s inappropriate behavior and language every time he speaks in public, or issues a Twitter comment, and his instability and recklessness.” The historian also mentioned Trump talking the North Korean missile test in the public dining room at his Mar-a-Lago resort, his fight on the phone with the Australian Prime Minister, his speaking with Taiwan upsetting China, his position on Israel, respect for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and criticism of NATO.

Professor Feinman also believes “The Pence Presidency seems inevitable.” He pointed out that “Pence is already asserting himself with Trump, and it seems clear that Pence will not stand by and allow our foreign policy to be damaged, or our national security to be endangered.” Discussing Pence’s credentials Feinman calls the former one-term Indiana-Governor and former Congressman an “establishment Republican,” “a no-nonsense, hard-nosed Republican whose strong Christian convictions have shaped his politics.” Feinman notes that Pence’s “stands on issues” have “alienated moderate Republicans in his state.”

Feinman is not the first historian to predict that Trump could be impeached Allan Lichtman also predicted, shortly after Trump’s election that he would be impeached. Lichtman, however, successfully predicted that Trump would win the election, unlike Feinman, who thought Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would win in an Electoral College landslide. Lichtman was predicting just a week after the election, that “There’s a very good chance that Donald Trump could face impeachment.”

Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, has been successfully predicting presidential elections since 1984. Lichtman again this year laid out his case in the book, “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016.” Lichtman uses keys, “a set of 13 true/false statements. If six of them are false, the incumbent party loses the presidency.” The keys are rooted in a “historically based prediction system that were founded on the study of every presidential election from 1860 to 1980.”

Using this method, Lichtman has been right for every election since 1984, except 2000, where Democratic nominee Al Gore won the popular vote, and Republican George W. Bush won the Electoral College vote only after the Supreme Court awarded him Florida’s Electoral College votes. Lichtman might have used a semi-scientific method for predicting the election results, but his prediction on Trump’s impeachment is based on his “instinct.”

Lichtman had some reasons to back up his claims, arguing, “First of all, throughout his life, he has played fast and loose with the law. He has run an illegal charity in New York state. He has made an illegal campaign contribution to that charity. He has used the charity to settle personal business debts. He faces a RICO lawsuit.”

The probability that a Republican-controlled Congress would impeach Trump seems improbable, but Lichtman does not think so. According to the American University professor, “The Republicans are nervous about Donald Trump. He is a loose cannon. Nobody knows what he really believes or really where he stands. He can’t be controlled. The Republicans would vastly prefer to have Mike Pence, an absolutely predictable down-the-pipe conservative Republican.”

Both are known as liberals and Democrats, whose predictions may be tinged with bias. If it would not be for the growing scandal around Russian contacts within the Trump campaign before his inauguration and Democratic calls for an independent counsel to investigate, Feinman’s blog post might sound utterly sensational; a liberal fantasy baits click.

In fact, many of Feinman hypotheticals seem that way, the professor’s tone comes out fanatically liberal. Feinman sounds especially so with the line, “Pence faces now a situation that has some similarity to Gerald Ford under Richard Nixon during a time of trouble and controversy, and the possibility of future Congressional action against Donald Trump if his mental behavior continues to disturb the top leadership of the Republican Party and the foreign policy establishment.”

Trump’s temperament has become an issue because he maximizes the social media when everyone comes out looking like they have psychological problems with over-sharing. Trump is hardly the first president with a temper, hatred or suspicion of the press or even conspiracy theories, just the first to have a platform to disseminate his thoughts readily to the public.

The scandal with Russia, however, lends some credibility to Feinman’s claims. Even if Democrats and Hillary Clinton have their wish fulfillment and Trump is impeached, the chances of that happening under a Republican controlled Congress are not very high. If in the midterm- elections in 2018, Democrats win a majority Trump could be more at risk, since liberals are fantasying about his impeachment even before he was inaugurated and actually did anything impeachable.

Still, that would take much longer than Feinman’s assessment. Chances are Feinman and Lichtman will both be wrong, the more probable bet is that Trump will probably not have one of the shortest presidencies in history, resign or even be impeached, but could very much join the ranks of the many presidents who have only served one term in office. Then again, Trump could surprise everyone as he did with his first election, and become a two-term president, and then maybe Democrats possibly might realize their dreams of impeachment.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics February 2, 2017: Obama should follow the rules of the former presidents club and not criticize Trump

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Obama should follow the rules of the former presidents club and not criticize Trump

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Just ten days into his successor Donald Trump’s presidency and former President Barack Obama has decided to him. On Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, Obama released a statement through his spokesman praising public protests and dissent to his successor temporarily travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim nations without stable governments and halt to the Syrian refugee program. Obama broke tradition with the former presidents club, who usually chooses to avoid criticizing their successor allowing them to run the country and make their mistakes or successes, it was a model Obama’s predecessor Republican former President George W. Bush religiously upheld, making only one comment six years into Obama’s presidency. Obama’s choice to speak out imperils his legacy, historical perspective while blurring the lines of the presidency.

After Trump issued his executive order on Friday evening, Jan. 28, protests erupted at airports across the country, while lawsuits were filed and heard for those caught in the ban. The executive order halted travel to the US from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, with nonimmigrant or immigrant visas. The order halted refugee entries for 120 days and the Syrian refugee program for an indefinite period.

The order was amended to allow entry to those with green cards, dual Canadian citizens and possibly those who worked with the US military. The order is based on the 2015 Terrorist Travel Prevention Act and its amendment in February 2016 under President Obama, which established these countries as threats because they do not have a stable government to communicate with US immigration to vet travelers. The bill created more extensive and vetting process for refugees from those countries. Obama’s bill caused little fanfare or objections.

On Monday, Obama’s spokesman issued a statement supporting the very vocal protesters, who held rallies at airports, city streets and even in front of the White House. Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, expressed in the statement, “President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. In his final official speech as President, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy — not just during an election but every day.”

Obama’s spokesman continued, saying, “Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” Lewis concluded, with the sharpest rebuke to President Trump, saying, “About comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

Former First Lady, 2016 Democratic nominee and Secretary of State under Obama, Hillary Clinton also tweeted her support, while daughter Chelsea participated in a protest in New York over the weekend. Apparently, the former president wanted his former Democratic supporters to protest as they have been doing in the little over a week Trump has been president. Former White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told the Washington Post, “What is notable about the grass-roots response to Trump .?.?. is that it is exactly the response that President Obama called for in his farewell address.” Essentially, Obama wanted dissension to Trump’s presidency and was always planning to be critical given the new president’s campaign pledges.

Such sharp criticism by a former president of his successor is the exception rather than the rule, even more so when it occurs just over a week after leaving the office. The Washington Post, which is highly critical of Trump, even had the headline, “Obama, in a rare move for an ex-president, breaks silence to criticize Trump on immigration.”

Twice, Obama implied he would only comment on Trump’s presidency in exceptional circumstances. Two days before leaving office at his final press conference on Jan. 18, Obama said, “There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.”

Obama indicated which issues would warrant his opinions, “I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination ratified in some fashion; I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise,” Obama said. “I would put in that category, institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them someplace else.”

Just after the election in November, at his press conference in Lima, Obama also expressed what he would publicly say about Trump after he left office. Obama said, “I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance. As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it is necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes.” Obama remarks should come as no surprise, according to the Washington Post Obama organized his post-presidency office for political advocacy.

Obama however, surprised everyone by his criticism, it is unprecedented in American history for a former president to comment especially so early on in their successor’s term. Presidential historian Robert Dallek told the Washington Post, “I don’t think it’s very common at all for an ex-president to be commenting on the performance of his successor.” Obama is certainly not following the traditional and examples of most former presidents in American history.

Obama’s behavior is somewhat surprising given the respect, his predecessor George W. Bush gave to him when he embarked on the presidency. Although Obama spent much of his first term criticizing Bush and his policies, Bush never said a word to counter his successor or disparage him publicly for most of his time in office. Speaking in 2009, Bush said of Obama, “He deserves my silence. There’s plenty of critics in the arena. I think it’s time for the ex-president to tap dance off the stage and let the current president have a go at solving the world’s problems.”

Bush explained in 2014 over five years after leaving office the two reasons why he chose not say anything about the Obama presidency. Bush indicated, “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president; I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter.” Bush also said his reasons were personal, “Secondly, I really have had all the fame I want. I really don’t long for publicity. And the truth the matter is in order for me to generate publicity … I’d have to either attack the Republican Party, which I don’t want to do, or attack the president, which I don’t want to do. And so I’m perfectly content to be out of the limelight.”

In a 2013 interview with CNN Bush mentioned another reason why he will not criticize his successor, “I don’t think it does any good. It’s a hard job. He’s got plenty on his agenda. It’s difficult. A former president doesn’t need to make it any harder. Other presidents have taken different decisions; that’s mine.”

Bush finally broke his silence in 2015, at what was suppose to be a private event, without media coverage. Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition and donors in Nevada, Bush criticized Obama’s Middle East policies including negotiating a deal with Iran and withdrawing troops from Iraq. Supposedly, Bush said of the Iran deal, “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”

Most of the former presidents kept silent in public refusing to criticize their successors in office. Afterward, many have grown close even after contentious campaigns where they were opponents. Rivals in the 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush became close friends in 2005, as did Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford who were opponents in the 1976 election. President Harry Truman became friends with one of his predecessors; Herbert Hoover after the Republican helped the Democrat “restructure the executive branch.” Lyndon Johnson reached out to his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and during the Vietnam War, and he was friends as well with Truman.

Dwight Eisenhower happens to be the best example of a recent former president not criticizing their successor, even if seems appropriate. Eisenhower never admonished his successor Democrat John F. Kennedy, even during biggest blunder the Bay of Pigs although he criticized him privately calling him “Little Boy Blue.” Afterward, Kennedy sought Eisenhower’s advice, and apparently, Kennedy admitted, “No one knows how tough this job is until he’s been in it a few months.” Eisenhower responded, “Mr. President. If you will forgive me, I think I mentioned that to you three months ago.”

Jimmy Carter has been the most vocal and critical post-World War II president criticizing three of his successors. Carter was a one-term president, with an active post-presidency. He criticized fellow Democrat Bill Clinton’s morals on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his pardon of Marc Rich; he criticized Republican George W. Bush saying in 2007, “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.” Carter even was critical of Obama for how he handled North Korea and Iran. Carter’s criticism and meddling in foreign affairs made him the most disliked living former president.

Carter was not the most severe case of post-presidency criticism, that prize might go to Republican Theodore Roosevelt to his handpicked successor William Howard Taft. Taft made promises to keep Roosevelt’s cabinet and stay true to his policies but soon moved on to forge his own path. With Republican encouragement, Roosevelt mounted a campaign against Taft even winning more primaries, but Taft won the nomination after discrediting Roosevelt’s delegates.

Roosevelt, in turn, mounted a third party run with the newly formed the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party with a progressive “New Nationalism” platform. Roosevelt ended up being competitive to the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson and secured a second place finish in the election that Wilson won, leaving Taft in the dust. Even with all the animosity, later on, Roosevelt said in 1910 after returning from an extended trip to Europe and Africa, “I will make no speeches or say anything for two months. But I will keep my mind open .?.?. As I keep my mouth shut.”

Time magazine editors and presidential historians, Nancy Gibb and Michael Duffy in 2012 book “The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity,” argue that there are usually bonds between the presidents. Gibb and Duffy write, “Such are the journeys this book attempts to trace: the intense, intimate, often hostile but more often generous relationships among the once and future presidents. It makes little difference how much they may have fought on the way to the White House; once they’ve been in the job, they are bound together by experience, by duty, by ambition, and by scar tissue.”

There are also rules including as former President George H. W. Bush has said, “No matter the politics, you know and understand the weight of the decisions the other guy had to make, and you respect that.” Gibb and Duffy indicate the two most important rules, “The Presidents Club has its protocols, including deference to the man in the chair and, for the most part, silence about how the members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity get along and the services they provide one another.”

Obama seems to be breaking with one of the most important precedents set out by the first former president George Washington. As Gibb and Duffy indicate, “but most of all to relinquish his power peacefully, even prematurely given his immense stature, at that time a striking act of submission to untested democratic principles.” Obama seems to look to incite Democrats many who have said Trump is “not their president” or claimed like Rep. John Lewis that he is “not the legitimate president.” Instead, Obama should have looked to precedent, where former presidents,
“join forces as needed, to consult, complain, console, pressure, protect, redeem.”

Obama speaking out so soon shows he is having difficulty letting go of the presidency and that confuses Democrats and his supporters who seem so adamantly against President Trump. Obama is showing too much partisanship, just after the election, and the inauguration of a new president. Gibb and Duffy say, “They can support whomever they like during campaigns; but once a new president is elected, the others often act as a kind of security detail.” The partisanship does nothing to help Obama who left the office with an average approval rating lower than the majority of post-war presidents. In the post-presidency, most former presidents reputations heal, and their popularity soars, because they stay out of the partisan fray, leaving it to the current president.

Obama needs to stop encouraging protests and chaos from his supporters and Democratic Congressional leadership, and instead look to give Trump some advice and guidance in private while letting his supporters know Trump is the president. Whether Democrats and liberals like Trump’s policies or not they need to look for effective means to make a difference rather than protesting in the streets and airports because all it seems like is lawlessness and pettiness because the Democratic Party just never accepted the election results of a president that legitimately won.

Sources:

Gibbs, Nancy, and Michael Duffy. The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “Theodore Roosevelt: Campaigns and Elections.” Accessed February 1, 2017. http://millercenter.org-/president/biography/roosevelt-campaigns-and-elections.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

 

Politics January 25, 2017: Americans agree with Trump’s America First Inaugural Address

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Americans agree with Trump’s America First Inaugural Address

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Political pundits and the news media may have initially called President Donald Trump inauguration address dark and divisive, but the American public liked it and his American first theme. According to both a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, and a Gallup poll released Sunday, Jan. 22 a majority of Americans liked Trump’s inaugural address. The Politico poll found that 49 percent approved while Gallup found 53 percent did not. The Gallup poll also looked at other reactions from the inauguration, and found it very much a partisan affair but was in tune to recent inaugurations.

According to Politico’s poll, 49 percent that either “watched or heard” the speech thought it was “excellent or good,” a total of 65 percent of Americans “reacted positively” to the speech’s “American First” theme and presidential agenda. Only 39 percent of Americans thought the speech was ‘fair or poor.” Meanwhile, 61 percent agreed with the policy of “”buy American and hire American.” Additionally, Politico’s poll found that “51 percent of voters described the speech as ‘optimistic,’ 46 percent of respondents say the speech was ‘presidential,’ and 44 percent say it was ‘inspiring.’”

After the inauguration, Gallup conducted a poll to gauge the reaction of Americans to the ceremony, Trump becoming president and his inaugural address. In this poll, Trump’s numbers were closer to feelings about recent inaugurations. The survey showed that a significant number of Americans 53 percent said that his speech was “excellent” or “good,” while 20 percent have a negative view saying it was “poor” or “terrible,” with 22 percent saying the address was “just okay.”

Despite the positive reviews, historically inaugural addresses have been well received by more Americans. In 2013, Barack Obama had 65 percent of Americans giving him “excellent/good ratings” and in 2005; George W. Bush had 62 percent. Obama broke the record in 2009 when he was inaugurated as the first African-American president in American history receiving the highest ratings from 81percent of Americans.

According to Gallup’s poll, 39 percents of Americans felt more hopeful, 30 percent felt less hopeful, and 30 percent felt no different. In general, there was a partisan divide on to how hopeful Americans felt, with 78 percent of Republicans feeling that way, while 56 percent of Democrats felt less hopeful. In comparison, during Obama’s second inauguration in 2013, 37 percent of all American voters felt more hopeful, 27 percent less hopeful, and 30 percent no different.

In 2005, When Bush had his second inauguration, 43 percent felt more hopeful, 25 percent less hopeful and 28 percent no different. The exception to this trend was Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, where he ran on hope and made his history with his election, then 62 percent felt more hopeful, only 11 percent felt less hopeful, and 23 percent felt no different.

Additionally, Gallup asked who viewed the inauguration, Trump’s was hardly the most watched inauguration, and neither was it the most watched recently. According to Gallup’s poll, 46 percent of all Americans saw Trump’s inauguration in any format. Additionally, 23 percent saw news or subsequent coverage of the inauguration.

Only Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 beat Trump’s in recent years, Obama had 60 percent viewership for his first inaugural, but only 38 percent for his second, while Bush had 40 percent for his second inauguration. There was a partisan divide in viewership that was not there as much in previous inaugurations except Obama in 2013, with 61 percent of Republican viewing Trump’s inauguration, versus only 35 percent of Democrats.

The voters’ view of Trump’s inauguration and address was a sharp contrast to the news media’s immediate reaction and commentary from pundits and academics all who agreed that Trump was divisive and failed in his first act as president. A majority analyzed that Trump should have gone a different route than his address that closely resembled his campaign rhetoric and stump speeches. The media was wrong again about Trump as they were about his prospects of winning the election. The contrast and two strikes against the news media show that they are too biased against Trump to the point they are risking their credibility, and the possibility that Trump’s presidency will be a success because he is the one more in tune with the American public.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Politics January 25, 2017: Trump sees lowest approval rating of any new president in recent history

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Trump sees lowest approval rating of any new president in recent history

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Donald Trump entered the presidency with the lowest approval rating of any newly inaugurated president. According to Gallup poll’s first three-dayapproval rating tracking of the Trump presidency released on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, the new president only received a 45 percent approval rating, the lowest for any president in the post-World War II era. Trump also received a 45 percent disapproval rating. In contrast, the American public felt much better about his inauguration on Friday, with 39 percent feeling hopeful, which is on par with the last inauguration.

According to Gallup Trump has a 45 percent approval rating, new president usually sees some of their highest numbers in this honeymoon period. Only Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George H. W. Bush in 1989 came close with a 51 percent approval rating upon entering the office. Reagan also won in a close election that was more an anti-Jimmy Carter vote than pro-Reagan one. Even George W. Bush fared better with 57 percent, despite losing the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore, with the Supreme Court deciding the presidency over a month after Election Day.

Approval ratings upon entering the presidency:

1. Harry S. Truman (June 4, 1945) 87 percent
2. Lyndon B. Johnson (Dec. 9, 1963) 78 percent
3. John F. Kennedy (Feb. 14, 1961) 72 percent
4. Gerald Ford (Aug. 18, 1974) 71 percent
5. Dwight D. Eisenhower (Feb 4, 1953) 68 percent
6. Barack Obama (Jan. 24, 2009) 67 percent
7. Jimmy Carter (Feb. 6, 1977) 66 percent
8. Richard M. Nixon (Jan. 27, 1969) 59 percent
9. Bill Clinton (Jan. 25, 1993) 58 percent
10. George W. Bush (Feb. 3, 2001) 57 percent
11. Ronald Reagan (Feb. 1, 1981) 51 percent
12. George H.W. Bush (Jan. 25, 1989) 51 percent

Trump has been a divisive figure; he surprised all political polls and pundits to win the election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, winning the all-important Electoral College with 306 votes but lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly three million votes. Trump was not able to endear himself to the American public during his presidential transition period. Many Democrats protested Trump’s election, questioned his legitimacy because he lost the popular vote. Insulted, instead of reaching out, Trump continued to play to his supporters, choosing the most all white male cabinet since Reagan’s in 1981.

According to polls taken in the week before his inauguration, disapproval for Trump’s transition was up at historically high numbers. A survey from Fox News on his inauguration day said 37 percent approved of the then president-elect, while 54 percent said they disapproved. A poll from ABC/Washington Post released earlier in the week showed that only 40 percent approved of Trump and his transition. Meanwhile, Obama had an 80 percent approval during his transition.

Gallup released a similar poll on Monday, Jan. 16, that looked favorability ratings. In that poll, only 40 percent of American view Trump favorably while 55 percent view him unfavorably. His Vice President’s numbers are not much better with only 42 percent having a favorable view of Mike Pence.

Trump’s numbers were historically low. Most president-elect facing their inaugurations had high favorability ratings. In 2009, Barack Obama had a 78 percent favorability rating, in 2001; George W. Bush had a 62 percent, while in 1993 Bill Clinton had a 66 percent favorability rating. According to Gallup, Trump did not even high numbers among Republicans, with only 82 percent having a favorable view of him. In comparison, in 2001 97 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Bush, while in 2009, 95 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Obama and in 1993, 92 percent had a favorable view of Clinton.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics January 22, 2017: The Trump era begins amid protest and turmoil

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The Trump era begins amid protest and turmoil

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of American democracy did not seem so peaceful on Inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2017. Americans in Washington, DC, and around the country protested the new President Donald Trump as he took the oath of office and embarked on what is already one of the toughest jobs as the most powerful leader in the world. As Trump was sworn in as president promising to give a “voice” to the “forgotten” and ensure “American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” violence hit the streets in his names, and thousands marched against him taking over the office of the presidency.

As per the protocols of Inauguration day, Trump and his family proceeded from the night stay at Blair House to St. John’s Church for the traditional pre-inauguration services. Afterward, Trump and the future first lady Melanie Trump went to the White House for tea with the outgoing first couple President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle and then traveled to the Capitol for the ceremony together.

With clouds hanging over the Capitol on a somewhat warm winter day, at 11:30 a.m. the Inaugural ceremony began. Mike Pence was sworn in as Vice President first followed by Trump as President. Just as Trump took the podium to give his inaugural address, the rain started. Trump delivered a speech that was reminiscent of some his campaign rhetoric. The new president aimed to unite with his speech, but the populist overtones ran high.

In his short 16-minute inaugural address, the new president laid out an “American First” policy, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

Trump promised “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. And I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down.” Contrasting himself to other Washington politicians he pledged, “The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

Painting a “bleak” picture of America, he vowed, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Trump concluded, with repeating his campaign message and slogan, saying, “Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again.”

The news media and historians have called Trump’s speech divisive many political pundits were even more colorful and extreme in the analysis. Trump, who was still playing to his core constituents was never going to please the Democrats that still objected to his election. From Congress all away to the streets of DC and across the country Democrats protested Trump. Over 50 Democratic Congressional representatives boycotted the inauguration after Trump criticized Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis for calling his presidency illegitimate.

Among Democrats that did attend, at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s behest, representatives wore blue buttons that said “protectourcare” protesting Trump and the Republicans bid to replace Obamacare, the health care law. Adding to the tensions of the day, Trump’s former opponent former first lady Hillary Clinton also attended the ceremony, contrasting with her former rival and her presence increased opposition especially for his detractors.

In the streets of Washington, there were some peaceful protests, but they were overshadowed by the protests that became violent as the day went on. In total, 217 were arrested, and six DC police officer injured from the often riot like behavior. Protestors in black masks smashed store and car windows, put a limo on fire. Others blocked checks points into the inauguration preventing those that wanted to go to the inauguration.

The protests capped on Saturday, Jan. 21, Trump’s first full day in office. Around 500,000 protesters packed the streets of the Capitol for a Women’s March on Washington for equal rights for all and opposed everything Trump stands for and his potential policies not just for women’s rights. The march was mimicked in sister cities in the US, with one million marching and around the world for a total of 673 rallies and 2.5 million protesting worldwide. The march was the largest in American history and will be linked forever in history to Trump’s inauguration.

As Trump sat in prayers services at the National Cathedral and visited the CIA, women donning cat eared hats opposed his mere election and the fact that he was not their choice, Hillary Clinton. Celebrities trashed the president, even threatening him, female representatives from Congress spoke out against him, while Clinton tweeted, “Thanks for standing, speaking & marching for our values.” On Sunday, Jan. 22, Trump questioned the protesters on Twitter, writing, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Despite the opposition, in between celebrating his inauguration, with festivities such as a post-ceremony Capitol luncheon, a parade, and three inaugural balls, Trump began his duties. The new president formally signed executive orders, nominating his cabinet, ending a mortgage premium cut set to run out, and in the Oval Office ridding the nation of the health care law’s individual mandate, the first step in ending a law Republicans have long opposed.

Trump entered office with one of the lowest approval ratings on record. The opposition was high for Trump’s transition, his cabinet choices, but mostly because he was not a Democrat, he was not the first woman president, and most importantly, he was not Hillary Clinton. During the campaign Clinton chided Trump for expressing that he might not accept the election results if he lost, telling him he had to accept them. In the third presidential debate, Clinton called the thought “horrifying,” preaching, “He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

Clinton, however, has never accepted the results and has silently encouraged her supporters to oppose them as well. Clinton took nearly a day to concede, supported Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s recount efforts and is now basking in her supporters’ protests and outrage. Trump won a majority of states, the king making Electoral College, but he lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes to Clinton a point Democrats have used against him, although he was not the first president to win the election without it and certainly will not be last.

The nation is more divided than ever among Democrats and Republicans, a chasm almost as big as the one that led to the Civil War over 150 years ago, resulting in a new ideological civil war between the parties and mostly the American public. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln took office with half the countries’ states seceding from the Union; the president tried to unite with his inaugural address like Trump now there is nothing he could have said that would have prevented war beginning a little over a month after he took office. Trump too is leading a fractured nation; with an electorate that has separated themselves from the country he serves as president insisting he is not their president.

What makes the United States unique is its democracy, its peaceful transfer of power between parties for over two hundred years. One party and its supporters alternately were disappointed for four or eight years until the next transfer of power. Democrats now oppose not just Trump or his policies or possible personal foibles, but the bedrock of American democracy, as they protest and shout this is what Democracy looks like.

Democrats have been spoiled by the Obama years where every lifestyle was granted rights. They now oppose the transfer of power and are essentially calling for the Democratic Party to run the country, a democratic dictatorship. They ignore the fact that the country voted not only a Republican president but Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate, that all over the nation, most state governors and legislatures are Republican controlled.

Democracy worked, and the nation wanted after eight years of a Democratic president, the Republican Party and its long known values and policies. For the nation to not spiral out of control, Democratic leaders have to stand up and put an end to the opposition not feed its fires. Clinton has to denounce her supporters’ opposition, but she never will. Clinton cannot accept her defeat, finds comfort in the support, and protests in her name.

It is Clinton, not Trump, who in the end could not accept the election results and in her selfishness, she is fanning the flames putting the country at risk and rocking the core tenants that made America the shining democratic example to the world. Despite all the criticism, there is nothing President Trump could have said in his inaugural address that would end the divisiveness. Unfortunately, as the protests prove, Clinton garnered more power in losing that winning, without Clinton and the Democrats in Congress calling for unity; President Trump although in the authority is powerless to unite the country he so badly wants to lead.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics January 10, 2017: Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

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Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

With just ten days to go until Donald Trump takes the oath of office becoming the President of the United States, the Senate is beginning confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet nominees. So far, the Senate scheduled confirmation hearings for eight of the cabinet’s most important positions and began the process on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 on Capitol Hill. Democrats are promising to give Trump’s nominees a difficult time in the hot seat, many of the president-elect’s nominees have not submitted financial documents to Office of Governmental Ethics their review; Trump’s cabinet is expected to have the greatest net worth of any previous presidential cabinet. None of the nominees can be confirmed until Trump takes office.

As ABC News notes all cabinet level position, leading a government agency need to be confirmed by the Senate. They include the following posts: “the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans affairs, as well as the attorney general, director of the Office of Management and Budget, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. trade representative, ambassador to the United Nations, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and administrator of the Small Business Administration.”

In total 1,212 “senior posts and agency heads” need to be confirmed by the Senate after a “background check” is complete. A lengthy indeed, so much so that the trump transition is downplaying the need for background checks in an attempt to move along the confirmation process in the Republican-controlled Senate. Only advisors to the president and the White House chief of staff are exempt from the arduous process.

ABC News explained the confirmation process; nominees go through extreme vetting by the president’s team and the FBI submitting “financial disclosure reports, criminal checks and questionnaires about ties to foreign governments.” Then the appropriate Senate committee conducts the hearing for the nominee then they vote to determine if the entire Senate will vote to confirm the nominee if so it goes to the Senate floor. Since the Democrats opted for the nuclear option, confirmations only require a “simple majority” vote of 51 senators, and they can no longer be filibustered or require 60 votes.

The following is the schedule for the Senate confirmation hearings:

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions — Jan. 10–11, 9:30 a.m.
Homeland Security: John Kelly — Jan. 10, 3:30 p.m.
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson — Jan. 11–12, 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
CIA Director: Mike Pompeo — Jan. 11, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao — Jan. 11, 10:15 a.m.
Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross — Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Housing: Ben Carson, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos — Jan. 17, 5 p.m.
Secretary of Labor: Andy Puzder — Jan. 17 (tentative)
U.N. Ambassador: Nikki Haley — Jan. 18 (tentative)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Politics January 10, 2017: 2016 election is over as Congress certifies Trump’s Electoral College win

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2016 election is over as Congress certifies Trump’s Electoral College win

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Finally, what seemed like the longest and nastiest presidential election in American history is over. On Friday, January 6, 2017, Congress in a joint session certified the Electoral College votes the elected Republican Donald Trump president. Like the campaign, the certification process did not complete without Democrats trying to mount a last minute effort to prevent Trump from becoming president, actions, that Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the count shutdown.

In a process that took an hour, Trump was certified with 304 Electoral Votes rather than 306 with two Texas faithless electors voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the other for former Sen. Ron Paul. Democrat Hillary Clinton ended up with 227 Electoral votes as opposed to the 232 she was supposed to receive after the election returns were counted surprisingly five electors defected from Clinton. According to ABC News Online the “FINAL CERTIFIED TALLY: Donald Trump — 304, Hillary Clinton — 227, Colin Powell — 3, John Kasich — 1, Ron Paul — 1, Bernie Sanders — 1, Faith Spotted Eagle — 1.”

The certification did not go off smoothly as some Democratic representatives from “various states” protested during the process, but they needed a Democratic senator to join their cause in writing, and none wanted to make a “formal complaint.” According to The Hill, the representatives that objected to the Electoral Votes include “Freshman Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.)” and “Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).”

Instead, the representatives just interrupted and annoyed Biden who had to chastise them repeatedly, and according to CNN, they interrupted the Vice President 11 times. Biden scolded them a few times, “There is no debate. There is no debate.” Biden told Rep. Jayapal, “There is no debate, and if it’s not signed by a senator the objection cannot be entertained.”ABC News recounted that he banged the gavel several times to stop one representative from speaking.

The Vice President also gave them a reality check telling the representatives “It is over.” According to the Hill, Biden’s declaration prompted “cheers” from the Republicans who mostly occupied the chamber and even made Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) “laugh.” Thankfully, it is all over after the rollercoaster ride that was the 2016 presidential election.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Politics January 8, 2017: Monica Crowley is hardly alone in high-profile plagiarism cases she is in good company

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Monica Crowley is hardly alone in high-profile plagiarism cases she is in good company

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

It is never a good to discover that a best-selling author and journalist plagiarized even worse when they have a Ph.D. from an Ivy League university and are also the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting Designate for the new Donald Trump Presidential Administration. On Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, CNN published a report accusing Monica Crowley of plagiarizing up to 50 passages from her 2012 book “What The (Bleep) Just Happened” published by “HarperCollins imprint Broadside Books.” CNN says that Crowley copied “columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia” and made only minor changes to the original passages. Even more troubling her book does not have any endnotes or even a bibliography citing her sources. It is surprising that it took so long for her transgressions to be discovered.

Neither Crowley nor her publisher responded to the claims, but Trump’s Transition Team is up until now standing by their “senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council.” Trump’s team issued the following supportive statement, “Monica’s exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the Administration. HarperCollins-one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world-published her book which has become a national best-seller. Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”

This is the second time Trump has had to deal with a plagiarism scandal. This past summer Trump’s wife Melania was accused of plagiarizing her Republican National Convention speech, which resembled all too closely outgoing first Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. The accusations created a media sensation, Melania’s speech was written by a longtime Trump employee, who the then-Republican presidential nominee refused to fire.

According to CNN among the sources, Crowley plagiarized from including the following Investopedia, The Mises Institute, and “National Review author Andrew C. McCarthy.” Crowley lifted passages from well- known columnists including “Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin, Stephen Moore, Karl Rove, and Ramesh Ponnuru.” Crowley also copied from the most known news publications including, “the Associated Press, the New York Times, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the BBC, and Yahoo News.”

As CNN noted this is not Crowley first time is facing plagiarism charges, in 1999 Slate accused Crowley of copying passages from her recent Wall Street Journal articles from another article published in 1988 from Commentary Magazine. At the time, Crowley denied the charges, and it seemed to be a blip on her career, but this time the accusations are far more damaging.

Crowley is as CNN described her as a “syndicated radio host, columnist, and, until recently, a Fox News contributor.” Crowley began her career as an assistant to former President Richard Nixon during his post-presidency years. Crowley started working for Nixon after college and worked according to Wikipedia as an “editorial adviser and consultant on Nixon’s last two books.” Crowley is a graduate of Colgate University and received her doctorate in international relation in 2000 from Columbia University with the dissertation, “Clearer Than Truth”: Determining and Preserving Grand Strategy: The Evolution of American Policy Toward the People’s Republic of China under Truman and Nixon.”

Crowley is the author of three books, two on Nixon,1998’s “Nixon in Winter: His Final Revelations about Diplomacy, Watergate, and Life out of the Arena” and 1996’s “Nixon Off the Record: His Candid Commentary on People and Politics.” In 2012 Crowley had “What the (Bleep) Just Happened . . . Again?: The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback” published the New York Times best-selling book at the center of a plagiarism scandal.

Additionally, Crowley has had a long career as a journalist in print, radio, and television. She has written columns and articles for the New York Post, “The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, and The Washington Times.” Crowley had a radio show on National Public Radio and now a podcast on iTunes. On television, she has spent most of her career affiliated with Fox News and for a brief time on MSNBC.

Oxford Dictionaries defines plagiarism as “The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” Historian Stephen Oates writing on the History News Network describes the severity of being accused of plagiarism, “Plagiarism is the most serious charge that can be made against an author; the accusation alone is so lethal that it can do irreparable damage to a writer’s career.”

The History News Network published a page “Historians on the Hot Seat” looking at the scandals in particularly among professional historians including plagiarism. HNN listed 18 historians some well-known accused of plagiarism or “manipulating” or manufacturing information in their articles or books. The historians include: Stephen AmbroseMichael BellesilesPaul BuhleDonald CucciolettaPhilip FonerDoris Kearns GoodwinLeonard F. GuttridgeStanley I. KutlerAnn LaneBryan Le Beau, David McCullough, S. Walter PoulshockLouis RobertsR. Fred RuhlmanDon Heinrich TolzmannBenson TongBrian VanDeMark, and Matthew Whitaker. Additionally, the Plagiarism Today blog operated by copyright and plagiarism consultant Jonathan Bailey regularly lists plagiarism scandals in all writing fields.

Accusations of plagiarism are often the kiss of death for journalists, authors and academics the intellectual equivalent of a criminal charge. Time Magazine recently listed the six of the most “notable cases of plagiarism” They included a politician, mostly journalists and even a novelist. Vice President Joe Biden’s 1987 accusations of plagiarizing speeches and during law school of copying pages in a Fordham law review article which prematurely ended his 1988 run for the Democratic nomination.

Journalism’s biggest scandal revolved around New York Times Reporter Jayson Blair in 2003, where he made up almost everything in half of his articles including “sources, quotes, events” and even where he “reported” them. In 2007, while working for CBS News Katie Couric had issues revolving her web producer who wrote blog posts in her name, where the producer copied an article, the problem was twofold, the plagiarism and that Couric was not writing her posts. In 2012, New Yorker writer Jonah Lehrer was accused of recycling his writing for the New Yorker from his writings for other publications and making up quotes in his book “Imagine How Creativity Works.”

CNN and Washington Post Journalist Fareed Zakaria was accused in 2014 of “serial plagiarism” flagrantly copying other’s work in his articles, books and on television without any attributions. Author Alex Haley even faced plagiarism charges for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Roots;” courts determined that Haley had copied “ideas, names, and direct passages” from Harold Courlander’s “The African” (1967) prompting Haley to make a financial settlement. Of those only Blair and Lehrer’s career suffered in the long-term, but each author whether journalist, novelist or politician faced immediate ramifications that set back their careers or their pocket book.

The problem is academics with doctorates are often at the center of these scandals as previously noted; they should know the most about properly citing their sources and crediting fellow authors with quotations, endnotes, and bibliographies having gone through the arduous dissertation process and even a couple of published books. Academics are often the sloppiest using their academic reputations as a means of dismissing the charges or even blaming it on their assistants. Accusations run the gamut from misattributing quotes, to the worst of the charges such as Crowley copying passages word for word without quoting and citing and passing those passages and ideas as her own.

In the effects for academic like Crowley who has a doctorate can be more severe. One of Academia’s most famous plagiarism cases involved Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who was accused in 2002 by the Weekly Standard of plagiarizing in her best-selling 1987 book “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga.” First Kearns Goodwin did not comment on the charges of not attributing sources, but more accusations surfaced including that she paid off one of the author’s she plagiarized. She then admitted the improper citations were unintentional an article published in Time Magazine which Forbes called “self-serving,” calling it all an error.

During the scandal, it emerged she also plagiarized in her 1994 and Pulitzer Prize-winning “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.” Kearns Goodwin promised to revise her books to correct the lack of citations. Kearns Goodwin was let go from her position as Commentator for PBS’s “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” and for awhile she was not welcome in historical and commentating circles. Three years later, she published “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which completely rehabilitated her career, garnering her a Lincoln Prize in 2005 and the New-York Historical Society’s inaugural American History Book Prize and 2012 was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Steven Spielberg.

Not all authors are as lucky as Kearns Goodwin for many plagiarism high profile cases like hers tarnishes their career forever. Historian and Arizona State University Professor Matthew Whitaker had his career go down the drain from repeated plagiarism accusations. Whitaker was first accused of plagiarism in 2012 over his 2011 book “Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West” Whitaker dismissed the accusations as amounting to racism. ASU determined passages were copied, but they ended the issue until 2015 when Whitaker again faced accusations of plagiarism for his 2014 book, “Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.” ASU decided to demote Whitaker associate professor until a third accusation arise that he copied power point presentations he created for the Phoenix Police Department. ASU then forced Whitaker to resign from his post.

Plagiarism cases similar to Crowley’s happen all the time, whether in academia, journalism or even literature. Many plagiarism cases go under the radar not getting the publicity they should because the authors are not nearly as well- known, in these cases neither does the authors they copied get their due without the court of public opinion weighing in on the controversies, letting the plagiarists get away easier. The higher profile case usually, the larger backlash against the accused. Recent history has proven that not all cases end up in career death forever, most, however, are punished at least for a while their transgression.

Considering Trump’s case with the plagiarizing speechwriting for his wife’s RNC speech it is highly unlikely he will fire Crowley, but neither should she think she will so easily be welcome back to the writing and commentary world once she leaves the government sector. Like the zero tolerance policies, universities have in place there should be zero tolerance to plagiarism in the professional world. If one does not know how to write, cite their sources or have ideas of their own they should not be writing in the first place, and if they plagiarize publications should refuse to publish their works in the future, then everyone would learn the lesson. Without clamping down plagiarism is going to continue and like this, writers would think twice before stealing others work.

Sources:

“Doris Kearns Goodwin,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doris_Kearns_Goodwin

“Doris Kearns Goodwin And The Credibility Gap,” Forbes, February 27, 2002. http://www.forbes.com/2002/02/27/0227goodwin.html

“Historians on the Hot Seat,” History News Network, April 23, 2010. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1081

“Monica Crowley,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Crowley

Alicia Adamczyk, “Notable Cases of Plagiarism (Other Than Melania Trump’s),” Time Money, July 20, 2016. http://time.com/money/4413480/melania-trump-plagiarism-high-profile/

Jonathan Bailey, “5 Biggest Plagiarism Stories of 2016 (So Far),” Plagiarism Today, January 20, 2016. https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2016/01/20/5-biggest-plagiarism-stories-of-2016-so-far/

Andrew Kaczynski, “Trump national security pick Monica Crowley plagiarized multiple sources in 2012 book,” CNN Money, January 7, 2017. http://money.cnn.com/interactive/news/kfile-trump-monica-crowley-plagiarized-multiple-sources-2012-book/

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics January 10, 2017: Republicans face in backlash on the first day of 115th Congress

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Republicans face in backlash on the first day of 115th Congress

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Congress convened on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, for the 115th session and the first of Donald Trump’s administration in a rocky start. Even before the session officially started it began with controversy for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives who went against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and voted on Tuesday, Jan. 2 to “weaken” the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, before reversing their course the next day after Trump voiced his disapproval.

On Monday evening, GOP members of the House voted 119–74, to place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under House Ethics Committee at their conference meeting as part of their new rules package. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) were against the changes that immediate faced a backlash and bad press for the new GOP majority.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also spoke out against the GOP’s plan. Pelosi wrote in a statement released after the GOP reversed their vote, “House Republicans showed their true colors last night, and reversing their plans to destroy the Office of Congressional Ethics will not obscure their clear contempt for ethics in the People’s House. Republicans should remember the strength of public outrage they faced in the space of 12 hours as they scheme to do lasting damage to the health and economic security of millions and millions of hard-working families.” The OCE was created in 2008 under Pelosi’s speakership and acts as an independent non-partisan office investigating any Congressional wrongdoing.

The proposal was authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The changes would have prevented the OCE from investigating any criminal wrongdoing . Instead any issue would have had to be sent to the House Ethics Committee or law enforcement, and the HEC would have been given the power to cease any investigation. Additionally, the OCE would have ignored anonymous tips on wrongdoing essentially ending whistleblowing, and the changes would have stripped the office of a communication director aimed at hushing any wrongdoing in Congress and hiding it from the press and public. The concept was the exact opposite of Trump’s promise to drain Washington swamp, instead, it would have made it easier to fill the swamp and keep it all hidden.

The next morning the President-elect let his disapproval be known in two tweets. Trump wrote, “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it…their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance!” Trump also used the Hashtag #DTS, “Drain the Swamp,” one of his campaign slogans, that he reiterated after the campaign that he would try to keep during his presidency. A senior GOP aide told CNN just how much Trump’s disapproving tweets altered the GOP’s course on the issue, “It’s safe to say that Trump’s tweets probably added to that pressure but it was already being heavily covered in the press.”

Soon after the Republican conference held an emergency meeting reversing their course. Before noon, on Tuesday the GOP conference voted to take out the changes to the ethics office from the 115th Congress’ rules package that was later voted on in the afternoon. Incoming House Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) still believes the OCE needs to be reformed but in a bipartisan matter and will bring the matter up later in the session.

Ryan assured the public in a statement explaining what the GOP representatives planned was not meant that the party would stifle abuses of power. In a statement, the speaker explained, “After eight years of operation, many members believe the Office of Congressional Ethics is in need of reform to protect due process and ensure it is operating according to its stated mission. I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 28, 2016: Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

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Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CNN

President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton remain the country’s most admired in 2016. Gallup Poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, their annual list of most admired men and women for the year with predictable results. For the ninth straight year, President Obama has topped the list of most admired men, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of most admired women for as record-breaking time. Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump came in a close second to the outgoing president.

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 22 percent of the vote, up from 17 percent last year, but his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 12 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last nine years. Trump came in a rather close second with 15 percent, while Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence sees his first appearance on the list coming in at number 10. Last year Trump tied for second with Pope Francis but with only 5 percent of the vote. This year is the president-elect’s sixth appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Trump is looking to gain the most admired title next year an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed.

President Obama has the second overall most admired titles besting former Presidents Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) but behind Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). It is no surprise Obama won most admired, it is a tradition for the sitting president always to be named the most admired, and has been the case for 70 years since the poll originated in 1946. Only 12 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. Most recently in 2008 when then President-elect Obama edged out President George W. Bush who was seeing extremely low approval ratings at the end of his tenure.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2016 Top 10:

1. Barack Obama 22
2. Donald Trump 15
3. Pope Francis 4
4. Bernie Sanders 2
5. Rev. Billy Graham 1
6t. Benjamin Netanyahu 1
6t. The Dalai Lama 1
6t. Bill Clinton 1
6t. Bill Gates 1
10. Mike Pence 1

Despite losing the presidential election to Trump Former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 21st time and 15th year in a row. Clinton’s popularity coincides with her winning the popular vote in the election by nearly 3 million ballots although she lost in the Electoral College.

Clinton only lost the number one spot in 1995 and 1996 to Mother Theresa, and 2001 when First Lady Laura Bush took the position. Clinton only received 12 percent of the vote to reach the top of the list, last year she had 13 percent. Clinton has appeared on the list 25 times. First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 8 percent her best showing on the list since her husband was re-elected in 2012 and her best support since 2009 when she had 7 percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2016 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 12
2. Michelle Obama 8
3. Angela Merkel 3
4. Oprah Winfrey 3
5. Ellen DeGeneres 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Malala Yousafzai 2
8. Condoleezza Rice 2
9. Elizabeth Warren 1
10. Sarah Palin 1

This year’s list is seeing some record number of appearances for both the most admired men and women. For the men, Rev. Billy Graham has his 60th top 10 finish having been in the top 10 every year since 1955, except for 1962 and 1976, while former President Bill Clinton has his 25th appearance on the top 10. On the women’s side, Hillary Clinton has the most top honors on the list with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt second with 13 top honors. Queen Elizabeth has the most top 10 appearances of all women with 48, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 29 showings.

Gallup believes there is a possibility that the poll’s most admired might have a shake up next year “as both move into the post-political phase of their careers.” They believe Trump will assume the top spot among the men, with Obama still ranking high in the top 10. Gallup also thinks Clinton still has a possibility of reigning among the women since former first ladies have won 35 out of 67 times, and assuming a non-political role will only help her popularity.

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 20, 2016: Electoral College officially elects Donald Trump president-elect

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Electoral College officially elects Donald Trump president-elect

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: TIME

It is official Donald Trump is the president-elect. On Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, the 538 members of the Electoral College met and voted, finally putting an end to the tumultuous roller coaster that was the 2016 presidential election. By late afternoon Trump had reached the 270 votes necessary to assume the presidency. This year’s vote had a historic element it saw the largest amount of rogue faithless electors in modern presidential election history.

After reaching the milestone number of votes, Trump issued a statement calling his election win “a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation’s democracy.” Trump lost the popular vote to opponent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by over 2.8 million mostly coming from the state of California. Trump had the worst popular vote of a winner than any president since the divisive 1876 election when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won against Democrat Samuel B. Tilden after an Electoral Commission decided the election after neither candidate reached the Electoral vote majority. Tilden won more electors in the election and the popular vote, but the compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction put Hayes in the White House. Trump’s Electoral College victory was also only the 46th “largest” out of 58 votes winning only 56.9% of the electoral vote.

Continuing the president-elect expressed, “I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next President of the United States. The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin, far greater than ever anticipated by the media. This election represents a movement that millions of hard working men and women all across the country stood behind and made possible. With this historic step, we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans. Together, we will make America great again.”

Vice-President Mike Pence was the first to comment of his running-mates victory. Pence tweeted “Congratulations to @RealDonaldTrump; officially elected President of the United States today by the Electoral College!” Afterward, he wrote, “I’m honored & humbled to be officially elected today as the next Vice President of the United States of America by the Electoral College.”

Clinton’s husband former President Bill Clinton served as an elector from New York State, which Clinton won. The former president tweeted, “As an elector from my home state of New York, I’ve never been more proud to cast a vote than my vote today for @HillaryClinton.”

A campaign and movement by liberals to convince Republicans to change their votes from Trump did not succeed. Still, there were seven faithless electors the largest number in modern presidential election history. Since 1872, there has never been more than one faithless elector. In 1872 Democratic nominee Horace Greeley died after the election but before the Electoral College vote with 63 out the 66 electoral votes he garnered the electors refused to vote for a deceased candidate with 43 dividing their votes among non-candidates primarily to Greeley’s running mate B. Gratz Brown. Three Georgia electoral votes were cast for Greeley, but Congress considered them invalid, while 17 abstained.

There would have been more faithless electors this time around, but the states that do not permit electors to change their votes and they ultimately replaced the rogue electors. One elector in each of the three states Maine, Minnesota and Colorado attempted to vote against Clinton; state election officials replaced them with alternate electors.

The campaign against Trump was motivated by Russian hacks that interfered in the election hoping to have Trump win as opposed to Clinton according to the CIA and FBI. The electors also failed to gain the intelligence briefing on Russia’s interference as they had hoped. Protests also erupted in small pockets, all over the country before the vote. Despite it all, Trump only saw two faithless electors, in Texas one elector voted for 2016 GOP candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich and another backed former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, repeat GOP presidential candidate who last ran in 2012.

Ironically, most of the faithless electors tried or did change their votes from Clinton. Clinton lost five electoral votes, four from Washington State, and one from Hawaii. Three of the Washington electors voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one voted for “Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle.” In Hawaii, the faithless elector voted for 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose popularity is outlasting his movement during the campaign.

In the end, Trump garnered 304 electoral votes, while Clinton amassed 227. In contrast, after the Nov. 8 election, Trump had 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. Congress has to count the Electoral College votes officially when the 115th Congress goes into session on Jan. 6, 2017 where current Vice President Joe Biden will preside.

For more on Presidential election history see Presidential Campaigns & Elections Reference

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.